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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from Hugh Williamson to Samuel Johnston
Williamson, Hugh, 1735-1819
April 27, 1789
Volume 21, Pages 552-553

[From Executive Letter Book.]

New York, 27th April, 1789.

Dear Sir:

With this you will receive Copies of the Laws of sundry States which have been forwarded according to a recommendation of Congress for the use of the Legislature of our States. I am not informed whether our State has not returned like Copies of its Laws for the information of the Legislatures of other States.

On Thursday next the President of the United States, G. Washington, is to take the Oath and enter upon the Duties of his Office. The new form of Government will then have commenced and my privilege of Franking Letters as a Member of Congress will probably be disputed. I should then apply myself wholly to the Business of the public Accounts, but some weeks must elapse before the Commissioners of the United States can make any progress. One member of that Board has just taken his Seat in Congress as a Representative from Georgia (Mr. Baldwin) and by a Special Vote of Congress any two of the Board are not allowed to Act, unless the third is present. A third Commissioner must, therefore, be appointed by the President and he is not authorized to make such appointment until Congress shall have taken measures for that purpose and as the Revenue System engages all the attention at present some time must necessarily pass before the third Commissioner can be ready to Act. In the meanwhile I propose to visit No. Carolina and to collect some Evidence of which I think we may avail ourselves considerably in the settlement of our Accounts. I am the more convinced of the usefulness of such Evidence from the Rules that the Board of Commissioners have already laid down for their General Government respecting the claims of particular States. However attentive I have been to the Board of Commissioners you observe that I have hitherto considered

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myself a Member of Congress by which I might the better avail myself of any opportunity to serve the State by having access to the public Offices, &c.

It is obvious that the Revenue System now before Congress must inevitably press with much weight on the Commerce of No. Carolina. The Duty of One Dollar per Hhds. on time is calculated for the meridian of Rhode Island and that on Spermaceti Candles, Cheese and Malt will have the like Operation. Hitherto No. Carolina has been treated with more respect; they have only talked of duties on Naval Stores & Corn. I will try if possible, to beg the Indulgence of another year.

The Foreign Tonnage Duty of half a Dollar per Ton must nip our trade. Suppose that 500 Vessels clear annually from No. Carolina for other States in the Union, and the number is much greater, these Vessels at 40 Tons must pay Ten Thousand Dollars Tonnage. By such a Tax the value of our produce must be reduced, for we have not the monoply in the meantime. I do not see any means by which this particular Grievance can be escaped or procrastinated. It is a measure that would be of great use to us if we were in the Union by promoting Ship building.

I have the Honor, &c.,