John Jay Papers

Journal of the Proceedings of the New York Agents for Negotiating the New York–Massachusetts Lands Dispute, 4–9 December 1784

Journal of the Proceedings of the New York Agents for Negotiating the New York-Massachusetts Lands Dispute

[Trenton, New Jersey, 4–9 December 1784]

Journal of Proceedings in Execution of the Law appointing James Duane John Jay Robt. R. Livingston Egbert Benson and Walter Livingston to be Agents for vindicating the State of New York against the claims of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

1784 Saturday 4th. December, Congress having assigned the 6th. Instant for the appearance of the Agents from the States of New York and Massachusetts on the Controversy respecting their Boundary at Trenton— The Chancellor Mr. Walter Livingston & myself set out this Day for Trenton Mr. Walter Livingston & myself agreably to the Act, authorized the Treasurer to advance us 100 Guineas on Account and each of us gave him a receipt for 50 guineas seperately—


Reached Trenton where we joined Mr. Jay & Mr. Benson our Colleagues


Were visited by Mr. Geary, Mr. Lovel, Mr. Sullivan, Mr. King— Dr. Holton & Mr. Pa[r]tridge the Delegates and Agents for Massachusetts; and returned their Visit invited them to dine with us the 8th. to open the business in an amicable conference: they returned the compliment for the 9th.

Decemr. 8th.

Met the Massachusetts Agents at dinner and agreed each to name 13 persons, out of which to chuse Judges for constituting the federal court.


Dined with the Agents for Massachusetts and exchanged lists of gentlemen proposed for consideration to constitute the Court— The list proposed by New York— Judge Smith— Beaty— Patterson— Read— Van Dyke— Johnson— Harison— Wythe— Monroe— Grayson— Hooper— Nash— Rutledge— Gibbeys [Gibbons]— Houstoun—1

List proposed by Massachusetts: John Rutledge ^Henry Laurens^ South Carolina George Wythe. Col. Grayson, Theo: Bland Jno. Blair Arthur Lee of Virginia— R. H. Harrison Maryland, Henry Merchant, William Bradford, Governor Bowen, R. Island, John Langdon & Josiah Bartlett of New Hampe

The Agents taking into consideration that Mr. Wilson who was Council for Pennsylvania against the Claim of Connecticut was possessed of information which might be highly useful in our contest with the Massachusetts, unanimously agreed that it would be our Duty to avail ourselves of that information and to retain Mr. Willson as council on the part of our State and Mr. Duane was directed to present Mr. Wilson with 20 Guineas as a council fee on behalf of our State accordingly—2

Tr, in the hand of Walter Livingston, NHi: Robert R. Livingston (EJ: 11816), but obviously originally the work of James Duane, who refers to “Mr. Walter Livingston and myself” in the second paragraph, when discussing activities of Duane and Livingston. LDC description begins Paul H. Smith et al., eds., Letters of Delegates to the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (26 vols.; Washington, D.C., 1976–98) description ends , 22: 46–49.

1This list appears on a separate page in list format with check marks apparently indicating the votes of the New York agents on the 13 to be nominated by New York. Those eliminated were John Beatty of New Jersey, Arthur Middleton of South Carolina, and William Gibbons of Georgia. Selected were Isaac Smith and William Paterson of New Jersey, George Read and Nicholas Van Dyke of Delaware, Thomas Johnson and Robert Hanson Harrison of Maryland, George Wythe, James Monroe, and William Grayson of Virginia, William Hooper and Abner Nash of North Carolina, John Rutledge of South Carolina, and William Houston of Georgia.

2James Wilson apparently only looked over his brief for the Connecticut-Pennsylvania boundary dispute and noted down “such Hints as he thought necessary. His arguments against Connecticut’s “sea to sea” land claims would be relevant to the New York-Massachusetts case. Hamilton Law Practice description begins Julius Goebel Jr. and Joseph H. Smith, eds., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton (5 vols.; New York, 1964–81) description ends , 1: 570. For continuation of the proceedings of the agents, see James Duane’s journal for 10 and 11 Dec., below.

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