From Nathaniel Hazard
[New York, October 11, 1791]
My Friend Robert Fearon1 Esquire, will have the Honor of delivering this to you. He is the Nephew of John Foxcroft Esquire, the late British Post Master General.2 He has Business in Virginia to transact, respecting the Affairs of a Coll. Mercer, in which the President of the United States had some personal Agency, so far back as 1773.3
He wished to know from me, in what Mode he could with most Propriety, introduce private Business, to so distinguished a public Character. I advised him to get a Line from some of his numerous respectable Acquaintances, to the Secretary of the Treasury, whose Politeness to his Countrymen of all Ranks, who wish Access to him, would doubtless be readily extended to an European Gentleman.
When we were together at Philadelphia, he learned from me, that I had paid my Respects, Sir to you, as a revered, former Fellow Citizen, & had received those Civilities, which are uniformly shewn to all such of them, as waited upon you for your Commands.
Mr. Fearon’s Selection of me, as a Favor to him, is what I should wish for as an Honor, if personal Acquaintance would warrant it.
To a Desire solely, of gratifying the Wish of a Gentleman in a strange land, I am indebted for both the Occasion, & the Honor of, subscribing myself, at this Time,
With the highest Respect Sir Your most obedient, & very humble servant
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
2. In 1761 John Foxcroft of New York became Benjamin Franklin’s associate as joint Postmaster General for the colonies. Foxcroft, unlike Franklin, remained loyal to the Crown. After the American Revolution he was the New York agent for the British packets until his death on May 5, 1790.
3. George Mercer, who rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Second Virginia Regiment during the French and Indian War. In discussing Washington’s varied activities in 1773, Douglas Southall Freeman has written:
“Washington now disclosed once more his familiar weakness in being unwilling to say ‘No’ to a request that meant a material increase in the load of business he already carried. John Mercer, the able and contentious attorney who possessed vast appetite for land, had died on the 14th of October, 1768, at the age of 64. He left much property … and many debts. His son James was so interested in the law that he neglected his own affairs; George, the other son, Washington’s former aide, remained in England, where he had a romantic but, for the time being, an impoverished marriage. Soon it was thought that George Mercer’s bride would receive a fortune, in anticipation of which he had high-priced slaves purchased in considerable number for his Virginia plantations. At the next turn of the wheel, George and James Mercer were at cross purposes and with their interests so confused that Washington and one or two other of their friends had to try to untangle many transactions. Washington, as usual, had most of the work to do.” (Freeman, Washington description begins Douglas Southall Freeman, George Washington (New York, 1948–1957). Volume VII of this series was written by John Alexander Carroll and Mary Wells Ashworth. description ends , III, 330–31.)