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H. OF R.)
(APRIL 29, 1830.
operates upon the community. To strip the subject still principle of yonr probibitory system i Sir, it is by.com. further of the disguise and confusion in which it is ev. fouoding specie as as article of commerce, with specie as veloped, I will advance another step in the process of sim. the.mere representative of value, that public writers have plification. I maintain, then, that an import duty imposed fallen into the strange delusion which I have thus attempt upon those articles of foreign merchandise which are re-ed to expose. Specie, as an article of trade, is subject to ceived in exchange for the domestic productions of the the same laws that apply to any other article of commerce. planting States, is precisely equivalent, in the existing It is only between the nations that produce it, and those state of our commercial relations, to an export duty which require it for actual use, that it can be an article of levied upon the productions of those States. A very brief profitable trade. Between all others, it can answer no examination of the actual state of our coinmerce with Eu- other purpose than that of a common circulating medium, rope will satisfy the House that those articles of mercban. by which the accidental balances of their annual ex: dise, which are now imported principally from Great changes may be adjusted and paid. I think, then, I have Britain, France, and Holland, in exchange for our cotton, shown that the only articles we can receive advantageous tobacco, and rice, are the only articles which can be ob- ly from the countries, which consume our agricultural tained in those countries for the productions we send them. staples, are those which are produced by the industry of Whatever impost duty you impose, we must still continue those countries; and these are precisely the manufactures to import the merchandise on which it is levied, until the which it is the design of the prohibitorý system to exclude daty reaches the point of prohibition. I am aware that a altogether. notion prevails, and I bave recently seen it gravely main But, whatever may be said as to the matter of theory, tained in a number of the North American Review, that no doubt can be entertained as to the matter of fact
. if we were to probibit absolutely and entirely the importa. Higbly as you bave taxed the manufactures of Great Brition of all those articles which' we now in port from Eu- taio, France, and Holland, we do actually import those rope in exchange for our cotton, that Great Britain and manufactures
, almost to the precise amount of the agriculFrance would still continue to purchase the same quantity tural staples exported to the countries in question. We of that staple as they did before the probibition; and that, find it more advantageous to import the productions of instead of paying for it with merchandise, they would pay those countries under a tax of forty-five per cent., than to for it with money. This is an argument of some plausi import specie free of duty. Such being the actual state bility, and may impose upon persons unacquainted with of the trade in question, does it not follow that a duty the laws of commerce, and the functions of money. upon the exports of cotton, tobacco, or rice, would not be But to persons at all familiar with these important sub- more burderisome to the planter, nor to any other interest jects, it can appear in no other light than as a gross and concerned, than an equal duty upon the manufactures repalpable absurdity. What, sir, is commerce between pa- ceived in exchange for those exports: No ingenuity can tions but a mutual exchange of those articles of intrinsic draw any substantial discrimination between the actual value which are mutually produced and consumed by the operatiou of the two kinds of duty. Can it be at all ma. pations who carry it op i Great Britain, for example, can- terial to the planter, whether he pays the duty upon the not purchase our cotton without giving for it, directly or cargo be sends out, or upon that which he brings back 1 indirectly, the productions of ber owo industry. Having To give a familiar illustration, which every man of comno mines of gold and silver, she cannot pay us in those mon sepse will readily understand--would it be any more .metals, until she obtains them from some other country in burdensome to the planter to pay a toll of forty per cento, exchange for the productions of her own industry. But upon the cotton he sent to market, than it would be to unless your duties increase the demand of the countries pay the snme toll on the goods he received in exchange having gold and silver mines, for British merchandise, and for it? The question is too plain to be argued. It would also the demand of the commercial world for specie
, simply be the difference between paying as he went to Great Britain cad neither sell any more goods to the market, and paying as he returned home. If, then, the mining countries, por purchase any more specie from duties were levied upon the export of our productions
