22 January 1864: “…Every man ought to represent only such means as properly belongs to him; otherwise taxation might be very unequal.”

Item description: In this letter dated 22 January 1864, Gunn & Bowe Boot and Shoe Makers sent to Thomas Ruffin the remaining cents due on a note they had paid off in October 1863. Gunn & Bowe could not help but to offer an additional two cents in defending their decision to pay the debt in full in Confederate currency when Ruffin had in an earlier communication claimed the high road for holding on to his pre-war debts. Gunn & Bowe argued that it was better to represent one’s assets accurately to ensure equal taxation.

[Item transcription available below image.]


Item citation: from folder 459 in the Thomas Ruffin Papers #641, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

Yanceyville N.C. 22nd Jany. 1864

Honored & Dear Sir

Your esteemed favor under date of 29th October came to hand by due course of Mail and it was itended to answer it long before now, but being from home much of our time & other hindrances have prevented it to this late date. You say that you received the check for Seven hundred & Seventy dollars which within a few cents paid off the amount of our Note with you_we hapened not to have your letter about us when we got the Check and did not number the odd cents we now send enough to pay it & the postage &c. You further Say that you have marked the note cancelled & will forward it to us as we may wish: –and also that you accept the payment in the mode tendered as you do not wish to do any thing to depreciate the currency of the Country: _ But that you have not paid any debt contracted before the war, in this currency. Now we cannot help thinking that while you do accept the mode of payment, you do think at the same time that the payment ought not to have been insisted on by us: –and it is on this Single idea that we wish to make a remark. and first we probably owed enough at the begining of this war to absolutely ruin us on a change of Currency to a Specie basis and all the indebtedness then to be paid; at the same time we had a large amount of debts due us all of which was fast coming in leaving all the indebtedness on one side. In the second place the indebtedness of the Confederacy is So enormous & Still increasing that the tax likely to fall upon the Citizen will be beyond indecsance & in such a contingency every man ought to represent only such means as properly belongs to him; otherwise taxation might be very unequal This last idea is overwhelming with us _ But it useless to pursue the chain any further your sagacious mind will at once see the force of the argument.

Now in conclusion we beg that you will relieve us of any wish to injure you in any way, we waited two years to see if any change was likely to come upon the country for the better, & to this day every thing that concerns the Southern Confederacy is assuming a darker & more threatning aspect _ & we greatly fear that our rights in Slave property is doomed at an early day. May God deliver us from a general Spoilation _ accept of our Wishes for your well being &c&c

Gunn & Bowe

Send the note by mail ___

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