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To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 27 August 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Department. August 27th 1795.

The secretary of the Treasury respectfully transmits to the President of the United States a Letter from the Commissioner of the Revenue dated the 19th Instant, covering the copy of one to him from the Collector of Washington, on the subject of sundry Contracts made by the said Collector, for placing & Keeping up the stakes under his superintendence, and shifting & clearing the Buoys at the south west Straddle for the year 1796.1

It is the opinion of the Secretary that it is adviseable to authorise Contracts on the terms proposed, with the exception of the article (numbered 3.) for the stakage of Albemarle Sound and its channels, Croctan shoals & the marshes, which can be suspended until farther enquiry can be made, without injury to the public service.2 All which is respectfully submitted.

Oliv: Wolcott Jr.
Secy of the Treasy


1In his letter to Wolcott of 19 Aug., Tench Coxe transmitted proposals received from Nathan Keais, collector of the Washington District in North Carolina, dated 31 July. Coxe noted, “The advances on the rates of the preceding year are generally small, and appear to be not so much as the advance of prices gave reason to expect.” But, Coxe noted, a $200 contract for “Albemarel Sound and its channels, Croaton Sound & the Marshes” appeared “unreasonably advanced.” Coxe outlined recent increases in costs as a comparison: “In 1792, those objects were agreed for at 97½ dollars. in 1794, for 132 Dollars. in 1795, for 145 dollars.” He then recommended, “As the year 1796 does not commence for near four and one half months, it may be as safe as it appears expedient to instruct the collector to make a new trial of that particular object.” Coxe included a comparative list of the 1795 and proposed 1796 rates for the five contracts (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Letters).

The placement of “a beacon or floating buoy at the southwest straddle on the Royal shoal, near Ocracoke inlet” had been directed by “An Act supplementary to the act for the establishment and support of lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers,” 2 March 1793 (1 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 339). Keais explained in his letter that the “extra service of cleaning and shifting the Buoys” was “a reason for the difference between this and the contract for the present year” since “the Buoys was not placed at the Royal Shoal when the contract for this year was made.” Coxe duly noted the explanation in his comparative summary. Nonetheless, GW’s signed notation on Keais’s letter reads: “Recd August 27th 1795 & Approved except the article No. 3 … wh. is hereby Suspended” (copy, DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts, 1790–1812).

2Coxe’s letter of 31 Aug. to Keais notified the collector of GW’s approval of the proposed contracts except article 3. “The great disproportion in the price demanded … to what was paid for any former year caused the President to reject that contract.” Coxe instructed Keais to acquire a new contract for that purpose in the hope that “a second trial will have a good effect, and that a more reasonable terms will be offered” (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Letters).

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