From Alexander Hamilton
Treasury Department Decr 26 1792
I beg leave to suggest, that it would be useful for the Consuls of the United States, every where to be possesed of the Laws of the U. States respecting Commerce and Navigation—giving it as a Standing instruction, to make known in the best manner possible, in the parts where they reside those regulations, which are necessary to be complied with abroad, by Merchants, and the Owners and Masters of Ships. Prohibitions and penalties in some cases exist as in the 10th and 13th Sections of the Act concerning the duties on spirits distilled within the united States: an ignorance of which is experienced to be a source of embarrassment and in some instances of expence and vexation to foreign Merchants and Navigators.
It would also be of use, in the operations of the Treasury, if our Consuls in France were directed to transmit, by every opportunity, the state of exchange between their respective places of residence and London and Amsterdam and the current difference between specie and assignats: this has reference particularly to the execution of the 17th Section of the Act entitled “an Act for raising a further Sum of money for the protection of the frontiers.”1 I have the honour to be very respectfully Sir your Obed Servt
RC (DLC: James Madison Papers); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Hamilton; at foot of text: “The Secretary of State”; endorsed by TJ as received 28 Dec. 1792 and so recorded in SJL.
The tenth and thirteenth sections of the act concerning the duties on spirits required, effective 30 Apr. 1793, that all foreign distilled spirits except arrack and sweet cordials be imported in casks of 90 gallons or more and provided for the seizure and forfeiture of smaller containers. The seventeenth section of the act for the protection of the frontiers repealed a provision in an earlier tonnage act that had valued the French livre tournois at 18½ cents. Congress had passed both laws in May 1792 (Annals description begins Annals of the Congress of the United States: The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States … Compiled from Authentic Materials, Washington, D.C., Gales & Seaton, 1834–56, 42 vols. All editions are undependable and pagination varies from one printing to another. The first two volumes of the set cited here have “Compiled … by Joseph Gales, Senior” on the title-page and bear the caption “Gales & Seatons History” on verso and “of Debates in Congress” on recto pages. The remaining volumes bear the caption “History of Congress” on both recto and verso pages. Those using the first two volumes with the latter caption will need to employ the date of the debate or the indexes of debates and speakers. description ends , iii, 1369, 1377–8).
1. Closing quotation mark supplied by the Editors.