Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from John Fitzgerald, 13 October 1794

From John Fitzgerald1

[Alexandria, Virginia, October 13, 1794. On October 28, 1794, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., wrote to Fitzgerald: “Your letter of the 13th instant to the Secy of the Treasury has been rec’d in this office.”2 Letter not found.]

1Fitzgerald was collector of customs at Alexandria, Virginia.

2Wolcott’s letter to Fitzgerald continues as follows: “It is deemed to be a clear principle that no person can become a ‘Citizen of the United States’ except in one of the modes prescribed by the act intitled ‘An Act to establish a uniform rule of Naturalization’—consequently the gentleman whose case is stated by you cannot be regarded as legally qualified to become interested in Vessells of the U. States.

“The form of the Oath to which you refer was calculated to embrace the various modes by which the rights of Citizenship might be acquired, previously to the passing of the Act of Congress above recited, & not to sanction the opinion which it seems by your Letter some persons have maintained.” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.)

“An Act to establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization” provided “That any alien, being a free white person, who shall have resided within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States for the term of two years, may be admitted to become a citizen thereof, on application to any common law court of record, in any one of the states wherein he shall have resided for the term of one year at least, and making proof to the satisfaction of such court, that he is a person of good character, and taking the oath or affirmation prescribed by law, to support the constitution of the United States…” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 103–04 [March 26, 1790]).

Section 4 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 287–99 [December 31, 1792]) stated: “That in order to the registry of any ship or vessel, an oath or affirmation shall be taken and subscribed by the owner, or by one of the owners,… declaring … that he, she, or they, as the case may be … is or are citizens of the United States; and where an owner resides in a foreign country, in the capacity of a consul of the United States, or as an agent for, and a partner in, a house or co-partnership, consisting of citizens of the United States, and actually carrying on trade within the United States, that such is the case, and that there is no subject or citizen of any foreign prince or state … interested in such ship or vessel.…”

Index Entries