Alexander Hamilton Papers

Certificate on John Hanson by Anthony L. Bleecker, Peter S. Curentius, Alexander Hamilton, John Lamb, and Hercules Mulligan, [24 January 1796]

Certificate on John Hanson by Anthony L.
Bleecker, Peter S. Curentius, Alexander Hamilton,
John Lamb, and Hercules Mulligan1

[New York, January 24, 1796]

We the Subscribers do certify that we were acquainted with Capt John Hanson deceased in his life time, and at an early period of the Revolution of the United States, and have satisfactory grounds to believe that he was firmly attached to the cause of the Revolution and to the liberties of this Country. We also certify, that we particularly recollect as eye Witnesses his conduct on a certain Evening in the year MDCLXXVI, when cannon were removed from the battery in the City under the fire of a British Man of War, on which occasion the said Capt Hanson was distinguished by his activity in forwarding the Removal.2

A Hamilton

John Lamb

Peter S. Curtenius

Hercules Mulligan

Anthony L. Bleecker

DS, in the handwriting of H and signed by H, John Lamb, Peter S. Curtenius, Hercules Mulligan, and Anthony L. Bleecker, from the original in the New York State Library, Albany.

1Bleecker was an auctioneer and lawyer in New York City; Curtenius was state auditor; Lamb was collector of customs at New York; and Mulligan was a New York City merchant tailor.

This certificate was in support of a petition of Mary Hanson (Hansen), widow of John W. Hanson, that was received by the New York Assembly on February 1, 1796. The petition was “relative to a ballance due her said Husband, of £. 3,000 sterling on a pension granted by his Britannic Majesty, out of the quit rents arising with the colony of New-York.” The petition was read and referred to a select committee. On February 19, 1796, the committee reported that “upon enquiring into the facts stated in the petition certain legal questions arise which materially affect the merits of the case, and as the committee feel themselves incompetent to decide the same, they would recommend that the present committee be discharged from any further consideration of the said petition, and that the same be referred to the Attorney General” (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York. At Their Nineteenth Session description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York. At Their Nineteenth Session, Begun and Held at the City-Hall, of the City of New-York, on Wednesday, the Sixth of January, One Thousand Seven Hundred and Ninety-Six (New York, 1796). description ends , 49, 85). In a report dated February 11 and submitted on February 20, 1797, Attorney General Josiah Ogden Hoffman, arguing that Mrs. Hanson’s claim was a valid one, wrote: “… The King of Great-Britain could not revoke his grant, a specific fund being chargeable therewith: His revenue from quit-rents became forfeited to the people of this state: As they derive the benefit of such forfeiture, ought they not to satisfy all legal incumbrances thereon?” But the committee to which the petition was referred reported on March 15, 1797, “that the most material facts stated in the said petition, are not fully proven and substantiated to the satisfaction of the committee …” and that “considering the importance of the case to the petitioner, that she have leave to withdraw her said petition” (Journal of the Assembly of the State of New-York; At their Twentieth Session, 116, 159).

2This is a reference to the events of the night of August 23–24, 1776, when a group of New Yorkers removed several cannon from the Battery despite shots of grape and ball from the British man-of-war Asia. Mulligan and H were well qualified to attest to Hanson’s part in this episode, for both helped in the removal of the cannon. See Mulligan, “Narrative of Hercules Mulligan of the City of New York” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). This document is printed in The William and Mary Quarterly, 3rd ser., IV (April, 1947), 209–11.

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