George Washington Papers

Roger Alden to Tobias Lear, 14 July 1790

Roger Alden to Tobias Lear

New York, 14 July 1790. In response to Tobias Lear’s request for copies of state acts ceding lighthouses and related property to the federal government, sends a copy (not found) of an exemplified New York act,1 the only one transmitted to the Department of State since the receipt of those of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, which have already been forwarded to the president.2

ALS, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters; LB, DLC:GW.

On 7 Aug. 1789 GW signed “An Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers,” which provided, among other things, that the federal government would be responsible for all the expenses of support of and repairs to those coastal facilities that had accrued since 15 Aug. 1789. Such expenses would continue to be defrayed by the United States only if the individual states ceded those facilities and their jurisdiction, as well as the land on which they stood, before 15 Aug. 1790. GW signed into law on 22 July 1790 an amendatory act extending the deadline for state cessions to 1 July 1791 (1 Stat., description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 53–54; DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:135–36, 139, 512, 513, 519, 522, 524, 5:1245, 1255–56; see also GW to Thomas Newton, Jr., 12 Oct. 1789, n.1, and Alexander Hamilton to GW, 3 Jan. 1790).

1Gov. George Clinton of New York sent to the president on 2 April 1790 a 26 Mar. 1790 act ceding the state lighthouse at Sandy Hook to the federal government. GW had Lear present this to Congress on 5 April 1790 (George Clinton to GW, 2 April 1790 and note 1, GW to the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, 5 April 1790; DHFC, description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds. Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America, March 4, 1789-March 3, 1791. 20 vols. to date. Baltimore, 1972—. description ends 3:356–57).

2The lower house of the Connecticut legislature passed a bill “for an act ceding to the United States the Lighthouse, buoys &c at the port of New London” on 2 June 1790, but no evidence has been found that Gov. Samuel Huntington ever sent a copy of it to GW. Evidence of GW’s receipt of the Pennsylvania cession act from Gov. Thomas Mifflin also remains undiscovered (MS “Journal of the [Connecticut] House of Representatives—part of May Session 1790” in Library of Congress Microfilm of Early State Records).

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