Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 26 September 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Junior


Phila. Sepr. 26. 1795

My dear Sir

I have recd. you Letter of the 20th. and regret the cause which deprived me of the pleasure of seeing you.

Nothing is known of the authors to which you allude. The “Features of the Treaty” were doubtless painted by Dallas.1 Doctrs. Logan2 & Leib,3 Bache,4 Beckley,5 T. L. Shippen,6 are much suspected—S. Sayre7 of New Jersey is I understand very violent—perhaps the avowed intemperance of these men against the government is the only evidence against them. I can furnish no direct proof.

Mr. Randolph has published a preface which you have seen,8 this is the opening of a new & very extraordinary campaign—perhaps you know something of the cause of his hostility. I consider Mr. R. as perfectly desperate & malignant. He will do all the mischief in his power. His long acquaintance with our affairs—the predominating influence which he has possessed in those which concerned his own Department & his skill in misrepresentation furnish him with important advantages. Dallas is Councillor in all his Councils, and will of course prune away many indiscretions & render a bad cause as plausible as the nature of it will admit. I rely however upon the sense & virtue of the public, & trust that the truth will prevail.

The public affairs are certainly in a critical state. I do not clearly see how those of the Treasury are to be managed. Our foreign resources are dried up—our domestic are deeply anticipated at least as respects the Bank. Banks are multiplying like mushrooms—the prices of all our Exports are enhanced by paper negociations, and unfounded projects so that, no foreign market will indemnify the Shippers—our Commerce is harrased by the war & our internal resources unproductive of the expected sums, owing to prejudice, combination, & the want of competent officers. Usury absorbs much of that Capital, which might be calculated upon as a resource if visionary speculations could be destroyed.

You know however that I shall do the best in my power, & that intimations from you will always be thankfully recd.

I am assuredly yrs.

Oliv Wolcott Jr.

Colo. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1Alexander J. Dallas was secretary of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and one of the state’s leading Republicans. Wolcott was correct in assuming that Dallas was the author of these articles. which were entitled “Features of Jay’s Treaty” and were published in Dunlap and Claypoole’s [Philadelphia] American Daily Advertiser, July 18, 22, 25, 31, August 7, 1795.

2George Logan, a graduate in medicine from the University of Edinburgh, served in the Pennsylvania Assembly from 1785 to 1788. He became a Republican and as such was elected to the legislature in 1795, 1796, and 1799. He was a close friend of Thomas Jefferson.

3Michael Leib, a prominent Philadelphia physician, was active in the Philadelphia Democratic Society and a Republican spokesman in the Pennsylvania legislature.

4Benjamin Franklin Bache was editor of the [Philadelphia] Aurora. General Advertiser.

5John Beckley of Virginia was clerk of the House of Representatives.

6Thomas Lee Shippen was a Philadelphia Republican.

7Stephen Sayre had been a London banker before the American Revolution. Arthur Lee appointed him secretary of his mission to Berlin in May, 1777. Subsequently he was a self-appointed agent for the United States to Copenhagen and Stockholm. After the war he returned to the United States and became a supporter of Francisco de Miranda. He repeatedly petitioned Congress for payment for his European activities during the Revolution. On March 3, 1807, Congress passed “An Act for the relief of Stephen Sayre” for services in Berlin (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1846). description ends 65).

8This is a reference to a letter which Edmund Randolph had written to George Washington on September 15, 1795, and which Randolph had released to the press for publication. This letter was part of Randolph’s effort to clear himself of the charges which had arisen from the interception of Fauchet’s Dispatch No. 10 and which had led to his resignation as Secretary of State. See Wolcott to H, July 30, 1795, note 1.

Randolph’s letter to Washington reads: “In my letter of the 19th Ultimo, I informed you of my purpose to over take Mr. Fauchet, if possible. I accordingly went to Newport in Rhode Island; where I had an interview with him. The abrupt and unexpected sailing of the French Frigate, La Meduse, on the morning of the day, after I arrived there, had nearly deprived me of the object of my journey. But I trust, that I am in possession of such materials, not only from Mr. Fauchet, but also from other sources, as will convince every unprejudiced mind, that my resignation was dictated by considerations, which ought not to have been resisted for a moment, and that every thing, connected with it, stands upon a footing perfectly honorable to myself.

“Having passed thro’ New-York on my return, I am under the necessity of remaining at the distance of five miles from Philadelphia until saturday next. This circumstance prevents me from consulting my private and other papers upon the matters in question. But I shall lose no time in digesting them into proper form, and on transmitting the result to you. Nor will my solicitude on this head be doubted, when I state to you, that malicious whispers have been more than commonly active and absurd upon this occasion.” (ALS, RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters, 1790–1799, National Archives.) This letter is printed in The [New York] Argus, or Greenleaf’s New Daily Advertiser, September 23, 1795.

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