, them, than she did before your prohibition. Your refusal what would become of the argument that the consumer to take any thing but specie for British merchandise, pays the whole of the duty ? It would be too absurd for therefore, is refusing to take any thing but that which she grave consideration, cannot give. But the inquiry does not stop here. Suppose As our cotton, tobacco, and rice are consumed in foreign Great Britain had inexhaustible mines of the precious countries, it would follow, according to this argument, that metals. There would still be wanting one of the indis- we levied our tnxes from foreign countries. It would only pensable conditions of a beneficial commercial exchange, be necessary, therefore, to transfer our impost duties from to render it advantageous for us to receive specie in return imports to exports, to exempt our citizens entirely from for our produce. We have no use for any more specie the burden of our own taxes, and throw it upon the subthan we already possess. It would be extreme folly to jects of other nations. think of importing specie, as an article of consumption, But, sir, we cannot make foreigners pay the taxes we in the United States. We can neither eat it por wear it impose upou our own citizens. The market of Great BriIt is not an article that we want for consumption. Its tain, for example
, regulates the price, as well of the cotprincipal use is as the basis of our circulating medium, and ton we export to that country, as of the merchandise we for that purpose the supply is already ample, which we import from it. Does not every man acquainted with the derive from our direct trade with the mining countries. commerce of the country know that the price of cotton at Suppose the staple States were to import annually, if sucb Liverpool controls and determines the price at Charleston; consummate folly may be impated to them, thirty, or even and that the price of that article in Liverpool depends not twenty millions of specie. What would they do with it? upon your duties, but upon the supply compared with the Of what value would it be to them! We should have no demand-a supply derived not only from the United States, demand or use for a fiftieth part of it in the United States. but from all the cotton-growing regions of the world! And, To what country, then, should we export it! To Mexico on the other hand, does any man suppose that the
price of or South America ! They are the countries from which British merchandise, in New York, controls and regulates it originally came. To Great Britain, or France, or Hol the price at Manchester ? The price of this merchandise de land i These are the countries from which, upon the sup: pends upon the general demand for it, in all the markets of position, we should receive it. But
even if we could find the world. For the same reason, therefore, that a duty upa foreign demand for this specie, what article could we on the exports of cotton cannot raise the price of that cotton receive in exchange for it, that is not excluded by the in the Britisha markets, a duty upon the imports of British
merchandise cannot depress the price of that merchandise | production, in consequence of the tax imposed upon their in those markets. The American cotton planter, then, staples ? Can they resort to any other employment more pays a duty of forty per cent upou the export of his cot- profitable than the one in which they are engaged, eren tops, or, which is the same thing, upon what he obtains for wiib the burdens imposed on it? Sir, I auswer from my own it, and cannot indemnify himself for any part of this duty, knowledge and experience, that they cauvot. Nothing by raising the price of his cotton, or by diminishing the could be more impotent than any attempt to raise the price cost of the merchandise be receives in exchange for it. of their cotton in foreign markets, by diminishing their Who, then, ultimately bears the burden of the tax ? It is production of it. Their great and priocipal markets are evidently levied upou the producer, in the first instance; in foreign countries, where they meet competitors from for the mercbant, who really pays it, is nothing more than all the cotton-growing regions of the world. If we were the agent of the planter. Upon what principle of political to diminish the quantity of our own production, therefore, economy, then, can it be maintained that the whole bur- with a view to enbance the price of our staple, we should den of the tax is ultimately thrown upon the consumer, on only create a vacuum in the foreign markets, to be immewhom it is not laid by the Government, and that no part of diately filled up by the cotton of South America, Egypt, it rests upou the producer, where the Government origi- Greece, and the East and West Indies. We cannot, there nally placed it? The producer has no power to throw the fore, diminish our production with impunity. It would be whole burden from his own shoulders, and place it upon a fatal policy; for we should diminish the demand for our those of the consumer. It would be most extraordinary if cotton, and open a market for the cotton of other coushe had. The truth is, that every duty levied upon produc- tries, in exactly the same proportion. There is neither tion, whether direct or indirect, whether of impost or ex- philosophy por common sense in the idea that a tax imposcise, whether upou exports or imports, naturally divides ed upon a branch of productive industry which depends itself between the producers and consumers, according to almost exclusively on foreigo countries for a market, can the relative circumstances in which they are placed. At be thrown upon the consumers. Foreigoers, sir, are the first it must operate, in all cases, principally as a tax upon principal consumers of the productions of southern inthe producer. Suppose, for example, that an excise duty dustry. But, even if we could enhance the price of our of forty per cent. were all at once levied upon bats. The productions
