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All in the Family – Alexander Hamilton Helps Manage his Brother-in-Law’s American Finances, and Coordinates Delivery of a Package that his Sister-in-Law (Angelica) Sent from Paris to his Wife (Eliza) and His Mother-in-law
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Just months after founding the Bank of New York, Hamilton writes to Philadelphia merchant John Chaloner regarding financial transactions including the purchase by John Church of 25 shares of Bank stock. Hamilton also checks on a package sent to Hamilton’s wife Elizabeth from her sister Angelica Church, then in Paris.

ALEXANDER HAMILTON. Letter Signed in full “Alexander Hamilton,” to John Chaloner, New York, August 14, 1784. Sent copy (The Hamilton Papers at the Library of Congress has Hamilton’s retained draft). 2 pp., 8x 13 in.

Inventory #24857       Price: $9,000

Historical Background

Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton’s older sister Angelica married John Barker Church, an English businessman, in 1777. Church supported the American Revolution and made a fortune supplying the American and French armies with provisions. After the war, he served as a U.S. envoy to the French government from 1783 to 1785. Angelica Church apparently was shopping in Paris, and bought a box of sheeting for her sister and another item for their mother, Catherine Van Rensselaer Schuyler.

After a brief return to America, the Church family left for England, where John B. Church served in Parliament from 1790 to 1796. During Church’s absence from 1783 to 1797, Hamilton managed his financial affairs, with Chaloner conducting his business in Philadelphia.

Hamilton discusses various obligations to his Church, including accounts with Philadelphia merchants James and Alexander Stewart, New York broker John Delafield, New York merchant and Bank of New York stockholder James Buchanan, Philadelphia Captain George Geddis, and New York stationer and printer William Bowne.

Hamilton returns drafts on New York merchants Nicholas Low and John Woodward at the request of Pennsylvania merchant William Macarty, who had gone bankrupt and received a general discharge from his creditors. Macarty went to France to reestablish himself in business and asked Chaloner to collect debts owed to him in America.

Nathaniel and John Tracy were merchants of Newburyport, Massachusetts. Apparently, they sold Church twenty-five shares of bank stock (for the Bank of North America, according to the Papers of Alexander Hamilton), the obligation for which Hamilton was now sending. Nathaniel Tracy was among the first stockholders of the Bank of North America. According to the editors of the Papers of Alexander Hamilton, “The debates in the Pennsylvania Assembly in 1786 over the recharter of the Bank of North America undoubtedly had an important influence on Hamilton’s thinking. Hamilton followed these debates with particular interest, for John B. Church, Elizabeth Hamilton’s brother-in-law for whom Hamilton served as attorney, and Jeremiah Wadsworth, who was Church’s partner, were both large stockholders in the Bank of North America.”[1]

John Chaloner (1748-1793) lived in Philadelphia and served as assistant commissary of purchases for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. He married Ann Ruby Gilkey (1753-1801) in 1777. He was also a merchant in the firm of Chaloner and White and served as a state legislator. He was appointed an additional auctioneer for the city of Philadelphia in 1790. He died in the 1793 yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia.

The Bank of North America (1781-1908) was a private bank chartered by the Confederation Congress on December 31, 1781, and opened in Philadelphia a week later. It was the nation’s first de facto central bank, based on a plan presented by U.S. Superintendent of Finance Robert Morris based on a suggestion from Alexander Hamilton. After Robert Morris deposited large quantities of gold and silver coin and bills of exchange, he issued new paper currency backed by the deposits. After a change of party in Pennsylvania’s legislature in 1786, the Bank of North American was rechartered within Pennsylvania in 1787, but under restrictions that prevented it from operating as a central bank. The First Bank of the United States, established in 1791, later took over that role.

Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804) was born on the island of Nevis and, in 1772, came to New York City, where he enrolled in King’s College (Columbia University) in 1773. When the British occupied the city in 1776, King’s College closed, ending Hamilton’s collegiate career. Hamilton became General George Washington’s aide-de-camp in 1777. After the war, Hamilton studied law and became one of the most eminent lawyers in New York. In 1782, he was elected to the Continental Congress, where he served until October 1783. In 1784, he founded the Bank of New York, which became one of the longest operating banks in American history. In 1786, Hamilton took the leading part at the Annapolis convention, which prepared the way for the great Constitutional Convention that met at Philadelphia in 1787, to which Hamilton was a New York delegate. In the same year, he conceived the series of essays afterward collected as The Federalist in support of the new Constitution, and wrote 51 of the 85 essays himself. Upon the establishment of the new government in 1789, President Washington appointed Hamilton as Secretary of the Treasury, and he restored the country’s finances to a firm footing. In early 1795, Hamilton resigned his office but remained the leader of the Federalist Party until his death in a duel with Vice President Aaron Burr.

Complete Transcript

Dr Sir

            I Received in due time your letter of the 14th July[2]

            The bill sent by you which have been paid and will be paid are—

on James & Alexander Stewart




on Delafield


James Buchannon & Co


on Capt G. Giddes


William Bowne




The Drafts on Lowe and Woodward I return by Mr McCarty’s desire who will have explained to you

            The ballance due on the lot will be £1297:6-10, which bears interest at Seven Pr Cent. if you are in Cash on Mr Church’s account, I shall be obliged to you as soon as possible to forward that ballance the rather as from particular circumstances there is some little hazard in the title till the transaction is completed.

            I enclose you Messrs Nathaniel and John Traceys obligation to Mr Church for Twenty five Shares of bank Stock; <2> agreeable to your request.

            Mrs Hamilton tells me that Mrs Church informs her she has sent to your care a box of sheeting for her and there is some other thing which she does not recolect for Mrs Schuyler. She requests you will be so good as to forward these articles.

            Mrs Hamilton joins in compliments to Mrs Chaloner.

                                                                        Believe me to be / with great regard Dr Sir

                                                                        Your Obed. Servt

                                                                        Alexander Hamilton

New York

August the 14th 1784

Mr J. Chaloner


[Address, in Hamilton’s hand:] Mr John Chaloner / Merchant / Philadelphia

[Recipient’s Docketing:] New York Augt 14, 1784 / Alexr Hamilton

*This item is also being offered in part II of The Alexander Hamilton Collection

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