George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 2 April 1794

From Alexander Hamilton

[Philadelphia] 2d April 1794.


Two persons have been mentioned to me as qualified & probably willing to go—one Mr Ralston, merchant;1 the other Mr Higginson, Lawyer. The latter is supposed to be the most competent, & would probably be in all respects acceptable. I mentioned them half an hour ago to the Secy of State. Upon an enquiry of his—he prefers the latter.2 Respectfully &c.

A. Hamilton.


1Robert Ralston (1761–1836) was a Philadelphia merchant who amassed a fortune in the East Indian trade and was known for his philanthropic activities, including large contributions to the Widows’ and Children’s Asylum, the Mariners’ Church, and the Philadelphia Bible Society.

2Massachusetts native Nathaniel Cabot Higginson (1768–1794) practiced law in Philadelphia, where he had married Sarah Rhea in 1792. He died at Roseau, a port city in the British colony of Dominica, in July 1794 (Gazette of the United States [Philadelphia], 9 Aug. 1794). Acceding to the cabinet opinion contained in Edmund Randolph’s first letter to GW of this date, GW appointed Higginson a special agent assigned to the State Department. Higginson then was sent to the British West Indies to file appeals in British admiralty courts on behalf of American ships being held in those islands (GW to Hamilton, 16 April 1794; see also Hamilton to Higginson, 16 April 1794, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:288–91).

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