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[JUNE, 1797. with them altogether, though he agreed they | Our great interests lay in the soil; and if ever had some weight; but it was well known that the vitals of the country were to be drawn tothe Grand Navy of Portugal had no weight gether for the purpose of protecting our comwhatever in the scale of the large navies of Eu- merce on the sea, he should greatly lament it. rope; it did not even enable her to protect her He believed the despotism of nations kept pace trade : for, if either France or Great Britain with the ratio of expense of their Governments. had the superiority in the Mediterranean, she He was sorry to say that he was more and more was under their control. He believed Denmark convinced that it was the constant aim of some and Sweden had thirty sail of the line each, and gentlemen in that House to increase the exhe wished gentlemen to calculate how much it penses of our Government. The propriety of would cost us to have such a navy. A fleet of establishing a navy had scarcely ever been seria few vessels would not then be able to afford ously considered; it was first begun under an protection to our trade; and it was wholly out alarm, and it had been -ontinually carried on by of our power to have a fleet equal to that of the same means. Denmark or Sweden.
Mr. YARPER said gentlemen seem to abandon Mr. SwANWICK believed the expense of these their objections to this bill by admitting that frigates had been much greater than any future there was no probability it would not pass. ones would be. When they were told they had | But why? Because a majority of the House cost £2,000 sterling a gun, it was evident there either think the measure is proper in itself, or must have been great extravagance in the ex- from the particular circumstances of this counpense, as merchant vessels might be built as try. It was surely a singular instance of mocheaply in this country as in any other. He desty in gentlemen, after this concession, to supposed the extra expense had been owing to argue against the passing of the bill. the want of some regular establishment to over- Mr. H. did not admit that these frigates were look the business, and because it had been un- commenced from an idea of laying the foundadertaken at a time when other nations were at tion of a large Navy Establishment, but from war, and of course when materials were very particular circumstances; and, said he, shall we, high. Sixteen thousand dollars worth of hemp at a time when we are threatened with danger, had indeed been burnt by accident at Boston. abandon them? He trusted not; such conduct As to the terms of seamen, though they might would be absurd in the extreme, and imply & at first be high, when the service was known he character of imbecility which he hoped their doubted not they would fall.
councils would never deserve. Mr. J. WILLIAMS said, he had always opposed | Mr. ALLEN said, he had some objection to the the establishment of a navy, and was the ques- passing of the bill, but his objections were to tion now whether or not we should commence the amendments which had been introduced a navy he should certainly be against it; but, into it, yet he did not know but he should voto as the frigates were so far advanced, he thought for it. He thought there was a provision in the they ought to finish them, especially when they bill which went to prostrate this Government. considered the present critical situation of our He alluded to that part of it which directed the affairs; for, if a general peace did not take manner in which this force should be used. He place in Europe, the war would probably be considered this as a violation of the constitution, come a maritime war, and we might be involved besides carrying upon the face of it an idea that in it. But he was still of opinion that if we one of the branches of this Government could must go into an expensive naval establishment not be trusted with the exercise of its power. for the protection of our commerce, we had Was it possible, he asked, for a Government to better have none. But, say gentlemen, where exist, when this confidence was refused to one will you find revenue? He believed, though of its branches? What were the people of the we had no armed force, a considerable com- United States, and abroad, to think of this? merce would still be carried on,* and those who Would not the people of this country think it declined it would turn their attention to agricul- | their duty to destroy a power which could not ture and manufactures, from which any defi- be trusted ; and would not foreigners despise it ? ciency of revenue would readily be supplied. It seemed as if this were the intention of gentle
It was true, as had been stated, that they had men. been called upon from time to time for addi- ' Mr. A. also objected to the clause limiting tional sums to complete these frigates, and he the duration of this bill; since this went to say knew not when these calls wculd end.
