Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 15 March 1791

From William Ellery

Custom House
Newport [Rhode Island] March 15 1791


This will be accompanied by a weekly return of Cash, and by a Certificate of Registry No. 5 dated Jany. 22. 1790, granted by the Collector of Dighton,1 and delivered up on account of the transfer of property, and also the copy of an Endorsment of an Enrollment of the change of Master said Enrollment being No. 11 and issued from this office.

Yesterday arrived here a Schooner named the Charming Sally James Reed Master from St. John New Brunswick, and reported One hundred & twenty nine smoaked Salmon and one Box of books; and that she was destined for New York. Upon examining her Register it appeared that She was British Plantation built, her length forty three [feet] and seven Inches, her breadth Twelve feet and nine Inches, and her Height between decks & ceiling in the hold Five feet & Six Inches, and that She admeasured Thirty tons. A suspicion arising I desired the Surveyor2 to admeasure her, and by his Certificate of her admeasurement she is Twenty six Tons and 54/95. Whereupon I seized both vessel & cargo for a breach of the 70th. Sect. p. 40 of the last Collection Law3 and have applied to the attorney of this District4 to libel them accordingly. The Libel will be prosecuted at the next District Court; which will sit in Providence on the first monday in May next unless you should think proper to countermand it. If a foreign built vessel should be condemned would the purchaser, being a citizen of the United States, be entitled to a register, enrollment or license of such vessel?5

I have the honor to be   Sir   Yr. most obedt. servt:

W Ellery Collr

A Hamilton Esqre
Secry of the Treasy

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Hodijah Baylies.

2Daniel Lyman.

3Section 70 of “An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels” provided that “no goods, wares or merchandise of foreign growth or manufacture, subject to the payment of duties, shall be brought into the United States from any foreign port or place in any other manner than by sea, nor in any ship or vessel of less than thirty tons burthen” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 177 [August 4, 1790]).

4William Channing.

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

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