Page images

H. OF R.]

Indirect Taxes.

[FEBRUARY, 1797. both go together. Mr. S. said, he had another

FRIDAY, February 17 article of sweetening, which he wished also to add to the resolution: great quantities of su

Increase of Duties. gar-candy were manufactured in Holland and

BALT. sent all over Germany; it was used with tea Mr. HARPER then proposed that an additional and coffee, in the place of sugar. This arti- duty of five cents per bushel should be laid upon cle, he said, was finding its way among the Ger- all salt imported in the United States. [Mr. H. mans in this country. At present it only paid read the letter of the Secretary, wherein he a duty of 10 per cent, ad valorem, which was as mentions salt as being at a much lower rate of very inadequate duty, when compared with that duty than in other countries, and that no tax paid on sugar. Mr. S. said, he was against go- | laid upon it could be evaded, from its necessity ing into the subject of indirect taxes, but he and bulk.] Mr. H. added, as, in his opinion, thought with the gentleman from Pennsylvania satisfactory answers had been given to the ob(Mr. GALLATIN) that it was his duty to makejections which had been urged against this tax, the resolution as good as he could. Nothing it was not necessary to say more on the subject. had been said to prove that we had not revenue Mr. GALLATIN said the arguments of the Secenough for the present; but he would, how-retary of the Treasury were excellent fiscal ever, move to add nine cents a pound upon arguments, and went to say, "provided we can Eugar-candy imported.

get money, no matter how." He says salt canMr. S. said, he agreed with the Secretary of not be smuggled; that we know: whether the the Treasury, that sugar was amongst the most duty was increased, or remain as it was, the proper articles upon which to lay an additional people must consume tho same. This was true, impost; but he wished for some permanent and the same arguments might be used for tarsource of revenue, and not adopt the trifling ing the light or the water. Of all the necesmodes proposed. Gentlemen talked of deceiv- saries of life, a duty was most easily collected ing the people ; he said they could not be deceiv- upon salt; and this was the reason which had

; they would know there were two parties induced other countries to tax it so heavily; and in that House, the one for direct, the other for yet this was used as an argument for increasing indirect taxes. Those gentlemen who were op- the duty here; but he was not one of those who posed to direct taxes bronght forward these felt any consolation, upon such an increase of articles in place of it. The people need not be duty, that there were other countries where the told this; they saw it evidently enough. | duty was yet higher.

Mr. HOLLAND said, though he was opposed to Mr. G. said, as to any satisfactory answers direct taxes, he was also on sugar and molasses; which had been given to the objections to this he saw all the disadvantages of some other gen- | tax, he had not heard them; he believed they tlemen on taxing West India produce at this had not been answered at all; except, indeed, critical juncture; but if it must pass, he should sullen silence might be deemed satisfactory anthink it his duty to endeavor to make it pass as swers; if it were, they had indeed been anunexceptionably as possible; however, he should swered satisfactorily. oppose both, and though it affected his consti- | | Mr. G. here repeated the objections to the tuents differently from those of Vermont, yet tax which he had made on a former occasion, he should not include them as necessarily con- viz: that it would operate as a poll-tax; that it nected. Mr. H. thought if these were opposed, would fall partially on some districts of conntry, there might be many articles more proper to and upon some classes of citizens more than lay a tax on; but he thought there was no ne others. He said salt in that part of the country cessity for any this session.

from which he came was already upwards of The question for adding one cent per gallon four dollars a bushel, and that it would be there on molasses was then put and carried.

fore oppressive to increase the evil, by adding Mr. S. Smith then inoved that nine cents per fresh duties upon it. pound be laid on sugar-candy imported, obsery- | Mr. NICHOLAS said a tax on salt was equally ing that it was much used by the Dutch, and objectionable, whether it was considered as & there being much sweetening in it, it should poll-tax, or as a tax upon agriculture. As a bear a proportionate duty.

