George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 26 June 1790

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Department [New York] June 26th 1790

The Secretary of the Treasury has the honor respectfully to inform the President of the United states, that he has received a letter from the Collector of Charleston in South Carolina, from which he learns that some misconception has arisen as to the nature of the qualifications of Mr Thomas Hollingsby, who on the joint recommendation of the Collector & commissioners of Pilotage for that port was appointed Superintendant of the Light-house. These Gentlemen appear to feel much concern, that they shou’d have so expressed themselves, as to promote his appointment to that Duty, and the Collector from his anxiety on the subject has ventur’d to detain the letters directed for Mr Hollingsby ’till the pleasure of the president, after this information, shou’d be Known—Under these circumstances, the Secretary respectfully submits to the President an opinion, that the public interests will be promoted by the appointment of another person as superintendant, who may employ Mr Hollingsby in the station of Keeper, for which the Collector and Commissioners intended to recommend him—He takes the liberty further to add, that Edward Blake Esqr. has been strongly recommended as a suitable person by the Honorable Mr Tucker of the south Carolina Delegation, which is confirmed by the Collector of Charleston.1

Alexander Hamilton
Secy of the Treasury


1In his letter to GW of 3 Jan. 1790 regarding appointments in the lighthouse service, Hamilton recommended Thomas Hollingsby, then in charge of the lighthouse, buoys, and beacons in Charleston, as having been “recommended by the Commissioners of Pilotage” of Charleston “as a person perfectly qualified for the business” (Hamilton to GW, 3 Jan. 1790). Hamilton further advised that the conduct of lighthouse superintendent for Charleston be put under the general direction of the collector for that port, George Abbott Hall. Apparently Hall wrote in a letter to Hamilton, not found by the editors of the Hamilton Papers, that Hollingsby was unsuited to some of the responsibilities of the office (see Hamilton to GW, 26 June 1790, in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 6:473–74, n.1). Lear replied on 29 June 1790 that “The President of the U. States . . . assents to the removal of Mr Thomas Hollingsby for the office of Superintendant of the Light house of Charleston in south Carolina and to the appointment of Edward Blake Esqr. to that place, for the reasons communicated to him by the Secretary of the Treasury on the 26th inst:” (Lear to Hamilton, 29 June 1790, DLC:GW). Edward Blake (d. 1795), a Charleston merchant, served as commissioner of the pilotage in Charleston in 1788–89 and in the South Carolina general assembly in 1779–80, 1782, and 1787–90. In 1788 he was a Federalist delegate to the South Carolina convention that ratified the federal Constitution (Bio. Dir. of the S.C. House of Representatives, description begins Joan Schreiner Reynolds Faunt et al., eds. Biographical Directory of the South Carolina House of Representatives. 4 vols. Columbia, S.C., 1974–84. description ends 3:70–72).

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