each State to adopt the measure of assembling a GENERAL CON
VENTION OF THE STATES, specially authorized to revise and
amend the CONFEDERATION, reserving a right to the respective
LEGISLATURES to ratify their determinations.
July 22, 1782.
Resolved, That the Honorable James Duane, William Floyd,
John Morin Scott, Ezra L'Hommedieu, and Alexander Hamil
ton, Esquires, are duly nominated and appointed delegates, to
represent this State in the United States in Congress assembled
for the ensuing year.
PLAN OF SPECIFIC TAXATION FOE THE STATE OF
Let the method of taxing, throughout the State, by quotas
and assessments, be abolished ; and, instead thereof, let all taxes
Let there be a land tax of three pence per acre upon all
meadow land in the State, and two pence upon all arable land.
jET. 25.] SPECIFIC TAXATION. 205
Suppose there are, in the State, about forty thousand farm
ers, and that each farm, upon an average, contains about ten
acres of meadow, and forty acres of arable land : that would make,
in the whole State, about
Four hundred thousand acres of meadow
land, at three pence per acre, 5000.0.0
One million, six hundred thousand acres
of arable land, at two pence per acre, 13,333.6.8 18,333.6.8
Five millions of acres of waste land, at
two shillings per hundred, 5000.0.0
Let there be a tax upon salt, at two shillings per bushel.
Suppose forty thousand families, each family consuming three
This will be one hundred and twenty thousand bushels,
at two shillings [English, three shillings and four
pence sterling, per bushel], 12,000
Let there be a tax upon tobacco of one penny per pound.
Suppose thirty thousand persons consumers of tobacco, at
twenty pounds each, per annum :
This would make six hundred thousand pounds, at one
penny per pound, 2,500
Let there be a tax upon carriages, of
Six pounds for every coach,
FFive pounds for every chariot,
Four pounds for every other four-wheeled carriage,
One pound for every two- wheeled carriage,
Five shillings for every pleasure sleigh.
Suppose, in the whole State,
Thirty coaches, six pounds per coach,
One hundred chariots, at five pounds per chariot,
One hundred and fifty phaetons, at four pounds each,
Five hundred two- wheeled carriages, at one pound each,
Five thousand pleasure sleighs, at five shillings each,
206 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JEn. 25.
Let there be a ta: upon plate, at the rate of three pence per
ounce ; and upon gold plate four pence per ounce.
Suppose each family, upon an average, to have six ounces of
plate : This would make two hundred and forty thousand
ounces at three pence per ounce, 3000
Upon all silver-plated furniture, one penny per ounce.
Let there be a tax upon taverns.
For license to keep an inn or tavern at all, one pound, or two
pounds, per annum.
For license to sell spirituous liquors, two pounds or three pounds
For license to sell wine, two pounds, or five pounds per annum.
For license to keep a billiard table, ten pounds per annum.
For license to play at other games, two pounds per annum.
For selling imported malt liquors, five pounds per annum.
Suppose, in the whole State, five hundred inns or taverns, of
Four hundred would sell spirituous liquors,
Two hundred, wine,
Twenty keep billiard tables,
One hundred gaming houses :
Five hundred inns, at one pound [at two pounds, 1000], 500
Four hundred selling spirituous liquors, at two pounds [at
three pounds, 1200], 800
Two hundred, wine, at two pounds [at five pounds, 1000], 400
Twenty billiard tables, at three pounds, 60
One hundred gaming houses, at two pounds, 200
Let there be a tax of ten shillings per head on menial or
household servants ; bachelors paying two pounds per head.
Suppose ten thousand menial servants :
Nine thousand eight hundred family menials, at ten shil
lings per head, 4,900
Two hundred bachelor menials, at ten shillings per head, 400
-ffli.25.] SPECIFIC TAXATION. 207
Let there be, in addition to the Imposts granted to Congress,
Upon all rum of Jamaica proof, three pence.
Upon all brandies of foreign manufacture, three pence.
Upon all other spirituous liquors of foreign manufacture, two
Upon all spirituous liquors distilled in any of the States, three
Molasses, one penny per gallon.
Upon every pound of bohea tea, three pence.
