Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 27 September 1790

From William Ellery

Custom House
Newport [Rhode Island] Sept. 27th 1790


This letter will be accompanied by a weekly return of cash.

In my last1 I ventured to offer some hints respecting the Coastg. Act, permit me in this to make some additional remarks, and to propose some other questions.

By the 22nd. Sect: of that Act whenever the property of an enrolled vessel is changed the Owner or Owners thereof are required to make known such change to the Colle. of the District where he or they may reside and a new Certif: of enrollment is to be granted. Is the former Certife. of Enrollment to be recited in the bill of sale as in the case of Registered Vessels?

In the proviso of this Sect: Before any new License shall be given for a succeding year to the master of a vessel less than twenty tons, he shall on oath or affirmation declare that no illicit trade has been carried on &c. The master may be a new one, and entirely unacquainted with the transactions of the preceding year, and neither of the former masters may be to found.

The masters of such vessels as well as of Registered vessels may be changed during the year. Should not notice of such change be given to the Collector, and a memorandum thereof be endorsed on their Licences &c.

By the 26th. Sec: of the same Act the masters of vessels under the circumstances therein mentioned2 are required to deliver duplicate manifests to the Collect. &c but no penalty is enjoined for neglect or refusal.

There are several other instances in this Act in which certain duties are commanded to be performed, and no penalty annexed to disobedience. Laws without penalties are dead Letters.3

I am, Sir,   Yr. most obedt. servant

W Ellery Colle

Alexander Hamilton Esq
Secry of the Treasy.
of the U. S.

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Ellery to H, September 20, 1790 (printed in this volume).

2Section 26 of “An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes” reads in part: “… That the master of every ship or vessel of the burthen of twenty tons or upwards, licensed to trade as aforesaid, having on board goods, wares or merchandise of the growth or manufacture of the United States only, and being bound from a district in one state to a district in any other than an adjoining state, shall deliver to the collector, or where the collector and surveyor reside at different places within the same district, to the collector or surveyor as the one or the other may reside at or nearest to the port where such ship or vessel may be, duplicate manifests of the whole cargo on board …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 62 [September 1, 1789]).

3Ellery endorsed this letter: “Answered.” H’s reply has not been found, but see H to Ellery, September 27, 1790 (printed in this volume).

Index Entries