, by diminishing the quantity produced, how tax would be collected from the batters. They would ac- is this to be effected ? Our entire capital is invested in tually pay the money to the Government. Could they lands and negroes, and the only staples we can cultivate to immediately raise the price of liats in proportion to the any advantage, or for which we can find a market, are tax levied upon them i They certainly could not. The those we now produce. Shall we, then, abandon our ouly possible means by which they could raise the price lauds, manumit our slaves, and then go forth to seek new of hats at all, would be by diminishing the production of fortunes in distant regions ? No, sir; our citizens would them. If the supply was not diminished, por the demand sooner perish than to be thus driven from their rightful incrensed, no addition whatever could be made to the inheritance and the homes of their forefathers, by this upprice. Now, a tax upou apy article certainly does not in righteous system of oppression. crease the demand for it. Until the supply is diminished, There are insuperable objections to the transfer of the therefore, by the withdrawal of some of those engaged in capital and labor of the southern planter from the producmaking the article, the price cannot be enhanced; and tion of their present staples to any other employment. It this withdrawal can only be made slowly and gradually. has been suggested that we might enter upon the manuLet it be remarked, that it is only by the faculty of aban. facturing business. All our habits disqualify us for this doping the branch of industry subjected to a tax, and en- sort of employment. It would require ten or fifteen years gaging in some other that is more profitable, that the pro- of ruinous experiment before we could acquire even a toducer can throw any material part of the burden of taxa. lerable degree of skill, and even then, we could not rival tion upon the consumer. If, therefore, a tax were laid the manufactures either of Europe or of the northern upon all the other productions of the community equal to States of this Union. But, even if we could succeed so that supposed to be laid upon bats, the batters could not far as to equal our domestic competitors, where should we find any relief by resorting to other pursuits. They surely find a market for our productions! It would be absurd to would not leave an employment to which they were train- go to Europe, and equally so to go to the napufacturing ed and accustomed, and in which their capital was already States of our own country. From Mexico we are exclud. invested, to embark in a new and upaccustomed pursuit
, ed by absurd restrictions, in imitation of our own; and, subject to the same taxation. Such a change would not wherever a foreign market might be open, we should find relieve them from the tax, and it would deprive : bem of all ourselves forestalled and excluded by the manufactures the advantage of their existing investments and acquired of Great Britain and New England. Is it not an insultskill. The result would, therefore, evidently be, that the ing mockery, then, to tell us that we ought tamely tax would fall almost entirely upon production. There to submit to a system which drives us from our natural would be a general full in the profits of capital and the pursuits, because we have the wretched privilege, of emwages of labor. The tax would be paid by the produ. barking iu the production of manufactures which we have cer, and yet he could not, in consequence of it, raise the no skill iu making, and for which we could find no marprice of his productions any thing like in proportion to it
. ket after they were made? Great Britain alope could Now, whatever circumstances in the condition of any class supply the whole world with manufactures, at little more of producers prevent them from promptly and easily trans- than half the price for which we could afford to make ferring their capital and labor from the pursuits in which them. they are engaged to other pursuits, will prevent those pro It must be perfectly obvious, that, even with more opducers from raising the price of their productions, in con- pressive burdens than they have yet borne,'the southern sequence of any tax that may be imposed upon them; and, planters canuot, to any extent worth consideration, divert of course, from throwing the burden of that tax upon the their capital and labor to other employments, and thereby
diminish the production of their staples, with a view to Let us now apply these obvious and well established an enhancement of their price. principles of political economy to the actual condition of
Experience proves this most conclusively. And here I the southern planters. The Government has laid a tax (I beg, leave to notice, as connected with what I am now will assume it to be forty per cent.) upon the productions saying, a statement made by the Secretary of the Treuof tbeir industry. What is the power they possess to throw sury in his apnual report of 1828. To prove that the the burden upon the consumer'? Can they dimiuish their commerce of the country had been increased by the tariff
