Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Jeremiah Olney, 15 September 1791

From Jeremiah Olney

Providence 15th September 1791.


On the Thirteenth instant Entered here, from Bordeaux, the Brigantine Betsey, John Arnold Master, the Property of Mr. Stephen Dexter of this Place: In her were imported Ten Kegs of Brandy, consigned to James Johnson of New-York; which, together with the Vessel, being forfeited by the 33 Section of the Excise Act,1 I have requested the District Attorney to proceed against them as the law directs; tho in justice to the Master, I declare that I have no suspicion of his having the least Intention to defraud the Revenue, and that I believe the forfeiture had been incurred through ignorance of the Law in both him and the Shipper.2

I have the Honor to be &c.

Jereh. Olney Collr.

Alexr. Hamilton Esqr.
Secy of the Treasury.

ADfS, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; copy, RG 56, Letters from the Collector at Providence, National Archives.

1Section 33 of “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” reads in part as follows: “And be it further enacted, That after the last day of June next, no spirituous liquors excepting gin or cordials in cases, jugs or bottles, shall be brought from any foreign port or place, in casks of less capacity than fifty gallons at the least, on pain of forfeiting of the said spirits, and of the ship or vessel in which they shall be brought” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 199–214 [March 3, 1791]). As a keg held no more than ten gallons, it was a clear violation of the law to import brandy in kegs.

2On October 15, 1791, under the terms of “An Act to provide for mitigating or remitting the forfeitures and penalties accruing under the revenue laws, in certain cases therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 122–23 [May 26, 1790]) H issued a warrant of remission to Dexter (DS, Columbia University Libraries).

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