Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, 29 January 1792

From Philip Schuyler

New York Sunday Jan 29th 1792

My Dear Sir

Your favor of the 24th instant I received yesterday.1 I shall embrace the first moment which offers and in which I can prudently be absent from hence to pay you a visit.

The bank Mania has somewhat subsided2 but as in the first paroxism the leaders induced many to subscribe a petition to the legislature for an incorporation, the pride of some and the interested views of others will not permit them to relinquish the object. What fate will attend the application in the house of assembly is problemetical3—but I am almost certain that in the senate It will not meet with countenance. It is however prudent to be prepared with every Objection, and I wish you to state those that have occured to you.

I have been pressed by several persons to draft a bill for the future conduct of the commissioners of the land office, in the preamble to which they wish to convey a censure on the board for their conduct in the sale to Mr Macomb.4 Considering a measure of this kind as a two edged Sword, I have advised that If even It were proper It would not be prudent until matters of much importance to the state had been decided upon, and that the business should be postponed for further consideration. This Advice was acceeded to, but with so much reluctance that I am under apprehensions it will be precipatated.

Mr. Rensselaer is arrived, has received the letter you mention before I left Albany.5 Some intimations were given of the project you mention6 and I was alarmed as Mr Yates7 had some little time before observed to me that he apprehended his pecuniary affairs would be injured If he was placed in the chair of Government. I obviated the difficulties he stated, observed that the mere intimation that he doubted of the propriety of being proposed as a candidate would be injurious to his reputation, infinitely distressing to those who had supported him on the former Occassion and who had already committed themselves with great numbers of the citizens. He seemed convinced, and from what he has since said to Mr. Rensselaer and the exertions he makes with the council of appointment in favor of persons who are unfriendly to Clinton; and whom he declares will use their influence to carry the Election in his favor, I am led to believe that he will not yield to Mr Burr’s views. I shall however in a day or two bring him to an explicit declaration on the Subject.

As no good could possibly result from evincing any resentment to Mr. Burr for the part he took last winter,8 I have on every Occassion behaved towards him as If he had never9 been the principal in the business.

If I cannot speedily visit you I will send on Cornelia10 who is anxious to be with you & her sister.

My love to Eliza & the Children

Yours affectionately &c

Ph: Schuyler

Hone Alexander Hamilton Esqr

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter not found.

2For information on the attempt to organize new banks in New York, see H to William Seton, January 18, 24, 1792; Seton to H, January 22, 1792.

4Alexander Macomb was a wealthy New York businessman and speculator. According to Joseph Stancliffe Davis, from 1789 to 1790 Macomb “concluded negotiations for between three and four million acres, at 8d. per acre, south of the St. Lawrence” (Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , I, 396). In April, 1792, Governor George Clinton was accused of having profited from the sale of the land (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, April 14, 1792). Willis Fletcher Johnson states that, after the report of the commissioners of the land office for 1791 had been received, “A long and acrimonious discussion ensued in the Legislature, in the course of which it was pretty directly charged, or at least insinuated, that the Governor and his friends had been personally interested in the transactions and would profit from them.… A resolution was introduced into the Legislature by Colonel [Silas] Talbot, of Montgomery county, severely condemning the Commissioners for lack of judgment in the transactions.… This was finally defeated, and in its place was adopted by a vote of 30 to 25 in the Assembly, a resolution fathered by Melancthon Smith approving the conduct of the Commissioners” (Ray B. Smith, ed., History of the State of New York Political and Governmental [Syracuse, 1922], I, 131–32). The June 16, 1792, issue of The [New York] Journal, & Patriotic Register contained an affidavit signed by Macomb and Daniel McCormick which exonerated Clinton from any share in the land holdings. At the same time it was implied that Schuyler and H had been interested in the purchase. A reply to this affidavit, signed “Tubero,” stated that H’s lands had been separately purchased at a higher price (The [New York] Daily Advertiser, June 21, 1792).

5Stephen Van Rensselaer, Philip Schuyler’s son-in-law and president of the Bank of Albany, was patroon of the Van Rensselaer estate and an influential New York Federalist. Although it cannot be stated with certainty, it appears that H wished Van Rensselaer to run for lieutenant governor.

6With H’s letter to Schuyler lost, this “project” remains a mystery, but Schuyler may very well have been referring to the alleged attempts of Aaron Burr to obtain the gubernatorial nomination from the Federalists.

7Robert Yates, Chief Justice of New York, had been a prominent Anti-federalist during the seventeen-eighties. As a member of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and of the New York Ratifying Convention of 1788 he had indicated his disapproval of the proposed government. After the adoption of the Constitution, however, his opposition ceased, and in 1789 he ran with Federalist support as a gubernatorial candidate against Governor George Clinton. At the time this letter was written, the New York Federalists were proposing that he again run against Clinton. Yates, however, declined the nomination for the 1792 election.

8This is a reference to Burr’s defeat of Schuyler in 1791 for United States Senator from New York.

9In MS, “none.”

10Cornelia Schuyler, Philip Schuyler’s daughter and H’s sister-in-law.

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