From Samuel Jones1
[New York, August 5, 1789]
The Duties to be collected are imposed only upon Goods imported into the United States after the first of August.2 Consequently no Goods imported on or before that Day are charged with those Duties. And I am of Opinion that all such Goods may be carried to and landed at any other Port of the United States Duty free. The Act regulating the Collection of the Duties requires the Master or Person having the Charge or Command of any Ship or Vessel (Ships and Vessels of War excepted) coming into any Port of the United States to make Report, and deliver Manifests of the Loading to the Collector and take an Oath therein prescribed And provides that no Goods shall be unladen without a Permit.3 These Regulations are necessary to prevent Frauds; And in my Opinion apply as well to Vessels coming from one Port of the United States to another as to Vessels coming from a foreign Port and must be complied with by the master of all Vessels coming into this Port. I think all Goods imported into any of the United States on or before or since the first of august may be carried to any other port in the United States duty free. It may be doubtful what is an Importation, particularly whether a Vessel’s going to a Port is an Importation of her Cargoe without entering or landing it But I should suppose that a Clearance from any Port of the United States under the present Regulations would be sufficient Evidence that the Goods cleared out had been imported into such Port.4
ADS, Museum of the City of New York; ADfS, Museum of the City of New York.
1. Jones, a prominent lawyer of Queens County, New York, was a member of the New York Assembly from 1786 to 1790. A member of the New York Ratifying Convention in 1788, he was one of the few prominent Loyalists among the Antifederalists and one of the first Antifederalists at the Convention to support the Constitution. Occasionally H asked Jones for his interpretation of Federal legislation. See H to Jones, September, 1789 (printed in this volume); Jones to H, October 4, 1789 (printed in this volume); H to Richard Harison, November 9, 1789 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , V, 504–06); Harison and Jones to H, November 18, 1789 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , V, 521–22).
2. For the duties laid on imports after August 1, 1789, see Sections 1 and 2 of “An Act for laying a Duty on Goods, Wares and Merchandises imported into the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 24–27 [July 4, 1789]).
3. See Sections 11 and 12 of “An Act to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 29–49 [July 31, 1789]).
4. Jones wrote the draft of this document on the back of a draft of a bond which the Collection Law required to be posted against the payment of import duties. See Sections 19, 20, and 21 of “An Act to regulate the Collection of Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 29–49).
The draft of the bond reads: “Know all Men by these Presents that We of the City of Newyork are held and fairly bound unto the United States of America in Dollars to be paid to the Said United States For Payt. whereof We do bind ourselves our Heirs and Executors and Administrators jointly and severally firmly by these Presents—Sealed with our Seals—Dated this day of in the Year .
“The Condition of this Obligation is such that if the above bounden or either of them or either of their Heirs Executors or Administrators shall and do on or before the day of next well and truly pay or cause to be paid unto John Lamb Collector for the District of the City of New York or to the Collector of the said District for the Time being Dollars being the Amount of Duties on certain Goods Wares and Merchandise imported in the then the above Obligation to be paid otherwise to be and remain in full Force and Virtue.” (Df, Museum of the City of New York.)
Lamb was nominated collector of customs for New York on August 3, 1789, and the Senate approved the nomination on the same day (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 10, 12). Before his appointment Lamb had held the same position under the state government.