To the Publisher of the Alexandria Virginia Journal, with an Enclosure from the Public Auditors
Gunston-Hall, October 29, 1784.
Messieurs RICHARDS and COMPANY,
For the Information of the Public, and to shew the Inspectors and Exporters of Tobacco, that the first have demanded, and the last paid, Six Shillings per Hogshead more than was legally due, on all Tobacco inspected before the First Day of October, 1783, I beg the Favour of you to publish in the Alexandria Paper a Copy of the following Letter, the Original may be seen by any Person who will take the Trouble of applying to, Yours, &c.
Auditors-Office, Richmond, October 25, 1784.
We have at last had leisure maturely to consider the contents of your favour of the 5th instant, and entirely coincide with you in opinion, as to the illegality of your inspectors demanding more than Four Shillings per hogshead upon exported tobacco, inspected prior to the first of October, 1783, and for which an inspection fee of Five Shillings per hogshead had been actually and bona fide paid, for the purpose of defraying the expence of the inspection laws then in force; the Six Shillings per hogshead, imposed by the tobacco law commencing October the 1st, 1783, being for the same purpose; and it surely never was the intention of the legislature that two fees should be paid on the same hogshead, for one and the same thing. From October the 1st, 1782, there was a tax of Six Shillings per hogshead, payable on exported tobacco, at first appropriated to the defence of the Chesapeake Bay, afterwards to other purposes; and in July, 1783, was totally repealed, and a tax of Four Shillings per hogshead substituted instead thereof; for discharging the military debt, which tax of Four Shillings was alone demandable of the shipper, from July, 1783, to October, 1783, when the Six Shillings fee, in addition, took place, for defraying the incidental charges of the inspection law, from October 1783, to October, 1784, and so on from year to year, as long as the tobacco law, passed in May, 1783, continues in force. This demand of Ten Shillings indiscriminately upon all exported tobacco, without regard to the time of its being inspected, we believe, is peculiar to your part of the country, as we have heard of no such complaint from any other place; and therefore an advertisement, we conceive, would be unnecessary. You will be pleased to communicate our opinion to your inspectors, for their guide in making out their accounts to this date. We are respectfully, Your obedient, humble Servants,
H. RANDOLPH GEORGE MASON
George Mason, Esq. Gunston-Hall