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2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

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 Direct Tax Records


 Records, 1798 and 1815

 Size: 1.5 linear feet

 Catalog number: MSS 232 sg4

 Processed by: Rick Stattler, July 1997

 USE MICROFILM    HJ9013 P9 1798 (Providence, 1798, lists A and B only)

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            The 1798 Direct Tax was authorized by acts of the United States Congress. The first act, on July 9, 1798, authorized a valuation of all land, dwelling houses and slaves in the nation. The second act, dated July 14, authorized a tax of $2,000,000 to be levied, based on the valuation. The valuation was performed based on property owned on October 1, 1798, and was done in three schedules for each town:

List A was "a particular list or description of each dwelling house, which, with the outhouses appurtenant thereto, and the lot on which the same are erected, not exceeding two acres in any case...and exceeding in value the sum of one hundred dollars." The lists give very detailed descriptions of the houses, including dimensions, number of stories, number of windows, and material of construction. The lists give both occupants and owners, and often give descriptive information like race or widowhood.

List B was "a particular list or description of all lands, lots, buildings and wharves...excepting only such dwelling houses as with the outhouses appurtenant thereto [such as described above]". These lists give acreage for all privately held land, and owners of adjoining land when possible, as well as the dimensions of barns and commercial buildings.

List C was "a particular list of slaves", arranged by owner, but unfortunately not giving the names or ages of individual slaves. Of the very few List Cs found at the RIHSL, most are blank; only a couple actually list slave ownership.

            The actual assessment and collection of taxes was not completed until early 1800. During the assessment, new lists were created:

List D was a "general list of all dwelling houses..." and contained only an abstract of the information found in List A. It also added columns for taxes levied.

List E was a "general list of lands, lots, buildings and wharves", and proved a similar abbreviation of the information in List B. There was presumably a List F for valuation of slaves, but no examples of this list survive here.


            A similar direct tax was authorized in 1815 to help pay war debts. The R.I.H.S.L. has one volume of assessments from this tax, covering Washington and Kent Counties, but it does not go into the same degree of detail as the 1798 records.


Chace, Henry R. Owners and Occupants of the Lots, Houses and Shops in the Town of Providence, Rhode Island in 1798 (Providence: Livermore & Knight, 1914)

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Scope and content:

            The R.I.H.S. only has the 1798 tax assessments for five Rhode Island towns: North Kingstown, Providence, Richmond, Smithfield and Warwick. Schedule D for Glocester is in the possession of private collector Clifford Brown of 180 Brown Street, Providence, whose grandfather found it in a dump. Some Newport schedules were allegedly destroyed by fire, but the Redwood Library has schedules D and E; an indexed typescript can be found in the Joseph W. Blaine family Papers (MSS 1079). The fate of the schedules from other towns is unknown, but they were not located in town halls in a 1991 survey.

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            The five Warwick volumes and the volumes of tax forms were a gift of the Providence City Archives in 1981. The Smithfield lists were purchased from Miss E.K. Ide in 1923. The 1815 volume from Washington and Kent Counties was a gift of William G. Hammond in 1872; he was the grandson of the original assessor. The provenance of the Richmond, North Kingstown and Providence volumes is unknown, but likely dates back well before 1962 in all cases.

            Donated with the Warwick lists were a large collection of records from the U.S. Collector of Revenue. Though these records have been filed separately under subgroup 5, they are somewhat related. They include the records from a variety of other taxes collected by the federal government.

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All "A" and "B" schedules have been microfilmed.



In Barrington Town Records Collection (MSS 187):

List C. One schedule for Barrington listing 4 individuals each owning 1 slave: Edward Bosworth, Nathaniel       Smith, Ebenezer Tiffaney, Matthew Watson.



In box 1:         Lists D and E (one volume). A similar schedule dated 1800 can be found in the Updike Papers (MSS 770), volume 1, page 98.


Loose: List A (particular list of dwellings). Very detailed descriptions.

                        West Side, Downtown, Uptown. On microfilm.

Loose: List B (land, lots, buildings and wharves).

                        West Side, Downtown, Uptown. On microfilm.

In box 1:         List D (general list of dwellings), owners A-W

                        List D, owners W-Z bound with List E (general list of land), A-C

                        List E, owners C-Z

                        These three volumes are not by neighborhood.

                        They list the same owners as Lists A and B, but give less information.



In box 2:         Lists A, B and C (in one volume). On microfilm.


In box 2:         These two volumes are apparently from different neighborhoods of Smithfield; the information does not repeat. Both are on microfilm.

                        1. Binding marked "Smithfield Tax 1798".

                                     Lists A and B, owners A-M (in one volume) with List C (lists one slave)

2. Binding marked "Smithfield Tax Book 1798".

List A, owners A-M, and List B, owners A-Z (bound in one volume) with two blank sheets of schedule C


In box 2:         Lists A, B and C, owners A-B. On microfilm.

                        Lists A, B and C, owners C-L. On microfilm.

                        Lists A, B and C, owners L-S. On microfilm.

                        Lists A, B and C, owners S-Z. On microfilm.

In box 1:         Lists D and E, all owners.


In box 1:         "Forms Relating to the Collection of the Direct Tax", 1798

Loose: Record book of the "Rhode Island Board of Commissioners...for valuation and enumeration of 1798". Includes minutes and resolutions, state-wide summary abstracts of all schedules, and records of payments made to collectors, 1798-1800.


Loose:             Assessments for Washington and Kent Counties, arranged by town and then alphabetically. The only information provided is name, property valuation and total tax assessed. For the towns of North Kingstown, South Kingstown, Charlestown, Richmond, Hopkinton, Westerly, Exeter, East Greenwich, West Greenwich, Warwick and Coventry.

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Charlestown, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Coventry, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

East Greenwich, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Exeter, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Hopkinton, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Kent County, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

North Kingstown, R.I. - Taxes - 1798 and 1815

Providence, R.I. - Taxes - 1798

Richmond, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Richmond, R.I. - Taxes - 1798

1798 Direct Tax

Slavery - Rhode Island

Smithfield, R.I. - Taxes - 1798

South Kingstown, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Taxation - United States - Rhode Island

United States. Department of the Treasury.

Warwick, R.I. - Taxes - 1798 and 1815

Washington County, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

West Greenwich, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

Westerly, R.I. - Taxes - 1815

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