Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 20 December 1794

From Tench Coxe

Treasury Department,
Revenue-office, Decemr. 20th 1794


I believe it will be found on Inspection that the northwestern Territory does not extend easterly further than the western Bank of the River Ohio. Consequently the officers of Inspection in the 2d. Survey of the district of Ohio (St. Clairs Governt.)1 cannot make seizures upon that River. This may be remedied by extending the said 2d. Survey by an act of the President, so as to include the Ohio.2 It will be well also, that the officers in Virginia and Kentucky have a similar power to act on the River, and it may be a matter of some difficulty to adjust it so as to include the River in both Districts.

The revenue laws of the Union contemplate federal and state courts—are the courts of the two territories, absolutely and strictly of either quality? There is no Marshall of the United States in either Territory, and the Inspector I observe is the Sheriff in St. Clairs Government.3

I communicate these Ideas for consideration.

I have the honor to be, Sir   Your most obedient Servant,

Tench Coxe
Commissr. of the revenue

The Secretary
of the Treasury

LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives.

1Arthur St. Clair was governor of the Territory Northwest of the River Ohio.

2Provision for the extension of the excise laws of the United States to “the territories northwest and south of the river Ohio” was made in Section 1 of “An Act making further provision for securing and collecting the Duties on foreign and domestic distilled Spirits, Stills, Wines and Teas” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 378–81 [June 5, 1794]). This section reads: “That in order to facilitate and secure the collection of the revenue on distilled spirits, and stills, in such states as have been, or hereafter may be erected, and in the territories northwest, and south of the river Ohio, the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized and empowered to form and erect such new districts and surveys, and to make such alterations in, and additions to the several districts, and in and to the several surveys thereof, as from time to time appear, in his judgment, expedient and necessary; and that it shall also be lawful for the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint such and so many supervisors, inspectors of surveys, and inspectors of ports, therein and therefor, as may be found necessary, and to assign to them, compensations proportionate to those heretofore, or which may hereafter be allowed, to the officers of the revenue. Provided, That if the appointment of such supervisors and inspectors cannot be made, during the present session of Congress, the President may, and he is hereby empowered to make such appointments, during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which will expire at the end of their next session.”

3Coxe is referring to Ebenezer Sproat, inspector of the revenue for Survey No. 2 in the District of Ohio and sheriff of Washington County, which was in the same district.

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