Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Thomas Marshall, 25 November 1793

From Thomas Marshall1

Paterson [New Jersey] Novr. 25th. 1793


Our Brass Founder, Richard Wittingham, is now on his road to Wilmington to recover of Mr Hall and Mr Pearce a Considerable Sum they stand Indebted to him for Castings,2 and taking the Oppertunity of his Conveyance to Philadelphia, I beg leave respectfully to Submit the following (as Concisely stated as possible) to your Approbation. From the length of time I served this Society at a low Salary, I was thrown behind hand in my Finances; which you generously in part did away by a Twelvemonth advance in Salary—but I have never been able to Overcome that advance. The Directors are Chiefly Strangers and an Appeal to them perhaps would only be attended with Eneasiness & I have therefore presumed to trouble you and if you will be so Obliging as to lend me One Hundred Dollars, I will send you my promisory Note to repay you in One Twelvemonth. But Although I am much in want of Cash to Answer my present Exigencies, & therefore Solicit you to honor me with it by the Bearer, I shall take the Oppertunity of coming to Philadelphia as soon as possible to lay before you proposals for Countenancing my Exertions in the Establishment of the Ginn for Cleaning Seed Cotton,3 for I give you my word and honor you shall be made acquainted with every particular and the Option of a first refusal. I Never should have made any proposals to you Sir or any other Gentleman, independant of Mr Pearce, had his Conduct not been too highly reprehensible for me to have any further Connextions with him. About the latter end of this or beginning of Next year I will wait on you with an Explanation of my ⟨–⟩ on the Subject of the Ginn, but if you in the ⟨mean⟩ time require any Information by Letter ⟨I⟩ will Immediately send it you, hoping you will honor me so far with your Confidence as to remit by the Bearer, (as the post is uncertain hither) the loan I have respectfully Solicited, I remain

Your Most Obedient   Humble Servant

Thomas Marshall

Honble: Alexander Hamilton Esqr.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Marshall was superintendent of the cotton mill of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufactures.

2For the society’s difficulties with William Hall and William Pearce, see Peter Colt to H, November 7, 1793.

3In December, 1792, the following notice appeared in the press: “Various paragraphs having appeared in different papers respecting the invention of a machine at this place, for the purpose of cleaning the cotton of its seed, and as most of these accounts are erroneous, and unauthenticated, we are authorized to inform the public, that a Ginn for the above purpose is now compleated upon a construction entirely new, and to work by water; one of these engines occupying a space of not more than 12 feet by 4, will produce very near 300lb, of cleaned cotton per day, and requires only the assistance of children. The usual and hitherto great impediments arising from the amazing friction and consequently great wear and tear is so nearly removed in this engine as to be of but very little or no importance. The machine is divided into separate and distinct movements, any given number of which may be instantly stopt by the attending child, without being the least impediment to the remainder. An application is making to government for a patent, being the production and joint invention of Mr. William Pearce and Mr. Thomas Marshall, conductors of the spinning and weaving departments belonging to the National Manufactory” ([Philadelphia] National Gazette, December 29, 1792).

Joseph S. Davis states that the “machine came to naught, and even the patent for it was never issued” (Davis, Essays description begins Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]). description ends , I, 473).

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