To Elizabeth Hamilton
Claverack1 [New York] Oct 14. 1803
My Dear Eliza
I arrived here this day, in about as good health as I left home though somewhat fatigued.
There are some things necessary to be done which I omitted mentioning to you.2 I wish the Carpenters to make and insert two Chimnies for ventilating the Ice-House, each about two feet Square & four feet long half above and half below the ground—to have a cap on the top sloping downwards so that the rain may not easily enter—the aperture for letting in and out the air to be about a foot and a half square in the side immediately below the cap (see figure on the other side).
Let a separate compost bed be formed near the present one; to consist of 3 barrels full of the clay which I bought3 6 barrels of black mould 2 waggon loads of the best clay on the Hill opposite the Quakers4 place this side of Mrs. Verplanks5 (the Gardener must go for it himself) and one waggon load of pure cow-dung. Let these be well and repeatedly mixed and pounded together to be made use of hereafter for the Vines.
I hope the apple trees will have been planted so as to profit by this moderate and wet weather. If not done—Let Tough6 be reminded that a temporary fence is to be put up along the declivity of the Hill from the Kings bridge road to the opposite wood so as to prevent the cattle injuring the young trees—the fence near the entrance to the Helicon spring ought for the same reason to be attended to. The materials of the fence taken down in making the Kitchen Garden & some rubbish which may be picked up will answer.
Remember that the piazzas are also to be caulked & that additional accommodations for the pidgeons are to be made.
ALS, MS Division, New York Public Library.
1. H was in Claverack in his capacity as counsel for the heirs of John Van Rensselaer, who had brought actions against those individuals who were charged with occupying his lands in Claverack without acknowledging themselves as tenants and without accepting leases. For a discussion of the controversy involving the Claverack lands, see Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., and Joseph H. Smith, eds., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ). description ends , forthcoming volumes.
2. The remainder of H’s letter concerns the Grange, his country house in upper Manhattan. See the introductory note to Philip Schuyler to H, July 17, 1800.
3. An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of October 8, 1803, reads: “Grange (Clay) 10” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).
4. Joseph Mott.
5. Cornelia Verplanck, the widow of Gulian Verplanck, president of the Bank of New York from 1791 until his death in 1799, owned property from 121st Street to 127th Street on the west side of Bloomingdale Road.
6. For H’s payments to William Tuff for his services, see Tuff’s account in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804 (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).
7. On November 20, 1803, Rufus King, who had returned to New York City from London in July, 1803, wrote to Christopher Gore: “Hamilton is at the head of his profession, and in the annual rect. of a handsome income. He lives wholly at his house 9. miles from town so that on an average he must spend three hours a day on the road going and returning between his house and town, which he performs four or five days each week. I don’t perceive that he meddles or feels much concerning Politics. He has formed very decided opinions of our System as well as of our administration, and as the one and the other has the voice of the country, he has nothing to do but to prophecy!” (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, 326).
8. Cornelia Morton, Elizabeth Hamilton’s youngest sister and the wife of Washington Morton.