Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to Benjamin Lincoln, 13 June 1792

To Benjamin Lincoln

Treasury Department
June 13 1792.


⟨It appears by⟩1 a letter which I have received from ⟨the Collector of Bermuda⟩ Hundred2 that Captain Silas ⟨Dogget, of the Ship George⟩ of Boston on clearing at his Office for a ⟨foreign port⟩ (Ostend) in May 1791, delivered up a trading license, issued at Boston, which, it is stated, was immediately transmitted to you, and a certificate of the delivery granted to Dogget. From Ostend the Captain returned to Boston; and being about to depart from thence to the District of Bermuda Hundred, he asked Mr Rice3 for the trading license, which he had delivered up at Bermuda Hundred, and which, being found, and not cancelled, was given to him without his paying the Tonnage Duty; and that this identical license was again delivered up by the said Captain, on his clearing for Cadiz.

I communicate the circumstance to you, as the transaction was doubtless irregular;4 the redelivery of the license, after a foreign voyage, being against the express letter of the law.5

Benjamin Lincoln Esqr.

L[S], RG 36, Collector of Customs at Boston, Letters from the Treasury and Others, 1789–1809, Vol. 1, National Archives; LC, RG 56, Letters to Collectors at Small Ports, “Set G,” National Archives; copy, RG 56, Letters to the Collector at Boston, National Archives.

1The material within broken brackets has been taken from the letter book copy.

2No letter from William Heth concerning this problem has been found.

3John Rice was deputy collector of customs at Boston.

4The words “the transaction was doubtless irregular” are in the handwriting of H.

5Section 30 of “An Act for Registering and Cleaning Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes” reads in part as follows: “That if any ship or vessel having a license to trade or fish, for one year, shall within that time be destined to any foreign port, the master or commander of every such ship or vessel shall, before he departs from the United States, deliver such license to the collector of the port from whence he intends to depart; and it shall be the duty of such collector forth-with to transmit the license to him so delivered, to the collector of the district where the same was granted, who shall thereupon cancel every license …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 63 [September 1, 1789]).

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