James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Alexander Hamilton, 18 April 1784

From Alexander Hamilton

18 April [1784?]

I take the liberty to introduce him to you, as to one who will be disposed, as far as your situation will permit and the circumstances of the State may render practicable, to patronise any just or equitable claims which he may have upon the State. What those claims are he will himself explain to you,1 I have assured him that he will find in you a friend to justice and an able advocate for whatever ought and is possible to be done for him, …

Extract (Frederick B. McGuire Catalogue of “President Madison’s Correspondence” [Philadelphia, 26 Feb. 1917], item 52). The catalogue states that the letter consists of one page with an incomplete date, and was directed to JM.

1The excerpt in the catalogue is introduced with the explanation that it “Relates to claims against the state of Virginia by a Mr. Perrauli.” Obviously this was Canadian-born Joseph François Perrault (1753–1844), who in 1778 was an established western fur trader (Louise Phelps Kellogg, ed., Frontier Retreat on the Upper Ohio, 1779–1781 [Madison, Wis., 1917], p. 86 n. 3). Possibly it was JM who submitted Perrault’s petition, which was presented to the Virginia House of Delegates on 17 May, but this is not hinted in the journal. Perrault asked reimbursement for supplies and money furnished to Colonel John Todd for Virginia troops in the Illinois country in 1778–1779. Captured by the Shawnee Indians in 1779 while en route to Virginia to press his claims, Perrault asserted that he “had been robbed of his Vouchers,” treated with inhuman cruelty, marched to Detroit, and given over to the British (Cal. of Va. State Papers description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds., Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts (11 vols.; Richmond, 1875–93). description ends , III, 583). On 25 May the House of Delegates suspended consideration of Perrault’s petition and two days later referred it to Governor Harrison in Council. At the Council meeting on 5 June 1784, it was decided that Perrault’s claims “appear to be inadmissible” on the ground that “several of the Bills presented by him have been already carried to the Credit of Mr. Oliver Pollock, and that there is good reason to suppose that the rest of the Bills have been negociated at New Orleans, and are now in possession of some other claimant” (JHDV description begins Journal of the House of Delegates of the Commonwealth of Virginia; Begun and Held at the Capitol, in the City of Williamsburg. Beginning in 1780, the portion after the semicolon reads, Begun and Held in the Town of Richmond. In the County of Henrico. The journal for each session has its own title page and is individually paginated. The edition used is the one in which the journals for 1777–1786 are brought together in two volumes, with each journal published in Richmond in either 1827 or 1828 and often called the “Thomas W. White reprint.” description ends , May 1784, pp. 19, 23; JCSV description begins H. R. McIlwaine et al., eds., Journals of the Council of the State of Virginia (4 vols. to date; Richmond, 1931——). description ends , III, 352).

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