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1798 Federal Direct Tax

Legislative Background


On 9 July 1798 the United States Congress passed legislation that created the first federal property tax levied on U. S. citizens, “An Act to provide for the valuation of lands and dwelling houses and the enumeration of slaves within the United States.1 During a period of increasing tension in relations with France that threatened to result in armed conflict, Congress intended the tax to raise funds that would be used if the country went to war.


The legislation, which divided each state into districts, established seven districts for Maryland. These districts consisted of 1) St. Mary’s, Charles, and Calvert; 2) Montgomery and Prince George’s, including Washington, D.C.; 3) Anne Arundel and Baltimore, including Baltimore City; 4) Washington, Frederick, and Allegany; 5) Harford, Cecil, and Kent; 6) Queen Anne’s, Caroline, and Talbot; and 7) Somerset, Dorchester, and Worcester. Commissioners appointed by the president for each district then divided their district into smaller assessment units and in turn appointed a principal assessor and a number of assistants for each of the smaller areas. The assessors compiled a list of houses, land, and slaves as of 1 October 1798, which they then evaluated and assessed.


A second act passed on 14 July 1798 set the amount to be raised at $2,000,000, assigned a fixed portion of the total to each state, and provided a set formula for assessing the value of property.2   For example, for lots of two acres or less, with dwellings and out buildings valued between $100 and $500, the legislation set the assessment at a sum equal to .02 percent of the total value. The assessment rate increased proportionately as the value of a property owner’s land and buildings increased, reaching a maximum of 1 percent for the most expensive properties. The act also set the assessment for each enslaved person at $.50. If application of the formulas provided more revenue than the state’s quota required, the assessors could adjust the assessments downward to collect the specified total and no more. The initial legislation called for enumeration of the windows (with their measurements) in all buildings and measurements for the buildings themselves. Subsequent legislation repealed this requirement but, fortunately for future researchers, many of the surviving records include those measurements.


Description of Lists


The assessors compiled two types of lists. The general lists covered the entire county and contained less detail, while the particular lists covered each hundred (a colonial and early national county subdivision) with considerable detail. The general lists serve as an index for the particular lists: they are alphabetical by owner’s surname, indicate the hundred in which the property was located, and usually are cross-referenced by number to the particular list.


The general and particular lists contain three types of assessment lists. The first type covers property of no more than two acres improved by dwellings of more than $100 in value. This list provides the name of the property owner and the name of the tenant, if any. It includes dimensions, building fabric, number of stories, number and size of windows, and value, for all dwellings and out buildings (many of the latter also being identified by function, such as stable or smoke house).


The second type includes all lands, lots, wharves, and buildings not included in the first type of list. Landholdings in excess of two acres and improved properties that did not include a dwelling house appeared on this list. This second type includes the same categories of information found in the first type as well as acreage, tract name, and names of adjoining property owners.


The third type covered enslaved persons, listing their superintendent or owner, total number owned, number exempt from tax due to disability, and the number (between the ages of 12 and 50) subject to tax.



Present Value of the Lists


The Federal Direct Tax lists provide a resource of immense value for genealogists, historians, and other researchers, such as archaeologists and architectural historians. The tax lists can be used as a proxy for the census in areas of Maryland for which the 1800 United States Census has been lost. The lists contain enormous information about wealth and slaveholding at the turn of the century. Above all they provide the most complete picture available of late eighteenth-century Maryland buildings.



MSA Holdings


The Maryland State Archives has microfilm [M3468-M3481] for the following counties: Anne Arundel, Baltimore (City and County), Caroline, Charles, District of Columbia (portions of Montgomery and Prince George’s), Harford, Prince George’s, Queen Anne’s, Saint Mary’s, Somerset, and Talbot. Except for Prince George’s, there are general lists for dwellings, lands, and slaves as described above. In addition, at the end of the series there is a miscellaneous reel with a few particular lists that could not be identified by county, and a record book of the annual duties on carriages for the years 1794 to 1798. 3


In addition, card index 68 provides an index for Anne Arundel County [M3468]. The index contains two sections, the first of which is an alphabetical index to all tracts of land named in the particular lists. The second section is an alphabetical index by owner to the same lists. The cards for tracts include tract name, owner, citation, and sometimes acreage and location of adjoining properties. The cards for owners include names of tenants, description of the property and dwellings (including size and type), assessed value, and citation. Cards for slaves include the owner or superintendent, total number of slaves, number exempt from state taxation, and number subject to taxation. Index 68 does not cover the Anne Arundel general lists.


Card index 68 began as an index to Annapolis and Middle Neck Hundreds, for which there are typed cards with no area designation. The work done for Annapolis and Middle Neck Hundreds does not index the particular lists of slaves.


