From James Duane1
Newburgh [New York] 17th February 1783
I am now on a Visit to the General from ⟨Kingston,⟩2 where the Legislature is convened. The British King’s ⟨speech to⟩ his Parliament3 and his Secretary’s Letters to the Lord ⟨Mayor⟩ of London,4 which we had the pleasure of meeting here afford us the fairest prospect of a speedy Peace. I have but one anxiety remaining and that respects a better Establishment of our General Government on a Basis that will secure the permanent Union of the States, and a punctual Payment of the publick Debts. I do not think our Legislature will be averse to a reasonable System. The Assembly have agreed to the Requisitions of Congress and to press for the Arrears of Taxes, and a Joint Committee of both Houses have taken Measures to compel the immediate production of the Accounts of all who have been intrusted with publick money. This last step became so necessary that I found no difficulty in getting it adopted. I woud even hazard an attempt to introduce an Intendant if I had proper Materials: but I am disappointed in not receiving the Maryland plan5 which was promised me by Mr Wright and Mr Hemsley.6 If possible I still wish you would forward their Act on this Subject and for the Collection of Taxes. The Example of a State may be adopted, when any Plan of my own might be rejected. There is such Confusion in the present Administration of our State Finances, and the Weight of our Debts is so burthensome, that a Remedy must be provided; and I apprehend the production of the publick accounts before alluded to will furnish us with sufficient Arguments to prove its necessity.
We act in want of the Report ⟨and of the⟩ Evidence and arguments in support of our territor⟨ial ri⟩ghts.7 If as you proposed you have taken the trouble to copy it be so obliging as to transmit your Copy. Should your Leisure not have been sufficient for the undertaking be pleased to get it transcribed and forwarded. It is a Collection of great Importance to the State and if it should be lost I do not know who would submit to the Labour of a second Effort.
General Schuyler was sent for a week ago to pay the last duties to your Grandfather.8 He wrote me the 10th. that there was no hopes of his surviving many days; but I learn that he was still living four days ago without the least prospect of Recovery.
From your known punctuality I take it for granted that you have written to me agreeably to your promise and that your Letters have miscarried. Any Communication while the Legislature are convened woud be peculiarly acceptable and probably useful.
With the utmost Regard I remain Dear Sir Your Affectionate & most Obedient humble Servant
Col. Alexander Hamilton
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Duane was at this time a member of the New York Senate which was meeting at Kingston, New York.
4. On November 23, 1782, letters were sent by the Secretary of State (presumably the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Thomas Robinson, Lord Grantham) to the Lord Mayor of London and the governors of the Bank of England “acquainting them, for the information of the public, and to prevent the mischiefs arising from speculations in the funds, that the negotiations carrying on at Paris were brought so far to a point, as to promise a decisive conclusion, either for peace or war, before the meeting of the parliament, which on that account was to be prorogued to the 5th of December” (The Annual Register for the Year 1783 [London, 1784], 138).
5. In November, 1781, Maryland had established the office of intendant of revenue. This is probably what Duane means by the “Maryland plan.”
6. Turbutt Wright served as a Maryland delegate to the Continental Congress until late in 1782; William Hemsley was a Maryland delegate in 1782 and 1783. Duane had been a New York representative in Congress from June to November, 1782.
8. Colonel John Van Rensselaer, the father of Mrs. Philip Schuyler.
9. William Floyd, like H, was a New York State delegate to the Continental Congress.
10. Angelica Schuyler, H’s sister-in-law, was married to John B. Church who used the pseudonym John Carter during the Revolution.