Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Benjamin Walker, 15 September 1793

From Benjamin Walker1

New York Sep 15. 1793


My dear Sir

My friend Patrick Colquhoun Esq of London writes me confidentially that when Colo Smith left England he stated to Mr. Hornby that he had one Hundred National bank shares of his then in his possession and was to receive 86 more arising from a contract he had made with Mr Duer. He accordingly received Mr. Hornbys possitive directions that immediately on his arrival in America he should Transfer into Mr. Hornbys name the 100 Shares and send over the Cirtificates—the 86 shares he was to invest, after paying for certain bonds, in another manner. Instead of this Mr. Colquhoun says he has sent over the 86 Shares Drawn on Mr. Hornby for the Lands and says not a syllable of the 100 Shares & he requests me instantly to see that they are transfered & sent over to England.

You will oblige me much if you can ascertain whether these Shares are transferred or whether Smith has them to transfer. Having ascertained this I shall know better how to act in a business which is rather delicate as it respects my friend Smith.

You will excuse my giving you this trouble. It was a matter I could not mention to every body. Your recovery has relieved your friends here from a deal of anxiety—but for God sake or rather for our sakes take care of a relapse.2 I hope Mrs. H is also recovered. We are here I think more healthy than usual for the Season.

I am my dear Sir   Your affect hum Servant

Ben Walker

A. Hamilton Esq.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This letter concerns a group of British and American capitalists who invested in American securities and lands. In 1790–1791 William Temple Franklin, the grandson of Benjamin Franklin, and Colonel William S. Smith, John Adams’s son-in-law, went to England to promote the sale of American securities and lands. Their mission was eminently successful. Their major customer proved to be William Johnstone Pulteney, a leading British capitalist and a member of the House of Commons, who in 1791 agreed to buy a millionacre tract owned by Robert Morris in the Genesee country of western New York. Associated in this purchase with Pulteney was William Hornby, a former official in India who had been governor of Bombay. The man who served as go-between and made the preliminary arrangements for Pulteney’s purchase was Patrick Colquhoun, a merchant of Glasgow who had once lived in Virginia. Through the good offices of Colquhoun, Smith was also able to effect extensive negotiations with Pulteney and Hornby in securities and bank stock (Helen I. Cowan, Charles Williamson, Genesee Promoter, Friend of Anglo-American Rapprochement [Rochester, 1941], 1–18).

Smith’s relationship with Pulteney and Hornby was prolonged, confusing, and complex. The negotiations and the ensuing dispute mentioned in this letter were only one example of many similar episodes. Long after the fact an unidentified correspondent of William Coleman, editor of the New York Evening Post, stated: “Sir Wm. Pulteny & Gov. Hornby received no monies whatever from Smith nor any accounts whatever respecting the application & use of their funds” (copy, in the handwriting of Coleman, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston).

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