Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to James M. Hughes, [12 July 1799]

To James M. Hughes1

[New York, July 12, 1799]

D Sir

Let me know whether you have received the money from Astor. Having informed Mr L2 that the affair was arranged, I am in momentary expectation of his drawing upon me which makes me anxious to have the business closed.

Yrs. truly


ALS, MS Division, New York Public Library.

1Hughes was one of the masters of the New York Court of Chancery.

This is a reference to the case of William Laight, John Jacob Astor, and Peter Smith, Appellants, against John Morgan, (who was impleaded with Jonathan Danforth, and thirty-three others,) Respondent. The suit concerned eighteen thousand acres in Albany County that George III had granted to Michael Byrn and seventeen others in 1768, and twenty-five thousand acres in the same county that the king granted two years later to Sir William Johnson and twenty-five others. In 1770 the patentees deeded their interests in both tracts to Johnson because he had paid all the expenses involved in securing the patents. The appellants had received their title to the two tracts from the executors of Johnson’s estate. During the American Revolution Johnson’s papers were damaged, and the defendants, who had settled on the tracts to which Johnson then held title, claimed title to part of the land (William Johnson, Reports of Cases Adjudged in the Supreme Court of Judicature of the State of New York, From January Term 1799, to January Term 1803, both inclusive: Together with Cases Determined in the Court for the Correction of Errors, During That Period [New York, 1846], 429–30). On December 18, 1797, the Court of Chancery dismissed the bill of complaint (MS Minutes, New York Court of Chancery, 1793–1797 [Hall of Records, New York City]). In February, 1799, the Court of Errors reversed the decision of the Chancery Court (Johnson, Reports, 429–35).

2Brockholst Livingston was one of the attorneys for the complainants.

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