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to —— - 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.
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You seem to be of opinion to defer to a future period the commencement of direct taxation. I acknowledge I am inclined to lay hold of it now. The leaders (Findley, Gallatin, Madison, Nicholas) of the opposite party favor it now perhaps with no good design. But it will be well to take them while in the humor, and make them share the responsibility. This will be the more easy, as they are inclined to take the lead. Our external affairs are so situated, that it seems to me indispensable to open new springs of revenue, and press forward our little naval preparation, and be ready for augmenting it.
I have been reading the report of the Secretary of the Treasury on this subject. I think it does him credit. The general principles and objects are certainly good; nor am I sure that any thing better can be done. I remember that I once promised you to put in writing my ideas on the subject. I intended to have done it, and communicated them to the Secretary. My hurry and press of business prevented me, but I concluded lately to devote an evening to a rude sketch and to send it to you. You may show it to the Secretary and confer. If, in the course of the thing, it can be useful to the general end we all have in view, it will give me pleasure. If not, there will have been but little time misspent. Of course, no use will be made of it in contradiction to the views of the Treasury department.
As to the part which relates to land, I do not feel any strong preference of my plan to that in report; for this, in my opinion, ought to be considered only as an auxiliary, and not as the pith of the tax. But I have a strong preference of my plan of a house tax to that in the report. These are my reasons: It is more comprehensive, embracing all houses, and will be proportionally more productive. It is more certain, avoiding the evasions and partialities to which valuations will forever be liable, and I think is for that reason likely to be at least as equal. I entertain no doubt that the rules of rates, adapted as they are to characterize circumstances, will in fact be more favorable to equality than appraisements. I think the idea of taxing only houses of above a certain annual value will be dissatisfactory. The comparison of the proprietors of houses immediately above with those immediately below the line will beget discontent, and the errors of valuation will increase it. I think there will be a great advantage in throwing the weight of the tax on houses, as well because lands are more difficult to manage, as because it will fall in a manner less dissatisfactory. I would not bear hard in this way. I would add, as aid, the taxes contemplated last session on stamps, collateral successions—new modifications of some articles of imports, and, let me add, saddle-horses. The idea of taxing slaves generally will not work well. If confined to all menial servants for luxury, as coachmen, footmen, cooks, etc., it would be eligible.1
Reprinted from the History of the Republic, vi., 592.