Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Bradford, 4 August 1795

From William Bradford

Philada. Aug. 4. 1795.

My dear Sir,

The record of the proceedings in the cause relating to the Carriage Tax is not yet returned1 —but I expect it this week. I learn however that Taylor, who has published his speech,2 has advised the defendant to make no further argument & to let the Supreme Court do as they please & that in consequence of this advice no counsel will appear in support of the writ of Error. I have denied that the District Attorney3 would take measures to counteract this manœvre which is of a piece with the rest of Taylor’s conduct. Having succeeded in dividing the opinions of the Circuit Court, he wishes to prevent the Effect which a decision of the Supreme Court on full argument would have, & perhaps by the circulation of his pamphlet in the mean time to indispose the people of Virginia to paying the next annual duty on their Carriages. If the Defendant persists in pursuing this advice, I presume your attendance will not be necessary;4 for in such case I would think it most advisable to submit the cause to the court upon the two arguments that have been already made. That of Mr. Wickham’s,5 has arrived in manuscript: that of Taylor we expect by the next post. I will take Care however to apprize you as soon as the record arrives what is to be expected.

In consequence of the situation of things & some new occurences, it has been thought advisable to request the president to return to Philada.6 He is expected to be here next week.

The crazy speech of Mr. Rutledge7 joined to certain information that he is daily sinking into debility of mind & body, will probably prevent him to receiving the appointment I mentioned to you.8 But should he come to Philada. for that purpose, as he has been invited to do—& especially if he should resign his present Office9 —the embarrassment of the President will be extreme—but if he is disordered in mind in the manner that I am informed he is, there can be but one course of procedure. I write in great haste, & can only add that I am with great regard

Your friend & hum sert.


Alexander Hamilton Esq.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1For information on the Carriage Tax case (Hylton v United States), see 3 Dallas, U.S. Reports description begins A. J. Dallas, Reports of Cases Ruled and Adjudged in the Several Courts of the United States and of Pennsylvania, Held at the Seat of the Federal Government. Vol. III, Second Edition. Edited, With Notes and References to Later Decisions, by Frederick C. Brightly (New York and Albany, 1882). description ends , 171–84, and the Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964–). description ends , forthcoming volumes. See also Tench Coxe to H, January 14, 19, 1795; H to Coxe, January 26, 1795; Bradford to H, July 2, 1795; Edmund Randolph to H, July 21, 1795; Oliver Wolcott, Jr., to H, July 28, 1795.

2For the speech of John Taylor of Caroline, see Bradford to H, July 2, 1795, notes 16 and 17.

3William Rawle, United States attorney for the District of Pennsylvania.

4H had been engaged an auxiliary counsel to the United States Government to defend the carriage tax. See Bradford to H, July 2, 1795; Randolph to H, July 21, 1795.

5John Wickham, a noted lawyer in Richmond, Virginia.

7This is a reference to a speech against the Jay Treaty which John Rutledge made on July 16, 1795, at a meeting at St. Michael’s Church in Charleston, South Carolina. See Wolcott to H, July 28, 1795, note 3.

9Chief justice of South Carolina.

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