Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Albert Gallatin, 6 July 1803

From Albert Gallatin

Treasury Department
July 6th: 1803.


I have the honor to submit to your consideration, the draft of a circular to the collectors of customs which has been prepared on the suggestion of the Secretary of State; and will be transmitted if it shall receive your approbation.

I have the honor to be, very respectfully, Sir, Your obed. Servant

Albert Gallatin

RC (DLC); in a clerk’s hand, signed by Gallatin; at foot of text: “The President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received from the Treasury Department on 6 July and “Circular on roll of Citizen seamen” and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Dft of circular not found, but see below.

Gallatin sent a printed circular to the collectors of customs dated 6 July with instructions for carrying out the first section of the 28 Feb. 1803 act for the “further protection of American seamen,” which called for masters of vessels bound for foreign ports to provide collectors with a list of persons on their ship. The Treasury Department requested that the list include a column for the seamen composing the crew along with the country of citizenship. After the collector received adequate evidence of citizenship, he provided the seamen with individual certificates “commonly called a protection.” Under the new instructions, the collector certified and returned the general list of seaman provided by the master, along with a certified list of those who were citizens of the United States. The master presented the certificate to the consul at the port of delivery. Gallatin stated that the certified list of U.S. citizens would prove beneficial to the seamen in cases of impressment because “a general certificate not being liable to frauds arising from improper transfers” would have a higher degree of credit than single certificates, and seamen would not bear the “risks arising from those certificates being lost, or taken from them.” It would put them “more immediately under the care and protection of the Consuls and Agents of the United States abroad” (Gallatin, Papers description begins Carl E. Prince and Helene E. Fineman, eds., The Papers of Albert Gallatin, microfilm edition in 46 reels, Philadelphia, 1969, and Supplement, Barbara B. Oberg, ed., reels 47–51, Wilmington, Del., 1985 description ends , 8:515; U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States…1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 2:203).

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