Page images
PDF
EPUB

H. OF R.]

Direct Taxes.

[JANUARY, 1797.

saw so many difficulties from incorporating this / he should vote against every question of that species of tax into the plan, he could not assent kind, until every source of indirect taxation to it.

was exhausted; and he thought this was not Mr. NICHOLAS said, he did not understand the the case at present. objections of the gentleman from New Hamp-1 Mr. CLAIBORNE said, he thought, also, that shire, (Mr. J. SMITH.) He did not see how he direct taxes should not be resorted to until could produce an equal value in land in every | indirect sources were exhausted; but he bepart of the Union. The tax, he said, would be lieved, they were now exhausted, and that direct apportioned according to the number of persons, taxes were the only means left to them of raisand not according to the number of acres in any | ing money. As he lived in a country which State.

was unfortunately cursed with negroes, he If the gentleman from Connecticut (Mr. Good-wished the present motion to pass, for the sake RICH) would rely upon his information, he might of making the tax bear, in some degree, equally be assured that an annual enumeration of slaves in the Southern States; but if he thought with would not cost so much as an assessment of land his colleague (Mr. JACKSON) that a tax on slaves made once in ten years. With respect to the bore any affinity to a capitation tax, he should tax being uncertain, he was totally mistaken. It also oppose it; but he had no such idea. was the most productive tax in the Southern Mr. GALLATIN said, he would just notice what States. If the tax was laid wholly upon land, had fallen from the gentleman from Connecit would be laid on a great part which would be ticut (Mr. GOODRICH) which was the only thing unsaleable, and when a report came to be made like argument which had been used against the of the collection, there would be found great present proposition. As to what had been said deficiencies; but, with respect to slaves, there about the quantum of tax falling on different would be no failure, because they were a spe- States, or what had been said by the gentleman cies of property which would always find a ready from Rhode Island (Mr. POTTER) with respect to sale in the Southern market.

the personal property of the Eastern States, he Mr. S. SMITH said, he had heard much on that did not see how it applied to the present quesfloor with respect to equality of taxation. It tion. If the proposed tax was certain, and the was impossible, he said, to make taxes fall ex- expense of collection would not be greater actly equal; they will fall, in some cases, heavier than would attend the collection of the tax than in others. He would state a case. When in other States, he did not see any objection to it. a tax on carriages was under consideration, they! The gentleman from Connecticut had said, found the gentlemen from Connecticut voting that the expense of an annual enumeration of without scruple, because that State paid only slaves wonld be great, and that it would fall two or three hundred dollars annually, when upon the United States. He would inform that Maryland paid five thousand dollars a year to gentleman and the House, that when no assessthat duty. There was no equality in this; yet ment took place, but merely an enumeration, it those gentlemen winked at the disproportion. would be attended with no expense on the colHe hoped they would do so in the present case. lection of the tax. The distinction which he

Mr. POTTER said, if this part of the resolution made was, when a valuation and enumeration was agreed to, it was to apportion a tax on the were both necessary, and when an enumeration personal property of the Southern States, which, alone was necessary. In the first instance, the no doubt, they would be glad of; and if gen- value of the property was to be ascertained, tlemen from those States could point out any and the tax laid accordingly; but where an way by which the personal property of other enumeration was only wanted, (the tax per States could be come at, he would agree to the head, according to age, &c., having been settled,) present proposition; but he believed this could no expense would be incurred. not be done; and, if not, he saw no reason why Mr. G. said, he spoke from experience. In the personal property of those States should be Pennsylvania there was a certain tax on personal made to bear a part of the proposed burden, property, the taking an account of which did whilst personal property in other States was not increase the expense. Every three years suffered to go free. It was a hard case, he said, there was an assessment of personal property, that a man who possessed three or four hundred amongst which was slaves; but the enumeradollars in land, should be made to pay a portion tion was managed in this way: the collector of the direct tax, whilst men of affluence, who called twice upon persons—the first time he possessed many thousands in public securities, gave them notice to pay, and took an account or loaned on interest, should pay nothing. of their property, which, consisting of few arti

