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United States Statutes at Large/Volume 1/1st Congress/1st Session/Chapter 9

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Chap. Ⅸ.—An Act for the establishment and support of Lighthouses, Beacons, Buoys, and Public Piers.[1]
Aug. 7, 1789.

Section 1. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,Act of July 22, 1790, ch. 32. That all expenses which shall accrue from and after the fifteenth day of August, one thousand seven hundred and eighty-nine, in the necessaryExpenses of support and repairs, after 15th Aug. 1789, to be defrayed out of the treasury of the U. States. support, maintenance and repairs of all lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers erected, placed, or sunk before the passing of this act, at the entrance of, or within any bay, inlet, harbor, or port of the United States, for rendering the navigation thereof easy and safe, shall be defrayed out of the treasury of the United States: Provided nevertheless,Provided a cession be made within one year. That none of the said expenses shall continue to be so defrayed by the United States, after the expiration of one year from the day aforesaid, unless such lighthouses, beacons, buoys and public piers, shall in the mean time be ceded to and vested in the United States, by the state or states respectively in which the same may be, together with the lands and tenements thereunto belonging, and together with the jurisdiction of the same.

[Expired.]
Lighthouse to be erected near entrance of Chesapeake Bay.
Sec. 2. And be further enacted, That a lighthouse shall be erected near the entrance of the Chesapeake Bay, at such place, when ceded to the United States in manner aforesaid, as the President of the United States shall direct.

Secretary of the Treasury to contract for building, repairing, &c. when necessary.Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Secretary of the Treasury to provide by contracts, which shall be approved by the President of the United States, for building a lighthouse near the entrance of Chesapeake Bay, and for rebuilding when necessary, and keeping in good repair, the lighthouses, beacons, buoys, and public piers in the several States, and for furnishing the same with all necessary supplies; and also to agree for the salaries, wages, or hire of the person or persons appointed by the President, for the superintendence and care of the same.

Pilots to be regulated by the existing laws of the respective States.Sec. 4. And be it further enacted, That all pilots in the bays, inlets, rivers, harbors and ports of the United States, shall continue to be regulated in conformity with the existing laws of the States respectively wherein such pilots may be, or with such laws as the States may respectively hereafter enact for the purpose, until further legislative provision shall be made by Congress.[2]

Approved, August 7, 1789.


  1. See acts of July 22, 1790; act of March 3, 1791; act of March 2, 1793; act of March 2, 1795; act of May 30, 1796. Few acts have been specially passed since 1796 for the support &c. of lighthouses, &c. Provision for the same has been made in the general appropriation laws. By the 7th section of the act of May 15, 1820, “No lighthouse, beacon nor landmark shall be built or erected on any site previous to the cession of jurisdiction over the same being made to the United States.”

    Suits for pilotage on the high seas, and on waters navigable from the sea, as far as the tide ebbs and flows, are within the admiralty and maritime jurisdiction of the United States. The Thomas Jefferson, 10 Wheat. 428. Peyroux v. Howard, 7 Peters, 324. Hobart v. Drogan, 10 Peters, 108.

  2. By the 2d section of the act of May 8, 1792, pilots are exempted from militia duty. By “an act concerning pilots,” passed March 2, 1837, pilots on the waters which are the boundary of two States, may be licensed by either State, and may be employed by any vessel going into or out of any port situated on such waters.