• Secretary Of The Treasury Oliver Wolcott Jr. Writes Massachusetts Collector In Preparation Of Fishing Season

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    OLIVER WOLCOTT, JR. (1760-1833) served as the second Secretary of the Treasury from 1795 to 1800, appointed by President George Washington and reappointed by President John Adams. He was also Judge of the United States Circuit Court for the Second Circuit from 1801 to 1802 and served as Governor of Connecticut from 1817 to 1827.


    2 pp, 8 x 10, LS, November 5, 1798, Treasury Department, to WATERMAN THOMAS, Collector Waldoborough with stern instructions about collecting duties to aid fishing vessels.  Thomas would fall short of meeting the requirement. Fishing was extremely important to the economy. Wolcott writes:




    “I have to request that you will retain in your hands a sufficient Sum of monies arising from the duties of Imports & Tonnage for the purpose of discharging the allowances to fishing vessels, which will become due in your District on the 31st of the ensuring month and which are to be paid

    agreeably to the instructions heretofore given for that purpose.  If the funds accruing in your Office should fall short of the amount required you will pay the deficiency by drafts...in which case it will be necessary that you transmit your signature to the said Collector and furnish him with weekly Statements accurately describing therein the drafts issued: Copies of these Statements are also to be regularly forwarded to this Office.”

    At the bottom of the letter is Wolcott’s vision of what the said report should look like.


    WATERMAN THOMAS (1753-1813), according to Founders Online, had been nominated to be Collector for the District of Waldoborough and Inspector of the Revenue for the port of Waldoborough, in what was then Massachusetts (present-day Maine). Residing on the Atlantic Ocean, this town was known for its thriving fishing industry and Wolcott, a fellow New Englander, wanted to make sure that fishing boats would receive government support from port revenue. Fishing was not only a key to American economic self-sufficiency but a major internal export to the nation’s interior. Unfortunately, as a 1799 letter on Founders Online to President John Adams from Secretary Wolcott indicates, Thomas “neglected to comply with repeated instructions from the Offices of the Secy and Comptroller of the Treasury requiring him to render his accounts,” thus leaving a whopping $2,800 unaccounted for.


    Light toning with some mounting residue to the verso. A couple of short fold splits.  Very nice docketing on the verso.


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