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HAMILTON, PAUL (1762-1816)

# 6973

U.S. Secretary of the Navy – 1809-13; Governor of South Carolina – 1804-06

Repairs for the USS Enterprise - After Service Against Barbary Pirates in the Mediterranean

Letter Signed, 8” x 10”, to “John Trippe, esquire, L[ieutenan]t Comm[ande]r, the Sch[ooner] Enterprise, N[ew] York.” As U.S. Navy Secretary, Hamilton conveys information relating to the repair of the Enterprise, and of her conversion to a brig. The ship was commissioned into the Navy fleet in 1799, quickly deployed in the Quasi-War with France, and soon was put into active service against pirates on the Barbary Coast. The vessel continued to patrol the Mediterranean for the next several years, returning to the United States for repair in late 1809, the preliminary details of her refurbishing being discussed in this letter.

“Navy Department, 8 Dec[ember] 1809. Sir, I have received your letter of the 2nd ins[tant] & congratulate you on your safe arrival in the United States. When the repairs of the Enterprise shall be authorized, you may convert her into a brig – but I can not at this moment determine whether to authorize her repair immediately or not – nor can I determine, until you make a particular report on the subject, stating the repairs necessary, & the expense of making them. I am respectfully Y[ou]r serv[an]t, Paul Hamilton.
Repair of the Enterprise was accomplished by early 1811, and she was refitted as a brig the following year. She saw active service against the British Navy during the War of 1812, most notably in the fierce naval battle which resulted in her capture of the British Brig Boxer, the commanders of both ships being killed in the engagement.

Born in Maryland in 1785, Lieutenant Commander John Trippe had become a midshipman in 1799, serving during the Quasi-War and in the Mediterranean, although on other vessels. He commanded the Enterprise during the year before her return to New York, but was assigned to other ships during her time in port. Lieutenant Commander Trippe died during the summer of 1810, although records differ as to whether he was aboard the Enterprise or the Vixen at the time of his death.

The letter is lightly toned, with the expected folds and light creases; several edge tears along the right edge, none affecting the text of the letter, have been repaired on the reverse, and there is a one-half inch strip of heavier paper affixed to the reverse along the left edge, presumably from past binding.