« AnteriorContinuar »
H. OF R.)
duce a revenue.
He fancied that we should next use of snuff and tobacco is certainly a mere luxuhear of an excise upon nails. Prohibitory duties ry, or, rather folly; and all who use, and, of course, had been laid for the encouragement of this manu- pay the duty, are volunteers. A land-tax, which facture in America. Progress had consequently is named as a substitute for this and every thing been made in the business; and now there was else, is a tax very unequal, and laid on all the nenothing wanting but a smart excise duty to knock cessaries of life, and oppressive to the laborious it on the head, under the pretence of exacting a poor. revenue. Calico was another article that we should, It looks like Governmental rapacity, which no doubt, saddle with a stamp duty, as had been is so deprecated by the gentleman from Pennsylthe case in Britain, where it produced a great re- vania, (Mr. Smilie.) He has more than once told venue. In the case of the present tax, it would us that insensible taxation is dangerous; and that be said that the manufacturer must lay it on his we should make the people feel the taxes they customers. Yes; but will his customers advance pay; the way to make them feel taxes, is to lay him a capital double to what he had before ? Be- those which will be most inconvenient. The arsides the tax, he must have visits of excise-men, gument, then, is, that the most inconvenient tax which are, in themselves, extremely troublesome. is the best. The very fact stated to reason from,
Mr. Nicholas. We are going on exactly in the is the strongest reason in favor of indirect taxasteps of Britain, of which this excise is one in- tion, viz: the burden is so small that the people stance. That country once had a revolutionary do not feel it. What the gentleman's meaning is, spirit. How sunk are they now! Not one-tenth unless it be that measures ought to be taken which part of them dare to say that they are against the may make the people dissatisfied with the Governwar with France, which is sweeping them with ment, is difficult to say. The same gentleman velocity over the precipice of ruin. At least, it is has said, that all excises are against the spirit of the common opinion in the United States, that a Republican Government like ours. It is strange, their French war is the road to ruin. What has said Mr. D., that the spirit and letter of our Godegraded and annihilated the spirit of Britain ? vernment should be so contradictory; for, by the Public debts, taxes, and officers of excise. One-Constitution, excises are expressly provided. The half of the nation has been loaded with the plun- man who buys his food and clothing in small der of the rest. It is too much the American cha- quantities, as he can obtain the means, does it racter to bear as right, what does not immediately much more easily than he could purchase a stock hurt. It is a duty to keep the citizens alive to the for a year at one time; and he who buys dutied operations of Government. It is somewhat strange articles, and regulates his consumption by the to blame this attempt, when there is such an alarm- price, pays his tax in small portions, with ease, ing indifference on the subject. As to this tax, it when he would be distressed by being called on to will put an end to the consumption of manufac- pay the whole sum in gross annually. Mr. D. tured tobacco. Planters will make it ready for proceeded to say, that as to the fears of the gentlethemselves. They can do so with very great ease man above mentioned from Pennsylvania, and also by a method in the process of curing it. Mr. N. of the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr. Nicholas,] was therefore against the resolution.
