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    Aaron Burr defends a case with the assistance of Alexander Hamilton

    [Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton]. Aaron Burr Manuscript Document Signed. Two sides of a vellum sheet, 18" x 12.5"; May, 15, 1797. In a double-sided frame with an overall size of 19.75" x 14.25".

    "This Defendant farther saith at the time of the execution of the said Assignment herein before admitted to have been made by the said Samuel Falkenham and Co. to this Defendant no Account or bond or Bill was produced or examined or admitted by them the said Samuel Falkenham and Co. or together of them, but this defendant saith that his demand against the said Samuel Falkenham and Co. arose wholly from the account herein before referred to and that all the Articles composing the said Account were as much in the knowledge of the said Samuel Falkenham as that of the said Jacob Sperry and that no Article had thereof to the knowledge or belief of this Defendant been denied or contested by the said Samuel Falkenham or Samuel Falkenham & Co. that the Books of the said Jacob Sperry and Co. were in Philadelphia that the emergency did not on the opinion of this Defendant allow any delay that the Books of Samuel Falkenham and Co. were not brought up the Balance due from the said Samuel Falkenham and Co. to the said Jacob Sperry and Co. could not without much loss of Time be ascertained that this Defendant thereupon consulted the said Alexander Hamilton who informed him that as the Trust would be declared on the instrument of Assignment, it was not material what sum should be expressed as the consideration thereof provided it was sufficiently large to cover the real demand. And this Defendant doth deny that he met the said Lott Merkell and the other Defendants or either of them on the Twelfth day of December but he doth admit that he met the said Lott Merkell, Christian Bachr, Samuel Falkenham, Thomas Roberts, and Jacob J. Astor at the house of the said Astor on or about the Fifteenth of, in the evening of that day, December....And this Defendant doth deny all and all manner of Combination and Confederacy with the said other Defendants or with either of them, or with any other Person or Persons with intent to injure or defraud the said Complainants, or any other Person in the said Bill of Complaint is most untruly charged WITHOUT THAT, that any of matter or thing material or necessary for this Defendant to make answer unto and not herein or hereby fully answered, confessed or avoided, traversed or denied is true to the knowledge or belief of this Defendant and this Defendant prays to be hence dismissed with his Costs and Charges on this behalf most wrongly sustained."

    The document is signed and sworn by Aaron Burr, James Kent and Jacob Sperry at the conclusion.

    Aaron Burr (1756-1836) and Alexander Hamilton (1755-1804) are known for their bitter rivalry that culminated in a duel that resulted in Hamilton's death. At one time, however, the two men had a working relationship. In this document, written and signed by Aaron Burr in May of 1797, Hamilton is mentioned as a consultant to one of the defendants represented by Mr. Burr's law office. The dispute, surrounding a shipment of goods unloaded in the New York harbor in December of the previous year, involved the following parties: Jacob Astor, Jacob Sperry, Samuel Falkenham, Thomas Roberts, Lott Merkel, Christian Bachr and William Wilmerding. In laying out the case for his client, Burr quotes Hamilton's opinion regarding whether it was necessary that an exact sum of money be specified for the goods in question.

    During the time this document was signed by Burr, he had just finished his term as a United States Senator. He would serve in the New York State Assembly from 1798 through 1799. After serving as this country's first secretary of the treasury from 1789 to 1795, Hamilton returned to New York to practice law.

    James Kent (1763-1847) was a jurist and legal scholar in New York. At the time he signed this document he was also serving as Recorder of New York City, a post he held in 1797-1798.

    Jacob Sperry was the owner of Jacob Sperry & Company in Philadelphia, which sold such things as textiles, coffee mills, glassware, and Madeira wine.

    Samuel Falkenham & Company of New York was a mercantile firm that traded primarily in imported goods from Germany.

    The John J. Astor mentioned in the document is John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), a German-born American who moved to the United States in 1793 and became wealthy in the American fur trade.

    Condition: Light soiling and toning, with flattened folds; otherwise excellent.


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    18th Wednesday
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