Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 25 June 1792

From William Ellery

Colles Office [Newport, Rhode Island]
June 25th, 1792


I have recd. your three Circular Letters of the 4th 8th & 11th. of this month; and shall pay due attention to the Explanations and directions contained in them.

By the 14 Sec: of the Act for registering and clearing vessels &c “if any ship or vessel after having been registered in pursuance of this act, shall in any manner whatever be altered in form or burthen” &c. “such vessel shall be registered anew by her former name” &c.1 A figured head is put to a vessel after she has been registered: doth such alteration render it necessary that she should be registered anew? and if so, should the cause thereof be expressed in her new Register?

The master of a vessel of twenty tons or upwards licensed to trade between the difft. districts of the United States produces a certified manifest to the Collector of the District where she arrives: but has on board his vessel goods of foreign growth or manufacture, of less value than two hundred dollars, which are not mentioned in his manifest are such goods liable to seizure and forfeiture?2

Your answer to these questions will oblige me.

Agreeable to your direction3 I have for sometime noted at the foot of my weekly returns the sum which would be wanted to pay off the drawbacks on distilled Spirits which would become due on the 26th of this month; but I have not yet received authority to borrow monies for that purpose. Permit me to request your attention to this matter.4

I am, Sir,   Yr. most obedt. servt

Wm Ellery Coller

A Hamilton Esqr
Secry Treasy.

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1“An Act for Registering and Clearing Vessels, Regulating the Coasting Trade, and for other purposes” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 58–59 [September 1, 1789]).

2Ellery is referring to Section 29 of the same act, which provides in part as follows: “… all goods, wares, and merchandise, of the value of two hundred dollars or upwards, which shall be found on board any such ship or vessel after her departure from the port where the same were taken on board, without being contained in, and accompanied with such manifest … shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture.

Provided always, That nothing herein contained shall be construed to subject the master or owner of any ship or vessel licensed to trade as aforesaid, having on board goods, wares and merchandise of the growth and manufacture of the United States only … and bound from district to district in the same state, or from a district in one state to a district in the next adjoining state, to any penalty for having departed from the port of loading without such permit and manifest, or to subject the said goods on board such ship or vessel to seizure or forefeiture, in case they are not accompanied with a manifest as aforesaid.” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 63.)

3Letter not found, but see H to Jeremiah Olney, June 26, 1792.

4Ellery endorsed this letter “Answered.” H’s reply has not been found.

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