Alexander Hamilton Papers

Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs, 17 February 1790

Treasury Department Circular
to the Collectors of the Customs

Treasury Department
February 17th. 1790.


I find that the process marked out in my letter of the 30th. of November1 for calculating the allowance of 10 ⅌ Cent for prompt payment has by some of the Officers been misapprehended in one particular which is with regard to the first proviso of the 19th. Section of the Collection bill confining the discount to the excess of the Amount of the duties above 50 Dollars.2

As the same misapprehension may be more extensive than has come to my knowlege I think it proper to explain myself by a Circular communication.

My intention was solely to determine the principle of calculation without reference to the object of that proviso.

It is clear that the abatement is only to be on the excess. Thus—

If the amount of the Duty were, Dolls 150
there would be a deduction in the first place of  50
  10 p. Cent p. Annum for 6 Months   5.
    Duty to be paid 95

That no difficulty may arise it is proper that it should be understood that any forms which shall be transmitted by the Comptroller of the Treasury for keeping and stating Accounts and making returns are to be observed of course, though no particular direction from me should accompany them; Or in other words, the transmission of such Forms by the Comptroller is to be considered as evidence of their having received my approbation.

I am Sir   Your Obedt. servant

A Hamilton
Secy of the Treasy

LS, to Jedediah Huntington, MS Division, New York Public Library; LS, to Charles Lee, Charles Lee Papers, Library of Congress; L[S], to Benjamin Lincoln, RG 36, Collector of Customs at Boston, Letters from the Treasury, 1790–1810, Vol. 2, National Archives; LS, Office of the Secretary, United States Treasury Department; copy, United States Finance Miscellany, Treasury Circulars, Library of Congress; copy, RG 56, Circulars of the Office of the Secretary, “Set T,” National Archives; LS, Papers of Elbridge Gerry, Library of Congress.

2The “first proviso” of Section 19 reads as follows:

“That all duties on goods, wares and merchandise, imported, shall be paid by the importer, before a permit shall be granted for landing the same, unless the amount of such duties shall exceed fifty dollars, in which case it shall be at the option of the party making entry, to secure the same by bond, with one or more sufficient sureties, to be approved of by the collector, and made payable as followeth, to wit.…” (“An Act to regulate the Collection of the Duties imposed by law on the tonnage of ships or vessels, and on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States,” 1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 29–49 [July 31, 1789].)

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