Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Jeremiah Olney, 29 June 1801

To Jeremiah Olney1

New York June 29. 1801

Dear Sir

The original of your letter of the 9th. of April never came to hand. The copy in that of the 9th. of June arrived here while I was on a circuit, so that I did not receive it till a few days ago.

It is the practice on the admission of honorary members to present them with diplomas.2 But there are no blanks in my possession and very few in that of the officers of the Society of this state. These, without an order of the Society, could not part with them—and it being very doubtful whether of the small number which remains a sufficiency could be spared for your purpose,3 I have written to the Secy of the General Society4 to endeavour to obtain a supply. I delayed for a day or two answering your letter in hope of receiving it; but not having yet had an answer to my application, I conclude to avail myself of the post of to day. The moment I can acquire in any way the number wanted it shall be forwarded.

Accept the assurance of my warm esteem and regard and present on my behalf to your Society congratulations on the approaching anniversary.

A Hamilton

J Olney Esqr

ALS, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence.

1H wrote this letter in his capacity as president general of the Society of the Cincinnati, a position he held from May 5, 1800, until his death in July, 1804. See “Election by the Adjourned General Meeting of the Society of the Cincinnati,” May 5, 1800.

Olney was president of the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati from 1800 to 1804.

2The “diplomas” were certificates of membership which were designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant and adopted for use by the General Society of the Cincinnati on May 14, 1784.

3H is referring to an Independence Day celebration that the Rhode Island Society of the Cincinnati planned to hold at Newport on July 4, 1801. When this meeting did take place, Olney was re-elected president and six honorary members were admitted (The Providence Gazette, July 11, 1801). Benjamin Bourne, who became United States judge for the District of Rhode Island in February, 1801, was one of the honorary members appointed (Olney to Bourne, June 20, 1801 [LC, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence]).

4Letter not found. William Jackson of Pennsylvania was the secretary general of the Society of the Cincinnati from 1799 to 1828.

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