Upon all other teas
Upon Madeira wine, per gallon, two pence.
Upon all other wines, per gallon, one penny.
Upon loaf sugar, per pound, one penny.
Every pound of snuff, ten pence.
Every coach or chariot, ten pounds.
Every other four-wheeled carriage, five pounds.
Every curricle, chaise, chair, ketereen, or sulky, two pence.
Every bushel of malt, four pence.
Every gallon of porter, ale, beer, or cider, ten pence.
Every pound of cheese, two pence.
"Wrought silver plate, per ounce, one shilling.
Wrought gold plate, per ounce, four shillings.
Every clock, twenty shillings.
Every gold watch, twenty shillings.
Every other watch, eight shillings.
Hollow iron ware, per one hundred pounds, four shillings.
Scythes, or Axes, per dozen, twelve shillings.
Saddles, per piece, eight shillings.
Every pair woman's shoes, leather or stuff, six pence.
Every pair woman's silk shoes, one shilling.
Every pair of boots, two shillings.
Every pound of starch, or hair powder, three pence.
Every gallon of linseed oil, six pence.
Every pound of dressed or tanned leather, four pence.
Every pack of playing cards, three pence.
White rope, twine, pipes, beef, pork, butter, candles, soap,
anchors, bar iron, hats, raisins, prunes, figs, and currants, three
per cent, ad valorem.
208 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [^T. 25.
Nails, per cwt.,
Upon all mahogany furniture, five per cent, ad valorem.
Upon all mahogany wood, three per cent., with a drawback in
case of exportation.
Upon all paper hangings, five per cent., ad valorem.
Let there be a tax upon houses.
For every log house three shillings per room (exclusive of gar
rets and cellars).
For every other house of three rooms and under (exclusive as
before), four shillings per room.
For every other house of four rooms, five shillings per room.
For every house of five rooms, six shillings per room.
For every house of six rooms and upwards, eight shillings per
For every room of any house painted on the wooden work
inside, five shillings additional per room.
For every room papered inside, ten shillings per room additional.
For every marble chimney piece, twenty shillings additional.
For every stucco roof, forty shillings additional.
This tax may be computed to produce forty thousand pounds.
Let there be a tax upon writs, to be paid by the lawyers, and
not allowed in taxable costs,
Of two shillings for each chancery and Supreme Court seal.
And one shilling for each County and Mayor's Court seal.
Let the Bank be incorporated on condition of lending one-
eighth of its income, on landed security, towards forming a loan
PLAN OF A LOAN OFFICE.
The Interest of the two hundred thousand poands, 10,000
The tax on salt, 12,000
The tax on taverns, 2,000
APPROPRIATION OF THE FOREGOING TAXES.
Istly. That upon land to the support of internal government.
.ffiT.25.] SPECIFIC TAXATION. 209
2dly. Seal tax and )
Carriage tax, | to the su PP ort of tlle J ud S es -
3dly. House tax to Congress, for supplementary fund.
4th y. Salt tax, }
Tavern tax, > for constituting a loan office.
Tobacco tax, )
All the surplus of these taxes, and amount of the other taxes,
to form an aggregate fund for contingencies, to supply federal
MODE OF COLLECTION.
f Land Tax.
The assessors of each district to meet on a day, and at a place,
certain in each year, to receive from the possessors of lands, a
statement of the quantity of lands, specifying the different kinds-
holden by him in that district, thus :
Arable land, ........
Wood or waste land,
This statement to be made on oath (according to the best of
knowledge and belief, to be administered by the assessors), and
to be entered in a book kept for that purpose, in which shall be
carried out the amount of the tax ; a copy of which, delivered to
the several collectors, signed by the assessors, or one of them,
shall be their warrant to collect.
As to such persons as do not appear, the assessors to make an
estimate of their land, according to the best of their judgment
And if they suspect concealment, they shall order a survey ;
and in case it be found that there is a concealment to the extent
of one acre in twenty, the survey shall be at the expense of the
party, to be added to his tax of the succeeding year ; and fur
ther, the party shall be liable to forfeit, to be recovered in an
action of debt, forty shillings for every acre concealed, if suck
concealment shall appear to the jury, to have been not through
210 HAMILTON'S WORKS. j>E T . 25.
ignorance or mistake, but with intent to defraud the revenue.
