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To Alexander Hamilton from Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, 2 July 1802

From Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Charleston [South Carolina] July 2d: 1802

Dear Sir:

My Brother1 is desirous that his son who in the late Army was one of my Aids2 should qualify himself for the profession of the Law: for this purpose he has been some time studying with Mr: De Saussure3 of this State. Our City has been for several years past fatal to many strangers who have attempted to spend their summer in it; my nephew has not been here in that season since his return from Europe, on this account my Brother is unwilling that he should be here this summer, but intends that he should spend six Months at the Northward; and as he is informed the practice in the Courts of Law & Equity in New York, is very similar to the practice in our state, he wishes him to study for that term in the office of some gentleman of Eminence at the Bar in New York. His desire was that he should have been under your auspices, but I told him I understood you confined yourself totally to the business of a Counsellor, and did not practice as an attorney,4 but that Mr: Troup5 & many other eminent gentlemen did, that I however would write to you by my nephew and if you did not take Students into your office, that I would request you to place him in one where he would be, if diligent, much benefitted. Whatever fee is customary or proper on such an occasion my Brother will transmitt as soon as you inform me of it.

I enclose Mr: Troup’s Letter to you which we had before us in Decr: 1798, and which being confidential, I obtained, after the decease of our ever lamented friend, to transmitt to you.6

The Vice President when here & in Georgia was received with great politeness & hospitality both by federalists & antifederalists.7 It was a compliment to the office. I was at a plantation a considerable distance from his rout, & did not see him.

My friend Mr: De Saussure with whom you are acquainted, spends his summer in the northern States and can inform you accurately of every thing relating to this State.

Mrs: Pinckney unites with me in best respects to Mrs: Hamilton and I always am

Your affectionate friend

Charles Cotesworth Pinckney

Genl: Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Thomas Pinckney.

2Thomas Pinckney, Jr., who was twenty-two years old in 1802, was a lieutenant in the First Regiment of Artillerists and Engineers and an aide to Charles Cotesworth Pinckney from 1799 to 1801.

3Henry William De Saussure, a Federalist and lawyer from Charleston, who had been director of the United States Mint in 1795, was a member of the lower house of the General Assembly of South Carolina in 1802.

4The functions of counsel and attorney were distinct, although it was possible for a lawyer to act in both capacities. The attorney’s responsibilities were primarily procedural and involved the preparation of a case for trial. The counsel was retained by the attorney and was responsible for arguing the case in court and handling pleadings between the verdict and the judgment.

In 1795, when H resigned as Secretary of the Treasury and returned to the practice of law, he at first acted as his own attorney. Gradually, as his practice grew, he relinquished the role of attorney and served primarily as counsel. See Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., and Joseph H. Smith, eds., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ). description ends , II, 1–28.

5Robert Troup, a New York City and Albany lawyer, had been a close friend of H since the time when they had been students at King’s College. A veteran of the American Revolution, Troup served briefly as secretary of the Board of War and was secretary of the Board of Treasury in 1779 and 1780. In 1786 he was a member of the New York Assembly, and from 1796 to 1798 he was United States judge for the District of New York. Troup was involved in land speculation in western New York and was associated with Charles Williamson in the development of the Pulteney Purchase in the Genesee country.

6Letter not found.

In November and December, 1798, H, Pinckney, James McHenry, and George Washington were in Philadelphia to make plans for the Army. See H to McHenry, November 9, 1798; H to Elizabeth Hamilton, November 10, 1798.

7In April, 1802, Aaron Burr made a trip to Charleston to visit his daughter Theodosia, who was the wife of Joseph Alston, a lawyer, planter, and member of the lower house of the South Carolina legislature.

On April 16 Burr excused himself from presiding over the Senate (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, 1834–1852). description ends , XI, 264) and made plans to leave Washington on April 20. On his way south he was met on April 27 at Raleigh, North Carolina, by a group of “Federal Republican gentlemen” who “saluted him with six guns, emblematical of the six states which supported Mr. Burr, when the election of President of the United States was finally decided in the House of Representatives” ([New York] American Citizen and General Advertiser, May 14, 1802). From Raleigh, Burr passed through Fayetteville and Lumberton, in which he was reported to have “accepted of a dinner from Mr. Peter John Blink[le]y, at which there were one or two federalists” ([New York] American Citizen and General Advertiser, May 28, 29, June 2, 1802). On May 6 Burr arrived in Charleston (The [Charleston] Carolina Gazette, May 13, 1802). On the same day Robert Troup wrote: “The real object of the visit is well understood, and it is supposed to occasion at least a sigh to Jefferson” (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 120–21). On May 13 Burr attended a public dinner held at the Carolina Coffee-House, and from Charleston he made a side trip to Savannah, Georgia, where he arrived on May 20 and was given a public reception (The [Charleston] Carolina Gazette, Supplement, May 27, 1802). On May 27 the following article appeared in The [Charleston] Carolina Gazette: “The idea of party—of who was federalist, or who was republican—was on this occasion forgotten; to honour the second chief magistrate of our country, was the ‘order of the day.’” On June 6 Troup again wrote: “Burr is now at Savannah doing what he can to render Jefferson more popular and promote his re-election.… we have reason to think that Burr has been caballing with some of our friends to the southward” (King, The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King description begins Charles R. King, ed., The Life and Correspondence of Rufus King (New York, 1894–1900). description ends , IV, 135–36). Burr left Savannah on May 25 ([Savannah] Georgia Gazette, May 27, 1802) and returned to Charleston. On June 17 he sailed for New York City on the brig Comet accompanied by his daughter (The [Charleston] Carolina Gazette, June 17, 1802), and he arrived in New York on June 23.

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