To Edmund Pendleton
[10 December 1792]
As you find an amusement in our Newspapers I inclose two of the last; which however contain little of consequence, except a new report from the Treasury Dept.1 The Mover2 of the reference which gave birth to it declared he did not mean to authorize a proposition of new taxes, and it appeared that some at least voted for the Motion on that idea. You will find however that a different construction has been made by the head of that Dept. Quer: is not a tax on horses a direct tax, and therefore unconstitutional in the form proposed? Quere. How much will Va. pay more than her share of such a tax, compared with Connecticut & the Southn. States generally than the Eastern? Quer. Is it not rather hard that those who are to have least of the benefit, shd. constantly be saddled with most of the burden? Quer. if a new tax & a direct tax is to be encountered is it not mockery to begin with one that is to raise 40 odd thousd. dollars only, as a fund for sinking the debt? Quer—but there wd. be no end to the Queries arising out of the project. Yrs. affely.
Js. Madison Jr.
RC (DLC). Docketed by Pendleton: “Decr. 10. 1792.”
1. Hamilton’s “Report on the Redemption of the Public Debt” of 30 Nov. 1792 proposed a tax on horses (Syrett and Cooke, Papers of Hamilton description begins Harold C. Syrett and Jacob E. Cooke, eds., The Papers of Alexander Hamilton (26 vols.; New York, 1961–79). description ends , XIII, 269–70).
2. On 19 Nov. FitzSimons had moved that the secretary of the treasury be directed to report a plan for redemption of the public debt. The House approved his motion on 21 Nov. (Annals of Congress description begins Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, 1789–1824 (42 vols.; Washington, 1834–56). description ends , 2d Cong., 2d sess., 696, 722).