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National DutiesCustom Houses and the Making of the American State$
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Gautham Rao

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226367071

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226367101.001.0001

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Dismantling Discretion, 1816–1828

Dismantling Discretion, 1816–1828

(p.167) Chapter Six Dismantling Discretion, 1816–1828
National Duties

Gautham Rao

University of Chicago Press

After the War of 1812, the negotiated authority between customs officers and merchant capitalists that had once anchored federal governance now became a pressing moral and legal problem. Judicial and congressional reformers honed the problem on customs officers’ discretion and sought to limit the officers from deviating from the letter of the law. Between 1816 and 1836, Congress and the Courts peeled back the layers of discretionary authority that customs officers used to negotiate the terms of duties, revenue bonds, and illicit trade. By the end of Andrew Jackson’s presidency, the customhouse had become a model for a new vision of federal governance that hinged on constructing a wall between the influence of the marketplace and the inner workings of the state.

Keywords:   William Crawford, Andrew Jackson, bonds, smuggling, discretion, centralization

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