Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 4 January 1794

From Oliver Wolcott, Junior

TD C O Jany 4. 1794


The question whether Stock standing on the books of the Treasury & the Loan Offices respectively, is liable to attachment, being yet undecided,1 I judge it necessary to apprise you, that consequences unfavourable to the public Credit, are to be apprehended.

The most considerable Credits which have been attached2 are those standing in the names of John Warder & Co & Donald & Burton; and the Creditors who have attached are Robert Morris, Edmund Randolph, Andrew Clow & Co. & John Henry Cazenove & Co.3 In cases where it was made satisfactorily to appear, to these Gentlemen, that sales had been made bona fide, previous to their attachments they have without difficulty relinquished their claims by attachment, & the transfers have been accordingly made; this voluntary arrangement obviated all material difficulties, untill since the dissolution of the house of Andrew Clow & Co.

Since that period, the gentlemen charged with adjusting the concerns of the House have supposed themselves not to be authorized to relinquish any legal rights which had been acquired; of course no relinquishments from them can now be obtained.

The Stock thus arrested, is of a considerable amount, and I have no doubt that in many instances when transfers are demanded, the property has been fairly alienated. I need not dilate upon the bad consequences which must be produced to the public credit by this state of things especially in foreign Countries & must therefore request, that your influence may be exerted to furnish a suitable remedy.

I have &c

Hon A H

ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1For an earlier instance of a similar problem, see H to William Rawle, March 13, 1792; Wolcott to H, June 6, 1792.

2The accompanying schedule of detail for these attachments may be found on page 620.

3John Warder, a Philadelphia merchant, had formed a partnership with John Capper of Martin’s Lane, Cannon Street, London. A certificate of bankruptcy was issued to Capper on November 3, 1794, but proceedings had commenced at least as early as March 15, 1793 (D, Docket Book B4/23 IND 22656, 1789–93, Bankruptcy Records, Public Record Office; D, Certificates of Bankruptcy, B6/8, Bankruptcy Records, Public Record Office). At the October, 1793, session of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Pennsylvania, Edmund Randolph brought suit against Warder, Capper, and the President, Directors, and Company of the Bank of the United States (D, RG 21, Docket Book 2, Records of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, National Archives).

Alexander Donald, a former Virginia merchant, was associated in partnership with Robert Burton of London. The firm failed in the spring of 1793 (Allen C. Clark, Greenleaf and Law in the Federal City [Washington, 1901], 173).

Andrew Clow and David Cay were Philadelphia brokers under the firm name of Andrew Clow and Company (D, RG 21, Docket Book 1, Records of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, National Archives).

John Henry Cazenove, a brother of Theóphile Cazenove who was the Holland Land Company’s representative in the United States, was a partner in the London banking firm of J. H. Cazenove, Nephew, and Company.

All the men mentioned by Wolcott were connected with the London money market, which had been shaken by an unusually large number of bankruptcies in 1793. See H to Rufus King, May 2, 1793, note 1.

For additional information concerning the attachments and transfers of funds and H’s role in these activities, see Théophile Cazenove to the four firms, June 11, 1793 (LS, Gemeentearchief Amsterdam, Holland Land Company. These documents were transferred in 1964 from the Nederlandsch Economisch-Historisch Archief, Amsterdam).

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