that they not only distrusted the other branches Mr. GILES was obliged to the gentleman last of the Government, but themselves. A thing up for his speech against the present bill, though which must in its nature be perpetual, was he meant to vote for it; he would rather, how there limited. He deprecated the idea of exever, that he had spoken in favor, and voted pense being an objection to this measure. Our against the bill. Mr. G. said he should vote emancipation from the chains of Great Britain, against the passing of the bill, and for the rea- he said, was attended with a great expense; sons assigned by that gentleman. He thought but was it not believed that the liberty and ina navy would be a great evil for this country. dependence of this country were of superior
value to money? He trusted they were. He * And is still so carried on.
| could only suppose, therefore, that men who
[H. OF R. objected against the expense, must themselves | The title was altered from “An act for the Le sordid and avaricions. If these frigates had protection of the trade of the United States," been provided four years ago, he believed all to “ An act providing a Naval Armament." our present difficulties would have been prevented, and a sum vastly less than that of which we had been robbed would have done the busi
MONDAY, June 26. Desa Mr. A. denied that ships of war could _LEWIS R. MORRIS, from Vermont, and LEMUEL now be built in England for £1,000 a gun; that BENTON, from South Carolina, appeared, prowas formerly the price, but they now cost
duced their credentials, were qualified, and took £1,500 per gun.
their seats. Mr. NICHOLAS had always been of opinion, that the expense of these frigates was a useless
Stamp duties : Naturalization certificates : espense; he did not believe a case could hap
Lawyer's licenses : Conveyances. pen, except within our own jurisdiction, where The House went into a Committee of the these vessels could be of advantage to us; but Whole on the bill for laying duties on stamped notwithstanding this was his opinion, he should vellum, parchment, and paper; when, the first vote for the passing of this bill, because he saw section being under consideration, the sentiments of that House and the public Mr. KITTERA moved to add, “any certificates were strongly in its favor, from a persuasion of naturalization - dollars," as he thought that the measure was necessary, and that the foreigners, who were admitted to all the rights thing wonld be a continual topic of dispute until of citizens under this Government, could not it was carried into effect.
be against paying a small tax on their admission He was willing, therefore, to let the vessels to this right. go to sea, believing that nothing short of actual Mr. Macon thought this tax would fall very experience would convince the supporters of heavy upon persons who came into this country this measure that it was useless, expensive, and to live by their labor--many of whom were injurious; and hoping that by one year's expe- not able to pay their passage, but were indented rience of the plaything, finding that money was by those who brought them for a number of of greater value than the frigates, all parties years; and who, if this tax were paid, would would concur in relinquishing it.
have so much longer to serve. The question was then taken on the passing Mr. BROOKS did not see this objection, as of the bill, and decided in the affirmative-yeas such persons might labor all their lives without 78, nays 25, as follows:
becoming naturalized. YEAS-John Allen, George Baer, jr., Theopbilus
Mr. GORDON said, that by the naturalization Bradbury, David Brooks, Nathan Bryan, Dempsey
act, no foreigner could be admitted to the Burges, Christopher G. Champlin, James Cochran, rights of a citizen until he had been five years William Craik, Samuel W. Dana, James Davenport, in the country, and therefore the objections of Thomas T. Davis, John Dennis, George Dent, Gcorge the gentleman from North Carolina could not Ege, Lucas Elmendorph, Thomas Evans, Abiel Foster, have any weight. Dwight Foster, John Fowler, Jonathan Freeman, The amendment was carried. Nathaniel Freeman, jr., James Gillespie, Henry Glenn, Mr. SwanWICK moved to strike out five Chauncey Goodrich, William Gordon, Roger Gris-dollars, and insert ten, for licenses to practise wold, William B. Grove, John A. Hanna, Robert
as & counsellor, attorney, &c. He thought, if Goodloe Harper, Carter B. Harrison, Thomas Hartley, the
ey, these gentlemen were taxed at all, ten dollars William Hindman, David Holmes, Hezekiah L. Hos
would be as low a sum as they could well fix mer, James H. Imlay, John Wilkes Kittera, Edward Livingston, Samuel Lyman, Matthew Lyon, James
upon for the purpose. Machir, William Matthews, John Milledge, Daniel
Mr. VARNUM thought the tax should be much Morgan John Nicholas, Harrison G. Otis. Josiah | higher, if imposed at all. He spoke of the high Parker, Elisha R. Potter, John Read, John Rutledge. I tax laid upon the professors of the law in jr., James Schureman, Samuel Sewall, William Massachusetts. Shepard, Thomas Sinnickson, Samuel Sitgreaves, The amendment was carried, there being 53 Jeremiah Smith, Nathaniel Smith, William Smith, in favor of it. of Charleston, Richard Sprigg, jr., John Swanwick, Mr. COCHRAN wished the tax to extend to George Thatcher, Richard Thomas, Mark Thomson, lawyers who practised in the State Courts, as Abram Trigg, John Trigg, John E. Van Allen, Philip well as to those who practised in the Courts of Van Cortlandt, Peleg Wadsworth, John Williams, the United States. and Robert Williams.