The SPEAKER reminded the House that the cles, and the value being already fixed, he could question was very much lost sight of; it was tell them at the time, the amount to be paid at not whether a tax should be laid on carriages his next call. or personal property, but whether they would As to any degree of uncertainty apprehended agree to the report of the Committee of the from this tāx, that might be removed by throwWhole, viz: “that a tax should be laid on ing the deficiency, if there should be any, upon slaves, with certain exceptions."

the land. He thought, therefore, the objections Mr. HENDERSON said, he should vote against which had been urged against this tax would this proposition, because it was a direct tax, as I be completely obviated.

JANUARY, 1797.]
Direct Taxes.

(H, OF RE Mr. Coit allowed, that nothing was more would not. But he thought it extraordinary clear than that the manner in which the that, whilst they were upbraided with holding Southern States paid their apportionment of a species of property peculiar to their country, the proposed burden, could make no difference they should also be upbraided with wishing to to the Northern and Eastern States; but the pay a duty upon that property. gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. GALLATIN) Mr. P. said, he did not see what difference it allowed there was some weight in the objec- could make to other States, that they raised a tions, with respect to the assessment and collec- part of the tax required of them from slaves. tion of the tax.

The Secretary of the Treasury had recommendIf he understood that gentleman, he said that ed this mode, the Committee of Ways and the making an enumeration of slaves would | Means had reported accordingly; and they were make no difference in the expense. He did not ready to pay a tax for their slaves, in addition know how this could be. If two objects were to the expense they were at for them already; to do, viz: to value and assess the land, and to for, it should be recollected, persons holding enumerate and value the slave, it was new doc- slaves, contribute largely to the duties collected trine to him, if these two things would not cost from imposts, by the purchase of flannels and more than if only one had been done; or, if cloth, rum, molasses, &c., necessary for their this business would be done for nothing, it food and clothing. wonld be one of the first things the United. If a person living in a State where slavery did States had had done upon those terms. | not exist, paid something more for his land, the

Upon the collection, there would also be an difference was certainly not equal to the satisadditional expense and a probability of loss; faction he must enjoy in.reflecting, that his the more detail there was in the business, the State was free from that evil. His land, on that greater liability to error and loss to the United account, would be worth three times as much States; and in proportion to this loss would as land of the same quality in the Southern these States pay less than others.

States. Why, then, do gentlemen complain? Mr. HARTLEY said, he should at present vote | The Southern States themselves might have for the proposition; but should feel himself at objected to this tax; they might have doubted liberty to vote differently on the bill, if he did the constitutionality of it; indeed, he did doubt not approve it. Difficulties arose in his mind it, but he had agreed to it; and he believed as to the propriety of taxing personal property there was no better way of making the tax go in one State and not in another, by which means down in those States, than by the present a bounty seemed to be given on land in the measure. Southern States to the amount of the difference For his own part, Mr. P. said, he wished he of the taxes between the land in those States, lived where there was no slavery; and if he and that in other States, upon which purchas- could find a climate he liked as well, he would ers would naturally calculate. This difficulty change his situation on that account. might probably be removed from his mind; | Mr. BRENT said, it was a very extraordinary and, therefore, in order to give the whole of thing that gentlemen who represented States the business a fair chance, he should wish the where there were no slaves, should oppose & resolutions to go back to the Committee of tax on that species of property, and that the Ways and Means, to bring in a bill.