At a later point, handwritten cards were prepared for the rest of the county, using the following coding system:

SRH   Severn River and South River Hundreds
PMH   Patapsco and Magothy Hundreds
RR     Upper and Lower Rhode River Hundreds
WR    West River and Herring Creek Hundreds
UFH   Elkridge and Elkridge Landing Hundreds
EH     Elkridge and Elkridge Landing Hundreds
LCH    Lyon Creek and Herring Creek Hundreds
PH     Patuxent and Huntington Hundreds
BHN    Broad Neck and Town Neck Hundreds

1798 MARYLAND FEDERAL DIRECT TAX DATASET


Carole Shammas
Department of History
University of Southern California
Sept. 2003

MARYLAND ca. 1800 HOUSING
HUNDREDS CODEBOOK


VARIABLE NAME CODE


Variables from the 1798 Direct Tax

LOCALITY         (see attached list of hundred numbers and names)

NAMES             (see attached list of hundred numbers and names)

COUNTY

1=Anne Arundel 2=Baltimore
3=Caroline
4=Charles
5=Harford
6=Prince George’s
7=Queen Anne’s
8=St. Mary’s
9=Somerset
10=Talbot

TYPE

1=township
2=town 90+ per square mile
3=city 2500+
4=hundred
5=other

NUMDWA              number of dwellings over $100 in value      (the A schedule dwellings)

NUMDWB              number of dwellings $100 and under      (the B schedule dwellings)

NUMOUT               number of outbuildings

NUMACREA           the acreage in schedule A     (house lots around the A dwelling)

NUMACREB           the acreage in schedule B

VDWAORIG           total $ value of dwellings >$100     (original valuation Schedule A)

VALDWA               final total $ value of dwellings >$100     and the 2 acres or less around them

VDWBORIG           total $ value of dwellings $100 and <     (original valuation Schedule B)

VALDWB               final total $ value of dwellings $100 and <

VPRDORIG            total $ value of land & improvements in Schedule B     minus value of dwellings $100 and < (orig. eval.)

VALPROD              final total $ value of land and improvements in Schedule B     minus value of dwellings

NUMRENT             number of dwellings where owner’s name different from occupant

NUMSLAVE           number of slaves

NUMABLE             number of able-bodied slaves 12-50

NUMOWNER         number of slave owners

POP1800              estimate of population in 1800


Variable from local records

YEARS                   number of years between founding and 1798


Variables created from variables above

PCTDWB               (NUMDWB/NUMDW)* 100

PCTRENT              (NUMRENT/NUMDW) * 100

NUMDW                NUMDWA+NUMDWB

NUMACRE             NUMACREA+NUMACREB

AREA                    NUMACRE/640 estimated sq. miles in hundred

VALPDW               (VDWAORIG+VDWBORIG)/NUMDW

PRODACRE           value of non-dwelling house realty per acre      (VPRDORIG/NUMACREB)

VPDW0ADJ           ((VDWAORIG+VDWBORIG)–(NUMACREA*PRODACRE))/NUMDW
           value of dwellings minus A schedule land per dwelling

NOTES

This dataset is part of a statistical and geographical information system project funded by the Geography and Regional Science Program of the National Science Foundation (SES 9196167) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (RO 22213-91).


With the exception of YEARS all the variable information on the hundreds and the wards of the city of Baltimore is derived from the 1798 Federal Direct Tax microfilm available through the Maryland State Archives in Annapolis. When possible, each observation is a hundred (a tax unit) or a ward, but in some instances the lists combined hundreds, making it impossible to separate two hundreds. In those cases, the unit is two hundreds.


Valuation variables

The variables ending in ORIG give the first valuation of dwellings, land, and business improvements (agricultural buildings, wharves, commercial buildings etc.) made by the assessors. They sometimes differ from the final valuations, the variables beginning with VAL, because in some counties and cities the assessors had to raise more money to meet the state’s obligations and so they increased everyone in the jurisdiction by a set amount. Even though the tax was a progressive tax within the state, with those having expensive houses paying at a higher rate than those with modest homes, the state’s total obligation was based on population, so as not to conflict with the Constitutional ban on any federal tax other than a head tax. In Maryland the revised evaluations were done mechanistically to raise the necessary amounts and greatly altered the valuations in cities like Baltimore, which were made to bear the brunt of the tax Consequently for studies of housing value, land value, or inequality, it is best, in Maryland, to take the original assessment, before the Commissioners of the State began adjusting the numbers to raise the appropriate amount needed for the state to pay its designated tax to the federal government.


