Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 7 March 1791

From William Ellery

Custom House
Newport [Rhode Island] March 7th 1791


Inclosed is a weekly return of Cash on hand, and also a Certificate of Registry No. 13 issued at the Port of Dighton by H Baylies1 Collector Mh. 27th 1790, and delivered up on account of transfer of property.

The Genl. Assembly of this State met at East Greenwich the last week. Previous to their meeting I requested two of the Deputies of this town to move for a cession of the right of the State to the Light-House and the Dwelling House adjoining;2 but a House was not formed until Thursday, and the Assembly rose on Saturday night, so that, it seems, there was no opportunity to bring this matter on the carpet. The Assembly will sit in course the first Wednesday in May next.

I have not as yet had an opportunity to sound Mr. Bowers3 who claims the land on which the Light House and Dwelling House stand. When I last wrote respecting this matter the Surveyor of this Port4 was about going to Swansey where Mr. Bowers lives, and through him I hoped to learn his sentiments; but he did not go. Since that time One of my Sons was at his House, but he was at Boston attending the General Court of which he is a member. I shall embrace the first opportunity for obtaining the information you desired.

In a Statement and remarks on my accounts I find monies I have furnished for the Light-House are carried to my account as Superintendantof Light House. I wish to know in what relation I stand to the Light-House.5

I am, Sir,   Yr. most obedt servant

W Ellery Collector

A Hamilton Esqr
Secry &c.

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Hodijah Baylies had been appointed collector of customs at Dighton, Massachusetts, in 1789.

2“An Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers” provided for the payment of the expenses of lighthouses by the Treasury Department with the provision, however, that “none of the said expenses shall continue to be so defrayed by the United States, after the expiration of one year from the day aforesaid, unless such lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers, shall … be ceded to and vested in the United States, by the state or states respectively in which the same may be, together with the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, and together with the jurisdiction of the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 53–54 [August 7, 1789]).

3Jerathmeel Bowers.

4Daniel Lyman.

5The letter book copy of this letter is endorsed by Ellery “Answered.” H’s reply has not been found.

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