George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Alexander Hamilton, 6 October 1791

From Alexander Hamilton

Philadelphia 6th Octor 1791.


Mr Chew having confirmed the character received by you, of Mr Barratt, I have written to Mr Vining requesting him to ascertain whether the appointment will be acceptable to him.1

Mr Houston of Georgia declines the offer made to him, on the score of want of a familiar acquaintance with figures, and its being inconsistent with the State of his affairs, to translate himself wholly to the seat of Government. I beg leave to remind you of Mr Pleasants, if an opportunity of enquiry concerning him should present itself. Mr McComb, the present Auditor of the State of Delaware, has offered him self as a Candidate—& Mr Stoddard of Maryland has been mentioned as a proper person, if he would accept. I as yet know not enough of either of these characters to hazard an opinion.2

The Packet has brought me a letter of the 2d of August from Mr Church which contains the following paragraph3—“I fear there is no disposition at present in our Ministers to treat properly with America. Lord Hawkesbury is lately admitted into the Cabinet, & his prejudices are strong against you, & the enthusiasm for maintaining the navigation Act is such that there is not a shadow of probability they will in any shape relax. I have heard nothing since my last of Mr Hammond’s appointment to America, but I believe he is certainly to be sent out.”4 With the most respectful attachment, I have the honor &ca

A: Hamilton

P. S. I have this day the honor of your letter of the 2d.


1Writing from Maryland on his way to Mount Vernon, GW requested Alexander Hamilton on 16 Sept. to inquire into the qualifications of candidates to replace Dr. Henry Latimer, who had resigned as supervisor and inspector of the revenue for the District of Delaware. While GW was in Wilmington, Del., Congressman John Vining told him that Benjamin Chew of Philadelphia could provide further information on Andrew Barratt. GW left a blank commission with Tobias Lear so that Barratt’s name could be added if Hamilton’s inquiries proved positive. For Barratt’s appointment, see GW to Hamilton, 16 Sept., n.2, 10 Oct., and Hamilton to GW, 16 October.

2No further evidence has been found of GW’s offering the position of auditor of the United States to John Houston, whom GW earlier considered appointing to the U.S. Supreme Court (see GW to Henry Knox, 22 July, n.2). GW appointed William Smith auditor on 16 July, but Smith hesitated in accepting the post and eventually declined it. For the nomination of Richard Harrison as auditor on 25 Nov., see Tobias Lear to GW, 19–20 June, n.9. “Mr Pleasants” was probably John P. Pleasants of Baltimore. On 21 Oct. Eleazer McComb applied to GW for the office of auditor, noting he had mentioned his intention to Hamilton and Robert Morris and referring GW to John Dickinson and Gunning Bedford of Wilmington, Del., and Dr. James Tilton of Dover, Del., among others (DLC:GW). On 28 Oct. William Davies, commissioner to settle the Revolutionary War claims of the state of Virginia with the United States, also applied for the office (DLC:GW). “Mr Stoddard of Maryland” was probably Benjamin Stoddert of Georgetown.

3The letter from John Barker Church, Hamilton’s brother-in-law, is printed in Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 9:4–5.

4Charles Jenkinson, Baron Hawkesbury, Lord North’s secretary at war during the American Revolution, was president of the council for trade and plantations. For the appointment of George Hammond as British minister plenipotentiary to the United States, see George III to GW, 2 Sept., n.1.

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