George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 26 October 1790

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Department [Philadelphia]
October 26th 1790.


I have had the honor to receive your several letters of the 12th, 13th, & 15th inst: which finding me in the act of removal from New York to Philadelphia, I have been prevented from the due acknowledgement of their reception at an earlier moment.

The Baron Perin’s claim shall be examined as soon as the Officers of the Treasury can complete the arrangement of their Books & papers, which I trust will be in a very few days, and I shall communicate to the Baron the result, transmiting at the same time your letter to him.1

I was apprehensive from the letter of Mr J. Langdon to me which I had the honor to enclose to you at the moment of my departure from New York, that his brother was not very desirous of the Office of Commissioner of Loans.2 A later letter of his to Mr Lear is less decided, though that to me expresses a wish that the appointment may be given to Mr Keith Spence of Portsmouth.3 I have however transmitted your letter to Mr Woodbury Langdon, and have written to his brother, as the recent insolvency of Mr Spence, a circumstance which I have just learnt from Mr Lear appears to render him in a considerable degree unsuitable for an Office of so great pecuniary trust.4 I have the honor to be with the highest respect sir Yr most Obedient & most humble servt

Alexander Hamilton


1For the $60,000 claim against Congress of the Saint Domingue sugar planter Martin-Louis Du Périer, see Du Périer to GW, 8 June 1790 and source note.

2U.S. senator John Langdon’s letter concerning his brother Woodbury’s appointment as New Hampshire loans commissioner has not been found (see Hamilton to GW, 17 Oct. 1790, and GW to Hamilton, 26 Oct. 1790).

3John Langdon’s 5 Oct. 1790 letter to Tobias Lear has not been found, but Lear’s 14 Oct. 1790 reply to it reads: “I had just now the honor to receive your letter of the 5th Inst. which was forwarded to me from New York.

“As soon as the Secretary of the Treasury was informed of Mr Gilman’s resignation he called upon me to know what candidate there was for that office who would probably accept it to reside in Portsmouth and enter upon the duties of it immediately. I mentioned your brother as having been named to the President for that purpose, and I presumed upon his acceptance from the circumstances which you had mentioned to me. The President has accordingly written to [him] on the subject; and by this time the appointment of Judge Langdon to that Office is undoubtedly on the Road.

“Should Mr John Taylor Gilman resign his Office, or from indisposition be incapable of discharging the duties thereof; I know of no person who could fill the place to more acceptance than Judge Langdon. I had mentioned him to the President for that purpose when the Commissioners were about to be nominated, and have no doubt but he would have been appointed if any change had taken place in the Commission. In case of Mr Gilman’s resignation I think he will come in.

“As Judge Langdon is undoubtedly appointed Commissioner of Loans I can say nothing, at present, respecting Mr Spence for that Office. It requires an accurate & able man to execute it; and if circumstances should render Judge Langdon’s resignation necessary, we must then think of some other person in Portsmouth to fill it” (NhHi: Langdon-Elwyn Family Papers; see also Commissioners for Settling Accounts to GW, 21 July 1790, n.2).

4For GW’s 15 Oct. 1790 letter to Woodbury Langdon, see Hamilton to GW, 6 Oct. 1790, n.3. Hamilton’s 26 Oct. 1790 letter to John Langdon is 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 26:577–78. For GW’s reply to Hamilton’s 26 Oct. 1790 letter, see GW to Hamilton, 8 Nov. 1790.

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