Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to John Jay, 19 November 1798

To John Jay1

Philada: Novr. 19th 1798


Your letter of the 5 of November has recently reached me at this place and found me amongst avocations that scarcely leave me a moment to spare. You will probably have learnt from General Clarkson that the survey of the Port has been completed.2

But I do not recollect that I have had any answer to a suggestion in one of my letters respecting the employment of Engineers to assist in forming the desired plan.3 This appears to me an essential preliminary. It is very possible the contrary may have been said to you by persons of whose intelligence you may have a good opinion. Self-sufficiency and a contempt of the science & experience of others are too prevailing traits of Character in this Country. But as far as I am to be concerned auxiliary lights are a sine qua non. I do not feel myself adequate to the complicated task of an Engineer unaided by men of more technical knowledge than myself.

With the greatest respect & esteem   I have the honor to be   Sir   Yr. obedt Servant

A Hamilton

Governor Jay

Copy, in the handwriting of Philip Church, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy (incomplete), Dr. Frank Monaghan, Washington, D.C.

1This letter was enclosed in H to Ebenezer Stevens, November 19, 1798. For background to this letter, see the introductory note to H to James McHenry, June 1, 1798.

3Letter not found. On November 26, 1798, Jay wrote to H: “No letter from you containing such a suggestion has reached me.”

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