George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Alexander Hamilton, 14 October 1791

To Alexander Hamilton


My dear Sir,Mount Vernon Octr 14th 1791

When I addressed a private letter to you a few days ago I had no more idea that monday the 24th instt was the day appointed for the meetings of Congress, than I had of its being dooms-day until it was mentioned to me in a letter which I have just received from Mr Lear (who was under the like mistake).1 It had taken such deep root in my mind that the last monday in the month was the time that I never consulted the Law or made any enquiry about it—and meant to move leizurely on in the course of next week for Philadelphia & for that purpose had directed Page to send off his Stage Coach so as to be at George-Town on tuesday the 18th. This discovery, however, will oblige me, as soon as I am provided with the means, to accelerate my Journey—and it induces me at the same time to urge you more earnestly to be prepared against my arrival with what my last requested.

How far, in addition to the several matters mentioned in that letter, would there be propriety do you conceive, in suggesting the policy of encouraging the growth of Cotton, & Hemp in such parts of the United States as are adapted to the culture of these articles? The advantages which would result to this Country from the produce of articles which ought to be manufactured at home is apparent but how far bounties on them come within the Powers of the Genl Government or it might comport with the temper of the times to expend money for such purposes is necessary to be considered and without a bounty is given I know of no means by which the growth of them can be effectually encouraged.

The establishment of Arsenals in convenient & proper places is, in my opinion, a measure of high national importance meriting the serious attention of Congress; and is one of those measures which ought to be brought to their view.

Yesterday I received the resignation of John Spotswood Moore Surveyor of West Point in this State. I mention it now, that if opportunities should present, you may make the necessary enquiries into the fitness of Alexr Moore, his Brother whom he recommends as a Successor.2 With affectionate regard I am ever Yours

Go: Washington

ALS, PWacD: Sol Feinstone Collection, on deposit PPAmP; LB, DLC:GW.

1GW may be referring to his letter of 10 Oct. to Alexander Hamilton or to a later one now lost requesting suggestions on specific topics for his address to Congress (see Henry Knox’s Minutes for the President’s Speech, c.18 Oct., n.1). The letter of Tobias Lear was dated 9 October.

2In the letter-book copy after “necessary inquiries” this sentence reads “into the fitness of a successor to him.” John Spotswood Moore resigned on 5 Oct. because of the “smalness of the Sallary annex’d to the Office” and “my peculiar situation” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters). In the same letter he mentions his brother Alexander Spotswood Moore, “to whom said Office is conveniently situated” and who “wou’d willingly accept of the same if it shou’d be your Excellency pleasure to confer it upon him.” GW nominated Alexander Spotswood Moore to the office on 11 Nov., and the Senate confirmed the appointment on 16 Nov. (GW to the U.S. Senate, 11 Nov.; Executive Journal, description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America: From the commencement of the First, to the termination of the Nineteenth Congress. Vol. 1. Washington, D.C., 1828. description ends 1:89–90).

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