Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James Duane, 17 February 1783

From James Duane1

Newburgh [New York] 17th February 1783

Dear Sir

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.

Be pleased to present any respectful Compliments to Col. Floyd9 to Mrs. Hamilton and Mr. and Mrs. Carter10 and to the Gentlemen of our Family &c.

With the utmost Regard I remain Dear Sir Your Affectionate & most Obedient humble Servant

Jas. Duane

Col. Alexander Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Duane was at this time a member of the New York Senate which was meeting at Kingston, New York.

2Material in broken brackets is taken from JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851). description ends , I, 329–31.

4On 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).

5In November, 1781, Maryland had established the office of intendant of revenue. This is probably what Duane means by the “Maryland plan.”

6Turbutt 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.

7Duane is probably referring to H’s “Motion on Vermont” of December 5, 1782 and to the evidence H presumably collected for a refutation of Vermont’s claim of jurisdiction over citizens of New York.

8Colonel John Van Rensselaer, the father of Mrs. Philip Schuyler.

9William Floyd, like H, was a New York State delegate to the Continental Congress.

10Angelica Schuyler, H’s sister-in-law, was married to John B. Church who used the pseudonym John Carter during the Revolution.

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