From Isaac Ledyard
NYork 27th. Mar: 1792
The Petition which you was so good as to shew a friendly concern for (to benifit by the final provision from which I was strangely precluded) is as you advised referred to the Secy of War.1 I fear this information may come too late for your benevolence to be exercised toward me as you designed.
Yesterday I was informed to my great disappointment & grief that an application of mine to Congress praying leave for the Offices of the Treasury Depart. to revise my account with the public in which there was an error acknowledged by the Comr. who settled it of several hundred pounds to my disadvantage, was rejected by the House of Representatives after having passed the Senate.2 This fatality happening to my least disputable Claim has nearly destroyed my hopes in the others,3 what remain rest intirely on your friendship.
Had only one of my Claims succeeded, its aid with careful nursing might have rendered my situation tolerable, without it I must abandon Society & former pursuits. I pray you my dear and honored friend to be assured that nothing but necessity could induce me to give you the trouble of this Letter, & that with a gentleman not less proud for being poor the necessity must be very great that induces to the acknowledgement. A Wife and Infants out of the question, for myself alone I could soon close the unvarying scene of my disappointments & mortifications, As it is I am—unhappy.
Pitty & forgive what your firmer mind sees wanting in my philosophy. I have left the happiness to be most respectfully and affectionately your Obedient & hunble Servt.
PS The prospect of Mr. Jays success brightens very considerably so that now a fair hope may be entertained.4
ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.
1. On March 10, 1792, Ledyard presented to the House of Representatives a petition requesting “compensation for services in the Military Hospital of the United States, during the late war.” This petition was referred to Henry Knox, Secretary of War, for an opinion (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 532).
2. On January 9, 1792, “The petition of Isaac Ledyard, of the State of Connecticut, for the re-settlement of his account, for reasons stated in his petition was read” in the Senate. The petition was referred to a committee composed of Aaron Burr of New York, Caleb Strong of Massachusetts, and Pierce Butler of South Carolina. On January 26, 1792, the committee reported a bill, but the Senate postponed consideration of it pending a decision on a bill sent from the House of Representatives, which was entitled “An act for the relief of certain widows, orphans, invalids, and other persons” and which had been referred to the same committee on January 10 (Annals of Congress, III 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, 1834–1849). description ends , 56, 76, 57).
On March 1, 1792, the Senate committee reported the House bill with amendments, among which the following was agreed to:
“Section 2. And be it further enacted, That the officers of the Treasury be, and they are hereby, authorized to re-examine the accounts of Isaac Ledyard, late assistant deputy director, and John Berrien, late commissary of the hospital department; and if any error has taken place in the settlement of the said accounts, to correct the same.” (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, 1834–1849). description ends , III, 98.)
On March 7, 1792, the House agreed to some of the Senate amendments but apparently disagreed on the section concerning Ledyard. The Senate did not insist on its amendment to the second section of the bill (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 530, 540). For the act as approved by the President on March 27, 1792, see “An Act for the relief of certain Widows, Orphans, Invalids, and other persons” (6 Stat. 607).
In answer to a petition from his heirs, Ledyard’s claim was finally settled on March 2, 1833, when “An Act for the relief of the heirs of Doctor Isaac Ledyard, deceased” was approved. The act included payment of both commutation and the balance due after revision of the hospital accounts equivalent to the amount which would have accrued if the certificates for both amounts had been subscribed under the Funding Act in 1791 (Resolutions, Laws, and Ordinances, Relating to the Pay, Half Pay, Commutation of Half Pay, Bounty Lands, and Other Promises Made by Congress to the Officers and Soldiers of the Revolution; to the Settlement of the Accounts Between the United States and the Several States; and to the Funding the Revolutionary Debt [Washington, 1838], 100).
3. In addition to the claim referred to in note 1, on February 16, 1792, Ledyard petitioned the House “praying the liquidation and settlement of claims against the United States.” This petition was referred to the Secretary of the Treasury (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 380). H reported on it in November (“Report on the Petition of Joseph Ball and Isaac Ledyard,” November 21, 1792), and the House rejected it on March 2, 1793 (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends , 625, 733).