Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Robert Troup, 25 July 1795

To Robert Troup1

New York July 25. 1795.

My Dear Troupe

Confiding in your integrity and friendship to me, I have made you Executor of my Will. My concerns are not very extensive and of course will not give you much trouble. Indeed I might have dispensed with the ceremony of making a Will as to what I may myself leave had I not wished that my little property may be applied as readily and as fairly as may be to the benefit of my few Creditors. For after a life of labour, I leave my family to the benevolence of others, if my course shall happen to be terminated here.

My property will appear in the list herewith marked A.

My creditors are John Barker Church2 to whom I owe about five thousand pounds as will appear by Account marked B. The Office of Discount & Deposit New York who hold a note of mine for five hundred Dollars indorsed by Nicholas Fish.3 The holders unknown of two drafts drawn upon me by my father4 one for five hundred the other for two hundred Dollars. Mr. Meade5 to whom Ceracchi6 gave a bill on me for six hundred and odd dollars which I told Mr Ludlow7 it was my intention to pay. Mr. Sheaff8 of Philadelphia Wine merchant, to whom I owe a ballance of account not very considerable. Gaspard Joseph Amand Ducher who has my bond in duplicates for £689 principal being for money which he left in my hands when he went to France having no better disposition of it.9 This being a bond debt will claim a preference, and from the nature of it, I am glad of it. I hope the poor fellow may be alive. He was a member of the Convention.10 Arthur Noble11 Esquire who has my bonds for the fourth part of the lands purchased of him in company with yourself Laurance12 & Fish.13 The lands themselves will be a fund for the payment of these Bonds.

I have left in the hands of Col Fish the obligations mentioned in the list of Cortlandt14 and of Wickham & Thompson15 to secure him in this mere act of friendship from the possibility of loss & to accelerate his reimbursement.

I hesitated whether I would not also secure a preference to the drafts of my father—but these as far as I am concerned being a merely voluntary engagement, I doubted the justice of the measure and I have done nothing. I regret it lest they should return upon him and increase his distress. Though as I am informed a man of respectable connections in Scotland he became bankrupt as a Merchant at an early day in the West Indies and is now in indigence. I have pressed him to come to me but his great age & infirmity have deterred him from the change of climate.

I hope what I leave may prove equal to my Debts. If it does not I have the consolation of hoping that the loss will be permitted by himself to fall upon my brother in law Mr. Church whose friendship and generosity I do not doubt.

I regret that his affairs as well as my own have suffered by my devotion to the public service. But I trust upon the whole that the few operations I have made for him will more than recompense him for my omissions; though they will not have been as profitable to him as they ought to have been & as they would have been if I could have paid more attention.

Purchases of lands have been made for Mr. Church first in Pensylvania in Company with Tench Coxe to whom I advanced ten thousand Dollars16 secondly in the City of New York in company with J. Laurence to whom I have advanced the sums mentioned in the Account marked C in bundle AA.17 Besides these advances, I have put into his hands a draft of Fitsimmons upon Constable18 accepted by the latter for four thousand Dollars, and a sett of bills for five hundred pound Sterling received from Robert Morris drawn by Harrison & Sterret19 upon the house of Cazenove & Co. London.20 These all on the same account of the purchases.

You will find in the bundle marked AB a smaller bundle marked D which will explain the nature and state of the business with Mr. Coxe, by which also you will see that Mr. Anthony who is a very good man is my Agent in that Affair.21

You will also find in the bundle AA a note of Mr. Morris for Nine thousand five hundred Dollars on account of which the abovementioned bills are.22 This note was for money lent belonging to Mr. Church. Mr. Morris will not dispute that it bears interest from the date. Indeed the real sum was Ten thousand Dollars but Mr. Morris after some time paid me five hundred.23 The interest ought to be calculated accordingly. Mr Morris can furnish the data.

As this money was thus disposed of without being warranted by the spirit of Mr. Church’s instructions I consider myself as responsible for it. And I trust that Mr. Morris will exert himself to pay the ballance speedily to be applied to the investments which Mr. Laurance is making.

I have received some large fees for which the parties could not have had equivalents—from Williamson24 One hundred pounds from Constable One hundred pounds from Macombe25 One hundred pounds from Mr. Bayard in behalf of Wilhem & Jan Willink One hundred pounds.26 It would [be] just if there [were] means that they should be repaid. But what can I direct who am (I fear) insolvent?

God bless you My friend. Be assured always of the attachement of Yrs.

A Hamilton

P.S. I remitted Sheaff on my way through Jersey an order on the Bank of the U States for a good part of his demand. This will appear by my bank Account.

In my leather Trunk where the bundles abovementioned are is also a bundle inscribed thus—J R27 To be forwarded to Oliver Wolcott Junr. Esq. I entreat that this may be early done by a careful hand.

This trunk contains all my interesting papers.28

Robert Troupe Esq.

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1H wrote this letter in anticipation of his duel with James Nicholson. See H to Nicholson, first letter of July 20, 1795, note 1.

2Church was married to Elizabeth Hamilton’s sister Angelica. H was Church’s business representative in the United States.

3Fish was one of H’s seconds. See H to Nicholson, first letter of July 20, 1795.