he had heard them too often to be alarmed at Mr. DEXTER observed, that very few of the them. They seemed like a sale coat, made for objections were confined to the question. Some any subject. He said, that a fact satisfied his were arguments against all excises; some against mind on the subject. Massachusetts is a land of all public contributions; some against the nature equality beyond any on earth. Scarce a man and administration of our Government; and some among them is rich enough to keep a coach, and against all Government. The statement of the scarcely one so poor as not to keep a horse; learngentleman from Maryland, [Mr. Smith] that the ing is more equally diffused there than in any part duty would make three times the capital necessa- of America ; their morals are so pure that crimes ry, he said, could not be accurate. He had reck- hardly have names; yet this happy race of equal oned the cost of the raw material as the only capi- Republicans never, since the institution of our Gotal employed. If this be true, as he states, tobacco vernment, have sent one member here to whine at four cents per pound, and snuff is worth thirty or thunder about the aristocracy of our Constitucents per pound, it follows that the manufacturer tion. He said, he would not compare this State makes 750 per cent. nett profit. This cannot be with others in the Union; one man was not there true; the principal capital must be employed in disposed of at the will of another
. As to the fear preparatory works and labor of manufacturing of the gentleman from Virginia, that excises would He added, that our having formerly protected the destroy American liberty, Mr. D. said, there was. manufacture, is no reason against now taxing it; no danger of it. The character of individuals form it would rather be a reason for calling on it to con- the character of the Government. A people are tribute to the public burdens. He said, the same never enslaved until they need a master. The gentleman asked, why there is no excise on beer American habits exclude all danger. That exmanufactured in New England, as well as on cises and slavery exist together in some parts of Southern whiskey? I answer, beer is not manu- Europe is true; but it remains to be proved that factured there in any considerable antity; if it one is the cause of the other. If we have the were, it ought not to be taxed. New England rum benefits of Government, we must pay for them.. is taxed enormously, The duty on this and whis. There was a time, said Mr. D., when laboring unkey are protecting duties to good morals. The der the debility of disunion and the distresses of
anarchy, we rejoiced that the people had instituted a debt which the United States, owed, but another this Government. It is now represented, not as debt, which they never owed. Had not these memthe guardian of liberty and innocence, but as the bers supported this system? Was this an act that assassin of both. What has happened to change demanded the confidence and gratitude of the our opinion ? Under its auspices we have increas- public? ed in strength and riches; we are now free and Here Mr. CLARK requested to be heard. “I happy, when the world is in confusion. The gen-thought," said he," that the question before us had tleman from Virginia seems to despise our present been something about tobacco." happiness, unless it can be eternal. Why, sir, Mr. Madison professed an aversion to all comshould we expect this? Nations, like men, come parisons; but, if they must be made, it was proper to maturity; they grow old and perish. The sun io draw them with the strictest regard to truth. must go out in darkness; the earth must be burnt He agreed with the gentleman from Massachuup; nature must expire in agonies. What right setts lately up, that the citizens of that State were have we to claim to be an exception from general good Republicans, but so were the citizens of rules? All nature is in perpetual revolution; we Other States. Laws were fast equalizing the manare a part, and must revolve with the whole. The ners of Americans all over the Continent; and system suffers, and probably requires constant re- no where with more rapidity than in Virginia. novation. Succession appears to be a law of na- The people there are not less truly Republican ture as universal as her works, and as immutable than others. There had not been a single insuras her Author.
rection in that State, since the first Declaration Mr. CLARK said, that the gentleman, who had of Independence; nor any resistance to the laws. just sat down, had put an end to all further neces- Excise had, indeed, been very unpopular in the sity for discussion on this question. His pane-Southern States, compared with what it was in gyric on the character of his constituents, (the the Eastern; but for this there was a very good people of Massachusetts,) ascertained that they reason. The tax was not only one to which they were undoubtedly the first people, and most en had not been accustomed, but it fell much more lightened republicans in the Union; and, as they heavy upon the Southern than upon the Eastern would, no doubt, send the best informed persons States, where it was likewise familiar. The peoamong them to Congress, it followed that he [Mr. ple of Virginia had never been discontented, even DEXTER) and his colleagues were the most re- when paying heavy taxes, before the institution of spectable characters in the Committee, and that, the Federal Government, at the amount of taxes therefore, the rest of the Representatives had no- themselves. Their dissatisfaction arose from the thing further to do, but at once give their votes as knowledge that, at that time, but a small part of these gentlemen thought proper. Mr. C. sat down, these taxes went into the Public Treasury. The with hinting at the waste of time, by speeches Collectors, in raising the revenue, speculated upon entirely foreign to the subject before the Com- a bad paper medium, and by certain manæuvres, mittee.
