Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 12 May 1800

From James McHenry

12 May 1800.

Dear Sir.

Mr. Pusy1 I presume is known to you by an introduction from the Marquis de la Fayette, of course he needs none from me.

I mention him to you for the purpose only of bringing him to your recollection. He is in my opinion the best informed and best instructed Engineer in the U.S. and highly qualified, by his attainments and actual experience to give the soundest ideas relative to the most proper works for the defence of the Harbour of New York. I advise you to think of him. I shall retire on or perhaps a little before the 1st of June from office,2 and do not intend to take any agency in the fortifications of which I have informed Mr. Jay.

I am Dr. Sir yours sincerely

James McHenry

Majr Gen Hamilton.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ADf, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.

1Jean Xavier Bureaux de Pusy, a French army officer, had been a member of the Estates-General in 1789. He was elected president of the Constituent Assembly three times. With the overthrow of the French monarchy, he abandoned his support of the revolution and attempted to escape to America, but he was captured by the Austrians and imprisoned in Olmütz prison with other Frenchmen, including Lafayette. He was released from prison during the winter of 1796–1797 and sailed from Hamburg to the United States. He married a daughter of Marie Françoise Robin Poivre, a widow who had married Pierre Samuel Du Pont de Nemours in 1794.

2McHenry was forced to resign as Secretary of War. In a private meeting with John Adams on May 5, 1800, the President berated McHenry for inefficiency and political disloyalty. Adams asked McHenry for his resignation, and McHenry agreed to the President’s request. On May 6, 1800, McHenry submitted his resignation and suggested that it take effect on June 1, 1800 (ALS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). The next day Adams formally accepted the resignation (Adams to McHenry, May 7, 1800 [LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]). For McHenry’s account of his resignation, see the enclosures to McHenry to H, first letter of May 20, June 2, 1800.

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