From Robert Denny
Annapolis Decr 6th 1793
I am favor’d with a letter from the Comptroller of the United States, dated the 28th ulto inclosing me a Commission from your Excellency as Collector of the Customs at this port.1
permit me Sir, to return you my thanks for this distinguished favor, But as Auditor of the State of Maryland, I am prohibited by an Act of the legislature from holding any office under the General Government, And the legislature of the United States having also, by their Act, precluded an Officer of the Customs, almost, from pursuing any other business,2 that contrary to my wishes, being obliged to relinquish one of the appointments, in Justice to myself, from prudential motives, I am induced to decline the Acceptance of that with which you have honored me, I have therefore returned the Commission, and hope from the peculiar circumstances of the case, I shall stand fully justified to your Excellency.
the Salary allowed me as Auditor of this State is indeed small, but it appears that the emoluments arising as Collector of the Customs at this port is much less, and very inadequate to the exigencies of a family, independent of other resources.3
To fill an office in one of the Executive departments of this rising Republic is one of my first wishes, and if your Excellency should be pleased to honor me with a future trust, I shall endeavor to execute it agreeably to the intentions of the appointment, according the best of my abilities. I have the honor to be with much respect your Excellencys most Obedient & Hble Servt.
ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.
1. The letter to Denny from Comptroller Oliver Wolcott, Jr., has not been identified. GW had signed Denny’s commission on 23 Nov. (JPP description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends , 257).
2. The applicable Maryland law was “An ACT to prohibit members of congress, or persons in office under the United States, from being eligible as members of the legislature or council, or holding office in this state,” 30 Dec. 1791 (Md. Laws 1791 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the seventh of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-one. Annapolis, . description ends , ch. 80). In “An Act supplementary to the act, entitled, ‘An act to provide more effectually for the collection of the Duties imposed by law on Goods, Wares and Merchandise, imported into the United States, and on the Tonnage of Ships or Vessels,’” 2 March 1793, Congress had forbidden collectors from owning ships, acting as ships’ agents, or being “concerned directly or indirectly in the importation of any goods” (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:336–38).
3. By “An ACT to settle and pay the civil list and other expences of government,” 23 Dec. 1792, Maryland’s auditor was paid a salary of £200 for the year (Md. Laws 1792 description begins Laws of Maryland, Made and Passed at a Session of Assembly, Begun and held at the city of Annapolis on Monday the fifth of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two. Annapolis, . description ends , ch. 78). The compensation of collectors was determined by fees as set out in “An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels,” 4 Aug. 1790, and added to by “An Act relative to the compensations to certain officers employed in the collection of the duties of impost and tonnage,” 8 May 1792 (Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends , 1:145–78, 274–75).