From William Ellery
Colles Offe. Port of Newport [Rhode Island]
Feby. 3d. 1794
This Letter will be accompd. by a represent. of the case of Samuel Pearsall, junr. master of the Sloop Nancy. His Representn. is true as far as it concerns her being licensed—her tonnage, her arrival here, her being visited by an Inspector, her not having a manifest, her being wholly laden with the produce of the United States, and his payment of Twenty dollars. That part of it which relates to the Conversa. between us is not particularly narrated. I told him that I had no reason to suspect, that his not being provided with a manifest was owing to any thing but his ignorance or inattention to the Law, that I had no discretionary power, that it was my duty to enforce the Law, that more than eight months had elapsed since the new Coasting Act1 had taken place, and that if I should not take notice of his transgression others might expect to avoid the law by making a like plea; That he must either pay the Penalty, or petition the Judge who would cause the facts to be stated which should appear on inquiry, and annex to the Petition and transmit them to you who was empowered to mitigate or remit the penalty,2 or, which was not so regular, to pay it and apply directly to you directly. To avoid expence he chose the last. As to his never having been asked for a manifest in his frequent trips to Newyork since the repeal of the old Coasting law3 I cannot say any thing, nor about his ability to suffer the loss of twenty dollars; for they are not within my knowledge. I have I conceive done my duty, and shall be perfectly satisfied with your determination in this case.
I am, Sir, yr. most obedt. servant
Wm Ellery Colle
Alex. Hamilton Esqe.
LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.
1. “An Act for enrolling and licensing ships or vessels to be employed in the coasting trade and fisheries, and for regulating the same” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 305–18 [February 18, 1793]).
2. This procedure was provided for by Section 1 of “An Act to provide for mitigating or remitting the forfeitures and penalties accruing under the revenue laws, in certain cases therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 122–23 [May 26, 1790]). This act was renewed by “An Act to continue in force the act intituled ‘An act to provide for mitigating or remitting the Penalties and Forfeitures accruing under the Revenue Laws in certain Cases,’ and to make further Provision for the payment of Pensions to Invalids” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 275 [May 8, 1792]).