Alexander Hamilton Papers
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Report on the Petition of James Bingham, John Hertell, James Craven, and John Evans, [27 February 1794]

Report on the Petition of James Bingham,
John Hertell, James Craven, and John Evans1

[Philadelphia, February 27, 1794
Communicated on March 3, 1794]2

[To the Speaker of the House of Representatives]

The Secretary of the Treasury, to whom was referred by an Order of the House of Representatives of the 12th of February 1791, the Petition of James Bingham, John Hertell, James Craven and John Evans of the City of New York, Guagers,3 thereupon respectfully makes the following Report—

The Petition seeks Compensation for computing and marking a Number of Cases of Geneva, prior to the operation of the Collection Law of the 4th of August 1790,4 when there was no specific allowance established by Law for the Service mentioned.

It is a convenient general rule that public Services performed in the ordinary routine, should be left, as to compensation, to the existing legal provisions when they were performed, that retrospective Compensations should be avoided; and that where allowances are inadequate, the remedy should have a future Operation only.

In the present case there do not occur in the Opinion of the Secretary any Motives sufficiently cogent to induce a deviation from the general rule, and to justify on his part a Suggestion favourable to the prayer of the Petitioners.

Which is humbly submitted

Alexander Hamilton
Secy. of the Treasury.

Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1784–1795, Vol. IV, National Archives.

1This report was one of twenty-nine reports on petitions enclosed in H to Frederick A. C. Muhlenberg, February 27, 1794.

2Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II. description ends , II, 77–78.

3On February 12, 1791, the House received a “petition of the gaugers of the city of New York, praying compensation for certain services which they have rendered, and for which no provision hath been made by law.…

Ordered, That the said … [petition] be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.” (Journal of the House description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I, II. description ends , I, 376.)

4“An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 145–78).

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