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To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 10 March 1796

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Department March 10th 1796.

The Secretary of the Treasury has the honour most respectfully to represent to The President of the United States, that several applications have been made by persons charged with the general superintendance and immediate care of the Lighthouses & other establishments for the security of navigation representing the inadequacy of their compensations. After a full examination of the subject in concert with the Commissioner of the Revenue, the Secretary is of opinion that there are good & sufficient grounds for a moderate augmentation of some of the said compensations consistently with the provisions which have been made by the Legislature for the current year, & with the general powers vested in The President by an act of Congress passed on the 7th of August 1789.1

That the proceedings of the President may appear at one view, the form of an act embracing all the compensations of the superintendants & Keepers of Lighthouses is herewith submitted to his consideration.2

The augmentations of compensations proposed are as follow.

1st. That the superintendants of Lighthouses shall be allowed a Commission of five percentum instead of one Centum upon the sums disbursed for the Lighthouses under their superintendence respectively.

The saving made by the reduction of the salary lately allowed to the superintendent in south Carolina, will as is supposed provide fully for this increase.3

2d. It is proposed to allow a commission of two and one half pr centum for the purchase of articles for the Lighthouses generally; this being the rate of Commission allowed commonly in similar private agencies.

3d. The proposed augmentation of the salaries of the keepers of the Lighthouses will appear from the annexed statement,4 and is deemed moderate considering the great increase of the prices of provisions & other necessaries of life. All which is humbly submitted

Olivr Wolcott Jr
Secy of the Treasury.

LB, DLC:GW.

1Wolcott is referring to “An Act making Appropriations for the Support of Government, for the year one thousand seven hundred and ninety-six,” 5 Feb. 1796 (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 445–48), which appropriated up to $37,672.09 for the support of lighthouses, buoys, beacons, and public piers, and to “An Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers,” 7 Aug. 1789 (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 53–54).

2A letter-book copy of “An act concerning the Compensations of the Superintendants and other persons employed in the Lighthouse service,” dated 10 March, follows Wolcott’s letter in DLC:GW. GW’s DS of the same date is at DNA: RG 26, Coast Guard Historical Documents, 1790–1983.

3For the alteration in the salary of the superintendent of the lighthouse at Charleston, S.C., see Wolcott to GW, 1 Oct. 1795.

4Wolcott enclosed a list of the twenty lighthouse keepers whose names appear in the act, giving their proposed salaries as stated in the act and the present salaries of the sixteen who manned existing lighthouses. Three of those sixteen were to receive no increase in salary. The largest proposed increase was $80, for the keeper near New London, Conn. (DLC:GW).

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