Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to John Laurance, [1 March–10 April 1777]

To John Laurance1

[Morristown, New Jersey, March 1–April 10, 1777]

My dear Jack

Agreeable to your request, I inquired of Gen: Knox,2 concerning a vacancy of a Captain’s birth in his Corps. I find there is such vacancy; and upon being pressed to mention my reason for the inquiry, contrary to your prohibition, I ventured to inform him, that you had signified to me an intention of taking a more active part in our military affairs, than you had heretofore done—and that, I was in hopes you might be prevailed with to accept a company in the Artillery. He was much pleased with the idea, and begged me to urge it upon you, and as an extra-inducement desired me to make you a tender of the remains of my old company,3 which will be a considerable help to you, in case you should resolve upon embracing the proposal. I shall be very happy if you determine to enter in a Corps so respectable in itself, and at the head of which is a gentleman for whom I have a particular esteem, and who I know is capable of distinguishing merit and willing to reward and encourage it. If you have not a better prospect, I would by all means have you to improve this. You will oblige me with a speedy answer, as General Knox will wait till he hears from you, even if he should have an opportunity of filling his vacancies to his satisfaction.

I am   Dr Sr   Yr. Assured friend & servant

A Hamilton

ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1Laurance, who was born in England and came to New York in 1767, was admitted to the bar in 1772. During the American Revolution he was aide-de-camp to his father-in-law, Brigadier General Alexander McDougall, and the paymaster of the First New York Regiment until April 10, 1777, when he became judge advocate.

2Henry Knox was commissioned a colonel in the Continental Regiment of Artillery on November 17, 1775, and became brigadier general and chief of artillery on December 27, 1776.

3H had been a captain in command of a company of New York artillery. See H to McDougall, March 17, 1776 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , I, 181–82). On March 1, 1777, he became George Washington’s aide-de-camp. See “General Orders, Appointing Alexander Hamilton Aide-de-Camp to General Washington,” March 1, 1777 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , I, 196).

Index Entries