Seth Kaller, Inc.

Inspired by History

Other Early Republic (1784 - c.1830) Offerings

More...


Other Alexander Hamilton Offerings

More...

Answering Hamilton’s Question on Naturalization and Immigrant Rights in Maryland
Click to enlarge:
Select an image:

“I have carefully reexamined the laws of Maryland, since the receipt of your favor of the 15th inst. & cannot find that a single Justice of the Peace, ever had authority since the revolution, to naturalize & grant a certificate of it.”A

WILLIAM TILGHMAN. Autograph Letter Signed, to Alexander Hamilton, March 19, 1797, 2 pp.

Inventory #24645.12       Price: $2,500

Hamilton represented the defendants in the insurance cases of Daniel Ludlow and Gulian Ludlow v. John B. Coles and Daniel Ludlow and Gulian Ludlow v. Archibald Gracie in the New York Supreme Court. The cases concerned policies on the vessel and cargo of the schooner Theresa. During the prelude to America’s “Quasi-War,” a French privateer seized the Theresa in the spring of 1795 and took it to St. Martin, where French authorities condemned it, ruling that the owners, Baltimore merchants John Royer Champayne and John Deyme Jr., were French émigrés.

To prepare for his defense, Hamilton wrote to William Tilghman (1756-1827), who had practiced law in Maryland before moving to Philadelphia in 1793. In April 1797, the New York Supreme Court ruled for the defendants and ordered the plaintiffs to pay court costs.[1] On appeal of the condemnation by French authorities to the Tribunal of Commerce at Basse-Terre in March 1801, that court reversed the decision and ordered full restitution to the owners.[2]

Excerpts

both these supplementary laws contain a proviso, ‘that the said foreigners before they shall receive any benefit from the said Acts, shall naturalize themselves in the mode prescribed by the original Act, by a certain day.’[3]

            “From all these circumstances, corroborating my general recollection of the law of Maryland, I am as confident as one ever will be of a negative, that a single Justice of the Peace never had authority to naturalize in that State.

            “I beg you will not apologize for any questions you may find it serviceable to ask me. Instead of trouble I shall consider them as pleasure.

[File Note in Hamilton’s hand:] William Tilghman

*This item is also being offered in part II of The Alexander Hamilton Collection


[1] Julius Goebel and Joseph H. Smith et al., eds., The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton: Documents and Commentary, 5 vols. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1964-1981), 5:499.

[2] The Law Practice of Alexander Hamilton, 2:770; Greg H. Williams, The French Assault on American Shipping, 1793-1813: A History and Comprehensive Record of Merchant Marine Losses (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2009), 338.

[3] “An Act for naturalization,” July 1779 (chap. 6), Laws of Maryland, 3 vols. (Baltimore: Philip H. Nicklin & Co., 1811), 1:362-64; “An Act for the relief of certain foreigners who have settled within this state, and for other purposes, supplemental to the act for naturalization,” November 1789 (chap. 24), Laws of Maryland, 2:93-95; “An act for the relief of certain foreigners who have settled within this state, further supplementary to the act for naturalization,” November 1792 (chap. 14), Laws of Maryland, 2:178-80; “An Act to extend to certain foreigners the benefit of an act passed November session, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, entitled, An act for the relief of certain foreigners who have settled within this state, further supplementary to the act for naturalization,” November 1793 (chap. 26), Laws of Maryland, 2:199-200.


Add to Cart Ask About This Item Add to Favorites