Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 16 August 1792

From James McHenry

[Baltimore] 16 Augt. 1792

My dear Hamilton.

I mentioned Mr. Carroll1 as proper to be brought forward to oppose a man whom I expect the antifederal interest will unite in supporting in case of an opportunity. I calculate that Mr. Carrol will not succeed; but it may produce more votes in this State for some man who ought. I mean also that it should operate to detach Mr. C.l. from Mr. Jeff. whose politics have in some instances infected him. In all this however you will understand should it be an eligible line of politics, that I do not mean to be an actor. The interest you feel in it more than any other consideration would induce me to take a little trouble.

I still think Mercer2 will carry his election. I have been with Bishop Carrol3 whose friendship and intimacy I enjoy. He has much greater controul over the minds of the Roman Catholics than Charles and I believe that description of men will vote for Campbell.4

Col. Smith5 has entered for this district. Mr. Ridgley6 you know also stands. Ridgley I am told is a friend to a further assumption. Saml. Smith is not. He is however a good federalist. As a merchant he will dislike any increase of duties on dry goods. He is however concerned in shipping, in a sugar house and distillery, and supplies Williams & co.7 contractors with dry goods for the Indian trade. Besides it would give him great pleasure to get Col. Hall8 into office, Mr. Robt. Smith9 his Brother a judge, and Robert’s father in law, Wm Smith10 an office of £1500 a year. On the other hand Ridgley is largely in the iron works a man of great wealth, without skill in public affairs and from habits closely connected with Chase11—whom he would wish to see noticed. I in-close you a letter from Mr Perry12 which you will be pleased to return.13

The Printer of the within paper is an ignorant young man and I am led to suspect him directed by some one unfriendly to government. His first paper contained a piece as you have seen from the national gazette.14 Mr. Geo. Salmon15 is a relation of his and will endeavour to discover the influence that directs him. Mr. Robinson16 a young lawyer of promising talent appears the answerer of the pieces he here extracted from the National Gazette.

Jeff. I suspect will say in reply to his having been against the constitution in France that you were for monarchy in the convention; and will take some of the features of your systems which correspond the nearest with the fiscal systems of England as a commentary upon your principles. The exposition which has been given was wanted.

Good bless and preserve you. Yours affectionately

James McHenry

I desire this letter may be disposed of as the former.17

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Charles Carroll of Carrollton, a member of the United States Senate from Maryland.

2John Francis Mercer was a native of Virginia who had been a delegate from that state to the Continental Congress. He moved to Maryland and was a member of that state’s House of Delegates from 1788 to 1792. On February 6, 1792, he became a member of the House of Representatives, filling the vacancy occasioned by the resignation of William Pinkney.

3John Carroll, the cousin of Charles Carroll, was the first Roman Catholic bishop in the United States and the first archbishop of Baltimore.

4William Campbell of Annapolis resigned in 1792 as associate justice of the Anne Arundel County Court and later withdrew as a candidate for the House of Representatives.

5Samuel Smith, who had received a vote of thanks from Congress for his part as a lieutenant colonel in the defense of Fort Mifflin during the American Revolution, was a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and a Baltimore merchant. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1792.

6Because of changes during the campaign in the list of those who stood for various offices, it is difficult to determine which Charles Ridgely is the one to whom McHenry is referring. Two candidates named Charles Ridgely were elected to the Maryland House of Delegates from the Baltimore district.

7Robert Elliot and Elie Williams had held various contracts for supplies in the West under the Continental Congress and the Federal Government.

8During the American Revolution Josias Carvel Hall, a son-in-law of William Smith, had been a colonel in the Second Maryland Battalion of the Flying Camp.

9Robert Smith, Samuel Smith’s brother, was a Baltimore lawyer who specialized in admiralty cases. He subsequently became a member of the Maryland Senate and House of Delegates, a member of the Baltimore city council, and in 1801 Secretary of the Navy.

10William Smith, whose daughter Margaret married Robert Smith, was a Baltimore merchant. He was a member of the House of Representatives from 1789 to 1791.

11Samuel Chase, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and delegate from Maryland to the Continental Congress from 1774 to 1778 and from 1784 to 1785, was appointed judge of the General Court of Maryland in 1791.

12William Perry was a wealthy resident of the Eastern Shore of Maryland and a member of the Maryland Senate.

13Perry’s letter, which concerns the approaching Maryland congressional election in the fall of 1792, contains his belief that Maryland Antifederalists planned to use the campaign as an excuse to attack the Federal Government through H’s financial policies. Perry observed that “I have my suspicions that a Gentleman on your Shore (Colo. M[ercer]) is at the Bottom of this Activity and Anxiety” (ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). For a description of the extended controversy between H and Mercer arising out of this election, see the introductory note to H to Mercer, September 26, 1792.

14This is a reference to Philip Edwards, publisher of The Baltimore Evening Post. The first issue of the paper appeared on July 13, 1792.

15In a letter to H on September 30, 1792, McHenry described Salmon as “a respected judge in our criminal and orphan’s court.”

16Presumably Archibald Robinson.

17McHenry’s “former” letter has not been found.

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