Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from John Henry Livingston, 28 March 1794

From John Henry Livingston1

New York March 28. 1794.

Dear Sir

I am very unwilling to take up a moment of your precious time and shall not therefore wast it in apologies. The accounts of Abrah. Livingston are not yet taken up in the Office.2 Will you please to request the Auditor3 to direct his Clerks to begin with that Business? The settlement has been long delayed. We were in hopes of Obtaining more Vouchers, and have now got all we shall probably ever possess. Procrastination may prove injurious, and it is time the ballance should be ascertained. A word from you will remind the Auditor of my request and put the Business into an immediate train. Another word respecting the principle of indulgence due to orphan accounts will serve to give a favorable complexion to the final settlement. I place great confidence in the candor & equity of the Auditor.

I have not yet heard from Mr. Lewis,4 but hope soon to have his Opinion respecting the claims of Congress upon the Estate of my late Father in Law.5 Be assured of my sincere respect and fervent wishes for your success and happiness. Mrs. Livingston presents her kind compliments to Mrs. Hamilton. Please to accept of mine and believe me to be

Dear Sir   Your most affectionate friend & humble servant

J: H: Livingston

Col: Hamilton

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Livingston was a Dutch Reformed clergyman who lived in New York City. He was married to his second cousin, Sarah Livingston, who was the daughter of Philip Livingston, a signer of the Declaration of Independence.

2During the American Revolution, Abraham Livingston, Sarah Livingston’s brother, had served as naval agent at Boston and later as commercial agent at Charleston, South Carolina. On September 24, 1794, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., wrote to Joseph Nourse: “I inclose a Statement of an unsettled Account by which it appears that Abraham Livingston … is charged on the Books of the Commissary department … with two sums paid him and carried to his account on the books of the Treasury … amounting to four hundred & thirty thousand dollars, and that the sum of six thousand two hundred dollars, the cost and charges of twenty three Barrels of rice for Garrison use have been officially transmitted by you to the Auditor by which to regulate his books of the Treasury …” (copy, RG 39, Blotters of the Register of the Treasury, 1782–1810, National Archives).

3Richard Harrison.

4William Lewis had served as United States attorney for the District of Pennsylvania from 1789 until July, 1791, when he accepted an appointment as judge of the United States Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In April, 1792, he resigned as judge to return to private practice.

5Philip Livingston, a member of the Secret Committee of Congress, had made several agreements with the committee during 1775 and 1776. Together with two other members of the Secret Committee, John Alsop, who later became a Loyalist, and Francis Lewis, Livingston was charged with $13,360.54 on the Treasury books for a contract dated October 9, 1775, and for an advance made by order of Congress on July 27, 1775, for importing gunpowder. These three New York City merchants also entered into a contract with Robert Morris and Silas Deane on February 19, 1776, for two hundred thousand dollars (D, RG 39, Blotters of the Register of the Treasury, 1782–1810, National Archives).

John Henry Livingston, however, is probably referring to a contract for twenty thousand dollars which Philip Livingston apparently entered into alone on January 8, 1776, and about which Tench Coxe and Richard Harrison had written to him on December 28, 1792 (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives). Coxe and Harrison in a letter to the heirs and executors of Philip Livingston, dated December 7, 1792, had stated that twenty thousand dollars was due to the United States under this contract, and they had requested John Henry Livingston or any of the “Heirs and Executors of Philip” to “adduce such new Matter as you may possess, and to make such representations as you may deem expedient prior to the final adjustment of the account” (LC RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).

On November 15, 1794, Coxe and Harrison sent to Wolcott the auditor’s report on the January 8, 1776, contract and the account for the February 19, 1776, contract (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives). The balance due from Philip Livingston on the January 8, 1776, contract was entered in the ledger on February 5, 1795. On June 29, 1796, this balance was charged against Morris, Deane, and Company, Alsop, Lewis and Company, and John Alsop (D, RG 217, “Ledgers C and D, 1776–1789, Register’s Office,” National Archives).

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