poll-tax, every one would see the injustice of Mr. W. SMITH wished the gentleman to be charging all men alike with a tax, without recandid on the motive of his proposition. spect to their ability to pay it; as a tax upon

Mr. S. SMITH answered, that his conduct with agriculture, he was able to say something from respect to the subject had always been fair and experience. He was willing to give all the unequivocal; he wished the whole proposition authority to the opinion of the Secretary of the to be defeated, which he had before declared, Treasury which he could wish, but he could not but, to make it equal and consistent, he pro- yield his opinion to him. He knew that agriposed the addition,

culture was at present very much depressed by It was then put and carried.

the high price of salt; he had himselt refrained The question was put on the whole resolu- from the use of it, by its dearness, though he tion, as amended, and carried-yeas 52. believed his cattle had been the worse for it.

The poorer class of citizens in the part of the | country from which he came were generally

FEBRCARY, 1797.]
Indirect Taxes.

[H. OF R. owners of cattle, and employed themselves in | LATIN) had said that no answer had been given taking care of them. These men found it at to his objections against an additional tax on present as much as they could do to make a salt. He should not enter into a dispute with comfortable living, and any additional tax on that gentleman upon what might be deemed an salt would be very ill received by them. He answer; but he believed many members of that was satisfied that it was a tax which would op- House would remember that an answer was erate with great inequality; it was a tax upon given, and probably they might also think it & one kind of employment-upon an employment satisfactory one; at least it was so to one perwhich was generally pursued by the poorer son, The objections brought against this tax classes, and consequently least able to pay it. It would be well-founded, if the whole revenue might be said, five cents a bushel was a trifle; was proposed to be raised from it; or if it were but he said he objected to it from the principle intended as a substitute for a land tax, or any of taking money where it could be got, as, if other great object; if two or three millions five cents were now to be added, the same were wanted from it, then it might be objected argument would hold for adding another and to upon good ground; but when one hundred another five on a future day.

| thousand dollars only were proposed to be Ur. HOLLAND was opposed to the amendment; | drawn from this source, he did not think the he said no article which could be mentioned objections would hold. . Adinitting, said Mr. would bear a greater augmentation than salt; | H., that there was some inequality in the opeindeed the whole revenue of the United States ration of this tax, those persons upon whom it might be raised from it, because it must be used fell heaviest were exonerated from many other by every person; but that was no reason why taxes which other parts of the country had to the whole burden should be laid on it. In North pay. They had, for instance, just agreed to inCarolina, Mr. H. said, it was four dollars per crease the duty upon a certain species of cotton bushel, which was sufficiently high without goods, of which they would not purchase a adding to the price, and was always a cash single yard. The present revenue was six milarticle, and difficult to be had for that. It be- lions four hundred thousand dollars, of which ing an article of absolute necessity, the rich salt pays near three hundred thousand dollars. would not pay more, if so much, as the poor. The people on the frontier, who pay for salt,

Mr. RUTHERFORD said, he was against this are in a great measure exempt from other artitax for two reasons; the first was on account of cles taxed; they purchased neither foreign wines its inequality, and the next on account of its nor spirits, high priced dresses nor furniture; odiousness, A tax on salt, he said, was almost all they wanted was corduroys, &c., which was like taxing the common air. Farmers were very unfrequent. If five cents per bushel was obliged to use large quantities of it for their laid on salt, those persons would have about a stock; it rendered them docile and easy to be dollar a year more to pay, and nine-tenths not managed. Indeed it could not be done with half a dollar. What could be more easy? Inont; a person was nothing without salt. The deed, except the people were told of the duty price at present was enormous on the frontier, they would not know it, as its effects would be and this duty would add prodigiously to it; for so trifling. this reason he should give it his flat opposition. With respect to the price of salt at Fort Pitt,