If concealment not found to that extent, expense of survey shall
be by public, to be paid by treasurer, upon a certificate from two
of the assessors.
A day certain, in each year, to be fixed for the payment of
the tax ; and if not paid at the time, the collector shall immedi
ately distrain ; to proceed in the mode practised in case of dis
tress for rent, with the same penalties for rescue, etc. ; and no
replevin without first paying the money.
And where no sufficient distress can be found, to be re
covered by action of debt.
House Tax until provided for ly Congress.
The collector of each ward, precinct, or district, to visit each
house once in a year, or some day between the and
the of ; and make a list of the different
kinds of rooms upon which he shall calculate the amount of the
This tax to be also paid on a day certain, different, and at
some distance, from the day for payment of the land tax ; and to
be collected in the same manner as land tax.
In case the possessor of the house shall have any dispute
with the collector about the descriptions of any of the rooms, he
may appeal to the assessors at their aforesaid meeting, who shall
examine the party and the collector on oath, and decide as shall
appear to them right.
Salt) Tobacco, and other enumerated articles.
To be collected in the present mode of collecting the cus
toms, except that one year shall be allowed for payment of
the additional duties ; at the end of which all drawbacks shall
Carriage Tax. Servant Tax.
Collector, at the time he visits the houses, to take a list, from
^Ei. 25.] SPECIFIC TAXATION. 211
the information of the persons in the houses, of the carriages and
Each person, having carriages and menial servants, shall be
obliged to give such information, under the penalty of twenty
pounds for concealment of each carriage and servant ; to be re
covered by action of debt, for the benefit of the informer.
These taxes to be collected at the same time, and in the same
manner, with the house tax.
To be paid at the time of sealing the writs, and accounted -for,
once a year, by the persons having custody of the seals, to the
county treasurer, who will themselves be chargeable with a tax
on every seal put to any process.
K B. All bills of cost to be taxed by the Clerk of the Court;
and the fee for taxing to be accounted for in the same manner to
the county treasurers.
The fees for seals, and for taxing bills of cost in the Supreme
Court and Chancery, to be accounted for to the treasurer of the
The treasurer of the State to furnish each county treasurer
with a certain number of licenses, expressive of the different
purposes ; for which he shall charge such county treasurer, who
shall deliver out the licenses to the supervisors in equal pro
portions, charging each for his proportion. And the super
visors to deliver them out to the persons applying and paying
Once in each year the supervisors to account with the county
treasurer, and to be charged with all the blank licences they do
not then return.
The same to take place between the county treasurer and the
State treasurer ; who shall be chargeable in like manner, unless
in case of insolvency of supervisors, to be proved to the satis
faction of a jury.
212 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [J&T. 25.
KESOLUTIONS IN CONGBESS.
December 6, 1782.
Resolved, That the Superintendent of Finance be, and he is
hereby directed to represent to the Legislatures of the several
States, the indispensable necessity for their complying with the
requisitions of Congress, for raising 1,200,000 dollars, for paying
a year's interest of the domestic debt of the United States, and
2,000,000 of dollars towards defraying the expenses of the esti
mate for the ensuing year ; and the inconveniences, embarrass
ments, and injuries to the public service, which will arise from
the States, individually making appropriations of any part of the
said 2,000,000 of dollars, or of any other moneys required by
the United States in Congress assembled ; assuring them withal,
that Congress are determined to make the fullest justice to the
public creditors an invariable object of their counsels and ex
ertions ; that a deputation be sent to the State of Khode Island,
for the purpose of making a full and just representation of the
public affairs of the United States, and of urging the absolute
necessity of a compliance with the resolution of Congress, of the
3d day of February, 1781, respecting the duty on Imports and
Prizes, as a measure essential to the safety and reputation of
December 16, 1782.
