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A term used among merchants to signify that books of account are kept in such a manner that they present the debit and credit of every thing. The term is used in contradistinction to single entry.
Keeping books by double entry is more exact because, presenting all the active and all the passive property of the merchant in their respective divisions, there cannot be placed an article to an account which does not pass to some correspondent account elsewhere. It presents a perfect view of each operation, and from the relation and comparison of the divers accounts, which always keep pace with each other, their correctness is proved; for every commercial operation is necessarily composed of two interests which are connected together. The basis of this mode of keeping books, and the only condition required, is to write down every transaction and nothing else; and to make no entry without putting it down to the two agents of the operation. By this means a merchant whose transactions are extensive, comprising a great number of subjects, is able to known not only the general situation of his affairs, but also the situation of each particular operation. For example, when a merchant receives money, his cash account becomes debtor, and the person who has paid it or the merchandise sold, is credited with it; when he pays money, the cash account is credited, and the merchandise bought or the obligation paid, is debited with it.