Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Peter Colt, 28 February 1793

From Peter Colt1

Paterson [New Jersey] 28 Febuy. 1793


On examining mr. Pearce’s acct. I find he has recieved a considerable Sum of Money from you2 & that mr. Parkinson3 has also been furnished with Some Money in part of his act. There is no charges made by the Society against you to cut up this act. except three Hundred Dollars which mr Walker4 paid to your Order—neither is there any documents in this office which can serve to shew if you have been reimbursed your advances, or from what Quarter the Money has come. I can only conjecture it has been had through Colo Duer, the former Governor;5 from whom I am told no accounts can be obtained. I must therefore pray you to cause a copy of your accounts with the Society to be made out & sent me here, as soon as can be conveniently done; that I may be enabled to lay before the Board of Directors a compleat Statement of their Funds &c. An acct. from the Bank of the united States up to this time is also wanted; as the cashier may not know of my appointment he may not choose to make me the return. I must therefore, for this once, request your interferance in procuring this return; as the orders for drawing out the Monies of the Banks have never been registered here it will be necessary that the Bank name the persons to whom Monies have been paid.

When I arrived at Paterson I found Messrs. Hall, Marshall6 & Pearce, totally dissatisfied with their Situation & prospects—the two latter requesting to be discharged. Mr. Marshall has demanded that his Salary be raised to £200 Sterlg ⅌ annum, without which he declares he will not continue in the Service of the Society. As I do not find I am authorised to make any contracts of this nature I have referd him to mr Low.7 He went to New York yester day to bring this Business to a close. I have been told that mr. Pearce is dissatisfied with his Salary; but he has said nothing to me on the Subject. I have this moment learned that he leaves this with mr Hall, this day, for Philadelphia. I presume therefore you will be informed of his demand. Marshall & Pearce appear, as far as I can judge of their Branches, perfectly masters of their Business; & very valuable Men to the Society, & that they cannot be discharged without the Society Sustaining great loss. They will be ready with their work Sooner than we can get command of the water.

Several Buildings which have been ordered for manufactures, are extremely wanted, as well as a durable building for the purposes of general Magazine or Store House; but Majr. L’.Enfant,8 to whom this part of the Business has been confided, not being here, nothing can be done; and our weavers are working by the day in such wretched Sheds, that they loose half their time. In short no arrangments can be made for puting things on a more durable & advantagious footing untill the Majr. returns on the ground.

Knowing how much you have the success of this institution at heart has induced me to make you this communication.

I am, Sir   most respectfully   your obedient   humbl. Servant

P. Colt

Alexr. Hamilton Esquire
Secretary of the Treasury

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Colt, a resident of Hartford, Connecticut, had served during the American Revolution as deputy commissary general of purchases for the eastern department. After the Revolution he became the agent in Hartford for Jeremiah Wadsworth’s commercial enterprises and during the seventeen-eighties was active in the Hartford Woolen Manufactory. On February 19, 1793, he was appointed superintendent of the factory of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

Although H had no official connection with the society, he maintained an active role as its unofficial adviser, and in 1791 and 1792 he had assumed the responsibility for negotiating contracts with workmen for the society’s projected establishment in New Jersey and for advancing money for the development of machinery.

2William Pearce, an English artisan, had come to the United States in July, 1791, and was employed by H on behalf of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures to build and improve textile machines. H had advanced various sums of money to Pearce for the construction of machines for the society (“Receipt from William Pearce,” August 20, September 7, 17, 1791, May 26, 1792).

3George Parkinson was an English mechanic employed as a foreman by the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

4Benjamin Walker, who was a New York financier and speculator, was a director of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. In January, 1792, he was “appointed to act as Accomptant to the Society, until a proper Person be appointed for that purpose” (“Minutes of the S.U.M.,” description begins MS minutes of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures, City of Paterson, New Jersey, Plant Management Commission, Successors to the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures. description ends 21). This appointment made him in effect the treasurer of the society.

5William Duer had served as governor of the society in 1791 and 1792.

6Thomas Marshall and William Hall had been employed by the society as mechanics.

7Nicholas Low had been elected governor of the society on October 12, 1792.

8Pierre Charles L’Enfant had been a French volunteer in the Corps of Engineers during the American Revolution. In 1789 he was hired by the City of New York to convert the old Jacobean City Hall on Wall Street into Federal Hall, which served as the temporary capital of the new Federal Government. He had been hired to plan the new Federal City on the banks of the Potomac, but because of a dispute with the commissioners of the Federal District he stopped working on this project. In July, 1792, he was employed by the directors of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures to lay out the society’s manufacturing center at the falls of the Passaic River in Paterson, New Jersey.

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