Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Paca, 5 March 1794

To William Paca

Treasury Department March 5. 1794


The inclosed paper has been communicated to me.1 Let me request that you will reconsider the opinion you have formed with a view to the following points—1 Whether the regulation which subjects to forfieture spirits imported in marked Casks, being manifestly designed to guard against an evasion of the duties on imported spirits by facilitating the clandestine landing of them under cover of marked casks, be not in fact and in construction of law—a regulation or law concerning the collecting of duties of Impost & Tonnage—notwithstanding the title of the Act in which it is found?2 And 2dy. if it be such, whether the Act of May 90 for mitigating &c,3 having an aspect to future as well as to the then existing laws, does not extend to the case in question?

With great respect & esteem   I am Sir   Your Obed ser

The District Judge of Maryland.

ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1The paper to which H is referring has not been identified, but the case was apparently that of the sloop Rambler and two casks of spirits. On January 9, 1794, Samuel Carr, master of the Rambler, brought two hundred-gallon casks of distilled spirits into the port of Baltimore. Daniel Delozier, inspector of the revenue at Baltimore, seized the casks, which had been marked pursuant to the revenue law before they were imported from St. Thomas (D, RG 21, Records of the District Court for the Maryland District, National Archives). According to the court dockets for this case, both the Rambler and the casks were “released by the Secretary” (D, Office of the Clerk, District Court for the District of Maryland, Baltimore).

2H is referring to Section 12 of “An Act concerning the Duties on Spirits distilled within the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 267–71 [May 8, 1792]), which provided “That after the last day of June next, no distilled spirits shall be brought into the United States, from any foreign port or place in any cask or vessel, which shall have been marked pursuant to any law of the United States concerning distilled spirits, on pain of forfeiture of the spirits so brought, and of the ship or vessel in which they shall be brought.”

3“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]).

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