Thomas Jefferson boasts about having reduced the size of government and eliminated a number of “vexatious” taxes (1805)

Thomas Jefferson

Found in The Works, vol. 10 (Correspondence and Papers 1803-1807)

In Thomas Jefferson’s Second Inaugural Address of March 4, 1805 he boasted of having reduced the size and cost of government enough to eliminate a number of “vexatious” internal taxes which he feared might grow in number and eventually be applied to other goods:

At home, fellow citizens, you best know whether we have done well or ill. The suppression of unnecessary offices, of useless establishments and expenses, enabled us to discontinue our internal taxes. These covering our land with officers, and opening our doors to their intrusions, had already begun that process of domiciliary vexation which, once entered, is scarcely to be restrained from reaching successively every article of produce and property.

We have gradually added to the OLL a number of collected works of the Founding Fathers known as the Federal Edition which were published in the early 20th century and which were the most authoritative editions available until the mid-20th century. We have editions of Jefferson and Hamilton, and John Quincy Adams and George Washington to come. The OLL website enables one to search the works of Jefferson, for example, in one go and thus uncover unexpected gems. One wonders how many times in American history a President could boast of eliminating a number of “vexatious” internal taxes, as Jefferson does here? A Google search done in September 2009 for the phrase “Federal Edition” produced the OLL edition of the Federal Edition of Hamilton as the number one hit, followed in second place by “Turbo Tax Preparation Software” - an irony I’m sure Jefferson would have appreciated.