From William Lewis1
[Philadelphia] Friday morn’g [June, 1794]2
It being a very desirable object with all Parties concerned that Mr Pigott should without further delay be paid the Sum Acknowledged to be due to him I take the Liberty of proposing
1. That a transfer be made to Mr. Piggott of 30,000 Dolls. and that a Certeficate be issued to him for that Amot.
2. That a Transfer be made by Major Haskill to himself of 10,000 Dolls. & a Certife. be issued to him for that Amot. I propose this because it does not oppose the claim of the Ohio Compy nor any other claim that I have heard of. The Powers to Major Haskill are over the whole 50,000 Dolls & admitting the assignmt & Power to the Ohio Compy of 10,000 Dolls. to be a rerevocation of Major Haskills Power to that Amot. it certainly cannot be so as to any thing beyond that Sum. I know of no objection that can be made to this 2nd Part of my Proposal save what may arise from Mr. Platts Letter to Mr. Wolcott which as I understand says that after 30,000 Dolls. are transferrd to Mr. Piggott & 10,000 Dolls. to the Ohio Co: the remaing 10,000 Dolls. will be sufft. or more than sufft. (I forget which is the Expressn.) to satisfy Major Haskills Claims.3 Admitting this to be true & that Major Haskills Power is in its nature revocable yet I suppose it will be admitted that this Letter contains no revocation & I must confess that I can hardly conceive anything more likely to affect the Credit of the Funds than to refuse a transfer on such very slight grounds, more espetially as Platt in his Accot. which I have shewed to you, states a Ball: of 15000 Dolls. as being due to Haskill.
3rd And that the origl. Certife. remain in the office until the claim of the Ohio Compy as to the remaing 10,000 Dolls. shall be amicably setled or legally decided. That the proper Endorsems. with respect to the two Transfers be made and also an agreemt. signed by Haskell that it shall so remain until such setlt. or decision takes Place. Or if the Forms of the office and mode of keeping the Accos. will not admit of this, then let a Certife. be made out for these last 10,000 Dolls. in the name of Major Haskell not to be delivd. to him but to remain in the office until a Decision &c, with an Agreemt. signed by Haskill authorizing a Transfer to the Ohio Compy of their Claim shall be established. It realy strikes me my dear Sir, that this last Proposal is entirely free from all manner of well founded objections, tho’ it is possible that you or Colo. Wolcott, (understanding the business better than I do) may see some which I do not. The agreemt. may be something like the enclosed one tho’ it may perhaps be better drawn.
I am sorry my dear Sir to give you so much Trouble, but I know you will have the goodness to forgive me.4
I am very sincy Yrs.
ALS, RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives.
1. Lewis was a Philadelphia attorney and a Federalist. He had been judge of the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania from July, 1791, to April, 1792.
This letter concerns a problem of attachment of registered debt, recorded in Richard Platt’s name on January 8, 1789, and amounting to fifty thousand dollars (Certification by John Wilkes, January 8, 1789 [DS, RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives]). On August 29, 1787, Platt, a veteran of the American Revolution and a New York merchant and broker, had been appointed treasurer of the Ohio Company. Following Platt’s business failure in the spring of 1792, it was discovered that he was in debt to the company, and on April 30, 1792, Benjamin Tallmadge succeeded him as the company’s treasurer (Archer B. Hulbert, ed., The Records of the Original Proceedings of the Ohio Company [Marietta, Ohio, 1917], I, 17; III, 128–31). On May 3, 1792, Platt agreed “to bargain, Sell, assign and Transfer, (in Trust for the Ohio Company,) unto … Benjamin Tallmadge, the Sum of Ten thousand Dollars, of registered Debt or unfunded Stock …, being part of the Sum of fifty thousand Dollars of said Debt or Stock standing in my name in the Books of the Register of the Treasury of the united States of America.” At the same time Platt appointed Tallmadge “my true and lawful Attorney, irrevocable, for me and in my name, but to the use of the said Ohio Company; to assign and Transfer the said Stock upon the said Books or otherwise as may be needful” (DS, RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives).
