Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Duer, 14 March 1792

To William Duer

Philadelphia March 14. 1792

My Dear Duer

Your letter of the 11th.1 got to hand this day. I am affected beyond measure at its contents; especially as it was too late to have any influence upon the event you were apprehensive of—Mr. Woolcott’s instructions having gone off yesterday.2

I trust however the alternative which they present to the Attorney of the   3 and the discretion he will use in managing the affair will enable you to avoid any pernicious éclat; if your affairs are otherwise retrievable.

Be this as it may—Act with fortitude and honor. If you cannot reasonably hope for a favourable extrication do not plunge deeper. Have the courage to make a full stop. Take all the care you can in the first place of Institutions of public Utility and in the next of all fair Creditors.

God bless you and take care of you and your family. I have experienced all the bitterness of soul, on your account, which a warm attachment can inspire. I will not now pain you with any wise remarks, though if you recover the present stroke, I shall take great liberties with you. Assure yourself in good and bad fortune of my sincere friendship and affection.


A Hamilton

Wm. Duer Esqr.

JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts. These transcripts are owned by Mr. William H. Swan, Hampton Bays, New York, and have been placed on loan in the Columbia University Libraries. description ends .

2On March 12, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., comptroller of the Treasury, had written to Richard Harison, United States attorney for the District of New York, requesting him to inform Duer that he must either pay the amount of his balance with the United States Government or face legal proceedings. Wolcott’s letter is printed in Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , I, 290–91. The suit concerned Duer’s indent account with the United States. Copies of the statements of this account which Wolcott sent to Harison may be found in RG 217, Oliver Wolcott’s “Explanation of Accounts, 1792–1794,” Comptroller of the Treasury, National Archives.

3Space left blank in MS.

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