Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, [20 May 1792]

From Tench Coxe

[Philadelphia, May 20, 1792]

Dear Sir.

I understand from Mrs. Hamilton that you do not expect to return from Newark for several days from which I conclude that you mean to make a complete arrangement of the Business of the Manufacturing Society.1 I am heartily glad of this tho I could have wished you were returned as I have gone thro the preparation of all the instructions, forms &ca. which are rendered necessary by the Alterations in the Excise System.2 Could I have passed them under your Eye on Friday when they were completed the greater part of them might have gone forward on Monday. Mr. Barton entered with me on Saturday, and I am satisfied he will prove an Acquisition.3 I find that Mr. Rittenhouse4 & his other friends have advised him to it.

The contractors have delivered 33,000 Drs. worth of clothing & have recd. 43,000 drs. in Money5 including Smiths Bill accepted by you, which I should rather have said was recd. by Smith. I find they have about 5000 Drs. worth of goods on hand not made up, and are really going on well.

I do not perceive any inconvenience which has occured from your absence except that the preparations for the opening of the new loan can not go on.6 I had a pretty full conversation with the Comptr. in the first part of the Week and gave him a copy of the law7 which I advised him to transmit it to you with some of the Remarks, wch. struck us. There is no provision in the law for the payment of the Interest, but I believe the other acts will be found to provide for it tho I have not yet examined them. I hope you had time to write the Comptr. by Saturday’s mail.

A letter was recd. by the Georgia Mail for the President which I transmitted to Mt. Vernon.8

You some time ago mentioned your wish that I should partake in the Management of the New Jersey Manufg. Society.9 As I conceive the legal impropriety not to exist, if the Stock is not composed of the debt of the U. S. nor of any State I mention to you that I shall not hesitate to take a concern. My wish to aid so salutary a plan, which has been devised by you & therefore will interest your feelings will render me perfectly disposed to use my best Endeavours to promote it, if I take but a single Share. The interdiction of commerce is not applied to the Commr. of the Reve. The Objects forbidden are “the funds or debts of the U. S & of any state and every kind of public property of either.”10 & no others.

Receipts for 38,000 Drs. have been recd. from the supervisor of Masstts.11

Letters from Mr. Marshall to Col Carrington & from the latter to you12 shew an uneasiness about the Revenue law to exist in part of Kentucky. The new Act13 will diminish their opposition, because it is so much more favorable to them than the former, & because it proves that there is no Idea of a Repeal.

I have the Honor to be with respectful Attachment, dr. sir, yr most obedt & hum. servt.

Tench Coxe

The defect in the new law in regard to the return of Spirits distilled in the U.S. which have been exported to foreign Countries appears to be in a considerable degree cured by the prohibition to import any distilled Spirits in marked Casks.14 They might be shifted into other Casks, but the proof of their identity might be made very difficult and they could not be moved without being marked & certified, nor marked & certified without paying duty. This is a hasty View of the Matter, which will require further Examn., but the door of danger is not so open as it at first appeared.15

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1H had left Philadelphia on May 13, 1792, to attend a meeting in Newark, New Jersey, of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures and returned to Philadelphia on May 20. See H to George Washington, May 13, 21, 1792.

2Coxe is referring to “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71 [May 8, 1792]).

3William Barton commenced his duties as clerk in the office of the commissioner of revenue in the early summer of 1792.

4In 1790 Barton’s uncle, David Rittenhouse, had supported Barton’s applications for the posts of assistant to the Secretary of the Treasury and chief clerk in the Department of State. See H to Thomas Jefferson, May, 1790; Barton to H, August 9, 1790.

5Thomas Billington and Charles Young were clothing contractors for the Army. An “Account Clothing, delivered into the Public Stores—by Billington and Young,” which lists the items delivered by the contractors between April 12, 1792, and May 29, 1792, may be found in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

6Coxe is referring to the loan from the Bank of the United States authorized by Section 16 of “An Act for raising a farther sum of money for the protection of the frontiers, and for other purposes therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 262 [May 2, 1792]). See George Washington to H, May 7, 1792.

7See note 6.

8On May 16, 1792, Coxe wrote to Washington, who was at Mount Vernon: “The Secretary of the Treasury having gone to New Jersey to attend an important meeting of the directors of the society for the promotion of useful Manufactures in that State, I most respectfully take the liberty to enclose to you a letter which I found on opening one of the dispatches for him by the last Georgia Mail” (LS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters of the Department of State, 1790–1799, National Archives).

9Coxe is referring to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

10Coxe is quoting from Section 12 of “An Act making alterations in the Treasury and War Departments” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 281 [May 8, 1792]).

11Nathaniel Gorham was supervisor of the revenue in Massachusetts.

12Letters not found. Edward Carrington was supervisor of the revenue for the District of Virginia and Thomas Marshall was inspector of the revenue for the District of Kentucky.

13See note 2.

14Section 12 of “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” provides: “that after the last day of June next, no distilled spirits shall be brought into the United States, from any foreign port or place in any cask or vessel, which shall have been marked pursuant to any law of the United States concerning distilled spirits, on pain of forfeiture of the spirits so brought, and of the ship or vessel in which they shall be brought” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 270).

15At the end of this letter H wrote: “Note I returned on the afternoon of the day this Letter was written & on Monday Morning gave my opinion of the papers prepared.”

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