Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Benjamin Lincoln, [10 September 1790]

To Benjamin Lincoln1

[New York, September 10, 1790]

Private

My Dear Sir

I have now under consideration the subject of boats for protection of the Revenue. Though they might be built collectively in certain places with most œconomy; as the saving would not be material, and umbrage might be given, I conclude it will be best to make a partition of them among the states. Accordingly, if the President approves my proposition, One will be built at Boston another at Portsmouth.

The President has received but little information about proper character as officers of the one to be built with you. Capt John Foster Williams2 is the only person before him who it seems is recommended by Governor Hancock.3 You will oblige me by your opinion of that Gentleman and by naming any others who may appear to you preferable. And I will request you to turn your attention at the same time to the inferior officers whose number & emoluments you will find in the last Collection Bill.4 Your communications will of course be considered by me as confidential. No one can be more sensible than yourself how much the utility of the boats will depend on the characters to whom they are committed—or a better judge of the qualities they ought to possess.

It enters into my views to purchase the Duck of your manufacture for the whole number of boats say ten—by way of encouragement to it.5 Is it really of the good quality we are told? Can it be had nearly of the same price with the European Duck & what is that price? The dimensions of the boats will be from forty to fifty feet keel. When the President’s instructions arrive, you will hear further from me.6

I remain Dr Sir   Yr Affect & Obed ser

A Hamilton

What can such a boat be completed with you for?

General Lincoln

ALS, Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Kern, II, Washington, D. C.

1In PAH, VII, 30, this letter is listed as a “letter not found.”

2See H to George Washington, September 29, 1790; Washington to H, October 6, 1790 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , VII, 77–79, 97–98).

3John Hancock, a Boston merchant and signer of the Declaration of Independence, was governor of Massachusetts from 1780 to 1785 and again from 1786 until his death in 1793.

4For Section 62 of “An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 175 [August 4, 1790]), see H to Washington, September 10, 1790, note 1 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , VII, 31).

5For a description of the Boston Duck or Sail Manufactory, see the enclosure to Nathaniel Gorham to H, October 13, 1791 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , IX, 372–73).

6See “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” October 1, 1790 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , VII, 87).

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