Platt’s efforts to repay the Ohio Company were, however, complicated by earlier arrangements which he had made. On January 8. 1789, he had appointed “Elnathan Haskell of Boston … now on his Departure to Europe my true and lawful attorney for me and in my Name to make sale of and transfer on the Books of the Treasury of the United States of America the sum of fifty thousand Dollars of liquidated and Funded Debt due me by the United States of America” (DS, RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives). Haskell then proceeded to France, and on November 23, 1789, he reached an agreement with Robert Pigott of Paris to sell and “to deliver the said Pigott … thirty thousand Dollars, equal to one hundred and sixty two thousand livres, of the funded and liquidated debt of the United States of America in three equal Certificates.” In addition, as part of this agreement Pigott paid “in hand to the said Haskell, Twenty thousand livres Tournois, in part of the price of the said Certificates,” and he promised “to pay the said Haskell … on the 10th. day of March next the further sum of thirty eight thousand. three hundred and twenty livres,… which with the sums heretofore paid, shall be in full of the price of the purchase of the said Certificates.” Finally, “for the execution of this agreement on the part of the said Haskell,” he deposited “fifty thousand Dollars of the funded and liquidated debt aforesaid” with the firm of Boyd and Kerr in Paris (DS, RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives).
The different and conflicting authorities granted by Platt produced obvious difficulties for Tallmadge, who first learned of the situation when Oliver Wolcott, Jr., in his capacity as comptroller of the Treasury, wrote to him on November 8, 1792: “I judge it to be proper for me to inform you that Elnathan Haskell has attached the stock and Credit on the books of the Treasury standing in the name of Richard Platt.… I give you this information in consequence of your representation that a part of the whole of said credit had been assigned to you by Mr. Platt in trust for the Ohio Company” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society. Hartford). In the following January, Platt wrote to Wolcott concerning Haskell’s attachment. After stating that “the Certificate for 50,000 Drs was lodged in France in the hands of Messrs Boyd & Kerr,” he added that he had repeatedly written to Pigott requesting the certificate and assuring him that on receipt of the certificate he would “pay him the component parts of said Stock.” Platt maintained, however, that despite his efforts he had never heard from Pigott. Platt concluded his letter to Wolcott by pointing out that the only other legitimate claims on the registered debt in his name were an unspecified sum which he owed to Haskell and his debt of ten thousand dollars to the Ohio Company (ALS, January 9, 1793 [RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793, National Archives]).
It has not been possible to ascertain whether all of Lewis’s proposals concerning the disposition of the registered debt in Platt’s name were acceptable to H, but on July 3, 1794, Wolcott wrote to Tallmadge: “I have to inform you that a transfer of Ten Thousand Dollars Registered Debt … has passed this office, in your favor in trust for the Ohio Company. This transfer was made by Mr. Haskell in satisfaction of the sum assigned by Richard Platt. for which you lodged a claim in this office” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford).
2. This letter cannot be dated with accuracy, but its contents indicate that it was written after Platt’s letter to Wolcott on January 9, 1793, and before Wolcott’s letter of July 3, 1794, to Tallmadge indicating the transfer to the Ohio Company of ten thousand dollars of the registered debt in Platt’s name.
3. In his letter to Wolcott on January 9, 1793, Platt first acknowledged his debt of thirty thousand dollars to Pigott and then wrote: “The second appropriation is ten thousand Dollars to the Ohio Company—the Residue is coming to me, but on it, Haskell [has] a Demand which will absorb within about 2000 Drs. in Cash of the Principal & Int & which I intend to pay out of the Balance after paying Pigott & the Ohio Company” (RG 58, Records of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, “Special Cases,” Richard Platt’s Papers, 1789–1793. National Archives).
4. H endorsed this letter as follows: “The Comptroller will consider this & confer with me tomorrow. A Hamilton.”