Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Stephen Smith, 4 December 1789

To Stephen Smith

Treasury Department Decr. 4 1789


Your letter of the 30th of October1 came to hand a few days since. Your transmission of the money in your hands to Boston, was influenced by prudent considerations, and corresponds in its general object with my instructions of the 20th ultimo of which I enclose a Copy.2 Yet, without meaning to censure, what was evidently dictated by proper motives, it is necessary I should remark that every unauthorised disposition of the Public money ought to be avoided.

It is impossible for me to authorise, or for the officers of the Customs to allow, the indulgence concerning which you desire my opinion; it would be a direct contravention of the last section of the Collection law,3 with which there is no discretion to dispense. The inconveniencies which may attend a prohibition, are proper only for the consideration of the Legislature.

That part of your letter which relates to your Bond has been communicated to the Comptroller, who I presume will forward a form by this Post.

I am, Sir   Your obedt Servt

A Hamilton

Stephen Smith Esqr
Collector for Machias

Copy, RG 56, Letters to the Collectors at Gloucester, Machias, and Frenchman’s Bay, National Archives; copy, RG 56, Letters to Collectors at Small Ports, “Set G,” National Archives.

1Letter not found.

3“An Act to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 29–49 [July 31, 1789]).

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