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quently the almost impossibility of establishing a system which will press equally on all. A countervailing arrangement of taxes was therefore contemplated by the constitution. There is no objection to a whiskey tax, but there is a serious objection to raising all the revenue from whiskey, a beverage of the poor and of the agricultural states and districts; more especially when it is avowed that this unfair burthen is to be substituted for a land tax, which will fall equally on all real property, and every section of the country:
Taxation, it was urged, is the last experiment of republicanism. If we can tax, it endures ; if not, it is high time to be done with it. Without the power of waging war, government is useless; and war cannot be waged without finances. If the country will not be taxed, it is high time we should know it.
On the passage of the bill for the assessment and collection of the direct tax, an amendment was offered, providing that a supervisor should be appointed in each state for the apportionment of the quotas among the counties. In support of this amendment, it was stated, that the apportionment of the quota of taxes among the counties was in many, if not all the states, unequal, and consequently unjust; and that, with regard to the power left with the state governments of altering the apportionments, it was very uncertain whether the legislatures would interfere ; and besides, the correctness of doing injustice, and trusting to others to orrect it, was very much doubted.
This amendment was negatived, and the bill passed in its original form,...
Mr. Clopton objected to the duty on carriages, on the ground of its being a direct tax, which congress had no power to impose, except in the mode pointed out by the constitution. Carriages he considered to be a very proper subject of taxation ; but this consideration could never induce him to mould the constitution into a form to suit the tax, or to endeavour to reconcile them by a forced construction. He was' aware that the supreme court had sanctioned, by a solemn decision, the constitutionality of this species of tax. He entertained the utmost respect for the characters, talents, and stations of the public functionaries, and this respect would always induce him to examine with the utmost minuteness every subject on which he had to act, in which his conviction was contrary to their decision.
But he should consider that he violated his duty, both to his country and his conscience, if he acted as a legislator upon the opinions of any man, however luminous his understanding or exalted his station, until he became convinced of their propriety. After a minute examination it appeared to him clear and unquestionable, that the
duty on carriages was a direct tax according to the meaning of the constitution. The difference between direct and indirect taxation he understood to be, that the direct tax was laid directly on property, the owner or possessor of which is immediately chargeable with the tax, and by which no other person whatever is affected; whereas the indirect tax affected principally the consumer, and not the possessor of the article at the time the tax acerued, the former indirectly paying the tax in the enhanced price. If this distinction were correct, the duty on carriages was certainly a direct tax. It had been stated that the committee of ways and means considered carriages as articles of expence, and as such liable to this species of taxation. But were not slaves (one of the objects of the direct tax), in many instances, articles of expence also ? Was the carriage an article of expence, and not the servant who drives the carriage ?
This objection was overruled on the ground of the tax having been formerly in operation, and solemnly sanctioned by the supreme court ; that it was one of the best taxes that could be imposed, as it fell almost exclusively on the wealthy, and was really a tax on luxury:
$ 23. The following is a statement of the votes on the tax-bills on their final passage in the house of representatives : On the bill directing the manner of assessing and collecting the direct taxes
yeas 95 navs 63 On the bill laying a direct tax
97 70 Duty on stills
94 53 Licences to retailers
84 46 Sales at auction
102 51 Carriages
99 52 Stamps
81 46 $ 24. In addition to the internal taxes, a law was passed laying a duty of twenty cents per bushel, or fifty-six pounds, on the importation of salt, to commence on January 1, 1814. The term of credit on this duty was fixed at nine months.
No drawback is to be allowed, but instead thereof a bounty of twenty cents per barrel on the exportation of pickled fish of the fisheries of the United States, which have been cured with foreign salt on which the duty has been paid. The bounty, however, is not to be allowed, unless it shall amount to ten dollars at least upon
entry. This act also grants a bounty on the employment of certain fishing vessels, the particulars of which will be given when we come to treat of the law for the regulation of the seamen employed in those fisheries, in the next chapter.
On refined sugars
§ 1. Webster's resolutions. $ 2. Debate thereon. $ 3. Answer of the
president. 54. Stenographers. $ 5. Russian embassy. 86. Mission to Sweden. '87. Embargo. $ 8. Massachusetts remonstrance. $9. Debate thereon. § 10. Distribution of arms. $. 11. Amendments to the constitution. Š 12. Naturalization. $ 13. British licenses. $ 14. Girard's memorial. $ 15. Seizure of East Florida. $ 16. Measures for defence. S 17. Disabled militia and volunteers. $ 18. Reward of valour. $ 19. Encouragement to privateers. $ 20. Encouragement of the fisheries. § 21. Loan. $ 22. Appropriations. § 23. Conduct of the war. $ 24. Barbarities of the enemy. $ 25. Adjournment.
9 1. Previous to the tax bills being taken up in the house of representatives, the house was principally occupied with contested elections, the accommodation of stenographers, and a motion of Mr. Webster, relative to the repeal of the Berlin and Milan decrees.
