Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Nathaniel Fosdick, 23 January 1795

To Nathaniel Fosdick1

Treasury Department January 23d. 1795.


Inclosed I transmit to you herewith, the Copy of a Petition of William Gurish2 to the District Judge of the District of Maine,3 with a request, that you will state fully to me your ideas relative to the transaction which gave rise to the said petition, which is at present regarded as a suspicious one—

1st Because, the probability is against the ignorance of the custom of entering, which is general in the ports of every Country.
2d Because unless it had been made to appear that the Vessel brought money it is improbable she should have been without Cargo.
3d Because she came to a port different from that for which she was bound and is there found empty.

I am with consideration   Sir   Your Most Obedt. Servt.

Nathaniel F. Fosdick Esquire
Collector of Portland

Copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford; Df, in the handwriting of Oliver Wolcott, Jr., Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1The draft in Wolcott’s handwriting is endorsed by a clerk “January 26th. 1795.” The draft differs slightly from the copy in the wording of the first paragraph.

2William Gerrish of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. In December, 1794, Gerrish sought in the District Court of Maine to recover one thousand dollars, the sum he had been charged for violating the custom laws. In June, 1795, the court ruled against Gerrish on the ground that “The decision of the Secretary of the Treasury being received, not to remit the penalty, nor any part thereof—And the said G being called to defend his Suit, doth not appear, makes default” (D, Federal District Court, District of Maine, Federal Records Center, Boston).

On March 4, 1796, the House of Representatives received a petition from Gerrish “praying that the moiety of a penalty of one thousand dollars, accruing to the use of the United States, which has been recovered against him by a judgment of the District Court of Maine for a breach of the revenue laws, of which the petitioner was ignorant at the time of committing the same may be remitted” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II, III, IV. description ends , II, 456–57). This petition was referred to the Committee of Commerce and Manufactures, but no report was made on it.

3David Sewall.

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