Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from James McHenry, 13 September 1799

From James McHenry

War Department, Trenton, September 13, 1799. “I herewith transmit you a Copy of a letter from the Secretary of the Navy of this date1 requesting that the Marine Guard at Norris Town2 may be relieved by a competent number of Infantry of the Army. You will be pleased to take such order thereon as to you may appear proper.”3

LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LS, letterpress copy, James McHenry Papers, Library of Congress.

1Benjamin Stoddert to McHenry, September 13, 1799 (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress), enclosing Major William Ward Burrows to Stoddert, September 11, 1799 (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

Burrows was appointed major of Marines on July 16, 1798 (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 286, 290).

2Because of the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia, John Fries and the other prisoners who had been taken during Fries’s Rebellion had been moved in early September from a prison in Philadelphia to one in Norristown. Stoddert had written to Burrows on September 6, 1799, ordering Burrows “to furnish a Marine Officer, and a sufficient Guard” to conduct the prisoners to Norristown (Naval Documents, Quasi-War, August, 1799–December, 1799 description begins Naval Documents Related to the Quasi-War Between the United States and France: Naval Operations from August 1799 to December 1799 (Washington, 1936). description ends , 165). On September 11, 1799, William Nichols, United States marshal for the District of Pennsylvania, wrote to Richard Peters, who as United States judge for the District of Pennsylvania had interrogated Fries shortly after his capture and had presided over Fries’s trial: “… a military guard from the temper of the people & the situation of the jail is absolutely necessary.… unless a guard is kept here the prisoners cannot be kept secure…” (copy, enclosed in Peters to Timothy Pickering, September 12, 1799 [ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]). Peters on September 12, 1799, wrote to Burrows: “… At the instance of the Marshall I … request you to station the Guard there.… I think there ought to be a prudent Officer to command the Guard, who would do his duty with Firmness, without getting into any disputes with the People of the Country; many of whom in that Quarter would be glad to provoke a Quarrel not only from a Jacobinical seditious disposition—but perhaps for a worse purpose, if worse there can be …” (copy, enclosed in Peters to Pickering, September 12, 1799 [ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]). On September 12, 1799, Burrows wrote to Peters: “The Detachment sent off can stay till relieved by other Troops. I will immediately send 8 or 9 Men more, which are all I can spare. The Men I sent were all picked; and the officer I can depend on. I lament I have it not in my power to send a full Complement of Men. The Reinforcement I mean to send, shall be at Norris-Town this Eveng.… I think it will be adviseable, that you write to the Secretary of State to procure a Guard of Infantry to relieve the Marines, for I do not think they are sufficiently strong” (copy, enclosed in Peters to Pickering, September 12, 1799 [ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston]).

3On the envelope H wrote: “Guard at Norris Town Col. Moore to furnish it.” H wrote to Thomas Lloyd Moore on September 16, 1799, to “take measures that an adequate number of the Soldiers under your command be stationed there to complete the guard wanted …” (letter listed in the appendix to this volume).

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