George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 26 October 1790

To Alexander Hamilton

Mount Vernon Octor 26th 1790.


Your letter of the 8th inst: I received yesterday on my return from an excursion up the Potowmack.1

I acquainted you on the 15th instant that I had appointed Mr Woodbury Langdon Commissioner of Loans for the State of New Hampshire;2 but as it is probable from his brothers letter to you,3 that he will decline the appointment, I have now to inform you that I have no objection to Mr Keith Spence the person recommended by Mr John Langdon provided that, on enquiry, you find him to be the person best qualified to discharge the duties of the Office.4

Mr Lear’s knowledge of characters in the State of New Hampshire will assist your information on this subject. I am, sir, Your most Obt Servant5

Go. Washington


1For GW’s trip up the Potomac, see GW to Elizabethtown, Md., Citizens, 20 Oct. 1790, source note.

3John Langdon’s letter to Hamilton, which the secretary of the treasury forwarded to the president on 17 Oct. 1790, has not been found (see Hamilton to GW, 17 Oct. 1790 and note 9, and 26 Oct. 1790).

4Keith Spence (d. 1809), a native of Scotland, settled in Portsmouth, N.H., and married a daughter of the Tory comptroller of the port. Spence was a business partner of Henry Sherburne, Jr., Woodbury Langdon’s brother-in-law. Spence’s reputation had been tarnished by the failure of the firm (see Hamilton to GW, 2 Dec. 1790, DLC:GW; Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 7:187–88).

5The letter-book copy of Hamilton’s 1 Nov. 1790 reply to GW’s 26 Oct. 1790 letter reads: “I am honored with your letter of the 25th ultimo, relative to the office of Commissioner of Loans for the State of New Hampshire. It appears most proper that I should postpone any movement upon this subject, ’till I shall Know your pleasure after my letter of the twenty sixth of last month shall reach your hands, and you shall be ascertained of Mr Langdon’s intentions in regard to the appointment. In obtaining information concerning Mr Spence, I availed myself of Mr Lear’s knowledge of him, a statement of which was involved in the observations upon that Candidate, submitted to you” (DLC:GW).

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