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EDWARD ATKINSON - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 06/14/1862 - HFSID 44687

EDWARD ATKINSON Writing to Senator William Pitt Fessenden on behalf of the Massachusetts textile mills early in the Civil War, he strongly condemns a proposed tax on their sales. Autograph Letter signed: "Edward Atkinson", 4 pages (front and verso), 7¾x10. Boston, 1862 June 14. To "Hon. Wm. P.

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EDWARD ATKINSON
Writing to Senator William Pitt Fessenden on behalf of the Massachusetts textile mills early in the Civil War, he strongly condemns a proposed tax on their sales.
Autograph Letter signed: "Edward Atkinson", 4 pages (front and verso), 7¾x10. Boston, 1862 June 14. To "Hon. Wm. P. Fessenden", in full: "I observe in your closing speech upon the Tax bill, that you believe the Manufacturers are in favor of the House tax bill, by which they would be subjected to a tax of three per cent upon their sales, and that they do not consider such a percent onerous. I cannot understand from what sources you have derived information to lead you to this conclusion. Manufacturers of cotton and woolen fabrics have been very much alarmed at the proposition, and the representatives of all the large mills of New England joined in the efforts of the Boston Board of Trade to oppose the adoption of Bigelow's plan of a stamp tax upon sales. I think manufacturers have avoided making any special combination for fear of raising the cry of 'class interest', 'corporation', etc. etc. and also from the belief that the representatives of New England could not fail to understand their position. I was one of the parties principally engaged in writing the enclosed memorial. You will see by the names I have marked upon it that the representatives of all our large mills, almost without exception, have asked that the tax may be more diffused throughout the community and not concentrated upon them. I look at the question from a different point of view than most of my friends. I am an abolitionist, a democrat, and although Treasurer, I am anti-corporation as a system of business. I want manufacturing diffused by individual enterprises. The large corporations with ample capital and credit, are the ones who will soon succeed in collecting the three percent from the community, while small corporations will be so burdened by it that products will decrease and the business become more of a monopoly than it now is. It is probably too late to effect any change now, but I should be very averse to have it stand upon record that we deemed 3 percent a tax easy to be borne. The names on the enclosed paper, with those afterward appended, represent about one half of the cotton spindles of the country, and they further bear witness to the country. Excuse the liberty I take in thus addressing you. I do so because I fear that documents furnished by myself and my friend Mr. G. K. Dalton at the request of Mr. Sumner, in which we endeavored to give information on which a tax of five percent on cost, could be equitably assessed, have led you to think we approved such an assessment. We learned that 5 percent on cost was positively decided on. We therefore supposed it must be borne and tried to devise methods by which it should be made equal. Yours very respectfully". Edward Atkinson (1827-1905), a textile entrepreneur and later an insurance executive, was also a prominent abolitionist, even raising money to supply John Brown with weapons. He was an advocate of free trade, even espousing the privatization of money. He also invented an efficient new type of kitchen stove, the Aladdin Cooker. A strong supporter of Democratic President Grover Cleveland in the 1880s, he broke with the Democratic Party when it nominated William Jennings Bryan in 1896, believing the Bryan's monetary policies were inflationary. Unhappy when the US liberation of Cuba turned into a colonial occupation of the Philippines, Atkinson helped found the anti-Imperialist League, and served as its President. Atkinson was delighted when the US Post Office refused to mail his anti-war pamphlets and the Justice Department threatened him with prosecution for sedition, believing the publicity helped his cause. William Pitt Fessenden (1806-1869), represented New Hampshire in the US House and Senate before becoming President Lincoln's Secretary of the Treasury in 1864. Normal mailing folds. Toned. Edges worn, heavily on top edge of second page. Pencil note (in unknown hand) on last page. Otherwise, fine condition.

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