George Washington Papers
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From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 21 January 1794

To the United States Senate and House of Representatives

United States January 21st 1794.

Gentlemen of the Senate, and of the House of Representatives.

It is with satisfaction I announce to you, that the alterations which have been made by law in the original plan for raising a duty on spirits distilled within the United States, and on Stills, cooperating with better information, have had a considerable influence in obviating the difficulties, which have embarrassed that branch of the public revenue. But the obstacles, which have been experienced, though lessened, are not yet entirely surmounted; and it would seem that some further legislative provisions, may usefully be superadded; which leads me to recall the attention of Congress to the subject. Among the matters, which may demand regulation, is the effect, in point of organization, produced by the separation of Kentuckey from the State of Virginia; and the situation, with regard to the law, of the Territories North west and South west of the Ohio.1

The laws respecting Lighthouse establishments require as a condition of their permanent maintenance, at the expence of the United States, a complete cession of soil and jurisdiction. The cessions of different States having been qualified with a reservation of the right of serving legal process within the ceded jurisdiction, are understood to be inconclusive, as annexing a qualification not consonant with the terms of the law. I present this circumstance to the view of Congress, that they may judge whether any alteration ought to be made.2

As it appears to be conformable with the intention of the “ordinance For the Government of the territory of the United States, northwest of the river ohio,” although it is not expressly directed, that the laws of that territory should be laid before Congress, I now transmit to you a copy of such, as have been passed from July to December 1792, inclusive; being the last which have been received by the Secretary of State.3

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LS, DNA: RG 46, Third Congress, 1793–95, Senate Records of Legislative Proceedings, President’s Messages; LB, DNA: RG 233, Third Congress, 1793–95, House Records of Legislative Proceedings, Journals; LB, DLC:GW.

1For the current laws regulating the federal excise tax on whiskey and the need for additional legislation, see Alexander Hamilton to GW, 20 Jan., and notes. Kentucky became the 15th state on 1 June 1792.

2On the need for clarification of U.S. jurisdiction over lighthouses, see Hamilton’s Outline for Washington’s Fifth Annual Address to Congress, November 1793, and n.2.

3On the need for congressional review of laws passed by the territorial government of the Northwest Territory, see Edmund Randolph to GW, 4 Jan. (second letter) and this date.

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