Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from John Jay, 13 March 1800

From John Jay1

Albany 13 March 1800

Dear Sir

Mr Coleman, who was yesterday appointed Clk of the NYork circuits,2 will be the Bearer of this. Mr. Skinner3 was first nominated—for where character and qualifications for office are admitted, the candidate who has age Standing and prior public Services on his Side, should I think take the lead; unless perhaps in Cases peculiarly circumstanced. Mr. Skinner did not succeed. Mr Coleman was then nominated, and the Council, expecting much from his Reports, and considering the office as necessary to enable him to accomplish that work, advised his appointmt.4 Mr. Coleman’s Embarrassmt.5 and whatever appeared to me necessary to observe respecting the Candidates was mentioned antecedent to the nominations. My Feelings were in Coleman⟨s⟩ favor, and had my Judgmt. been equally so, he wd. have suffered less anxiety than he has. I mentioned your Opinion in his favor, and I wish the appointment may be generally approved. Ten or Eleven of the NYork members recommended Mr. Skinner; some of them will not be pleased.

I hope Mr. Coleman will be attentive to the Reports.6 Much Expectation has been excited; and Disappointmt. wd. produce Disgust. It is I think essential to him that the Work be prosecuted with Diligence, but not with Haste; and that they be such as they ought to be.

With great Esteem and Regard I am   Dr Sir   yours

John Jay

Majr. Genl. Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; ADf, Columbia University Libraries.

1This letter was written in reply to H to Jay, March 4, 1800.

2In 1796 the New York State legislature had abolished the office of clerk of the Circuit in all counties (New York Laws, 19 Sess., Ch. X [February 12, 1796]). On March 7, 1800, this clerkship was restored for the city and county of New York (New York Laws, 23 Sess., Ch. XXII). It was under this law that William Coleman was appointed.

3Abraham Skinner of Queens had been county clerk of Queens from 1784 to 1786 and a member of the state Assembly in 1784 and 1785.

4On March 13, 1800, the Council of Appointment of the State of New York “Resolved that William Coleman be and he is hereby appointed Clerk of the Circuit Court and of the Sittings of the Supreme Court in and for the City & County of New York” (Journal of the Council of Appointment, Microfilm Collection of Early State Records, Library of Congress.

6This is a reference to what was printed as Coleman’s Cases on Practice Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the State of New York (New York: Isaac Collins, 1801). See 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 , I, 695, for a discussion Coleman’s work.

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