Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Jeremiah Wadsworth, 11 November 1785

From Jeremiah Wadsworth

Hartford Novr 11th 1785

Dear Sir,

I received your favor of the 29th ulto. Thursday. I have been very uneasy about my stock in the Bank of North America and long before the repeal of the Pensilvania act of Incorporation, I had determined to take the first favorable opportunity to withdraw it. When I was last at New York it was pretty certain the state of Pensilvania would repeal their Act. I then wrote a letter to Mr Pettit1 of which the inclosed is a Copy—and hoped that would have put me in possession of my money—but it failed and has I am told very much offended the president & directors of ye Bank2—and their great Mr Francis3 the Cashier has been very busy I hear in trying to shew that I have acted inconsistently as he had read a letter to Chaloner4 which I wrote at an earlier period—in which I gave it as my opinion that their assembly had proceded with “Violence & injustice.” It seems Mr. F. has construed my letter into a censure of the conduct of the President & directors—and is exceedingly angry and so I believe are some of those who have heretofore been my friends. But I am perfectly willing they shoud think & act as they please if I can rescue my property from their grasp and I will come to New York before January and Co-opperate with You & such other friends as we can find in measures that may be most proper to obtain our wishes. Mr Arthur Lee (who has as Many Votes as any body can have according to the present System)5 proposed to me to join in measures to withdraw our Stock & seemed to be exceedingly anxious & determined to withdraw his. Duer6 expressed a desire to have us employ our Stock in a private Bank at New York and mentioned the brother in Law of Mr Constable7 who is a large Stock holder as desireous to withdraw from Phila and join at New York. This was a Scheme I liked pretty well & gave some encouragement to it. but did not agree on any thing, but wished to have Mr Constables brother in Law pursue the same measures with us respecting the Bank of N.A. Mr Constable lately wrote me a letter of which I inclose you a Copy. I wrote him for answer that I could decide on Nothing before I arrived in New York.

I will endeaver to sell Churchs Land as soon as possible—but I have missed the best opportunity of doing it before ye Spring—as our General Assembly is over & Canfield gone home.8 Mrs W & the Children join me in every good wish. Be assured that I am sincerely & affectionately   Your friend & Humle. Servant

Jere Wadsworth

PS.   Constable is perhaps so bound to Mr Morris9 he dare not act against ye Bank of NA & Duer Livingston10 &c. are anxious to have a Bank to play of[f] their Continental paper with. Think of all these things. I will come to you early in December.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Charles Pettit, a native of New Jersey, during the American Revolution was an aide to Governor William Livingston, and deputy quarter-master general from 1778 to 1781. After the war he settled in Philadelphia where he was an importing merchant. A member of the Pennsylvania legislature in 1784–1785, Pettit was elected in 1785 a delegate to the Continental Congress.

2The copy of the letter from Wadsworth to Pettit which was enclosed in this letter is not among the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress. In it Wadsworth “reproached the directors for their conduct, expressed a belief that they had removed sums of money equal to the value of their stock by giving notes, and indicated he would be happy to find it possible to get his money back” (Platt, “Jeremiah Wadsworth,” description begins John D. R. Platt, “Jeremiah Wadsworth: Federalist Entrepreneur” (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1955). description ends 152, note 2). Pettit apparently showed the letter to a member of the Pennsylvania Assembly who then showed it to other members.

3Tench Francis, as Wadsworth states, was cashier of the Bank of North America.

4John Chaloner, through whom all of Wadsworth’s business in Philadelphia was conducted.

5Arthur Lee of Virginia, diplomat during the American Revolution and a member of the Continental Congress, was appointed a member of the Board of Treasury in July, 1785. In the second subscription to bank stock in 1784, Lee purchased nineteen shares (Lawrence Lewis, Jr., A History of the Bank of North America [Philadelphia, 1882], 144–47).

6William Duer.

7William Edgar was a native of the north of Ireland who had engaged in the western fur trade after he came to America. Assisted by a partnership with Alexander Macomb, another western trader, he acquired a fortune. The chief business of Macomb, Edgar, and Macomb was supplying the Indian Department of the British army. Settling in New York after the Revolution, Edgar married the sister-in-law of William Constable who was one of the most influential and affluent New York merchants. On behalf of Edgar, Constable subscribed to fifty-five shares of bank stock (Lewis, A History of the Bank of North America, 144).

9Constable was associated in business with Robert Morris and Gouverneur Morris. Robert Morris, perhaps the single most important person in determining the policies of the Bank of North America, had invested ten thousand pounds in the enterprise (Platt, “Jeremiah Wadsworth,” description begins John D. R. Platt, “Jeremiah Wadsworth: Federalist Entrepreneur” (Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Columbia University, 1955). description ends 110).

10Probably Walter Livingston, a close business associate of Duer.

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