Mr. FINDLAY said, because salt was necessary, as a gentleman had observed, it might be high, and because it could not be smuggled, would not but was this occasioned by a duty? No, but by surely be sufficient arguments for increasing the the situation of the country. Ought they not, duty upon it. The law of reason, he said, was then, he asked, to devise some species of tax by the law of justice. Mr. F. gave an account of which to draw some part of the revenue from the progress of this tax. His colleague (Mr. the inhabitants of the back country? He GALLATIN) must have been mistaken as to the thought so far from this being wrong, that jusprice which this article bore in the Western tice required it. This subject did not address country. He had himself lately paid six guineas the understanding, but the sensibility of the for six bushels of salt. Indeed this was con- House, or perhaps the sensibility of those out sidered as the greatest inconvenience in that of the House. part of the country, and they could not at pres. The objections against the tax which had ent be relieved from it. Providence, who gen-been urged, he thought, ought not to have any erally bestowed the necessaries of life in a very weight, since it wonld operate with the greatest general manner, had not provided them with equality upon the whole, and there would be salt. And shall we, for this reason, monopolize safety, propriety, and justice, in making the a revenne upon it? For the same reason would augmentation in question. Suppose two cents hold good for paying the whole upon it as a part. were put, instead of five; this would raise a He trusted they would not be so unjust to the good sum, and be very easy. people of that country.

| Mr. S. SMITH moved that the committee rise; Mr. HARPER said, after all the time which had | which was negatived—there being only twentybeen taken up in discussing this subject, he would five in favor of it. not occupy the attention of the committee long-1 Mr. W. SMITH said the question had best be er than while he made one or two remarks. 1 taken on blank cents, then five, four, or any

The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Gal- I number of cents could afterwards be added.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

H. OF R.)
Naval Appropriation.

(FEBRUARY, 1797 The question was then put, and lost-yeas 41, with three frigates? He would answer, that so nays 48.

far as they went, they gave stability and pro

tection to our commerce. True, they were not SATURDAY, February 18.

thirty frigates, but he believed, few as they

were, they would save more than five times Naval Appropriation.

what they cost in only one year. The richest The House then resolved itself into a Com- ships we have are now taken and robbed by mittee of the Whole on the bill granting an every picaroon and pirate infesting the seas, appropriation for finishing the three frigates, because we have no security; and he was surand also upon the bill repealing that part of the prised it was not worse. He had no doubt but act which provided for the officering and man- it would be an emolument; it would be a proning the frigates, both having been committed tection w the great revenue we enjoy. That to the same Committee of the Whole. That very trade, he said, which was subject to spoli for repealing a part of the former law came first ation from such petty robbers, paid into the reunder consideration.

venue five or six millions of duty annually. If Mr. W. SMITH said he could not abandon the this was still permitted to be encroached on, it idea of our some time becoming a naval power; was an error, and it would soon be seen; and he very much disliked the repealing this act; this was by a people called “free and enlightenin order, however, to make the bill more pala- ed." He had no doubt they would soon be entable, and to remove some of the embarrass- lightened enough to see they had done wrong. If ments which the Senate would otherwise have gentlemen are against finishing these frigates, to encounter, he would move to substitute, in- why do they not come forward and declare it? stead of the word “repeal," the words“ suspend | Let us sell them, said he, at public auction, for — years."

| What will be the effect if we have it told at our Mr. Coir thought the very beginning of the wharves that we object to man them, because frigates a wild notion, and hoped the most dis- we have peace with Algiers? He hoped they tant idea of manning them would not enter would be manned, or else hare tacked to the gentlemen's minds; he should therefore oppose bill, that, when finished, they were to be sold the motion.

