My Dear Sir:
You will find from my letter by Mr. Tomkins that we were altogether unapprehensive of your danger, for though it rained the morning after you left this, the day cleared up long before noon, & had a good appearance. I most cordially congratulate you on your happy escape. Spaight was here the other day, and is to return to Congress about the 12th of next month; but I could not get any intelligence of moment for him. He seemed always confident of his own abilities, and I suppose he is now so elated with his present dignity, that he chooses to be courted to communicate the important matters with which he is intrusted.
Gillon's defeat by such a great majority is flattering to all lovers of good government. I hope soon to assist in routing the arch-fiend. General Greene is very solicitous to have authenticated the fact with which Tallon is charged, of attempting to carry off the money of Kelly (the lame man) at Hillsborough, with which he was intrusted. I shall write in a day or two for that purpose; and I do not fear getting ample testimonials; which I shall transmit without loss of time.
You astonish me by your account of the decisions in your court of pleas. As you say it is pointedly in favour of Rose, I must suppose the suits were brought upon settled accounts. But is it possible that the Judges, or any rational jury will give a plaintiff more than he himself has acknowledged to be due to him?
It is very difficult, if not impossible, for me to give you advice in such a case. I do not see how a judgement can be had against you, a single partner of a numerous company, long since dissolved, and their affairs settled. But from what I can find, the laws and courts of S. Carolina can do anything. If you are sued, I think you should plead the facts specially, that you were one of such a trading company, mentioning their names, & firm, that you and S. Campbell transacted the business, that at such a time, the company were dissolved, or expired, as the case was; that during its continuance youso much; which sum with other trifling balances due by the company (at the settlement by the partners) you retained in your hands as one of the responsible partners; and that each of the partners at that time withdrew from you his share in the joint stock & that you had not any of the co. property other than what is mentioned, but what was appropriated to the payment of other debts. You must however plead the settled account in bar in the first place. If you are sued; I suppose I shall be obliged to go in though I shall not probably be admitted to the bar; but I may be of service to you. I shall write your brother fully upon this subject. The first thing is to procure time to plead, in which I believe the rules of your courts are favorable. That a court of common law should be so long in determining a single point, which depends upon an act of assembly, and a single act of the parties concerned, is with me a strong presumptive proof that the Judges labored to wrest the act in favor of their own country; for with us, & some other states, they are all creditors.
I have looked into the act, or ordinance as it is called for settling a depreciation table; in the preamble it says that, “many contracts had been made between the citizens of the State whilst paper money was in circulation, which contracts are still unsettled.” Now a running acct. is no otherwise unsettled than that the balance is to be reduced to good money, and paid, and the contract was made at the time the account was settled & signed. These are positions which will admit of no dispute in a court of law; and though the ordinance is evidently calculated to serve the S. Carolina creditors, yet it never meant (if we can judge from the words of it) to go further back than the acknowledgement of the defendant, nor to give the plaintiff more than he acknowledged was due to him. Pray how does your friend Burke act in disputes of this kind?
After writing part of a letter to Mr. Eveleigh, with which I intended to send Mrs. Gordon's papers to you, with an offer to deliver them up to him, upon his giving an acknowledgement that he would be accountable to her, after deducting the value of the bond, to be ascertained by its date; I recollected that I should give him a palpable advantage. As administrator of Gordon in that State, heunder certain conditions, yet it is not improbable but he would have recovered them. At all events, he would have pestered you. I have therefore inclosed a letter from him, & if he agrees, in a letter to me, that he will take the papers upon the only terms on which they can be sent, he shall have them, If therefore he has paid, or should offer to pay you, any money for me, in the first case you must return it, & in the latter refuse it. Let him sue here, and try how he will get his money; at least such a sum as he demands.
Yesterday I discovered by accident (very safely locked up where I never should have looked for them) G. & T. Hooper's daybook from Dec., 1773, to Augt., 1776: and your office account book, where I see Mr. McGwire's acct. is balanced; and I do not perceive his name in the new ledger which you left with me. I send these books, & if either of them should be of service here, it can be returned.
The grate or stove, fits the hall chimney pretty well, though rather wide for the back part. The two others must not exceed 22 inches in width, if any such are to be found; at any rate not above two feet. They come much higher than I expected, but I cannot help myself.
My congratulatory compliments to Mr. Alexander upon his recovery and to Archy upon the safe arrival of his cocks.
I have concluded to send my letter to Eveleigh by Withers. It will perhaps be better that nothing should go through your hands, unless we can agree better than I expect.
A single additional grate will do. Mrs. M. it seems dislikes the smell of coal.
Old Rutherford is out of the assembly, & Sharpe in his plaee.