To Thomas Jefferson
Decr 26 1792
I beg leave to suggest, that it would be useful for the Consuls of the United States, every where to be possessed of the Laws of the U States respecting Commerce & Navigation—giving it as a standing instruction, to make known in the best manner possible, in the parts where they reside those regulations, which are necessary to be complied with abroad by Merchants, & the Owners & Masters of Ships.
Prohibitions and penalties in some cases exist as in the 10th & 13th Sections of the Act concerning the duties on spirits distilled within the united States:1 an ignorance of which is experienced to be a source of embarrassment & in some instances of expence & vexation to foreign Merchants and Navigators.
It would also be of use in the operations of the Treasury if our Consuls in France were directed to transmit, by every opportunity the state of exchange between their respective places of residence and London & Amsterdam and the current difference between specie & assignats: this has reference particularly to the execution of the 17th Section of the Act entitled “an Act for raising a further Sum of money for the protection of the frontiers.”2
I have the honour to be very respectfully sir your Obed Servt
The Secretary of State
LS, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.
1. Section 10 of this act reads as follows: “That from and after the last day of April, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, no distilled spirits except arrack and sweet cordials, shall be brought into the United States from any foreign port or place, except in casks or vessels of the capacity of ninety gallons and upwards” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 270 [May 8, 1792]). Section 13 provided that “if any distilled spirits, except arrack and sweet cordials, shall, after the last day of April next, be brought into the United States in casks or vessels of less capacity than ninety gallons, all such spirits, and the casks and vessels containing the same, shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 270).
2. Section 17 of this act reads as follows: “And be it further enacted, That so much of the act, intituled ‘An act to provide more effectually for the collection of duties imposed by law on goods, wares, and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels,’ as hath rated the livre tournois of France at eighteen and a half cents, be and the same is hereby repealed” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 262–63 [May 2, 1792]).