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To George Washington from the Manufacturers of Snuff and Refined Sugar, 17 May 1794

From the Manufacturers of Snuff and Refined Sugar

Philadelphia. [May]1 17 [1794]

To the President of the United States.

The Memorial of the Manufacturers of Snuff and Refined Sugar, Respectfully Sheweth:

THAT your memorialists, having, in vain, remonstrated to the respective Houses of Congress against the imposition of an excise upon their infant manufactures,2 are impelled, as a last resort, earnestly to solicit the interposition of your constitutional authority, to prevent the establishment of a measure so injurious to the interests, and so pernicious to the morals of a free people.

That they would not presume thus to call your attention to their peculiar case, were they not conscious of entertaining a sincere disposition to participate, in common with their fellow citizens, in the inconveniencies and burdens of government; but, they confidently assert, that the attempt to expose them to heavier contributions, and more rigorous regulations, than any other class of citizens, is a violation of the principles of political justice, and inconsistent with the genuine spirit of that constitution, which, being established for the common good, contemplates, in all its operations, impartiality and equality.

That your memorialists will not here recapitulate the various objections to the nature of the tax proposed, nor to its present application, for the purpose of raising a revenue from those branches of public industry, which rather require the aid and protection of government: On those subjects, your long and attentive observation of the history of men and nations, will furnish sufficient information; and it only remains to express their confidence, arising from your well tried and exemplary patriotism, that your assent will not be given to the introduction of a system, which, having uniformly undermined the freedom and felicity of every other country that permitted it, now menaces the destruction of that liberty and independence, which you have recently struggled to acquire.

That, under this general view of the subject, your memorialists entreat, that you will pronounce a negative upon the several bills for laying an excise on their respective manufactures;3 and, by so doing, add to the many monuments of your wisdom, virtue and firmness, as a statesman, while you accumulate the sources of respect and affection in the breasts of your fellow-citizens.

THOMAS LEIPER, for himself and the other Snuff Manufacturers.

JACOB MORGAN, for himself and the other Refiners of Sugar.

Printed, Callender, Short History of Excise Laws, 78-79. Thomas Leiper (1745-1825) was a tobacco merchant and snuff manufacturer, located at this time at 9 N. Water St. in Philadelphia. He became increasingly active politically and, commencing in 1801, served many years as a member and at times president of the city council. He was also a presidential elector for the Republican ticket in 1808.

1The printed text reads "June," but by 17 June, GW had already approved the act of Congress laying a tax on refined sugar and snuff, and Congress had adjourned. Callender’s narrative in this section is generally chronological, and this document is placed between a memorial read in the House on 17 May and reference to another memorial read in the House on 19 May. The phrase "several bills" also suggests a date no later than 17 May, since on that date the taxes on tobacco and sugar were combined into a single bill (see note 3).

2A memorial from the tobacco manufacturers of Philadelphia was read in the House of Representatives on 2 May, and a memorial from the sugar bakers was read on 5 May (U.S. House Journal, Washington Administration, 6:287-88). Another memorial from Philadelphia sugar refiners was read in the House on 17 May (U.S. House Journal, Washington Administration, 6:338). For the contents of those memorials, see Callender, Short History of Excise Laws, 56-64, 75-78. In addition the tobacco manufacturers and sugar refiners organized a more general meeting on 8 May that passed resolutions transmitted to the House, the Senate, and GW (see the enclosure with Morgan to GW, 9 May).

3A House committee appointed "to inquire whether any, or what, further or other revenues are necessary for the support of public credit; and if further revenues are necessary, to report the ways and means," submitted a report on 17 April that included among its many resolutions one to place a tax on manufactured tobacco and snuff and another to place a duty on sugar refined within the United States. After much debate, the House on 10 May created a committee to prepare "a bill or bills . . . pursuant to the said resolutions." On 17 May that committee reported a bill laying duties on manufactured tobacco and refined sugar (Annals of Congress description begins Joseph Gales, Sr., comp. 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. 42 vols. Washington, D.C., 1834–56. description ends , 3d Cong., 1st sess., 531-32, 597, 620, 622-23, 633, 673, 700). "An Act laying certain duties upon Snuff and Refined Sugar" was approved on 5 June (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 . 1:384-90).

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