George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 20 March 1793

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Departmt 20th Mar: 1793.


I have the honor to submit a letter from Wm Bingham Esqr. of the 26th of febry last, together with the papers which it enclosed.1

It would seem that the United States in Congress assembled have already put the affair in a situation to make the consequences of the Suit a public concern; in which case it would appear adviseable that measures should be taken for a regular defence on behalf of the Government;2 so at least, that what is just may be finally done, and no more. With perfect respect, I am &c.

Alex: Hamilton


1William Bingham (1752–1804), a merchant, politician, and banker from Philadelphia, served on the board of directors for the Bank of the United States. Appointed the British consul at St. Pierre, Martinique in 1770, Bingham continued there as an agent of the Continental Congress 1776–80. He served in the Continental Congress 1786–89, in the Pennsylvania Assembly 1790–95, and in the U.S. Senate 1795–1801. Hamilton included Bingham on his list of potential commissioners for the upcoming Indian treaty at Lower Sandusky (Knox to GW, 29 Jan. 1793, n.1). Bingham’s letter to Hamilton of 26 Feb. and its enclosures can be found 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 14:154–57. In this letter Bingham requested assistance from the president due to the refiling of a suit first lodged against him in 1779. The suit demanded that Bingham, who as consul at Martinique had sold the prizes captured by an American privateer, pay restitution to the owners of the privateer. With the help of the Continental Congress, Bingham had successfully appealed the case in the Massachusetts Supreme Court in 1784 (ibid., nn.2–6).

2When Hamilton delivered this letter to GW, he requested that Attorney General Edmund Randolph examine “the merits of the Case” (JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 96). On 22 Mar. he drafted a letter for GW to this effect, which the president sent to Randolph that same day.

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