Report on the Petition of Thomas Jenkins and Sons
[Philadelphia, January 27, 1794
Communicated on January 29, 1794]1
The Secretary of the Treasury to whom was refered by the House of Representatives the petition of Thomas Jenkins & sons2 respectfully makes therupon the following report.
It appearing by information from the Collector of New York,3 that the facts stated in the petition are true, and that the delay which happened beyond the time allowed by law4 did not exceed ninety days, it is in the opinion of the Secretary, reasonable, that the petitioners should be relieved from the consequences which would attend the entry of the vessel without a competent Register, upon the Condition of their proceeding forthwith to obtain a new Register on the terms prescribed by Law. Some degree of inconvenience, as a motive to punctuality, ought, in most cases to attend an omission to comply with the Laws, where Compliance was practicable, though there may not have been such a degree of negligence as ought to involve material suffering or loss.
The Secretary takes the occasion to remark, that the term of ninety days allowed for transmitting the oaths of absent owners,5 is not, in all cases sufficient. The registry may be at one, and the residence of an owner at another extremity of the United States, so that accidental circumstances may sometimes render a compliance with the law impracticable. To avoid inconvenience in such cases to individuals and to the Legislature, it would seem advisable to prolong the term either generally or according to distance.6
which is respectfully submitted.
Secy. of the Treasury
January 27th. 1794.
Copy, RG 233, Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, Third Congress, National Archives; copy, RG 233, Reports of the Secretary of the Treasury, 1784–1795, Vol. IV, National Archives.
2. On December 26, 1793, the House received “A petition of Thomas Jenkins, Elisha Jenkins, Frederick Jenkins, and Gilbert Jenkins, of the City of Hudson, in the State of New York, who transact business under the firm of Thomas Jenkins and Sons, praying that they may be exonerated from the payment of the duties imposed on foreign vessels, to which they will be subjected in the case of the Ship American Hero, the property of the petitioners, whose register, owing to a variety of unforeseen causes, was not recorded within the time prescribed by law.
“Ordered, That the said petition be referred to the Secretary of the Treasury, with instruction to examine the same, and report his opinion thereupon to the House.” (Journal of the House, I description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States (Washington, 1826), I. description ends I, 21.)
3. John Lamb.
4. “An Act concerning the registering and recording of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 287–99 [December 31, 1792]).
5. The oaths or affirmations required of shipowners taking out a register were regulated by Sections 4 and 5 of “An Act concerning the registering and recording of ships or vessels” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 290). As part of the requirements for obtaining a register, an owner had to swear or affirm that he and other owners were citizens of the United States. The register, however, was forfeit if the collector who granted it had not received similar oaths from all other resident owners within ninety days of the date on which a register had been issued.
6. Consistent with H’s recommendation, the House passed “An Act for the relief of Thomas Jenkins and Sons” (6 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America [Private Statutes] (Boston, 1856). description ends 13–14 [February 19, 1794]). This act provided that “it shall and may be lawful for the collector for the district of New York, to remit to Thomas Jenkins and Sons, owners of the ship American Hero, the duties and imposts of tonnage, which may be incurred in consequence of the incompetent or invalid register of the said ship: Provided, They shall obtain, within one hundred and twenty days, a new register for the said ship, in the manner prescribed by law.”