Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Aaron Burr, [1 April 1802]

To Aaron Burr1

[New York, April 1, 1802]

Dr. Sir

Your Protegé Buisson has addressed to me the inclosed letter. Why he did not immediately write to you I cannot tell unless it be that he is conscious he has used your politeness sufficiently, and imagines an intermediary to be hereafter necessary. Perhaps you may be able to decipher his wishes from the letter; which I confess is beyond my skill. But I understand from him in conversation that he wants an order to Simeon Baldwin2 from Mr Gallation3 to pay him Buisson a certain sum which was deposited in the hands of Baldwin I believe for Costs; also that he wants your aid to obtain the residue of the money for the captured vessel & Cargo.4

Knowing that you are disposed to do for him whatever is proper and practicable, I will only be the vehicle of his wishes; to relieve his delicacy from the embarrassment of a direct application.

Yr. Obedt Servt

A Hamilton

Col Burr

ALS, deposited in the Library of the Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, New Hampshire.

1For background to this letter, see H to Jedediah Huntington, November 12, 1801, note 2; Robert Smith to H, November 20, 1801.

Burr and Lyman Law, a lawyer from New London, Connecticut, served as Buisson’s attorneys when the case of the United States v Schooner Peggy, Joseph Buisson, claimant was heard in the Circuit Court of Connecticut in September, 1800.

2Baldwin, a New Haven, Connecticut, lawyer, was clerk of the United States District and Circuit courts for Connecticut from 1789 to 1806.

3Albert Gallatin, Secretary of the Treasury.

4On April 20, 1801, Judge William Cushing of the United States Circuit Court for Connecticut ordered one-half of the proceeds from the condemnation of the Peggy, which amounted to $9,139.93, to be distributed to the crew of the Trumbull, and on April 23 he ordered the remaining one-half of the proceeds to be sent to the United States Treasury (RG 21, Records of the United States Circuit Court for the District of Connecticut, September, 1800, term-April 2, 1801, term, Final Book, Vol. 2, 1796–1801, 263–81, 366–74, Archives Branch, Federal Archives and Records Center, Waltham, Massachusetts). On June 9, 1802, Gallatin wrote to James Madison: “The moiety which would have been the share of the United States was not received in the Treasury, it being known that the appeal was then before the Supreme Court, and on the decree of this Court was paid by the Treasurer (to whose credit it remained in Bank) to the attorney for the original Owners. The other half having … been paid over to the Captors, Mr. Pichon now claims the same under the Treaty; and the instructions of the President are wanted at the Treasury on that subject” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). Louis André Pichon was chargé d’affaires of the French Republic and the attorney for the original owners of the Peggy. On July 19, 1802, Madison wrote to Pichon: “… it rests with the claimants of restitution, to pursue their object by judicial proceedings against the Captors, for the moiety distributed to them according to a decree of an inferior Court.…

“This course is rendered particularly proper by the consideration that the actual distribution, resulted from the failure of the claimants to interpose the legal means of preventing it, at the proper stage of the trial.” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.)

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