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Wealthiest New Yorkers of the Jacksonian Era [ 149 ] cided to use these records as the source of my own list of wealthy citizens for 1828.5 Not that the evidence of the tax assessments is foolproof. Among other things, it does not disclose the value of property owned outside of the city. The misspelling of names by assessors was commonplace, as was the omission of middle initials. (In the case of rich men named Smith or Thompson or Jones, the middle initial may be the decisive clue that distinguishes them from their less fortunate fellows of the same first names.) Some entries were incomplete and others confusing. The tax collector evidently collected his proper share where someone's estate was held in trust by someone else. But to a compiler of a list of the wealthy it is a crucial matter that a sloppy entry leaves unclear who is administering whose wealth. The most serious weakness of the tax records is their undoubted and often substantial underassessments of the value of property. In many cases very wealthy men evidently did not know precisely how much wealth they owned. One thing however they did know: they were worth more, even in New York City alone, than the city's official valuations of their estate indicated. The taxpayer could write his own ticket with regard to personal property since no assessment was to be made in "those cases in which the value of said personal estate has been sworn to" by its possessor. Individuals were evidently quite Vtrilling to fabricate in order to save money. Moses Yale Beach 5 These records are kept in the New York City Municipal Archives and Records Center at 23 Park Row. They are in large notebooks by city ward and contain listings of the assessed value of every item of real and personal property as inscribed by the city assessors. New York State tax laws for the period permitted cities to tax owners or occupants of real property. New York City's tax ordinances provided for the taxation of owners. The practice of the city's tax assessors, as disclosed in the records I have examined from the early 1820s to the mid-i8sos, was to list the assessed value of real estate next to its owner. Had this not been the practice, I would have been unable to identify much of the city's wealth. See New York State tax laws, April 12, 1816, March 10, 1820, April 12, 1823, April 6,1825, April 20,1830, May 7,1839 in Laws of the State of New-York (Albany, for the years listed); Minutes of the Common Council of the City of New York, 1784—1831 (19 vols., New York, 1917) for the numerous variations on the tax laws of 1784 and 1785, all of which stated that taxes were to be levied on persons to whom property belonged. For an example of a specific case of assessment against the owner rather than the occupant of property see Minutes of the Common Council, May 2, 1831, XIX, 691. A search through the proceedings of the council through 1845 indicates that no change occurred in the system of assessing property, Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen, vol. I, May 10 to December 12,1831, through vol. XXX, to May 11, 1846 (New York, 1835—46).