Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from David Howell, 31 August 1796

From David Howell1

Halifax [Nova Scotia] Aug. 31. 1796


Col. Barclay2 & myself after 7 or 8 days canvassing have agreed upon the Hon. Egbert Benson of N.Y.3 as 3d Comissr.

As he is your friend as well as ours let me request your influence with him to accept this appointment. We never shall agree on any other person. The alternative is not very ⟨promising⟩4 nor likely to prove satisfactory to either Country.

I hope your State will suspend their claim on Mr. Benson only for a few weeks this fall. The Cause Col. Barclay & myself have agreed Shall be tried in the City of N. York.

It is not likely that the Surveys can be compleated till late in this fall. The Agents must then have time to prepare—and the Commissioners & Agents cannot meet in the Winter conveniently so that the trial will probably be in N. York next Spring. This we have agreed to for Mr. Bensons convenience—so he will see how entirely he has our Confidence & may hope to give Satisfaction to both Countries.

We have sent a Vessel to bring him to attend merely in answering the Court & opening the business—to sit only a few days & adjourn.

As you delight in doing public Service I assure myself of your attention to the object of this Letter. I need only add that when I parted with you I requested you to consult Mr. Benson & to write me whether he would accept or not & that from your Silence I had some reason to hope he would accept.

With great esteem & respt Sir your very He Sert

David Howell

Hon. A. Hamilton.

ALS, Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.

1For background to this letter, see Timothy Pickering to H, March 22, July 16, 1796; H to Pickering, July 21, 1796.

2Thomas Barclay of Nova Scotia was the British representative on the St. Croix River boundary commission provided for under Article 5 of the Jay Treaty. For the text of Article 5 of the Jay Treaty, see “Remarks on the Treaty … between the United States and Great Britain,” July 9–11, 1795, note 12.

3When this letter was written, Benson was a justice of the New York Supreme Court. Although Benson had refused to serve as an American commissioner on the debt commission authorized by Article 6 of the Jay Treaty, he did serve on the St. Croix boundary commission. See Pickering to H, March 22, 1796, note 4.

4This word has been taken from Hamilton, Intimate Life description begins Allan McLane Hamilton, The Intimate Life of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1910). description ends , 269.

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