Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: William Pulteney to Nicholas Romayne, 20 January 1797

William Pulteney to Nicholas Romayne2

Weymouth [England] 20 Jany 1797

Dear Sir

I received with great pleasure your letter of 20 Nov. I acknowledge that I was disappointed at not hearing from you sooner, as I learnt however that the Hope had arrived Safe on the 5 Oct & all passengers well, I was the less uneasy. It was unlucky that my letter to Mr Williamson3 sent to Genesee by Mr Johnston4 & had not returned from thence, when your letter was wrote, as it was of importance that he should have received it much sooner, but tho the delay has had unlucky consequences there is no help for it now.

It gives me great pleasure to hear from so good authority as yours, that every thing goes on well in America, & that the dispositions are favorable to this country. I will make the best use I can of your suggestions, when I go back to London, but I think it right to hint to you, that it would be of great service, if the Ideas you suggest, were communicated in confidence to Mr Liston,5 because what comes from him will have very great weight here, He is by all accounts, a most excellent & honorable man, & I am glad he has found favor, on your side of the Water, he will make no improper use, of any communications which are made to him, & I am well asured is extremely well disposed to the U.S. It is appears to me that what you propose to be done on our part, is extremely proper, & when I mention Mr Liston, I do not mean to omit any thing which I can do to forward your Ideas, but I know, that what comes from a Minister abroad, has a different effect in the Cabinet than what comes in any other Chanel.6

I remember you foretold, what was likely to happen, with regard to the French. Their conduct has not the Marks of Wisdom in the particular you mention, more than in many other instances; some great change seems likely to take place soon, if one can judge of Events from Causes. There seems to me no abatement of the Spirit of this Country, & I think highly of our Resources, tho something is wanting to give them their full effect, which I trust will be adopted.

I am extremely glad that Mr Jay enjoys now that good opinion of his countrymen, which he always deserved. Indeed it was to be expected, as truth will always at last prevail. I admire the Conduct of Genl Washington in nothing more than in his Resignation. The Election of a President, is that point of your Constitution, which exposes it to most danger, & it Showed great Wisdom & love of his Country in Genl Washington, to contrive, that a New Election Should be made in his lifetime, whilst his Weight & Character could contribute to make it pass over without convulsion. It is perhaps lucky too, that this Election came on when the Situation of America with regard to other Powers, was in some degree critical, which must contribute to prevent in all partys too much disunion.

I Shall be glad if you will express to Mr Hamilton, the late Secretary of the Treasury, my high respect for him from his Writings & his Character. His retiring from a Public office of such Consequence, & returning to the Bar, Marks in my Mind, an Elevation of Character, equal to any thing we read of in History. I am particularly desirous, to possess a full colection of all he has Written, & to know what of the papers in this Federalist came from his Pen.

I beg you also to remember me to Mr Troupe, from whose letters I received much information, & cannot but entertain a great Respect for the author. I hope he will favor me with his opinion upon a matter I Suggested to him in my letter.

I trust you will believe, that I Shall always be much gratified when you indulge me with the pleasure of hearing from you and am

Dear Sir   Your most obedt & very humble Servant

William Pulteney

2ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

3Charles Williamson was Pulteney’s American agent in the Genesee country. See Troup to H, March 31, 1795.

4John Johnstone, who served as Williamson’s assistant in the Genesee country, was returning to the United States after a visit to England.

5Robert Liston, who succeeded George Hammond as British Minister to the United States, arrived in the United States on May 9, 1796, and presented his credentials to President Washington on May 16, 1796.

6Despite the fact that Liston and Romayne were both involved in the Blount conspiracy (although in quite different ways), this paragraph does not concern that matter, for William Blount did not reveal his plans to Romayne until late January or early February, 1797 (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VIII, 2340–45, 2356–58; Liston to Lord Grenville, January 25, 1797, in F. J. Turner, ed., “Documents on the Blount Conspiracy, 1795–1797,” American Historical Review, X [April, 1905], 576–77; Mayo, Instructions to British Ministers description begins Bernard Mayo, ed., “Instructions to the British Ministers to the United States,” Annual Report of the American Historical Association for the Year 1936 (Washington, 1941), III. description ends , 132–33, 141–42). Under the circumstances, Pulteney could not have known of the conspiracy when he wrote this letter to Romayne on January 20, 1797. It therefore seems likely that Pulteney in this paragraph was referring to a proposed land speculation which Romayne had discussed with him when Romayne was in England. In a deposition before the House committee preparing articles of impeachment against Blount, Romayne stated: “That he [Romayne] had been acquainted with William Blount since the year 1782, when he first came to this city as a member of Congress. Some time after, he had occasion to correspond with him respecting some property belonging to the deponent in North Carolina. Upon that and various other subjects the correspondence between them had continued till very lately. While Mr. Blount was Governor of the Territory of the United States South of the Ohio, the deponent was requested by a friend to write to him, and to propose the solution of certain queries respecting the military lands on Cumberland, in that Territory, for the purchase of which it was contemplated to form a company, and to propose to Mr. Blount to become a party. This proposition was accordingly made to him. Mr. Blount’s answer to these queries and propositions was communicated by Captain [John] Chisholm, at that time an entire stranger to the deponent, but whom Mr. Blount recommended as a proper person to be employed by the company as a purchasing agent. The plan, however, was wholly dropped, on account of the person who proposed it going to Europe. Some time afterwards the deponent formed a resolution of paying a visit to Europe; which being known to Mr. Blount, a proposition originated between them that an attempt should be made there to form a company on the principles and for the purposes formerly mentioned, and to include Governor Blount and Captain Chisholm as partners. This happened previous to the 12th July, 1795, on which day the deponent sailed for England. An agreement to this effect was made and formally executed; but from motives of delicacy, and apprehensions of the fall of lands on account of the political events in Europe, no direct attempts were made to carry it into effect. The deponent, however, left maps and papers on the subject with certain persons of consideration in England, and was requested by them and some others to procure from the State of Tennessee a law for enabling them, as aliens, to hold lands. These persons contemplated to purchase lands as the price, circumstances, and their own convenience, should dictate. In case of their becoming purchasers, it was understood that Governor Blount and the deponent might be interested in the purchases, upon terms, however, which were not settled; and the propriety of the purchases was to depend, in a great measure, upon his opinion. On his arrival in this country, he was to keep up a correspondence with them, which he has done.

“In October last the deponent arrived in America. He has not been out of the State of New York since, till he was summoned to this place. Soon after his arrival he wrote to Governor Blount, informing him that he had done nothing in their business, more than has been before mentioned. To this letter he never received any answer; but, about the beginning of February last, Governor Blount came to New York on business of his own.…” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VIII, 2356–57.)

In reply to questions asked by the House committee, Romayne stated categorically that he never spoke or wrote to Pulteney about the Blount conspiracy (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VIII, 2360–65).

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