H. OF R.)
[APRIL 29, 1830.
of 1824, he stated, and correctly stated, that the imports to its effect upon the market price of the cloth, whether of the four years succeeding that tariff exceeded those it is all imported by the planter, or a part by him, and the of the four years preceding it, to a very considerable remainder by the Government. While the demand and amount. Now, nothing evinces the unsatisfactory and the supply remain unchanged, no imposition of the Governinconclusive nature of lumping statistical statements more ment can increase the price. clearly than this example: fur, on analyziog the statement Let us suppose, then, that the Government takes no of our exports during the two periods alluded to, I fiod part of the cotton when exported, but permits the planter that almost the entire increase of those of the latter period to export it without diminution. With bis hundred bales over the former, consisted of the single article of cotton. of coiton, be purchases a hundred pieces of cloth. This And yet, sir, we were gravely told from high authority, that would be the product of bis industry-cotton couverted this fact conclusively proved that the tariff of 1824 bad into cloth. When be reaches the custom-house, the agent increased our foreign commerce. But, sir, though it did of the Government takes forty pieces of his cloth, as a not prove what it was designed to prove, it established one contribution to the treasury. It is equally obvious, as in thing quite conclusively, that the cotton planter, so far the former case, that the same quantity of cloth would from having it in his power to relieve himself from the come into the market, as if none of it had been taken by the burden of taxation, by limiting his production, and thereby Government. The price would be the very same, and, increasing the price of what he produces, is compelled, consequently, the planter would be deprived of forty of as the alternative least ruinous, to increase bis production, his hundred pieces of cloth, by the exaction of the Goverain the hope of making upțio that way for the diminished ment, without any means of indemnifying himself by obprice. Yes, sir, the heavier and more oppressive your taining a higher price for the remainder. This, sir, is the taxes have been, the harder has the planter labored; in actual operation of your import duties, stripped of the cessantly struggling against a declining market, and yet, disguise with which they are invested. They are taxes by his extraordinary exertions, regularly adding to the upon those productions of domestic industry which go aggregate value of the national exports. Between the into foreign commerce; and although the consumers, as a years 1820 and 1828, the production of cotton exported class distinct from the purchasers, will, in the long run, was increased from one bundred and twenty-seven millions be incidentally injured by whatever oppresses the proto three bundred millions of pounds, while the aggregate ducers, yet the burden primarily and principally falls upon value of it was only increased from twenty-two to twenty- the latter class. According to this view of the subject, eight millions, indicating a fall in the price of cotton from the southern planter would bear the principal part of the eighteen to vine cents a pound; on the other hand, the burden of the imports levied upon the productions of his exports of most of the other productions of domestic in industry, even if he did not consume any of them bimself, dustry, and particularly grain, during the same period but imported them exclusively for the purpose of making decreased more in quantity than in value, indicating a gra- exchanges for western and northern produce. dual rise in their price. No contrast could exhibit, in a But, sir, even if we grant that the tax falls exclusively more striking point of view, the unequal and oppressive upon the consumer, I ask you, who consumes the producoperation of federal taxation on the different portions of tions of southern industry, if they are not consumed by the Union; and none certainly could more conclusively the southern people! They are certainly the natural conshow that it is utterly impossible for the planters to throw sumers of what they receive in exchange for their own the taxes imposed on their productions upon any other productions. If they do not consume the very same arclass of the community.
