Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James Watson, [May 1796]

To James Watson

[New York, May, 1796]

Dr Sir

The handsome general retainer you have offered me & the handsome manner in which the Offer is made claim my acknowlegement.1 But it will not consist with any rule of Action to avail myself of it. I have in other instances engaged for Individuals on these terms, to take as a retainer 100£ and afterwards to charge services performed at the established rates. Though it was my intention to avoid this in future, yet if you desire it, I will add you to the list. But it must except the priorities already incurred which are of William Constable Alexander Macombe LeRoy Bayard & McEvers Williamson of Genesee.2

Yrs with esteem & regard

A Hamilton

P.S To prove to you however that I am not unmindful of my own interest I send you the following account

To opinion concerning arbitration Bond Ds  5
To services in negotiating & settling your
 business with William Constable3
Cr 105
March 3  By Cash  50
Ballance due AH  55

The first 50 dollars I consider as a Retainer & for my opinion given at the time.4

James Watson Esqr.

ALS, from a typescript supplied by an anonymous donor.

2For the retainers paid to H by the individuals mentioned in this sentence, see H to Robert Troup, July 25, 1795, notes 24, 25, and 26.

4An entry in H’s Cash Book, 1795–1804, for June 10, 1796, reads: “Cash Dr. to James Watson

for this sum received of him for Retainer 250—
for this sum received of him for ballance of Account  55  

(AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

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