Front Page Titles (by Subject) to oliver wolcott - The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
to oliver wolcott - Alexander Hamilton, The Works of Alexander Hamilton, (Federal Edition), vol. 10 
The Works of Alexander Hamilton, ed. Henry Cabot Lodge (Federal Edition) (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). In 12 vols. Vol. 10.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
to oliver wolcott
December 23, 1796.
My Dear Sir:
I wrote to you two days ago on the subject of obtaining an instruction from the Bank of the United States to the direction of the office here to prevent a speedy repetition of these calls on the Bank of New York. This bank has so large a proportion of its whole capital in the power of the office that, if it be not tranquillized on the subject of demands from that quarter, it will be driven to such violent operations as cannot fail to convulse credit, and, among other evils, prevent the collection of the revenues. The danger is urgent, and a prompt explanation is essential.
The situation of the Bank of New York is, no doubt, materially owing to the prolongation of the old and the new loan to government. Its capital is 900,000 dollars; its discount, 1,600,000. Here is certainly no imprudence.
Many of the merchants here are anxious for an accommodation for the duties similar to that which I upon certain trying occasions made. I know not what is possible on your part.1
to william smith
My Dear Sir:
I received your letter of the ——. Though I do not like in some respects the answer of the House to the speech, yet I frankly own that I had no objection to see it softened down. For I think there is no use in hard words—and in public proceedings would almost always unite the suaviter in modo with the fortiter in re.
But I must regret that there is no prospect of the fortiter in re. I perceive clearly that your measures will wear upon the whole the aspect of resentment, without means or energy sufficient to repel injury. Our country will be first ruined, and then we shall begin to think of defending ourselves.
I will not enter much into detail, but I will observe that instead of three frigates of thirty-two, I would prefer an increase of the number of cutters. Surely twenty of these cannot embarrass the most squeamish, and less than this number will be useless.
But from all I can see you will have no revenue. Overdriven theory everywhere palsies the operations of our government, and renders all rational practice impossible.
My ideas of revenue would be:
I have explained my ideas of the house tax to Wolcott and Sedgwick.
It is to take certain criteria of different buildings, and annex to them ratios, not rates. (What I gave to Sedgwick as rates may serve as ratios.) Then apportion the tax among the States, and distribute the quota of each among the individuals according to ratios. The aggregate of the ratios will represent the quota of the State—then, as that aggregate is to be the sum of the quota, so will be the sum of the ratios of each building to the tax to be paid by each individual.
I am told an objection will arise from the negro houses in the South. Surely there is no impracticability in annexing ratios to them which will be proportional to their taxable value. This plan will avoid the worst of all inconveniences—arbitrary valuations; and will avoid the embarrassment for the present of a land tax; will be also consistent with expedition. I entertain no doubt it can be adjusted so as to be free from any material objection. The smallness of the tax will render any material inequality impossible. You cannot compute fewer than six hundred thousand houses, which, at an average, would be about a dollar and a half a house. The proportions of the better houses on the proposed plan would make the tax fall light on the inferior and country houses, which is desirable for recommending the first essay; nor would any house I am persuaded have to pay ten dollars. What room for serious objection? You then lay a foundation for an annual million on real property, which will become a permanent accession to your revenue; whereas you will feel an endless embarrassment about agreeing upon any tax on lands.
Now first printed from the Wolcott papers, in the possession of the Connecticut Historical Society.