Albany Jany. 31st 1799
My Dear Sir
This will be delivered to you by Mr Weston,23 who has been requested by the Corporation of your city to a conference on the Subject of supplying the city with water.24 Permit me to entreat your Attention to him.
Mrs. Church25 writes me that you Suffer from want of exercise, that this and unremitted Attention to business injures your health. I believe It is difficult for an Active mind to moderate an application to business but My Dear Sir you must make some sacrifice to that health which is so precious to all who are dear to you, and to that country which revers and Esteems you. Let me then entreat you to use more bodily exercise, and less of that of the mind.26
By a Mistake of mine my Nephew Ph: Schuyler’s name is not Corre[c]t. It should have been Philip Cortland Schuyler instead of Philip Stephen Schuyler,27 there being another of the latter name. My Nephew has written on this Subject to the Secretary at War. Will you be so good as to interpose on the Occasion.
All here are well and Unite in love to you My Eliza & the Children.
I am My dear Sir Ever most Affectlly Yours
Hone M: Genl Hamilton
ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.
1. For a full account of the founding of the Manhattan Company, see Beatrice G. Reubens, “Burr, Hamilton and the Manhattan Company. Part I: Gaining the Charter,” Political Science Quarterly, LXXII (December, 1957), 578–607. The same author has written “Burr, Hamilton and the Manhattan Company. Part II: Launching a Bank,” Political Science Quarterly, LXXIII (March, 1958), 100–25. See also Joseph Stancliffe Davis, Essays in the Earlier History of American Corporations (“Harvard Economic Studies,” XVI [Cambridge, 1917]), II, 100–01, 252, 319; Sidney I. Pomerantz, New York: An American City, 1783–1803 (Reprinted: Port Washington, New York, 1965), 187–92, 278–85.
2. For a partisan (that is, Federalist) view of Burr’s role in obtaining the charter for the Manhattan Company, see “To the Citizens of New York” by “A Citizen” (The New-York Gazette and General Advertiser, May 1, 1799). This article also appeared as a broadside (New-York Historical Society, New York City). See also the broadside entitled A Yearly Tax of 140,000 Dollars!, April 30, 1799 (New-York Historical Society, New York City).
3. New York Laws, 22nd Sess., Ch. LXXXIV (April 2, 1799).
4. For a detailed discussion of the points mentioned in this paragraph, see Reubens, “Burr, Hamilton and the Manhattan Company. Part I: Gaining the Charter,” Political Science Quarterly, LXXII (December, 1957), 578–83.
6. Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 225, 307, 314, 320, 347, 420, 466, 467–68, 478, 480, 481, 483, 484, 486–90.
8. Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 314; Proceedings of the Corporation of New-York, on Supplying the City with Pure and Wholesome Water; With a Memoir of Joseph Browne (New York: Printed by John Furman, 1799).
11. Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 123.
12. Richard Varick.
13. This is a mistake, for Verplanck was president of the Bank of New York. Murray and Verplanck were Federalists.
14. Broome was a New York City merchant and Republican politician. He had been a member of the New York Committee of One Hundred in 1775, the Provincial Congress of New York in 1776 and 1777, and the committee which drew up the New York Constitution of 1777. In the interval between 1799 and his death in 1810, he was a member of the state Senate, Assembly, and Council of Appointment, and when he died he was lieutenant governor of New York.
15. Richard Harison.
19. H to the Legislature of the State of New York, February–March, 1799.
20. Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 263.
21. Journal of the Senate of the State of New-York; 22nd Sess., 2nd Meeting, 118.
22. New York Laws, 22nd Sess., Ch. LXXXIV.
23. Weston was an English engineer who from 1795 to 1799 was supervisor of construction for the Western and Northern Inland Lock Navigation companies in New York State. Schuyler was a leading proponent of canals in New York State and served as president of the Inland Lock companies.
24. On December 17, 1798, the Common Council adopted a report which, after approving Doctor Joseph Browne’s proposal for supplying New York with water from the Bronx River, recommended “that Mr Weston who has been the Engineer for the Canal Companies in this State and whose abilities are well known, be requested to examine that River with the situation of the Grounds to be employed in the Aqueduct and such other Matters incident to the supply of the City with pure & wholesome Water from that or any other Source as he may think proper and that he be requested to report his Opinion to the Corporation with the requisite Plans & Estimates as soon as may be practicable” (Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 486).
The Mayor submitted Weston’s report to the Common Council on March 16, 1799 (Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , II, 527). For Weston’s report, see Report of William Weston, Esquire, on the Practicability of Introducing the Water of the River Bronx into the City of New-York (New York: Printed by John Furman, 1799).
25. Angelica Schuyler Church, sister of Elizabeth Hamilton.
26. Whether the following letter illustrates mental or bodily activity may be difficult to determine, but it does indicate that H did not spend all his time working. In any event, on February 14, 1799, Peter A. Jay, the son of John Jay, wrote the following letter to his sister Anna about a party H attended on February 7, 1799, at John B. Church’s house: “Mr. Ph [ilip]. Church being some time ago at Newark in Company with Mr. [Julian Ursyn] Nimscowich [Niemcewicz] a Polish Gentleman, formerly a Companion of Genl [Tadeusz] Koskiusco [Kościuszko], the latter asserted that he possessed a magical Secret imparted to him by that Genl. wh. enable[d] him [to] raise the Spirits of the Dead.… Mr. Church returning to town related to his Father & Genl. Hamilton this extraordinary Occurrence & their Curiosity being raised by his relation, it was agreed to invite Mr. Nimscowich to town & request him to exhibit a Specimen of his Art. He accordingly came & dined with Mr. Church on Friday last & in the evening proceeded to gratify their request. Gen Hamilton retired to a Room by himself & Mr. Church who remained with the Conjuror wrote on a card without the Knowledge of the Gen. the name of [Antoine Charles du Houx] Baron de Viominil [Vioménil]. This being given to Mr. Nimscowich, the latter proceeded to make incantations &c until Genl. H returned & declared that the Baron had appeared to him exactly in the Dress which he formerly wore & that a Conversation had passed between them wh. he was not at liberty to disclose. This is the substance of the Account given by Mr. Church & his Sons, which was afterwd. greatly embellished & spread thro the City with so much Rapidity that the Poet ought not to be accused of Hyperbole who attributed to [John] Fenno only an hundred tongues.… It was not till a Day or too ago that Genl Hamilton explained the Mystery & declared [the] whole to be a contrivance between himself Ph. Church & the Pole to frighten the family for amusement, & that it was never intended to be made public. It seems that part of the Conjuration consisted in striking on a Bell when the card was given to the Wizard he gave as many strokes as were equal to the Number at which each letter of the Name stood in the Alphabet—21 for V. 9 for J. &c & thus communicated to his Confederate in the other room the Name of the Person he was to pretend to have seen …” (ALS, Columbia University Libraries).
Niemcewicz, a Polish patriot, was a writer and poet. Kosciuszko, who had fought in the American Revolution, had been captured by the Russians during the Polish uprising of 1794. Viomenil had served as second in command to Jean Baptiste Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau, from 1780 to 1781. John B. Church’s oldest son Philip was born on April 14, 1778. Church had four other children: John B., born in 1779; Catherine, born in 1780; Elizabeth, born in 1786; Richard Stephen, born in 1798.