Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 10 February 1792

From William Ellery

[Newport, Rhode Island] February 10, 1792. “On the third of this month the Sloop Hannah William Corey master from Martinico and destined for the District of Providence arrived in this District, but could not enter the first mentioned district on account of the ice.… Capt. Corey appeared at the Custom House for the first time & reported on the morning of the 7th. of this month. The reason of his not reporting sooner … was owing … to his supposing that he might enter his vessel at Providence, and to the obstructions he met with in his progress to Newport.… If he had acted conformably to his duty, he might have reported and entered here in season. The Law1 is violated, and under the circumstances mentioned I submit it to you whether a prosecution should be commenced or not, and thereon request your direcn.”2

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1Ellery is referring to Section 16 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,” which provided in part as follows: “That within twenty-four hours after the arrival of any ship or vessel from any port or place, at any port of the United States established by law … the master or other person having charge or command of such ship or vessel, shall repair to the … [customs] office, and shall make report to the … chief officer of the arrival of said ship or vessel” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 158 [August 4, 1790]).

2Ellery endorsed this letter “Answered.” H’s reply has not been found.

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