From Tench Coxe1
Revenue-office, January 19th 1795
A doubt has been suggested by the Supervisor of Kentucky,2 whether the carriage tax3 for the first year is exigible and collectible in that district, under the circumstances following which are extracted from his letter.
“These (the new Revenue laws) came to me as Inspector of the 7th Survey in the district of Virginia, and the necessary preliminary measures were taken on my part for carrying them into effect, by publications, advertisements and notices suitable to the several subjects. Before the time specified for taking the entries of carriages, the act of the President changed the nature of my Office, and by consequence annulled the authority of the Supervisor of Virginia within this state.4 And my Commisssion as Supervisor5 not arriving in time to recognize this subject for the present year, it is presumed that no further notice can be taken of Carriages until I receive your further directions. And indeed I do not know what might have been the event of actually putting the Law in force, as threats were thrown out that the officer who had advertised he would attend to receive the entries of Carriages, should receive a mark. And besides, that the Collectors have sometimes been obstructed in the Execution of their business by parties either avowed or disguised. Attempts have certainly been made to raise a mob to seize the papers of my office.”
The date of the Presidents Act erecting Kentucky and the Western Territory into an entire new District is the 20th day of August 1794.
The date of Thos. Marshalls commission as Supervisor is the 22d day of August 1794.
The date of the carriage law is the 5th. day of June 1794.
I raise two questions.
First—whether the tax is exigible and collectible, if the attendance directed by the 3d Section of the law,6 has been given by an officer under warrant of the Supervisor of Virginia.
Secondly—whether the tax is exigible and collectible if no such attendance (on a day in September) of an officer under Warrant of the Supervisor of Virginia or of Kentucky has been given.
I conceive no penalty was incurred unless an officer did attend agreeably to notice.
The Supervisor desires the Attorney Generals opinion and my own, “whether he could or can sell after the 1st day of October 1794, any Spirits distilled in his own Stills, and from his own grain and fruit.”7
I am, Sir, with great respect Your most Obedient Servant,
Commissr. of the Revenue
The Secretary of the Treasury
LC, RG 58, Letters of Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives.
3. This is a reference to “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]).
4. This is a reference to Section 2 of “An Act of the President of the United States, erecting the Revenue Districts of Ohio & Tennasee,” which reads: “The original seventh Survey of Virginia (being the present state of Kentuckey) and the territory North West of the river Ohio shall be, and hereby are erected into an entire new District, under one & the same Supervisor, to be denominated the District of Ohio” (LC, George Washington Papers, Library of Congress). Washington signed the act on August 20, 1794.
6. Section 3 of “An Act laying duties upon Carriages for the conveyance of Persons” reads in part: “That every person having or keeping a carriage or carriages, which, by this act, is or are made subject to the payment of duty, shall, within the month of September in each year, make entry of the same with the officer of inspection of the district, in which he or she shall reside, and pay the duty thereon…. And, for the purpose of receiving such entry and payment, it shall be the duty of the supervisor of the district, or of some officer of inspection, to attend, within the month of September in each year, at one of the most public and convenient places in each county …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 374).
7. This question arose because of Section 14 of “An Act making further provision for securing and collecting the Duties on foreign and domestic distilled Spirits, Stills, Wines and Teas,” which reads in part: “That from and after the first day of October next, no supervisor or inspector of the revenue of the United States, shall be concerned or interested in any foreign trade or commerce, in the goods or merchandise, to which the duties of his office relate, or in the sale of any wines, distilled spirits, or teas …” (1 Stat. description begins The Public Statutes at Large of the United States of America (Boston, 1845). description ends 380 [June 5, 1794]).
On January 28, 1795, Coxe wrote to Marshall: “I have asked the opinion of the Attorney general, as you desire on some points, and shall acquaint you with the result. In the interim do not sell any Spirits from your own Distillation” (LC, RG 58, Letters of the Commissioner of Revenue, 1794–1795, National Archives).