Whereas, It is essential to justice and to the preservation of
public credit, that whenever a nation is obliged, by the exigencies
of public affairs, to contract a debt, proper funds should be
jET.25.] RESOLUTIONS IN CONGRESS. 213
established, not only for paying the annual value or interest of
the same, but for discharging the principal within a reasonable
period, by which a nation may avoid the evils of an excessive
accumulation of debt ; therefore,
Resolved, That whenever the net product of any funds, re
commended by Congress and granted by the States, for funding
the debt already contracted, or for procuring further loans for
the support of the war, shall exceed the sum requisite for pay
ing the interest of the whole amount of the national debt, which
these States may owe at the termination of the present war ; the
surplus of such grants shall form a SINKING FUND, and be invio
lably appropriated to the payment of the principal of the said
debt, and shall on no account be diverted to any other purpose.
And in order that the several States may have proper informa
tion of the state of their finances, it is further
Resolved, That as soon as the public debt can be liquidated,
each State be annually furnished with the amount thereof, and
of the interest thereon ; and also of the proceeds and disposition
of the funds provided for the redemption thereof.
That the faith of the United States be pledged for the obser
vance of the foregoing resolutions, and that if any State shall
think it may be necessary to make it a condition of their grants,
the same will be considered by Congress as consistent with the
resolution of the 23d February, 1781.
REPORT ON IMPOST DUTY.
By the United States in Congress assembled, December 16, 1782.
The Committee, consisting of Mr. Hamilton, Mr. Madison,
and Mr. Fitzsimmons, to whom was referred the letter of the
thirtieth of November, from the Honorable William Bradford,
Speaker of the lower House of Assembly of the State of Khode
Island, containing, under three heads, the reasons of that State
for refusing their compliance with the recommendation of Con
gress for a duty on imports and prize goods, report :
214 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JErr. 25.
That they flatter themselves the State, on a reconsideration
of the objections they have offered, with a candid attention to
the arguments which stand in opposition to them, will be in
duced to retract their dissent, convinced that the measure is sup
ported on the most solid grounds of equal justice, policy, and
general utility. The following observations, contrasted with
each head of the objections, successively, will furnish a satisfac
tory answer to the whole.
First objection. " That the proposed duty would be unequal
in its operation, bearing hardest upon the most commercial States,
and so would press peculiarly hard upon that State which draws
its chief support from commerce."
The most common experience, joined to the concurrent
opinions of the ablest commercial and political observers, have
established, beyond controversy, this general principle: "That
every duty on imports is incorporated with the price of the com
modity, and ultimately paid by the consumer, with a profit on
the duty itself, as a compensation to the merchant for the ad
vance of his money."
The merchant considers the duty demanded by the State on
the imported article, in the same light with freight or any simi
lar charge, and, adding it to the original cost, calculates his pro
fit on the aggregate sum. It may happen that, at particular
conjunctures, where the markets are overstocked, and there is a
competition among the sellers, this may not be practicable ; but,
in the general course of trade, the demand for consumption pre
ponderates ; and the merchant can with ease indemnify himself,
and even obtain a profit on the advance. As a consumer, he
pays his share of the duty, but it is no further a burthen upon
him. The consequence of the principle laid down, is, that every
class of the community bears its share of the duty in proportion
to its consumption ; which last is regulated by the comparative
wealth of the respective classes, in conjunction with their habits
of expense or frugality. The rich and luxurious pay in propor
tion to their riches and luxury ; the poor and parsimonious, in
proportion to their poverty and parsimony. A chief excellence
of this mode of revenue, is, that it preserves a just measure to
jET. 25.] IMPOST DUTY. 215
the abilities of individuals, promotes frugality, and taxes extra
vagance. The same reasoning, in our situation, applies to the
intercourse between two States : if one imports and the other
does not, the latter must be supplied by the former. The duty
being transferred to the price of the commodity, is no more a
charge on the importing State for what is consumed in the
other, than it is a charge on the merchant for what is con
sumed by the farmer or artificer. Either State will only feel the
burthen in a ratio to its consumption ; and this will be in a ratio
to its population and wealth. What happens between the dif
ferent classes of the same community, internally happens between
the two States ; and as the merchant, in the first case, so far
from losing the duty himself, has a profit on the money he ad
vances for that purpose ; so the importing State, which, in the
second case, is the merchant with respect to the other, is not
only reimbursed by the non-importing State, but has a like
benefit on the duty advanced.
