Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Philip Schuyler, 17 August 1798

From Philip Schuyler

Albany August 17th 1798

My Dear Sir

Since you left this, Governor Jay called on me, regretted that he had not had an opportunity of conversing with you, as he wished to have proposed to you to take the Superintendance of the fortifications at NYork should the Legislature make provision for those works. I observed that as Inspector to the Army, It would interfere with the duties of that office; and that the president or General Washington might require your attendance elsewhere; he said he would try to obtain their sanction. If you would undertake the superintendance, that It was not his intention that you should be embarrassed with Accounts, that proper persons would be appointed for that purpose and Such other agents employed to carry your orders into execution, as you should deem necessary. Your taking this business under your direction would doubtless be very beneficial to the community, but the difficulty of erecting efficient works to secure the city & port against a formidable attack from an enemy, unless more money was expended than will probably be appropriated by the Legislature, may put the character of the superintendant in risk, and faults imputed where in fact there were none. This is one point of view In which I have contemplated the Governors intention; on the other hand should the Offer be made you, and you decline, the Citizens may think hard of It. I mention this subject that you may have leisure to reflect on It, before you hear from the Governor.

Much diversity of Opinion prevails as to whom are to be the Candidates for the vacant seat of senator in Congress.1 I believe It will lay between Mr. James Watson2 and Mr John Tayler3 of this city, few If any of our friends like the latter, and many of them are averse to the former, and yet they cannot agree upon another—hence I apprehend that Tayler will prevail. Mr Leonard Gansevoort4 wanted his brother5 to be sent, and this has created much confusion in the feoderal part of the Legislature.

I have been less afflicted with pain since you left us than whilst you were here. I hope you did ⟨not⟩ suffer from the heavy rain which ⟨fell⟩ during your Journey to Salsbury,6 and that you Enjoy better health than when here. We all Join in love to you My Dear Eliza, the Children and all friends.

Please to Inform Mr Church that My Angelica embarks tomorrow. I have had so much writing to do, and am Still so engaged that I cannot write him by this Mail. God bless You My Dear Sir

I am Ever yours   most affectionately

Ph: Schuyler

Honl Genl. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1The vacancy occurred because of the resignation of John Sloss Hobart. For Hobart’s resignation and the temporary appointment of William North, see the first letter from John Jay to H, April 19, 1798.

2James Watson, a native of Woodbury, Connecticut, had acted as agent and subcontractor for the firm of John Carter (John B. Church) and Jeremiah Wadsworth during the American Revolution. In 1786 Watson moved to New York City, where he practiced law, engaged in business, and served as a director of the Bank of the United States and of the Society for Establishing Useful Manufacturers. He represented New York City in the state Assembly in 1791, 1794, and 1795 and served in the New York Senate from 1796 to 1798. On August 17, 1798, he was appointed to the United States Senate to replace North (Journal of the Senate of the State of New York; At Their Twenty Second Session, Begun and Held at the City of Albany, the Ninth Day of August, 1798 [Albany, n.d.], 18). He served in the Senate until 1800.

3Tayler, an Albany merchant, had been a member of the New York Provincial Congress in 1776 and 1777 and the New York Assembly from 1777 to 1781 and in 1786 and 1787. When this letter was written, he was a judge of Albany County.

4Gansevoort, an Albany lawyer, had been a member of the Continental Congress, a delegate to the Annapolis Convention, a member of the New York Provincial Congress in 1775 and 1776, a member of the New York Assembly in 1778 and of the New York Senate from 1791 to 1793 and from 1796 to 1802.

5Peter Gansevoort, who held the rank of colonel at the end of the American Revolution, was major general of the militia in the western district of New York.

6No record concerning this trip has been found, but the evidence indicates that H went to Salisbury, Connecticut, to deal with the proposed sale of John B. Church’s landholdings. See Jeremiah Wadsworth to H, May 13, 1797; Uriah Tracy to H, March 23, April 6, 1797.

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