Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 31 January 1782

From James McHenry1

Baltimore 31st Jany. 1782

I reckon, my dear sir, among the contrasted events which have diversified my life, to have been made the confidant of the author of Publius,2 and as a Senator of Maryland to have been present at Mr Chase’s defence in our house of delegates against charges contained in your pieces.3 I send you the proceedings which have been published and letters which have been passed between Major Giles and myself upon this occasion.4 After you have considered the whole you will say what more I am to do. I withhold my opinion in this case in order that you may determine without the suspicion of a biass.

I have the honor

James McHenry

ALS, William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan.

1McHenry was elected to the Maryland Senate in September, 1781, and attended the session of the legislature which met in January, 1782.

2The three “Publius” letters written by H were dated October 16, 26, and November 16, 1778. In them H had charged that Samuel Chase, then a delegate to the Continental Congress from Maryland, had, in anticipation of the arrival of the French fleet in America, used secret congressional information to corner the market on flour.

3In January, 1782, John Cadwalader, a brigadier general of the Pennsylvania Militia who had moved to Maryland where he was elected a member of the House of Delegates, moved that as Chase had betrayed the public trust his appointment as a delegate to the Continental Congress be revoked. After evidence had been heard both for and against Chase, the House of Delegates, on January 16, 1782, exonerated him.

4Major Edward Giles, first an aide-de-camp to Brigadier General Daniel Morgan and then to Major General William Smallwood, wrote McHenry that the evidence produced before the Maryland legislature had proved Chase innocent and urged McHenry to persuade the author of the “Publius” essays to retract his charges.

The proceedings to which McHenry referred were those of the Maryland House of Delegates. Both the proceedings and letters enclosed by McHenry are in the William L. Clements Library of the University of Michigan.

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