Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 28 March 1791

From William Ellery

Custom House
Newport [Rhode Island] Mh. 28th. 1791


On the 26th. of this month arrived in this Port the Sloop Betsy of Providence James Munro junr. master.

He reported that he took in his Cargo consisting of Fifty four Hogsheads & ten bbls of Molasses, One hundred and thirty five barrels of sugar, part of a piece of broad Cloth, and one Umbrella at Cape Francois, proceeded therewith to Charleston So. Carolina, but not finding a suitable market, after laying there three Days, he sailed for Providence in this State where the said sloop is owned, and to which port she was destined, without landing any part of his Cargo at said Charleston. I asked him for a certified copy of the Report he made at Charlestown, he told me that he had none, that he was not called upon by the Collector of that District1 for a report, that he did not know he was obliged by Law to produce a certified copy of a report made at the first District where he arrived to the Collector of the second, and that he received a pass for the Fort from the Collector of Charlestown.

I consider Capt. Munros not having made a report, and obtained a certified copy thereof from the Collector at Charlestown and not having produced the same to me as a breach of the 20 Sect: of the existing Collection Law;2 but as he appeared to be honest in his declaration, and his neglect seemed to be owing to his ignorance of the Law, I think it adviseable to ask your direction, and not to institute a prosecution against him until your pleasure shall be known.

I am with great esteem   Sir   Yr. most obedt. servt.

W Ellery Collr

A Hamilton Esqr
Secry of the Treasy.

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1George Abbot Hall.

2Section 20 of “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” provided that “before any ship or vessel shall depart from the district in which she shall first arrive, for another district, with goods, wares or merchandise brought in such ship or vessel from a foreign port or place, the duties whereof shall not have been paid or secured, the master or person having the charge or command of such ship or vessel, shall obtain from the collector of the district from which she shall be about to depart (who is hereby required to grant the same) a copy of the report made by such master or person having the charge or command of such ship or vessel, certified by the said collector, together with a certificate of the quantity and particulars of the goods which shall appear to him to have been landed within his district. And within twenty-four hours after the arrival of such ship or vessel within any other district, the said master or person having the charge or command of such ship or vessel shall make report or entry to or with the collector of such other district, producing and showing the said certified copy of his said first report, together with a certificate from each collector of any other district within which any of the goods, wares or merchandise brought in such ship or vessel shall have been before landed, of the quantity and particulars of such of the said goods, wares and merchandise as shall have been so landed in each district respectively” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 160 [August 4, 1790]).

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