James Madison Papers

To James Madison from Albert Gallatin (Abstract), 22 April 1805

§ From Albert Gallatin

22 April 1805, Treasury Department. “It appears by the enclosed abstract, transmitted to this office by the Department of State,1 that the Vice Consul at Havana is in the habit of receiving the certificates of registry belonging to vessels lost or sold. This practice is repugnant to the several provisions of the registering act. By reference to the 7th, 11th, 12th, 13th & 14th. Sections of the act of Decer. 31st 1792,2 and to numerous provisions in subsequent acts, it will appear that in every case of vessel lost at sea, or sold whether to foreigners or to citizens, in every case where the vessel no longer exists, or is no longer entitled to a register, or must be registered anew, the former certificate of registry must, by the captain or owners, be returned to the collector who had issued it. As it relates to the public, this provision is almost the only security that a register shall not be used for another vessel; and great inconvenience has resulted in some instances to owners who by reason of the former certificate being left at Havana have been compelled to pay foreign duties, and have even found much difficulty in obtaining a new register. Whether the abuse exists in any other port than Havana I do not know; and there are some cases in which after the loss of the vessel or a sale to foreigners, the registers may necessarily be left with the Consuls. But they should be directed, in such cases, to cancel the certificates & transmit them cancelled to the Treasury; and never to detain the register in case of sale to citizens, as the want of it must indubitably expose the purchaser to a heavy loss on his return to America.”

RC and enclosure (DLC: Gallatin Papers). RC 3 pp.; docketed by Wagner, with his note: “detaining of Registers by the Consuls.” For enclosure, see n. 1.

1The enclosure (1 p.; docketed by Wagner, with his note: “to be sent to the Treasury”) is a 1 Jan. 1805 list of surrendered registers, probably enclosed in Vincent Gray to JM, 14 Jan. 1805 (PJM-SS, description begins Robert J. Brugger et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison: Secretary of State Series (9 vols. to date; Charlottesville, Va., 1986–). description ends 8:480 n. 1).

2For the 31 Dec. 1792 “Act concerning the registering and recording of ships or vessels,” see U.S. Statutes at Large, description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America … (17 vols.; Boston, 1848–73). description ends 1:287–99.

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