To John Jay1
New York Feby 12. 1799
After a plan for fortifying our port shall have been settled, the execution of it with energy & dispatch will demand a very great portion of the time and attention of a competent character as Superintendant. This task I cannot undertake consistently with my other occupations. Col Burr will be very equal to it and will I believe undertake it, if an adequate compensation be annexed. He would likewise be useful in the formation of a plan. I know not what collateral objections may have arisen from recent conduct of that Gentleman;2 but independent of these I should favour his agency in the business. Clarkeson can still disburse the money which is all he will engage for.3
Respectfully & with true regard Dr Sir Yr obed ser
ALS, C. P. Greenough Fuller Collection, Princeton University Library; copy (incomplete), Dr. Frank Monaghan, Washington, D.C.
1. For background to this letter, see the introductory note to H to James McHenry, June 1, 1798.
2. In 1797 Aaron Burr was elected to the New York Assembly, and he served from January 2, 1798, to April 3, 1799. On February 9, 1799, Burr had John Swartwout of New York City introduce a resolution in the New York Assembly calling for changes in the method of electing state senators and in the method of selecting Presidential electors. On the motion of Jedediah Peck of Otsego this resolution was divided into two resolutions, amended, and the separate resolutions were then approved. The second resolution called for a bill to allow the election of Presidential electors by the people rather than by the legislature (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 106). By this resolution the Democratic-Republicans hoped to secure some of New York’s electoral votes, for they anticipated a Federalist-controlled legislature in 1800. “An Act providing for the election of electors of a President and Vice President of the United States” was reported out of committee on March 7, 1799, and passed on March 22, 1799 (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 179, 217, 239, 240–41). The bill was defeated in the New York Senate on April 1, 1799 (Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 92–93, 96, 120–21).