Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Samuel Dexter, 8 August 1800

To Samuel Dexter

New York, August 8th, 1800.

Dear Sir,

Major Rensselaer,1 who was the eldest captain of dragoons before the late augmentation of the army, was under that augmentation promoted to a major. He has some time since devoted himself to military affairs, as a profession for life, and is unwilling to quit. For my part I have conceived there was a discretion in the president on this subject, which may be exercised in favour of the major. A field officer for the cavalry appears to me in every view proper. For the character of Major Van Rensselaer, as an officer, I refer you to Gen. Wilkinson, with whom he served. The inquiry I know will result greatly in his favour, and as a man, there is none more worthy: he is a kinsman of Mrs. Hamilton.2

With esteem and regard

A. Hamilton

The Hon. Samuel Dexter, Secretary of War.

Catherine V. R. Bonney, A Legacy of Historical Gleanings (Albany, 1875), I, 152.

1Solomon Van Rensselaer was a captain in the Squadron of Light Dragoons from July 17, 1793, to January 8, 1799, when he was appointed a major in the Additional Army (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 154, 156, 298, 303). On June 14, 1800, he was honorably discharged when the Additional Army was disbanded (H to Nathan Rice, May 13, 1800, note 1). Subsequently, Governor John Jay of New York appointed Van Rensselaer adjutant general of the New York State militia (Bonney, A Legacy of Historical Gleanings, I, 154).

2Van Rensselaer was a son of Henry K. Van Rensselaer, who was the cousin of Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler, Elizabeth Hamilton’s mother.

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