for East Indiamen or something. If that were Mr. VENABLE said, it seemed the gentleman gentlemen's wish, this was the time to come who moved the amendment did not think it forward and say so, and let it be put in the bill. necessary the ships should now be manned. He would ask, Was there any thing in the name The operation of the amendment appeared to of Government, if it operated in this manner! put it in the power of one branch of the Legis- It was extraordinary conduct, indeed. lature, at a future day, to man the ships, and Gentlemen say they will not vote to finish send them to sea. He was surprised at the these frigates, except the repeal for manning is changeableness of the gentleman who moved included. When it goes up to the Senate, may and favored the equipment. When a naval ar- they not say they will not vote to finish, except mament was first proposed, it was objected to, it be to man them? But, Mr. S. said, he supas looking like forming a Naval Establishment. posed gentlemen depended upon negotiation, if They then told us it was expressly to repel the any thing was wrong. What were the conseencroachments of the Algerines; and that, as quences of our late negotiation? We have two soon as peace was obtained with that power, things before us-treaty or ships. As for treaty, the building of them was to stop. Now they we have seen our money sent across the Atlancome forward, and avow a desire to have a tic, and scattered a thousand ways: this was Navy Establishment. Thus originate evils which throwing it into the ocean. He had heard of a if not stopped early, would spread and become Doge of Venice throwing a ring into the sea to dangerous. The only fair argument they have marry it: it seemed this money was gone for on the subject is, that a Navy is now become the same purpose, and its use would be no better necessary. Certain it is, that, if they intend to than the Doge's ring. He thought the most have a Naval Establishment, to protect our com- complete treaty was, power to resist aggression. merce and repel our injuries, three frigates will This business of negotiation is very unprofitable. be very incompetent to the object. He should You may obtain fair promises from foreign not object to finishing them, and only because ministers, but very poor redress, if any. so much had been expended on them al- | The question on the amendment was put and ready, but should ever oppose fitting them for lost-ayes 30, noes 51. sea

Mr. HARRISON moved for the committee to Mr. SWANWICK asked the gentleman what se- rise and report the bill without amendments. curity there was in a peace with Algiers ? Mr. NICHOLAS said, it seemed that gentleCould he say we were at peace with them now? men were making a new business of this. At Certainly we are in a worse situation with that the time it was brought forward, gentlemen power now than then; we are parting with our voted in favor of it, because the law was to be cash, (which makes it such a scarce article,) and repealed. He voted to separate the bills, becanse yet we have no benefit. Now it is said it is al- he conceived it would not be right to say to the together a vision—a fancy or a dream. Then Senate, You shall do two things together, or gentlemen get up and ask what we are to do I neither. He hoped the committee would rise,

FEBRUARY, 1797.)
Naval Appropriation.

[H. or R. that the House may not have such power over explain. He never said that the House bad not the business as to keep it back. If the other a right to judge on the propriety of appropriabill pass the Senate, said he, we can take up this, tion in an existing law. He conceived a treaty and pass it in a short time.

quite another thing. The PRESIDENT and SeMr. PARKER thought this a most extraordi- nate have a constitutional power to make a Dary procedure, to say we will not pass the ap- treaty ; in that, he said, he did advocate that propriation bill till we know the Senate have that House had no right to withhold appropriaagreed to that for repealing. He thought the tions; but in laws, where the power of making Sepate had as great a right to exercise their dis- appropriations rests partly in that House, they cretion as that House. He never expected to had a right to grant or withhold. This, he liare heard sach expressions. This was holding said, he had always held. out a dictum for their conduct: this he thought Mr. NICHOLAS said, this appeared to him a neither fair nor proper.

very unreasonable clamor in behalf of the SeMr. VENABLE thought the bills were con- nate. The gentleman last up seemed very careDected. He wished to vote merely for finishing ful not to awaken the jealousy of the Senate. the frigates. He hoped the committee would | How could he know what part would awaken Bot rise, but that it might be so amended as to that idea of disrespect? He had formed his add the other bill to it. When he voted for mind to vote on the subject, and surely every the appropriation, he said, he voted for it only member might do so, without a fear of showing in such a manner as should be reconcilable with disrespect to another branch. The gentleman his judgment. If the gentleman would waive had said that this House may refuse to approhis motion, and the House would so connect it, priate for a law. Now, suppose the Senate rebe should be gratified.

