George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 15 December 1790

From Alexander Hamilton

Treasury Departmt Decr 15th 1790.

The Secretary of the Treasury has the honor respectfully to inform the President of the United States that a wish of the Collector of Boston to spend a part of the time of the Session of Congress at the Seat of Government has been intimated to him. An absence from his Office at this season of the year being the least likely to be inconvenient, and it being probable that much useful information may be derived from conferences with that Officer, the Secretary would gladly transmit to him the Presidents permission, if it should be his pleasure to grant it.1

A. Hamilton


1John Jay wrote to Hamilton on 28 Nov. 1790 conveying Benjamin Lincoln’s request for permission to leave his post as collector at Boston in order to come to Philadelphia to discuss the regulation of the coastal trade then being considered by Congress with Hamilton (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 7:166–67). During this trip Lincoln, who had been employed as an emissary to the Creeks in 1789, may also have discussed the crisis in Indian relations with GW (Mattern, Benjamin Lincoln, description begins David B. Mattern. Benjamin Lincoln and the American Revolution. Columbia, S.C., 1995. description ends 190–98). Tobias Lear wrote to Hamilton on 16 Dec. 1790 transmitting GW’s approval (DLC:GW). On 18 Dec. 1790 Lear wrote directly to Lincoln, his friend and patron: “I had the pleasure yesterday to communicate to the Secretary of the Treasury the President’s approbation of your wish to spend a part of your time during the Session of Congress at the seat of Governmt—Among the many who will rejoice to see you here no one will feel a more sincere pleasure than I shall, and if it should be in my power to contribute in any degree to your convenience or amusement during your stay among us, it will afford me a high gratification.

“Before we removed from New York I occupied a snug little box where I was sure to be refreshed with the enjoyments of domestic life after the the parade or business of the day. Altho’ the distance from the President’s was small, yet both he & myself felt many inconveniences from my being out of the family tho’ but for a few hours in the day. He & Mrs Washington therefore, urged our living with them so strongly & with so much goodness that we gave up many little conveniencies to do it; And, for the first time since we have been in this city, do I regret our residing wholly with the President, as it deprives me & my little woman of a pleasure which otherways we should have a right to expect. I mean that of having your company to add to our domestic enjoyments while you continued in Philadelphia: for you will pardon me, my dear Sir, if I say that we should have the same claim upon in this respect as we should have upon a parent: and sure I am that no circumstances could afford my little wife half the happiness that this would: for since the evening which we spent with you in Boston she has spoken of her Genl Lincoln with such raptures that if you was a young man I should think of removing as you approached us; and indeed, General, you almost spoiled her by giving her such high ideas of her own importance as a wife; for if I say a word about the Captaincy she refers to your doctrine as the standard of infallibility.

“As my first wish cannot be gratified, will you, if you purpose to take lodgings in the City, permit me to engage them against your arrival? for so difficult is it to obtain quarters in any tolerable house here that a previous engagement is absolutely necessary. If there should be any particular house or any particular part of the city that you wish to reside in, I shall feel very happy if any agency of mine can contribute towards the gratification of your wishes” (MHi: Benjamin Lincoln Papers).

Tobias Lear’s only child, named Benjamin Lincoln Lear in Lincoln’s honor, was born on 11 Mar. 1791 (Brighton, Checkered Career of Tobias Lear, description begins Ray Brighton. The Checkered Career of Tobias Lear. Portsmouth, N.H., 1985. description ends 98).

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