Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Otho H. Williams, 8 October 1789

From Otho H. Williams

Baltimore 8th October 1789


I have received your Letter (Circular) of the 22d. ulto., and am to inform you that, from Cape Henry to the extreme branches of the Susquehanna, all inclusive, there is not, that I ever heard of, a single Light House, Buoy, Beacon or other artificial object for navigators to be governed by. Consequently there is no superintendant; no Expence.

The pilots of the Chesapeak for this State are regulated, and Licenced, by certain Port Wardens who are Commissioned by an Act of the Legislature of Maryland,1 and reside in Baltimore.

By Laws, called the compact laws, passed mutually by Virginia2 and Maryland,3 considerable sums have been levied, by a tax upon Tonnage of Vessels for the purpose of building Light Houses &c—and I expect the subject will be taken into serious consideration at the ensuing sessions.

I am, Sir,   Your Obedt. Humble Servant

O. H. Williams

Alexander Hamilton Esqr.
Secretary of the Treasy.

ALS, RG 26, Lighthouse Letters Received, Vol. “A,” Pennsylvania and Southern States, National Archives.

1“An Act to establish pilots, and to regulate their fees” was passed by the Maryland legislature on December 17, 1787 (William Kilty, ed., The Laws of Maryland [Annapolis, 1800], Vol. II, November, 1787, Ch. XXVI).

2“An Act to approve, confirm, and ratify the Compact made by certain Commissioners appointed by the General Assembly of the State of Maryland and Commissioners appointed by this Commonwealth” was passed by the Virginia legislature on January 3, 1786 (A Collection of All Such Acts of the General Assembly of Virginia of a Public and Permanent Nature, As Are Now in Force [Richmond, 1803], 23).

3“An Act to approve, confirm and ratify the compact made by the commissioners appointed by the general assembly of the commonwealth of Virginia, and the commissioners appointed by this state, to regulate and settle the jurisdiction and navigation of Patowmack and Pocomoke rivers, and that part of Chesapeake bay which lieth within the territory of Virginia” was passed by the Maryland legislature on March 12, 1786 (The Laws of Maryland, Vol. II, November 1785, Ch. I).

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