From Edmund Randolph1
Philadelphia Jany. 7. 1793.
When I first read your letter, inclosing the cession of Montok-point,2 I suspected, that it would be necessary to travel into a wide constitutional field. I was apprehensive, that I should be obliged to inquire, whether congress, even if they were so disposed, could accept a cession, with a reservation of state-jurisdiction. But when I adverted to the act, which directs a light-house to be built on Montok-point, it became obvious, that congress did not mean to accept this cession, with a mutilated jurisdiction. The words are: “As soon as the jurisdiction shall have been ceded:” that is, as soon as New-York shall have relinquished her jurisdiction. It is manifest, that this has not been done; and therefore the act of New-York is not commensurate with the act of congress.3
I have the honor, sir, to be with great respect Yr. mo. ob. serv.
The Secretary of the Treasury.
ALS, RG 26, Lighthouse Letters Received, Vol. “C,” Connecticut and New York, National Archives.
2. Letter not found.
3. H transmitted this opinion to Coxe. In a letter dated January 11, 1793, Coxe sent Randolph’s opinion to John Laurance, Representative from New York, and concluded: “Under these circumstances it is the opinion of the Secretary of the Treasury, that the copy act of the legislature of the State of New York, should be returned to you from whom it was received with a statement of what has occured upon the subject” (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).