Tag Archives: taxes

- Independence didn’t come cheap

 

The American Flag: A New National Lyric sheet music cover, 1862. (Imaged used courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Collection.)

The fledgling United States of America found that a considerable public debt had been generated by the struggle for independence against Great Britain. Such was the price for liberty, and the new country lacked a sufficient tax authority to secure any revenue. Various Congressional requisitions between 1781 and 1787 to the American states attempted to raise the money to pay off the debt. In addition, the states had accrued debts of their own and enacted various state laws to collect and settle both these debts and those of the federal requisitions.

Rescued from some badly damaged records from the Accomack County clerk’s office attic is a unique item that appears to be related to Virginia’s contributions to war debt settlement.

The Accomack County Tax List Related to Revolutionary War Debt, circa 1786, records the names, more or less in alphabetical order, of various persons from Saint George’s Parish, including those of women.  Three additional columns are labeled Specie Warrants, Tobacco, and Indent.  An indent was a certificate issued by the government of the United States at the close of the Revolution for the principal or interest of the public debt.  Numbers in pounds, shillings and pence are recorded in the Specie Warrants and Indent columns, with the Specie Warrant numbers always being roughly double that of the numbers in the Indent columns. No amount … read more »

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- Halifax Tax Ledger Turned Child’s Scrapbook


Halifax County (Va.) Capitation and Personal Property Tax Ledger, 1861 (Barcode 1103291).

During a recent cataloging project, what at first seemed like a standard exercise revealed a nice surprise.  From its exterior, the Halifax County (Va.) Capitation and Personal Property Tax Ledger, 1861, had all of the makings of an ordinary volume of county taxes.  This was certainly true in 1861 when it was originally created.  Each page lists the names of individuals along with details of how much capitation tax (a head or poll tax levied on individuals at a fixed rate) and personal property tax was owed, along with details about what kind of personal property was being taxed (for example–furniture, watches, plate, carriages, money, livestock, and slaves).

At some point, however, someone, or more likely several someones, used a little more than half of the volume as a scrapbook.  Pasted over the original document pages are a wide variety of clippings from magazines and newspapers.  The clippings are primarily images; although some poems are included as well as short articles about artists and writers and a biography of British Prime Minister William E. Gladstone written on the occasion of his death in 1898.  The subjects of the scrapbook are related to Biblical scenes, European royalty, Napoleon, American founding families such as the Jeffersons and Washingtons, travel, pets, artists and writers, poetry, and reproductions of paintings, drawings, and photographs with artistic themes.

A note … read more »

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