To Nathaniel Pendleton1
11 April 1791
The circumstance of excuse, for not complying with the law,4 is the change of Masters in the harbour of Charleston. The time of this change, and the time of departure ought to be known in order to a judgment whether any hurry or disconcertion on this account was the probable cause of omission.
As a general rule, the payment of the duties ought to be brought more to a point, by Shewing in what Vessel they were imported, and producing a certificate of their having been paid or secured, from the custom house. But as this may not always be practicable, it cannot always be regirously insisted upon.
I have the honor to be, with very great consideration, sir; Your Obed Hbe Servant
LS, United States District Court Case Files, District of Georgia, Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia.
1. Pendleton was Federal judge for the District of Georgia.
2. Manson, a merchant of Frederica, Georgia, was the owner of a large quantity of goods which had been shipped on board the schooner Swift in the spring of 1790. In his statement Manson said that Christopher Hillary, collector of the customs at Brunswick, Georgia, had refused to let him claim his goods which had just arrived in St. Simons’ Sound on board the Swift until the captain of the Swift produced a manifest. This the captain was unable to do, alleging he had been appointed master of the ship the day before it sailed from Charleston, South Carolina, and had assumed that the necessary papers had been secured by the previous captain. Manson pleaded that “no fraud was intended and that the duties were paid or secured to be paid in Charleston” (ADS, United States District Court Case Files, District of Georgia, Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia).
H eventually issued a warrant of remission in the case “upon the express condition, nevertheless that he the said Duncan M⟨anson⟩ his Executors or Administrators do first satisfy all parties, other than the United States … [for claims connected with the forfeiture] and that he the said Duncan Manson do likewise pay all reasonable Costs and charges attending the proceedings touching the premises, to be assessed by the Judge.…” This warrant of remission and other papers connected with the case may be found in the United States District Court Case Files, District of Georgia, Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia.
3. No record of a case concerning William Backhouse has been found. H may be referring to the case of United States v Christopher Backhouse. On December 29, 1790, Pendleton ordered the clerk of the District Court to submit the facts of this case to H for his decision (United States District Court Docket Book, District of Georgia, Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia). H’s final decisions on Manson’s and Backhouse’s cases were referred to Venables Bond, the clerk of the District Court, on August 20, 1791 (LS, United States District Court Case Files, District of Georgia, Federal Records Center, East Point, Georgia).
4. H is referring to Section 11 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 156–57 [August 4, 1790]), which reads in part as follows: “That every master or other person having the charge or command of any ship or vessel belonging in the whole or in part to a citizen or citizens, inhabitant or inhabitants of the United States, laden with goods as aforesaid, and bound to any port or place in the United States, shall on his arrival within four leagues of the coast thereof, or within any of the bays, harbors, ports, rivers, creeks or inlets thereof, upon demand, produce such manifest or manifests in writing, which such master or other person is herein before required to have on board his said ship or vessel, to such officer or officers of the customs, as shall first come on board his said ship or vessel, for his or their inspection, and shall deliver to such officer or officers a true copy or copies thereof (which copy or copies shall be provided and subscribed by the said master or other person having the command or charge of such ship or vessel).”