It is, therefore, the reverse of a just position, that the duty pro
posed will bear hardest on the most commercial States : it will,
if any thing, have a contrary effect, though not in a sufficient de
gree to justify an objection on the part of the non-importing
States, For it is as reasonable they should allow an advance on
the duty paid as on the first cost, freight, or any incidental charge.
They have also other advantages in the measure, fully equivalent
to this disadvantage. Over nice and minute calculations, in mat
ters of this nature, are inconsistent with national measures, and, in
the imperfect state of human affairs, would stagnate all the oper
ations of government. Absolute equality is not to be attained :
to aim at it, is pursuing a shadow at the expense of the sub
stance ; and, in the event, we should find ourselves wider of the
mark, than if, in the first instance, we were content to approach
it with moderation.
Second Objection. " That the recommendation proposes to
introduce into that and the other States, officers unknown and
unaccountable to them, and so is against the Constitution of the
It is not to be presumed that the Constitution of any State
216 HAMILTON'S WORKS. [JGi. 25.
could mean to define and fix the precise numbers and descrip
tions of all ofiicers to be permitted in the State, excluding the
creation of any new ones, whatever might be the necessity de
rived from that variety of circumstances incident to all political
institutions. The Legislature must always have a discretionary
power of appointing officers, not expressly known to the Consti
tution ; and this power will include that of authorizing the Fed
eral Government to make the appointments in cases where the
general welfare may require it. The denial of this would prove
too much : to wit, that the power given by the Confederation to
Congress, to appoint all ofiicers in the post-office, was illegal and
The doctrine advanced by Khode Island would, perhaps,
prove also, that the Federal Government ought to have the ap
pointment of no internal ofiicers whatever ; a position that would
defeat all the provisions of the Confederation, and all the pur
poses of the Union. The truth is, that no Federal Constitution
can exist without powers that, in their exercise, affect the internal
police of the component members. It is equally true, that no
government can exist without a right to appoint ofiicers for those
purposes which proceed from, and concentre in, itself: and there
fore the Confederation has expressly declared, that Congress shall
have authority to appoint all such " civil ofiicers as may be ne
cessary for managing the general affairs of the United States
under their direction." All that can be required, is, that the
Federal Government confine its appointments to such as it is em
powered to make by the original act of union, or by the subse
quent consent of the parties. Unless there should be express
words of exclusion in the Constitution of a State, there can be
no reason to doubt that it is within the compass of legislative
discretion to communicate that authority.
The propriety of doing it upon the present occasion, is
founded on substantial reasons.
The measure proposed is a measure of necessity. Eepeated
experiments have shown, that the revenue to be raised within
these States, is altogether inadequate to the public wants. The
deficiency can only be supplied by loans. Our applications to
MT. 25.] IMPOST DUTY.
the foreign powers, on whose friendship we depend, have had a
success far short of our necessities. The next resource is to bor
row from individuals. These will neither be actuated by gener
osity nor reasons of state. 'Tis to their interest alone we must
appeal. To conciliate this, we must not only stipulate a proper
compensation for what they lend, but we must give security for
the performance. "We must pledge an ascertained fund ; simple
and productive in its nature, general in its principle, and at the
disposal of a single will. There can be little confidence in a se
curity under the constant revisal of thirteen different delibera-
tives. It must, once for all, be defined and established on the
faith of the States solemnly pledged to each other, and not revo
cable by any without a breach of the general compact.
'Tis by such expedients that nations, whose resources are un
derstood, whose reputations and governments are erected on the
foundation of ages, are enabled to obtain a solid and extensive
credit. Would it be reasonable in us to hope for more easy
terms, who have so recently assumed our rank among the na
tions ? Is it not to be expected, that individuals will be cautious
in lending their money to a people in our circumstances, and
that they will at least require the best security we can give ?
We have an enemy vigilant, intriguing, well acquainted with
our defects and embarrassments. We may expect that he will
make every effort to instil diffidences into individuals ; and, in
the present posture of our internal affairs, he will have too plau
sible ground on which to tread. Our necessities have obliged us
to embrace measures, with respect to our public credit, calculated
to inspire distrust. The prepossessions on this article must na
turally be against us, and it is therefore indispensable we should