Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton Writes His Old War Comrade in Arms, John Lamb, on a Case Involving Columbia College, Which He Attended

The warm letter speaks to the friendship of the two New Yorkers, who fought side by side from the beginning of the Revolutionary War

Purchase $16,500

An uncommon autograph letter signed as Treasury Secretary, mentioning his wife

Before the Revolution John Lamb had been a prosperous wine merchant in New York City. In July 1775, he was commissioned captain of an artillery company and later was with the army of Major General Richard Montgomery during the invasion of...

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Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton Writes His Old War Comrade in Arms, John Lamb, on a Case Involving Columbia College, Which He Attended

The warm letter speaks to the friendship of the two New Yorkers, who fought side by side from the beginning of the Revolutionary War

An uncommon autograph letter signed as Treasury Secretary, mentioning his wife

Before the Revolution John Lamb had been a prosperous wine merchant in New York City. In July 1775, he was commissioned captain of an artillery company and later was with the army of Major General Richard Montgomery during the invasion of Canada. He was wounded and captured during the assault on Quebec but was released on parole a few months later. In January 1777, he was exchanged, and during the same month he was appointed colonel of the Second Continental Artillery.

Lamb and Hamilton were friends from those days, both being New Yorkers who held leadership positions from the start of the Revolution. With the end of the war, Hamilton became Secretary of the Treasury, America’s first, and Lamb became Collector of Customs at New York City.

Hamilton’s enrollment at King’s College, later named Columbia College, is marked today by a statue of him on campus. After being denied admission at Princeton because of his unorthodox desire to pursue his studies at an accelerated pace and earn his degree in less than four years. Hamilton was admitted to King’s College under the proposed arrangement and subsequently assigned a special tutor.

In 1787, Columbia College held ninety-one lots near the river, of which seventy-eight were leased. The largest lessor was Frederick Rhinelander, another New York merchant. Rhinelander, in the 1790s, fell behind in payments for that lease, eliciting a scathing letter from the trustees. Hamilton was one of signatories on that 1787 lease, and got involved when Rhinelander’s payments to Columbia were delinquent.

Autograph letter signed, Philadelphia, November 20, 1791, to Lamb. “Your private letter of the 11th duly came to hand. The inquiry concerning Mr. Rhinelander’s case has been officially answered.

“The apples you mention are not yet received but all the other articles you have been so obliging as to forward have been received and Mrs. Hamilton joins me in acknowledgements for them. She also desires her compliments to Mrs. Lamb. These marks of friendly attention are particularly acceptable. I only fear they may occasion you some trouble.”

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