Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Otho H. Williams, 5 June 1794

From Otho H. Williams

Custom House Baltimore
June 5th 1794


A desperate state of ill health has for a considerable time detached me from the duties of my Office as Collector, but it fortunately happened, upon the receipt of the law laying the Embargo on the 28th of March,1 that I was able to attend to its immediate execution; I can therefore the more fully of my own knowledge answer your letter of the 26th Ultimo.2

All the Vessels belonging to the French Fleet, including the Merchantmen, had cleared out by the 25th of March. They leasurly fell down the river and by the morning of the 28th were actually departed from the district, all except two, I believe, the Ships Bouillon and L’Ardent, which were under way, in sight of, and following the Fleet.

Upon receipt of the Law laying the Embargo I stationed a Detachment of Volunteer Artillery at the entrance of the Harbour with orders to prevent all Vessels destined for foreign ports from departing; And, conceiving that it would be a more ample execution of the law to restrain all those also which might be found within the limits of the district, I immediately ordered the Revenue Cutter to cruise for that purpose.

Inclosed is the report of the Master of the Cutter of the 29th of March which will make up the sum of all the evidence I can give you upon this occasion.

It may be remarked that the Ship Anthony Mangin and the Ship Charles Prince of Hess which cleared out on the 24th & 25th of March, and others which cleared out thereafter did not depart in time, and were consequently detained.

This is probably the last Official letter I shall be able to write to you, at least, for some time.3 I can however afford you the satisfaction of being informed that Mr Christopher Richmond has excepted the Office of Deputy Collector: and I hope that the publick confidence in him, will be as great as my own.

ADf, RG 53, “Old Correspondence,” Baltimore Collector, National Archives.

2Letter not found.

3Williams, who had been in ill health for a number of years, was preparing to go to the Sweet Springs at Bath, Virginia, in hope of improvement. On July 15, 1794, he died at Miller’s Town, Virginia (Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers description begins Calendar of the General Otho Holland Williams Papers in the Maryland Historical Society (Baltimore, 1940). description ends , introduction).

On July 22, 1794, Christopher Richmond wrote to John Wright at the Treasury: “I wrote to you last Thursday Evening and then communicated the News of the Death of my friend Genl. Williams; since which I have announced that event to the president and to Colo. Hamilton officially. In these official Letters I took occasion to use the following expressions to the President ‘If Sir in the new Arrangement of the Custom House, which will of course follow from the demise of the late Collector, I may be found worthy or eligible to hold a place I beg leave to assure you that no endeavours on my part shall be wanting to do, and to procure to be done; every possible thing for the Interest of the Revenue of the United States.’ and copying the last paragraph into the Letter addressed to the Secretary, I added ‘You will Sir I hope pardon me for troubling you with what I have written to the President, and forgive me when I solicit your interest, and recommendation to such an Appointment; as you may think me capable of filling’.… I just give you my own Castle building ideas, in order that you may use them as discretion; and I do it that you may be prepared with my sentiments, in case I should be thought of, and which if I am, you will somehow or other, receive a hint of, from Mr. Hamilton, as knowing you to be my Friend …” (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

Richmond’s letter to H has not been found.

Index Entries