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To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 28 October 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Department Octob. 28th ’95.

The Secretary of the Treasury has the honor of transmitting to The President of the U. States an official Certificate of a settlement made at the Treasury, by which it appears that the United States are indebted to William Lindsay, Collector of Norfolk in the sum of Twenty dollars & thirteen Cents; being so much paid by him to James Hunter assignee of David M: Randolph, Marshal for the District of Virginia, for the storage of Gun powder seized with the Ship Unicorn in the year 1794.1

As there is no specific Fund provided by Law for discharging this demand, it appears to be expedient, if The President shall be pleased so to direct, that payment be made out of the Fund appropriated for defraying the Contingent Expenses of the Government of the United States.2 All which is most respectfully submitted.

Olivr Wolcott Jr.
Secy of the Treasy

LB, DLC:GW.

1The enclosed certificate has not been identified. In July 1794, William Lindsay reported to Virginia governor Henry Lee that the ship Unicorn, owned by John Sinclair of Smithfield and being refitted there to sail (according to advertisement) to Bordeaux, was being refitted as an armed vessel, perhaps under commission as a French privateer. Virginia militia and the revenue cutter at Norfolk were dispatched to assist the marshal in stopping the vessel. Cannon, shot, and gunpowder were found and taken, but the owner claimed that although the ship “was originally designed for a privateer, the intention was changed so soon as the act of Congress prohibiting vessels to be armed in our ports was known,” and the arms “were not intended for the Unicorn.” By August 1795 the Unicorn was operating as a privateer under the name Sans Culotte Laveaux and doing so in such an indiscriminate manner that the French authorities at Port-de-Paix rendered a judgment against her that was reported to the U.S. State Department and published in November (see Lindsay to Lee, 12 July 1794, and enclosures, Thomas Mathews to Lee [20 July 1794] and enclosures, and J. Marshal to Lee, 23 July 1794, in Calendar of Virginia State Papers, description begins William P. Palmer et al., eds. Calendar of Virginia State Papers and Other Manuscripts. 11 vols. Richmond, 1875–93. description ends 7:214, 223–24, 228–29; Virginia Chronicle, & General Advertiser [Norfolk], 21 July 1794; Federal Intelligencer, and Baltimore Daily Gazette, 18 Sept. 1795; and The Philadelphia Gazette & Universal Daily Advertiser, 9 Nov. 1795).

James Hunter (1774–1826) was a Norfolk merchant.

2GW’s authorization has not been found, but a warrant to Lindsay for this amount was issued on 26 Nov. (account enclosed with GW to Congress, 13 Jan. 1796, DNA: RG 46, entry 47).

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