Lot 188: Free frank signed, "Alex. Hamilton, Sec'y of the Treasury," on the reverse address panel of a letter from A. H. Williams to the customs collector at Baltimore, one page, 7.75 x 9, October 8, 1789. In part: "From Cape Henry to the extreme branches of the Susquehanna all inclusive there is not, that I ever heard of, one single Light House, Buoy, Beacon or other artificial object for Navigators to be governed by...By Laws, called compact Laws, passed mutually by Virginia and Maryland, considerable sums have been Levied, by a tax upon tonnage of Vessels, for the purpose of building Light Houses &c &c and I expect the Subject will be taken into serious consideration at the ensuing sessions." Overall dampstaining and toning, crudely repaired separations to a couple folds, and several tears and areas of paper loss, otherwise very good condition.
At this point in time the American government under the Constitution was still being organized; Washington was just six months into his first term and Hamilton had been secretary of the treasury for less then a month. Congress passed the 'Lighthouse Act' two months earlier on August 7, 1789, which directed that all lighthouses be placed under federal control and specified that it was the 'the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury' to ensure that they were appropriately funded and maintained. Hamilton was a leading advocate for lighthouses, believing they enhanced trade by making waters and ports more navigable for merchant ships. His first major project-in direct relation to this letter-was the construction of the Cape Henry lighthouse in Virginia, which opened in 1792 as the very first federal construction project under the US Constitution.
RR Auction's Fine Autographs & Artifacts
Friday, 23rd October 2015
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