Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from David Fergusson, 13 March 1802

From David Fergusson

Baltimore 13th. March 1802.

Respected Sir,

This afternoon, for this Mail I beg the leave and pleasure, of handing You, the inclosed, No. 1. on Auctions—& in a few days hence—a No. 2.—on the plan, of order for Blacks.—

Respectfully,—Your very Obedt. Servt.

David Fergusson

RC (DLC); endorsed by TJ as received 14 Mch. and so recorded in SJL. Enclosure: Essay on “Public Auctions,” dated 13 Mch., and signed “Seven Friends,” declaring that fraudulent practices marred the collection of taxes on public sales at auction; to “annihilate, and permenantly suppress, this egregious, iniquitous, long standing, and growing evil,” he proposes that “a Licence be had, for every Sale, that to Cost 250 Cents—his Oath to be taken for the amount of Sales, and that returned, which will answer as a Check upon his quarterly returns and payment, & prevent fraud”; with these changes, Fergusson predicts, an income “four times that of the Post office” (MS in DLC; in Fergusson’s hand; at foot of text: “For the President of the United States, of America”).

Congress passed a tax on property sold at AUCTIONS in June 1794 and in 1800, the government received $51,650.41 in revenues from sales at auction. It was one of the internal taxes repealed in April 1802 (U.S. Statutes at Large description begins Richard Peters, ed., The Public Statutes at Large of the United States … 1789 to March 3, 1845, Boston, 1855–56, 8 vols. description ends , 1:397–400; 2:148; ASP description begins American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and Executive, of the Congress of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1832–61, 38 vols. description ends , Finance, 1:714; Vol. 36:600, 602n).

This is Fergusson’s last correspondence with TJ recorded in SJL. For earlier proposals signed “Seven Friends,” see Fergusson to TJ, 10 Aug. and 22 Sep. 1801.

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