Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Tench Coxe, 19 September 1792

From Tench Coxe

Treasury Department
Revenue Office, Septemr. 19th. 1792


I have the honor to in-close to you a letter of the 10th Instant this day received from the Supervisor of Virginia,1 in answer to a letter of the 23d. Ultimo from this Office.2 The intention of this communication is to place before you the tenor of any instructions to that officer on the subject of the 9th. Section of the Act of May 1792, concerning the duties on Spirits distilled in the United States3 (which you will find to be conformable with the Ideas which occured in conference with you) and his intentions in consequence of the discretion which it appeared necessary to allow him.

I have the honor to be   with perfect respect, Sir,   your most obedt. Servt.

Tench Coxe,
Commissr. of the Revenue

The Secretary
of the Treasury.

LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives.

1Edward Carrington.

2On August 23, 1792, Coxe wrote to Carrington: “You will perceive, on a perusal of … [the arrangement of compensations] that the parts of the plan of compensation contemplated in a former letter, which it was hoped might induce the Collectors to make a fair experiment of the practicability of marking have been adopted by the President.… It is the wish of the Secretary of the Treasury, in which (from a conviction of the importance of the certificates and a desire accurately to execute the will of the Legislature) I join him, that the business of marking may again be considered, now that you have the plan of compensation before you. It is much to be desired, that an experiment be made in the manner proposed, or in some other if one more feasible occurs. There is however so much weight in the objections suggested, that it is not desired that the matter should be precipitately or peremptorily pressed either upon the Collectors, or upon the distillers. The law certainly requires the Spirits to be marked … and it is possible that the non execution of the ninth Section may render it necessary to abolish the certificate System.… In the measures which may be contemplated or attempted … the refusals & resignations of worthy and capable Collectors, and the repugnance, evasion or probable resistance of the distillers must be kept in View; and indeed the possibility of those Events must govern your Conduct. Your zeal, ability and discretion in the execution of the law have been abundantly manifested, and this measure will … be conducted in such manner as you may … deem practicable and prudent” (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1792–1793, National Archives).

3This section reads as follows: “And be it further enacted, That every distiller of, and dealer in spirits, who may have in his or her possession, distilled spirits not marked or certified, pursuant to the act, intituled ‘An act repealing after the last day of June next, the duties hereto-fore laid upon distilled spirits imported from abroad, and laying others in their stead, and also upon spirits distilled within the United States, and for appropriating the same,’ shall, prior to the last day of September next, report the spirits in his or her possession, in writing at some office of inspection, to the end that such spirits may be marked and certified as old stock. And that from and after the said last day of September next, casks and vessels of the capacity of twenty gallons and upwards, containing distilled spirits, which shall be found in the possession of any distiller or dealer in spirits, except at a distillery where the same were made, or in going from one place to another, without being marked according to law, or without having a certificate from some proper officer, shall be liable to seizure and forfeiture, and that it shall be the duty of the several officers of inspection, upon request of any dealer or distiller, to take measures for the marking of casks, vessels and packages containing distilled spirits, and to furnish such dealer or distiller, free from expense, with certificates to accompany the same: Provided, That it shall not be incumbent upon any such officer to mark or certify any cask, vessel or package which ought to have been before marked or certified according to any law of the United States” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 269–70 [May 8, 1792]).

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