George Washington Papers
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To George Washington from Oliver Wolcott, Jr., 7 April 1795

From Oliver Wolcott, Jr.

Treasury Dept. April 7. 1795.

The Secretary of the Treasury has the honor most respectfully to transmit for the consideration of the President of the United States, sundry papers relative to a general arrangement of compensations for the officers employed in the collection of the internal Revenues which at the request of the Secretary have been prepared by the Commissioner of the Revenue.1

The additional latitude on the subject of Compensations, which is the basis of the plan now submitted, is contained in the Act of the last session of Congress, intitled “an act to alter & amend the act entitled an act laying certain duties upon Snuff and refined Sugar.”2 Though the product of certain revenues established during the year 1794 cannot be accurately estimated; yet it is believed that the arrangement now submitted for consideration, will be found within the limits prescribed by the Laws.

For the sake of greater perspicuity and to give scope for such an arrangement of compensations as the public service appears to require, it has been thought expedient to consolidate the compensations for the Revenue service into one act, a draft of which, after mature consideration, is most respectfully submitted to The Presidents disposal.3

To guard against illicit practices on the river Ohio, it is judged expedient to vary in certain particulars the jurisdiction of the officers in the Districts of Virginia and Ohio. A power to make the proposed arrangement is believed to be vested by the first section of the act making further provision for securing & collecting the duties on foreign & domestic distilled spirits, stills, Wines & Teas; passed on the fifth of June 1794. The measure being, however, of local concern, is submitted in the draft of a separate act.4 All which is most respectfully submitted to the consideration of the President of the United States.

Olivr Wolcott Jr
Secy of the Treasy

LB, DLC:GW.

1In a letter dated 1 April, Tench Coxe informed Wolcott: “The late legislative grant of further compensations to the officers in the Revenue service appearing to require a new act of the President, I have very deliberately revised all the former acts relative thereto, and have digested one (paper A) to consolidate and embrace the whole system of the six existing internal Revenues—as also the legal services of the same officers in the better securing of the Revenue of impost.” Coxe included “An estimate (paper B) exhibiting the probable operation of the proposed Act.” He submitted an estimate of the compensation fund, (paper C), “necessary to exhibit the aggregate fund for compensations, expences &ca, as committed to the President, by the several laws.” The enclosed papers have not been identified.

Coxe then informed Wolcott that “revenue arising from retailers licences, Sales at Auction, refined Sugar, carriages, snuff, and mills for manufacturing Snuff” netted approximately $450,000. Revenue from domestically distilled spirits and stills brought approximately $400,000 to $450,000. “Should all these six Revenues produce 840,000, then the allowances made for their collection, being 104,461 Dollars, would be about 12½ centum on the gross revenue.” That expense, noted Coxe, occurred “during the first, and consequently the most difficult year, of the five new Duties. Should the whole internal Revenues amount to no more than 630,000 Dollars, the estimated allowances, probably, would not then exceed 14 cent, because there would be a considerable saving in all the articles in the form of Commission” (DNA: RG 58, Letters sent by the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Revenue Office, 1792–1807).

2Wolcott referred to the act approved by Congress on 3 March (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 426–30). Section 15 of the act authorized “the President of the United States, who is hereby empowered to make such compensation to the officers of inspection employed in the collection of the duties aforesaid, and on refined sugar, and on the duties upon carriages for the conveyance of persons, and for incidental expenses, as he shall judge reasonable, not exceeding in the whole five per centum of the total amount of the said duties collected.”

3The draft of the executive act has not been found. According to a circular Tench Coxe sent to supervisors of the revenue on 9 April, GW signed the act on that date. The salaries and commissions set by the act are recorded following Coxe’s circular in the letter book (DNA: RG 58, Letters sent by the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Revenue Office, 1792–1807).

4The first section of the congressional act passed on 5 June 1794 states: “That in order to facilitate and secure the collection of the revenue on distilled spirits, and stills, in such states as have been, or hereafter may be erected, and in the territories northwest, and south of the river Ohio, the President of the United States shall be, and he is hereby authorized and empowered to form and erect such new districts and surveys, and to make such alterations in, and additions to the several districts, and in and to the several surveys thereof, as from time to time shall appear, in his judgment, expedient and necessary; and that it shall also be lawful for the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, to appoint such and so many supervisors, inspectors of surveys, and inspectors of ports, therein and therefor, as may be found necessary, and to assign to them, compensations proportionate to those heretofore, or which may hereafter be allowed, to the officers of the revenue. Provided, That if the appointment of such supervisors and inspectors cannot be made, during the present session of Congress, the President may, and he is hereby empowered to make such appointments, during the recess of the Senate, by granting commissions, which will expire at the end of their next session” (1 Stat. description begins Richard Peters, ed. The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America, from the Organization of the Government in 1789, to March 3, 1845 . . .. 8 vols. Boston, 1845-67. description ends 378–79).

Presumably, Wolcott was relaying the act enclosed with Coxe’s letter to him of 6 April for “placing those parts of the Ohio, which are near to the posts and settlements on the western bank of that River, under the charge of the officers of the second Survey, of the district of Ohio, being the Northwestern Territory” (DNA: RG 58, Letters sent by the Commissioner of the Revenue and the Revenue Office, 1792–1807). The draft itself has not been found.

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