fuse to repeal without we appropriate, we are Vr. HARRISON said, as the last gentleman's then forced to choose one of two evils. Very ideas were fully to his purpose, he should with often, Mr. N. said, the House were obliged to draw his motion.

appropriate for a law, it may be, so far executOn motion being made for connecting the ed that they could not refuse. Suppose the bills

PRESIDENT should, after this, appoint officers to Mr. Book hoped it would not prevail. The enlist men for the frigates, how could the House only reason he saw to object, (and he thought refuse to pay them? While a law existed to that very forcible,) was, that it discovered a man these ships, it would be difficult to prevent jealousy in that House of another branch of the it: it would enable those who were friendly to Gorernment, which he thought very unjustifi-| the measure to carry it into effect. He hoped, able. He had voted for the repeal, but should therefore, the House would not run the risk by Dot vote for the appropriation. He thought leaving it open to such possible intrusion. they ought to act for themselves, without re- Mr. S. SMITH thought this was a very unfair ference to the other branch. Any member may way of doing business, but he had been used to Fote which way he pleased, but to say he would such things. He thought this form of tacking not Fote for one without they go to the other, was very improper and unfair. It had been Tas unfair. He could see no justice in such a observed thet we were the most free and enmnistrast from this branch of the Legislature. lightened people, but he thought those who Suppose, he said, the bills go to the Senate sepa- advocated these measures proved the very conrately, they may concur in the appropriation, trary. and reject the appeal. Even in that situation, Mr. SwANWICK said, it appeared to him a were it to be left, the Executive could not man kind of Legislative stratagem. The whole inthe frigates, unless they could obtain further tention of the business could be easily discovappropriations to obstruct which would be ered. If there was nothing improper, why preferable, and would put it out of the power should they fear to trust the Senate with it? of the Senate to embarrass the House

Having the yeas and nays on both bills, gentleMr. VENABLE said his vote was given without men could not easily excuse them for voting for any relation whatever to the Senate. He the repeal, as it would go out into the country tboogbt any act passed by this House could not, that many had voted contrary to their arguwhen sent up to the Senate, be termed disre- ments. Thus we are forced to vote against our spectful, for each branch had a right to act for own opinion, or not have the frigates finished. themselves. He was surprised to hear the He could plainly see that gentlemen meant to gentleman last up say he should not vote this defeat the object, "and, he thought, in a very appropriation; for he had heard him say, on a unfair way. former occasion, that he would vote an appro- | Mr. W. LYMAN spoke much of the impolicy priation for any treaty, law, or whatever should and impropriety of the measures of those genExist to call for it. Mr. V. confessed himself to tlemen who supported naval preparations. Some te of a very different opinion; for he always time back, he said, those very gentlemen were Ibonght the House had a discretionary power advising us to cultivate our land, and not regard to grant it or not, but that gentleman had long commerce—it was a broken reed to depend on; said it had none.

but now, they want to put the nation to an Mr. Bock said, as his doctrines had been enormous expense to protect that commerce called in question, he must beg indulgence to they thought so lightly of! The frigates would

H. OF R.]
Naval Appropriation.

[FEBRUARY, 1797 cost more than double the money which was at ning," that we wish a connection of these first estimated: this would be a disgrace to any bills. nation. The whole process of the business had He thought it more candid and fair to have been bad, and he had no doubt but the estimate both the objects before the Senate at one time now before the House would be found deficient. than to separate them. If they think it an atThough he thought a small Navy would be use- tack upon their privileges they would act conful, yet, until he saw its process conducted more sistently therewith. fairly, and with more discretion, he should not Mr. WILLIAMS could not see where the differvote a shilling to it: for the waste of money ence was, whether the bills were apart or not. which had been discovered in this, had given He was sorry any jealousy should be discovered him a distaste to it.

