Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Philip Livingston, 2 April 1792

To Philip Livingston1

Philadelphia April 2d

My Dear Sir

I thank you for sending by express the Chief Justice’s Letter.2 It will enable me to enter the Market more advantageously for the support of the Debt. I detained the express ’till today, in expectation of being able to forward by him the result. But certain indispensable engagements of some of the Trustees prevent a Meeting ’till tomorrow. The arrangement will be conveyed by express.

I observe that certain characters continue to sport with the Market & with the distresses of their fellow Citizens.3 ’Tis time there should be a line of separation between honest Men & knaves; between respectable stockholders and dealers in the funds, and mere unprincipled Gamblers. Public infamy must restrain what the laws cannot.

This spirit must be cultivated among the friends of good government and good principles. The relaxations in a just system of thinking, which have been produced by an excess of the spirit of speculation must be corrected. And Contempt and Neglect must attend those who manifest that they have no principle but to get money.

Yrs. with great regard

A Hamilton

P. The monies which you will have paid for the two expresses will be reimbursed at the Treasury. Be so good as to take Receipts for what you pay & make out a little account against the Secretary of the Treasury charging for so much paid at each time to express A or B to carry a letter from the Chief of the United States to the Trustees of the Sinking fund. Send this to Mr. Kean.4

P. Livingston Esqr.

ALS, MS Division, New York Public Library.

2Jay to the Commissioners of the Sinking Fund, March 31, 1792. See also Livingston to H, March 24, 1792.

3For information on the financial panic in New York in the spring of 1792, see William Duer to H, March 12, 1792; H to Duer, March 14, 23, 1792; Philip Livingston to H, March 24, 1792; Philip Schuyler to H, March 25, 1792; William Seton to H, March 21, 1792; H to Seton, March 19, 25, 1792; Robert Troup to H, March 19, 1792.

According to Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Edward, Brockholst, and J. R. Livingston “were actively speculating on the ‘bear’ side of the market and were due to deliver most of the New York bank stock which Duer was to receive in May. It is probable that the Livingstons were chiefly concerned with lowering the price of stocks, especially that of the Bank of New York” (Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , I, 283).

4John Kean, cashier of the Bank of the United States.

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