On the 10th of June, the following resolutions were submitted to the house by Mr. Webster, which were read and laid on the table.
Resolved, That the president of the United States be requested to inform this house, unless the public interest should, in his opinion, forbid such communication, when, by whom, and in what manner, the first intelligence was given to this government of the decree of the government of France, bearing date the 28th April, 1811, and purporting to be a definitive repeal of the decrees of Berlin and Milan.
Resolved, That the president of the United States be requested to inform this house, whether Mr. Russell, late charge d'affaires of the United States at the court of France, hath ever admitted or denied, to his government, the correctness of the declaration of the duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow, the late minister of the United States at that court, as stated in Mr. Barlow's letter of the 12th of May, 1812, to the secretary of state, “ that the said decree of April 28, 1811, had been communicated to his (Mr. Barlow's) predecessor there ;” and to lay before this house any correspondence with Mr. Russell, relative to that subject, which it may not be improper to communicate; and also any correspondence between Mr. Barlow and Mr. Russell on that subject, which may be in possession of the department of state.
Resolved, That the president of the United States be re
quested to inform this house, whether the minister of France, near the United States, ever informed this government of the existence of the said decree of the 28th of April, 1811, and to Tay before the house any correspondence that may have taken place with the said minister relative thereto, which the president may not think improper to be communicated.
Resolved, That the president of the United States be requested to communicate to this house any other information which may be in his possession, and which he may not deem it injurious to the public interest to disclose, relative to the said decree of the 28th of April, 1811, and tending to show at what time, by whom, and in what manner, the said decree was first made known to this government, or to any of its representatives or agents.
Resolved, That the president be requested, in case the fact be that the first information of the existence of said decree of the 28th of April, 1811, ever received by this government or any of its ministers or agents, was that communicated in May, 1812, by the duke of Bassano to Mr. Barlow, and by him to his government, as mentioned in his letter to the secretary of state of May 12, 1812, and the accompanying papers, to inform this house whether the government of the United States hath ever required from that of France, any explanation of the reasons of that decree being concealed froin this government and its ministers for so long a time after its date ; and if such explanation has been asked by this government, and has been omitted to be given by that of France, whether this government has made any remonstrance, or expressed any dissatisfaction to the government of France, at such concealment.
$2. On the 16th, at the instance of Mr. Webster, the house proceeded to the consideration of his resolutions.
In the debate that arose out of this subject, a very extensive range was taken on both sides of the house. The opponents of the resolutions objected principally to the novelty of their form, which they contended was disrespectful and unprecedented in such cases.
An amendment was proposed, calling for information generally on the subject.
This amendment, however, was withdrawn on its being sta, ted, that a similar call had been made at the end of last session, the answer to which consisted merely of extracts of letters from Mr. Barlow, without any explanation or declaration on the part of the executive, in one of which it was expressly said, that the duke of Bassano stated that the repealing decree had been communicated to our government through two channels, at as early a date as May, 1811.
If this decree, it was contended, had been made known to the British government at the time it was issued, the orders in council would have been repealed, and we should have avoided the ruinous war under which we now suffering. The declaration of the duke of Bassano, then, affixes a serious charge on the American government, which well merited an examination of the grounds whereon it rested. Either our government was guilty of concealing the decree, or the French government was guilty of the concealment, with the full addition of duplicity and falsehood. It was to arrive at truth in relation to this dark and mysterious transaction, that these resolutions were offered.
For the purpose of showing that the concealment of this decree had brought on the war with England, a view was taken of the course pursued by the American government in relation to the belligerents after the abandonment of the embargo. The report of the committee of foreign relations of November, 1808, and the non-intercourse law of 1809, were cited to show the intentions of government, and their opinion that, while the decrees of both belligerents were in force, neither nation could, with honour and justice, be selected for hostility.
The non-intercourse law contained a provision, that if France or England should so far repeal or modify her edicts, as that they should cease to violate our neutral rights, the fact should be proclaimed by the president, and the act was to cease as to that nation. This provision, it was contended, had been taken advantage of by Bonaparte, for the purpose of shamefully duping the president. By the law, the president was bound not to issue his proclamation until France should have in good faith repealed or modified her decrees. But he waited for no such repeal or modification. In the language of Mr. Russell, then our minister in France, the president was “shuffled into the lead, where national honour and the law required him to follow.” To prove the correctness of the assertion of Mr. Russell, an order of the French government to the council of prizes, and the French repealing decree of April, 1811, was read as follows :
“In consequence of this engagement entered into by the government of the United States to cause their rights to be respected, his majesty orders that all causes that may be pending in the council of prizes, of captures of American vessels, made after the 1st of November, and those that may in future be brought before it, shall not be judged according to the principles of the decrees of Berlin and Milan, but that they shall remain suspended; the vessels captured and seized to remain only in a state