Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from John Nicholson, 1 June 1793

From John Nicholson1

Comptroller General’s Office [Philadelphia] June 1st. 1793


A suit hath been commenced against me in the Supreme Court for recovery to the State of the Amount of New Loans subscribed to the United States whether by myself or others.2 In this Cause the Attorney General of the United States with other Able Counsel are engaged in my defence the decision therein will determine also the question as to their assumability in the Loan of the United States for State debts. There are sundry Laws which have not come before you which I have no doubt would induce your determination in the Affirmative but as in this way the question will have all the advantage of legal discussion on both sides and Judicial determination, I would wish your postponment of the decision thereon until after that hath taken place. As this debt is not like other assumed debts chargeable to the State unless a Credit be also given for a like amount of Principal and Interest respectively which the Act of Congress3 requires to be surrendered therefor, no injury can arise from the postponement on this part of the Subscription made with Mr. Smith.4 However if you should determine to decide previously I wish an Opportunity of laying before you Laws, Sections of Laws of Pennsylvania posterior to March 1789—which abundantly prove their assumability.

I am with very great Respect, &c


The Honble A. Hamilton Esqr.
Secretary of the Treasury U states

LC, Division of Public Records, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Harrisburg.

2Nicholson’s case came before the Pennsylvania Supreme Court during the December term, 1795. The court advised that “The jury should either find a verdict for the amount of the money paid by the state treasurer to the defendant, or by affirming the new loan certificates to be the property of the state, find for the commonwealth, a sum of money equal to the difference between the real value of the amount of the new loan certificates produced by the defendant and the sum he has received from the treasury” (Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania: with Some Select Cases at Nisi Prius, and in the Circuit Courts. By the Honorable Jasper Yeates, One of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. Vol. II. [Philadelphia: Printed and Published by John Bioren, No. 88, Chestnut Street, 1818], II, 15).

3Nicholson is referring to Section 18 of “An Act making provision for the (payment of the) Debt of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 144 [August 4, 1790]). For this section, see Alexander Dallas to H, January 15, 1793, note 7.

4Thomas Smith was commissioner of loans for Pennsylvania.

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