Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Otho H. Williams, 29 October 1792

To Otho H. Williams

Treasury Department
October 29th 1792.


I herewith transmit you the copy of a letter written by the Collector of Salem to the Attorney for the District of Massachusetts respecting certain Persons, who, it is stated, have left that State and gone to Baltimore, being indebted to the United States for duties bonded, without leaving sufficient property to secure the debt.1

I have to request that you will take such measures as you shall be legally advised to pursue, for securing the United States concerning the bonds in question. In doing this I must call your attention to the 44th or strictly the 45th Section of the Collection law, which, in certain cases, gives a priority to the United States.2

With great consideration,   I am, Sir, your Obedt Servt.

Alexander Hamilton

Otho H Williams Esqr

LS, Columbia University Libraries.

1Joseph Hiller’s letter to Christopher Gore is dated October 17, 1792, and refers to two bonds payable in January and June, 1793. In this letter Hiller pointed out that creditors were about to secure their debts by attaching the property of merchants who had left Massachusetts and gone to Baltimore. Hiller, therefore, asked Gore to take action in this matter before the bonds fell due so that the property would not be sold to satisfy creditors other than the United States (copy, Columbia University Libraries).

2Section 45 of “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” reads as follows: “And be it further enacted, That where any bond for the payment of duties shall not be satisfied on the day it became due, the collector shall forthwith cause a prosecution to be commenced for the recovery of the money thereon, by action or suit at law, in the proper court having cognizance thereof; and in all cases of insolvency, or where any estate in the hands of executors or administrators shall be insufficient to pay all the debts due from the deceased, the debt due to the United States, on any such bond, shall be first satisfied” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 169 [August 4, 1790]).

For the confusion in numbering the sections of this act, see “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” August 6, 1792.

Index Entries