Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Theophilus Parsons, 31 December 1801

To Theophilus Parsons1

New York, December 31, 1801. Sends depositions to Parsons, who is “of Counsel for the Underwriters in a case of Insurance in which my Brother in law Mr. Church2 is concerned.” Proposes that “these depositions … be used in evidence in any suit which may be instituted between him and your Clients.”3

ALS, Boston Public Library.

1Parsons, a Federalist lawyer from Newburyport, Massachusetts, had an extensive practice throughout New England and occasionally in New York. He was the principal author of the plan which John Adams adopted for the Massachusetts state constitution. In 1800 he moved from Newburyport to Boston.

2John B. Church.

3This letter concerns a marine insurance case, John B. Church Jr. v Tuthill Hubbart, which involves the seizure of the American brigantine Aurora by Portuguese warships off the coast of Brazil in June, 1801, for attempting to trade contrary to Portuguese laws. The underwriters, of which Hubbart was one, refused to pay Church on the ground that the insurance policy contained a clause excepting the insurers from liability “for seizure by the Portuguese for illicit trade.” The Circuit Court for the District of Massachusetts, Judge William Cushing presiding, found for the defendant. Church appealed the decision to the Supreme Court of the United States, where on March 5, 1804, the judgment of the lower court was reversed and the case was remanded to be tried again in the Circuit Court (2 Cranch description begins William Cranch, Reports of Cases Argued and Adjudged in the Supreme Court of the United States, in February Term, 1804, and February Term, 1805 (New York: I. Riley, Co., 1806). description ends , 187–239). See Goebel, Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel, Jr., ed., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary (New York and London, 1964–). description ends , forthcoming volumes.

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