Alexander Hamilton Papers

New York Assembly. Remarks on the Petition of John Maunsell, [16 January 1787]

New York Assembly. Remarks on the
Petition of John Maunsell1

[New York, January 16, 1787]

Mr. Hamilton could see no reason why this petition should not be treated as well as others;2 it was customary to commit, but it did not follow that the prayer must be agreed with, no, if the committee think it improper they will say so; for his own part he did not feel himself alarmed at such an application. The legislative power of granting he should not now give an opinion on, he observed that Mr. Mansell resides in the state and might naturally desire to obtain property, however he was certain no evil could arise from committing it, and it deserved the same attention and respect as many others less important had met with. He therefore hoped both the last motions would be rejected and that the house agree to appoint a committee of three.3

The [New York] Daily Advertiser, January 17, 1787.

1In the spring of 1787 H was elected to represent the City and County of New York in the state Assembly. The 1787 session of the legislature was scheduled to meet in New York City on January 2, 1787, but because of the lack of a quorum the first legislative session was not held until January 12.

With the exceptions stated below, H’s remarks while a member of the legislature, the motions he made, and the reports he submitted have been printed in this edition of H’s works.

All of H’s remarks or speeches that are recorded in the newspapers of the day are published except for one-sentence statements in which he agreed or disagreed with other speakers. The texts of the speeches are taken principally from The Daily Advertiser, which was edited by Francis Childs. According to J. C. Hamilton, Childs’s account of the speeches is “very imperfect, and very often in the language the reporter would himself have used” (Hamilton, History description begins John C. Hamilton, Life of Alexander Hamilton, a History of the Republic of the United States of America (Boston, 1879). description ends , III, 183).

The following types of motions made by H have not been printed: motion that a vote be taken or that a bill be recommitted to committee; motion that a bill be read a second or third time; and motion that a certain sum or date be inserted or substituted in an act.

The reports made by H have been included; but when the Assembly Journal merely states that H, as chairman of a committee, made a report on a petition and does not give the text of the report, such a report is calendared.

Laws introduced by H have not been printed because the absence of papers of the New York legislature makes it impossible to determine whether H wrote such laws. Whenever there is evidence that he may have drafted an act, the reference to the printed version of it in the Laws of the State of New York is given.

2On January 16, 1787, a petition was read in the Assembly “from John Ma[u]nsel[l], a major general in the service of his Britannic Majesty … praying that he, as a British subject might have the right of purchasing and holding land within the territory of this state” (The Daily Advertiser, January 17, 1787). Debate arose on whether the petition should be referred to a committee of three members, or to a committee of the whole house, or whether it should be tabled.

3Consistent with H’s suggestion, the petition was referred to a committee composed of William Malcom, James Gordon, and William Harper (New York Assembly Journal description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). description ends , 1787, 9).

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