Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Robert Purviance, 29 January 1795

To Robert Purviance

Treasury Department
January 29th. 1795


Your letter of the 10th. instant with its inclosures has been duly received.1

I have to request that you will continue to suspend untill further orders the prosecution of Mr. Messoniers2 Bond provided he pays the duty on all such part, if any, as was not re-exported. The same conduct is to be observed towards others in a similar situation.

In the clause you quote the word “except” after the word “duties” has by mistake been omitted. It stands so however in the Copy on file in this office and if not in the originial forwarded to you will account for your embarrassment on the occasion.

If an extension of credit has been allowed by your Predecessor,3 except upon articles re-exported, it was an error which at present can only be regretted, and it is instantly to be rectified by prosecution of the Bonds of the Delinquents & refusal of future credit. Punctuality in this particular is so essential to the due course of this Department, that delay in an Officer to enforce it cannot but be considered as a Neglect admitting of no excuse and decisive in its consequence.

I am with consideration   Sir   Your Most Obedt. Servt.

Alexander Hamilton

Robert Purviance Esquire
Collector of Baltimore

LS, MS Division, New York Public Library; copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1Letter not found.

2Henry Messonnier was a Baltimore merchant. On October 30, 1794, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., wrote to Messonnier: “On the subject of your application to the Secy of the Treasury for an extension of Credit for the duties on certain articles exported, I take the liberty to observe, that by an act of Congress passed the last session entittled ‘an Act for extending the benefit of a Drawback & terms of Credit in certain cases & for other purposes,’ provision is made for dispensing with the formal Certificates required by Law, in cases where other satisfactory evidence of a delivery at a foreign port is produced.

“If you are possessed of any documents of this nature, I recommend that they be transmitted to this Office, by the Collector, pursuant to a form which has been established; but if no proof of a delivery at a foreign port, or loss at Sea, can be exhibited, I perceive no mode in which the relief you solicit can be granted consistently with the Laws of the United States.” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.)

Messonnier’s “application” to H has not been found.

Wolcott is referring to Sections 2 and 3 of “An Act for extending the Benefit of a Drawback and Terms of Credit in certain cases, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 372–73 [June 4, 1794]). Section 2 reads: “That on all bonds which may have been given for duties on coffee, sugar and indigo imported into the United States, and which shall be unpaid at the passing of this act, all that time from the first day of January last past to the last day of May instant shall be considered as no part of the time allowed by law for the payment of the said duties, but the importer shall enjoy the same term of credit as if the said period has not intervened. Provided, That in every case where the extension of credit is claimed and granted under this act new bonds shall be given for the duties on which such credit is extended, with one or more sureties to the satisfaction of the collector of the district.” Section 3 reads: “That in cases where the certificates and evidence now required by law for authorizing the payment of any drawback or allowance on any goods, wares or merchandise exported since the first day of July, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, or which may be hereafter exported, are not and cannot be obtained, the exporter or exporters of such goods, wares or merchandise shall nevertheless be permitted to offer such other proof as to the delivery thereof without the limits of the United States as he or they may have, to the comptroller of the treasury, who shall, if the same proof shall be satisfactory to him, direct the payment of the drawback or allowance. Provided always, That in no case shall a drawback be hereafter paid on any goods, wares or merchandise until the duties on the importation thereof shall have been first received.”

3Otho H. Williams.

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