(which the member did not explain, but which Mr. Nicholas rose again. Because gentlemen are notoriously known) they turned the greater did not adopt every measure of Government, it was part of what they received into their own pockets. said that they were enemies to all Government. This was the only reason why the Virginians had The Federal Government never would have ex- formerly discovered discontent. As to the subject isted, if the people could have foreseen what sort before the House, it was proper to choose taxes of schemes it was to put into execution. In four the least unequal. Tobacco excise was a burden years, there had been a complete revolution in the the most unequal. It fell upon the poor, upon opinion of the rulers of that Government. He sailors, day-laborers, and other people of these thanked God there was still as much principle in classes, while the rich will often escape it. Much the people as would bring these gentlemen back to had been said about the taxing of luxury. The the point from which they set out. Mr. N. was pleasures of life consisted in a series of innocent highly offended at the style of the panegyric pro- gratifications, and he felt no satisfaction in the nounced by Mr. Dexter on his constituents, as it prospect of their being squeezed. Sumptuary they possessed something about them superior to laws had never, he believed, answered any good the citizens of Virginia. He understood that the purpose. Something had been said about the difmember knew nothing about Virginia, unless by ference between direct personal taxes, and those what he had seen of it upon that floor; and he raised by indirect means, such as excise and custrusted that he found nothing here that could au- toms. He quoted an author of respectable characthorize so derogatory a tone.
ter, in England, who estimated the expense of upMr. Dexter rose a second time, and Mr. Nicho- lifting direct taxes in that country, such as the Las made a reply.
land tax, at three per cent., and that of uplifting Mr. Smilie. The people of Pennsylvania are indirect' taxes, such as those of excise and cusas well educated, as intelligent, and as sound Re-toms, upon the whole, at thirty per cent.* This publicans as any of their neighbors. As to the last was, perhaps, an exaggeration, and must be, State of Massachusetts, we can only judge of it by the members whom it sends to this House. Mr. s. declared that he had not been able to trace, in Britain was about iwo millions and two or three hundred thousand
* Some years ago, the expense of collecting the revenues of their conduct, any superlative marks either of abi- pounds of Pennsylvania currency. The expense has since in ty or of virtue. There had been funded, not only I more than half the charge of collecting them.
creased. Some taxes do not, in many parts of the country, defray
H. OF R.]
in part, a conjecture. But such a conjecture proved
Monday, May 5. that the proportion upon indirect taxes was at A memorial of the sugar bakers of the city of least very considerable. Excise had at first been Philadelphia, was presented to the House and resorted to upon a few manufactures. The deal. read, praying that sugar refined within the United ers indemnity themselves at the expense of their States may not be subjected to the excise duty customers. At the same time, they endeavored proposed to be laid by the report of the Committee to evade the duties, and thus there commences a of Ways and Means now depending before the struggle, which has many bad effects, both upon House. industry and public morals. In Europe, when 10- Ordered, That the said memorial be referred to bacco is excised, the Government forbids it from the Committee of the Whole House to whom is being planted. [Some years ago, the British farm committed the report of the committee appointed ers were obliged, by an act of Parliament, to pull to inquire whether any, or what, further or other up and burn their tobacco, before it was full revenues are necessary for the support of the pub: grown.) No such measure, he hoped, would be lic credit, and, if further revenues are necessary, adopted here, but it was hard to say where the to report the ways and means. subject might, one day, end. Statesmen, in gene- A message from the Senate informed the House ral, do not study the liberty, the virtue, or the that the Senate have passed a bill, entitled “ An comforts of the people, but merely to collect as act for the remission of the duties on eleven hogsmuch revenue, as they can. Taxes are not, for heads of coffee, which have been destroyed by the most part, the work of patriotism. An excise fire,” to which they desire the concurrence of this established in America would discourage the emi- House. The Senate have also passed the bill, engrations from Europe, that might, at this time, be titled "An act directing a detachment from the so much expected." He was determined to vote militia of the United States," with several amendagainst the resolution.
ments; to which they desire the concurrence of Mr. Baldwin considered that we had only a this House. choice of evils. Upon that principle he preferred Mr. DEXTER, from the committee appointed, a snuff tax to a land tax.
presented a bill authorizing the President of Mr. Fitzsimons knew a time when the land THE UNITED States to lay, regulate, and revoke tax of Pennsylvania cost thirty per cent. in col- embargoes; which was read twice and committed. lecting it; and, at the same time, the officers em- The House proceeded to consider the report of ployed were more numerous than all the revenue the committee io whom was referred the petition officers of the Federal Government at this day, of Samuel Franklin, William T. Robinson, and put together. Mr. F. stated the former to have Abraham Franklin: Whereupon, been about two thousand.
