Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Rawle, 6 January 1793

To William Rawle1

[Philadelphia] Jany 6. 1793

Dr Sir

I think you have a paper shewing the manner in which, the tracts to which Judge Sims & his associates are intitled were to be located—put into your hands for the purpose of drawing up a declaration &c concerning it.

Be so good as to let Mr. Ludlow, who on behalf of the UStates is preparing a map,2 have a view of any such paper which may be in your possession.

Yrs. with esteem

A Hamilton

Mr. Rawle

ALS, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1Rawle was a prominent Philadelphia lawyer and United States attorney for the District of Pennsylvania.

2John Cleves Symmes of Morristown, New Jersey, who had served in the Continental Congress in 1785 and 1786, had been a judge of the Northwest Territory since 1788. Under the Confederation Symmes had applied for a large tract of land in the Ohio country, and on October 15, 1788, “the late Board of Treasury, by virtue of resolutions of Congress of the twenty-third and twentyseventh of July, and twenty-third of October, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-seven, contracted with John Cleves Symmes and his associates, for a tract of land lying in the Western country, and bounded westwardly by the Great Miami, southwardly by the Ohio, eastwardly by a line beginning on the Ohio, at a spot twenty miles distant, and above the mouth of the Great Miami, and extending from the said spot in a course parallel with the general course of the Great Miami, and northwardly by a line running due east and west, from the last mentioned line to the Great Miami, so as to include one million of acres” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Public Lands, I, 75). In November, 1790, in response to a Congressional resolution of August 12, 1790, H had authorized Israel Ludlow to survey the Symmes purchase (Arthur St. Clair to H, May 25, 1791, note 2), but the unsettled conditions on the frontier resulting from the Indian war of 1791 and the continued depredations of the Indians during 1792 made it impossible for Ludlow to complete his survey (Ludlow to H, May 5, 1792). Because Symmes both claimed and sold land not included in his contract, Congress on April 12, 1792, passed “An Act for ascertaining the bounds of a tract of land purchased by John Cleves Symmes.” This act authorized the President to “alter the contract, made between the late board of treasury and the said John Cleves Symmes, for the sale of a tract of land of one million acres” and defined the boundary “so as to comprehend the proposed quantity of one million of acres” (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1856). description ends 7–8). On May 5, 1792, another act of Congress transferred ownership to Symmes and his associates “in fee simple, such number of acres of land as the payments already made by the said John Cleves Symmes, his agents or associates, under their contract of the fifteenth day of October one thousand seven hundred and eighty-eight, will pay for,” together with a further tract of 106,837 acres (“An Act authorizing the grant and conveyance of certain Lands to John Cleves Symmes, and his Associates” [1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 266]). In November, 1792, H again ordered Ludlow to undertake the survey of the Miami lands (H to Ludlow, November 25, 1792).

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