George Washington Papers

From George Washington to Arthur Young, 2 December 1792

To Arthur Young

Philadelphia Decr 2d 1792.


I must begin this letter with an apology—no apology ought to be so satisfactory as the truth—and the truth is—that not receiving the account of the taxes of a Virginia Estate for which I had written (before I left this City during the recess of Congress) as mentioned in my letter to you of the 18th of June, the promise I then made of forwarding it to you in my next, had escaped me altogether, until I was reminded of it, lately, by a circumstance too trivial to mention.1

A copy of the account is now annexed—the name of the Proprietor of the Estate is not inserted—but on the authenticity of it you may rely.2 That you may understand the principle on which the Land tax in Virginia is founded, it will be necessary to inform you, that by a law of that State, the Inhabitants of it are thrown into districts—say Parishes—in each of which, or for two, or more of them united, Commissioners are appointed to assess the value of each man’s land that lies within it—on which a certain per centum is uniformly paid.

No Negros under twelve years of age are taxed—nor are any under Sixteen subjected to the payment of County, or Parish levies. Horses, at present, are the only species of Stock, in that State, which pays a tax. Carriages were, when I left Virginia, and I believe still are, subject to a tax by the Wheel. It was then if I recollect rightly, about five dollars each wheel—but whether it is more or less now; or whether there be any at all, is more than I am able with certainty to inform you. With very great esteem & regard I am—Sir Your most Obedt & much obliged Servt

Go: Washington


1In a letter of 11 Nov. 1792 GW had instructed his estate manager Anthony Whitting to obtain a copy of “the sheriff’s bill for the taxes, which you paid while I was at home.”

2The tax account is for GW’s estate.

“Dr—For Public taxes—& for County & Parish levies

In Truro Parish—1792
Tax on 6320 acs. of Land for 1791 £13. 8. 7
114 Negros @ 2/6 14. 5. 0
87. Horses @ 6d. 2. 3. 6
107. County & Parish levies @ 29 lbs. of Tobo each 3013
Fairfax Parish (adjoining)
Tax on 3420 acres of Land [1791] 6. 6. 3
24 Negros @ 2/6 3. 0. 0
15. Horses   6d. 7. 6
23. County & Parish levies @ 29 lbs. Tobo each  567
3670 & £39.10.10
3670 lbs. Tobo at 15/. p. Ct [wt]. 27.10. 6
Total—Dollars— @ 6/ £67. 1. 4

Note, There ought to have been in the above account, a discrimination in the charge for County & Parish levies. The first is for building & repairing Court Houses—Goals—&ca—Criminal processes &ca—The latter is for the support of the Poor, and other Parochial charges” (AD, PPRF). The text within square brackets is taken from the letter-book copy (DLC:GW).

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