Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Charles Williamson, [17–30 May 1796]

To Charles Williamson1

[New York, May 17–30, 1796]2

Dr. Sir

Some arrangements which I have lately made with Robert Morris Esquire for the benefit of my Brother in Law Mr. Church3 render it interest⟨ing⟩ to me to know from you the precise extent of the Western line of the tract of land you purchased of that Gentleman—I mean a line which was run from the Pensylvania line to Lake Ontario—by whom it was run, how far the accuracy of it may be depended upon—and likewise what is the course of Lake Ontario Westward of that line?4 Is it ascertained whether it trends to the North or not and in what degree?

Have you ever had occasion to get explored a tract of land formerly mortgaged by Mr. Morris to Col. Smith for security of money due to Smith as Agent for Messrs. Pultney & Hornby5 extending with a breadth of six miles from Ontario to the Pensylvania line? If so what is the Nature of the land included in that tract North of the Pensylvania line to the distance of about 25 Miles?

I will ask for the favor of you to keep the Inquiry to yourself. The more particularly you answer it, to the extent of your information, the more you will oblige me.

With great esteem & regard   I am sir   Your Obed ser

Williamson Esq

ADf, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Williamson, who had served as a British officer during the American Revolution, in 1791 became the American agent of three English land speculators, the leader of whom was Sir William Pulteney, who had purchased a large amount of land in the Genesee country in western New York. For information about Williamson’s activities, see Robert Troup to H, March 31, May 11, 1795.

2The contents of this undated letter indicate that it was written after May 16, 1796, when Robert Morris had executed a mortgage to H, and before May 31, 1796, when that mortgage was perfected.

3This is a reference to a mortgage on one hundred thousand acres of Robert Morris’s property in the Genessee country. The mortgage was made out to H to secure a debt which Morris owed to John B. Church. For this debt and the mortgage, see the introductory note to Morris to H, June 7, 1795; Morris to H, April 27, May 17, 18, 31, 1796.

H wrote this letter to Williamson because he wished to determine the validity of the boundaries of the lands which Morris had mortgaged to him. One way to do this was to ascertain the boundaries of adjoining tracts. Through his connections with Pulteney and his associates, Williamson had a direct knowledge of the two tracts which H mentions in the course of this letter.

4For this tract, see H to Morris, March 18, 1795, note 29.

5For this tract and Morris’s mortgage to William S. Smith, see the introductory note to Morris to H, April 27, 1796.

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