Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, 28 November 1792

From Philip Schuyler1

New York November 28th 1792

My Dear Sir

Both your letters detailing the conversation held with Mr Willet have been duly received,2 the contents communicated to a few friends, as I found it unnecessary to extend It, Mr. Willets statement having made no impression with our friends who believed It a Misrepresentation. Mr Van Schaack3 who was most alarmed at It and who mentioned It to me, was satisfied by my declaration that Willet must have misapprehended or misrepresented what past, as I knew that you was not averse to an examination of the conduct of the Canvassers4 and that a censure should be conveyed If they had acted corruptly, altho you was decidely of Opinion that the state ought not to be thrown into such a convulsion as might possibly terminate in a manner very painful to the friends of good Government.

When Judge Wilson5 was here he asked If I had received a line from you on the subject of a proposition he had made you to sell Mr Church6 lands in Pensylvania, to the Amount of £10000 Sterling at 2/6 per Acre provided double that sum was Advanced him on Loan and for which he proposed giving a mortgage on other lands. I informed him that I had not received a line from you mentioning that business, he pressed me to write you on the Subject. If the lands he proposes to sell were really worth 2/6 per Acre, It might be inconvenient for Mr Church to advance so large a sum as £20000—but as It will be difficult to Asscertain as well the value of the lands Mr Wilson proposes to sell as those he would Mortgage, as the latter would in probability not be productive of an income equal to the Annual interest of the money, as Mr Wilson might not be able to discharge the Interest Annually, Its accumulation might increase beyond the Increase in value of the lands. It therefore does not at present appear to me an Eligible mode of laying out money. I did not mention this to Mr Wilson, but as It may perhaps be better that the negative to his proposition should come from me than from you, I have no Objection that my sense of the business should be communicated unless you should Judge the appropriation an Eligible one.

Our political opponents are evidently embarrassed. The examination into the conduct of the Canvassers, and the testimony of the Wittness and the authenticated documents to prove the general practice of former canvassing committees, they procure, will place Many of the Members in a painful situation on the Question of Censure, and I believe they would be deserted by some should the question be moved, but for three days past the leaders amongst Clintonians have suggested the propriety of an Amendment,7 and I really beleive they will make the Attempt. If they do, and before the conclussion of the Investigation which is now pursuing, I shall consider it as a victory on our part.

I have a wish to pay you a visit at the Close of the next week, but If the contest is not ended I shall not dare to be absent from absence as my friends would be too much chagrined. I shall however not return to Albany until I have had the pleasure of Embracing you My Dear Eliza and the Little ones, entreat them to Accept my best Wishes, Adieu

Your Ever most affectionately   &c &c

Ph: Schuyler

Honl Alexander Hamilton Esqr &c

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Schuyler, who had served as a major general in the American Revolution and as United States Senator from New York from 1789 to 1791, was H’s father-in-law.

In this letter Schuyler discusses the report of the committee of canvassers in the disputed New York gubernatorial election of 1792. For background on this subject, see H to Rufus King, June 28, July 25, 27, 1792; King to H, July 10, 29, 1792; William Lewis to H, July 21, 1792; Schuyler to H, May 9, 1792, note 4; H to John Adams, June 25, 1792, note 2; Robert Troup to H, August 24, 1792.

2Neither letter has been found. The reference is to Marinus Willett and his role in the disputed New York gubernatorial election of 1792. Willett supported the report of the committee of canvassers which awarded the election to George Clinton. Willett’s feelings about this matter were so strong that he and William Willcocks, a supporter of John Jay’s candidacy, fought an inconclusive duel. See Benjamin Walker to H, July 12, 1792.

3Peter Van Schaack was chairman of a committee from Kinderhook, New York, which submitted one of many petitions to the New York Assembly against the decision of the committee of canvassers in the 1792 election.

4As a result of the numerous petitions (including Van Schaack’s) which it had received on the report of the committee of canvassers, the New York Assembly instigated an investigation of the committee’s report. In the New York Senate, of which Schuyler was a member, the question arose because John Livingston had won a seat in the Senate as a result of the canvassers’ decision to reject votes from Clinton County. On November 12, 1792, Schuyler had proposed that the Senate make a thorough investigation of Livingston’s claim to a Senate seat (Journal of the Senate of the State of New York. Sixteenth Session [New York: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, Printers to the State, 1792], 8).

5James Wilson, associate justice of the United States Supreme Court, owned extensive tracts of land in western Pennsylvania.

6H managed the American property of John B. Church, Schuyler’s son-in-law and Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton’s brother-in-law, while Church was in England.

7This is presumably a reference to “an act for electing representatives for this state, in the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States of America,” which was passed by the New York legislature on November 29, 1792, and which provided for changes in the methods of handling and counting votes in elections to the House of Representatives. On November 26, 1792, William S. Livingston had made a motion to insert a clause stating that votes rejected by the canvassers should be counted (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York. Sixteenth Session [New York: Printed by Francis Childs and John Swaine, Printers to the State, 1792], 27–28). This act was vetoed by the Council of Revision as “inconsistent with the spirit of the Constitution and the public good” (Alfred B. Street, The Council of Revision of the State of New York [Albany, 1859], 299–301).

Index Entries