Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Stephen Higginson, 17 June 1794

From Stephen Higginson1

Boston June 17, 1794

Dr Sir

Mr. Cabot2 has mentioned to me that Mr. Cox was enquiring relative to our Trade to Sweeden & intimated that Government wanted to get from thence a parcel of Copper & Iron.3 I have two Vessels now going to Gottenburg & will import any articles that may be wanted at the same advance or benefit as I shall get upon common Iron, if the articles can be got ready in time to come in them. Should the Articles wanted not be prepared in time for these Vessels things may be prepared to come by some later Ones.

We have this day Letters from Jamaica informing us that the packet with the orders of Jany 8 arrived there may 8th, in consequence of which all our Vessels were liberated.4 Two of the masters whose Vessels were released write thus to their Owners, & Letters from a good house there gives the same information.

I congratulate you upon the report relative to your Department.5 Master Giles6 must feel, I think, very much mortified; & his Constituents can not be gratified at seeing him placed so far in the back ground. I rejoice to find that Congress are ⟨up⟩7 & that their Session has closed so much better than there was reason to apprehend at some periods.

With Sentiments of respect I am Sir your   very hum Serv

Stephen Higginson

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Higginson was a Boston merchant.

2George Cabot was a Massachusetts merchant and a United States Senator.

3Tench Coxe’s responsibilities included the procurement of military, naval, and Indian supplies for the War Department (see Coxe to H, April 4, 1794). The copper and iron were needed for fortifications and naval armament (see Henry Knox to H, March 29, April 21, 1794).

4For the British order in council of January 8, 1794, see the introductory note to H to George Washington, March 8, 1794. For the seizure of United States vessels under the order in council of November 6, 1793, see “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on a Request for a Passport.” April 2, 1794, note 4; “Conversation with George Hammond,” April 15–16, 1794; Randolph to H, May 16, 1794.

5For information concerning the congressional investigation of the Treasury, see the introductory note to H to Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, December 16, 1793. On May 22, 1794, “Mr. [Abraham] Baldwin, from the committee appointed to examine into the state of the Treasury Department, and to report generally and specifically thereupon, made a report; which was read, and ordered to lie on the table” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , IV, 713). The committee report was for the most part a restatement of the information which H had presented to the committee on the conduct of the Treasury Department. The report concluded:

“At the request of the Secretary of the Treasury, the committee report:

“That it appears from the affidavits of the cashier, and several officers of the Bank of the United States, and of several of the directors, the cashier and other officers of the Bank of New York, that the Secretary of the Treasury never has, either directly or indirectly, for himself or any other person, procured any discount or credit from either of the said banks, upon the basis of any public moneys which, at any time, have been deposited therein under his direction. And the committee are satisfied that no moneys of the United States, whether before or after they have passed to the credit of the Treasurer, have ever been, directly or indirectly, used for, or applied to any purposes, but those of Government, except, so far as all moneys deposited in a bank are concerned in the general operations thereof” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Finance, I, 300).

On the important question of whether H had illegally drawn to the United States money borrowed in Europe (see H to the Select Committee Appointed to Examine the Treasury Department, March 24, 1794; “Report on Principles and Course of Proceeding with Regard to the Disposition of the Moneys Borrowed Abroad by Virtue of the Acts of the Fourth and Twelfth of August, 1790, as to the Point of Authority,” April 1, 1794; H to George Washington, March 24, April 1, 7, 8, 1794; Abraham Baldwin to H, March 29, April 5, 1794; Washington to H, April 8, 1794), the committee neither condemned nor condoned H’s conduct, but merely repeated his own explanation of it.

6William B. Giles, a member of the House of Representatives from Virginia. See the introductory note to H to Muhlenberg, December 16, 1793.

7This word has been taken from JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , V, 596.

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