Treasury Department Circular
to the Collectors of the Customs
Treasury Department, February 10th. 1794.
A Provisory arrangement has been agreed upon with the Ambassador of Great Britain contained in a letter from the Secretary of State to him dated the 26th December last,1 to ascertain the losses by detention, waste, or spoliation, sustained by such vessels the property of subjects of Great Britain, as have been or shall be captured by French Privateers armed and equipped in the Ports of the United States, and brought within any Port of the United States.2
In order that these measures may be taken with as little delay as circumstances will permit, I have to request that you will whenever applied to by any of the Consuls of Great Britain, in concert with the Consul, appoint persons to establish the value of such vessels and cargoes, at the times of their Capture and of their arrival in the Port into which they are brought, according to their value in such Ports; transmitting to me the documents of the proceedings in each case.
I am, Sir, With consideration, Your Obedient Servant,
LS, to Otho H. Williams, Office of the Secretary, United States Treasury Department; LC, The Andre deCoppet Collection, Princeton University Library; L[S], RG 36, Collector of Customs at Boston, Letters from the Treasury, 1789–1807, Vol. 4, National Archives; LC, RG 56, Circulars of the Office of the Secretary, “Set T,” National Archives; copy, P.R.O.:F.O. (Great Britain), 5/6.
1. Thomas Jefferson’s letter to George Hammond, which was approved by the cabinet, reads in part as follows: “I have stated to the President the desire you expressed to me in conversation, that the orders proposed to be given for ascertaining damages … should be rendered general, so that a valuation might be obtained by the officers of the customs whenever applied to by a consul without the delay of sending for the orders of the Executive in every special case. The President … will have such general orders given to the Collector of the customs in every state” (ADf, letterpress copy, Thomas Jefferson Papers, Library of Congress).
2. For information on British vessels captured by French privateers fitted out in United States ports, see “Cabinet Meeting. Opinion on the Fitting Out of Privateers in the Ports of the United States,” August 3, 1793; “Cabinet Meeting. Proposed Rules Governing Belligerents,” August 3, 1793; H to Jefferson, December 18, 1793; “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” December 19, 1793.