George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Thomas Taylor, 8 May 1793

From Thomas Taylor

Philadelphia, 8 May 1793. Writes from “134 South front Street” that “In August 1791—by the advice & Recommendation of several respectable Gentlemen in New York . . . I applied to the Secretrary of the Treasury, to be employ’d in some department in the Mint, when it shou’d be establish’d, . . . at the same [time] the Secretary inform’d me there would need possitive demonstration of my Abilities . . . The Secretary, furthermore assured Me that the Expences, I should be at would be reimburs’d.1 On my return to New York, I employed an Ingenious Mechanic who with Myself completed a Set of Models of all such Machines & Apparatus, as were necessary for the Mint which Models have been seen & approved by Mr Rittenhouse & others.”2

Taylor continues: “When I waited on Mr Hamilton the 14 ⟨o⟩f Octr 1791—he was pleasd to shew much Satisfaction & by no Means discouraged Me, . . . he inform’d Me he would take the earliest opportunity of informing you & that the Specimens & Papers should be conveyed to you as soon as agreable to You, (at the same Time he repeatedly assured Me I need give myself no further Trouble as he would write to Me when the Business was coming to a Conclusion), this perfectly Satisfied Me & I left the Models in his hands for that Purpose, after waiting a long Time & not recieving any account, I again came to Philadelphia & waited on Mr Rittenhouse who to my very great Surprise, had neither seen or heard of my Specimens & informd Me the Choice of Master Coiner was made before he heard of my Name . . . I was told by Mr Hamilton, (forgetting his promise) that my Expences could not be allow’d & that If I ⟨mutilated⟩ any Thing it would be entirely out of ⟨mutilated⟩ Own Pocket for he could not charge the Tre⟨asu⟩ry therewith, from the above statement of Facts I am persuaded your Excellency will see I have been very Ill treated.”3 Taylor concludes with an assertion that he was “ready to make an oath” on the history of his mistreatment by Hamilton.

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

Taylor, originally from London, was a coffin-plate manufacturer living in New York City (New York City Directory, description begins The New-York Directory, and Register, for the Year 1790. New York, 1790. description ends 1790).

1No correspondence or conversations between Alexander Hamilton and Taylor have been identified.

2In 1792 GW assigned the general oversight of the U.S. Mint to Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson (GW to Jefferson, 20 Oct. 1792, and note 3). David Rittenhouse was the current director of the mint. On the establishment of the mint, see Jefferson to GW, 16 Nov. 1792 (second letter), and note 1.

3GW nominated Henry Voigt to be chief coiner at the mint (GW to U.S. Senate, 28 Jan. 1793). Despite Taylor’s complaints, no reply from GW has been found, and no memorial from Taylor to the U.S. Congress has been identified.

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