Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Marsden Pintard, 26 November 1790

From John Marsden Pintard

[Madeira] 26th. November 1790.

“I beg leave to submit to your consideration, whether it would not be proper that Consuls of the United States should certify the manifests of the cargoes of American vessels, sailing from their Consulates, and bound to any ports of the United States. I think it very proper at this Island for the following reason, vizt. The clearance from the Custom house here only mentions in general terms, that the Ship or Brig (here is inserted the name of the vessel and commander) has permission to depart with a cargo of wines. The vessel may have two pipes only on board, or two hundred, and also may have a quantity of fruit and citron &c. The master of the vessel certainly has it in his power, under these circumstances, to defraud the revenue of the United States. The British Government found the inconvenience of those kind of clearances, and now oblige their vessels sailing from this port, to have the manifest of their cargo certified under the official seal of the british Consul.

The 32d. Section of the collection Act recites, that no person shall be entitled to receive the drawback allowed on any goods, wares, or merchandise, exported from the United States, until he shall produce a certificate in writing of two reputable merchants at the foreign port or place in which the same were landed &c. I would submit to your consideration whether it would not be more proper that the Consul of the United States should certify the landing of the article, under his official seal.”

PrC (DLC); at head of text: “Extract of a letter from John Marsden Pintard esquire, Consul of the United States for the Island of Madeira to the Secretary of State dated 26th November 1790”; in clerk’s hand except for the name “Hamilton Alexr.” at foot of text and endorsement in TJ’s hand. Recorded in SJL as received 31 Jan. 1791.

As indicated by TJ’s addition of the name of Hamilton to an extract of a letter addressed to himself, this was doubtless sent by him to the Secretary of the Treasury. TJ may have sent it as an enclosure of a letter to Hamilton recorded in SJL under 11 Feb. 1791 but not found. On 7 Dec. 1790 Pintard wrote a letter in almost identical terms to the Secretary of the Treasury (text in Syrett, Hamilton description begins The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Harold C. Syrett and others, New York, 1961—, 15 vols. description ends , vii, 200–1). The collection act referred to was that of 31 July 1789 for regulating collection of duties on tonnage and imports; that Act had been superseded by the Act of 4 Aug. 1790.

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