Mr. Nicholas objected to this proposition. NAYSAbraham Baldwin, David Bard, Thomas
The lawyers, in some of the States, were already Blount, Richard Brent, Thomas Claiborne, Matthew Clay, John Clopton, Joshua Coit, John Dawson,
very highly taxed; besides, he doubted the Albert Gallatin, William B. Giles, Andrew Gregg,
right of the United States to tax the lawyers Jonathan N. Havens, Walter Jones, Matthew Locke,
of the State Courts, as they were necessary in Nathaniel Macon, Blair McClenachan, Joseph Mc
the State Governments. Dowell, Anthony New, Tompson J. Skinner, William
Mr. SWANWICK did not expect any objection Smith. (of Pinckney' District.) Richard Stanford, could have been made to a tax so reasonable, Thomas Sumter, Joseph B. Varnum, and Abraham especially when the bill proposed to tax merVenable.
chants so heavily; they would not be able to
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[JUNE, 1797. turn themselves without a stamp, and surely | To say a deed, which was legal by the laws of the lucrative profession of the law could not a State, could not be received in evidence, ex think much of paying this low tax. It was cept it was stamped, would be tantamount to said, indeed, that the merchant did not ulti-the repealing of a State law. mately pay the duty, but the consumer; aud Mr. W. SMITH said, this subject had been frehe doubted not the lawyers would not fail to quently under discussion, both in the Commitfind out a way of making their clients pay the tee of Ways and Means, and in that House. duty.
On this occasion, the majority of the CommitMr. DENNIS objected to this tax on the same tee of Ways and Means was against laying & ground with the gentleman from Virginia. If a tax on deeds. He was in the minority. There tax of this kind, he said, were laid upon the was a provision, Mr. S. said, which declared lawyers of the State Courts, it might be ex- that, no paper upon which a duty was imposed tended to any other officer of the Government, by this act should be admitted in evidence; but and thereby annihilate the State Governments. there was afterwards a clause which allowed
Mr. LIVINGSTON was in favor of the amend them to be admitted, on payment of ten dollars ment, because he thought the State lawyers a over and above the duty thereupon payable. fair object of taxation. He denied that it would He thought the tax would be a very good and be unconstitutional, or that it would operate a very profitable one. hardly upon a particular class of men. It was Mr. Ooit thought this was a tax which should not laid upon any particular class; but upon be gone into with great caution, since, if it an instrument which, indeed, to exercise their were carried, it might be the means of losing professions, lawyers would be obliged to have; the whole bill. He thought the bill would be but it might as well be said that the tax upon better passed without this provision; and if it rum and sugar would fall heavily upon the were found expedient, it might be added hereafter. sellers of those articles, and that therefore no Mr. GILES was opposed to this amendment, rum or sugar would be sold. The one tax fell as interfering with the governments of the sevupon the consumer, and the other upon the eral States. All lands (except such as had been client. In the State of New York, Mr. L. said, sold by the United States) were held from the the lawyers were not taxed at all."
