Alexander Hamilton Papers

Enclosure: [Manufacturers of Snuff in Philadelphia Remonstrate], [December 1794]

[Enclosure]1

The Manufacturers of Snuff in Philadelphia Remonstrate2

Against the manner in which the Excise or Duty is laid and to be collected on Snuff—eight Cents per pound this is on an average fifty per Cent.3 This is an encouragement for a defraud of the Revenue as the Excise is an encouragement so to do.

Also give Bond in the Sum of Five thousand Dollars and must keep an account from day to day of the quantity manufactured.4 This is impossible for the following Reasons—

First   There is is no person can be at his Mill from fifteen to thirty miles and attend at a Market where he must dispose of his goods.

Secondly   There is no person can take all the Snuff out of his mortars or Mills without taking them down which may be done in one hour and then will take one to two days to put them up and get them in order as there is from one to six pounds will lay at the bottom of the Mortars and there is no miller can boult all his snuff the same day it is ground.

Thirdly   There is no person would wish to swear to his journeyman or miller’s account unless he was present at the weighing of the same, and he labors under the difficulty of being embarrased by the said man if any difference should arise between the parties he there goes and informs which leaves a censure and trouble of a defraud and every person that is under an Excise System is so suspected.

Fourthly   An honest man has no chance with one that is dishonest for the honest man will swear to the truth and the dishonest man delights in perjury and fifty per cent is full encouragement as we will deliver Snuff from one to two Shillings per lb.

But if we are to be excised for God’s sake lay it on the mortars of the two evils let us take the least—for then the poor man will have a chance for a living for the following reasons—

First   That he can come forward and give bond and security or deposit the money and can enter his mortars by the year half year or quarter. Then there is no fraud no Excise Officers to take our business from us and take a part of the revenue to support them—we wish to support Government with our lives and property.

Secondly   Then we all become Excise officers one over another as it is common to undersell each other. Then there would be no danger of the Revenue being defrauded—no trouble for the Excise Officer but to receive his money. These and many other difficulties we labor under.

No manufacturer of Snuff can work his mill above half the Year as his goods must go under certain preparations. Mortars often out of repair differences of the Seasons violent heat or violent cold will not admit us to work.

There is no man can comply with the present System of the Law without he is fond of perjury and God keep us from it.

There is one circumstance which I have been informed of and believe to be true as it came from good authority—that a person of Some other State ground Snuff for forty shillings per hundred entered his Mill to grind is own at eight cents per pound. This has a suspicious appearance of perjury. But for God’s Sake make the System direct that we may go to our business that is perishing on hand and our Interest is daily suffering.

In respect to the exportation of the article of Snuff it might as well be a total prohibition as there are few persons ever exports more than from one to ten Barrels which few Masters of Vessels would give Bond for the freight of that amount—as there is little snuff exported only to English Islands where certificates could not be obtained.5

We beg your serious attention to the above difficulties as there is seventeen snuff Mills in the United States fifteen of which have been standing since the thirtieth of September the others being obliged to Enter to finish what was likely to perish.

These objections are facts which can be proved by the majority of that Branch which is in this State at present.

This law appears to be a Copy from the British Statute6 and the difference is they work by Hand Mills and Horse mills and here we work on an improved scale by water which is a great difference in the Implements and the reason is the difference of populousness of that country to this.7

1D, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

2The snuff manufacturers were remonstrating against “An Act laying certain duties upon Snuff and Refined Sugar” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 384–90 [June 5, 1794]). For an earlier remonstrance against the tax on snuff, see Samuel Hodgdon to H, May 9, 1794.

3Section 1 of “An Act laying certain duties upon Snuff and Refined Sugar” reads as follows: “That from and after the thirtieth day of September next, there be levied, collected and paid, upon all snuff, which, after that day, shall be manufactured for sale, within the United States, at any manufactory, for every pound of snuff, eight cents” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 384–85).

4Section 4 of this act reads as follows: “That every manufacturer of snuff, who shall be such previous to, and on the thirtieth day of September next, shall, on the said day; and every manufacturer of snuff who shall be, and become such, after the said day, shall, twenty days, at the least, previous to commencing the business or trade of manufacturing snuff for sale, make true and exact entry and report in writing, at the office of inspection, which shall be nearest to the house or building where he or she shall carry on, or intend to carry on, the business or trade aforesaid, of every house or building where such business or trade shall be by him or her carried on, or intended so to be, and of every mill, specifying the number of mortars to each, which he or she shall have or keep therein, for the performing of any process, operation, matter or thing in or about the manufacturing of snuff, and shall also give bond in the sum of five thousand dollars, with condition, that he or she shall, and will, from day to day, enter in a book, or on a paper to be kept for that purpose, all snuff, which he or she shall manufacture, or cause to be manufactured, and of the quantities, from day to day, by him or her sent out, or caused to be sent out of the house or building, where the same shall have been manufactured; and shall and will, on the first day of January, April, July and October, in each year, render a just and true account of all the snuff which he or she shall have manufactured or made, and sent out, or caused or procured to be manufactured or made and sent out, first from the time of his or her entry and report aforesaid, until the day which shall first ensue, of the days abovementioned for the rendering of such account, and thenceforth, successively, from the time when such account ought to have been, and up to which it shall have been last rendered, until the day next thereafter, of the days abovementioned for the rendering of such account; producing therewith the original book or paper whereon the entries, from the day to day to be made, as aforesaid, have been made, and shall, at the time of rendering each account, pay or secure the duties, which, by this act ought to be paid upon the snuff, in the said account mentioned and stated: And if any such manufacturer shall omit to make any such entry or report, or to give any such bond, as is herein before directed, he or she shall forfeit and lose every mill, together with the mortars and other utensils thereto belonging, which he or she shall have or keep for the performing of any process, matter or thing, in or about the manufacturing of snuff, and shall also forfeit and pay the sum of five hundred dollars, to be recovered with costs of suit” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 385).

5Section 15 of this act provided that a drawback on the duties paid on snuff should be made on all snuff exported. Section 16 provided that in order to qualify for the drawback, “… the exporter or exporters shall make oath or affirmation, that the said snuff … are truly intended to be exported to the place, whereof notice shall have been given, and are not intended to be relanded within the United States … and shall also give bond to the collector, with two sureties one of whom shall be the master, or other person having the command or charge of the ship or vessel in which the said snuff … shall be intended to be exported …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 388). Section 19 provided that this bond should be discharged upon delivery of a certificate signed by designated persons at the place at which the snuff was delivered “testifying the delivery of the said snuff … at the said place” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 389).

6This is a reference to “An Act for repealing the Duties on Tobacco and Snuff; and for granting new Duties in lieu thereof” (29 Geo. III, C. 68 [1789]) and “An Act to explain and amend an Act, made in the last Session of Parliament, intituled, An Act for repealing the Duties on Tobacco and Snuff, and for granting new Duties in lieu thereof” (30 Geo. III, C. 40 [1790]).

7By “An Act to alter and amend the act intituled ‘An act laying certain duties upon Snuff and refined Sugar’” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 426–30 [March 3, 1795]) Congress repealed the features of “An Act laying certain duties upon Snuff and Refined Sugar” about which the snuff manufacturers were remonstrating.

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