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J[ame]s Auchincloss to MVB, 12 January 1829


In the notice which you have taken of the Auction subject in your Message to the Legislature, very many of your political friends here (among whom I claim the honor of numbering myself,) would have been much gratified if you would have been somewhat more explicit. Your proposition to restrict the business to "wholesale" is imperfectly understood, and if it were agreeable to your Excellency I would feel obliged by an explanation of the term. If it is meant by wholesale to confine sales altogether to the package, I have no doubt whatever that the change would be universally acceptable to the dealers here. There can be no doubt that piece sales are highly injurious to fair and regular trade; they destroy everything like fair and honorable competition, and, beyond a doubt, they originate the most Scandalous frauds. I have remarked that package Sales would be generally acceptable, but not unless they were unaccompanied by proper regulations, such as the following, which I take the liberty of submitting to your Excellency.

1st. Goods to be advertized at least 48 hours before the sale.

2d. All goods to be exhibited, each sold separately 48 hours before the sale in someplace of easy access, and where they can be distinctly seen and Carefully examined.

3d. Printed catalogues specifying the Contents of each Lot, and the name of the owner, and the conditions of Sale, shall be ready 48 hours before the sale. All goods in the Catalogue shall be struck off, and that in the order in which they are in the Catalogue. No Duplicate Lot not on the Catalogue shall be sold. Everything offered must be advertized and exhibited before hand. Entire Original packages to have their original marks and Nos. Stated in the catalogue. The value of each package to be at least $200 for foreign goods and $100 for Domestic.

4th. Auctioneers Shall not make any fictitious biddings, nor buy goods at their own sales for themselves or others.

5th. One week after each sale shall be allowed to the buyers, to <illegible> at <illegible > a <favor>. After that time the auctioneer shall cease to be personally liable.

These are merely the heads or substance of certain Regulations which for the protection of the buyers are strongly called for, and with great deference to your Excellency I would earnestly urge ^them^ on your attention. Without these or similar regulations, package Sales will be as great a nuisance as piece sales. Other regulations could be added with great propriety, for the instance the appointment of proper agents on behalf of the State to attend each Sale for the purpose of seeing that all is fairly done and that the goods are all sold. This is suggested in consequence of the fact being notorious that many goods are bought in and no duty is paid on the sales. These agents, of course, to be paid by the auctioneer.

That there is urgent necessity either for State or National Legislation on this highly important question, cannot be doubted after the disclosures which have recently been made. The minds of people in all parts of the union are highly excited, and the Merchants here are resolved on persevering[g] [i]n their exertions to have the system so far restri[. . .] as no longer to interfere with what th[ey] naturally and properly consider their just rights[. . .] If the state now alter the Law to correspond so far with the wishes of this Body, that is to abolish piece Sales and Regulate Package sales as proposed, I have good reason to say to your Excellency, that the Merchants will cease their applications to Congress; if not, unwillingly and reluctantly, they will be compelled to act as politicians. In making this remark I may inform your Excellency that it has been in Contemplation to call a Convention of merchants from all parts of the union to meet at Philadelphia or this place the ensuing summer to consider what measures it may be proper to pursue with reference to this matter. The merchants are resolved on preserving. Let us hope, however, that our legislature will render further measures unnecessary.

May I solicit from your Excellency an answer to this letter?

Having indulgence for the liberty I have taken,

I remain, very Respectfully

Your Excedgy. obt. st.

Js. Auchincloss.

Source: DLC Library of Congress
Collection: MVB Papers (DLC)
Series: Series 5 (1 January 1825-3 March 1829)