From William Ellery
Collector’s Office [Newport, Rhode Island]
Augt. 26th 1791
Agreeably to my expectation the Sloop Betsy1 is condemned, and is to be sold on the 14th. day of the next month. I should be happy to receive your direction with respect to the conduct of the Officers of the Customs as to the sale of said Sloop, prior to the day of sale; and it would add to my happiness if at the same time you would give me your opinion how the monies arising from the sale should be distributed among the Offrs. of the Customs. The forfeiture of the Betsy was for a breach of the old Collection Law2 made at a time when the Surveyor for North Kingstown3 had not received his Commission; nor I believe any other Surveyor for this District excepting the Surveyor for this Port;4 and there is a difference between the old and new Collection Law5 with regard to the manner of distribution. By the old Law the United States are to receive one moiety, and the other moiety is to be divided into three equal parts, and paid to the Collector Naval Offr. and Surveyor of the District wherein the same shall have been incurred &c.6 By the new Law the moiety which falls to the Offrs. is to be divided into equal parts, and paid to the Collector and Naval Offe. of the District, and Surveyor of the Port, wherein the same shall have been incurred, or to such of the sd. Offrs. as there may be in the said District.7 Has any Offr. a right to a share of the moiety to be distributed in the present case, beside the Collr. & Naval Offr., and if any what Surveyor?
I am Sir Yr. most obedt. servant
W Ellery Collr
A: Hamilton Secry of Treasy
LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.
2. “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]).
3. Daniel Eldridge Updike.
4. Daniel Lyman.
5. “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” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 145–78 [August 4, 1790]).