States; and if this tax were to be agreed to, he Mr. McDOWELL said, when he seconded the believed the State courts would not refuse to admotion for striking out “five" for the purpose mit a deed in evidence which was not stamped. of inserting "ten” he did not intend the tax Nothing would give so much alarm to the States to be extended to the practisers in State Courts; as a subject of this sort. nor did he think the constitution would war-| · Mr. SEWALL did not understand the distincrant such an extension of it.
tion made between titles to land and titles to Mr. SITGREAVES was in favor of the amend money. He thought the objection made to a ment; he wished to fix the principle. He tax on a deed, might be made with equal prothought that the State lawyers were a fair priety to a tax on a bond or note. “If they object of taxation, and that the profits of their had a right to say these should not be received business would very well bear it. But there in evidence in a State court, unless they were was reason for making a distinction between stamped, they had a right to say the same with the two cases. He thought there would be a respect to a deed. Except it could be shown hardship in extending the tax to practisers in that the farmer was less able to pay than the county courts, as that would cause it to fall in merchant, he thought no other objection had some places very heavily. For instance, in any weight. Pennsylvania, there must be a separate admis- Mr. R. WILLIAMS thought there was a great sion into every court of every county; so that difference between a note of hand and a deed. one man would probably have to pay to the The State had nothing to do with the former, amount of from two to three hundred dollars but much with the latter; since every State on account of this tax. He hoped the motion held grants of its lands, and a man must show would be postponed for the present, and modi- | his title from the original grant, before his tified. He would do it himself, if time were given. tle could be said to be a good one. He did not The motion was withdrawn.
doubt the people being able to pay the tax; Mr. SITGREAVES said, he understood that it was the principle which he contended against, deeds for the conveyance of lands would have which, if carried into effect, would cause a been amongst the articles taxed. He though. clashing of the authorities of the two Governsuch a tax would be an eligible one, and in or- ments. If the United States could lay a tax of der to learn what were the objections to it, he this sort, they might lay a tax upon every comproposed to add to the bill, "any deed for the mission issued by a State conveyance of real estate - dollars.”
Mr. NICHOLAS did not see the smallest differMr. R. WILLIAMS said, this proposition had ence between the two cases which had been been rejected in the Committee of Ways and stated. And when they came to the 13th secMeans, on the ground that such a tax would tion, he should endeavor to prove that to say clash with the jurisdiction of the States. He a piece of paper should not be received in evihad the same objection to this that he should dence in a court, which was lawful to be rehave to laying a tax upon the State lawyers. I ceived by the laws of the State, would be a vi
[H. OF R. olation of State sovereignty. He was not of bill, on the transfer of their shares. A tax on opinion, with the gentleman from Connecticut, bank notes, he said, would introduce a vast deal that they should take up the subject partially, of confusion throughout the country. As for rather than not pass the bill. He thought it himself he did not care any thing about it; but best to consider a tax upon its broadest basis. he believed, if it were agreed to, it would It was not fair to exclude any thing which produce so many objections against the bill as stood upon the same ground. He wished the to prevent its passing. principle to be thus fairly tested. He should, Mr. Brooks was against stamping bank notes, therefore, vote for the tax on deeds.
as they were not stamped in any country whatMr. Lyon hoped, that if this tax was agreed to ever.* Indeed they were different from other purchases of a small amount would be excluded. notes, as they were the representatives of specie;
Mr. SWANWIOK said there would doubtless they might, therefore, as well stamp dollars or be a difference made in the duty between Jarge guineas. In short, the subject was too importand small purchases. He also disagreed with ant and intricate to be gone into at this late the gentleman from Connecticut. The princi- | period of the session. ple, he said, was either right or not; if it were Mr. VENABLE said, in proportion as the tax right, it should be made general: if not, it was general, it would be just. What was the ought not to be adopted.
