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to oliver wolcott - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 10.
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to oliver wolcott
March 12, 1800.
I have written to you heretofore respecting Mr. Benjamin Wells, who acted as an excise officer in the western part of Pennsylvania at the time of the disturbances there. But this gentleman has just arrived here, and requests me to mention his case again to you. I comply with his request.
It appeared from what I saw and heard at the time, that Mr. Wells distinguished himself by persevering exertion to carry the laws into effect. He was, of course, marked out as an object of vengeance. The losses which he sustained were very considerable, and proceeded from the zeal he had displayed in support of the government. To repair his losses and reward his zeal, is therefore a duty imposed on the government by the principles both of justice and policy. It is imposed by justice—for the injuries were committed by persons in disguise, or under circumstances which render it impossible to discover the offenders. It is vain, therefore, to refer Mr. Wells to the individuals by whose acts he suffered. This is to tell him that his losses will never be repaired.
Policy speaks in this case the same language with justice. Mr. Wells suffered in consequence of his efforts to support the government, and of his attention to duty. Will the government then refuse to make him compensation? To do so, will be to violate the plainest maxims of policy, as it will effectually damp the zeal of public officers in every future case of difficulty. It is not to be expected that individuals will expose their persons to violence, and their property to destruction, in support of a government that has not generosity sufficient to reward those who suffer in its cause.
There appears to me to be no doubt of the meritorious exertions of Mr. Wells. Even if there were some doubt, yet the excellent effect which the measure is calculated to produce on public officers, will prove a full compensation for the money that may be advanced. I recollect to have mentioned to Mr. Wells, and other persons in the same capacity, that I considered the government as bound to indemnify them. So far, therefore, as my opinion could pledge the government, it was pledged. In giving this opinion I thought I was promoting the best interests of the nation, and it appears to me that the government will very widely mistake its policy in refusing to allow these men all reasonable claims.