Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson, 18 December 1793

To Thomas Jefferson

Treasury Department Decmr. 18th


I am to acknowledge the receipt of an extract of a letter from you to Mr. Hammond of the 5th. of September 1793.1

As a preliminary however to the Instructions to be given to the Collectors, it will be necessary that you inform me, whether Mr. Hammond has assented to the proposed arrangement2 as well as the number and names of the prizes that come within the description.

I have the Honor to be   with great respect   sir   Your Most Obedient servant

A Hamilton
Secy of the Treasy

Thomas Jefferson Esquire
Secretary of State

LS, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress.

1The relevant part of Jefferson’s letter to George Hammond reads as follows: “I am honored with yours of August 30th: mine of the 7th of that month assured you, that measures were taking for excluding from all further asylum in our ports, vessels armed in them to cruise on nations with which we are at peace, and for the restoration of the prizes, the Lovely Lass, Prince William Henry, and the Jane of Dublin, and that, should the measures for restitution fail in their effect, the President considered it as incumbent on the United States to make compensation for the vessels.…

“Having, for particular reason, forborne to use all the means in our power for the restitution of the three vessels mentioned in my letter of August 7th, the President thought it incumbent on the United States to make compensation for them; and though nothing was said in that letter of other vessels taken under like circumstances, and brought in after the 5th June, and before the date of that letter, yet, where the same forbearance had taken place, it was, and is his opinion, that compensation would be equally due.…

“With respect to losses by detention, waste, spoiliation, sustained by vessels taken as before mentioned, between the dates of June 5th, and August 7th, it is proposed, as a provisional measure, that the collector of the customs of the district, and the British consul, or any other person you please, shall appoint persons to establish the value of the vessel and cargo, at the times of her capture, and of her arrival in the port into which she is brought, according to their value in that port” (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Foreign Relations, I, 174–75).

2On September 6, 1793, Hammond replied to Jefferson’s letter: “… With respect to the mode you have prescribed of ascertaining the value of ‘losses by detention; waste or spoiliation, sustained by vessels taken … between the dates of June 7th and August 7th’—it appears to me perfectly just and satisfactory and I shall in consequence thereof communicate it to his Majesty’s Consuls, in order that they may arrange with the Collectors of the customs, in the districts in which they reside the measures necessary to carry it into immediate operation” (ALS, RG 59, Notes from British Legations in the United States to the Department of State, National Archives).

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