Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Caleb Swan, 14 November 1799

To Caleb Swan1

New York Novr. 14th. 1799


I send you an extract from a letter of the ninth of this month which I have just received from Colonel Rice.2 Representations of the kind [have successively come to me3 from various Quarters.]4 They give me both pain and mortification. The delay in transmitting the necessary supplies of money [is attended with every disadvantage. It has become a subject of special Inquiry by the Commander in Chief.]5

[Not only] the most favorable season for recruiting is suffered to pass away [unimproved, but] the minds of the soldiery, in the very infancy of the military establishment, are [permitted to receive ill impressions which will not easily be erased and which are likely to have a very pernicious influence upon their future conduct.] The [evil is] serious. [It is essential that a different spirit should govern our pecuniary measures towards the army. I expect it.]

With great cons

Caleb Swan Esq.

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

1This letter was enclosed in H to James McHenry, November 14, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume).

3See Thomas Parker to H, September 16, October 6, 16, 19, 1799; Henry Burbeck to H, October 26, 1799. H had received additional complaints regarding the lack of pay for both officers and men. These complaints may be found in the following letters, all of which are listed in the appendix to the appropriate volume: Timothy Taylor to H, September 6, October 28, 1799; Parker to H, November 13, 1799; Josias Carvel Hall to H, October 12, 20, November 3, 1799; William C. Bentley to H, October 20, 1799; John H. Buell to H, November 1, 1799; Swan to H, October 30, 1799. In his first letter to Swan of October 14, 1799 (listed in the appendix to Volume XXIII), H had called Swan’s attention to the arrears of pay. In his letter to Swan of November 12, 1799 (listed in the appendix to this volume), H had asked Swan to provide a statement of all money for pay and bounty which had been provided to the regimental paymasters.

Not all the complaints, however, were justified. On September 27, 1799 (listed in the appendix to Volume XXIII), H had informed Taylor that money to cover the pay of the Thirteenth Regiment had been forwarded. At the same time he ordered Taylor to secure an accounting of this money from the regimental paymaster. H sent a similar letter to William S. Smith on September 26, 1799 (listed in the appendix to Volume XXIII).

In addition to the lack of pay, the regiments were suffering from a lack of money for the payment of recruiting bounties. See H to Swan, November 13, 1799.

4Words within brackets are in H’s handwriting.

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