Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, [16 December 1793]

To Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg

Treasury Department
December 16, 1793.

Sir

It is known that in the last Session certain questions were raised respecting my Conduct in Office,19 which, though decided in a manner the most satisfactory to me, were nevertheless, unavoidably from the lateness of the period when they were set on foot, so accelerated in their issue, as to have given occasion to a Suggestion that there was not time for due examination.20 Unwilling to leave the Matter upon such a footing, I have concluded to request of the House of Representatives, as I now do, that a new Inquiry may be without delay instituted, in some mode most effectual for an accurate and thorough investigation—And I will add, that the more comprehensive it is, the more agreeable it will be to me.

I cannot however but take the Liberty of observing to the House that a like plan to that which was pursued in the last Session can never answer the purpose of a full and complete inquiry; while it would lay on me a burthen with which neither the proper discharge of the current duties of my Office nor the present State of my Health21 is compatible. The unfavourable effect upon the business of the Department, of the very considerable portion of my time, which was engrossed by the Inquiry of last Session, has not yet entirely ceased.

With perfect respect, I have the honor to be   Sir,   Your most obedient & most humble Servant

Alexander Hamilton
Secy. of the Treasury

The Honourable
The Speaker of the House of Representatives.

Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1784–1795, Vol. IV, National Archives; copy RG 233, Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, Third Congress, National Archives; copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 16.

3An entry in the [Philadelphia] Gazette of the United States & Evening Advertiser for December 16, 1793, reads as follows: “A letter was read from the secretary of the treasury, requesting an enquiry to be instituted, for the purpose of investigating the transactions of the treasury department—and suggesting a mode, different from that pursued at the last session.

“Mr. Giles moved several resolutions relative to this business, and proposed the appointment of a Committee, to make the requisite enquiries, and to report to the House.”

5For Giles’s statement on February 24, 1794, see Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings of 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 , IV, 464.

6Journal of the Senate description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Third Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia, December 2d, 1793 and In the Eighteenth Year of the Sovereignty of the Said United States (Philadelphia: Printed by John Fenno, Printer to the Senate of the United States [1794]). description ends , 25–26; Henry Adams, The Life of Albert Gallatin (Philadelphia, 1879), 115–17.

7Journal of the Senate description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States of America, Being the First Session of the Third Congress, Begun and Held at the City of Philadelphia, December 2d, 1793 and In the Eighteenth Year of the Sovereignty of the Said United States (Philadelphia: Printed by John Fenno, Printer to the Senate of the United States [1794]). description ends , 37–39.

8Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings of 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 , IV, 57.

9“An Act making provision for the (payment of the) Debt of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 138–44 [August 4, 1790]) and “An Act making Provision for the Reduction of the Public Debt” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 186–87 [August 12, 1790]).

10Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 71–72.

11Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 72.

12Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings of 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 , IV, 467.

13D, RG 233, Papers of the Select Committee Appointed to Examine the Treasury Department, Third Congress, National Archives.

14Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 175; D, RG 233, Papers of the Select Committee Appointed to Examine the Treasury Department, Third Congress, National Archives.

15D, RG 233, Papers of the Select Committee Appointed to Examine the Treasury Department, Third Congress, National Archives.

16Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 175.

20In a pamphlet dated March 8, 1793, a critic of H’s conduct of the Treasury discussed the question of the lack of time for the 1793 examination of the Treasury and the defeat of the Giles resolutions: “Although the last of the long series of [Treasury Department] reports furnished, was not presented more than four or five days before the close of the session, yet … [Giles] deemed it incumbent upon him, and consistent with that candour which has always marked his character, to shew in that stage, the extent of his objections to … [H’s] official conduct. With this view he laid on the table, and subject to the disposition of the House, several resolutions specifying these objections. It was to be inferred, that on account of the short time intervening before the adjournment, and of course, the impossibility of examining, and thoroughly comprehending, all the various documents relating to the subject, and of giving it that full and free discussion its importance required, it was his wish the consideration should be postponed to the next session. Upon this point, however, he appeared to be indifferent, because he well knew the subject was now before another tribunal who would do justice to it. But the conduct of the house which I deem important in the scale of these observations, shall now be noticed.

“The fiscal corps appeared to consider themselves more critically circumstanced than this member. They were obviously struck with consternation. To get rid of it altogether, they could not hope. To postpone it to the next session, was what of all things they dreaded. It was before the public, who were interested in the result, and who would force a trial at one time or other. They therefore laid hold of it with avidity, and a strong hand. If we now decide upon it, perhaps it may be deemed satisfactory, and with us who are his friends, no danger need be apprehended. They sat day and night upon the resolutions; until they got through them; and although they complained there was not sufficient time for the investigation, yet they hurried the decision, in half the time remaining. The free latitude of discussion, practiced upon other occasions was refused; the smallest departure was censured; and whenever, in particular, an approach was made toward the bank, the whole party tumultuously crying to order, and, with the directors at their head, rose in arms to defend it.” (An Examination of the Late proceedings in Congress, respecting the official conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury [Printed within the United States, 1793], 24–25.)

In “‘The Piece Left Behind’: Monroe’s Authorship of a Political Pamphlet Revealed,” Edmund and Dorothy Smith Berkeley have shown that James Monroe probably wrote this pamphlet rather than John Taylor of Caroline as had been previously believed (The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography [April, 1967], 174–80).

21For H’s illness during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, see Washington to H, September 6, 1793, note 1.

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