Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to ———, [20] November 1793

To ———1

Philade November [20,] 1793

Dr. Sir

Some embarrassment has arisen on the subject of a fit person for District Attorney of Rhode Island. Mr. Howel has been strongly recommended on the one hand and positively objected to on another—and Mr.  2 has been proposed in opposition. Your opinion does not appear on either side.

The President is desirous of further information and I have undertaken to procure it for him. In addressing myself to you on the point, I proceed on an assurance of your judgment and candour. I request your ideas of the candidates fully and freely—promising that it shall not in any shape compromis you. Be so good as to state not only the qualifications of each—but the collateral circumstances affecting the public service which will be likely to attend the appointment of either.

It is regretted that the affair has assumed too much a party complexion. This suggests an inquiry whether there be not some third character competent eligible, & who would not be liable to a similar difficulty. The more speedy your answer the more it will oblige.

ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1This letter concerns the appointment of a new district attorney for Rhode Island to replace William Channing, who had died in September, 1793. Although the letter is dated November 26 on the MS, it is presumably a draft of a letter which was dated November 20 and sent to at least two Federal officials in Rhode Island. See Henry Marchant to H, December 9, 1793, and William Ellery to H, December 16, 1793. In JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , V, 588–89, and HCLW description begins Henry Cabot Lodge, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1904). description ends , X, 59–60, the letter is dated November 26 and addressed to Jeremiah Olney. This is probably an error, for Olney had already expressed vigorous opposition to the appointment of David Howell as district attorney (Olney to H, October 7, 1793), and it is unlikely H would have sent him a copy of this letter.

2Space left blank in MS. In his letter to H of October 7, 1793, Olney had recommended David Leonard Barnes, a Providence attorney.

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