Resolved, by the Senate and House of RepreMr. Gillon, adverting to some former speeches, sentatives of the United States of America in Condid not rise to compliment that part of the coun-gress assembled, That the PRESIDENT OF THE try which had sent him to Congress. His consti- UNITED States be authorized to direct clearances tuents were men, and this single word implied to be granted to any ships or vessels belonging to that they had, like the rest of mankind, the com- citizens of the United Siates, which are now loadmon virtues and vices of human nature. As he ed, bound from any port in the United States for had only been a few days in that House, he did any port beyond the Cape of Good Hope, anything not pretend to understand the present question of in the resolution for laying the embargo to the finance, so well as gentlemen who had devoted contrary notwithstanding : Provided, That, before weeks or months to the subject. He was against the Collector of either of the districts of the Unitboth excise and a land tax. As to the clause of ed States shall grant clearances, or any such vesadditional duty on the importation of manufac- sel shall sail, the owners thereof shall give suffitured tobacco, he feared that this was but a bit of cient security, to the satisfaction of such Collector, gilding to cover a bad pill.
that she shall not unlade her cargo, or any part The clause referred to by Mr. Gillon, is in thereof, at any port or place, previous to her arrithese words:
val at the Cape of Good Hope. Resolved, That there be an additional duty of four
THE PUBLIC CREDIT. cents per pound upon all tobacco, and eight cents per
The House again resolved itself into a Commitpound, on all snuff imported into the United States."
tee of the Whole House on the report of the comIs this the return to gentlemen who establish mittee appointed to inquire whether any, and manufactures, that the moment the wheel is set what, further or other revenues are necessary for agoing, it must be clogged with a tax? He warned the support of Public Credit, and, if further revethe Committee to proceed in this matter with cau- nues are necessary, to report the ways and means. tion, lest they should excite a spirit of discontent Mr. Tracy moved that the number of cents per in the country:
pound to be laid on tobacco, and snuff shall be left The Committee then divided on the question. blank.
For the tax on manufactured snuff and tobac- Mr. W. Smith saw no reason for leaving out co 55, against the tax 34.
the specification. The duty was not too high. The Committee then rose. The Chairman re- This
amendment was in reality undoing all that ported progress; and the House adjourned till the Committee had been about. Monday next.
Mr. Tracy stated his reasons. He understood, MAY, 1794.]
[H. OF R.
that the duty on tobacco was too high, and that the length of the discussion, he did not wish to upon snuff too low.
controvert the position of the gentleman, at an unMr. Giles said, that the price of the raw mate- seasonable time of day, when members were imrial was two cents, or two and an half per pound, patient for the question. He now declared his and that so large a duty would altogether knock meaning, and he did this more particularly, that up the manufacture. He repeated this opinion, he might prevent any mistaken notion of a second and moved that tobacco should be struck out of assertion, which he was likewise going to make. the bill, and snuff stand at eight cents. The rea- This was, that in order to carry on the sugarson of this distinction was, that the planters could baking manufacture with advantage, there was with ease manufacture tobacco, so as to serve their required an active capital of fifty thousand dollars. own consumption, but they could not, so easily, This was exclusive of the expense of pots and make snuff.
pans, and the apparatus of instruments wanted for Mr. FITZSIMONs apprehended, that it was pro- the actual operation. per the duty should be reduced; especially on to- These would demand sixteen thousand dollars bacco. He, therefore, approved the motion for additional. Even the fifty thousand dollars of acleaving the duties blank.
tive capital would not be sufficient, but a man who Mr. Smilie considered the motion of Mr. Tracy commanded fifty thousand dollars had likewise as irregular. It had already been determined that the command of an extensive credit, in the banks the resolution should stand.
of the United States. He assured the Committee, Mr. Fitzsimons explained to him, that the that in consequence of the two per cent duty, the question decided upon Friday was, whether the sugar-baking would require a double amount of resolution ought to be struck out entirely? It had capital, to what it formerly did. This assertion been determined that the resolution should remain. he illustrated by a variety of arithmetical calcuBut still, as to the quantum of duty, the discussion lations. remained open to the Committee.
