From Tench Coxe
Revenue Office, January 19th. 1793
In examining a report concerning the commencement, progress and present state of the establishments in Massachusetts for the direction and safety of navigation made to this office by the Superintendent thereof,1 in pursuance of a late circular instruction,2 I perceive a proviso in the copy of the Act of cession,3 which appears to render the same of no effect, under the Act of Congress of the 7th. of August 1789, “for the establishment, and support of light houses, Beacons, Buoys and public piers”4 and which also appears to be inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States.5
The proviso of the Act of the legislature of Massachusetts is in the words following—
“Provided also that all civil and criminal process issued under the authority of this commonwealth or any officers thereof may be executed on any of said Lands or in any of said buildings, in the same way and manner as if the Jurisdiction had not been ceded as aforesaid.”
I have the honor to make you this communication for the purpose of obtaining the Attorney generals opinions—
2dly Whether the said Cession is made in such manner as to be availing and of effect under the Act of Congress of the 7th day of August 1789, refered to above.6
I have the honor to be with great respect Sir, your most Obt. Servant
Commissr. of the Revenue.
The Secretary of the Treasury.
LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives.
1. Benjamin Lincoln.
2. Coxe to the Superintendents of Lighthouses, October 23, 1792 (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).
3. “An Act for Granting to the United States of America the Several Public Light-Houses Within This Commonwealth” (Acts and Laws of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, 1790–1791 [Boston, 1795], 7–9). This act was passed on June 10, 1790.
4. Section 1 of this act stipulated that the expenses arising after August 15, 1789, for the “maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers erected, placed, or sunk before the passing of this act, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet, harbor, or port of the United States, for rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe, shall be defrayed out of the treasury of the United States: Provided nevertheless, That none of the said expenses shall continue to be so defrayed by the United States, after the expiration of one year from the day aforesaid, unless such lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers, shall in the mean time be ceded to and vested in the United States, by the state or states respectively in which the same may be, together with the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, and together with the jurisdiction of the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 54).