George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 8 July 1791

From Alexander Hamilton

Philadelphia, 8 July 1791. Respectfully submits a contract between the superintendent of the establishments on the Delaware River and John Wilson for building a beacon boat for its shoals1 and humbly gives his opinion, after comparing Wilson’s contract with that of Warwick Hale, enclosed,2 and after inquiring into the proportional value of a similar boat already built and into the present rates of constructing vessels in Philadelphia, “that a contract, more beneficial to the United States with a workman of competent ability would be difficult to effect.”3

LB, DLC:GW.

1Superintendent William Allibone, the master warden of the port of Philadelphia, had forwarded to Alexander Hamilton on 22 April Philadelphia boatbuilder John Wilson’s contract of 19 April for building a replacement beacon boat at Brown Shoal for £78.2.6 (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 8:304). GW approved the contract on 9 July and approved a similar contract with Wilson in March 1793 (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts, Vol. A, 5, 29).

2The enclosure has not been found.

3No reply has been found. Hamilton wrote a second letter to GW this day concerning federal coastal establishments in Pennsylvania, submitting a contract of 20 April made between Allibone and Joseph Anthony & Son of Philadelphia for a year’s supply of “Winter pressed or strained Spermaceti Oil” at 3s. 7d. Pennsylvania currency a gallon for the Cape Henlopen lighthouse. On 22 April Allibone forwarded that contract to Hamilton, who favored its terms, and GW approved it on 9 July. The firm continued to supply the lighthouse with fuel through 1797 at least (see Hamilton to GW, 8 July, DLC:GW, and DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts, vol. A, 7–8, 17, 61).

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