From Tench Coxe
Treasury Department Revenue Office, May 4th. 1793.
I have the honor to return to You the Opinion (of the 3d. instant,) prepared for the President, on the subject of the Sea-letters, to which my instructions shall conform. Applications for these documents having been made by Merchants of Philadelphia, for Vessels lying in several other Ports, I thought it best to transmit by yesterday’s Southern and Northern Mails a few of the letters to Alexandria, Baltimore, New-York and Boston, which were enclosed in a circular letter of which the enclosed is a copy. You will perceive, Sir, that in draughting that letter, I have avoided to give any complexion to the instruction, favorable to either side of the question, in regard to Ships owned by our fellow-Citizens, but built in foreign Countries. After the transmission of those letters, Your note of the third instant was received; in consequence of which, a particular instruction in conformity with Your directions, and with Your communication to the President, will be forthwith given. I have the honor to be, With great Respect, Sir, Your most obedient Servant
Commissioner of the Revenue
RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Coxe; at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 4 May 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Opinion on Ship Passports, 3 May 1793. (2) Coxe’s Circular to Collectors of the Customs of Alexandria, Baltimore, New York, and Boston, 2 May 1793, enclosing to each six sea letters signed by the President and the Secretary of State to be issued to captains of American vessels who made the requisite oath before a properly qualified official, preferably the chief magistrate in the jurisdiction where the custom house was located, and promising to send more particular instructions soon (Tr in DLC).