Southern States where slavery existed, should Mr. Page did suppose that gentlemen coming be advocating that tax. from States which were in the habit of collect- By the report of the Secretary of the Treasing direct taxes, would have endeavored to ac- ury, there appeared a deficiency of revenue, and commodate the business to the situation and in order to supply that deficiency, they had decircumstances of different States, so as to make termined to have recourse to direct taxation; and, the system the most convenient to each. He after the amount which each State ought to furdid suppose that, whenever it should have been nish, had been ascertained, he thought it should determined to enter upon direct taxation, that have been left to the different States to have sums would have been apportioned to each raised the money from such funds as they judgState, and that they would have been left to ed best, provided they had been secure. This, themselves to have raised the money in the way he thought, would only have been liberal and which they thought most convenient. Insupera- proper. It had, however, been determined ble objections, however, it seemed, had been otherwise; but, from a knowledge that, by inloand against this system, as appeared from the troducing land and slaves together, as objects report of the Secretary of the Treasury; but it of taxation, the tax would be more equally was unreasonable that the Northern States levied in the Southern States, if that plan had should complain that the Southern States would been adopted. And, surely, he said, it could pay the tax with greater facility than them. have given no satisfaction to any other State, They might, he said, as well complain against that, by laying a tax on land only, it should the richness of their soil, or the warmness of have operated in a very oppressive inanner in their climate,

some parts of the Southern States, and scarcely With respect to the tax falling lighter on them have been felt at all in other parts of those than on other States, those who held slaves States; and yet, this would appear to be the would find it lighter, but those who had none, opinion of the gentleman from New Hampshire;

H. or R.]

Direct Taxes.

[JANUARY, 1797. for, he said, if this law passed, a person possess. It was a phenomenon, he would again say, ing landed property in New Hampshire, of that the Representatives of States where slavery the value of £1,000, would pay more than a existed, should be contending for a tax upon landholder to that amount in the Southern slaves, and that members from States where States. And was this, he asked, a subject of slavery was not tolerated, were opposing it. regret? If the State of Virginia paid the He could not help believing that the real object amount required of her in a manner which bore of gentlemen had not been avowed. It was most equally upon the whole of her citizens, something hidden and unseen.* ought that to displease the citizens of other Mr. KITTERA said, that the opposers of this States? He thought not. He was of opinion, part of the resolution were the opposers of s that it would be a desirable thing that the tax direct tax altogether. It was observable that should be found to fall equally on the citizens those upon whom the tax would fall, did not of every State.

complain. It was extraordinary that the comAnother objection, produced by the gentle plaints should come from another quarter. As man from Connecticut (Mr. GOODRICH) was that to the objections of his colleague (Mr. HARTLEY) a tax on this species of property would not be that part of the tax being laid on slaves in the so secure as a tax on land. If that gentleman Southern States, would affect the value of land, had been acquainted with the situation of the it would make no difference whether the tax Southern States, he would have known that was on land or slaves, as it affected land, its opslaves formed the most certain fund of those eration would be the same. It was therefore States; for, whilst their wide and extensive no solid objection against the resolution. waste lands would not command any price, On the question, that the House do agree to slaves were always ready sale. Hence it arose, the last part of the said resolution, in the words that the States were not able to raise a tax on following, to wit: “A tax on slaves, with cerland, whilst a tax on slaves had never failed to tain exceptions;" it was resolved in the affirbe productive.

mative-yeas 68, nays 23, as follows: With respect to the inconvenience or expense YEAS.-Fisher Ames, Abraham Baldwin, Thomas attending a tax on slaves, in Virginia, he said, Blount, Theophilus Bradbury, Richard Brent, Daniel no expense would be necessary; because it was Buck, Samuel J. Cabell, Gabriel Christie, Thomas the custom of that State to take annually, a list Claiborne, Isaac Coles, William Cooper, William of their slaves, which was regularly recorded in Craik, James Davenport, George Dent, George Ege, the archives of the State. If gentlemen were, William Findlay, Abiel Foster, Jesse Franklin, Albert therefore, so economical that they would not Gallatin, James Gillespie, Nicholas Gilman, Henry expend a few of the public pence to get a list of Glenn, Christopher Greenup, Andrew Gregg, William this property, let them recur to the document B. Grove, Wade Hampton, George Hancock, Robert he had mentioned, which might be done with Goodloe Harper, Carter B. Harrison, Thomas Hart

ley, John Hathorn, Jonathan N. Havens, William out expense.

