Alexander Hamilton Papers
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Associates of the Jersey Company to Alexander Hamilton and Josiah Ogden Hoffman, 19 April 1804

Associates of the Jersey Company to Alexander
Hamilton and Josiah Ogden Hoffman1

[April 19, 1804. “Sometime since Powles Hook was purchased for our mutual benefit from Mr. Van Vorst at a rent charge upon the whole of $6000 per annum forever.2 We have agreed to lay it out into town lots and dispose of it to purchasers, receiving a rent charge upon each lot. We are desirous to give to each purchaser a good and sufficient deed of conveyance, and also to provide for the payment of the annuity to Mr. Van Vorst in such way as will appear best calculated to give security to the purchasers.3 We enclose you a draft of the covenant4 we propose to make with all the purchasers and to have it recorded in the office of the Clerk of the County of Bergen for their general benefit. An opinion is entertained by some persons that the proprietors of Powles Hook have no right to the ground under water below low water mark on their shore, some imagine that the Mayor, Aldermen and Commonalty of the City of New York have the right of property, and others contend that the State of New York has the right of jurisdiction to low water mark:5 we submit the following queries to you and request your answer thereto: 1. Whether the Corporation of the City of New York have any right of property to the land under water opposite Powles Hook? 2. Admitting the State of New York has the right of jurisdiction to low water mark at the Jersey shore (which New Jersey will not admit), would wharves and docks into the water below low water mark thereby become subject to the jurisdiction of New York, or would it by accession belong to New Jersey?” Letter not found.]

Winfield, Jersey City description begins Charles H. Winfield, A Monograph on the Founding of Jersey City (New York, 1891). description ends , 39, 41–42.

1Although this letter is printed in two different parts and in two different places in Winfield, Jersey City description begins Charles H. Winfield, A Monograph on the Founding of Jersey City (New York, 1891). description ends , H and Ogden’s response, dated May 3, 1804, indicates that it is actually one letter. It has not been possible to determine if the text of the letter printed above is complete.

The Associates of the Jersey Company were Richard Varick, Jacob Radcliff, and Anthony Dey. Varick had been mayor of New York City from 1789 to 1801. Radcliff, a New York lawyer, represented Dutchess County in the New York Assembly from 1794 to 1795 and was a justice of the state Supreme Court from 1798 until his resignation in February, 1804. Dey was a New Jersey lawyer.

Hoffman, who had been attorney general of New York from 1795 to 1802, was a New York lawyer.

2The Associates purchased Powles Hook, New Jersey, from Cornelius Van Vorst of Bergen County on February 22, 1804 (Winfield, Jersey City description begins Charles H. Winfield, A Monograph on the Founding of Jersey City (New York, 1891). description ends , 23).

3An article in The [Newark] Centinel of Freedom on March 13, 1804, described the proposed development of Powles Hook as follows: “… It is contemplated to level the place, and lay out a regular planned city. It will be divided into 1000 lots, valued at 100 dollars each, requiring of every original adventurer 6 per cent, which amounts to 6000 dollars, equal to the sum agreed to be paid to Mr. Van Vorst annually.”

The proprietors first advertised the sale of lots, which was scheduled for May 15, 1804, in the New-York Evening Post on April 12, 1804. See also the New-York Evening Post, May 14, 1804.

4For this covenant, dated April 12, 1804, see Winfield, Jersey City description begins Charles H. Winfield, A Monograph on the Founding of Jersey City (New York, 1891). description ends , 39.

5For the rights claimed by New York City and the opinions of the city’s lawyers, Richard Harison and Robert Troup, see Minutes of the Common Council description begins Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784–1831 (New York, 1917). description ends , III, 520–23.

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