perhaps, at present, the greater part of the 
revenue which is drawn from the duties of 
customs. The taxes which at present subsist 
upon foreign manufactures, if you except 
those upon the few contained in the foregoing 
enumeration, have, the greater part of them, 
been imposed for the purpose, not of revenue
but of monopoly, or to give our own merchants 
an advantage in the home market. 
By removing all prohibitions, and by subjecting 
all foreign manufactures to such moderate 
taxes, as it was found from experience
afforded upon each article the greatest revenue 
to the public, our own workmen might still 
have a considerable advantage in the home 
market; and many articles, some of which at 
present afford no revenue to government, and 
others a very inconsiderable one, might afford 
a very great one. 
High taxes, sometimes by diminishing the 
consumption of the taxed commodities, and 
sometimes by encouraging smuggling, frequently 
afford a smaller revenue to government 
than what might be drawn from more 
moderate taxes
When the diminution of revenue is the effect 
of the diminution of consumption, there 
can be but one remedy, and that is the lowering 
of the tax
When the diminution of revenue is the effect 
of the encouragement given to smuggling
it may, perhaps, be remedied in two 
ways; either by diminishing the temptation 
to smuggle, or by increasing the difficulty of 
smuggling. The temptation to smuggle can be 
be diminished only by the lowering of the 
tax; and the difficulty of smuggling can be 
increased only by establishing that system of 
administration which is most proper for preventing 
The excise laws, it appears, I believe, from 
experience, obstruct and embarrass the operations 
of the smuggler much more effectually 
than those of the customs. By introducing 
into the customs a system of administration 
as similar to that of the excise as the nature 
of the different duties will admit, the difficulty 
of smuggling might be very much increased. 
This alteration, it has been supposed 
by many people, might very easily be brought 
The importer of commodities liable to any 
duties of customs, it has been said, might, at 
his option, he allowed either to carry them to 
his own private warehouse; or to lodge them 
in a warehouse, provided either at his own expense 
or at that of the public, but under the 
key of the custom-house officer, and never to 
be opened but in his presence. If the merchant 
carried them to his own private warehouse
the duties to be immediately paid, and 
never afterwards to be drawn back; and that 
warehouse to be at all times subject to the 
visit and examination of the custom-house officer
in order to ascertain how far the quantity 
contained in it corresponded with that for 
which the duty had been paid. If he carried 
them to the public warehouse, no duty to be 
paid till they were taken out for home 
consumption. If taken out for exportation, to 
be duty-free; proper security being always 
given that they should be so exported. The 
dealers in those particular commodities, either 
by wholesale or retail, to be at all times subject 
to the visit and examination of the custom-house 
officer; and to be obliged to justify
by proper certificates, the payment of the 
duty upon the whole quantity contained in 
their shops or warehouses. What are called 
the excise duties upon rum imported, are at 
present levied in this manner; and the same 
system of administration might, perhaps, be 
extended to all duties upon goods imported
provided always that those duties were, like 
the duties of excise, confined to a few sorts of 
goods of the most general use and consumption
If they were extended to almost all 
sorts of goods, as at present, public warehouses 
of sufficient extent could not easily be 
provided; and goods of a very delicate nature, 
or of which the preservation required 
much care and attention, could not safely be 
trusted by the merchant in any warehouse but 
his own. 
If, by such a system of administration, 
smuggling to any considerable extent could 
be prevented, even under pretty high duties
if every duty was occasionally either 
heightened or lowered according as it was 
likely, either the one way or the other, 
to afford the greatest revenue to the state
taxation being always employed as an instrument 
of revenue, and never of monopoly; it 
seems not improbable that a revenue, at least 
equal to the present neat revenue of the customs
might be drawn from duties upon the 
importation of only a few sorts of goods of 
the most general use and consumption; and 
that the duties of customs might thus be 
brought to the same degree of simplicity, certainty
and precision, as those of excise
What the revenue at present loses by drawbacks 
upon the re-exportation of foreign 
goods, which are afterwards re-landed and 
consumed at home, would, under this system
be saved altogether. If to this saving, which 
would alone be very considerable, were added 
the abolition of all bounties upon the exportation 
of home produce; in all cases in which 
those bounties were not in reality drawbacks 
of some duties of excise which had before been 
advanced; it cannot well be doubted, but that 
the neat revenue of customs might, after an 
alteration of this kind, be fully equal to what 
it had ever been before. 
If, by such a change of system, the public 
revenue suffered no loss, the trade and manufactures 
of the country would certainly gain 
a very considerable advantage. The trade in 
the commodities not taxed, by far the greatest