Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to the New York Committee of Correspondence, [21–27 April 1777]

To the New York Committee of Correspondence1

[Morristown, New Jersey, April 21–27, 1777]

It may not be amiss to hint that some sentences have been passed in persuance of this resolve,2 which have been improper. Confiscations of the real and personal estates of offenders have been in some instances ordained, and in others, whipping. It would be best where the nature of the case would justify it, to punish capitally; or where the crimes are not of sufficient enormity, to authorise this, pecuniary mulcts or imprisonments should be substituted. An execution or two, by way of emample would strike terror, and powerfully discourage the wicked practices going on; corporal punishment inflicted on an inhabitant is apt to excite compassion and breed disgust. Confiscation of property is not cognizable by martial law. These are His Excellency’s sentiments and mentioned to prevent mistakes.

A Hamilton ADC

ALS, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1This letter, or fragment of a letter, is undated and does not include the name of the addressee. In the light of H’s remarks in his letter of April 20, 1777, to the New York Committee of Correspondence, it has been assumed that the addressee of this letter is also the New York Committee of Correspondence.

2The resolve referred to is that of April 17, 1777 (Journals of the Provincial Congress of the State of New-York description begins Journals of the Provincial Congress, Provincial Convention, Committee of Safety and Council of Safety of the State of New-York. 1775–1776–1777 (Albany, 1842). description ends , I, 885).

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