Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Ellery, 18 October 1790

From William Ellery

Newport [Rhode Island] October 18, 1790. Encloses a provisional contract made with William Martin “in conformity to your letter of the 27th of Sept.” Requests opinion whether, under the provisions of “The Act to provide more effecty. for the Collection of the Duties on goods &c,” duties are to be repaid on “Goods &c of the growth or manufacture of the United States or of this State … exported to a foreign Country before this State had become a member of the Union, and … since that event … brought back and the duties paid in this Office on their importation.”1 Acknowledges receipt of Hamilton’s letter of October 6.2 States: “I … have written to Jabez Bowen Esqe.3 informing him that I was ready to deliver to him or his order the Books, Documents, Checks and papers in my hands relative to the late Continental Loan Office in our State.”4

LC, Newport Historical Society, Newport, Rhode Island.

1The provisions 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” to which Ellery is referring reads: “Sec. 23 … And whereas by the letter of the act, intituled ‘An act for laying a duty on goods, wares and merchandises imported into the United States,’ articles of the growth or manufacture of the United States, exported to foreign countries, and brought back to the United States, are subject to duty on their importation into the said states; and whereas it was not the intention of Congress that they should be so subject to duty:

“Sec. 24. Be it therefore further enacted, That in every case in which a duty may have been heretofore paid on goods, wares or merchandises of the growth or manufacture of the United States, exported to a foreign country, and brought back to the said states, the amount thereof shall be repaid to the person or persons by whom the same shall have been paid, or to his, her or their representatives; and that in every case in which such duty may have accrued, but may not have been paid, the same be remitted, and that no such duty shall hereafter be demanded: Provided, That the regulations herein after prescribed for ascertaining the identity of such goods, wares or merchandise, be observed and complied with, and that as well in respect to those heretofore imported, as far as may be practicable, as to those hereafter to be imported.

“And also to ascertain the identity of articles of the growth, product or manufacture of the United States, which having been exported to any foreign port or place, shall be brought back to the said states.…” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, I (Boston, 1845). description ends 162 [August 4, 1790].)

2Letter not found.

3On August 7, 1790, George Washington nominated Bowen to succeed Ellery as commissioner of loans for Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and the Senate approved the appointment the same day (Executive Journal, I description begins Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate of the United States of America (Washington, 1828), I. description ends , 57, 58).

4Ellery endorsed this letter: “Answered.” H’s answer has not been found.

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