Alexander Hamilton Papers

From Alexander Hamilton to William Martin, 14 March 1794

To William Martin1

Treasury Department
March 14. 1794


Since mine to you of the 25 of July 17912 I have received sundry letters from you3 which have remained unanswered from a great and constant press of business cooperating with the reflection that I had at your request revised the transaction once and had explicitly informed you that the circumstances which had intervened had put the affair out of my reach.

But Sir I cannot say that any thing has appeared of sufficient weight to change my first view of the subject. It still remains undisputed that the Master of the Vessel had seen a Connecticut paper containing the law he had violated. It appears from his own shewing, that stating his vessel to be only 18 Tons he had made inquiry whether she might enter, which indicates that he had not been inattentive to the prohibition in the law under which he lay.4 That he made inquiry at all of the Officers appears to have been not of his own motion but in consequence of your suggestion. Is it not probable then that he came within the district knowing that he could not regularly be admitted to entry that when there he only made inquiries of the Officers because after your proposal he could not do otherwise that he was ready, against his own better knowlege, to take advantage of their mistake—and that his intentions were not throughout as fair as they ought to have been?

An inference of the affirmative is strengthened in my mind by the presumption that the Officers at New York (who admitted him to entry after the passing of the Collection Law5 in consequence (as I take it for granted) of the recency of the law and the impossibility of his having been informed of it) could not have omitted to apprise him of his situation and of the particular reasons of relaxation.

Under these different circumstances, I cannot pronounce upon my oath of Office that I am satisfied there was neither intention of fraud nor wilful neglect.

I certainly regret Sir the suffering which has been occasionned to you but I do not perceive that I ought to have obviated it.

With due consideration   I am Sir   Your Obedient serv

Mr Wm Martin
North Yarmouth
District of maine6

ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.

1Martin had been required to pay the value of the schooner Fox and its cargo after the June 21, 1791, session of the District Court of the District of Maine had decreed the schooner forfeit (Pardon, June 11, 1794 [copy, RG 59, Petitions for Pardon, National Archives]; D, Records of the District Court of Maine, Federal Records Center, Boston).

2Letter not found.

3Letters not found.

4H is referring to Section 70 of “An Act to provide more effectually for the collection of the duties imposed by law on goods, wares and merchandise imported into the United States, and on the tonnage of ships or vessels,” which reads in part as follows: “And be it further enacted, That no goods, wares or merchandise of foreign growth or manufacture, subject to the payment of duties, shall be brought into the United States from any foreign port or place in any other manner than by sea, nor in any ship or vessel of less than thirty tons burthen, except within the district of Louisville … under the penalty of seizure and forfeiture of all such vessels, and of the goods, wares or merchandise brought in, landed or unladen, in any other manner …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 177 [August 4, 1790]).

5See note 4.

6The address is not in H’s handwriting.

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