ticles they import, entirely and exclusively, they must It is so important, to a just comprehension of the opera- consume some other articles obtained in exchange for tion of our tariff regulations, that we should clearly ascer- them. Let us examine a little in detail what becomes of tain where the burden of our impost taxes really falls, the imports of the South. In the first place, the Governthat I must be excused for presenting to the committee ment takes forty dollars out of every bundred. That por apother illustration, to show that it principally falls upon tion, of course, the planter cannot consume. But surely the producers of our exports. To avoid the confusion tbis circumstance does not diminish the burden imposed of ideas which results from estimating tbe value of mer. upon him. The fact that he does not consume it, is the chandise, and the duties imposed upon it, in money, I will very thing that makes the law, which deprives him of it, dispense with the use of this, as I have done with the a burdensome tax upon bis industry. As to the remaining agency of the merchant. I will suppose, then, that the sixty dollara, there can be no doubt that the people of the Government levies the duties in kind, and that, for every southern States are the direct consumers of the principal hundred bales of cotton the planter exports, the Govern- part of it. A portiou of it, to be sure, is exchanged with ment takes forty, and then places agents on board the ves- the people of the northern States, either for other foreign sel of the planter, to go with him to Great Britain, and sell merchandise imported by them, such as East and West Inthe cotton thus taken from him, in common with his own. dia produce, or for their own manufactures. But this is Is it not apparent that the very same quantity of cotton precisely the same thing as if the southern people comwould go into the foreign narket, as would have gone if sumed the very articles obtained abroad for their own po duty had been levied, with this difference only, that produce. What does it matter to the planter, whether he forty bales would belong to the Government, and sixty to consumes the very cloth for which his cotton is exchang. the planter, instead of the whole belonging to the planter ? ed, or the tea, and coffee, and sugar imported by the peoNo change, therefore, would be made in the British mar: ple of the North, in exchange for their productions and ket by this division of the property between the individual industry, or the manufactures of the North? These foand the Goverment If we suppose each bale of cotton reigo productions and domestic manufactures are enhancto be worth a piece of cloth, the planter would bring back ed in price, quite as much as the cloth imported by the sixty pieces, and the Goverument forty. The very same planter, in consequence of the duties. Thus far, then, quantity would be brought into the domestic market as if the southern people pay the whole aniount of the imposts the Government had levied no duty, with this difference laid upon their productions, regarding them as consumers only, that, instead of the whole belonging to the planter, merely. But it has been said that we exchange some it would be divided between him and the Government. three millions of our imports for the live stock of the Although the planter would receive only sixty pieces of Western States, which is not enbanced in price by any cloth instead of one hundred, yet he could not get any duty. But even here the planter is not entirely relieved higher price for it than if he had been permitted to import from his burden. Can he purchase as much live stock the whole hundred pieces : for it is wholly immaterial as with sixty pieces of cloth, as he could with a hundred ? It
would be absurd to maintain such a proposition; and yet contributions exacted from the different sections of the this is the only way in which he could relieve himself from Union, the inequality of the disbursements of the Federal the whole burden of the impost. The fact is, that he Goverument is still much greater. South of Norfolkwould be able to purchase but little more than half the through the entire region extending thence south and quantity of live stock from the western people, that he southwest along the Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico could have purchased if no duty had been laid upon his a region which contributes two-thirds of the revenue of the imports. In this way, undoubtedly, the burden would be whole Union—there is not appually expended an average
seriously felt by the western people. But this would not sum of five hundred thousand dollars ! Now, sir, I do vot s mitigate the suffering of the planter. You deprive bim mention this unequal disbursement for the purpose of com
of the means of purchasing live stock to a very great plaining of it, so much as with a view to explain the acamount, and to that extent cut off the market for the pro tual injury and suffering which result from it. I do verily ductions of western industry. By this process, as in all believe, then, that a tax of ten millions of dollars, expend
cases of prohibition, you destroy two values—that of the ed among those by whom it is contributed, would not be 1 planter to the extent of the imposts, and that of the grower more burdensome and oppressive than a tax of five mil
of stock to the extent that he is injured by losing a market lions of dollars expended in a foreign country, or a distant for the production of his industry.
