Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Richard Harison, 18 April 1791

To Richard Harison1

Treasury Department,
18 April 1791


As the confinement in which Charles Seely, the late Mate of Cap. Joseph Gorham junr.2 now is, appears likely to affect his life, I request you to take such measures in regard to the case, as will certainly prevent a consequence so extreme. The President being absent, no relief can be derived from him. I am fully persuaded both his humanity & justice would induce him, as far as in his power, to prevent a Sacrifice of the life of even an ill intentioned Citizen in a case wherein the extremity of the law is limited by an inconsiderable pecuniary penalty.

I presume you concur in opinion with me that the case is not so far free from wilful negligence & intention of fraud, as to give him any chance of relief under the mitigating Act.3

I am, sir,   with great consideration,   Your Obedt. Servant

Alex Hamilton

Richard Harison Esqr.

LS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1For background to this letter, see Harison to H, April 8, 1791.

2H was referring to Captain Josiah Gorham, Jr., rather than to Joseph Gorham.

3See “An Act to provide for mitigating or remitting the forfeitures and penalties accruing under the revenue laws, in certain cases therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 122–23 [May 26, 1790]). This act provided for mitigating or remitting forfeitures and penalties which had been “incurred without wilful negligence or any intention of fraud.”

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