From William North1
Philadelphia, June 7, 1798. “I offer the enclosed.…,2 leaving out what was not necessary to be published, with an intention of sending it to One of your printers, in the idea, that the Citizens perhaps might, from knowing the Barons opinion on the subject, the more readily come into the measure. The paper, as it is, I would not give to any body but yourself.… Mr McHenry is to Visit New York,3 to see the state of the fortifications, & to form further plans of defence—but the man is a small man.”
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. North, who served throughout the American Revolution and was an aide-de-camp to Baron von Steuben, held the rank of major and was inspector of the army from 1784 to 1788. He served in the New York Assembly in 1792, 1794, 1795, and 1796, and was speaker in 1795 and 1796. From May 5, 1798, to August 17, 1798, he was United States Senator, filling the vacancy which had been created by the resignation of John Sloss Hobart. See John Jay to H, two letters of April 19, 1798. On July 19, 1798, North was appointed adjutant general of the army with the rank of brigadier general (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 293).
This letter was addressed to H in his capacity as a member of the Military Committee of New York City. See the introductory note to H to James McHenry, June 1, 1798; “Call for a Meeting,” June 4, 1798, note 2.
2. Copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress. This undated document, entitled “Observations on the proposed defence of New York,” is a plan which Steuben had drawn up in 1794 for the defense of New York City. See Steuben to H, March 27, 1794.
North and Steuben remained close associates until Steuben’s death on November 28, 1794. On March 26, 1794, the New York legislature had appointed both men to a commission in charge of fortifying the western and northern frontiers of New York State (“An Act authorizing the erecting of Fortifications, within this state” [New York Laws, 17th Sess., Ch. XLI]). When he died, Steuben left his property in the United States to North and Benjamin Walker, who had also been Steuben’s aide-de-camp (Friedrich Kapp, The Life of Frederick William von Steuben [New York, 1859], 702).