George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Andrew G. Fraunces, 19 August 1793

From Andrew G. Fraunces

New York Augt 19th 1793


I have this day received Mr Lears letter by your direction dated the 14th instant.

I am induced from the nature of this letter and in order to justify my conduct publicly to my friends with regard to the purchase of the Warrants in question to state to you some facts which perhaps Mr Hamilton has not thought convenient to make known to you,1 and I think I can prove clearly that it has not appeared, as Mr Lear says nor will ever appear that I knew any thing about them until I wrote you on the 30th July last.

If you will favor me by looking once more at my communication to you of the 30th July last, it will be found that a principal question remains still unanswered—What Mr Hamilton reasons are for declining the payment?

It appears extremely hard Sir, when a Citizen presents a claim against the united States to the proper Officers, and this claim is for some reasons rejected or postponed, that he cannot know what those reasons are—It is something like the practice in despotic Governments—Condemning and Executing without even giving the unfortunate a hearing.

Noting particularly the latter part of Mr Lears letter—I cannot refrain from answering it in a manner which may render a further investigation of the subject necessary2—I can Sir bring sufficient proof other than Mr Hamiltons letters to me, that untill the time I purchased these warrant⟨s⟩ I knew not that they were in existance, nor can Mr Hamilton say otherwise since he and Mr Duer conducted the whole transaction: About 157,000 dollars out of 190,000 provided for by Congress in the year 1789 were actually paid during the Administration of this person with the Secretary and that in less time than one year after the passing of the act.3

In June I waited on Mr Hamilton he opposed the payment in the same manner as stated in my letter of the 30th July. He in the course of conversation questioned me with respect to the number outstanding in New York—I told him as nearly as I could guess—and also as to the present value of them: I could only produce him in answer thereto my receipt for the payment—He said he pitied the embarrasment I laboured under and informed me that if I would lodge them with Mr John Lawrence late in Congress that Gentleman would advance me 2000 Dollars on them untill they could be regularly settled at the Treasury4—Now Sir—from this circumstance what could I suppose other than that Mr Hamilton had some private motives known only to a few for postponing the Settlement—In addition to this Mr Hamilton said if I would engage my Honor that I would purchase no more of them he would make me Satisfied within a certain period to be agreed upon between ourselves, I repl⟨ied,⟩ if he would pay me, or give me a written official document to insure me payment, I would comply, he said he could not do this, but he gave me his word and honor that if I acquiesced with him they should be paid, he did not say regularly—This proposition in justice to my fellow Citizens, holders of Warrants I would not do. And what reason had I to suppose they could not immediately pass through the Treasury regularly since Mr Hamilton has acctually advanced me money from his private funds to be reimbursed when these warrants were paid.

From the following Statement of one circumstance that happened at the Treasury early in the administration of the Secretary—it will be found that I had reason to suspect he would take every advantage of my Situation in order to throw the profits into his own or other persons hands, who were in higher conditions in life & Who might probably grasp notwithstanding their public situations at every speculation that might Offer.

In the course of the first session of Congress certain monies were granted, allowed, and directed to be paid by that Body to Baron de Glaubeck—now Sir I do assert that Mr Hamilton did actually Aid, advise, and assist (and it was by his and Mr Duers means that it was done) in the purchase of this grant which was obtained for less than one third of the Value, and that it was done before any Settlement could be had at the Treasury as was said5

This alone Sir must I apprehend in the minds of the Candid and impartial, Justify me in placing neither faith nor confidence in Mr Hamilton; since a public Officer is always to be suspected—having once departed from a line of conduct which the Nature of his Oath and Office had fully pointed out—If Mr Hamilton in his report to you Sir, stated that I knew aught of these Warrants, even the smallest matter before I purchased them, he has said what was not true, excepting this I knew, he postponed in June 1792 the payment of three Amounting to 925 Dollars—belonging to a Mr Alexr Ogsbury—of this place6—and I had no other Impressions of his conduct then, than what I have in the present instance—I must further declare sir, that the knowledge of all most every circumstance, relative to the payments made on Accounts of these Warrants, were obtained by me from printed documents almost at the Instant I wrote my letter to you of the 30. July, which documents Are new—orriginal and in my ⟨possession⟩.7 I shall only trouble you further by adding that my present Respectable Connections from the Assertions made and that may be made by Mr Hamilton and from Mr Lears last letter may think me to Blame in this Business. I therefore request you will examine my conduct with Candour when I publish as I shall shortly, a Statement of the Affair and of the Correspondence relative thereto.8 I have the Honour to be with very great respect & real Attatchmt yr Most Obedent Hhe Sert

Andw: G. Fraunces
No. 44 Han: Sqr. N. Yk

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters. The text in angle brackets is from the published version of this letter found on pages 19–21 of Fraunces’s pamphlet An Appeal to the Legislature of the United States, and to the Citizens Individually, of the Several States, Against the Conduct of the Secretary of the Treasury…. (New York, 1793).

1For Alexander Hamilton’s report on the warrants purchased by Fraunces, see his first letter to GW of 9 Aug. 1793.

2GW enclosed this letter in one to Hamilton of 11 Dec. 1793, making the suggestion that Hamilton return it after he finished reading it.

3By the end of July 1791, the redeemed warrants totaled $157,789.94 (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 13:42–44). This was done in accordance with “An Act making Appropriations for the Service of the present year,” 29 Sept. 1789, in which Congress approved a sum “not exceeding” $190,000 to purchase outstanding warrants issued by the late Board of Treasury (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 ., 95). On William Duer’s service in the Treasury Department, see Fraunces to GW, 30 July 1793, n.7.

4Hamilton later asked New York attorney and former congressman John Laurance for an affidavit regarding Fraunces’s charge (Laurence to Hamilton, 25 Dec. 1793, and note 3, Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 15:586–87).

5Peter William Joseph Ludwig Glaubeck, baron de, was an aide-de-camp to Brig. Gen. Daniel Morgan and served with distinction at the Battle of Cowpens, 17 Jan. 1781. In its first session, Congress passed “An Act to allow the Baron de Glaubeck the pay of a Captain in the Army of the United States,” 29 Sept. 1789 (6 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 ., 1). This then qualified Glaubeck to be covered by an earlier Continental Congress resolution of 3 Feb. 1784 that recognized the services of foreign officers during the Revolutionary War as a debt of the United States (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 26:65). Glaubeck eventually was discovered to be an imposter with neither title nor fortune, but not before he duped Gen. Nathanael Greene out of a considerable sum of money. For the arrangement made by Hamilton to facilitate payment of Glaubeck’s debt to Greene’s widow, Catharine, by purchase of Glaubeck’s warrants and for William Duer’s duplicitous role in this arrangement, see Catharine Greene to Hamilton, 26 June 1792, and note 4, and Introductory Note, Fraunces to Hamilton, 16 May 1793 (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 11:571–72; 14:460–70).

6Alexander Ogsbury, Sr. (1736–1818), was a merchant in New York City (New-York Directory, 1790).

7The new and original documents have not been identified.

8Gaining no satisfaction from his letters to GW, Fraunces took his complaint to the House of Representatives, but on 19 Feb. 1794 the House exonerated Hamilton of any misconduct in refusing to redeem Fraunces’s warrants and called the charge relating to the purchase of Glaubeck’s warrants “wholly illiberal and groundless” (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States; with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 3d Cong., 1st sess., 458).

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