Thomas Jefferson Papers

Thomas Jefferson to Andrew C. Mitchell, 16 July 1815

To Andrew C. Mitchell

Monticello July 16. 15.

I thank you, Sir, for the pamphlet which you have been so kind as to send me. I have read it with attention & satisfaction. it is replete with sound views, some of which will doubtless be adopted. some may be checked by difficulties. none more likely to be so than the proposition to amend the constitution so as to authorise Congress to tax exports. the provision against this in the framing of that instrument, was a sine qua non with the states of peculiar productions, as rice, indigo, cotton & tobacco, to which may now be added sugar. a jealousy prevailing that to the few states producing these articles, the justice of the others might not be a sufficient protection in opposition to their interest, they moored themselves to this anchor. since the hostile dispositions lately manifested by the Eastern states, they would be less willing than before to place themselves at their mercy: and the rather as the Eastern states have no exports which can be taxed equivalently. it is possible however that this difficulty might be got over: but the subject looking forward beyond my time, I leave it to those to whom it’s burthens & benefits will belong adding only my prayers for whatever may be best for our country and assurances to yourself of my great respect.

Th: Jefferson

PoC (DLC); at foot of text: “Andrew C. Mitchell esq.” Tr (MHi); posthumous copy.

On pp. 30–42 of The Second Crisis of America (for which see his 23 June 1815 letter to TJ), Mitchell calls for a convention to amend the constitution, particularly Article I, section 9, which prohibits Congress from imposing any tax or duty on exports. He argues that an export tax will raise needed revenue; that “when there is not a competitor to undersell in the market abroad,” such a duty is “always paid by the consumer” (p. 40); and that it should be placed on a number of products, including tobacco, flaxseed, rice, beef, pork, ginseng, wool, and cotton.

Index Entries

  • agriculture; taxes on exported products of search
  • Constitution, U.S.; taxation of exports under search
  • Constitution, U.S.; TJ on search
  • cotton; export tax on search
  • indigo; export tax on search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; taxes search
  • Jefferson, Thomas; Opinions on; U.S. Constitution search
  • Mitchell, Andrew Caldwell; letter to search
  • Mitchell, Andrew Caldwell; The Second Crisis of America search
  • rice; export tax on search
  • sugar; export tax on search
  • taxes; TJ on search
  • The Second Crisis of America (A. C. Mitchell) search
  • tobacco; export tax on search
  • United States; sectional divisions in search