Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Henry Cheriot, 18 November 1800

To Henry Cheriot1

New York November 18


I am sorry that my departure from Albany2 prevented my receiving there your communication3 on the subject of Mr. Le Couteux.4 The facts which you state respecting him correspond with what I have always understood. This Gentleman having emigrated from France to the UStates in a time of peace between that country and Great Britain and having been fourteen years a naturalized citizen of this country, I am clearly of opinion, that he cannot rightfully be considered and treated by the Government of Great Britain or those acting under its authority as a subject of France, and consequently a prisoner of War. My good offices with our government cannot be necessary to induce a particular attention to the case of Mr. Le Couteux; yet as he and his friends are desirous of it, I shall with pleasure in a private letter to my friend, Mr. Marshall,5 bear my testimony in favour of that Gentleman, and I shall be glad if it shall contribute to extricate him from his embarassment. With esteem and regard

I am Sir   Yr Obed serv

A Hamilton

Mr Henry Cheriot

ALS, Breckenridge Long Papers, Library of Congress; copy, PRO: C.O., 42/67; copy, MG 11, Q Series, Vol. Q-44, part 1, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa.

1Cheriot, a New York City merchant, had served as a witness in the series of suits between Louis Le Guen on the one hand and Isaac Gouverneur and Peter Kemble on the other (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 , II, 80, 104, 159). In addition, an entry under the date of April 1, 1798, in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, reads: “Henry Cheriot for opinion seizure 10” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

2H was in Albany to attend the October, 1800, term of the New York Supreme Court. See H’s Letter, October 24, 1800, note 31.

3Letter not found.

4On October 9, 1800, Louis Le Couteulx wrote to Timothy Pickering from Fort George, the British fort across the river from Fort Niagara: “Previous to my Departure for Lake Erie where I was going to embark with my goods for Detroit I went to pay my respects to Col. Mc.Donnald [Lieutenant Colonel John McDonnell of the Royal Canadian Volunteers] the Commandant of this Place. My Surprise was great When I heard Him express that I was his prisoner of war, that he had received orders from head quarters at Quebec for to arrest me. I took the liberty to observe [to] Him that I was an american Citizen, & a freeholder, ever since July 1787, at which period, I took the oath of allegiance to the United States, before Robt. Mc.Knight, then a magistrate in Philadelphia. I assured Him that I had resided under the American Government near 15 years, to which He replied that I was a frenchman, and wondered that france being at war with England, I Should have attempted to come over the british Territory for to go to Detroit.

“I am confined, & under guard, & my papers scaled. you may judge dear sir of my Situation, having on hand, to the amount of 4 or 5000 dollars worth of goods.… I request of you to apply to Mr. Robert Liston, the british minister, for my release, and to claim me as an American citizen, and a freeholder. Mr. Mc.Donnald told me that application must be made at Quebec. I shall be very thankful to you for your intercession on my behalf.” (ALS, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.)

5Letter not found.

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