Adams Papers
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To John Adams from the Boston Marine Society, 3 January 1791

From the Boston Marine Society

Boston 3rd. Jany. 1791.


In behalf of the Marine Society of this Town, we have the Honor of addressing you on a subject that has long engaged the attention of that Corporation.— The encouragement & preservation of our Seamen must interest every man who considers how valuable the labours of that class of Men are to a commercial Country, nor will the Interest be lessen’d from the veiw of them, in time of War, as the maritime Barrier of the United States.— From your exalted Rank in the National Government, uniform & ardent attachment to, & extensive knowledge of the best & greatest Interests of our Country, the Society have directed us their Committee to transmit the papers which accompany this Letter for your Consideration.—1 And, if the proposals included in them should meet your Approbation, to request your assistance in Congress on the business. There is an additional Argument, omitted in the petition, which might be urged for the Erection of an Hospital, That sick Sailors are compelled to take up their Lodgings in Houses very illy provided for their accommodation, not to add the variety of gross Impositions they are subjected to. Numbers of them annually perish, whose lives might be preserved were they admitted into a Hospital, where they would find the best medical aid, good nursing & comfortable Lodging & diet on easy Terms.

Should you approve this application, We must beg you to be at the Trouble of conversing with the Gentlemen who represent this State in both Houses of Congress, to whom we have addressed a Letter.

From the partial & flattering Consideration of numbering You among their Members, the Society have been induced to sollicit your Advice & Services in this Business.

We are with sentiments of the most affectionate respect & sincere personal attachment / Dear Sir / Your faithful humble Servants.

Wm Tudor
Alexr Hodgdon
Aaron Dexter
Wm. Deblois—
Sheml. Russell—
Mungo Mackay
W Scollay

The Society are desirous of knowing whether any measures were adopted in consequence of the application of the Merchants to the President of the United States on the Subject of the Pilotage and Regulations of the Harbour of Boston— As you were so obliging as to take charge of those Papers we would thank you for any Information respecting them. The Merchants are equally anxious with the Society on this Subject.—2

RC (Adams Papers); internal address: “His Excellency the Vice President / of the United States.”; docketed by JA: “Marine Society.”

1JA, who was a member of the Boston Marine Society, sent this petition to the House of Representatives, which received it on 27 January. Two weeks later, it was referred to Alexander Hamilton. On 17 April 1792 Hamilton presented his report on marine hospitals, advising Congress to establish at least one in the United States, to be funded by a ten-cent deduction from sailors’ monthly wages, as it would benefit trade and protect “a very needy class of the Community.” Disabled seamen and sailors’ widows and children were eligible to draw from the same fund, which would be guided by a board of 25 directors. Congress took action on 14 July 1798 when it passed an act with Hamilton’s terms largely intact. As president, JA signed it into law two days later (Hamilton, Papers description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett, Jacob E. Cooke, and others, New York, 1961–1987; 27 vols. description ends , 11:295, 297).

2For the lack of piloting regulations, see William Smith’s letter of 12 June 1790, and note 4, above.

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