Thus, said Mr. S., when a man of property has The motion of Mr. TRACY was agreed to. adventured his capital, in establishing an Ameri
The resolution was next read, for a duty of two can manufacture, you come down upon him with cents per pound upon
sugar refined within the an excise. You tell him, in the style of the genUnited States.
tleman from Massachusetts, whom I do not now Mr. S. Smith moved that the duty on sugar see in his place-[he referred to a part of the should also be left blank. Mr. W. Smith consi- speech of Mr. Dexter on Friday last] we have dered this practice of leaving every duty blank, as protected you for some time past, and we are reversing in substance what the Committee had therefore entitled to treat you in time coming, as been doing. The motion passed.
we please. Mr. S. Šmitu moved again that the whole sugar Mr. S. argued, that this was no encouragement clause should be struck out. He was concerned to a merchant to hazard his capital. Gentlemen in the manufacture of refined sugar; but he saw would say, that nails are no luxury; we shall not no good reason, for giving a silent vote merely on tax them. He considered this report on excise as that account. The land-tax will, in due time,come the opening wedge. When once taxes on manuto be discussed; and there are very few members factures have begun, where are they to stop? He in the Committee, who are not landholders. But saw not, in the report any notice of a drawback this will not prevent them from giving their opin-on the exportation of sugar manufactured in Ameions. He should, therefore, proceed to explain his rica. He had already fully explained his idea sentiments on the present resolution. On sugar- relative to an excise; and he should not therefore baking, he had for several years been sinking mo- trouble the House any farther. One of the chief ney. It was not till within the last year, that he reasons for which he had risen at all was, that he made any profit by the adventure. The profits on had been misunderstood by the member from this business were very precarious; and he had Massachusetts, as to the amount of capital requifelt the full force of this disadvantage. The small- site for the erection of a snuff manufactory. He est inattention on the part of the person appointed was satisfied that this duty would end in the ruin to superintend the manufacture, was sufficient to of sugar-baking establishments. render a whole baking totally useless; though it Mr. FitzsimONS.-Since ever he had been in a was frequently worth five hundred pounds; and Legislative body, he had been a friend to the mahe had twice met with an accident of this nature.nufacturers of this country. The gentleman who He referred to the objection of Mr. DEXTER, where spoke last had not convinced him, that the two he stated that he (Mr. S.) had advanced as a fact cents of duty would make a double capital necesthat £5,000 of capital were necessary to pros- sary, or that the duty would demolish the manuecute the manufacture of snuff. In that five thou- facture. He was of opinion, that the duty might sand pounds, he did not, as Mr. Dexter had sup be so modified, as not to injure the interest of the posed, comprehend house rent, or the wages of sugar-bakers. There would be adopted a proper journeymen, or the purchase of machinery. He mode of protecting the manufacture by non-immeant to say, that five thousand pounds were portation duties; and it had been designed by the essential for the purchase and the support of select committee to give a suitable drawback on proper stock of the materials of the manufacture. exportation. He said, that raw sugars were at He would have given this explanation on Friday; present but fifteen shillings per hundred weight. but as the Committee had been much fatigued by | He did not reckon sugar a luxury, It was an ar
[MAY, 1794. ticle of universal consumption. He pledged him having it as cheap as possible. As to the proprieself to the Committee that unless the excise could ty of laying an excise upon manufactures, a large be placed on such a footing as not to injure the majority of the House have already declared themfeelings and interest of the manufacturer, he would selves in favor of the principle in general. If there vote against it.
