Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Nicholas Hoffman, 13 February 1795

From Nicholas Hoffman1

New York, February 13, 1795. “Mr. John Stevenson2 informs me that in the year 1784 he left in your hands a patent for 3000 acres of land granted to his brother James Stevenson the 7th December 1775.3 Mr. Stevenson is now about petitioning the Legislature for a new grant; the peti[ti]on he wishes to have accompanied by the patent….”4

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Hoffman was a New York City merchant.

2John Stevenson was a merchant in Albany. In H’s Cash Book for 1789–1791 the following entry for January 10, 1786, appears under John Stevenson’s name: “Dr. To Cash paid Secretary for papers relative to Your brothers claim of land   1.12.” Lewis Allaire Scott was secretary of the State of New York.

3James Stevenson, an Albany attorney, received the patent for three thousand acres of land from George III “in Right of his Deceased Father James Stephenson late a Commissary of Stores” (D, Book 3, Military Patents, 67, Division of Corporations and State Records, Department of State, Albany).

4On March 25, 1800, the New York legislature passed “An Act for the relief of John Thurman and for other purposes” (New York Laws, 23d Sess., Ch. LV). The act reads in part: “… And whereas John Stevenson, of the city of Albany, hath respectfully represented to the Legislature, that his father, James Stevenson, late of the said city, deceased, was entitled to a grant for three thousand acres of land in the late colony, now the state of NewYork, and that letters patent passed therefor, under the seal of the said colony, on the seventh day of December, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. And whereas it is declared by the constitution of this state, ‘that all grants of land within this state, made by the King of Great Britain, or persons acting under his authority, after fourteenth day of October, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, shall be null and void;’ by reason of which article in the constitution the grant so passed as aforesaid is become null and void, And whereas the said article was apparently inserted to guard against collusive and improper grants, and not against fair claimants whose right had accrued prior to the establishment of the said constitution, And whereas it is of record in the Secretary’s office of this state, that an order of Council had passed on the eleventh day of July, one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five, antecedent to the date of the said grant for passing the same: Therefore

Be it further enacted, that it shall be lawful for the commissioners of the land-office, and they are hereby directed to cause letters patent, in the usual form, to issue to the said John Stevenson for the tract of land mentioned and described in the above recited letters patent to the said James Stevenson, deceased, if the same shall remain unappropriated, on the said John Stevenson paying the Treasurer of this State [Robert McClallen] the sum of seven hundred and fifty dollars.”

For Article XXXVI of the constitution of the state of New York, April 20, 1777, which deals with grants of land made by the king, see Laws of the State of New-York, Comprising the Constitution, and The Acts of the Legislature since the Revolution, From The First to the Twelfth Session, inclusive (New York, 1789), I, 12–13.

On July 14, 1800, the treasurer of New York issued a receipt to John Stevenson for seven hundred and fifty dollars for three thousand acres of land (Calendar of New York Colonial Manuscripts: Indorsed Land Papers; in the Office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643–1803 [Albany, 1864], 1107).

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