Alexander Hamilton Papers
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To Alexander Hamilton from Charles Lee, 30 December 1789

From Charles Lee

Alexandria [Virginia] 30th December 1789

Sir!

I have received your letter of instruction upon the subject of calculating the duties, accompanied with the opinions of counsel concerning the fees under the coasting law.1 As to the former the practice of my office has corresponded with your directions since the receipt of the form of making quarterly returns.2 As to the latter the opinion of the learned Counsel agree with my own and according thereto the fees have been demanded except as to the fee for a license to a vessel under twenty tons. The trouble and expense of licensing such a Vessel is the same as of one above that size—and the 31st. section is general in its language not making any discrimination according to the burden of vessels.3 Besides by an amendatory law made afterwards, the privilege of being exempt from entering and clearing is extended to licensed vessels under fifty tons, having on board only American produce and manufactures4 by which it would seem that a vessel of forty tons and one of fifty tons were to be in the same predicament if licensed and loaded with American produce or manufactures only. I shall however acquiesce cheerfully in the opinions of those Gentlemen and conform the conduct of my office in this instance to their construction of the law.

I have the honor to be Sir!   Your Obedient Servant

Charles Lee, Collector
at Alexandria

Copy, RG 56, Letters to and from the Collector at Alexandria, National Archives.

1“Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” November 30, 1789 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , V, 575–78).

2See “Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs,” October 10, 1789 (PAH description begins Harold C. Syrett, ed., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (New York and London, 1961– ). description ends , V, 434–35).

3For Section 31 of “An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 55–64 [September 1, 1789]), see Lee to H, November 21, 1789, note 20 (printed in this volume).

4Section 2 of “An Act to explain and amend an Act, intituled ‘An Act for registering and clearing Vessels, regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes’” reads: “That so much of the twenty-second section of the said recited act, as exempts vessels of less than twenty, and not less than five tons burthen, employed between any of the districts of the United States, in any bay or river, and having a license from the collector of the district to which such vessel belongs, from entering and clearing for the term of one year, be extended to vessels not exceeding fifty tons: provided, such vessels shall not have on board goods, wares or merchandise, other than such as are actually the growth or produce of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 94–95 [September 29, 1789]).

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