Alexander Hamilton Papers

Treasury Department Circular to the Collectors of the Customs, 6 February 1792

Treasury Department Circular
to the Collectors of the Customs

Treasury Department,
February 6, 1792.


It is my wish that you transmit to this office a return of the public property, exclusive of cash and bonds, in the hands of all the officers of the customs in your district, that is to say, the scales, weights, boats, &c. which may be in the hands or charge of any officer of the customs, from the Collector to the Inspector or Inspectors. This return it will be fit that you also transmit with your quarterly accounts on the 31st of December next, and so for each succeeding year.

Should the Register of the brig Lydia,1 of Washington, NorthCarolina, appear at your office, it is to be detained, proof being before me that the brig has been sold. The certificate is No. 4, of 22d April 1790, James Rhodes owner and master, and states the vessel to be of 98½ tons, square sterned, and without a head. The brig being now in the port of Philadelphia, this instruction is not extended to the vessel, but is confined to the certificate of registry.

It is my desire whenever any person’s bond for duties shall be put in suit, by you, that you will transmit information to the Collectors of the several ports within the State in which you reside, in order that further credit may be refused according to law2 during the default; and should it be common for the importers in your district to use other adjacent ports, or should you know that such defaulter uses any such ports to make his importations, you will give notice in such places also. When the bonds shall be discharged information thereof should be given at such of the Custom-houses as may have been notified of the default.

Ample time having been given to the Commanders of vessels trading to foreign ports, it is my desire that the 9th Section of the Collection Law may hereafter be enforced.3

I am, Sir,   Your most obedient servant,

A Hamilton

LS, to Benjamin Lincoln, RG 36, Collector of Customs at Boston, Letters from the Treasury, 1789–1818 (volume unnumbered), National Archives; LS, to Jeremiah Olney, Rhode Island Historical Society, Providence; LS, to William Webb, Mr. F. W. Daniels, Cleveland, Ohio; L[S], to Otho H. Williams, Office of the Secretary, United States Treasury Department; copy, to Otho H. Williams, RG 56, Circulars of the Office of the Secretary, “Set T,” National Archives; copy, United States Finance Miscellany, Treasury Circulars, Library of Congress.

2Section 41 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 in part: “That no person whose bond for the payment of duties is due and unsatisfied, shall be allowed a future credit for duties, until such bond shall be fully paid or discharged.” Section 45 of the same act provided: “And be it further enacted, That where any bond for the payment of duties shall not be satisfied on the day it became due, the collector shall forth-with cause a prosecution to be commenced for the recovery of the money thereon, by action or suit in law, in the proper court having cognizance thereof; and in all cases of insolvency, or where any estate in the hands of executors or administrators shall be insufficient to pay all the debts due from the deceased, the debt due to the United States, on any such bond, shall be first satisfied” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 168–69 [August 4, 1790]).

3Section 9 of the act required masters of vessels from foreign ports to have manifests of their cargo (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 144 [August 4, 1790]).

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