Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, with Jefferson’s Reply, 12 July 1803

From Albert Gallatin, with Jefferson’s Reply

Tuesday [12 July 1803]

Dear Sir

You will perceive by the enclosed that the port of Allburg, which Mr Bradley insisted upon so much that the commission in favr. of Mr Pennyman is given as Collector of that port, is an ideal town where vessels cannot come to & deliver their cargoes for want of a wharf, & where it would be most inconvenient to Secure duties as the Merchants do not live there. Indeed I think the commission not valid, & that his acts may hereafter be disputed. He should have been entitled “Collector of the district of Vermont”; and I would advise issuing a new one & revoking the order which makes Allburg the port of entry

Respectfully Your obedt. Servt.

Albert Gallatin

I enclose the draft of letter to Mr Heard

[Reply by TJ:]

I think full enquiry should be made not only as to the port of Alburg, but as to the best place for the final establishment of the Custom house, & this being done we may proceed with safety. important circumstances in the selection of a port are vicinity to the line, vicinity to the residence of merchants, deep water to the shore commanding a view of all the vessels which pass &c. the 2d. condn is the least essential. the 3d important, because I doubt our right to build wharves, & have no doubt of the inexpediency of entering into the exercise of it.


July 12. 03.

RC (DLC); partially dated; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 12 July and “Allburgh” and so recorded in SJL; with TJ’s reply at foot of text; TJ wrote “copy” to the left of his initials, indicating that he sent a separate response to Gallatin and this was TJ’s FC, but the letter was not recorded in SJL and has not been found. Enclosures not found.

For the recommendations by Stephen R. bradley and others in favor of Jabez Penniman (pennyman), see Gallatin to TJ, 18 Jan. Penniman was confirmed by the Senate as “Collector and Inspector of Allburgh, on Lake Champlain.” To the consternation of the British, Alburgh, a few miles from the Canadian border, had been designated the port of entry in 1791 when Vermont entered the union. A controversy erupted in 1792, when the British laid claim to jurisdiction over the town because of its proximity to the British post of Pointe-au-Fer. When David Russell, Penniman’s predecessor, took office in early 1797, he was appointed “Collector of South Hero” in the district of vermont. The Treasury Department noted that the port of entry was changed from South Hero back to Alburgh when Penniman was appointed. Alburgh kept that designation for decades. When Samuel Buel succeeded Penniman in 1811, he was appointed “Collector of the district of Vermont, and Inspector of the Revenue for the port of Alburgh.” In 1850 a bill was introduced to make Burlington the port of entry and delivery instead of Alburgh, but it did not pass (Washington, Papers, Pres. Ser., 8:229-31; 10:457-8; Spooner’s Vermont Journal, 18 Mch. 1811; JEP description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States … to the Termination of the Nineteenth Congress, Washington, D.C., 1828, 3 vols. description ends , 1:223, 441; 2:165; 9:152; JS description begins Journal of the Senate of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1820-21, 5 vols. description ends , 41:279; “List of Officers of the External Revenue,” 4 Mch. 1801-16 June 1803, in DNA: RG 59, Appointment Papers; Vol. 20:467; Vol. 24:160-2n; Vol. 39:437).

Gallatin had received a complaint that John heard, collector at Perth Amboy, was not paying “the proper monies in his hands” to the Treasury. Gallatin later noted that on 12 July 1803, he wrote Heard “that unless he made payment, his conduct would be reported to the President.” On this date, Gallatin also wrote New Jersey senator-elect John Condit, requesting that he look into the situation at Perth Amboy and recommend a replacement if it became necessary. Condit noted that it would be difficult to find a candidate, explaining, “there is not I believe One Single Character living in that place that would accept & could do the Duties of the Office who is not a Violent and bitter Opposer of the present administration.” Condit agreed to search for a suitable candidate, but he hoped Heard would “Comply with his Duty and Prevent the Necessity of a Change.” During 1804, the collector was “more prompt and regular” in his payments, but in early 1806 he was removed for delinquency. It was found he owed the U.S. Treasury $3,549.30 (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47-51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:547; 19:417; Biog. Dir. Cong. description begins Biographical Directory of the United States Congress, 1774-1989, Washington, D.C., 1989 description ends ; Gallatin to TJ, 29 Jan. 1806).

Index Entries