Elbridge Gerry, a wealthy Massachusetts merchant with a distinguished career
of public service, was elected to Congress after opposing the ratification of the Constitution.
In what his friends saw as a surprising reversal, he declared that "the salvation
of America depends upon the establishment of this Government, whether amended or not."
According to Benjamin Goodhue, Gerry was partially responsible for the delay in the Collection Bill
[HR-6]. He had chaired the first committee to draft a system for collecting the impost and
tonnage duties. This committee presented a bill that would have established a temporary system
under the laws and regulations of the individual states. Goodhue states, "many
find great fault with Gerry who say he had this subject in his charge as a sub committee a month
and never put pen to paper." In his letter to the Salem Insurance Officers, Goodhue
outlines some of the complications involved in setting up the revenue system.
Full text transcript of Rep. Goodhue's letter.