Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to James McHenry, [1 June 1798]

To James McHenry

[New York, June 1, 1798]

My Dear Sir

Our citizens are extremely anxious that some further measures for their defence should take place. Do me the favour to inform me confidentially what means are actually in the disposition of your department for this purpose when & how they will be applied.

Yrs truly

A Hamilton

A Capt Hacker19 formerly of our Navy is desirous of being employed. One or two good men have recommended him to me. It seems however that he has been heretofore rather Democratic. I barely wish that his pretensions may be fairly but carefully considered & that he may have such chance as he merits.

The sooner I hear from you the better.

J McHenry Esq

ALS (photostat), James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress; ALS, from a typescript furnished by Mr. Joseph M. Roebling, Trenton, New Jersey.

11 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 345–46.

21 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 346–47 (March 21, 1794).

3LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

4Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VI, 1672.

51 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 521–22.

61 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 554–55.

9Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 435–36.

10Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 444.

11Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 447.

12Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 452, 458, 462, 467, 473.

13Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 577.

14[New York] Argus. Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser, June 11, 1798. For this meeting and the events leading up to it, see “Call for a Meeting,” June 4, 1798, note 2.

15New York Laws, 17th Sess., Ch. XLI.

16New York Laws, 22nd Sess., Ch. V. This act reads in part: “Be it enacted …, That a sum not exceeding one hundred and fifty thousand dollars be, and the same is hereby appropriated, for the purposes of repairing and compleating such fortifications, as have already been erected and constructed in the said city and its vicinity, and for constructing and erecting such other fortifications at such place or places, upon the Island of New-York, Governor’s Island, Bedlow’s Island, Ellice’s or Oyster Island and Long Island, and for providing such other means of defence, for the security of the said city and port of New-York, as the person administering the government of this State for the time being, shall or may deem best adapted to the security and defence of the same, and provided that the said sum shall be expended under the direction of the President of the United States.

And be it further enacted, That there be appropriated a sum not exceeding one hundred and sixty-five thousand dollars for the purchase of a further quantity of arms, and to provide ammunition for the use of the militia of this State; to mount and equip the cannon belonging to this State; to purchase military stores, and for building an arsenal or arsenals in such parts of this State as the person administering the government of this State for the time being shall order and direct. That the person administering the government of this State for the time being do cause the said arsenal or arsenals to be built and the said purchases to be made, in such manner and on such terms as to him shall seem most conducive to the interest of this State.

And be it further enacted, That the arms, ammunition, cannon and military stores now belonging to the people of the State, and such as may be purchased by virtue of this act, shall be distributed or deposited in such place or places, as the person administering the government of this State shall from time to time direct.

And be it further enacted, That it shall and may be lawful to and for the person administering the government of this State for the time being, to employ such agent or agents, as he may deem proper to superintend the works intended to be repaired, erected and constructed in conformity to this act, and to purchase the requisite materials and military stores herein provided for.

And be it further enacted, That the Comptroller of this State shall on the order of the person administering the government of this State for the time being draw his warrant on the Treasurer of this State, for the payment of the aforesaid several sums of money hereby appropriated, or for such parts thereof, as may from time be requested or directed for the purposes aforesaid by the person administering the government of this State; and the said Comptroller shall audit the accounts of the expences and disbursements which may accrue by reason of the premises, and shall annually lay the same before the Legislature at their stated meetings.…”

A copy of this act is in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress. Also in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress, is an unsigned and undated draft written by Philip Schuyler of a statute for fortifying New York City. This draft differs in several significant features from the statute adopted by the New York legislature.

17LC, Governor’s Letter Books, from the original in the New York State Library, Albany; copy, Dr. Frank Monaghan, Washington, D.C.

19Hoystead Hacker, who was among the first group of commissioned officers in the Continental navy in 1775, entered the navy as a lieutenant and was promoted to captain. In 1779 he was in command of the Providence when it defeated the Diligent. When this letter was written, he was a resident of New York City, a pilot for Long Island Sound, and a member of the standing committee of the Marine Society of New York City.

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