From Alexander Hamilton
Treasury Departmt April 19. 1794.
I have received a letter of this date from Mr Dandridge transmitting me two letters to you, one from Governor Mifflin, the other from John Wanton; and desiring that if any measures should be necessary to be taken relative to them, they should be reported to you.
With regard to the communication from Govr Mifflin, the subject of it will be put in a train of examination and the result will be communicated.1
With regard to that from Mr Wanton I had received from Mr Thornton the british Vice Consul the enclosed state of the case of the schooner Bayonne or Boyne—which as you will perceive has been submitted to the Attorney General for his opinion; which is, that the schooner Boyne under the circumstances stated in that paper “is not within the meaning of the resolves of the Legislature laying an Embargo and that she ought to be permitted to proceed on her voyage to New York.” 2
It was my intention to have sent this morning to the Secretary of war in order that what was proper further to be done might be determined and correspondent instructions given to the military Officer and to the Collector.3
I believe the opinion of the Attorney General is right though it puts the effect of the Embargo in some jeopardy as to vessels arriving from abroad.
Perhaps the most adviseable course is to permit the present vessel concerning which there has been some irregularity to proceed to the port of her destination without any condition and to consider & establish some rule of proceeding with proper guards for future cases.4
I retain a copy of mister Wanton’s letter to be sent to the Collector of New Port as it contains an impeachment of his conduct that calls for inquiry.5 With the highest respect, I have the honor to be &c.
1. According to GW’s third letter to Hamilton of 29 May (DLC:GW), Hamilton failed to provide any further information for GW regarding a response to the information contained in Thomas Mifflin’s letter to GW of 18 April.
2. On the retention of the British schooner Boyne at Newport, R.I., see John Wanton to GW, 7 April; see also the letters from the collector of customs at Newport, William Ellery, to Hamilton of 8 and 14 April (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:246–48, 256–57). Edward Thornton, the British vice-consul at Baltimore, was transferred in early April to Philadelphia, where he currently was serving as secretary to British minister George Hammond (Hammond to Edmund Randolph, 2 April 1794, DNA: RG 59, Notes from the British Legation). Neither the enclosed statement from Thornton nor a written opinion from Attorney General William Bradford has been identified. For the resolves of 26 March and 2 April establishing an embargo on ships in U.S. ports, see 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 . 1:400–401.
3. In a letter to Rhode Island governor Arthur Fenner of late April, which has not been identified, Henry Knox wrote that it had been determined that the Boyne was not liable to detention and that GW had given instructions that the vessel be allowed to depart. For Knox’s instructions, see Ellery to Hamilton, 5 May (Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 16:376–77). Hamilton’s letter to Ellery of 22 April has not been identified. The Boyne cleared Newport on 5 May (Newport Mercury, 6 May).
4. Bartholomew Dandridge, Jr., wrote Hamilton on 21 April: “By the President’s order Bw Dandridge has the honor to inform the Secretary of the Treasury, that the President desires measures may be pursued in the case of the schooner Boyne as advised in the Secretary’s letter to the President of the 19 instant, relative to that subject” (LB, DLC:GW). One more resolve respecting the embargo was subsequently passed. The resolve of 7 May authorized the president “to direct clearances” for vessels owned by U.S. citizens and bound for any port beyond the Cape of Good Hope (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 . 1:401).