Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Simeon DeWitt, 28 June 1797

To Simeon DeWitt1

New York, June 28, 1797. “I am applied to, to examine the Title to a tract of land described in the extract A, which is inclosed. It appears from the papers put into my hands, that a Map of the intire tract patented to John W Watkins the 25 of June 17942 as surveyed is on file in your office. By the extract from the patent, which is also herewith, it is found that a number of tracts comprehended within the exterior lines of the tract patented to Watkins are excepted and reserved. The Question is whether the North West quarter or section of township No. 8 is wholly free from these exceptions and reservations or is affected by them. It is presumed that the map and survey in your Office will enable you to answer it.… Give me leave also to trouble you with an Inquiry concerning the Class rights described in the Extract B. These class rights appear to have been conveyed by John Carpenter of Goshen to one Benjamin Barton and by the latter to Elisha Boudinot of New Ark, but the Evidences of the Class rights, whatever they are, do not accompany the Conveyances.3 You will perhaps be able to inform me from the files of your Office how the matter is situated.…”

ALS, MS Division, New York Public Library; ALS (photostat), Rutgers University Library, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick, New Jersey.

1DeWitt was surveyor general of New York State.

2This is a reference to the purchase made by Watkins and Royal Flint of a tract in what at the time was Tioga County. (New counties were formed from the original Tioga County in 1798, 1806, and 1836.) The grant to Watkins and Flint was for 336,880 acres (N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts description begins Calendar of N.Y. Colonial Manuscripts: Indorsed Land Papers; in the Office of the Secretary of State of New York. 1643–1803 (Albany, 1864). description ends , 929–30).

3This is a reference to the case of Elisha Boudinot v John Carpenter & Benjamin Barton, in which H served as Boudinot’s attorney and Caleb S. Riggs as Carpenter’s attorney. Carpenter owned six hundred acres of land in Montgomery County, which on May 20, 1789, Carpenter sold to Benjamin Barton. Carpenter agreed to pay the patent fees for the land after the survey had been completed. Although Barton conveyed the land to Boudinot on April 10, 1796, Carpenter, having obtained the patents, refused to execute to Boudinot a conveyance of legal estate in the land (Bill, October 12, 1797, Elisha Boudinot v John Carpenter & Benjamin Barton [Chancery Decrees Before 1800, B-160, Historical Documents Collection, Queens College, New York City]). Carpenter argued that before he had made his sale to Barton he had obtained a judgment against Barton in the New York Supreme Court for more than £1900, which was still unsatisfied. According to Carpenter, Boudinot and Barton were attempting by pretended conveyances to compel Carpenter to convey the land to Boudinot and thereby deprive Carpenter of the remedy he would have against the lands by means of the unsatisfied judgment if the legal title were made to Barton (Answer, December 5, 1797, Elisha Boudinot v John Carpenter & Benjamin Barton [Chancery Decrees Before 1800, B-160, Historical Documents Collection, Queens College, New York City]).

For a description of “class rights,” see “An Act to raise Troops for the Defence of the Frontiers” (New York Laws, 3rd Sess., Ch. LIII [March 11, 1780]) and “An Act for raising Troops to complete the Line of this State, in the Service of the United States, and the two Regiments to be raised on Bounties of unappropriated Lands, and for the further Defence of the Frontiers of this State” (New York Laws, 5th Sess., Ch. XXII [March 23, 1782]).

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