Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Samuel Dexter, 9 July 1800

To Samuel Dexter1

New York July 9. 1800


From a letter (not however couched in very explicit terms) which I have received from Mr Bureau De Puissy, I am induced to think, that this Gentleman would be willing to accept an appointment in the service of the United States.

He was under the Royal Government an Engineer of distinction in the service of France. You are I daresay informed of his political history. He was a member and once President of the constituent Assembly. Attached warmly to La Fayette and involved in his fortunes, he withdrew with him and was his fellow prisoner with the Prussians & Austrians. Tired of the Tempest of Europe himself, with his father in law Du Pont De Nemours & the whole connection have removed to this Country and made a little establishment in Bergen County New Jersey.

His professional pretensions admit of no dispute. His private Character is amiable—his intelligence and information are highly respectable.

After mature reflexion I am well satisfied that it is adviseable for the U States to engage him if they can. He may be one of the two Engineers whom the President is empowered to employ with the grade of Colonel and such emoluments as he may think proper to agree for.2

As the Grade is rather below the pretensions, of Mr De Pussy, he may expect an increase of emoluments, which indeed is agreeable to the Spirit of the provision made for this object.

There is a little probability of finding a person better qualified than in all probability is this Gentleman.

The institution of a Military Academy being an object of primary importance will I doubt not be zealously pursued. Whenever it shall take place, Mr Du Pussy will be a most desirable Character to be at the head of it.3

with great respect & Esteem   I have the honor to be Sir   Your obed Serv:

Saml: Dexter Esqr:

Df, in the handwriting of Philip Church, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2Section 17 of “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” provided: “That the President of the United States be authorized to engage and appoint, distinct from the officers of the corps of artillerists and engineers, two engineers with the rank of lieutenant colonel, and to stipulate and allow to them respectively, such compensation as he shall find necessary and expedient” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 753 [March 3, 1799]).

3On July 16, 1800, Dexter wrote to John Adams concerning the proposed military academy: “Teachers may easily be found: an Engineer, fit to be at the head of the institution probably would not so easily be found. I am told that M. Bureau de Pusy, now resident in New Jersey, is a suitable man” (LS, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston). In his response on July 25, 1800, Adams wrote: “Every one speaks well of Mr. Bureau de Pusy. But I have an invincible aversion to the appointment of foreigners, if it can be avoided. It mortifies the honest pride of our officers & damps their ardor & ambition” (LC, Adams Family Papers, deposited in the Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).

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