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Wealthiest New Yorkers of the Jacksonian Era [ 151 ] lyzing influence of politics!' which made it "vain [to look] for a reform"; others stressed the alleged influence wealthy men had over the assessors and, after 1843, over the tax collectors.9 Whatever the reasons, it remains true that during the era under consideration the personal property of individuals was seriously underassessed. At a time when contemporary authorities believed that the value of personal estate equaled that of real estate, personal property was assessed at only 48 percent of the value of real property in 1828 and at 37 percent in 1845.10 It is clear that the tax assessment records are significantly inexact as estimates of the wealth of individuals. Alas, assessments were regarded not as academic exercises in determining the precise wealth of individuals, but rather as a means of separating the taxpayers from what they loved dearly. And yet no evidence is better as a clue to the wealthiest individuals of the period. If error is unavoidable in valuating wealth, there is much to be said for excessively modest as opposed to exaggerated estimates. After it is observed that the tax data and the men collecting it had deficiencies, it must also be noted that these men were legally responsible for their judgments. The typically painstaking quality of their completed reports inspires respect. I have come across interesting little nuggets left in the notebooks inadvertently; informal memos, scratch-pad notes listing the persons and addresses to be revisited, the sums to be revalued, which point to conscientiousness. Information thus gathered cannot be lightly dismissed. Where errors and underestimates were made by assessors, it is unlikely that such flaws had a discriminatory 9 William H. Boyd, comp., Boyd's New York City Tax-Book; Being a List of Persons, Corporations & Co-Partnerships, Resident and Non-Resident, Who Were Taxed According to the Assessors' Books, 1856 & '57 (New York, 1857), iv; John F. Whitney, introductory remarks in William A. Darling, comp., List of Persons, Copartnerships, and Corporations, Who Were Taxed on Seventeen Thousand Five Hundred Dollars, and Upwards, in the City of New York in the Year 1850 (New York, 1851), iii, iv; Report of the New York City Comptroller (New York, 1832); New York City Finance Department, Communication from the Comptroller for the Year 1842 (New York, 1842); Edward Dana Durand, The Finances of New York City (New York, 1898), 191, 194; Schwab, History of the New York Property Tax, 73,105; Report of the Tax Commissioners (1871), 38, 69-71; New York City Department of Taxes and Assessments, Directions to the Deputy Tax Commissioners of the City of New York (New York, 1902), 9; New York City Board of Assistant Aldermen, Report of the Special Committee on the Subject of Equalizing Taxation, Doc. No. 18 (New York, 1846), 177. 10 Schwab, History of the New York Property Tax, 87.