Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Jeremiah Olney, 14 August 1792

From Jeremiah Olney

Providence 14th August 1792.


The seventh Section of the Act, passed the last Session of Congress, “concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States,”1 allows “an abatement for leakage at the rate of Two per Cent, in every case in which the duty shall be payable by the gallon of the spirits distilled:” this abatement, it appears to me, was intended to be made, on securing the Duties at the end of the quarter, from the whole quantity distilled during the preceding Three Months: The Supervisor of Rhode-Island District2 differs from me in Opinion, and thinks that no abatement ought to be allowed except in cases of actual loss by leakage, to be ascertained at the expiration of the quarter.3 As it is necessary that the practice upon this part of the Law, of the Collectors of the Revenue in securing the Duties, and of myself on exportation of the Spirits, should be the same, so that the Drawbacks shall be equal to the Duties secured, I ask, Sir, the favor of your Opinion on the Matter.

The form of the Account annexted to the Inspector of the Revenue’s4 Certificate of domestic Spirits, laden under his inspection for exportation, (transmitted before the said Act passed) not contemplating the deduction of the Two per Cent, I presume a variation will be necessary, should that abatement be allowed to the Distillers?

I also wish for your directions what steps are to be taken in cases where the quantities or proof of foreign or domestic Spirits, noticed for exportation, disagree with the Certificates given to accompany each Cask?

I have the honor to be &c.

Jereh. Olney Collr.

Alexr. Hamilton Esqr.
Secy. of the Treasury.

ADfS, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence.

11 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71 (May 8, 1792).

2John S. Dexter.

3Olney is referring to Section 17 of “An Act repealing, after the last day of June next, the duties hereto-fore 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,” which reads as follows: “That the said duties on spirits distilled within the United States, shall be paid or secured previous to the removal thereof from the distilleries at which they are respectively made. And it shall be at the option of the proprietor or proprietors of each distillery, or of his, her or their agent having the superintendence thereof, either to pay the said duties previous to such removal, with an abatement at the rate of two cents for every ten gallons, or to secure the payment of the same, by giving bond quarter-yearly, with one or more sureties, to the satisfaction of the chief officer of inspection within whose survey such distillery shall be, and in such sum as the said officer shall direct, with condition for the payment of the duties upon all such of the said spirits as shall be removed from such distillery within three months next ensuing the date of the bond, at the expiration of nine months from the said date” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 203 [March 3, 1791]).

4William Barton, Junior.

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