HAMILTON, Alexander (1757-1804). Autograph letter signed (''A. Hamilton''), to Col. Richard Varick, 23 July 1784. 1 page, bifolium, small seal hole.
HAMILTON, Alexander (1757-1804). Autograph letter signed ("A. Hamilton"), to Col. Richard Varick, 23 July 1784. 1 page, bifolium, small seal hole.
AMIDST BRUTAL REPRISALS AGAINST FORMER BRITISH COLLABORATORS, HAMILTON'S LEGAL PRACTICE THRIVES FROM DEFENDING TORIES. This fine letter to Richard Varick gives a sense of just how busy he'd become. "Laurence & myself who have been retained by Mr. Richard Smith are leaving town. As he will probably have occasion for law assistance in our absence I have recommended him to you. I beg your particular attention to his affairs when he applies to you." At precisely this time (June-July 1784) Hamilton was involved in the case that would make his reputation in New York politics: Rutgers v. Waddington. The plaintiff sued under the Trespass Act, a law passed by the New York legislature in 1783 that permitted property owners who had fled the city during the British occupation to sue anyone who had occupied, damaged or destroyed their property during the conflict. Hamilton represented the Tory Waddington against a patriotic widow, Elizabeth Rutgers, whose brewery Waddington had operated during the occupation. Hamilton was vilified in the local press for defending a Tory, but when he won a verdict that vastly reduced the amount of damages Waddington had to pay Mrs. Rutghers, other similarly situated Tories came banging down his door seeking his representation. There was so much work to go around that other city lawyers took advantage. John Laurence, mentioned in this letter as Hamilton's co-counsel on behalf of Mr. Richard Smith, was his opponent in the Rutgers case. Such frequent swapping of adversarial and collegial relationships was quite common in the small but active bar in the early republic. A fine Hamilton legal letter.