A Tax on Walking Sticks
Making a table, creating math problems
In addition to needing money to build the ships, Congress had to raise money to keep the ships in service, that is, to pay for repairs, feeding and wages for the crew, etc. The Third Congress decided that duties collected on imports would be raised according to the following schedule:
Shopkeepers and tradesmen were asked to pay, on top of a duty of 7 1/2 percent, an additional 1 percent for buttons, saddles, leather gloves, hats of beaver or felt or mixed, canes, walking sticks and whips. On a duty of 10 percent, shopkeepers and tradesmen were asked to pay an additional 5 percent on stone and earthenware, marble, slate, bricks and such.
Ship owners were to pay an additional $ .03 per bushel of salt, $ .25 cents per ton on all cargo of ships and vessels not of the U.S. and $ .06 per ton on cargo of ships of the U.S. engaged in foreign trade.
Ask students to make a table of this information and create math problems to exchange with classmates, such as: What would you have to pay in duty if you were a shopkeeper purchasing $500 of imported leather gloves? $42.50. How much of this duty would go to pay for the ships? $5.00 Or, how large a shipment would it take to raise $1,000 for servicing the ships.
credit to Leon Kaufman, founding trustee, USS Constitution Museum and Schoolmaster, USS Constitution