Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to George Bush, 22 August 1793

To George Bush

Treasury Department.
August 22d. 1793.


I received your letter of the 20th. instant,1 communicating to me the arrival of the Privateers, Petit Democrat and Caramagnole, with the Ship Ann & Susan from Londonderry.

One of the duties enjoined upon the collectors of the customs in my circular instructions of the 4th instant was that they are immediately to notify the arrival of such vessels, or Prizes taken by them, to the Govenor and Attorney of the District. This instruction ought to have been strictly observed, and the Govenor is to be notified whether sick or well.

An entry of the said Ship and her Cargo is not to be permitted, while she remains in possession of the captors: but if an entry has been made (as would appear from your letter) you will prevent the landing of any goods from on board of her. Should they be landed without your permit the provisions of the 26th. Section of the collection law2 are to be enforced.

It will be proper to have affidavits taken before the District Judge, or before a magistrate, setting forth the declaration which you mention to have been made by the Captain of the Democrat—and to send those affidavits to the District Attorney.

I am Sir,   Your Obedient Servant.

A Hamilton.

Copy, RG 56, Letters to Collectors at Small Ports, “Set G,” National Archives.

1Letter not found. An entry in JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends for August 22, 1793, states: “The Secretary of the Treasury sent me the copy of a Letter he had received from the Collector of Wilmington, Delaware, stating that the Ship Ann & Susan, American property, from Londonderry with Passengers, had been brought into New Castle, a prize to the privateers Little Democrat & Carmagnole & that the Captains of said privateers refused to give her up” (JPP description begins “Journal of the Proceedings of the President,” George Washington Papers, Library of Congress. description ends , 208). On the same day Thomas Jefferson wrote to Henry Knox that he had “just received information that the ship Ann and Susan belonging to William Nelson & co. citizens of New York with about 400 passengers on board, bound from Ireland to Philadelphia has been taken by the French armed vessel the Little Democrat and is brought into Newcastle in the state of Delaware. This capture was made on the 19th inst. and consequently is within the rule which provided for restitution of the vessels which should be taken by those armed in our ports” (ALS, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress). On August 22 Knox wrote to Joshua Clayton, the governor of Delaware, instructing him to restore the prize to her owners (LS, Delaware State Archives, Dover).

2H is referring to Section 27 rather than Section 26 of “An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 163 [August 4, 1790]). For the discrepancy in the numbering of the sections of this act, see “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” August 6, 1792. Section 27 provided for the forfeiture of goods illegally unloaded at United States ports.

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