From John Berrien1
Savannah, June 1, 1791. “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of my appointment as Inspector of the Revenue for the port of Savannah.… I take the liberty to inform you, that the excise2 is by no means a popular measure in this Country—people urge a variety of arguments against it—and it will require propriety & stability in the execution of the several Offices, to carry the Law into effect. Our Supervisor, Mr. Matthews3 is a gentleman whom I never saw. I presume he is not acquainted with the nature of the business to wh: he is appointed. From its being intirely new to him & as he resides in the upper Country, One hundred & Seventy or Eighty miles from this City (and in this District I imagin nine tenths of the business of the whole State will be transacted) I shall not have an opportunity of geting his advice or support when occasions may require. I shall therefore Sir, if you will permit me, take the Liberty of asking your direction & advice very frequently, wh. I trust you will excuse, when you view my responsibility to the public, & to the individual.… I perceive, that my Commission expresses, that I am appointed for the port of Savannah. I presume the district is intended to be included, Yet as there are several ports in the district an explanation will be necessary.… I further beg leave to inform you, that in the use & trial of Dycas’s & Colles’s hydrometers, they appear to exceed the true proof of Spirituous liquors.…”
ALS, RG 58, General Records, 1791–1803, National Archives.
1. Having held a post in the Georgia customs service, Berrien applied in 1789 for the position of collector of customs at Savannah. Although he was not named collector, he was appointed surveyor of the port of Savannah in August, 1789.
2. “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties heretofore laid upon Distilled Spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead; and also upon Spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 199–214 [March 3, 1791]).
3. John Mathews.