Rare Slave Tax Receipt Under the Act of Congress Passed on the 14th day of July 1798 - One Dollar Tax for 2 Slaves
July 3, 1801-Dated Federal Period, 1798 First Federal Direct Tax Partially-Printed Document Signed, “Daniel Hitchcock 3 ward Collector of 12th Collection District. (New York)”, United States Slave Tax Receipt, Officially completed in the amount of One Dollar for “2 Slaves”, Choice Crisp Extremely Fine.
An original 8” x 3.5” Partially-Printed Document, being a Slave Tax receipt. Slave owners were taxed 50 cents for each Slave between the ages of 12 and 50 who was not precluded from working as a result of permanent illness or disability. This completed form reads, in full:
“2 Slaves --- Received this 3rd day of July, 1801 from Garrit B. Abul the Sum of - one - Dollars and __ cents for Tax, under the Act of Congress passed on the 14th day of July 1798, entitled “An Act to lay and collect a direct Tax within the United States.” - (Signed) “Daniel Hitchcock -- 3 ward Collector of 12th Collection District.” (New York)
See: American State Papers: Documents, Legislative and ..., Volume 3; Volume 10, page 69 DIRECT TAX, by the United States Congress which lists Daniel Hitchcock as an official “Collector” for the 14th Collection District of the Direct Tax, in the District of New York, on the 30th June, 1803.
In 1798, tensions between the United States and France had risen to such a level that many thought war was imminent. To fund America's military buildup, Congress enacted a $2 million direct tax in July 1798. In each state, officials created forms and set out to value real property, enumerate slaves, and collect their assigned portion of the tax.
How the Tax Operated: Each of the 16 states was allocated its share of the national levy of $2 million. This quota was based upon population, with slaves counting as three-fifths of a person for allocation purposes. Only real property and Slaves were taxed, and no property was taxed if it was permanently exempt from taxation by state law.
The 1798 tax had three parts: Dwelling houses valued at more than $100 were taxed based upon the value, with highly progressive tax rates that ranged from two-tenths of 1 percent of the value up to 1 percent of the value.
Slave owners were taxed 50 cents for each Slave between the ages of 12 and 50 who was not precluded from working as a result of permanent illness or disability.
All other real property—called simply "land” — which included dwelling houses valued at $100 or less, was taxed at a fixed percentage of the value. Each state's land tax rate was computed separately, as a residual after the amount of tax derived from the first two categories was subtracted from the quota. The surveyors calculated the amount of tax for each taxpayer, posted it to the tax collection list ("rate bill"), and forwarded the tax collection lists to the collectors. The collectors were responsible for collecting the tax and for selling property to fulfill delinquent taxes.
Eleven new forms were created specifically to implement the tax. The administration of the tax was divided into valuation and enumeration versus collection. In each state, a presidentially appointed Board of Commissioners (U.S. Commission for the Valuation of Lands and Dwelling Houses, and the Enumeration of Slaves) was responsible for the valuation of real property and the enumeration of Slaves. Officials of the United States Treasury collected the tax.
According to architectural historian Robert W. Craig of the New Jersey State Historic Preservation Office, "the records of the 1798 direct tax comprise the best enumeration we will ever have of 18th-century America. This extremely rare Slave Tax Receipt Under the Act of Congress Passed on the 14th day of July 1798, in the specific amount of One Dollar Tax for 2 Slaves is a remarkable Document, attesting to the First Federal Tax raised on Slaves owned and held in America. This example is the first we have seen and offered. It has attractive boldly printed typeset on clean fresh period laid paper, with bold brown writing and signatures, thus being excellent for display.
After Thomas Jefferson was elected President, Congress reduced the responsibilities of the surveyors of the revenue. An 1801 statute directed the surveyors to send "all the records of the lists, valuations and enumerations" to the top Treasury official in the states—the supervisors of the revenue.
When Congress repealed all internal taxes effective June 30, 1802, the position of supervisor of the revenue in each state was to be abolished once the collection of the taxes owed had been completed. Recognizing that there might be some limited remaining responsibilities, Congress provided that these could be assigned to "any collector of the customs within the state; and where there is no such collector, to the marshal of the district."
In 1803 Congress authorized the President "to attach the duties of the office of supervisor in any district to any other officer of the government of the United States."
One can only presume that the official files of the supervisors of the revenue were transferred along with the responsibilities.
The Treasury Department never required that the 1798 direct tax records be sent to Washington and centrally preserved, although it was attempted to initiate such a process in 1803. The records may not have survived the highly destructive fire at the Treasury building in 1833.