In A Newly Discovered Letter, Alexander Hamilton Shows His Great Organizational Skills, Putting In Place a System for the Regular Reporting of Information, Preparing for the Issuance of the Report on Exports for 1793

With the free frank signature still intact; he orders the regular collection of export return data and other such information by the Commissioner of the Revenue, Tench Coxe

This letter has never before been offered for sale

During the Revolutionary War, it was a widely understood defect in the Articles of Confederation that the Federal government was virtually powerless to raise monies. A main goal of the new U.S. Constitution was the correction of that defect, and with the support...

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In A Newly Discovered Letter, Alexander Hamilton Shows His Great Organizational Skills, Putting In Place a System for the Regular Reporting of Information, Preparing for the Issuance of the Report on Exports for 1793

With the free frank signature still intact; he orders the regular collection of export return data and other such information by the Commissioner of the Revenue, Tench Coxe

This letter has never before been offered for sale

During the Revolutionary War, it was a widely understood defect in the Articles of Confederation that the Federal government was virtually powerless to raise monies. A main goal of the new U.S. Constitution was the correction of that defect, and with the support of advocates like Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, it established a means to fund the country by authorizing Congress to collect taxes to raise revenue.  This revenue would come mainly from tariffs and tonnage duties on goods coming into the U.S., which would be collected at customs houses at the ports of entry. On July 4, 1789, an act was passed formalizing this, allowing for the collection of import duties. The Collectors of these customs houses were appointed by President George Washington, and were men of substance who could be relied on (for example, Signer of the Declaration of Independence William Ellery was the first Collector in Newport, R.I.). In September of 1789, in one of the first substantial Acts of Congress passed and signed by President Washington, the U.S. Treasury was formed. That same month, Alexander Hamilton became the first U.S. Treasury Secretary. This put in place an agency to handle the nation’s finances.

Tench Coxe was the Commissioner of the Revenue and worked closely with Hamilton and Secretary of State Jefferson in that capacity.  It was Coxe who who was partly responsible for creating the report of the state of American exports through September 1793.

Printed letter signed, with uncommon integral free frank still attached reading “Secy. of the Treasy”, Treasury Department, April 29, 1793, to Stephen Smith, Collector at Machias, Maine.

“Sir, It having been deemed expedient, to commit to the Commissioner of the Revenue the business of preparing certain documents, respecting commerce, navigation, and manufactures, with a view to the public service, I request that you will regularly transmit to his office the quarterly Returns of Exports. It is also my request, that you furnish him from time to time with such other papers and pieces containing information relative to those objects, arising from materials in your office, or matters under your immediate observation, as he may desire. This, however, is not meant to include any official returns or documents which you have been or shall be directed to transmit to any other office of this Department.”

We obtained this from a family in whose collection it had remained for many decades, and it has never before been offered for sale.

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