Alexander Hamilton Papers

Report on the Petition of Gosuinus Erkelens, [2 March 1791]

Report on the Petition of Gosuinus Erkelens

March 2nd. 1791.
[Communicated on March 2, 1791]1

[To the Speaker of the House of Representatives]

The Secretary of the Treasury, to whom was referred the petition of Gosuinus Erkelens,2

Respectfully reports thereupon;

That authentic documents produced by the petitioner shew, that, at an early period of the late Revolution, he espoused with zeal the cause of this country, and became a medium of communication between Governor Trumbull3 and Livingston;4 and one or more distinguished political characters in Holland, which contributed to the events that finally connected the United Netherlands and the United States in a common cause.5

That, in the course of this agency, it is presumable, expenses were incurred; but to what extent, is not explained; neither is it easy, at this time, to ascertain all the circumstances, which ought to decide the propriety of indemnification.

That the petitioner concedes, that the services, which were rendered by him, were originally without a view to reward, and pleads his distresses as the reason for his departure from that ground, and as a motive to the United States for conferring gratuitously what is not claimed as matter of obligation on their part.

That in this state of things, and at this late period, the Secretary does not perceive any ground sufficiently definite or precise to justify, on his part, a suggestion favorable to a compliance with the prayer of the petitioner.

All which is humbly submitted,

Alexander Hamilton
Secretary of the Treasury.

Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Treasury Department, 1791–1792, Vol. II, National Archives.

1Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , 400.

2On February 2, 1791, “A petition of Gosuinus Erkelens was presented to the House and read, praying compensation for services rendered to the United States during the late war.…

Ordered, That the said [petition] be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.” (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , 368.)

3Jonathan Trumbull, Revolutionary War governor of Connecticut.

4William Livingston, Revolutionary War governor of New Jersey.

5In 1778, Erkelens and J. G. Dericks proposed to negotiate a loan of two million pounds from the Netherlands. Dericks went to Holland in 1778–1779, but Congress had not authorized him to negotiate a loan (see, JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XVI, 42; XXVIII, 151–52).

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