Conversation with George Hammond1
[Philadelphia, January 2–9, 1792]
I have received a letter from Lieutenant Governor Clarke,2 in which he intimates to me his apprehensions that much inconvenience might arise, if any attempt should be made to enforce an act of the last sessions of Congress for “giving effect to the laws of the United States within the State of Vermont.”3 By this act the residence of a Collector of the customs is established at Alburgh, within the district now occupied by his Majesty’s forces.
In compliance with Lieutenant Governor Clarke’s request, I have represented this matter to Mr Hamilton, who assured me that, at the time of fixing upon this particular place for the residence of the Collector of the customs, this government was ignorant of its being within the district then in possession of the King’s troops; but, as soon as the mistake had been explained, it had been determined to suspend the operation of that part of the act, to which I alluded.4
From this circumstance I took occasion to suggest to the Secretary of the Treasury that, since the important points, relative to the Treaty of Peace, were likely to come into discussion in the way of negociation, it was not expedient to incur the risque of the two Governments being committed either by measures of this nature or by the enterprizes of individuals. In the propriety of this sentiment Mr Hamilton perfectly concurred.
D, PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain desposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 14, Part I.
1. This conversation has been taken from Hammond to Lord Grenville, January 9, 1792, Dispatch No. 4.
2. Major General Alured Clarke was lieutenant governor of Lower Canada.
3. “An Act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the state of Vermont” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 197–98 [March 2, 1791]).
4. On May 2, 1792, Congress in Section 19 of “An Act for raising a farther sum of money for the protection of the frontiers, and for other purposes therein mentioned” settled this matter as follows:
“And be it further enacted, That the President of the United States be, and hereby is authorized to appoint such place within the district of Vermont to be the port of entry and delivery within the said district, as he may deem expedient, any thing in the act, intituled ‘An act giving effect to the laws of the United States within the state of Vermont,’ to the contrary notwithstanding.” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 263.)
On July 17, 1792, Dispatch No. 31, Hammond again wrote to Grenville on this subject:
“Having received information from Lieutenant Governor Clarke of some attempts that had been made by the government of Vermont to exercise legal jurisdiction within the territory of the Posts now occupied by his Majesty’s troops, and of consequent acts of violence which had been committed therein under the authority of that state, I lost no time in communicating to Mr Jefferson the circumstances that had occurred, in a letter, of which, and of his answer, I have the honor of inclosing copies.
“As I doubt not that a particular account of these transactions has been already transmitted to his Majesty’s Ministers, it is needless for me to repeat them to your Lordship. It is however proper to observe, in addition to the assurances contained in Mr Jefferson’s letter, that both Mr Hamilton and General Knox have expressed to me the most pointed, unequivocal disapprobation of the violent conduct of the state of Vermont, and their conviction that it is the duty and interest of the United States to use every effort to prevent a repetition of it. I could farther collect from my conversations with these Gentlemen—that the general government retains a considerable degree of resentment at the artifice which was practised upon it last year, by the State of Vermont, in pointing out the town of Alburgh as a proper port of entry for the United States within the district of Vermont—and that the present violence of that state is considered as a continuance of the same system of deception, which, having been baffled in the attempt before alluded to, is now employed to involve the United States in a more direct and hostile opposition to Great Britain. I learn from Mr Hamilton that the port of entry for the district of Vermont is at present fixed at the Southern extremity of Isle Hero in Lake Champlain, to the Southward of any of the posts now in the possession of his Majesty’s arms.” (PRO: F.O. description begins Transcripts or photostats from the Public Record Office of Great Britain desposited in the Library of Congress. description ends , Series 4, Vol. 16, Part I.)