Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Richard Platt, 26 April 1796

From Richard Platt1

New York, April 26, 1796. Asks Hamilton to join with his attorneys, Robert Troup and Brockholst Livingston, in a case before the New York Supreme Court on the following day.2 States that “The Amount of the Debt is too triffling to ask any interposition of you as Counsel, on the Defendant side, but the Consequences of it’s possible result may involve a Question of the first magnitude to all persons in future subject to prosecution for Debt, when & where the hearts of Creditors … are instigated by the Devil.”

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Platt was a New York City broker and speculator and a former business associate of William Duer.

2There is no record that H appeared before the New York Supreme Court in Platt’s case. According to the minute book of the court, the attorneys for the plaintiff were Richard Harison, Samuel Jones, and Thomas Smith, and those for the defendant were “Troup, B. Livingston and [Nicholas] Evertson” (MS Minutes of the New York Supreme Court, January 19–November 5, 1796 [Hall of Records, New York City]). This case, which was heard on April 27, 1796, was brought by John R. Myers and Helen Myers for assumpsit in the sum of four thousand dollars. After postponing the verdict for several days, the court met again on May 5 and discharged Platt from arrest (MS Minutes of the New York Supreme Court, January 19–November 5, 1796 [Hall of Records, New York City]). When Platt became bankrupt, however, he was declared indebted on November 26, 1800, to the estate of “Helena Myer” for $5,695.10, including interest (D, RG 21, District Court, Southern District of New York, Bankruptcy Act of 1800, Case Files, Richard Platt, National Archives).

1. Platt had a long history of debt. See William Lewis to H, June, 1794, note 1. Platt attempted as early as 1796 to get support for a declaration of insolvency, but was unsuccessful. See Platt to Walter Livingston, July 7, 1796 (ALS, New-York Historical Society, New York City).

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