Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Barton, Junior, 12 May 1792

From William Barton, Junior

Office of Inspection
Port of Providence May 12th. 1792.


There was shiped some time past from this place five chests of Souchong and one Chest of Hyson tea to Messrs. Sam Ward and Brothers of New York;1 the tea was imported in the Ship Genl Washington in June last, and for which certificates have regularly been granted from this Office.2 The Messrs Wards acknowledge to have received the certificates with the tea, but are willing to make affidavit to the same being lost or mislaid; on which account they have applied to this office for new certificates. Tho satisfied in my own mind that there is no intention of fraud in the application, I did not think it my duty to grant the certificates, but have taken the liberty to give you this information; that I might receive such directions in this case as shall be proper.3 I am Sir with great respect Your most obedient humble servant.

Wm. Barton Inspector
of the Revenue

The Secretary of the Treasury.

ALS, RG 58, “Special Cases,” Customs, 1792–1842, National Archives.

1Samuel Ward operated a store at Crane Wharf, New York City.

2The certificates mentioned in this letter are described in Section 4 of “An Act making farther provision for the collection of the duties by law imposed on Teas, and to prolong the term for the payment of the Duties on Wines.” This section reads in part as follows: “And be it further enacted, That all teas which, after the first day of April next, shall be imported into the United States from any foreign port or place, shall be landed under the care of the inspectors of the revenue for the ports where the same shall be respectively landed; and for that purpose every permit which shall be granted by any collector, for landing the same, shall, prior to such landing, be produced to the said inspector, who by an endorsement thereupon under his hand, shall signify the production thereof to him, and the time when; after which, and not otherwise, it shall be lawful to land the teas mentioned in such permit. And the said inspector shall make an entry of all such permits, and of the contents thereof; and each chest, box or package containing any teas, shall be marked by the officer under whose immediate inspection the same shall be landed, in legible and durable characters, with progressive numbers, and with the name of the vessel in which the same shall have been imported. And the said officer shall grant a certificate for each such chest, box or package, specifying therein the name or names of the importer or importers, the ship or vessel in which the same shall have been imported, and the number thereof to accompany the same wheresoever it shall be sent” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 220 [March 3, 1791]).

3On May 26, 1792, Tench Coxe wrote to Barton that H had referred Barton’s letter to him for reply and that in the future communications should be addressed to John S. Dexter, supervisor of the revenue for the Rhode Island District (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives). On the same day Coxe wrote to Dexter that new certificates might be issued under certain conditions when the statement of those conditions was written and sworn to before an officer qualified to administer oaths (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).

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