Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to William Loughton Smith, [19 January 1797]

To William Loughton Smith

[New York, January 19, 1797]

My dear Sir

Mrs. De Neufville widow of Mr. De Neufville formerly of Holland is on her way to Philadelphia to solicit the Kindness of Congress in virtue of services rendered the American cause by her husband. You probably Know their history as South Carolina was particularly concerned.1 From what I have heard it seems to me her pretensions on the score of her husband to the Kindness of this Country are strong—as a distressed and amiable woman she has a claim to every body’s Kindness.

What are you about in Congress? Our affairs seem to be at a very critical point with France. We seem to be brought to the same point with her as we were with Great Britain when Mr Jay was sent there. One last effort of negotiation to produce accommodation and redress, or measures of self defence. Have you any thoughts of an Embargo? There may be Ere long a necessity for it. Are you in earnest about additional revenue2—this is very necessary.

Yours truly

Alexander Hamilton

JCH Transcripts description begins John C. Hamilton Transcripts, Columbia University Libraries. description ends .

1Early in 1781 Commodore Alexander Gillon had been authorized by the state of South Carolina to buy frigates for the state navy. When he was in Amsterdam, he ran out of money and had to give up the cargo of his one homeward-bound frigate, the South Carolina, to John Laurens in exchange for financial assistance. Laurens engaged the firm of John de Neufville and Son to provide and ship a new cargo under the supervision of Captain William Jackson. Jackson and John de Neufville and Son overspent, and when the frigate sailed for South Carolina in August, 1781, much of the cargo had to be left behind (D. E. Huger Smith, “Commodore Alexander Gillon and the Frigate South Carolina,” The South Carolina Historical and Genealogical Magazine, IX [October, 1908], 189–219).

For Gillon’s activities, see H to Pierce Butler, February 19, 1794, note 2. See also George Washington to John de Neufville, January 6, 1784 (LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress); Neufville to Washington, February 15, August 19, 1783 (ALS, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress).

2Smith was chairman of the House Committee of Ways and Means, which had been instructed “to consider the subject of further revenue, and the provisions for more effectually securing the internal revenues” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States: with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VI, 1787–88). On January 12, 1797, the Committee of Ways and Means made a report which included the following resolution: “Resolved, That there ought to be apportioned, according to the last census, on the several States, the sum of ——, to be raised by the following direct taxes, viz:

“‘A tax ad valorem, under proper regulations and exceptions, on all lands, with their improvements, including town lots, with the buildings thereon.

“‘A tax on slaves, with certain exceptions.’” (Annals of Congress description begins The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States: with an Appendix, Containing Important State Papers and Public Documents, and All the Laws of a Public Nature (Washington, 1834–1849). description ends , VI, 1843.)

This resolution was in part the result of proposals in a report on direct taxes which Oliver Wolcott, Jr., submitted to the House of Representatives on December 14, 1796 (ASP description begins American State Papers, Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States (Washington, 1832–1861). description ends , Finance, I, 414–65).

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