From Tench Coxe
Revenue Office, January 3d. 1793.
I have the honor to inclose to you an authenticated copy of an Act of the legislature of New York1 received this day from Mr. Lawrence,2 one of the Representatives in Congress from that State. I have to observe on this Act that the reservation of Jurisdiction contained in the proviso appears to be inconsistent with the intention of the last clause but one of the 8th. Section of the 1st. Article of the Constitution of the United States,3 and with the Act of Congress entitled an Act to erect a Light House on Montok point &c. passed the 12th. day of April last.4
I have the honor to be with great Respect, Sir, your most Obt. Servt.
Commissr. of the Revenue.
The Secretary of the Treasury.
LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives.
1. On December 18, 1792, the New York legislature passed “An Act to cede the jurisdiction of certain lands on Montaack Point, to the United States of America, for the purposes therein mentioned.” The cession of land to the United States contained the following limitation: “Provided nevertheless, that such jurisdiction so ceded … shall not extend, or be construed to extend, so as to impede or prevent the execution of any process at law, under the authority of this State, except so far forth, and such process may affect any the real or personal property of the United States within the said tract …” (Laws of the State of New York, III description begins Laws of the State of New York Passed at the Sessions of the Legislature Held in the Years 1789, 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794, 1795 and 1796, inclusive, Being the Twelfth, Thirteenth, Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth and Nineteenth Sessions (Albany, 1887), III. description ends , 385).
2. John Laurance, a New York City lawyer, had served in the Continental Congress and the New York Senate from 1785 to 1787 and was a member of the New York Senate in 1789. He was elected to Congress in the same year.
3. This section of the Constitution authorized Congress “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful buildings.”
4. This act reads as follows: “Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That as soon as the jurisdiction of such land on Montok Point in the state of New York as the President of the United States shall deem sufficient and most proper for the convenience and accommodation of a lighthouse shall have been ceded to the United States it shall be the duty of the secretary of the treasury, to provide by contract which shall be approved by the President of the United States, for building a lighthouse thereon, and for furnishing the same with all necessary supplies, and also to agree for the salaries or wages of the person or persons who may be appointed by the President for the superintendence and care of the same; and the President is hereby authorized to make the said appointments. That the number and disposition of the lights in the said lighthouse shall be such as may tend to distinguish it from others, and as far as is practicable, prevent mistakes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 251).