object of the bill? It was to tax that right The question was put, and negatived-47 to which an individual possesses in society, of
transferring his property, and the evidences of On motion, the committee rose, and had it; it was also to tax him for the right he had leave to sit again.
| of using his credit. Though the argument of
the gentleman last up might appear specious, TUESDAY, June 27.
that a bank note was the representative of Stamp duties.
specie, it was not very solid; it was the repre
sentative of the credit of the bank, and circuBANK NOTES.
lated for its interest. An individual, if he had The House resolved itself into a Committee sufficient credit, might issue notes as well as a of the Whole on the bill laying duties on corporation; and, in that case, his notes would stamped vellum, parchment, and paper, when be charged with the duty, whilst those of a
Mr. NICHOLAS moved to strike out the clause corporation would not. From whence, said exempting bank notes from duty, as he could Mr. V., is this reasoning drawn? It was drawn see no reason why notes upon which a profit from the doctrine of favoritism-it was meant was made, should be exempted from duty more to favor the moneyed interest, which was althan others. He trusted all notes would be ready sufficiently encouraged by their incorplaced on the same footing.
poration. There seemed to be no objection to Mr. W. SMITA hoped gentlemen did not mean, the principle; but merely to the convenience by moving to strike out this exemption, to of the thing. If it could be shown that the destroy the bill. He thought the observation tax would materially operate upon the circulaof the gentleman from Connecticut yesterday, tion of bank notes, so as to injure the operation against embarrassing the bill by doubtful objects, of money transactions, it might have some had weight. On this ground, though he was weight with him; but it was none, to say this before of opinion deeds ought to have been bill must pass, and therefore let us avoid any inserted, he did not vote for inserting them. thing in which there may be any difficulty. He trusted the gentleman had not fully con- Such assertions went only to this, where you sidered the subject, and that when he did so, can tax the property of an individual, do it; he would not persist in his motion.
but do not meddle with corporations, as this Mr. NICHOLAS believed if the favorite object would be attended with some difficulty. He of every gentleman were to be exempted, there wished, if the bill passed, that it should operate would be nothing left upon which to lay a tax. equally. If to oppose this, were to defeat the bill, he Mr. Coir wished the gentleman from Virginia meant to defeat it; as he wished the tax to go would withdraw his motion, until he took the to all objects of the same kind. He had no sense of the committee upon one which he proidea of favoring one interest at the expense of posed to make, and which was calculated, if another; he hoped, therefore, his amendment agreed to, to supersede the one he had made. would be agreed to.
He would state what it was. It was his opinion Mr. Lyon expected the gentleman from South that small notes should be exempted from duty. Carolina was about to have given some reasons He should propose, therefore, that there should why bank notes ought not to be taxed as well be charged on all notes exceeding fifty dollars as others; but he was disappointed. He be- and not exceeding one hundred dollars, ten lieved those who issued these notes got a good cents, and that all of less value should go free. profit from them, and that it was, therefore, After a few remarks upon this motion, in reasonable they should pay their proportion which it was observed that it would defeat the towards the support of Government.
Mr. W. Smith thought the tax an improper • Taxed in Great Britain, with the privilege of commuta. one, Banks were taxed in another part of the tion for a gross sum.
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(JUNE, 1797. bill entirely, as it would only be to make so when an individual gave a note, after it was many more notes at fifty dollars, if the sum paid, there was an end of it. Bank notes might were larger, Mr. Coit consented that the fifty be issued twenty-times, or oftener; it was neshould be struck out and left blank; when the cessary, therefore, to tax them in a different question was taken and negatived, there being way from other notes. He supposed the same only twenty-five votes for it.
provision might be adopted here as was adopted Mr. Nicholas renewed his motion.
