Description

    William Few Autograph Manuscript Signed "W Few Chairman." Five and one-half pages (four sheets sewn together), 6.5" x 8", [February 1821], [New York City]. The report is headed, "The Sub Committee appointed to confer with the Committee of the Honourable the Common Council on the Subject of the Memorial presented by the Freeholders and Lessees." The report reads in part:

    "That many cases of assessments had been stated that were equal to confiscation as the property would not sell for the amount of the assessment. . . . That after a full investigation thereof and due deliberation thereon, the Citizens [New York City freeholders and lessees] present were unanimously of opinion that a revision of the Charter and amendment of the laws of the Corporation were the only effectual remedy for those accumulated and increasing ought to go together and be dully apportioned otherwise Government would be arbitrary, unjust & oppressive. . . . That the freeholders pay nearly the whole tax and that they are not Represented in Common Council who assess revenue and appropriate the whole. . . . Thus it appears that the freeholders who are less than one third part of the Voters for Common Council pays Seventy two Eightieths, or Nine tenths of the public tax, when the other two thirds of the Voters for Common Council pay only eight eightieths or one tenth part of the public tax. Here we see heavy taxation and no effectual representation, in violation of every principle of Justice and equal rights. . . . Your committee also observed that the Common Council exercised arbitrary powers such as the greatest despot in Europe would not dare to enforce, and it appears that those dangerous powers may devolve on six men only, as Common Council consists of 22 Members, of which eleven makes a quorum of which six members is a quorum and can execute all those powers of pulling down houses, assessing the Citizens, Levying taxes and appropriating the funds of the City."

    On January 30, 1821, a group of New York City freeholders and real estate lessees met to discuss grievances over high tax assessments. The "Citizens" also complained that they had no representation among those who assessed those high taxes. They decided that a change in the Constitution of the Common Council was in order, as well as the election of an additional Board of Common Council for which the citizens could vote. They appointed a committee to convey the group's grievances to the council and chose William Few as the chairman. Few wrote this report and presented it at the Common Council meeting held on February 19. During the Revolutionary War, William Few (1780-1788) served as a lieutenant colonel and as a delegate to the Continental Congress. A delegate to the Constitutional Convention, he signed the Constitution and attended the ratifying convention. Throughout, he served Georgia in various political positions. This manuscript is docketed on the final page. All pages are lightly worn and toned.


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    October, 2010
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