George Washington Papers

To George Washington from David Stuart, 5 November 1792

From David Stuart

Ge town 5th Novr 1792

Dear Sir,

I recieved your letter of the 21st ulmo a few days ago, but deferred answering it, ‘till I could again see Mr Bayly, & Mr [Daniel] Carroll of Duddington, my informants respecting Coll Mercer’s speech1—Inclosed, I send you Mr Bayly’s certificate of what passed—Mr Carroll tho’ he agrees with Mr Bayly, that Coll Mercer expressed himself as stated, has I know not for what reasons declined sending me his certificate, as he promised.2 The conversation happened at dinner at Marlborough, in the presence of many and I have heard it spoke of by many since, and with but little variation—Mr Samuel Hanson among others, informed me as I passed through Alexa., that his Brother Coll Thomas Hanson, who heard Coll Mercer, at the same time with Mr Bayly, had given him the same idea of Coll Hamilton’s having offered Coll Mercer a bribe, as is certifyed by Mr Bayly3—From my acquaintance with Mr Bayly, and his general character, I think him as much to be depended on, as any man in the State of Maryland—And, if it is thought proper to investigate the charge, I am satisfied, Mr Bayly’s certificate can never be done away.4 I am Dr Sir, with the greatest respect Your most Obt Servt

Dd Stuart

ALS, DLC: Hamilton-McLane Papers.

1For background on the prolonged dispute between John Francis Mercer and Alexander Hamilton, see GW to Stuart, 21 Oct. 1792, and note 2; Hamilton to Mercer, 26 Sept. 1792, and introductory note, 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 12:481–90.

2William Bayly (Bailey, Bayley; c.1742–1824), a merchant and planter who lived in Prince Georges County, Md., provided a certificate concerning a bribe that Hamilton allegedly offered Mercer in exchange for his vote in favor of “An Act supplementary to the act making provision for the Debt of the United States,” 8 May 1792 (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 281–83). The enclosed copy of Bayly’s statement has not been identified, but a signed certificate of 4 Nov. 1792 in DLC: Hamilton Papers reads: “On Tuesday the 2d Day of the Election at Upper Marlbro, after I had got there, I heard that Colo. Mercer had said, that Mr Hambliton the Secretary had Offered him, Money if he wou’d Vote for the Assumption, I asked Colo. Mercer if he had said so, he Answered Yes, by God he had, Mr Walter Bowie who was sitting by Colo. Mercer, said it was in a Jocular way, I then ask’d Colo. Mercer if he thought Mr Hambliton was Serious or Jesting, he Answered, that he had a Right to take it either way—I Repeated the same Question, to which he made the same Answer, but said he wou’d tell me how it was, He then said, he had been Down at Mr Hamblitons Office, in Order to settle some Accounts, or to receive some Money that was due to him, from the United States, but that Mr Hamblitons Clerks, or Understrappers, wou’d not pay it—& on Colo. Mercers Return from the Office he met Mr Hambliton who Observed to him, if he wou’d Vote for the Assumption—he Mr Hambliton wou’d pay the money.”

3Samuel Hanson of Samuel (c.1752–1830), a merchant who currently was the surveyor of the port of Alexandria, Va., and his brother Thomas Hawkins Hanson (1750–1810), who lived at Oxon Hill in Maryland across the Potomac River from Alexandria, were longtime acquaintances of GW (see Samuel Hanson to GW, 2 Oct. 1788, source note, and GW to the U.S. Senate, 6 Mar. 1792).

4Sometime in April 1793 Hamilton apparently decided it was time to end the charges and countercharges that had dominated his relationship with Mercer for the past year, and on his “Statement on Remarks by John F. Mercer,” he wrote: “This matter is dead. I will not revive it” (Syrett, Hamilton Papers, description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends 14:361–63).

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