in England. They might be allowed to be issued Mr. SITGREAVES hoped it would not prevail. for a certain number of years—say three. This It had been admitted that if it could be proved would remedy every kind of inconvenience that the stamping of bank notes would embar- arising from reissuing. As to notes now in rass their circulation, it would be a good objec- circulation, the way to prevent inconvenience tion to the tax. He believed he could easily would be to fix the time after which all notes show that it would not only impede their cir- should be renewed by stamped notes. The culation, but depreciate their value. The tax consequence would be, that all notes would, by would not certainly be made to operate upon degrees, be returned to the bank, and no diffinotes already issued, but upon those issued after culty would arise from doing so. Six or nine the act took place; so that it would be neces- months might be allowed for this purpose. This sary that every citizen throughout the United was the way in which all the banks in England, States should be acquainted with the date of except the Bank of England, were subject to their law, which would do away all confidence the stamp duty; that bank, he believed, had in bank paper. The result of this uncertainty paid a certain sum to be excused from the tax, would be that the banks would have to call in Perhaps the same privilege might be allowed all their outstanding notes, which would cause here. an immediate depreciation of their value. He Mr. NICHOLAS noticed what had fallen from trusted, therefore, that so objectionable a mea- the gentleman from Pennsylvania on the subject sure would not be entered upon.
of depreciation, and showed by the regulations Mr. GALLATIN said, he had had his doubts under which the tax would be paid, that it with respect to the propriety of stamping bank could not take place. notes; he was not sure whether it might not Mr. RUTLEDGE thought bank notes a proper have a dangerous effect on their circulation. object of taxation, and had not heard one good On a further consideration of the subject, how- reason why they should be exempted from the ever, all his doubts had vanished. He now proposed duty. The arguments of his colleague thought this amendment essential, just, and (Mr. Smith,) that bank notes now in circulation right. Indeed, when they proposed to lay a would be affected, and their currency checked, stamp duty upon all bills and notes, there ap- he would answer, by observing that the duty peared to be no good reason why the notes of could not operate upon notes now in circulaany incorporation whatever should be excepted, tion; it was not proposed to have them called Ho had heard only one objection; which was, in, but to have those stamped which shall be that these notes differed essentially from others, issued after a certain day." He did not think because they were the real representatives of the weight and importance which generally specie kept in the bank from whence they were attach to the observations of the gentleman issued. He would not see the distinction en- from Pennsylvania (Mr. SITGREAVES) attach to deavored to be drawn. Private notes were those now offered by him. With respect to the always given for some consideration, whether circulation of bank notes being embarrassed by for cash or other property, was of no conse- / the necessity there would be for the people at quence to them. Indeed, if they turned their large being acquainted with the date of the law, attention to the nature of bank notes, they the objection would apply to private as well as would be found to be a very fair object of bank notes. The people throughout the country taxation.
must inform themselves, and the most ignorant Where an individual gave his note, it was not will inform themselves of the date of the act; likely that he would derive any profit from it; and whenever a bank note or a private note many of such notes were what was called “ac- shall be offered to them, they will always inquire commodation notes;" all were acknowledgments if it was issued subsequent or previous to a of debt, and therefore no proofs of wealth ; but certain day. The gentleman from New York bank notes were never issued except to produce (Mr. BROOKS) was certainly incorrect in saying a profit to the bank; therefore, to exempt them that “bank paper was not stamped in any from duty, would be to exempt those which country whatever.” In Great Britain, Mr. R. were best entitled to pay.
said, the paper of all private banks is stamped; The only objection would be, any inconveni- that of the Bank of England has been exempted ence which might take place to counterbalance from the stamp duty, by the bank having paid the benefit to be derived from the tax. It had the Government a sum, in gross, by way of been supposed that a depreciation would take commutation. Although the moneyed interest place in the value of the notes in consequence has always been well and largely represented of this tax. In order to show that this was not in England, yet bank notes are taxed there, and probable, he supposed the tax would be laid. the circulation of them has not been embar
Bank notes were issued and reissued; but I rassed by this duty; on the contrary, the sys