Hindman, James Holland, Andrew Jackson, John To those who know the situation of the

Wilkes Kittera, Matthew Locke, Samuel Lyman, Southern States, the remarks made by the genSamuel Maclay. Nathaniel Macon. James Madison. tleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. GALLATIN) must John Milledge: Andrew Moore, Frederick A. Muhlen. have been irresistibly impressive. Almost the berg, William Vans Murray, Anthony New. John whole of the lower part of the country possess- Nicholas, Alexander D. Orr, John Page, Josiah Pared property of this kind, whilst the upper parts ker, John Patton, Francis Preston, Robert Ratherhad scarcely any. If a tax was, therefore, im- ford, Samuel Sewall, Samuel Sitgreaves, Israel posed upon land only, the upper part of the Sunith, Isaac Smith, Samuel Smith, William Smith, country would be extremely aggravated, and Richard Sprigg, Jr., William Strudwick, John Swanwould murmur, and they would murmur with wick, John E. Van Allen, Philip Van Cortlandt, justice.

Abraham Venable, Peleg Wadsworth, John Williams, Gentlemen from the Eastern States called and Richard Winn. upon the Representatives of the Southern States

Nays.--Nathan Bryan, Dempsey Burges, Joshua to point out a mode by which they might come

Coit, Samuel W. Dana, Henry Dearborn, Dwight

Foster, Nathaniel Freeman, Jr., Chauncey Goodrich, at the personal property of their States. But,

Roger Griswold, Thomas Henderson, George Jackhe would ask them, if, independent of land with

son, William Lyman, Francis Malbone, Elisha R. its improvements, they possessed any other

Potter, John Read, John S. Sherburne, Jeremiah species of property which could not be eladed ? Smith. Nathaniel Śmith, Zephaniah Swift, George He believed they could not point it out; why, Thatcher, Richard Thomas, Mark Thompson, and then, call upon gentlemen from the Southern Joseph B. Varnum. States to do, what they, who certainly knew best their own resources, were unable to do?

* The solution of the enigma was, that those who voted The gentlemen from the Southern States, he

against taxing slaves were opposed to any direct tax whst. said, had discovered those objects which they

ever, and the members from the slave States who supported thought best able to bear the burden; and if the tax, did so because the taxation of lands and slaves went the Representatives of the other States were togs

| together in the slave States--the people were used to the asnot satisfied with the tax on land, let them come

sociation and to omit slaves in the direct tax would be un. forward and say what other property they have just and unpopular, as sparing the rich and taking the tax equally secure, upon which a tax may be laid. I fall heavier upon persons of less property.

JANTART, 1797.]
Manumitted Slaves.

(H. OF R. And then the main question being taken, . is a great sum for the purchase of their wood, that the House do agree to the resolution, as quills, and paper, and for furnishing them with reported by the Committee of the whole House, copies of business under consideration. Is it it was resolved in the affirmative-yeas 49, possible that twelve thousand dollars can be Days 39.

necessary for the two Houses? The whole Ordered, That the Committee of Ways and yearly expenses of some of the State GovernMeans do prepare and bring in a bill or bills, ments do not amount to a much greater sumpursuant to the said resolution.

he hoped this would be struck out, and the sum which was allowed for 1795, and some preced

ing years, be inserted. MONDAY, January 23.

Mr. SMITH presumed the estimate was foundTHOMPSON J. SKINNER, from Massachusetts, ined upon information received from the Secretaplace of THEODORE SEDGWICK, appointed a Sen- ry of the Senate and the Clerk of that House. ator of the United States, appeared, produced He did not conceive it would make any differbis credentials, was qualified, and took his seatence in the expenditure, whether a larger or in the House.

smaller sum be appropriated; as he did not

suppose the Senate or that House would print FRIDAY, January 27.

the less because a ess sum was appropriated.

