Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Rawle, 28 December 1794

To William Rawle

Treasury Department
December 28. 1794


Mr. Delaney has obtained information as to the fitting out of some privateers1 from this & a neighbouring port which I have desired him to communicate to you without delay. The most delicate considerations render it essential that whatever is now practicable should be done. Pray give the matter the most particular attention.2

With consideration & esteem   I am Sir   Your obed serv

A Hamilton

William Rawle Esq
Atty of the District of Pennsylvania

ALS, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1Sharp Delany was collector of customs at Philadelphia. The information which had been obtained concerned three privateers. See H to Delaney, January 20, 1795. One privateer is described as follows in a circular letter from Timothy Pickering to the governors of the states, dated January 6, 1795: “A ship called Les … [Jumeaux], (or the Twins) Captain Ruault, armed and equipped in the port of Philadelphia as a cruizer, contrary to our neutrality and the law of the United States in such cases provided, has lately escaped from the river Delaware. It appears by the report of the officers employed to seize her, that she sailed from Bombay Hook the 2d instant.

“The proof is positive that the ship has been unlawfully fitted out as above mentioned. A description of her and her equipments, so far as known is enclosed. As the necessity of concealment prevented her completing her equipments in such manner as to commence an immediate cruize, it is probable that in order to complete them she will put into some port in the Chesapeake or other port in the United States.

“It is therefore the request of the President of the United States that you will cause the requisite measures to be taken for seizing the above mentioned ship, with her tackle, furniture, and stores, and also for apprehending the Captain.…” (Pickering to Robert Brooke [Calendar of Virginia State Paper, VII, 417–18]; Pickering to John Hoskins Stone [Roger Thomas, ed., Calendar of Maryland State Papers, No. 3: The Brown Books (Annapolis, 1948), VI, 150].)

On May 11, 1795, John Etienne Guinet and John Baptist Le Maitre were found guilty on charges of “furnishing, fitting-out and arming a certain ship or vessel called Les Jumeaux…” (Wharton, State Trials description begins Francis Wharton, State Trials of the United States During the Administrations of Washington and Adams (Philadelphia, 1849). description ends , 93–101). The name of Les Jumeaux was changed to Le Cassius, and the dispute with the French government over the detention of the ship and the conviction of Guinet and Le Maitre continued until December, 1796 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 629–39).

The second privateer was presumably the General Greene, which Walter Stewart, surveyor of the District of Pennsylvania, referred to in a letter to Delany on December 18, 1794. Stewart’s letter reads as follows: “I think it proper to inform you that the General Green Schooner Capt. Hodge, laying at the Three stores in Kensington has undergone a thorough repair & although she had no ports when she arrived, is now pierced for five guns on each side” (copy, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg).

2Rawle endorsed this letter: “ansd.” Letter not found, but see Rawle to H, December 29, 1794.

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