Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Rufus King, 8 April 1802

From Rufus King

London Ap. 8. 1802

Dear Sir

By Dr. Romayne1 I send you a pamphlet lately written upon the interesting subject of the public credit of this Country. The author is a member of parliament an old & practical Banker,2 Brother to the president of the Bank of England,3 and for many years much conversant with the great money operations of the Country. When you have read it I wish the favour of you to send it together with the other Pamphlet respecting the Sugar Colonies4 to our friend Mr George Cabot.5

I do not enter upon the Situation of Europe since the Peace6—it would be too long a labour to do so. While the war lasted, constant and endless occasions presented themselves to employ myself here for the benefit of our countrymen & I flatter myself for the pub. advantage. The Revision of our coml. treaty has been a Service to which I have all along looked as the conclusion of my mission:7 As however I have no reason to suppose it likely soon to take place, I am not much inclined to remain here a mere figurant, and I am therefore seriously thinking of my Return. Without deciding any thing on this point, I confidentially ask your opinion respecting it? This I have not done except in the present instance.

very faithfully   Yrs

R K.

Before returning, I am desirous to pass a few months upon the continent.8

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Nicholas Romayne was a New York City physician and professor of medicine who had attended King’s College when H was a student there (“Matricula of King’s College,” 1774). After receiving his M.D. degree at Edinburgh in 1780, Romayne taught private classes in medicine and was a member of the faculty of the Medical School of Columbia College. He then formed his own medical school, the College of Physicians and Surgeons. When the authorities at Columbia objected, Romayne abandoned his school, and in 1792–1793 he worked out an agreement by which his students would receive degrees from Queen’s (later Rutgers) College in New Jersey. In the mid-seventeen-nineties Romayne became involved in western land speculation with Robert Troup, who was the attorney for the Pulteney Associates. In 1800 Romayne went to England, where he became a licentiate and a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London. Romayne subsequently returned to the United States and became president of the College of Physicians and Surgeons.

2Henry Thornton, Enquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain (London: J. Hatchard, 1802).

Thornton, a philanthropist and a partner in the banking firm of Downe, Free, and Thornton, was elected to Parliament from Southwark in 1782 and served until his death in 1815. In Parliament he was regarded as an expert on financial affairs, and the Enquiry was considered to be the first textbook of banking theory. Thornton’s pamphlet was reprinted in the United States in 1807 (Henry Thornton, Enquiry into the Nature and Effects of the Paper Credit of Great Britain [Philadelphia: Published and sold by James Humphreys, for Mathew Carey, 1807]).

3Samuel Thornton, the older brother of Henry Thornton, was appointed director of the Bank of England in 1780 and served in that capacity until his death in 1836. He was governor of the Bank of England from 1799 to 1801. Thornton was a member of Parliament from Kingston-upon-Hull from 1784 to 1806.

When King wrote the letter printed above, the governor of the Bank of England was Job Mathew, who died during his two-year term of office and on May 4, 1802, was succeeded by Joseph Nutt, the deputy governor.

4James Stephen, The Crisis of the Sugar Colonies: Or, an Enquiry into the Objects and Probable Effects of the French Expedition to the West Indies; And their Connection with the Colonial Interests of the British Empire. To which are subjoined, Sketches of a Plan for settling the Vacant Lands of Trinidada. In Four Letters to the Right Hon. Henry Addington, Chancellor of the Exchequer, &c. (London: Printed for J. Hatchard, Bookseller to Her Majesty, No. 190, Opposite York House, Piccadilly, 1802).

5Cabot, a Massachusetts merchant and Federalist, had been a member of the United States Senate from 1791 to 1796. In 1802 he held no public office and was living on his farm near Brookline, Massachusetts.

6The Treaty of Amiens, signed on March 27, 1802, by Great Britain, France, Holland, and Spain, ended a decade of war in Europe. The preliminary peace was signed at London on October 1, 1801. For the text of the definitive treaty, see The Parliamentary History of England, from the Earliest Period to the Year 1803, XXXVI (London, 1820), 557–64.

7The last eighteen commercial provisions of the Jay Treaty were scheduled to expire two years after the end of the general European war unless the United States and Great Britain agreed to renew them. For Article 28 of the Jay Treaty, which contains the provision for renewal of the treaty’s sections on commerce, see “Remarks on the Treaty … between the United States and Great Britain,” July 9–11, 1795, note 78.

8On January 12, 1802, King wrote a private letter to James Madison, Secretary of State, requesting permission to spend the summer “in seeing a little of France and some parts of the neighboring Countries” (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 53–54). Madison gave King permission for the trip in a letter dated April 7, 1802 (LS, Princeton University Library). King did not return to New York until June 30, 1803 (New-York Evening Post, July 1, 1803).

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