The gentleman, he said, might, by his speech, Appropriations for 1797.

give an idea to the public, that this would be a The House then resolved itself into a Com- saving of so much money; but it would, in remittee of the Whole, on the subject of appro- ality, make no difference. priations for the year 1797, when the article After a few observations from other memwhich relates to the contingent expenses of the bers, the question was put and negatived—37 two branches of the Legislature, amounting to to 30. twelve thousand dollars, being read,

The committee then rose, and had leave Mr. BALDWIN said, he had often before made to sit again. And the House adjourned till the remark, (and he thought it not unseasona- | Monday. ble now to repeat it,) that the House was too apt to be merely formal and superficial in pass

MONDAY, January 30. ing on the general estimate for the year. He

GEORGE LEONARD, from Massachusetts, apwas sorry to observe that this item had within this year or two been considerably increased;

peared, and took his seat. be believed the price of wood, stationery, and

Manumitted Slaves. other articles purchased for the session, was! [Mr. SWANWICK presented the petition of Jacob now mich the same as in 1795, though the Nicholson and Jupiter Nicholson, Job Albertson and printer's bill might be higher; yet, as the session would be but three months, he thought the sum

Thomas Pritchet, dated at Philadelphia, stating that allowed for 1795 would be sufficient. He had

thoy had been the slaves of persons in Perquimans always thought this charge for the contingen

County, North Carolina, who had manumitted them, cies of the two Houses, one of the strongest in- and whose surname they took-that afterwards they stances of that kind of loose economy which it had been seized by other persons and sold into slavery has been complained, and perhaps with too | under a law of the State-that to escape from this monch justice, pervades all the operations of the Federal Government-we have often been re

bondage they had fled to Philadelphia, where they minded that, to make an expedition into the had been seized under the fugitive slave act: and woods to an Indian town, or to build a frigate, I pray relief from Congress.] or to coin one hundred tons of copper, costs us The petition being reada great deal more than it ever did any other Mr. SWANWIOK said, he hoped it would be Government in this country. If this is a strong referred to a select committee. instance of that style of economy, let us begin Mr. BLOUNT hoped it would not even be rethe reformation with ourselves, and not be so ceived by the House. Agreeably to a law of prodigal this year in our contingent expenses; the State of North Carolina, he said they were our circumstances call on us for greater atten- slaves, and could, of course, be seized as such. tion to economy. He was sensible the place Mr. THATCHER thought the petition ought to for correcting these evils was ordinarily on be referred to the Committee on the Fugitive passing the law authorizing the expense, and Law. He conceived the gentleman much misnot on the appropriation for the payment of it; taken in asserting these petitioners to be absobut this item, and many others, depended on no lute slaves. They state that they were slaves, law-changing the sum in the estimate will but that their nasters manumitted them, and control the expense. If any one will take the that their manuunissions were sanctioned by a trouble of looking over the vouchers on which law of that State, but that a subsequent law of these accounts have been settled for past years, the same State, subjected them to slavery; and he will see that there is room for more econo- if even there was a law that allowed them to be my. One branch of the Legislature consists of taken and sold into slavery again, he could not about thirty members—four thousand dollars I see any propriety in refusing their petition in

H. OF R.]
Manumitted Slaves.

[JANUARY, 1797. that House-THEY CERTAINLY (said Mr. T.) ARE | not only give them a hearing, but afford them FREE PEOPLE. It appeared they were taken all the consolation of which their unfortunate under the fugitive act, which he thought ought case was susceptible. If the House were not to affect them; they now came and prayed obliged, through a want of power to extend to the House so to model that fugitive act, as to the case, to object compliance with the prayers, prevent its affecting persons of their descrip- yet, he hoped it would be done with all dne tion. He therefore saw great propriety in re- tenderness, before hearing them, he thought i ferring their petition to the committee appoint- would be exceedingly unjust to decide. These ed to amend that act in another part; they people may produce documents sufficient to obcould as well consider its relation to the present tain favorable attention; therefore, it was imcase. He could not see how there would be a possible before they were heard to conceive propriety in rejecting their petition; they had whether the House could constitutionally grant an undoubted right to petition the House, and relief or not. He could see no impropriety in to be heard.

