Small Archive of Letters from a Federal Tax Assessor to a Subordinate, 1870-71
Seven signed manuscript letters on United States Internal Revenue letterhead, each on on a single sheet, ranging in length from approximately 50 to 100 words. Old folding creases, minor spotting; very good. The Internal Revenue Service was created in 1862, when an income tax was enacted to help fund the Civil War. The Revenue Act of 1870 allowed the income tax to expire, but taxes on certain luxury goods remained in place, and a small staff of men was charged with collecting them. Here, Reuben Rockwell, Tax Assessor for the 4th District based out of Colebrook, Connecticut) writes to George Pierpont, a tax collector under his supervision based in Watertown. On August 15, 1870, he requests a report on "the quantity of leaf tobacco, also stems, scraps, clippings, &c." purchased and sold by "all cigar manufacturers in this district between January 1, 1869 and the present, adding that in future this information should be provided monthly. In another letter, Rockwell instructs Pierpont to provide forms for all distillers to record their "numbers and capacity," and wonders "why there should be so much difference in the distillers about running their stills. Some in Oct made 9 boilings in 24 hours, while others with about the same sized stills made but 4. I suppose some make better brandy than others." On the question of tax exemption of "bequests made to institutions of literary, educational, or charitable character" Rockwell writes that a "bequest made by Isaac Skinner to the Congregational Society of Harwinton and the American Missionary Association might possibly be construed to be of that kind, although I don't think a Congregational Society would be included, and the Missionary Society may not be. I don't know its particular object. Please write me tomorrow your views." Together, an interesting peek into the daily work of some of the first employees of the IRS.