Hamiltons versus Eaton: A Case Respecting British Debts, Lately Determined in the Circuit Court of the United States, for North-Carolina District, Presided by C.J. Ellsworth

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By Francois-Xavier Martin

Hamiltons versus Eaton
George Wythe bookplate.jpg
Title not held by The Wolf Law Library
at the College of William & Mary.
Author Francois-Xavier Martin
Published Newbern:
Date 1797
Volumes volume set

Hamiltons versus Eaton: a case respecting British debts, lately determined in the Circuit court of the United States, for North-Carolina district, presided by C.J. Ellsworth is a report of the case of Hamiltons v. Eaton, decided in 1793 by the Federal Circuit Court for the Southern States, by Hon. C.J. Ellsworth, district judge for the district of North Carolina.[1]

The defendant, John Eaton, in an action for 800 pounds, claimed that the plaintiffs, Archibald and John Hamilton, "ought not to have or maintain their said action against him," basing his defense on the law passed by North Carolina on Nov. 22, 1776, confiscating all property of those absent from the state during the American Revolution.[2] The law was aimed at punishing all Tories, those that had been loyal to King George III during the American Revolution.[3] Eaton claimed that both of the Hamiltons were absent during this period, and that they refused to take allegiance to the United States.[4] The plaintiff's case is based on the Second Treaty of Paris,[5] entered into between Great Britain and the United States, which is reviewed at length. Judgment was rendered to the plaintiffs for 800 pounds.[6]

Evidence for Inclusion in Wythe's Library

While this title was not listed in Jefferson's Inventory of Wythe's library, Thomas Jefferson did own Wythe's copy which he sold to the Library of Congress in 1815. The copy in question bears the inscription "Rt. Honb. G. Wythe" on the title page and includes manuscript notes in Wythe's handwriting.[7] Both the Brown Bibliography[8] and George Wythe's Library[9] on LibraryThing include this title.

The Wolf Law Library has thus far been unable to purchase a copy of Hamiltons versus Eaton.

See also


  1. American Art Association, Illustrated Catalogue of Nuggets of American History, Sixteenth to Nineteenth Century: Books, Broadsides, Maps, Views and Manuscripts (New York: Lent, 1917).
  2. Ibid.
  3. "Punishing the Tories," online suppl. to Thomas B. Allen, Tories: Fighting for the King in America's First Civil War (New York: Harper, 2010).
  4. American Art Association, Illustrated Catalogue of Nuggets of American History.
  5. Definitive Treaty of Peace: Between the United States of America and His Britannic Majesty, U.S.-U.K., Sept. 3, 1783, 8 Stat. 80.
  6. American Art Association, Illustrated Catalogue of Nuggets of American History.
  7. E. Millicent Sowerby, Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson (Washington, D.C.: The Library of Congress, 1952-1959), 2:389 [no. 2167].
  8. Bennie Brown, "The Library of George Wythe of Williamsburg and Richmond," (unpublished manuscript, May, 2012) Microsoft Word file. Earlier edition available at: https://digitalarchive.wm.edu/handle/10288/13433
  9. LibraryThing, s.v. "Member: George Wythe," accessed on June 16, 2023.

External links