George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 18 August 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Department August 18. 1795.

The Secretary of the Treasury respectfully transmits to the President of the United States a Letter from the Commissioner of the Revenue dated the 17th Inst: covering a proposal made by the honble Henry Dearborn esqur. for erecting a Lighthouse on Seguin Island in the District of Maine.1

It appears that in consequence of several petitions having been presented to Congress praying the repeal of the Law of the 19th of May 1794 for building the Lighthouse on Seguin Island, all measures for carrying the said law into effect were suspended until after the end of the last session.2

As the present proposal is the only eligible one that has been made, & perhaps not unreasonable considering the advanced price of labour & materials, the Secretary is of opinion that it will be for the Interest of the United States to close with the said proposal.3 All which is most respectfully submitted

Oliv: Wolcott Jr
Secry of the Treasy


1In addition to enclosing a letter from Henry Dearborn (of 17 May, not identified), Tench Coxe’s letter to Wolcott of 17 Aug. pointed out that “sundry petitions … against the position of the lighthouse” had delayed any advertising for proposals until April, during which time prices had risen (DNA: RG 58, Letters Sent by the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Revenue Office, 1792–1807).

2For the law of 19 May 1794, see 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 368–69. The petitions have not been identified, but one petition from the merchants and mariners of Wiscasset, Mass. (now Maine), “praying, that a light-house may be erected on Damascove island, instead of the one intended to be placed on Seguin island,” was read in the House on 16 Feb. (Journal of the House, description begins The Journal of the House of Representatives: George Washington Administration 1789–1797. Edited by Martin P. Claussen. 9 vols. Wilmington, Del., 1977. description ends 7:239).

3GW approved Dearborn’s proposals on 19 Aug. Three days later Coxe informed Dearborn of that decision and stipulated that he should “consider the same as mutually binding upon you and the United States” (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Letters). The resulting contract was dated 31 Aug. (DNA: RG 26, Lighthouse Deeds and Contracts).

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