Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Ellery, 11 April 1791

To William Ellery

Treasury Department
April 11th. 1791


The law has not provided for the payment of drawbacks, except the prescribed proofs of landing in some place, without the United States, be adduced. Goods exported for drawback cannot be landed again in the United States, without again paying the impost, under the existing laws,1 though it ⟨is no⟩t improbable the legislature will provide a remedy in some future act for this inconvenience to trade.

Your proceeding in the case of the Charming Sally, Reed, is conformable with law, and I do not see fit to interfere. Her case must have a legal decision.2

The new act for registring vessels3 will probably provide for the making American bottoms of vessels condemned and actually sold for breaches of the laws, but at present such a vessel cannot be registered. She may sail under her old papers, and the Marshall’s certificate, but will be subject to foreign tonnage.

I am, Sir,   Your obedt. servant

Alex Hamilton

William Ellery Esq.
Collector Newport

LS, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Ellery requested this information in a letter he wrote to H on January 31, 1791. This letter had not been found when Volume VII of The Papers of Alexander Hamilton was published; it will be published in a supplementary volume.

The regulations governing the payment of drawbacks were contained in Sections 57, 58, 59, 60, and 61 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” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 173–75 [August 4, 1790]).

3On July 22, 1790, a “bill for registering Ships or Vessels, for regulating those employed in the Coasting Trade and Fisheries, and for other purposes” was presented to the House of Representatives. On July 26, however, the House “Ordered, That the farther consideration of the bill … be postponed until the next session of Congress” (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826). description ends , 275–76, 282).

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