Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from Robert Morris, 2 May 1782

From Robert Morris1

Office of Finance
Philda. May 2d. 1782


Mr. Charles Stewart late Commissary general of Issues has informed me ⟨that⟩ you are disposed to quit the military line for the purpose of ⟨en⟩tering into civil life. He at the same time induced me to believe ⟨that⟩ you would accept of the Office of Receiver of the continental taxes ⟨for⟩ the state of New York. The intention of this letter is to offer you that ⟨app⟩ointment. The duties of the Office will appear in a great degree from the publications made by me on this subject. In addition it will be necessary that you correspond with me frequently and give accurate accounts of whatever may be passing in your State which it may be necessary for this Office to be acquainted with. But this and other things of that sort will be more fully communicated after you shall have signifyed your acceptance of the Office. For the trouble of executing it I shall allow you one fourth pr Cent on the monies you receive. The amount of the quota called for from New York for the current year is as you know three hundred and seventy three thousand, five hundred and ninety eight Dollars. I shall be glad to know your determination as soon as possible. I make to you no professions of my confidence and esteem because I hope ⟨they⟩ are unnecessary, but if they are, my wish that you would accept the Offer I make is the Strongest evidence I can give of them.

I pray you Sir to believe me very respectfully    Your most Obedi⟨ent⟩ and Humble ⟨Servant⟩

Robt. Morris

LS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress; LC, Robert Morris Papers, Library of Congress.

1In February, 1781, after more than five years of control of continental finances by committees of Congress, the Treasury Department was reorganized and placed under an individual department head. Robert Morris was appointed the first Superintendent of Finance.

On October 30, 1781, Congress called upon the states to furnish the treasury of the United States eight million dollars in specie to meet expenses for 1782. On November 2, 1781, in a resolution assigning the proportionate sum to be paid by each state, it was resolved that state quotas should be paid to the commissioners of the loan offices in the respective states or “such other person as shall be appointed by the superintendant of finance, to receive the same within the State …” (JCC description begins Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774–1789 (Washington, 1904–1937). description ends , XXI, 1091). It was also provided that taxes levied for the United States should be distinguished from those levied for the states.

Morris decided to appoint a receiver of continental taxes in each state rather than to use the commissioners of the loan offices. The duties of the receivers were defined by Morris in a number of circular letters in which he stressed, among other things, receiving bank notes or specie in payment of taxes and the importance of the use of newspapers to publicize delinquencies in the payment of taxes. The receivers were to receive percentages varying from one-eighth to one-half percent of the revenue collected.

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