Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Washington, 22 June 1793

To George Washington

Treasuy. Departmt. 22d. June 1793


I have the honor to submit to the consideration of the President [a recommendation] of the 4 inst. from the Commissioner of the Revenue1 on the subject of compensations to Keepers of Light houses, being the result of an enquiry some time since instituted.2

When this business was first organized, the only guide which presented itself was the previous arrangements of the respective States. It is found upon examination that these arrangements were made without much principle or system & that an alteration will conduce not only to œconomy, but to more equal justice.

The subject does not indeed admit of a very precise rule. Something after all must be a kind of arbitration of circumstances; but the present extremes may be corrected and a progress made towards a more equitable apportionment.

Upon a conference with the Commissioner of the Revenue, the following rates of compensations have been adjusted in the cases which appeared to require revision, to be submitted to the consideration & decision of the President, vizt.—

1st. for the Keeper of the Lighthouse, Thatcher’s Island

per annum— Dolls. 266.⅔
2. Do. Boston bay. 266.⅔
3. Do. Plymouth. 200.
4. Do. Portland head 160.
5. Do. Conanicut. 160.
6. Do New London 120.
7. Do Sandy Hook. 266⅔

to commence from the 1st of July ensuing.

There can be no doubt of the impropriety of a Keepers acting by Deputy. If the President approves therefore, it will be signified to the Keeper of the Portsmouth Lighthouse, that he is either to take up his residence on the spot or relinquish the appointment.

The same thing cannot, it is presumed, be done with regard to the Keeper of the Plymouth establishment, because his right is represented to be founded on a condition of the original cession of the land on which the Lighthouse stands.3

With perfect respect   I have the honor to be &c.

Alexander Hamilton

LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress.

1Letter from Tench Coxe not found.

2Coxe to the Superintendents of Lighthouses, October 23, November 2, 1792 (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).

3An entry in JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends for July 17, 1793, reads as follows: “The Secretary of the Treasury sent to me a letter from himself dated June 22d. enclosing a Report of the Commissioner of the Revenue to him, dated 4 June, on the subject of compensation to the Keepers of the Light-houses—encreasing some & diminishing others, in the manner stated in the Secretary’s letter to me. The alteration to commence on the first of the present month. The Secy. informed that the suggestion met my approbation & might be carried into effect” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 182).

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