Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Richard Harison, 30 August 1792

To Richard Harison1

Treasury Department
August 30. 1792.


On the 28th of October 1790 a contract was entered into with Theodosius Fowler for supplying the army with provisions for the year 1791.2 Copies of which contract and of the Bond for securing the performance of it are enclosed. By an instrument, bearing date the 3d. day of January 1791, Theodosius Fowler made an assignment of this contract to William Duer, Esquire, constituting him, by the same act, his Attorney. A copy of this instrument is also enclosed.3 On the 7th of April 1791, after notice of this assignment, I wrote a letter to the said William Duer, of which a copy is likewise herewith transmitted. All warrants which have been issued for money to William Duer describe him expressly as Agent to Theodosius Fowler.

On the foregoing state of facts I request your opinion whether Theodosius Fowler and his sureties do or not continue responsible to the Governmt for the fulfilment of the contract.4

No other transactions between the Treasury and the Parties have had place, which can at all affect the question.

For the opinion which you shall give you will please to make a charge against this Department.

With great consideration and esteem, I am, Sir,   Your Obedt Servant.

Alexander Hamilton

Richard Harison, Esqr,
New York

LS, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

1Harison was United States attorney for the District of New York.

3Copy, New-York Historical Society, New York City.

4Several opinions concerning this question were submitted to the committee which was considering a report of the House of Representatives of May 8, 1792, concerning the failure of the expedition against the Indians led by Major General Arthur St. Clair in the fall of 1791. The revised report, presented on February 15, 1793, states: “The Secretary of the Treasury has furnished the committee with the written opinions of the Attorney General of the United States, and several other lawyers of eminence, all of whom concur in opinion, that the securities to the bond … are now responsible for all damages” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Military Affairs, I, 42).

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