Nov 17, 2020 - Sale 2551

Sale 2551 - Lot 4

Price Realized: $ 11,875
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 8,000 - $ 12,000
HELPING THE BANK OF THE UNITED STATES TO QUELL THE PANIC OF 1792 HAMILTON, ALEXANDER. Autograph Letter Signed, "AHamilton," as Secretary of the Treasury, to the president and directors of the New York branch of the Bank of the United States, requesting that the bills [of exchange] sent to them from the BUS [in Philadelphia] drawing on [the Treasury's account at] an Amsterdam bank and valued at 250,000 guilders be sold [on the secondary market] diffusely by limiting each sale to $10,000. The address panel in holograph with additional franking signature ("AHamilton"). 1 page, 4to, with integral address leaf; moderate scattered foxing, small hole from seal tear affecting only docketing on address leaf, folds. "Treasury Department" [Philadelphia], 24 April 1792

Additional Details

"The Bank of the United States will have forwarded to you pursuant to an arrangement with them Bills drawn by the Treasurer upon Amsterdam for Two hundred and fifty Thousand Guilders. It was my intention to have rendered the accommodation from these bills diffusive; in order to which it would be most agreeable to me if not more than ten thousand Dollars could be sold to one person or Copartnership. Not having signified this wish to the Bank, to save time, I convey it directly to you. I do not however make this an essential condition."
The Panic of 1792--America's first financial crash--occurred when the price of securities began dropping rapidly in January of that year, causing a panicked selloff in March. The crash in securities was largely due to the failed schemes of Hamilton's friend, William Duer, and other prominent speculators who had attempted to corner the market on securities. As U.S. Treasurer, Hamilton successfully managed the resulting credit crisis by reviving the securities market; he did this by making open-market purchases of securities, providing banks with incentives to continue offering loans, and by permitting government bills of exchange to be purchased on credit. Less than a month after Hamilton wrote this letter, a group of securities brokers who hoped to avoid another panic signed the Buttonwood Agreement, establishing what would become the New York Stock Exchange.