Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Junior, [May–August 1796]

To Oliver Wolcott, Junior

[New York, May–August, 1796.] “I have been applied to for an opinion concerning the Georgia Claim.…1 I will thank you for the Report of the Attorney General2 on that subject, to Congress.…”3

Copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1This is a reference to the claims of the Georgia Yazoo land companies which were organized in 1795. For information on these land grants and their revocation, see H to James Greenleaf, October 9, 1795, note 3. For information on the Yazoo land companies which were organized in 1789, see H’s “Defence of the Funding System,” July, 1795, note 24.

Robert G. Harper, a Federalist Congressman from South Carolina and a subscriber to the Georgia Mississippi Company, was preparing a pamphlet on the Georgia sales and had requested H’s opinion (see H’s endorsement on Harper’s undated list of questions [AD, 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 , forthcoming volumes). No evidence has been found that H responded to Harper’s questions. In the appendix to his pamphlet, first published in 1797, however, Harper printed H’s opinion on the Georgia grants, dated March 25, 1796, which H had prepared for William Constable (see Harper, The Case of the Georgia Sales on the Mississippi Considered with a reference to Law Authorities And Public Acts; with an Appendix containing certain Extracts, Records And Official Papers [Philadelphia: Printed by Richard Folwell, 1799], 88–89). Constable was involved in the Georgia grants as a subscriber to a new company, the Yazoo Company, and as a guarantor of Nathaniel Prime’s sale of Georgia lands to Samuel Sewall, Samuel Dexter, and George Lane, all of Massachusetts (see H’s opinion, March 25, 1796 [ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress]; for this document, see also 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 , forthcoming volumes). Constable and Prime were New York City merchants. An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of March 17, 1796, reads: “for this sum recd—of Wm Constable on account of Retainer 150” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). For a discussion of the Georgia land sales along with relevant documents, 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 , forthcoming volumes.

2Attorney General Charles Lee’s report, dated April 26–28, 1796, with appended documents, was communicated to the Senate on April 29, 1796 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Public Lands, I, 34–67). On May 20, 1796, the Senate committee to which Lee’s report was referred presented its report, and the Senate ordered that Lee’s report be printed (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States: with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , V, 100–01). John Fenno printed the report, which was first advertised in his newspaper, the Gazette of the United States, & Philadelphia Daily Advertiser, on May 28, 1796.

3The following note is written at the bottom of this letter in an unknown handwriting: “original Sent to Metropolitan Fair, March 1864.” New York City’s Metropolitan Fair was held in April, 1864, to raise money for the United States Sanitary Commission. Laura Wolcott Gibbs, the daughter of Oliver Wolcott, Jr., was in charge of the Curiosity Shop at the fair (The New-York Times, April 4, 1864).

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