Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Thomas Jones, 16 November 1794

From Thomas Jones1

[Hampton, Virginia, November 16, 1794. On December 20, 1794, Oliver Wolcott, Jr., wrote to Jones and referred to “your letter of Nov. 16th. to the Secy of the Treasury.”2 Letter not found.]

1Jones was collector of customs of the District of Hampton, Virginia, and inspector of the revenue for the port of Hampton.

2Wolcott’s letter to Jones reads: “The doubt suggested in your letter of Nov. 16th. to the Secy of the Treasury is presumed to be founded on the 5th. Section of the supplementary Collection Law passed on the 2d. of March 1793. Though the prohibition against ow[n]ing Ships or Vessels is expressed in general terms, yet it is not deemed to be within the spirit & intent of the provision to inhibit Officers of the Customs from owning Boats solely employed in transporting Passengers & Baggage over Ferries.

“The opinion of this Department cannot however justify you, in case the construction now given, should be adjudged erroneous by the Judiciary.” (ADf, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.)

Section 5 of “An Act supplementary to the act, entitled ‘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’” [1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 336–38] reads in part as follows: “That … no officer of the customs … shall own, in whole or in part, any ship or vessel, or act as agent, attorney or consignee for the owner or owners of any ship or vessel, or of any cargo or lading on board the same: Nor shall any officer of the customs … import or be concerned directly or indirectly in the importation of any goods, wares or merchandise into the United States, on penalty that every person so offending and being thereof convicted, shall forfeit the sum of five hundred dollars.”

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