Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 17 June 1793

From William Ellery

Colles Office [Newport, Rhode Island] June 17 1793


I acknowledge the receipt of your circular letter of the 30th of may last concerning the entry of vessels and their Cargoes captured and brought into our ports by the ships of war and privateers of France, and of five Sea letters in a blank wrapper freed by you. Permit me to ask whether vessels so captured and brought into our ports, and sold to citizens of the United States may be registered. By the 2nd & 4. Sec: of the Act concerning the Registering and Recording of Ships or Vessels it appears to me that such Vessels cannot be registered;1 but it may be made a question, and I wish to be prepared with an answer from you. If it should be your opinion that they may be registered I should be happy to know how the Certificates of Registry for Vessels so circumstanced are to be filled.2

With great consideration   I have the honour to be Sir yr. most obedt. servt.

Wm Ellery Colle

Alexr. Hamilton
Esqr. Secry of Treasy

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Section 2 of “An Act concerning the registering and recording of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 287–99 [December 31, 1792]) provided that only prizes which had been captured by citizens of the United States might be registered. Section 4 stipulated that in order to register a prize “an oath or affirmation shall be taken and subscribed by the owner … that she was, at some time posterior to the time when this act shall take effect,… captured in war by a citizen or citizens of the said states, and lawfully condemned as prize.”

2Ellery endorsed the letter book copy of this letter “Answered.” H’s reply has not been found.

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