Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Benjamin Lincoln, 17 November 1791

To Benjamin Lincoln

Treasury Department
November 17 1791


Your letter of the 2nd instant has been duly received.

You were perfectly right in charging the Schooner Industry with the rate of foreign Tonnage. As the fact stands, it does not appear that the law authorises a restitution; and the parties, in pursuing a second voyage without a Register, after having been once indulged, and admonished, and after sufficient time and opportunity were given them, to procure the necessary papers, can have no claim to further forbearance, even if there was a discretion to grant it.

The 4th Section of the Tonnage ⟨act allows a⟩1 restitution of the foreign Tonnage, ⟨which has⟩ been paid on Ships or Vessels of the United States under certain circumstances, prior to the passing of that act, which was in July, and can therefore not apply to any case subsequent to it.2

To obviate the difficulty in respect to the terms “dying wood and dying drugs” I shall consider whether an enumeration cannot be formed of those articles. In the mean time I incline to a liberal interpretation of the terms in favor of manufactures.

In mine of the 12th instant I consented that you might discharge so many of the boatmen during the winter season as in your opinion should be deemed proper.

I am, Sir,   with great consideration   Your Most Obed Servant.

Benjamin Lincoln Esqr.

L[S], RG 36, Collector of Customs at Boston, Letters from the Treasury, 1789–1807, Vol. 4, National Archives; copy, RG 56, Letters to the Collector at Boston, National Archives; copy, RG 56, Letters to Collectors at Small Ports, “Set G,” National Archives.

1The words within broken brackets have been taken from the copy in RG 56, Letters to the Collector at Boston, National Archives.

2Section 4 of “An Act imposing duties on the tonnage of ships or vessels” reads as follows: “Be it therefore further enacted, That in all cases in which the said foreign duty shall have been heretofore paid on ships or vessels of the United States, whether registered at the time of payment or afterwards, restitution thereof shall be made, and that no such foreign duty shall hereafter be demanded on the said ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 136 [July 20, 1790]).

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