towards another branch; if the amendment A remark having fallen from Mr. L., on the were to go to the Senate they had power to reconstitutionality of this appropriation

ject any part. The next Congress would take a Mr. W. SMITH said, that, what the gentleman view of the subject, and do what they thought observed, only respected an Army. The consti- right, as the frigates would not be fit to be tution says, an appropriation for the Army shall manned till then. not be made for more than two years, but it Mr. Buck again repeated his objections to said not a word about restricting a Navy; and uniting the bills. it is certain that the framers of the constitution Mr. N. SMITH thought there could be no good had a view to a Navy, as in three different parts reasons for uniting the bills. There had not it makes mention of it. [Here Mr. S. read those yet been any appropriation made, and the money parts from the constitution. The question was was nearly expended; he thought the approprinot whether to repeal the law or not, but ation should be passed immediately, as he had whether the appropriation bill was to be tacked no doubt but both Houses would ultimately to the repeal. When before taken up, & ma- unite in this object. If, therefore, any money jority voted for two bills, and they are accord was to be appropriated, let it be done, and then ingly reported, and now the two are to be if the House thought proper to agree to the reunited. This, said he, is directing the Senate to peal, it could be done, as no delay ought to be vote a certain way, because this House saw it made. right. This was a kind of coercion which would The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. GALoblige them (if they support their independence, LATIN) said the other day, that he wonld not, which they certainly will) to reject the repeal. under any situation, vote the supply until he This, he said, was a spirit which every gentle knew whether there was any intention to fit man in the House felt. He therefore hoped them for sea or not. This, Mr. S. thought the there would be two bills.

principal point; but except that gentleman, Mr. GALLATIN did not conceive this a question with others, thought the ships were to remain on the constitution; it was not on the power in the same situation as at present, it certainly of the House as to the subject of appropriation, was necessary to agree to the appropriations; but merely on connecting the two bills. He this was voted on all hands, though some could conceived it perfectly right and proper to con- | not agree to go all lengths. He did not believe nect them, because the subject of them was the | many could be found in the House who would same. It was not novel : appropriation and re-wish them to remain and rot on the stocks; but peal had before been connected. Indeed, he for gentlemen to say they would not agree to thought it improper to hold the Senate in any grant the supply except the other part was reconsideration at all. He should not be guided pealed, he thought wrong. It was true, they by any apprehensions of what they would do. had the power to withhold even appropriations The gentleman last up had said, it was unfair for the PRESIDENT's salary, Senate, &c., but if to connect them, as it would oblige members such opposition was supported, Government who opposed one to vote for both. Now, a could not long exist. That House had power majority will always decide, and those in the over the Senate, and, vice versa, the Senate minority will always be affected. That gentle-over that House-each had a right to think and man would rather take a question on each ; but do as they pleased, but it would be wrong in Mr. G. said he would rather on both together. one to curtail the privilege of the other by an But both will not be material, more than in a ill-timed opposition; this was merely to show & certain degree. He further observed that a de- spleen which could not but be to the detriment cision had been come to to keep the subjects and delay of business. apart. This, Mr. G. said, was only in order to Mr. W. Smitu rose to answer some observagive leave to the committee to report one or tions made by Mr. GALLATIN and Mr. VENABLE, two bills. But that could not now affect the and proceeded to show the impropriety of tackdecision. The House might now do as they ing the bills; he said it would produce insurpleased. He looked upon the first act of the mountable difficulties. He never could agree law as rather explanatory of the other. A law to this tortus discordans being sent up to the passed last year for the equipment of the frigates. Senate. The first law expired as to the manning them. / Mr. VENABLE answered. The question was It is therefore only for fear the word “equip. then put for tacking the two bills, and carried, ment” should be so construed as to mean "man- 1 ayes 41, noes 36.

« PreviousContinue »