George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 14 March 1799

From Alexander Hamilton

New York March 14. 1799

Sir

I have the honor to send you the extract of a letter of the 8th instant (received two days since) from the Secretary of War, together with the Section of the Act to which it relates.1

I am entirely of opinion with him, as to the expediency of causing the Pay Master General to reside at the seat of Government—But as the measure is of importance, and especially as the act expressly refers the point to the “Commander in Chief”—I did not think myself at liberty to act without your previous decision.

I request instruction on the point, as soon as shall be convenient, unless you shall think it proper to give yourself the necessary orders to the Pay Master General.2 With perfect respect & attachment I have the honor to be Sir Your obed. servt

A. Hamilton

ALS, DLC:GW; three copies, DLC: Hamilton Papers. The editors of the Hamilton Papers note that a second letter to GW of this date and also a letter of 28 July 1798 from Hamilton to GW are cited in a “List of Letters from General Hamilton to George Washington” in the Columbia University Libraries (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 22:36, 539). Neither of these letters has been found, but Hamilton’s letter to GW of 29 July 1798 makes clear that Hamilton had not sent a letter to GW written the day before, or at any time recently, and when GW acknowledges on 25 Mar. 1799 the receipt of Hamilton’s letter of 14 Mar., he acknowledges the receipt of only one, not two, letters of that date. The editors of the Hamilton Papers also found in the Libraries’ “List of Letters from G——Washington to General Hamilton” citation of five missing letters from GW to Hamilton, dated 14 Sept. and 9 Oct. 1798, 4, 15 Mar. and 11 Aug. 1799. No allusion to any of these letters nor the least hint of their existence has been found anywhere in the correspondence of the two men. Furthermore at this time it was GW’s general practice to make letterpress copies of his letters, and whenever a letter of his to one of his regular correspondents such as Hamilton was not acknowledged, he usually referred to the letter by date and inquired whether it had been received.

1The enclosed extract of a letter from James McHenry to Hamilton of 8 Mar., which is printed in its entirety in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 22:522–24, is McHenry’s explanation for his recommendation that the paymaster of the army, Caleb Swan, be ordered to move his office from Cincinnati to Philadelphia. The section of the act “for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States” that Hamilton enclosed directed that this be done (ibid.).

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