Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Timothy Pickering, 6 April 1790

From Timothy Pickering1

Philadelphia April 6. 1790.

Dr. Sir

Last evening a gentleman called on me to inform me of Mr. Duer’s resignation;2 and to urge me to apply for the vacant office. Having since reflected on a variety of circumstances which would render the office eligible, I have concluded to make known to you my willingness to take it, if you, who know me perfectly well, think I can give you the aid you would wish for and expect in an assistant.

When I went to Wyoming three years ago, vested with the office of prothonotary & the four other offices usually annexed to it in a new county, I supposed I was fixed for life. But a train of disasters & a ruinous expence have attended my removal:3 and in the conclusion, my reward from the Legislature, for my services & sufferings in introducing the laws & Government of this State into that country, is the repeal of that law by which the disputed lands were confirmed to the Connecticut claimants, & under the faith of which I purchased a farm & erected the necessary buildings:4 a law too which I pledged myself to those people, that the legislature would never repeal.

The education of seven sons, is a powerful motive to this application. The repeal of the confirming law will keep the Wyoming settlement in a situation which will probably for several years prevent the establishment of a tolerable school.

I intended to set out for Wyoming tomorrow: but will now wait your answer. If the office should remain vacant, & be conferred on me, it will nevertheless be absolutely necessary for me before I should go to New York, to visit my family & let my farm.

ADf, Massachusetts Historical Society, Boston.

3After the Revolution, Pickering, a native of Massachusetts, had settled in Philadelphia. In 1787, having been designated by Pennsylvania’s government to organize the new county of Luzerne, he moved to the Wyoming Valley. He soon was involved in the acrimonious controversy between the Connecticut settlers of the Wyoming Valley and the Pennsylvania authorities.

4The law, “An Act for ascertaining and confirming to certain persons, called Connecticut claimants, the lands by them claimed within the county of Luzerne, and for other purposes therein mentioned,” had been passed on March 28, 1787 (Minutes of the Second Session of the Eleventh General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1787], 190). It was repealed on April 1, 1790 (Minutes of the Second Session of the Fourteenth General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1790], 252).

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