Today in Coast Guard History – March 2nd

  • 1792- Congress authorized the revenue cutters to fire on merchant ships who refused to “bring to.”
  • 1799- Congress authorized that “Revenue Cutters shall, whenever the President of the United States shall so direct, cooperate with the Navy of the United States during which time they shall be under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy, and the expenses thereof shall be defrayed by the agents of the Navy Department.”
  • 1799- Congress authorized revenue cutter officers to board all ships of the United States within four leagues of the U.S., if bound for the U.S. and then search and examine them, certifying manifest, sealing hatches and remaining on board until they arrived in port. They were also authorized to search ships of other nations in United States’ waters and “perform such other duties for the collection and security of the Revenue” as directed by the Secretary of the Treasury.
  • 1799- Congress authorized cutters and boats to be “distinguished from other vessels by an ensign and pendant” with the marks thereon prescribed by the President of the United States, to fire on vessels who refused to bring to after the pendant and ensign had been hoisted and a gun fired as a signal, masters to be indemnified from any penalties or actions for damages for so doing, and be admitted to bail if any one is killed or wounded by such firing. On August 1, 1799, Secretary Oliver Wolcott, Jr., prescribed that the ” ensign and pennant’’ should consist of “Sixteen perpendicular stripes, alternate red and white, the union of the ensign to be the arms of the United States in dark blue on a white field.” There were sixteen states in the Union at that time.
  • 1799- Congress authorized the President to sell cutters unfit for service and the Secretary of Treasury to apply an unexpended balance of proceeds in the purchase and construction of revenue cutters. (This authority revoked March 3, 1845).
  • 1807- Congress outlawed the importation of slaves into the United States.
  • 1868- By Act of Congress (15 Stat. L., 249), the Lighthouse Board was “authorized, when in their judgment, it is deemed necessary, to place a light-vessel, or other suitable warning of danger, on or over any wreck or temporary obstruction to the entrance of any harbor, or in the channel or fairway of any bay or sound.”
  • 1889- Secretary of Treasury authorized to keep rivers clear to afford access to spawning grounds.
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