Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Henry Marchant, 14 September 1791

From Henry Marchant

Rhode Island District
Newport Sept. 14. 1791

In pursuance of an Act of the Congress of the United States “to provide for mitigating or remitting Forfeitures and Penalties accruing under the Revenue Laws, in certain Cases therein mentioned”1 I have recd. the Petition of Peleg Saunders2 hereto annexed, and thereupon caused William Ellery Collector, Robert Crooke Naval Officer, and Daniel Lyman Surveyor of Newport District, the Persons claiming a moiety of the fifteen Hogshead of Rum and one Keg of Medecines upon forfeiture thereof upon their Libel filed before me, if such forfeiture should take Place, and also William Channing Esqr. Attorney of the United States for said Rhode Island District to be noticed to appear before me and shew Cause if any they had against the mitigation or remission thereof, and who declar’d they had no Cause to offer against the Remission prayed for by the said Petitioner, nor had They any Reason to disbelieve the Facts and Circumstances as stated and set forth in said Petition. Whereupon I proceeded to examine into the Truth of the Facts so set forth by the said Petitioner in a summary Manner And by the Report by him openly made signed and deliverd to the said Collector, of the said Goods, by the Declaration of the said Petitioner under solemn Oath to me made, As also by the Testimony of Oliver Burdick of Westerly within sd. District, who also under Oath declared that he was no way interested in said Vessell or Goods, but was a Hand on Board said Vessell in the Employ of the said Petitioner &c at the Time said Effects were taken on Board and hath so continued ever since. As also by the Certificates of the Inspector of New London mentioned in said Petition, and which the said Danl. Lyman Surveyor for the District of Newport acknowledgeth, strictly compares and agrees with the Marks &c upon the said Hogsheads. It appears The Facts and Circumstances stated and set forth in said Petition are true. All which I do hereby certify to the Secretary of the Treasury of the United States.

Henry Marchant
Judge of Rhode Island District

ADfS, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; ALS, sold at Parke-Bernet Galleries, April 10, 1962, Lot 126.

1Under the terms of this act “any person who now is, or hereafter shall be liable to a fine, penalty or forfeiture, or interested in any vessel, goods, wares or merchandise, or other thing which may be subject to seizure and forfeiture … shall prefer his petition to the judge of the district in which such fine, penalty or forfeiture may have accrued, truly and particularly setting forth the circumstances of his case, and shall pray that the same may be mitigated or remitted; the said judge shall inquire in a summary manner into the circumstances of the case, first causing reasonable notice to be given to the person or persons claiming such fine, penalty or forfeiture, and to the attorney of the United States for such district, that each may have an opportunity of showing cause against the mitigation or remission thereof; and shall cause the facts which shall appear upon such inquiry, to be stated and annexed to the petition, and direct their transmission to the Secretary of the Treasury…” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 122–23 [May 26, 1790]).

2Saunders was a resident of Westerly, Rhode Island. In 1787 he had served as a justice of the peace for Westerly.

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