was only one sugar house in the United States, Mr. MUHLENBERG (the Speaker) observed that and only one inspection required for collecting the he was also engaged in the business of refining whole fifty thousand dollars expected from the sugar, and therefore could, in some measure, speak tax, Mr. S. would like it so much the better. The from experience. The Committee, in laying these drawback granted in Britain upon the exportation duties, had, as it appeared to him, contemplated a of refined sugar is, in reality, a bounty on the mawar; if that should take place, this fund would nufacture of the article. We must take care to prove fallacious, because, during the war, a suffi- add a large enough duty on the importation of it cient quantity of the raw material could not be into this country to counteract the effects of the Bribrought into the country to support the manufac- tish bounty; and this precaution will be still more ture. This had been the case in the last war, and necessary, as our American refined sugar will come whatever reliance gentlemen might have on the higher on account of this excise. Much has been importation of sugar during a war, on the supplies said, in the course of this debate, about oppression. furnished by successful privateers, that was insuf- What do gentlemen propose to make of this trite ficient and too uncertain to enable the manufac- word? If they will reiterate their arguments on turers of sugar to proceed with such regularity as this question over and over again, what can be their business required. In short, it would, in a said to hinder them? If, in contempt of all expegreat measure, stop the business, and induce the rience, gentlemen persist in saying that an excise owners to turn their capital, at least for a time, duty is paid, not by the customer, but by the mainto other channels. He was also of opinion that nufacturer himself; and if, because the Legislature refined sugar already bore too high a price, owing has authority to lay, when they please, any amount to the high price of raw sugar, which was much per pound on sugar, members argue against all beyond what his colleague (Mr. Fitzsimons] sta- taxes whatever, it is impossible to give them any ted, fifteen dollars per cwt., and that had already satisfactory answer. We know that everything lessened the demand and consumption, which may be abused. We know that the Legislature every one now concerned in the business could have it their power to lay a large amount of duty testiły. If, therefore, two cents were added to the on every pound of sugar; we know, at the same present price, it would lessen the consumption still time, that they never will do any such thing. more, and thereby materially injure the manufac- Mr. S. Smith explained. He did not mean to ture.' He further observed, that owing to the pro- say that the tax would be augmented to an unbable capture of the French islands, sugars in Eng: limited excess upon any single article ; but that land must be very low, and as that country paid taxes would be multiplied on all manufactures. but 8s. 6d. per cwt. on raw sugar and a drawback Mr. Smilie said, that things of this sort came of 23s. was allowed on every cwt. of refined sugar on by degrees. Excise was at first light in Engexported, that operated as a bounty, and enabled land, and only on a few manufactures. It was merchants to import it considerably cheaper than then by degrees augmented, and extended over it could be manufactured here. This had been soap, candles, leather, starch, and an endless multhe case last year in the Southern States, and pro- titude of other articles. The cider tax continued bably would be so again, unless a much higher duty as unpopular in England at this day, as it was was laid on imported sugars than the Committee at when first imposed. He had no doubt of such an first contemplated. He then called for the read- excise being introduced here; and if the people of ing of the memorial from the sugar refiners which England, so long familiar with heavy taxes, bore this was this day read in the House.
excise on cider with such reluctance, the citizens The memorial was read, and stated, among of the United States would still less submit to it, other particulars, that there were only seventeen and their discontent might be attended with dansugar-bakeries in the United States. The tax was gerous consequences. Will not this set of resoluestimated to produce fifty thousand dollars ; and tions for an excise, at present before the Commit this sum the profits of the business would not dis- tee, lay the foundation for an universal American charge.
excise? He deprecated the system in general. Mr. Findley said, that seventeen houses were He did not lay the fault of its effects upon this or too small a number to protect themselves from the that Government. They were ingrafted in the arm of the Legislature. He was afraid they would nature of the thing itself. An excise, in its very be crushed by their duty. The member went into outset, is a violation of the rights of freemen, insome farther remarks on the bad consequences of dependent of the extent to which it might or might this mode of exacting revenue.
not be carried, and whether it oppressed the maMr. Sedgwick. There has been much repeti-nufacturer, or did not oppress him, by making his tion in discussing this question. The member house liable to be searched, at all hours, it violated from Pennsylvania [Mr. Findley) had said that the natural sanctuary of domestic life.' It creates seventeen sugar houses were too small a number a number of artificial crimes; an additional code to rouse a general sentiment in their favor. This of laws must be invented, in order to punish them; was no argument at all. Everybody made use of and this punishment cannot be inflicted without sugar, and every one, therefore, was interested in the ruin of American citizens, or neglected, with