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171   Alexander Hamilton  $300 $440 $484 5 You must login to place a bid.

#171 - Alexander Hamilton

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US Treasury circular from 1792—just after Hamilton prevented economic disaster
Description  

DS, signed “A. Hamilton,” three pages on two adjoining sheets, 7.5 x 9, July 22, 1792. Printed Treasury Department circular issued to all collectors of customs. In part: “When an appeal was made to me, by certain Officers of the Customs, respecting the fees to which they were entitled under the Coasting Act, I took the only method then in my power, to aid my own judgment to a right decision. The Attorney General not being at the seat of Government, I applied to two of the most able Counsel in the city of New-York, (one of whom is the Attorney of the United States for the District) for their opinions. I carefully examined the law, myself; and, agreeing with those Gentlemen in the construction of it, I signified the result in a Circular communication…

Had I not been in continual expectation, that a new law would have obviated the difficulty, I should have taken much earlier measures to settle the question in some definitive, and, if possible, satisfactory mode. But session after session having passed, and further delay being still possible (though I confidently reckon on a new Coasting law in the course of the next session) I have thought it incumbent upon me to bring the affair to an issue…

In this state of a matter, which so directly concerns the interests of the Officers, I think it proper to rescind the instruction heretofore given; though my own view of the subject remains unchanged. Each Officer will then pursue that course, which appears to him conformable to law, to his own interest and safety, and to the good of the service. Having said that my view of the subject remains unchanged, I think fit to specify more particularly, than I have yet done, the reasons which govern it.” In very good condition, with tape-repaired separations to adjoining fold and a horizontal fold below the signature, light toning, and small edge tears to the second page.

Hamilton had introduced a revenue system for the federal government based on customs duties and excise taxes that began to be implemented in 1790, and was obviously still undergoing revisions at this point in time two years later. This document comes from shortly after Hamilton deftly managed to resolve the Panic of 1792, precipitated by a crash in the price of securities in combination with overextended credit. Hamilton was able to introduce measures to restore confidence in the markets and used the Treasury to buy back securities; his actions stabilized the economy within just one month, avoiding a prolonged recession. Pre-certified John Reznikoff/PSA/DNA and RR Auction COA.

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