referring it; the object of referring a case, was Mr. SwANWICK was surprised at the gentleman to inquire into facts; thus, the committee prefrom North Carolina (Mr. BLOUNT) desiring to pared the way for discussion in the House; and reject this petition; he could not have thought, why the House should refuse to deliberate and nor could he indulge the suspicion now, that discuss this case, he knew not. the gentleman was so far from acknowledging Mr. HEATH was clearly convinced these the rights of man, as to prevent any class of people were slaves, and therefore hoped their men from petitioning. If men were aggrieved petition would lie on the table. He would reand conceive they have claim to attention, peti- mind the gentleman that, if they undertook this tioning was their sacred right, and that right business, they would soon have petitions enough should never suffer innovation; whether the of the same kind, and public business would be House ought to grant, was another question. thereby prevented. It appeared to him to be The subject of their petition had a claim to the more within the jurisdiction of the Legislature attention of the House. They state they were of that State; indeed, the United States had freed from slavery, but that they were much in- nothing to do with it. jured under a law of the United States. If a law Mr. Madison said, he should be sorry to rewas ever made that bore hard on any class of ject any petition whatever, in which it became people, Mr. S. hoped that the door would never the business of the House to attend; but he be shut to their complaints. If the circum- thought this case had no claim on their attention. stance respecting these people was as they Yet, if it did not come within the purview of stated, their case was very hard. He animad- the Legislative body, he thought, it might be verted on the atrocity of that reward of ten suffered to lie on the table. He thought it a dollars offered for one of them if taken alive, judicial case, and could obtain its due in a Court but that fifty should be given if found dead, and of Appeal in that State. If they are free by no questions asked. Was not this, he said, en- the laws of North Carolina, they ought to apply couragement to put a period to that man's ex- to those laws, and have their privilege establishistence? Horrid reward! Could gentlemen ed. If they are slaves, the constitution gives hear it and not shudder ?

them no hope of being heard here. A law has Mr. BLOUNT said, the gentleman last up was been passed to prevent the owners of those mistaken in calling the petitioners free men; slaves emancipating them; it is therefore imthe laws of North Carolina, as he observed be- possible that any relief can be granted. The fore, did not suffer individuals to emancipate petitioners are under the laws of North Carotheir slaves, and he should wish to know what lina, and those laws cannot be the interpreters evidence there was to prove these men free, and of the laws of the United States. except that was proved, the House had no right Mr. SITGREAVES said, he was not prepared to to attend to the petition.

deny that this petition is in the situation the Mr. SITGREAVES, in answer to the gentleman gentleman from Virginia (Mr. MADISON) states; last up, said he would reverse his question, and nor was he prepared to prove that it came under ask what evidence he had to prove that these the power of the General Government; but he men are not freemen; can he prove they are could see no kind of reason why it should not be slaves? They have stated that a law has been sent to a committee who should examine the made in North Carolina with a view to affect case and report whether it required Legislative their case, and bring them again into a worse interference, or whether it was a subject of judislavery than before; they want to know cial authority in the country whence the petiwhether they cannot obtain relief by their appli- tioners came. Many petitions, he said, were cation to the Government of the United States. sent to the House, who referred them for invesUnder these circumstances, Mr. S. wished to tigation to a committee, and many had been know why their petitions should not be taken reported as being under judicial power only, into consideration ? Was there any thing in and as such been rejected here. If this underthese men, he asked, that should prevent every went the same order, and should be found to be kind of assistance being bestowed on them? of a judicial nature, the committee would report Had they not an equal right to be heard with so, and the House would honorably refuse it. other petitioners? He hoped the House would | This he thought the only just method.

« PreviousContinue »