Population estimates: POP1800

Population figures for Maryland are not broken down by hundred in any of the federal censuses, 1790, 1800, etc. The estimation formula for hundreds that came closest to county totals in the 1800 census was to multiply the sum of the hundred’s dwelling houses (NUMDWA and NUMDWB) by 6, add the number of slaves, and then add 5.5% (the amount that population grew nationally between 1798 and 1800) of the total, to get the estimated hundred or ward population in 1800.

 

HUNDRED # HUNDRED NAME TYPE
COUNTY
101
Annapolis (including Middleneck)
2 1
102
Broad Neck & Town Neck 4
1
103
Elkridge & Elkridge Landing
4
1
104
Lyons Creek & Lower Herring Creek 4
1
105
Patapsco & Magothy 4
1
106
Patuxent & Huntington 4
1
107
Severn & South River 4
1
108
Upper Fork & Bear Ground 4
1
109
Upper & Lower Road River 4
1
110
West River& Herring Creek 4
1
201
Upper Back River 4
2
202
Upper Middle River 4
2
203
 Lower Middle River 4
2
204
Lower Back River 4
2
205
Middlesex 4
2
206
North
4
2
207
Pipe Creek
4
2
208
Upper Patapsco
4
2
209
Lower Patapsco
4
2
210
Soldier's Delight
4
2
211
Upper Gunpowder & Mine Run
4
2
212
Upper Delaware
4
2
213
Lower Delaware
4
2
214
Ward Seven Baltimore City 3
2
215
Wards Two & Three Baltimore City 3
2
216
Ward One Baltimore City   
3
2
217
Wards Four-Six Baltimore City 3
2
218
Western Precincts, Baltimore City
3
2
219
Deptford, Baltimore City 3
2
301
Choptank
4
3
302
Bridge Town
4
3
303
Done
4
3
304
Ford
4
3
305
Tuckahoe
4
3
306
Great Choptank
4
3
401
Durham
4
4
402
Port Tobacco
4
4
403
William and Mary
4
4
404
Bryantown
4
4
405
Newport
4
4
406
Benedict
4
4
407
Pomonkey
4
4
501
Lower Spesutia 4
5
502
Upper Spesutia 4
5
503
Lower Bush River
4
5
504
Upper Bush River & Eden’s 4
5
505
Lower Gunpowder 4
5
506
Upper Gunpowder 4
5
507
Upper Deer Creek 4
5
508
Middle Deer Creek
4
5
509
Lower Deer Creek
4
5
510
Lower Harford
4
5
511
Upper Harford
4
5
512
Susquehanna 4
5
513
Broad Creek
4
5
601
East Branch & Rock Creek 4
6
602
Hynson & Piscataway 4
6
603
King George & Grubb
4
6
604
New Scotland & Oxen & Bladensburg 4
6
605
Patuxent & Horsepen 4
6
606
Prince Frederick
4
6
607
Washington
4
6
608
West Branch & Collington 4
6
609
Charlotte
4
6
610
Mattapony
4
6
611
Mount Calvert
4
6
612
Upper Marlboro
4
6
701
Chester
4
7
702
Island
4
7
703
Town
4
7
704
Tuckahoe
4
7
705
Upper & Lower Walsey & Kent Island 4
7
706
Worrell
4
7
707
Wye
4
7
801
Chaptico
4
8
802
Harvey
4
8
803
Lower Newtown
4
8
804
Upper Newtown
4
8
805
Poplar Hill
4
8
806
Lower Resurrection
4
8
807
Upper Resurrection
4
8
808
Lower St. Clements
4
8
809
Upper St. Clements
4
8
810
St. George
4
8
811
St. Inigoes
4
8
812
Lower St. Mary's
4
8
813
Upper St. Mary's
4
8
814
St. Michael's
4
9
901
Broad Creek
4
9
902
Rawastico
4
9
903
Nanticoke
4
9
904
Wicomico
4
9
905
Monie (Includes Princess Anne Town) 4
9
906
Menokin
4
9
908
Dividing Creek
4
9
909
Pocomoke
4
9
910
Greater Annamessex 4
9
911
Little Annamesses 4
9
1001
Bay
4
10
1002
Mill
4
10
1003
Island & Tuckahoe (part) 4
10
1004
King’s Creek & Tuckahoe (part) 4
10
1005
Third Haven 4
10
1006
Bullenbrook
4
10

ENDNOTES

1. Act of 9 July 1798 (Chapter 87)
2. Act of 14 July 1798 (Chapter 92)


This information resource of the Maryland State Archives is presented here for fair use in the public domain. When this material is used, in whole or in part, proper citation and credit must be attributed to the Maryland State Archives. PLEASE NOTE: Rights assessment for associated source material is the responsibility of the user.


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