George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 30 May 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Dept: May 30th 1795.

The Secretary of the Treasury respectfully submits to the consideration of the President of the United States, a Letter from the Commissioner of the Revenue of the 29th instant transmitting a proposal of Mr Peleg Coffin for supplying the U. States with Oil for the use of the Lighthouses.1

It is the opinion of the Secretary that it is for the Interest of the United States to close with the said proposal.2 All which is respectfully submitted.

Oliv. Wolcott, Jr
Se[c]y of the Treasy


1Peleg Coffin, Jr. (1756–1805) was a Massachusetts financier, insurer, and politician who had recently completed his one term in the U.S. House of Representatives (1793–95). Beginning in 1783, Coffin served several terms in both houses of the state legislature before his election as a pro-administration candidate to the Third Congress. He returned to the state legislature after leaving Congress and also served as state treasurer, 1797–1802. On 29 May, Tench Coxe had informed Wolcott about Coffin’s proposal to sell 10,000 gallons of oil, at $133 per ton, to the federal government for use at lighthouses (see Coxe to Coffin, 29 May, in DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Letters). Coffin’s offer, Coxe told Wolcott, “is the most favorable that has been made for this year. The advertisements have had a very extensive circulation and the proposals have been very few. It appears probable that the oil might be sold with ease for a profit, and that such another purchase could not be effected.” Coxe asked that the proposal be submitted to GW for his consideration (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Letters).

2GW approved closing the proposal on 1 June (see JPP, description begins Dorothy Twohig, ed. The Journal of the Proceedings of the President, 1793–1797. Charlottesville, Va., 1981. description ends 329).

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