Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Robert Morris, 31 December 1796

From Robert Morris

Philada. Decr. 31st. 1796

Dear Sir

You will find annexed hereto the Copy of a letter just received from Charles Bridgen1 Esqr. and enclosed my Answer,2 which after reading You will be kind enough to send to him. I suppose myself to be founded in saying that the suit contemplated, cannot be brought against me, otherwise no Man whose Name is on another Mans paper, can be safe, At any rate I request your Aid as a professional Man and will Chearfully pay such Compensation as you shall say is right for the Service you render me or the trouble this Application may Occasion you. I have no property in the State of New York that Mr Bridgen can come at even if his Suit could be Maintained, therefore He had better seek for payment in the regular Course against the drawer of the Bill.

I am Dr Sir   Your Obedt Servant

Robt. Morris

Alexr Hamilton Esqr

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LC, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.

1Bridgen was a New York City attorney.

On December 31, 1796, Bridgen wrote from New York to Morris: “Messrs. [William] Talbot & [William] Allum of this City Merchts. have applied to me to proceed against your property in this State under our Act for relief against absconding and absent Debtors. They hold a bill endorsed by you and of which I shall have a copy made on the other side hereof …” (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress). Bridgen is referring to “An Act for Relief against absconding and absent Debtors” (New York Laws, 9th Sess., Ch. XXIV [April 4, 1786]). The bill, which is dated February 4, 1796, reads: “At sixty days sight pay this second of exchange first not paid, to the order of Robert Morris Esqr. Nine hundred & seventy two pounds eight Shillings Stg value received, which place to the acct. of … Jno. Nicholson.” The bill is endorsed by Morris, and at the bottom is written: “To John Henry Cazenove nephew &c. Merchants in London.” Beneath that is written: “Pay to the order of Mr. Gilbt. Karney,” and this notation is signed by Ralph Mather, a New York City merchant (copy, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress).

2Morris’s letter to Bridgen, which is dated December 31, 1796, reads: “… I apprehend that no such suit … can lie against me. I am not an inhabitant of the State of New york, but of the City of Philada. I am here on the Spot … & consequently I cannot be called an absconding or absent Debtor. The Bill … is to be paid by the Drawer, and altho I am liable as endorser, yet I do not Consider it as my debt, nor shall I think of paying it as long as I can possibly avoid it for I think Application Should in the first instance be made to the Drawer” (ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LC, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress).

See also H’s Law Register, 1795–1804 (D, partially in H’s handwriting, New York Law Institute, New York City).

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