Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, 20 December 1798

To James McHenry


New York Decr. 20. 1798

Dear Sir

I have been reflecting on the subject of an arrangement for the command of the 2d. Regiment of Artillery and for the Inspectorship of Artillery. I believe on the whole you can do nothing better than appoint Tousard,1 who I understand is next in rank after Burbeck,2 to the command of the Regiment and Major Hoops3 to the Inspectorship. Confidence, by halves is seldom wise. Toussard is in the service—delicate service has been and must be entrusted to him—his fidelity will be best secured by giving him a fair and equal chance, and shewing him that he is not suspected.4 I shall be much mistaken, if he does not prove to merit confidence.

Hoops is very intelligent industrious and persevering—he also has a good deal of information. Perhaps he may have displeased by being sometimes importunate; but that ingredient in the character which may have led to this, as an indication of zeal and perseverance, ought to be no objection to him.

Yrs. truly

A Hamilton

J Mc.Henry Esq

ALS, Columbia University Libraries; ALS (photostat), James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; copy, in the handwriting of Phillip Church, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Tousard, a former captain of artillery in the French army, was an aide to Lafayette in the American Revolution and a lieutenant colonel in the Continental Army. After the war he served with the French forces in Santo Domingo until 1792 and then returned to France, where he was imprisoned. In 1793 he returned to the United States, and in 1795 he became a major in the United States Army. Between 1795 and 1800 he planned and supervised the building of the fortifications of Fort Mifflin in Pennsylvania, of West Point in New York, and at Newport, Rhode Island. On August 7, 1798, Tousard wrote to H and applied for the position of inspector of artillery (letter listed in the appendix to this volume).

2Henry Burbeck of Massachusetts was a veteran of the American Revolution who remained in service after the war. He was a lieutenant colonel in the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers.

3In the seventeen-nineties, Hoops, a veteran of the American Revolution, surveyed the Genessee country in New York for Robert Morris. On June 1, 1798, he had been appointed a major in the Corps of Artillerists and Engineers (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 277, 279).

4See John Adams to H, September 4, 1798, in which Adams expressed apprehension about appointing Tousard because Tousard’s native country was France (letter listed in the appendix to this volume).

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