From Elihu H. Smith1
[New York, February 14, 1798]
The New York Society for promoting the Manumission of Slaves &c.2 at their Stated meeting in January last,3 directed the referrence, of the two following articles, (of a report then made to them by their Committee on the Circular Address of the last Convention,4) to the Counsellors5 of the Society: “Art. 1st. To transmit Copies to the ensuing Convention, of any Laws, relative to Slaves, which may be enacted, by the Legislature of this State, previous to the Session of the said Convention, and since the Convention of 1797.”
“Art. 5th (of the Report) To give information to the Convention of the exertions, and of their issue, which have been made by this Society, to obtain a repeal, or amelioration, of the Laws relative to Slaves.”
The Report represents these as duties to be fulfilled by the Society; which they have, accordingly, determined to execute, & for this purpose have ordered this referrence to their Counsellors—who are further directed “to prepare their report therein, with all convenient dispatch; and, when prepared, to deliver it over to such persons as may, hereafter, be chosen to represent the Society, in the Convention to be held in June 1798.”
The other members of the Counsel of the Society, of which you are first-named, are: Peter Jay Munro, William Johnson, & Martin S. Wilkins, Esquires.6
I am respectfully Yours,
E. H. Smith Secy.
Feb: 14. 1798.
Alexr. Hamilton Esqr.
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Smith was a physician, poet, and author who served as secretary of the New York Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves. On September 19, 1798, he died of yellow fever.
2. The first meeting of the society was held on January 25, 1785 (“Minutes of the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves,” New-York Historical Society, New York City). For H’s participation in the establishment of the society, see “Attendance at a Meeting of the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves,” February 4, 1785.
3. This meeting was held on January 16, 1798 (“Minutes of the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves,” New-York Historical Society, New York City).
4. The convention met in Philadelphia, May 3–9, 1797. See Minutes of the Proceedings of the Fourth Convention of Delegates from the Abolition Societies Established in Different Parts of the United States. Assembled at Philadelphia, on the third day of May one thousand seven hundred and ninety-seven, and continued by adjournments until the ninth day of the same month, inclusive (Philadelphia: Zachariah Paulson, Jr., 1797).
5. H was elected a counsellor on January 16, 1798 (“Minutes of the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves,” New-York Historical Society, New York City).
6. Munro, Johnson, and Wilkins were New York City attorneys. In addition, Johnson was one of the vice presidents of the Society for Promoting the Manumission of Slaves and president of Columbia College from 1787 to 1800.