Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to John J. U. Rivardi, 26 August 1799

To John J. U. Rivardi

New York, August 26, 1799. Has ordered Major Adam Hoops and Captain James Stille to Fort Niagara to investigate Captain James Bruff’s charges against Rivardi.1 States that although most men had enlisted when “the allowance” of spirits “was but half a gill per day … Those who entered the Service whilst the act of Congress which allowes a gill pr. day was in force … have some colour to contend that the withholding from them of any part of that allowance would be a breach of contract.”2 States that he has “for some time considered as important to the United States to have a vessel in the lake.” Reports that “The Secretary of war has determined to postpone the appointment of Cadets to a future day.”3

Df, in the handwriting of Thomas Y. How and H, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1On August 27, 1799, H wrote to Adam Hoops: “You will forthwith proceed together with Captain Stille of the Second Regiment of Artillerists & Engineers to the Post of Niagara. When there you will associate yourselves with some other officer … sufficient to serve. Together you will constitute a Court of Inquiry … & … examine into certain charges … by Captain Bruff … against Major Rivardi.…” This letter is listed in the appendix to this volume.

For Bruff’s charges, see Rivardi to H, March 21, 1799, note 13.

2Rivardi had raised a question about the allowance of spirits in Rivardi to H, July 11, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume), as a result of H’s “General Orders,” June 13, 1799.

Section 6 of “An Act to augment the Army of the United States, and for other purposes” provided that “… every non-commissioned officer, private and musician shall receive daily … a gill of rum, brandy or whiskey” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845); II (Boston, 1850). description ends 604–05 [July 16, 1798]). Section 22 of “An Act for the better organizing of the Troops of the United States; and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845); II (Boston, 1850). description ends 749–55 [March 3, 1799]) provided: “That it shall be lawful for the commander in chief of the army, or the commanding officer of any separate detachment or garrison thereof, at his discretion, to cause to be issued, from time to time to the troops under his command … rum, whiskey, and other ardent spirits in quantities not exceeding half a gill to each man per day.…”

3This is a reference to Rivardi’s request to have Enoch Humphrey appointed a cadet. See Rivardi to H, April 3, July 25, 1799. For James McHenry’s decision concerning the appointment of cadets, see McHenry to H, second letter of July 8, 1799.

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