From Charles Lee1
Alexandria [Virginia] 20th. June 1790.
Within the last ten days a process was served on Captain William Simpson of the Brig Ranger on account of the Penalty for a false entry of his Cargo 70 pairs of Cotton Stockings having been omitted. By the laws of Virginia special bail is not required in cases of prosecutions for penalties except in certain instances where the same is demanded by the Acts of Assembly.2 The Laws of the Congress do not expressly require bail to be given in prosecutions for penalties and thus Captain Simpson has not been ruled to bail. This is a serious defect in the Laws of Congress concerning the revenue.3
The difficulty of getting process in time and of obtaining evidence at the Trial in such a District as Virginia, added to the former defect will prevent the Laws being duly enforced.
I have the honor to be, Sir! Your most Obedt. Servant
Charles Lee, Collector
Copy, RG 56, Letters to and from the Collector at Alexandria, National Archives.
2. See Section XXVIII of “An Act to amend the Several Acts of Assembly concerning Naval Officers, and the Collection of the Duties” (Virginia Laws, 1786 Sess., Ch. XL); Section XXVIII of “An Act to amend the several Acts of Assembly concerning Naval Officers, and the Collection of the Duties” (Virginia Laws, October, 1787, Sess., Ch. IV [January 7, 1788]).
3. For the legislation concerning the problem raised by Lee in this paragraph, see “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 30–49 [July 31, 1789]) and “An Act to provide for mitigating or remitting the forfeitures and penalties accruing under the revenue laws, in certain cases therein mentioned” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 122–23 [May 26, 1790]).