Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

ought to be free and inde- | all political connection which pendent States; that they may heretofore have subare absolved from all al- sisted between us, and the legiance to the British people or Parliament of Crown, and that all politi- Great Britain ; and finally cal connection between we do assert and declare them and the State of these Colonies to be free and Great Britain is, and ought independent States,] to be totally dissolved; and that as free and independent States they have full power to levy war, conclude peace, contract alliances, establish commerce, and to do all other acts and things which independent States may of right do. And for the support of this declaration, [ ] with a firm

reliance on we mutually pledge to each other our lives, the protection

of Divine our fortunes, and our sacred honor. Providence.

WI.

On Friday, the twelfth of July, the committee appointed to draw the articles of confederation reported them, and on the twenty-second, the House resolved themselves into a committee to take them into consideration. On the thirtieth and thirty-first of that month, and the first of the ensuing, those articles were debated which determined the proportion or quota of money which each State should furnish to the common treasury, and the manner of voting in Congress. The first of these articles was expressed in the original draught in these words:

Article XI. All charges of war and all other expenses that shall be incurred for the common

COM

defence, or general welfare, and allowed by the United States assembled, shall be defrayed out of a common treasury, which shall be supplied by the several Colonies in proportion to the number of inhabitants of every age, sex and quality, except Indians not paying taxes, in each Colony, a true account of which, distinguishing the white inhabitants, shall be triennially taken and transmitted to the Assembly of the United States.

Mr. Chase moved, that the quotas should be paid, not by the number of inhabitants of every condition but by that of the 'white inhabitants. He admitted that taxation should be always in proportion to property; that this was in theory the true rule, but that from a variety of difficulties it was a rule which could never be adopted in practice. The value of the property in every State could never be estimated justly and equally. Some other measure for the wealth of the State must therefore be devised, some standard referred to which would be more simple. He considered the number of inhabitants as a tolerably good criterion of property, and that this might always be obtained. He therefore thought it the best mode we could adopt, with one exception only. He observed that negroes are property, and as such cannot be distinguished from the lands or personalities held in those States where there are few slaves. That the surplus of profit which a Northern farmer is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, &c.; whereas, a Southern farmer lays out that same surplus in slaves. There is no more reason therefore for taxing the Southern States on the farmer's head and on his slave's head, than the Northern ones on their

farmers' heads and the heads of their cattle. That the method proposed would therefore tax the Southern States according to their numbers and their wealth conjunctly, while the Northern would be taxed on numbers only: that negroes in fact should not be considered as members of the state, more than cattle, and that they have no more interest in it.

Mr. John Adams observed, that the numbers of people were taken by this article as an index of the wealth of the State, and not as subjects of taxation

That as to this matter it was of no consequence by what name you called your people, whether by that of freemen or of slaves. That in some countries the laboring poor were called freemen, in others they were called slaves: but that the difference as to the State was imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord employing ten laborers on his farm gives them annually as much money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or gives them those necessaries at short hand? The ten laborers add as much wealth annually to the State, increase its exports as much, in the one case as the other. Certainly five hundred freemen produce no more profits, no greater surplus for the payment of taxes, than five hundred slaves. Therefore the State in which are the laborers called freemen, should be taxed no more than that in which are those called slaves. Suppose, by any extraordinary operation of nature or of law, one half the laborers of a State could in the course of one night be transformed into slaves,—would the State be made the poorer, or the less able to pay taxes? That the condition of the laboring poor in most countries,—that of the fishermen, particularly, of the Northern States,

an

-is as abject as that of slaves. It is the number of laborers which produces the surplus for taxation; and numbers, therefore, indiscriminately, are the fair index of wealth. That it is the use of the word 'property' here, and its application to some of the people of the State, which produces the fallacy. How does the Southern farmer procure slaves ? Either by importation or by purchase from his neighbour. If he imports a slave, he adds one to the number of laborers in his country, and proportionably to its profits and abilities to pay taxes; if he buys from his neighbour, it is only a transfer of a laborer from one farm to another, which does not change the annual produce of the State, and therefore should not change its tax; that if a Northern farmer works ten laborers on his farm, he can, it is true, invest the surplus of ten men's labor in cattle; but so may the Southern farmer working ten slaves. That a State of one hundred thousand freemen can maintain no more cattle than one of one hundred thousand slaves; therefore they have no more of that kind of property. That a slave may, indeed, from the custom of speech, be inore properly called the wealth of his master, than the free laborer might be called the wealth of his employer: but as to the State, both were equally its wealth, and should therefore equally add to the quota of its tax.

Mr. Harrison proposed, as a compromise, that two slaves should be counted as one freeman. He affirmed that slaves did not do as much work as freemen, and doubted if two effected more than one. That this was proved by the price of labor, the hire of a laborer in the Southern Colonies being from £8 to £12, while in the Northern it was generally £24.

Mr. Wilson said, that if this amendment should take place, the Southern Colonies would have all the benefit of slaves, whilst the Northern ones would bear the burthen. That slaves increase the profits of a State, which the Southern States mean to take to themselves; that they also increase the burthen of defence, which would of course fall so much the heavier on the Northern; that slaves occupy the places of freemen and eat their food. Dismiss your slaves, and freemen will take their places. It is our duty to lay every discouragement on the importation of slaves; but this amendment would give the jus trium liberorum to him who would import slaves. That other kinds of property were pretty equally distributed through all the Colonies: there were as many cattle, horses, and sheep, in the North as the South, and South as the North; but not so as to slaves: that experience has shown that those Colonies have been always able to pay most, which have the most inhabitants, whether they be black or white; and the practice of the Southern Colonies has always been to make every farmer pay poll taxes upon all his laborers, whether they be black or white. He acknowledged indeed that freemen work the most; but they consume the most also. They do not produce a greater surplus for taxation. The slave is neither fed nor clothed so expensively as a freeman. Again, white women are exempted from labor generally, which negro women are not. In this then the Southern States have an advantage as the article now stands. It has sometimes been said that slavery was necessary, because the commodities they raise would be too dear for market if cultivated by freemen; but now it is said that the labor of the slave is the dearest.

« ZurückWeiter »