George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Eager Howard, 11 January 1791

From John Eager Howard

Annapolis [Md.] January 11th 1791


I have the honor to enclose an Act of Assembly of this State entitled “An Act to empower the Wardens of the Port of Baltimore to lay and collect the duty therein mentioned,” which cannot take effect until ratified and confirmed by an Act of Congress. I therefore request the favour of you to lay the same before Congress for their confirmation, if approved.1 I have the Honor to be Your Excellency’s most Obedt Servant

J. E. Howard

Copy, DNA: RG 46, First Congress, 1789–1791, Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages.

1Howard enclosed a copy of “An Act to empower the Wardens of the Port of Baltimore to levy and collect the duty therein mentioned,” adopted by the Maryland general assembly on 10 Dec. 1790. The act empowered the wardens of the port of Baltimore to levy and collect a duty not exceeding two cents per ton for every vessel entering the port, to be appropriated to carry out the rules and regulations of the port, “Provided always, that this Act of Assembly shall not operate and take effect until the same be ratified and confirmed by an Act of the Congress of the United States.”

Thomas Stone gave notice in the House of Representatives on 7 Jan. 1791 that this legislation would shortly be laid before Congress for confirmation. GW presented Howard’s message and the enclosed act to Congress on 17 Jan. 1791 (see GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 17 Jan. 1791). On 18 Jan. 1791 the House appointed William Smith (Md.), Joshua Seney, and George Mathews to prepare a bill, which was drafted and read the next day. After postponing the matter the House debated and amended the bill on 28 Jan. 1791 and adopted the amended version on 31 Jan. 1791. The Senate agreed to the bill, designated “An act declaring the consent of Congress to a certain act of the state of Maryland,” without amendment on 2 Feb. 1791. GW signed the act into law on 9 Feb. 1791. As adopted, the act gave federal approval of the Maryland duty until 10 Jan. 1792 and “from thence until the end of the then next Session of Congress and no longer” (DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 5:1257–60).

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