To Sharp Delany1
January 30th. 1795
You are unfortunate, if a wrong Statement has been made by the party confirmed by your own Certificate2 and by the report of the district Judge.3 I could only regret that an error had come to me so Sanctionned. But Coming in such a Shape it was impossible for me not to conclude as I did.
I send you a further extract from the Petition (the truth of which you have certified) which follows immediately after that first sent you. It Contains a reply to your Observation, that if a permit had gone for Doctor Elder in the common way, he would of course have received the Rum and paid the duties. It shews that Mr Boyd4 after the landing upon the permit seized the Cask of Spirits.
I will only add that in expressing my disapprobation of this business I did not suppose in you any ill intention else that course would not have been taken. I only meant to censure an instance of loose practice which in principal and precedent is very exceptionable.5
With Consideration I am Sir Your Obedient Servant
Sharp Delaney Esquire
Collector of the Customs
Copy, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford.
3. On January 3, 1795, Richard Peters, United States judge for the District of Pennsylvania, stated: “I have examined by Oaths of credible Witnesses into the Facts stated in the foregoing Petition of Thomas Elder & find them to be true and do not discover any Intention of Fraud in the Transaction …” (copy, RG 21, Records of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Containing Statements of Facts in Forfeiture Cases, 1792–1918, Vol. 1, October 23, 1792–September 25, 1807, National Archives).
4. Alexander Boyd was an inspector of the customs for the port of Philadelphia.
5. On January 3, 1795, Thomas Elder’s petition and the statement of facts in the case were sent to H. On February 2, 1795, “The Decision of the Secretary of the Treasury on the … Petition of Thomas Elder filed remitting the Penalty the said Thomas Elder first paying twenty Dollars for the Benefit of Parties other than the United States interested therein together with all reasonable Duties Cost & Charges &c &c” (copy, RG 21, Records of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Containing Statements of Facts in Forfeiture Cases, 1792–1918, Vol. 1, October 23, 1792–September 25, 1807, National Archives).