Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Benjamin Walker, 12 July 1792

From Benjamin Walker

New York July 12. 1792

Dear Sir

You will oblige me in giving the necessary directions for permitting me to transfer on the Power of Atty from Colonel Smith.1

I will thank you also for your advice what steps are best to pursue to save something out of the 50,000 dollars of the Manufacty Society committed to Dehurst.2 He remitted Macombs3 bills to his Correspondent Mr. Hill.4 Mr. Hill pledged these bills for money taken up in London. The bills are not accepted but they lay over and eventually there is every prospect that they will be paid. Mr. King5 to whom the Pilot boat was sent acquainted Phyn & Ellice6 on whom the bills are drawn, that they belonged to the Society and desired them not to pay them. Such is their situation at present and I think something may be done—the money borrowed on the bills by Hill is not perhaps half the Amount. Payment of the bills can be refused in honour. They then will come back and have Claim on Macombs Estate—or Smith may compound for them there by paying the money borrowed on them. You had better see Dewhurst who is in Philadelphia7—he can tell more exactly the state of the Affair. No time should be lost in doing something.

Notwithstanding you told us at Newark that the Coasting fees were to be taken on the first Construction8—& that we were intitled to pay for the three bonds under the New Law9—the Collector10 will not comply till he receives a Letter from you on the subject. It is no object to him who receives so much—but to my small pittance every little addition is of Consequence.

I am Dr. Sir   Very sincerely your most Obed Servt

Ben Walker

Willett & Wilcocks fired a Shot yesterday Evening without execution.11

A. Hamilton Esqr.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1William S. Smith, the son-in-law of John Adams, had left New York in the spring of 1792 and arrived in England at the end of April. During his absence Walker had assumed responsibility for Smith’s financial affairs in the United States.

2For information on the fifty thousand dollars which the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures had entrusted to John Dewhurst, see Nicholas Low to H, April 10, 1792.

3Alexander Macomb, a New York speculator and a director of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, was imprisoned for debt in April, 1792.

5Joseph King was the Liverpool agent for the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

6James Phyn, Alexander Ellice, and John Inglis were partners of the London firm of Phyn, Ellice, and Inglis in 1792. Before the American Revolution, as Phyn and Ellice, the firm had worked with William Duer and Alexander Macomb in connection with projects for provisioning the western posts and prosecuting the fur trade; after the Revolution William Constable had taken over the firm’s New York business.

7Dewhurst had moved to Philadelphia in order to take advantage of the Pennsylvania bankruptcy law. On June 7, 1792, a commission of bankrupt was issued against him in Philadelphia.

8Walker is referring to the controversy regarding the “construction” of various sections of “An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 55–65 [September 1, 1789]). See “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” July 22, 1792.

9Section 8 of “An Act for raising a farther sum of money for the protection of the frontiers and for other purposes therein mentioned” provided that the term of credit for the payment of duties on all articles except wines, teas, and produce of the West Indies imported after June 30, 1792, should be payable “one half in six, one quarter in nine, and the other quarter in twelve calendar months from the time of each respective importation” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 260–61 [May 2, 1792]).

“An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels,” which had made earlier provision for the collection of duties, stipulated that duties on such imports should be paid in full within six months (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 168 [August 4, 1790]).

10John Lamb was collector of customs at New York City.

11Following an argument in a tavern about the disputed New York gubernatorial election of 1792, Marinus Willett, a Clinton supporter, challenged William Willcocks, a Jay supporter, to a duel.

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