Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 30 November 1789

From Tench Coxe1

Philadelphia, November 30, 1789

Dear Sir,

It was my wish to have forwarded to you sooner, the enclosed paper, No. 6,2 by way of answer to the queries I had the honour to receive from you, the 26th of last month,3 but I could not revise the facts with sufficient care, till this time.

You will observe, I have pursued a mode different from that which the form of the queries pointed out, thinking that “a present state of the navigation of Pennsylvania,” which should comprehend the information you desired, would be more useful than short answers, going merely to the points specified. I have, besides, this private reason, that I wish by these investigations and statements, as they occur, to extend or digest my own knowledge, and, as far as I am able, to place the several subjects in my own mind on their true principles.

As the gentlemen in the senate,4 for Pennsylvania, and some of those in the house of representatives, have been pleased to request my communications on the subjects that from time to time arise in the legislature, I have taken the liberty to show this paper to one or two of them; and indeed it seems to be a matter, both of propriety and prudence, as I am a citizen of Pennsylvania, and they are the guardians of her interests. I anxiously desire the detection of any errors in either the facts or reasonings, which I may bring forward; and in order completely to guard against their ill effects, I wish them unreservedly subjected, as well to the examination of these well informed judges, as to gentlemen of similar character and stations from the other states. As I may, in future, avail myself of the permission you have given me, to communicate with you as I shall see occasion, I apply these wishes to all such communications, leaving it in your discretion to determine to whose eye observations on points that require secresy may be safely confided.

I have the honour to be, with great respect, dear sir, your most obedient servant,

Tench Coxe.

P.S. As it may throw some light upon the subject, I have enclosed a paper of mine, (No. 1) which you have seen before. To this copy, I have added some manuscript notes; also a paper (No. 2), to which I have likewise added some notes. The latter is not immediately interesting to your present enquiry, but may be thrown among your documents belonging to the subject.

To the Honourable Alexander Hamilton, Esq. New York

George S. White, Memoir of Samuel Slater, The Father of American Manufactures. Connected with a History of the Rise and Progress of the Cotton Manufacture in England and America … (2nd ed., Philadelphia, 1836), 178–79; ADf, ADfS, LS, Papers of Tench Coxe in the Coxe Family Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Attached to Coxe’s signed draft is a list in his handwriting which reads:

“N. 1. Enquiry Museum & a⟨–⟩;
N. 2. An address to the friends of Amr. Mans. do & do
N. 3. A paper on the future legislation of Commerce addressed to R. H. Lee esqr Museum
N. 4. A Continuation of the address on the Subject of American Mans.   (Museum)
N. 5. Thoughts on the future prospects of Ama. published in Dunlaps paper of 1788 about Septr. or Octr.
N. 6. An accot. of the Navn. &ca
No. 7 Spanish Wool
N. 8. Succedanea for foreign liquors.”

“N. 1” was An Enquiry into the Principles on Which a Commercial System for the United States of America Should be Founded; to Which are Added Some Political Observations Connected With the Subject. Read Before the Society for Political Enquiries, Convened at the House of His Excellency Benjamin Franklin, Esquire, in Philadelphia, May 11, 1787 (Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by Robert Aitken, at Pope’s Head, in Market Street, 1787). This article was printed in The American Museum (June, 1787), I, 432–45. “N. 2” was An Address to an Assembly of the Friends of American Manufactures, Convened for the Purpose of Establishing a Society for the Encouragement of Manufactures and the Useful Arts, Read in the University of Pennsylvania, on Thursday, the 9th of August, 1787, by Tench Coxe, Esq. and Published at Their Request (Philadelphia: Printed by R. Aitken & Son, at Pope’s Head in Market-Street, 1787). “N. 3” was a “Letter to the Honourable Richard Henry Lee, Esq.,” signed by “An American,” which was published in the [Philadelphia] Pennsylvania Herald on December 29, 1787, and printed in The American Museum (January 1788), III, 78–83. “N. 4” was the “Address to the Friends of American Manufactures” dated October 20, 1788, in The American Museum (October, 1788), IV, 341–46. It also appeared in The Federal Gazette, and Philadelphia Evening Post on October 20, 1788, and was reprinted in the [Philadelphia] Pennsylvania Gazette on October 29, 1788, signed by “An American Citizen.” “N. 5” was “Thoughts on the present Situation and Prospects of the United States of America,” signed by “A Pennsylvanian,” which was published in the [Philadelphia] Pennsylvania Packet, and Daily Advertiser on October 31, 1788. “N. 6” and “No. 7” have not been found. “N.8” has not been found, but it is probably similar to what became Chapter VII of Book 11, entitled “Containing a View of the Subject of Foreign Distilled Spirits, Extracted from a Publication in the Year 1789,” in Coxe’s A View of the United States (Philadelphia: Printed for William Hall, No. 51, Market Street, and Wrigley & Berriman, No. 149, Chesnut Street, 1794), 492–95.

1Coxe, a prominent Philadelphia businessman, replaced William Duer as Assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury on May 10, 1790.

2Although this enclosure has not been found, its subject was “the present state of the navigation of Pennsylvania with a comparison of the same with that of the principal Nations of Europe” (Coxe to James Madison, March 21, 1790, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress).

3Presumably these questions were the same as those enclosed in “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” October 15, 1789.

4Robert Morris and William Maclay.

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