4James Hamilton had remained in the West Indies after H had come to North America.

5George Meade was a Philadelphia merchant and the brother-in-law of Thomas FitzSimons.

6Giuseppe Ceracchi was a Roman sculptor. An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of July 14, 1795, shows that H paid $2.80 “for freight &c of my bust” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes). A second entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under the date of March 3, 1796, reads: “for this sum through delicacy paid upon cherachi’s draft for making my bust on his own importunity & as a favour to him 620” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in forthcoming Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , III). See also Ceracchi to H, July 16, 1792, note 2.

7Daniel Ludlow, a New York City merchant.

8Henry Sheaff. An entry for August 10, 1796, in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, reads: “for this sum paid Henry Sheaffs draft for ballance of his Account per R’s Letter Box 116” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

9Ducher was appointed vice consul ad interim at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, in 1786 and in 1788 was transferred to Wilmington, North Carolina. He returned to Paris at some time before June, 1790, and for the next three years he sought to induce the French government to adopt a policy of encouragement to trade and navigation similar to that embodied in the English navigation laws (Frederick L. Nussbaum, Commercial Policy in the French Revolution [Washington, 1923], 14, 17, 35, 271–304). For H’s debt to Ducher, see H’s Cash Book, March 1, 1782–1791.

10H was mistaken. Ducher was not a member of the National Convention, but he did advise several of its committees on commercial policy (Nussbaum, Commercial Policy in the French Revolution, 80–81).

11Noble, who had emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1783, was a speculator in New York State lands. In 1790 he settled on the Nobleborough tract of 40,960 acres in Herkimer County. Although he built a saw mill and attempted to colonize his lands, the project failed. His only claim to immortality is the present town of Nobleborough or Nobleboro.

12John Laurance was United States judge for the District of New York.

13In a document entitled “Statement of my property and Debts July 1. 1804” (AD, New-York Historical Society, New York City), which H prepared just before his duel with Aaron Burr, H listed the following item: “My ¼ of purchase in Nobleborough together with J Laurance Robert Troupe & N Fish being 5450 acres computed now to stand me in abt. 9000 [dollars].” In H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, in a section called “Memoranda,” an entry for July 1, 1796, reads: “Fish & myself have to pay to Arthur Noble 300 annually on the first July each year for 9 years to come.” The following entry also appears in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, under July 2, 1796: “Lands No. 1 Dr. to Cash for this sum reimbursed N Fish my half of a joint Bond to Arthur Noble paid by him 375.” A similar entry appears on September 7, 1797: “Lands No. 2 Dr. to Cash paid N Fish one half of joint Bond to A Noble 397.50” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

14Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr., son of the first lieutenant governor of New York, had studied law in H’s law office. See H’s Cash Book, March 1, 1782–1791, note 3. Van Cortlandt was a member of the New York Assembly from Westchester County in 1792, 1794, and 1795. An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1800, for June 17, 1796, reads: “To Stock Account for this sum received on account of Pierre van Cortlands Bond 200.” Another entry in H’s Cash Book, in a section entitled “Debts due to A Hamilton,” reads: “Pierre V Cortland £150” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

15William Wickham and William Thompson of Orange County, New York. An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, for August 4, 1795, reads: “Cash Dr. Stock Account for this sum received in full for obligation of Wickham & Thompson £240.11.1” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

16For information on this transaction, see the introductory note to Coxe to H, February 13, 1795.

17The following entry appears in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, for March 30, 1796: “John Laurance Dr to Cash for this sum paid him on account of lots & lands purchased in company with J B Church himself & me for lots 2500 …” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

18Thomas FitzSimons and William Constable.

21Joseph Anthony was a Philadelphia merchant. See the introductory note to Coxe to H, February 13, 1795.

22For Morris’s debt to H, see the introductory note to H to Morris, March 18, 1795.

23See notes 19 and 20. See also the introductory note to H to Morris, March 18, 1795.

24Charles Williamson had retained H on January 6, 1795. See the entry in the “Memoranda of Retainers” in H’s Law Register, 1795–1804 (D, partially in H’s handwriting, The New York Law Institute, New York City; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes). For Williamson’s payment of this retainer to H, see Troup to H, March 31, May 11, 1795.

25William Constable and Alexander Macomb retained H on June 1, 1795. See the “Memoranda of Retainers” in H’s Law Register, 1795–1804 (D, partially in H’s handwriting, The New York Law Institute, New York City; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

26William Bayard was a partner with Herman LeRoy in the New York City merchant firm of LeRoy and Bayard. Both were associated with James McEvers, who was also a New York City merchant and who was Bayard’s cousin. In H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, an entry under June 22, 1795, reads: “this sum received from Le Roy & Bayard as retainer on behalf of Willinks vs. Wm. Bingham 250” (AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; also in Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964– ) description ends , forthcoming volumes).

27According to Broadus Mitchell, this is a reference to the documents which H printed in the appendix to the “Reynolds Pamphlet,” August 25, 1797 (Mitchell, Hamilton description begins Broadus Mitchell, Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1957–1962). description ends , II, 713–14, note 93).

28Below this sentence, Elizabeth Hamilton wrote at a later date: “to be retained by myself.”

Index Entries