Abbildungen der Seite

tion has either no meaning, or an absurd one. And in that sense, let every considerate citizen judge for bimself, where the requisite qualification is most likely to be found.


proprietors o caions, who will the

should be objectiu


The same subject continued. WE have seen that the result of the observations to which the foregoing number has been principally devoted, is, that from the natural operation of the different interests and views of the various classes of the community, whether the representation of the people be more or less numerous, it will consist almost entirely of proprietors of land, of merchants, and of members of the learned professions, who will truly represent all those different interests and views. If it should be objected, that we have seen other descriptions of men in the local legislatures; I answer, that it is admitted there are exceptions to the rule, but not in sụfficient number to influence the general complexion or character of the government. There are strong minds in every walk of life, that will rise superior to the disadvantages of situation, and will command the tribute due to their merit, not only from the classes to which they particularly belong, but from the society in general. The door ought to be equally open to all; and I trust, for the credit of human nature, that we shall see examples of such vigorous plants flourishing in the soil of federal, as well as of state legislation ; but occasional instances of this sort, will not render the reasoning, founded upon the general course of things, less conclusive.

The subject might be placed in several other lights, that would all lead to the same result; and in particular it might be asked, what greater affinity or relation of interest can be conceived between the carpenter and blacksmith, and the linen manufacturer or stocking wea.

hes of the nr of the capresenta

ver, than between the merchant and either of them? It is notorious, that there are often as great rivalships bé. tween different branches of the mechanic or manufacturing arts, as there are between any of the departments of labour and industry; so that unless the representative body were to be far more numerous, than would be consistent with any idea of regularity or wisdom in its deliberation, it is impossible that what seems to be the spirit of the objection we have been considering, should ever be realized in practice. But I forbear to dwell longer on a matter, which has hitherto worn too loose à garb to admit even of an accurate inspection of its real shape or tendency.

There is another objection of a somewhat more precise nature, wbich claims our attention. It has been asserted thatà power of internal taxation in the national legisla. ture, could never be exercised with advantage, as well from the want of a sufficient knowledge of local circumstances, as from an interference between the revenue laws of the union, and of the particular states. The suppo. sition of a want of proper knowledge, seems to be entirely destitute of foundation. If any question is depending in a state legislature, respecting one of the counties, which demands a knowledge of local details, how is it acquired? No doubt from the information of the members of the county. Cannot the like knowledge be obtained in the national legislature, from the representatives of each state? And is it not to be presumed, that the men who will generally be sent there, will be possessed of the necessary degree of intelligence, to be able to communi. cate that information? Is the knowledge of local circumstances, as applied to taxationa minute topographical acquaintance with all the mountains, rivers, streams, highways, and bye-paths in each state ? Or is it a general acquaintance with its situation, and resources....with the state of its agriculture, commerce, manufactures....with the nature of its products and consumptions....with the different degroes and kinds of its wealib, property and industry?

Nations in general, even under governments of the more popular kind, usually commit the administration of

especial manki whichcious

their finances to single men, or to boards composed of a few individuals, who digest and prepare, in the first instance, the plans of taxation ; which are afterwards passed into law by the authority of the sovereign or legislature. Inquisitive and enlightened statesmen, are every where deemed best qualified to make a judicious selection of the objects proper for revenue; which is a clear indication, as far as the sense of mankind can have weight in the question, of the species of knowledge of local circumstances, requisite to the purposes of taxation.

The taxes intended to be comprised under the general denomination of internal taxes, may be sub-divided into thuse of the direct, and those of the indirect kind. Though the objection be made to both, yet the reasoning upon it seems to be confined to the former branch. And indeed as to the latter, by which must be understood duties and excises on articles of consumption, one is at a loss to conceive, what can be the nature of the difficulties apprehended. The knowledge relating to them, must evidently be of a kind, that will either be suggested by the nature of the article itself, or can easily be procured from any well informed man, especially of the mercantile class. The circumstances that may distinguish its situation in one state, from its situation in another, must be few, simple, and easy to be comprehended. The principal thing to be attended to, would be to avoid those articles which had been previously appropriated to the use of a particular state; and there could be no difficulty in ascertaining the revenue system of each. This could always be known from the respective codes of laws, as well as from the information of the members of the several states.

The objection, when applied to real property, or to houses and lands, appears to have, at first sight, more foundation; but even in this view, it will not bear a close examination. Land taxes are commonly laid in one of two modes, either by actual valuations, permanent or periodical, or by occasional assessments, at the discre. tion, or according to the best judgment of certain officers, whose duty it is to make them. In either case, the

EXECUTION of the business, which alone requires the knowledge of local details, must be confided to discreet persons in the character of commissioners or assessors, elected by the people, or appointed by the government for the purpose. All that the law can do, must be to name the persons, or to prescribe the manner of their election or appointment; to fix their numbers and quali. fications, and to draw the general outlines of ther pow. ers and duties. And what is there in all this, that cannot as well be performed by the national legislature, as by the state legislature? The attention of either, can only reach to general principles : local details, as already observed, must be referred to those who are to execute the pian.

But there is a simple point of view, in which this matter may be placed, that must be altogether satisfactory. The national legislature can make use of the system of each state within that state. The method of laying and collecting this species of taxes in each state, can, in all its parts, be adopted and employed by the federal government.

Let it be recollected, that the proportion of these taxes is not to be left to the discretion of the national legislature: but it is to be determined by the numbers of each state, as described in the second section of the first article. An actual census, or enumeration of the people, must furnish the rule; a circumstance which effectually shuts the cloor to partiality or oppression. The abuse of this power of taxation seems to have been provided against witb guarded circumspection. In addition to the precau. tion just mentioned, there is a provision that “all duties “ imposts and excises, shall be UNIFORM throughout the 66 United States."

It has been very properly observed, by different speakers and writers on the side of the constitution, that if the exercise of the power of internal taxation by the union, should be judged beforehand upon mature consideration, or should be discovered on experiment to be really inconvenient, the federal government may forbear the use of it, and have recourse to requisitions in its stead,

there is a nin addition to ded against be found be in theor advantamable. The the

By way of apswer to this, it has been triumphantly asked, why not in the first instance omit that ambiguous power, and rely upon tbe latter resource? Two solid answers may be given; the first is, that the actual exercise of the power; may be found both convenient and necessary; for it is impossible to prove in theory, or otherwise than by the experiment, that it cannot be advantageously exercised. The contrary indeed, appears most probable. The second answer is, that the existence of such a power in the constitution, will have a strong influence in giving efficacy to requisitions. When the states know that the union can supply itself without their agency, it will be a pow. erful motive for exertion on their part,

As to the interference of the revenue laws of the union, and of its members, we have already seen that there can be no clashing or repugnancy of authority. The laws cannot, therefore, in a legal sense, interfere with each other; and it is far from impossible to avoid an interference even in the policy of their different systems. An effectual expedient for this purpose will be, mutually to abstain from those objects, which either side may have first had recourse to. As neither can control the other, each will have an obvious and sensible interest in this reciprocal forbearance. And where there is an immedi. ate common interest, we may safely count upon its operation. When the particular debts of the states are done away, and their expenses come to be limited within their natural compass, the possibility almost of interference will vapish. A small land tax will answer the purpose of the states, and will be their most simple, and most tit resource.

Many spectres have been raised out of this power of internal taxation, to excite the apprehensions of the people....double sets of revenue officers....a duplication of their burthens by double taxations, and the frightful forms of odious and oppressive poll taxes, have heen played off with all the ingenious dexterity of political legerdemain.

As to the first point, there are two cases in which there can be no room for double sets of officers; one, where

« ZurückWeiter »