Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Sharp Delany, 30 April 1793

From Sharp Delany

30th Aprl. 1793


I have distributed the Passports which I received Yesterday by Your directions, and there are now applications for a considerable number.

In Your Letter of Instruction there is no mention of any Charge, which led me to tell the Merchants I had no authority to receive any fee or emolument, but that I should make the proper inquiry and inform them accordingly. I would therefore beg leave to observe that almost every Vessell bound to a Foreign Port will require a Sea Letter—the Expence and trouble of which will be considerable, and I make no doubt on demand would be paid willingly. On this head I beg to have your opinion, and if any more are in readiness I request they may be delivered to the bearer. I am Sir with great Respect your Obedient Servant

Sharp Delany

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 30 Apr. 1793 and so recorded in SJL.

TJ’s letter of instruction to Sharp Delany, the federal customs collector in Philadelphia, has not been found and is not recorded in SJL. According to a later statement by TJ, this letter instructed Delany to fill out and deliver on TJ’s behalf to the ships in question passports certifying American ownership of seven merchant vessels about to leave Philadelphia (TJ to Alexander Hamilton, 8 May 1793). On the need for passports for American ships, whether built abroad or in the United States, in the wake of the outbreak of war between France and Great Britain, see Opinion on Ship Passports, 3 May 1793.

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