George Washington Papers

Tobias Lear to Alexander Hamilton, 6 December 1792

Tobias Lear to Alexander Hamilton

United States [Philadelphia] Decr 6th 1792

By the President’s command, T. Lear has the honor to return to the Secretary of the Treasury, with the President’s approbation affixed thereto, the Contract entered into by Thomas Newton jur on the part of the U.S. with John McComb junr to execute certain additional objects specified in said Contract, to the Lighthouse lately erected on Cape Henry: And to inform the Secretary that the President approves of the sum of six hundred and fifty Dollars being paid to said McComb for building a certain Wall & laying a platform at the said Lighthouse, agreeably to a proposal for that purpose made in a Letter from sd McComb to said Newton, which letter has been submitted to the President.1

Tobias Lear S.P.U.S.


1Following Hamilton’s instructions, Commissioner of the Revenue Tench Coxe had written Lear on this date to inquire “whether the President has formed his determination in regard to the two additional Objects (the platform and the extension of the foundation) in Mr McCombs account.” Hamilton was anxious for GW’s decision because John McComb, Jr., the contractor for the new lighthouse at Cape Henry, Va., had been in Philadelphia since “the Thursday in last week [29 Nov.]” and “has urgent business at home” (DNA:RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). For background on the “additional Objects” and the question about paying McComb for work not included in the original contract, see Hamilton to GW, 3 Dec., and note 1. A copy of the supplemental 29 July 1791 contract for extending the depth and width of the foundation, which was signed by McComb and by Thomas Newton, Jr., who acted “for Alexr Hamilton,” and McComb’s estimate of the cost are in DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts, 1790–1812. Neither the second supplemental contract, for building the platform, nor the letter from McComb to Newton has been identified. McComb’s estimate for the foundation of 29 July 1791 proposed that “in case his demand agreeably to an Estimate hereunto annexed, should appear too high in the opinion of the President, That the Extra work shall be determined by three disinterested persons to be mutually chosen” (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts, 1790–1812).

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