Alexander Hamilton Papers

Notes on a Plan for Providing for the Debts of the United States, [January–April 1783]

Notes on a Plan
for Providing for the Debts of the United States1

[Philadelphia, January–April, 1783]

Debts to be funded probably consist of

Foreign debt 6000.000— a 4 per Ct 240000 
Army debt for pay— 6000.000
Commutation of
half pay
4000 000 10000.000— a 6 per Ct 600000 
Domestic liquidated debt 12000.000— a do  —  720000 
Unliquidated debt suppose 12000.000— a do  —  720.000 
40000 000    2280 000 
to form an
fund for
the army
debt foreign
debt &
liquidated debt
Duty on Imports at 5 per Ct ad valorem supposing the
amount of imports to be 18000.000
Salt duty at ⅛ of a dollar per bushel
estimating consumption at 1000.000 125.000—
do. on Wine 6/90 per Gall—Cons: 1000.000 66.666⅔
Rum &c. — 3/90 do. 1500.000 50.000—
Tea fine— 6/90 per ld.  200.000 13.333⅔
Bohea— 3/90 per do.  700.000 23.333⅓
Sugar. ⅔ of a doll per civ.   75.000 Civ. 50.000 
deduct for charge of collection
smuggling &c.
Nett 1166 917 
Land tax on Mr. Morris’ plan   480.000 

For the unliquidated debt a tax on houses on one of the two following plans.

For every house half a dollar & for every window above six to Eighteen the additional sum of ⅓ of a dollar per Window & for every window above Eighteen to thirty ⅙ of a dollar, for every window above Thirty ¼ of a dollar per window.

The preceding mode would be most simple & definite and in the view of revenue preferable but in point of equality it would not be as eligible as the following.

Every dwelling house to pay the general rate of half a dollar per house and the particular rate of 2½ per Cent on the excess of the rent above twenty dollars per annum.

When the house is rented the calculation should be made on the actual rent when in the occupancy of the owner on an appraised rent—the appraisement to be made once in seven years by Commissioners under oath.

In towns the lot and its appurtenances to be comprehended with the house—in the country the outhouses orchard & garden & these to be excluded from the land tax.

According to the idea of land quotas—the land & house taxes must be credited to the respective states.

The whole of these revenues to be collected under the authority of Congress.

ADf, James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

1The exact purpose for which H prepared these notes cannot be determined. They were presumably intended to be incorporated in a plan which he proposed to submit to the Continental Congress for redeeming the debt of the United States. From January to April, 1783, H was a member of several committees appointed to suggest means for providing for the continental debt. Although these notes bear little resemblance to the plan drafted by James Madison and adopted by the Continental Congress on April 18, 1783, they probably were suggested to the committee which recommended that plan to the Continental Congress. This presumption is strengthened by the fact that they are in the James Madison Papers, Library of Congress.

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