While doing some work on the thought of Alexander Hamilton, America’s first Secretary of the Treasury, I came across a remark that contemporary IRS officials might do well to ponder. Indeed, it is fitting for all government officials to ponder. Of course, there was no IRS in Hamilton’s day, but there were revenue collectors. Here are some directions he gave to the captains of revenue cutters:
They will always keep in mind that their Countrymen are Freemen and as such are impatient of every thing that bears the least mark of a domineering spirit. They will therefore refrain with the most guarded circumspection from whatever has the semblance of haughtiness, rudeness, or insult.
Perhaps some of the difficulties that the IRS has lately run into could have been avoided by internalizing the spirit expressed in those instructions.