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SELECTED LETTERS OF SALMON P. CHASE
NEW YORK, June 13th, 1863.
SIR: To enable you to fix the date from which taxes should be assessed and collected under the Internal Revenue Law in Louisiana I have heretofore verbally stated to you all the facts necessary to be known. Gentlemen from Louisiana now in Washington, are familiar with Sugar culture and the condition of the State. They will be able to present the subject to you fully, and in a reliable form.
To protect the Government in any case, I have collected (during the past few weeks) the tax from holders of sugar at the time of its shipment out of the State. I directed them to pay under protest, and some of these protests, transmitted by myself, have probably already reached Washington. I held that an Excise law was a lien on the sugar, without any special clause to that effect, although the law says the tax shall be paid by the producer. Probably I hold $60,000 collected in this way. If you decide that these collections paid under protest, be refunded, of course the matter is ended.
If you decide that the collection was properly made, it will probably be contested in a proper court. You can tell better than I can, whether it is worth while to have a lawsuit about it.
The decision that "Cistern Bottoms" be assessed at two cents per pound, is, I think, wrong. "Cistern Bottoms" is a mixture of sugar and molasses, about 40 per cent being sugar. It is sold in New Orleans and used by refiners.
I think the matter can be properly
settled only by amending the law, fixing the tax on "Cistern
Bottoms" at one half of one cent per pound, or at any rate, not more
of one cent per pound - and in the mean time, no tax should be assessed. On this point however, I will make further inquiry, and write more fully.
These questions are of consequence and should be settled immediately. Doubt and delay injure commercial interests.
in New Orleans, about $26,000 in legal tenders, received.in fees by me while Collector of Customs. Before closing my account (as Collector of Customs) this must be turned over to some one. Please authorize me to send it to Mr. Cisco by steamship or, to pay it over to paymasters - or to pay it to Mr. Bullitt, who needs legal tenders to pay his employes. It is about enough to pay the expenses of the Custom House for two months.
I do not suppose you expect me to perform any of the duties of Ass't. Treasurer. A proper person can and will be found. He will wish to know of course, what the compensation is to be, and what the amount of the Bond. Please inform me.
Enclosed is a note to Mr. Harrington which you will read.
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