Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 10 May 1795

From Tench Coxe1

Philada. May 10. 1795


Since I wrote you last2 I have recd. a reconveyance for eleven tracts of the land formerly Church & Coxe’s & sold to Wheelen Miller & Co—taken out by lot or draught. The deed was made to Mr. Church in consequence of our law being repeated, which gives foreigners a right to hold lands in Pennsa.3 & before your letter about Mr. Anthony appeared.4 If it be not agreeable to have the title so the deed now made can be cancelled, and one to Mr. Anthony can be made. It however appears to me adviseable to take all the titles in Mr. Church’s name because he will be able to hold when the law expires. I do not suppose his equitable title under a trust now would enable him to receive the legal title, if the law were terminated by its own limitations. I offered to take for Mr. Church from the gentlemen as many more of the lands as would make up his original quantity but they would not consent to it, unless I would draw out of the whole—that is out of patterson’s as well as mine. This I would not agree to as those we hold are really better. The deeds for the Twenty tracts with Ruston & Co are lying ready to be drawn out of the entire parcel owned by Mr. Murray, Mr. Church & myself.5 Mr. Anthony was ready once when I had not time, & since that his Daughters Marriage & the Grand Jury on the Western Business have prevented him.

Doctor Francis Josh. Smith of the concern of Ball & Smith offered me a few days ago his moiety of that original Concern (half of 89 tracts) out of which Church, Murray, & Coxes 1600 A. are to be taken. The dispute with Messrs. Willing6 Bingham7 & the Surveyors8 continues,9 but I have so good an opinion of the Justice of our Cause, and I consider the owning Smiths half of the original right so important to our success & is itself so well worth purchasing that I gave him 800 Drs. or £300 for his original Moiety of the 89 tracts subject to the cost & charges & to the claim of Church Murray & Coxe. It being most equitable & proper that our original concern should have it, I have written to Mr. Murray10 to offer him the same proportion of it as of the contract with Ball & Smith vizt. ³⁄₁₂, and I now make you the offer for Mr. Church of half of the remaining ⁹⁄₁₂, the other half I hold of course. The proportion in Money for Smith will be to Murray £75—to Church £112.10.0 to Coxe £112.10. If it be agreeable to you be pleased to inform me & I will charge Mr Church in account as interest of my Bond to him. The contract with Smith is of the 22d. day of April last.

All difficulties with Wheelen, Miller & Co. are now obviated. They were in my opinion only pecuniary in the late trying Times. They have ⟨– – –⟩ments for nearly all the first payments, and have desired me to make out Bonds for the 2d. & 3d payments, which I shall have done immediately. I am, sir,

your most obedient Hble servt.

Alexr. Hamilton, Esqr.

ADf, Tench Coxe Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

1For an explanation of the contents of this letter, see the introductory note to Coxe to H, February 13, 1795. See also Coxe to H, February 17–18, 22, 1795; H to Joseph Anthony, March 11, 1795.

2Letter not found.

3“An Act to enable Aliens to purchase and hold real Estates within this Commonwealth,” which was passed on February 11, 1789, expired of its own limitation on January 1, 1792 (Pennsylvania Laws, 1789 Sess., Ch. VI). On March 8, 1792, “An Act to revive and continue in force, for a limited time, an Act, entituled ‘An Act to enable aliens to purchase and hold real estates within this commonwealth’” was passed. This act stated: “… That the said act, to enable aliens to purchase and hold real estates within this commonwealth, shall be revived and continued in force for the term of three years from the passing of this act, and from thence to the end of the session of the Assembly next ensuing” (Pennsylvania Laws, 1791–1792 Sess., Ch. LXXXVII). On February 12, 1795, “An Act to extend an act, entituled ‘An Act to enable aliens to purchase and hold real estates, within this commonwealth’” was enacted. This act reads: “… That the act entituled ‘An Act to enable aliens to purchase and hold real estates within this commonwealth,’ shall continue in force for the term of two years from the passing of this act” (Pennsylvania Laws, 1795 Sess., Ch. CCLXXV).

4Letter not found, but see H to Anthony, March 11, 1795.

5See “Acct of Ruston & Co for J. B. Church,” May 21, 1795 (AD, Papers of Tench Coxe in the Coxe Family Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia).

6Thomas Willing, a native of Philadelphia, had been mayor of that city in 1763. From 1767 to 1777 he was associate justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Continental Congress in 1775 and 1776, president of the Bank of North America, and the first president of the Bank of the United States.

7William Bingham.

8Samuel Rees and James Chapman.

9This is a reference to “the dispute between … Reese and Chapman and … [Coxe] (on behalf of the … partnership [with John B. Church]) respecting the title of the lands contracted for with … Ball & Smith … heard before the Board of Property of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and decided in favor of … [Coxe and Church], whereupon … Reese & Chapman brought Ejectments agreeably to the law of Pennsylvania in order to procure a reversion of the decision of the said title in the Court of Common Pleas of Northampton county, which was afterward removed to the Supreme Court …” (Coxe’s bill in equity, April 22, 1799 [DS, RG 21, Records of the United States Circuit Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, Equity Records, Case Files, 1790–1911, National Archives]). See also “Account (A.) of Lands contracted for with Ball & Smith by Tench Coxe, for John Barker Church Esquire & himself,” June 18, 1797 (AD, Tench Coxe Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia). On March 23, 1803, Coxe wrote to Church: “Altho the Referees long since gave an award for us and against Rees &c. who opposed us, yet … Counsel for Mr. Rees & for Mr. Bingham … took exceptions to the award…. At the december term of the Supe. Court, he obtained a rule on me to shew Cause why the award should not be set aside. Several Witnesses have been examined, and the argument was proposed for to morrow but there was no chance of getting thro the Matter this term. It will be six Months till another, and then it may be excluded by elder argument cases. In the mean time I find that the Lands, if secured will not be of the stipulated quality. Mr. Ball is unable to pay Damages & Smith is dead. The price will be 25 Cents…. I thought it best to negociate & have agreed to relinquish the claim for 3500 Dollars to us…. The precariousness of Success, the quality of the lands, the present state of such property, the actual profit on the operation, the immense trouble I have had & the vast trouble I might yet have, if the Court should not maintain the award determined my Conduct …” (ALS, Tench Coxe Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia).

10Coxe to William Vans Murray, May 1, 1795 (LC, Papers of Tench Coxe in the Coxe Family Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia). On May 17, 1795, Murray wrote to Coxe and declined Coxe’s offer (ALS, Papers of Tench Coxe in the Coxe Family Papers at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia).

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