United States Department of the Treasury

Illegal Aliens in 1798! Treasury Department Circular Signed by Washington-Appointed Comptroller John Steele

Rare 1798 Treasury Department Circular Signed by Washington-appointed Comptroller John Steele

 

Treasury Department Comptroller John Steele (1764-1815) signed this September 19, 1798 circular from the Comptroller's Office in Philadelphia as "Jno. Steele" at center verso. The circular is addressed to "Collectors, Naval Officers, and Surveyors." Docketed verso. In near fine condition, with expected paper folds. Bottom edge is slightly uneven, and there is ink bleed-through from signature verso. Overall the double-sided printed page measures 7.375" x 9."

 

In his capacity as Treasury Department Comptroller, Steele summarized four acts that had just passed in Congress. The first two, relating to "Revenue Cutters" and "Duties upon the Manufacture of Snuff" were carry-overs from previous customs legislation. The two new acts treated the naturalization of alien citizens, and the care of "sick and disabled Seamen."

 

The third act is particularly interesting considering the political climate in 2018:

 

"The act now transmitted, respecting the naturalization and residence of Aliens in the United States, so far as it is the duty of the Collectors to attend to its execution, contains the following leading points, which will deserve their special attention.

 

1st. All white persons, being Aliens, except those mentioned in the act, are to make report in all case of residence, within six months from the passing of the act (being the 18th of June 1798) and in all after cases, within forty eight hours after the first arrival or coming into the territory of the United States…"

 

George Washington appointed John Steele Treasury Department Comptroller in 1796, and Steele would serve in this role until his resignation in 1802. Steele was involved in North Carolina state politics prior to his Treasury Department service.

 

A rare item, not found in Evans, Shipton, Bristol, NAIP OCLC, or the AAS online site.

 

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Item: 63813

Price: $800.00
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United States Department of the Treasury
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