Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 10 July 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Junior

Philadelphia July 10. 17951


I have recd. your several Letters dated June 22d. 26th. 30th. & the 2nd. current.2

The non publication of the Treaty,3 was a measure not consistent with my first impressions & expectations. It was not however left by the Senate in the manner you suppose. Their resolution4 indeed evinces the contrary—& the Executive must in addition to whatever difficulties would have attended a publication, if the Senate had been silent respecting the publication, have appeared to oppose their sense, by an Official disclosure.

The French Minister has been informed of the Contents Seasonably5—no extraordinary sensibility has been discovered by him respecting of the Treaty. The Spaniards are however peevish with respect to the Mississipi Article.6

Between ourselves I have reason to believe that a cession of Louisiania & the Floridas will be required by France as the price of peace—& I believe they will obtain them. The Spaniards must comply, & the French will offer a guarrantee of the remaining Spanish American Dominions. The effects of this measure on our Affairs it is easy to foresee.

By late Letters from France there is reason to fear that the most destructive commotions will be produced by the scarcity or rather famine in that Country. Mr. M——s family of 14 persons7 were allowed two pounds of Bread per diem. Flour costs 40 Dolls per Barrel in Specie. The Finances were in a state of ruin as appears from facts though the conclusion is not admitted. The Canton of Berne have prohibited the exportation of Provisions, from a fear of famine among themselves.

I am inclined to believe that our Friends the Dutch are irretrievably ruined—a Commissioner is known to have gone from Paris to Amsterdam for money &c. &c.

I have every reason short of official information to believe that the Stock purchased has arrived.8 This resource, with the liberty of postponing the Installment, the chance of negociating bills on this Country—& an arrangement which I have made by bills on Hamburgh & Paris in the alternative of a failure at either place, gives every chance for supporting our credit at this Crisis, which the nature of things will admit.9 All money negociations except with England are & must be hazardous to a certain degree. There is indeed a French link in the Chain, upon which reliance must be had.

The anticipations which you intimate in the case of Mr. Franklin,10 I have felt with much anxiety. It would astonish you to know, how far the Capital of this Country has been placed in the power of France by speculations to that country & the excessive use of Credit during the last season. If we have a good Crop, & the ardour of speculation can be checked, so as [to] allow a loss, which I know to be inevitable, to fall gradually upon us, the Merchants will struggle through; but if we proceed in our present course, untill a sudden revulsion takes place, the consequences may be serious. As yet the Revenue comes in as usual—but further anticipations will in the present state of things be attended with difficulty.

I shall do every thing practicable for Mr. Franklin but I do not see how the measure he has resorted to, of entering a Caveat against the transfer of the new Stock, can be of any service. This Government certainly cannot compel the execution of a Contract by the French Government, by any process in this Country.

I have looked at my house & in the office & sent to the Secy of the Senate respecting your French book & have cause a general search for Mr. Livingstons book & papers but as yet without success.11 The letters ought to have been with Mr Coxe12 & Mr. Harrison13 who say they have not had them. I shall pursue the matter further. Your opinion on some of the points mentioned in my late Letter14 will be acceptable when you have Leisure.

Various opinions obtain respecting the Treaty, but I think people here are more temperate than in some other places—especially at Baltimore15 & at the Southward. There is much prejudice which will be dispelled, & I think that the Country cannot be much excited.

Yrs with perfect respect

Olivr. Wolcott jr.

Alexr Hamilton Esqr

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1In JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , VI, 20, this letter is dated July 20, 1795.

2Letter of July 2, 1795, not found.

3For the manner in which the contents of the Jay Treaty were first kept secret and then made public, see H to Wolcott, June 26, 1795, note 2.

4For the Senate’s action on the Jay Treaty, see H to Rufus King, June 11, 1795, notes 2 and 3. For the Senate resolution on the need for keeping secret the contents of the treaty, see H to Wolcott, June 26, 1795, note 2.

6See William Bradford to H, July 2, 1795, notes 11 and 12.

7This is a reference to the official “family” of James Monroe, United States Minister Plenipotentiary to France.

9On June 23, 1795, Wolcott wrote to Willink, Van Staphorst, and Hubbard: “For the payment of future Interest, I shall remit by this conveyance to Mr. Munroe Minister of the United States to France, a bill on Paris for One hundred & twenty thousand Dollars or bullion equivalent, which I have the best reasons to expect he will receive & immediately place in Amsterdam at your disposal. Lest unexpected obstacles should however defeat this arrangement, I shall at the same time remit to Mr Munroe a bill drawn by James Swan & Schweizer on Messrs. Lulbert & Dumas of Hamburgh for Three hundred thousand current florins payable in Amsterdam. This bill will be made payable & remitted to you by Mr. Munroe in case any insurmountable difficulty shall attend the negociation of the bill on Paris …” ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).

10This is a reference to Walter Franklin, a New York City flour merchant. He was associated with John Townsend, another New York City flour merchant, and Henry Sadler, a general merchant in New York City. On July 8, 1795, Secretary of State Edmund Randolph wrote to James Monroe: “I beg your very particular attention to the claims of Messrs. Townsend, Franklin, & Sadler. They have contracted with the French Republic, and fulfilled their contract; but are disappointed in payment. Nay more, the security, which had been pledged to them by Mr. [Jean Antoine Joseph] Fauchet in the debt of the United States, has been transferred under an arrêt of the Committee of public safety to Mr. Swann. He has indeed made an engagement with the Secretary of the Treasury to pay all drafts of the proper body in France. But the present is no draft. I wish therefore, that you would immediately obtain a proper decree, by which Mr. Swann shall be directed to satisfy these engagements of Mr. Fauchet, and would send me a copy that we might retain a sufficiency for our Citizens thus circumstanced if it should seem adviseable” (LC, RG 59, Diplomatic and Consular Instructions of the Department of State, 1791–1801, Vol. 3, June 5, 1795–January 21, 1797, National Archives). James Swan was a broker and French agent authorized to accept American debt obligations from France in payment for supplies for the French marine. See Wolcott to H, June 18, 1795, note 6.

An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, for July 3, 1795, reads: “Cash Dr. to Account of Costs & Fees for the sum received for advice of Townshend Franklin and Sadler respecting contract with Mr. Fauchet M. Plenipotentiary 50” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

12Tench Coxe, commissioner of the revenue.

13Richard Harrison, auditor of the Treasury.

14Dated June 18, 1795.

15At a meeting on July 27, 1795, “of a numerous assemblage of citizens” of Baltimore, it was “… Resolved unanimously, As the sense of this meeting, that an address be presented to the President of the United States, expressive of their disapprobation of said Treaty and requesting that it may not be ratified” (LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

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