Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Oliver Wolcott, Junior, 28 December 1796

To Oliver Wolcott, Junior

New York December 28. 1796

Dear Sir

I received yesterday your’s by Post,1 which I communicated immediately to the Directors of both Banks, that is, so much as concerned each party. It has been very consolatory to the Bank of New York & will do good. All will be well.

Mr. Alexander McComb2 applied, while I was in Office, respecting some land he & Edgar3 had purchased of the Public and on which they had made a partial payment which by the terms of sale was forfieted.4 I remember my opinion was under all the circumstances that it was proper for the government to give relief, either by a grant of a quantity of land equitably equivalent to the payment or by restitution of the Circumstances. I will thank you, as far your leisure will permit and your judgment correspond, to pay attention to the subject.

Yrs. truly

A Hamilton

Oliver Wolcott Jun Esq

ALS, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1Letter not found. See H to Wolcott, December 6, 21, 23, 1796; Wolcott to H, December 8, 1796.

2Macomb was a New York City merchant and land speculator.

3William Edgar was a New York City merchant. Edgar and Macomb had settled before the American Revolution in Detroit where they became traders and land speculators. During the American Revolution they became partners with Macomb’s younger brother William in the Detroit firm of Macomb, Edgar, and Macomb and conducted a lucrative business supplying the Indian department of the British army.

4On August 5, 1790, Macomb and Edgar presented a petition to the House of Representatives “praying to be released from a contract entered into with the United States, for the purchase of a quantity of Western lands.” The petition was referred to the Secretary of the Treasury (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , I, 290). After keeping the petition for the rest of his term of office, H failed to report on it, and finally returned it with a number of others under a covering letter to the Speaker of the House (H to Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, January 5, 1795), which was read and ordered to lie on the table on January 6, 1795 (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , II, 284).

In a memorial which Edward Livingston presented to the House on May 13, 1796, Macomb and Edgar stated that in 1787 they had contracted with the United States to buy eighty-nine thousand acres of land northwest of the Ohio River for $80,000, that they had paid the first installment of $29,669, and that they had defaulted on the remaining payments. They therefore asked that they be permitted “to complete the payment of the purchase money of [the] land … on the original terms of the purchase, and to obtain a grant for the same” or that they be granted the amount of land for which they had already paid (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , II, 554; 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, 1360). On January 30, 1798, after hearing a report on Macomb and Edgar’s memorial, the House rejected their request (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , III, 153).

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