Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Pierpont Edwards, 30 January 1790

To Pierpont Edwards

Treasury Department 30th Jany 1790.


My time has been for some Weeks past so much occupied with preparing business for the consideration of the legislature, as to preclude an earlier attention to your letter of the 4th. instant.1

I have considered the question you have stated on the subject of the Bonds which have been put into your hands by the Collectors2 in your district; and have, as well as yourself, considerable doubts, whether the Jurisdiction of the foederal district Courts extends to them.

You will however, after maturely considering what will be the most probable mode of recovering the money due on these Bonds in a summary manner proceed against the parties, either in the District Court, or in one of the State Courts, as you shall judge most adviseable. The defendant in the former case might, perhaps, not avail himself in season of pleading to the Jurisdiction of the Court; but as this must depend in a great measure on the character of the party or his Council, or on the doubts which have started abroad on this subject, it is probable, that much dependance cannot be placed on this Circumstance.

I am Sir   Your most obedt. & hble Servant.

A Hamilton

Pierpoint Edwards Esqr.
Judge of Connecticut District3

LS, James Biddle Collection of the Biddle Family Papers, Andalusia, Pennsylvania.

1Letter not found.

2Sections 19 and 21 of “An Act to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 28–49 [July 31, 1789]) stipulate the circumstances under which importers could deposit bonds instead of making immediate payment of duties. Section 28 of the same act made provision for posting bonds with sureties as means of guaranteeing the faithful performance of their duties by the collectors.

3H was mistaken. Edwards was United States attorney for Connecticut.

Index Entries