Alexander Hamilton Papers
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From Alexander Hamilton to Tench Coxe, [1–15 August 1794]

To Tench Coxe

[Philadelphia, August 1–15, 1794.] “It will be proper to instruct Mr. Carrington to give facility to a legal decision in any case where it may be desired—taking care to secure an appeal in the last resort to the Supreme Court.”1

AL, RG 58, General Records, 1791–1803, National Archives.

1This note appears on an envelope addressed to H and attached to an “Extract of a letter from the Supervisor of Virginia to the Commissioner of the Revenue, dated July 28th: 1794.” The extract from Edward Carrington’s letter reads as follows:

“I am apprehensive we shall meet with a pacific, or what will be called a legal, opposition to the Collection of the Duties on Carriages. A very general idea prevails in this district, that the act is unconstitutional, and numbers of very respectable Characters have signified their determination to try the point by legal decision. This circumstance renders it of material consequence, that the Officers should proceed strictly under the provisions contained in the Act, that, in a legal contest, there may be no confusion of principles, and a decision may turn fairly on the constitutionality of the Act, if that is made a point of.

“Should my Construction of the Act be right as the legal provision for recovering the duties in cases of non-entry or non-payment, and the contemplated opposition be persevered in, the institution of suits will rest with the United States, and the defence of individuals will be calculated to try the point set up.”

The tax on carriages had been provided for in “An Act laying duties upon Carriages for the conveyance of Persons” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 373–75 [June 5, 1794]).

On August 26, 1794, Coxe wrote to Carrington: “… I have to request that you will give every facility in your power to a legal decision relative to the question as to the constitutionality of the duty on carriages in any case where it may be desired, taking care to secure an appeal, in the last resort, to the Supreme Court” (LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives).

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