Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Jeremiah Olney, 10 December 1792

From Jeremiah Olney1

Custom House
District of Providence 10th. Decer. 1792

The Legislature of the United States having been pleased to Appoint you to the important Office of Superintending a due Collection of the Revenue, I have upon deliberate consideration, deemed it expedient that you should be made acquainted with my particular conduct, as an officer of the Customs, in respect to the late Suit of a Bond taken for duties, complained of by Welcome Arnold Esquire, and which has been the Subject of a Juditial investigation and decision. With this view I take the Liberty Sir, respectfully to enclose for your perusal a Statement of Facts relative to that Transaction, which in my own Justification, I have been compelled to Submit to the consideration of a number of Gentlemen who have heared Mr. Arnolds representation;2 and I am happy to add, that it has met with general approbation.

I have furnished Mr. Arnold with a Copy of my Statement, but cannot learn that he has made any reply to it, either public or private.

I intreat Sir, that you will consider the Embarrasements I continually meet with from this Gentleman’s disposition to oppose the legal execution of my Duty, as my apology for the Trouble I am now about to give you in the perusal of my vindication.

I have the Honor to be   with great consideration   Sir   Your Most Obed. and Most Hum. Servt.

Jereh. Olney Collr.

Alexander Hamilton Esqr.
Secretary of the Treasury.

ADfS, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence.

1For background concerning Welcome Arnold’s collusive transfers, see H to Olney, September 19, 24, October 12, November 27, 1792; Olney to H, September 8, 13, October 4, 25, November 28, 1792; William Ellery to H, September 4, October 9, 1792.

2Olney is referring to “An Appeal to the Public, on the Disputes with Welcome Arnold,” which reads in part as follows:

“If Mr. Arnold’s unremitted endeavors to place my official Character in an unfavorable point of view, proceed from motives friendly to the Public Weal, and not from private Malice or revenge, he surely gives himself a great deal of unnecessary trouble, for if he wishes to have me displaced, he need only prove to the Secretary of the Treasury, that I do not execute the laws, and my Suspension will follow of course.…

“As my conduct in the case of Mr. Arnold’s Bond has been thoroughly investigated before the District Court, held at Newport on August last; and also before the Circuit Court, held in this Town on the Seventh Instant; And as Judgment in both Trials, was deliberately Rendered in favour of the United States, and in confirmation of the propriety of my Conduct, I entertained a hope that the unfriendly disposition, long manifested in that Gentleman would have Ceased; but unhappily I have been disappointed; for it appears from good authority, that he Still perseveres in his endeavours to prejudice the Worthy Citizens against me; which, Combined with a Consideration that Suggestions were made by Mr. Edwards, Attorney for Mr. Arnold, in the Course of his plea before the Circuit Court, Tending to impress the minds of the Spectators with Ideas unfavorable to my official Character, are Circumstances which, alone, could have Compelled me with painfull reluctance, to appeal to a Candid and impartial Public; whose Confidence and Support I have a right to expect while it shall appear that I have executed the duties of my office consonant to law, and with upright impartiality; and upon no other principles will I claim them.…

“From an unwillingness to proclaim Mr. Arnold’s delinquency throughout the United States, I forbear to publish this appeal to my fellow Citizens in a Newspaper, especially as the sole object of it is to undeceive those who may have heard his Representation; and for want of leisure to counteract, personally, that Gentleman’s repeated uncandid Statement of facts, which I charitably hope, has not reached beyond the limits of this and the district of Newport, I have been induced to adopt a Mode of communication the least exceptionable, as I conceive, by putting this into the Hands of a few disinterested Gentlemen for their perusal.” (ADf, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence.)

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