Collection Description & Arrangement
This letter from Thomas Jefferson to the Governor of Rhode Island, was found in a folder in November 2011. It was given to Larry Wenger, then director of the Law Library by Tom Weil sometime in 1986. (See: Larry Wenger to Marsha Trimble memorandum of Aug. 6, 1986). There is no other document referring to the provenance of the letter.
Biographical & Historical Information
On December 31, 1792, President George Washington signed into law “An Act Concerning the Registering and Recording of Ships or Vessels” that outlined the process and criteria for registering ships and vessels as those of the United States. After March 31, 1793, only those vessels registered according to this Act or its predecessor (with fishing and coasting vessels excepted) would be entitled to the benefits of trading as ships of the United States. On January 11, 1793, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson sent out authenticated copies of the Act enclosed in a circular letter, including in this letter to Rhode Island Governor Arthur Fenner.