Thomas Jefferson Papers

James Ronaldson to Thomas Jefferson, 20 March 1809

From James Ronaldson

Philadelphia March 20 1809


I take the liberty of inclosing coppy of a bill now before the Legistlature of Penny, that may be considered as passed, wanting only the concurrence of the H R to some amendments made by the Senate I think it will confer honor on the Legistlature and1 produce incalculable benefit to the state; It is gratifying to observe the good sense and sound policy embraced in this bill, and if we may judge by the change of sentiment that has taken place amongst the farmers on this subject, it will soon be extended to all the populous counties in the state, so strong were the prejudices against taxing dogs; that a few years ago it was with difficulty a law could be got for the county of Delaware, and was so modified it could not go into operation until it met the approbation of the Grand Jury of the County, and several juries met and rejected it, even after it was adopted litigeous persons were found, who disputed it constitutionality, Saying the “Legistlature had no right to delegate to any body the power of imposing Taxes” to remove this objection the last section has been introduced into the bill and Delaware county included in this new act

I hope the specimens of wool were safely received and will be usefull

With sentiments of Respect & esteem I am Your well wisher

James Ronaldson

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 30 Mar. 1809 and so recorded in SJL.

The Pennsylvania statute taxing dogs as sent to TJ has not been found, but as passed on 23 Mar. 1809, it provided for an annual tax of from twenty-five cents to $2 per dog in Philadelphia and in Bucks, Chester, Montgomery, and Delaware counties; stipulated that the resulting fund be used to reimburse farmers for sheep killed by dogs; dedicated any surplus from the dog tax to the purchase of full-blooded merino sheep and other imported sheep and cattle to improve local bloodlines; and in the last section repealed a 10 Apr. 1807 act taxing dogs in Delaware County superseded by the new legislation (Acts of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania [Philadelphia, 1809], 87–90).

1Manuscript: “and and.”

Index Entries

  • Bucks County, Pa. search
  • cattle; in Pa. search
  • Chester County, Pa. search
  • Delaware County, Pa. search
  • dogs; bill for taxing search
  • merino sheep; in Pa. search
  • Montgomery County, Pa. search
  • Pennsylvania; sheep in search
  • Pennsylvania; statute taxing dogs search
  • Philadelphia; dogs taxed in search
  • Ronaldson, James; letters from search
  • Ronaldson, James; on taxing dogs search
  • sheep; in Pa. search