Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Oliver Wolcott, Junior, [8 December 1796]

From Oliver Wolcott, Junior

[Philadelphia, December 8, 1796]

Dr. Sir

I have recd. your Letter of Decr. 6th. The Warrant for the sum due to the Bank of New York1 was issued punctually,2 by some neglect or accident in the Treasurers Office, it remained undischarged. I have taken measures for the payment.

By a Letter from Mr. Wilkes3 I find that the Bank claim a payment of Interest by way of discount and the 200.000 Dollars continued on Loan on the security of a deposit of Stock.4 This was not understood by me, nor does it appear a reasonable condition, I will however take measures to prevent any disadvantage to the Bank from the misconception of what was their construction.

The Loan of 120.000 Dolls.5 has really operated as an advance by the Branch Bank, & has been no other relief, than as it enabled me to assist the Bank here in a critical moment. These Institutions have all been mismanaged, I look upon them with terror, they [are] at present the curse, & I fear they will prove the ruin of the Government. Immense operations depend on a triffling Capital fluctuating between the Coffers of the different Banks; At present business in this City is on the point of stagnation.

I will thank you to inform the President of New York Bank or any other confidential person, that they may rest assured of as full & cordial assistance in any pressure of their affairs, as shall be in my power. I think however that they must principally rely on Sales of Stock, & in my opinion any sacrifice ought to be preferred to a continuance of temporary expedients. In the present state of the Treasy. anticipated payments are not practicable.

It is matter of importance that the proxies for electing Directors should not be placed in improper hands; some attention to this will be useful, if you find it convenient without exciting suspicions of Treasy. interference.

The Treasy. of N. York might have a number of Votes, which would be useful.

Perhaps intimations from the Bank of N York had best to come through you, they will be confidential.

The President will lay the correspondence with France since Genets time, before Congress.6 A Letter is preparing by Colo. Pickering to Mr. Pinckney in answer to Adet.7

Tom Payne has published a book against the President8 containing the most infamous calumnies: it is a systematical measure of France to destroy the publick confidence in the Friends of Govt. or “Washington Faction.” The question whether our Commerce is or is not to be attacked, depends intirely on the Military operations in Germany & Italy.

If you will part with the Reports of the British Comrs. of Accts.9 I shall be glad to purchase them. The 1st Volo. is with you the 2d. & 3d. are here. I shall be glad to have the book soon with a bill including Gallatins work.10

Yrs. with truth

Oliv Wolcott

A Hamilton Esq

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

1For the loan from the Bank of New York, see H to Wolcott, August 5, 1796.

2Warrant No. 6608 for two hundred thousand dollars “For the amount of a loan, made by the Bank to the United States, on the 8th of October 1794” was issued to the Bank of New York on October 8, 1796 (D, signed by Charles Wilkes, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 8300, National Archives). Warrant No. 6609 for ten thousand dollars “For interest for twelve months, from 8th Octr 1795 to 8 Octr 1796 at Five per Cent per Annum, on a loan of Two hundred thousand Dollars …” was issued to the Bank of New York on the same day (D, signed by Charles Wilkes, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 8294, National Archives).

3Charles Wilkes was cashier of the Bank of New York.

5After paying the two hundred thousand dollars due to the Bank of New York on October 8, 1796, the United States used the remainder of the loan of three hundred and twenty thousand dollars obtained from the Bank of New York (H to Wolcott, August 5, 1796) to pay one hundred and twenty thousand dollars to the Bank of the United States. This payment represented the second installment of the principal of four hundred thousand dollars which had been borrowed from the Bank of the United States in 1792 in pursuance of Section 16 of “An Act for raising a farther sum of money for the protection of the frontiers, and for other purposes therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 262 [May 2, 1792]). See George Washington to H, May 7, 1792; “Agreement with the President, Directors, and Company of the Bank of the United States,” May 25, 1792. See also “Report on Foreign Loans. Supplementary Statement Showing the Sums Borrowed in the United States,” January 10, 1793. On January 2, 1797, Joseph Nourse, the register of the Treasury, wrote: “… I also Certify that there was paid on Account of said Loan the 18 August 1796 One hundred and twenty thousand Dollars being the Amount of Warrant No. 6412 … Leaving a Balance due to the Bank of the United States on the 31 December 1796 of One hundred and eighty thousand Dollars which Balance was discharged on the Day …” (D, signed by Nourse, RG 217, Miscellaneous Treasury Accounts, 1790–1894, Account No. 8508, National Archives).

6Washington sent this material to Congress on January 19, 1797 (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 , VI, 1914, 2711–69). Washington’s enclosing letter and the accompanying documents are also printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 559–776.

7This letter, which is dated January 16, 1797, is printed in ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 559–776.

8Thomas Paine, Letter to George Washington, President of the United States of America. On Affairs Public and Private (Philadelphia: Printed by Benjamin Franklin Bache, No. 112 Market Street, 1796).

9The Reports of the Commissioners for Taking, Examining and Stating the Public Accounts, With the Appendixes Complete, Volume 1 by William Molleson, Volumes 2 and 3 by John Lane (London: T. Cadell, 1783–1787). These reports had originally been issued as four separate pamphlets published annually in London from 1711 through 1714.

10Albert Gallatin, A Sketch of the Finances of the United States (New York: Printed by William A. Davis, No. 438 Pearl Street, 1796). The book was published on November 16, 1796.

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