portion of the Union. In other words, I believe any State, Upon a general survey of the condition of the United Pennsylvania for example, would find it an advantageous States, it will be perceived that, owing to the causes inti- pecuniary speculation, to pay a million of dollars to the mately connected with the restrictive system, production federal treasury, appually, upon the condition that the is every where overrunning consumption. When to this Federal Government should annually disburse two millions circumstance we add the fact that the consumers of those of dollars among the people of that State, in the purarticles of which you propose to enhance the price by your chase of grain, iron, manufactures, and such other prohigb duties, have so many other resources, and can resurt ductions as are there made for market. It is obvious that to so many substitutes, to avoid paying the duties, every a new demand would be annually created for a million of gentleman must be satisfied of the utter impossibility of dollars worth of the productions of Pennsylvania, and a throwing any thing like the whole burden of the impost new value thereby given to those productions. It would duties from the producers, upon whom they are actually of course give the highest possible stimulus to productive laid, to the consumers, upon whom they are not laid. industry; and at the end of the year the aggregate wealth The consumers of manufactured articles in the United of the State would be increased more than it would be States are very differently situated, thank heaven, from the diminished, by this fiscal operation of paying one million in consumers of grain in Great Britain. The enormous bur- taxes, and receiving two millions in disbursements, The den of the corn, laws falls almost exclusively on the con- most striking example of the influence of Government sumers. Corn is an article of absolute necessity, for which disbursements, of which history has kept any record, and no domestic substitute can be obtained. The miserable that which first drew my attention to the subject, is that British laborer, therefore, is obliged to consume the grain exhibited by Great Britain in the war against the French of the lordly land owner, at double the price it could be republic and the French empire. The extraordinary inported, or perish. But it is not so with the American financial resources of Great Britain, in that eventful strugconsumers of cotton and woollen manufactures. Before gle, have excited the wonder and admiration of the world, they will consent to pay an enhanced price, proportioned scarcely less than the unparalleled military achievements to the duties imposed, they will clothe themselves in home and extensive conquests of the Emperor Napoleon. The spun.
spectacle of a nation annually expending some two hunUpon the whole, then, the coly means which the produ- dred millions of dollars, and yet flourishing almost beyond cer has to throw the burden of a tax from his shoulders, is any former example, seemed almost to baffle the proto diminish his production of the article taxed; and the foundest speculations of political philosophy. means which the consumer has to avoid having it thrown But the mystery is completely unravelled when we adupon him, is to diminish his consumption of that article. In vert to the fact that she anoually borrowed, during fifthis contest, the consumer has a decided and obvious ad- ten years, one hundred millions of dollars. By this vantage. It may be very confidently assumed, therefore, operation alone, the annual disbursements of the Governthat at least one-half of the burden of the impost duties ment were made to exceed the appual amount of the taxes, laid upon the return productions of the planter would be very nearly one hundred millions. We bave, therefore, sustained by him as a producer, even if he consumed no almost the very state of things I supposed, in regard part of those productions. But it cannot be doubted that to Pennsylvania. The Governinent levied an annual tax of the people of the southern States consume, of the articles one hundred millions of dollars, and made an annual disimported in exchange for their staples, of other foreign ar- bursement of two hundred millions of dollars. Great Briticles subject to pay duties, and of domestic manufactures, tain was never so flourishing; and, if the same operation equally enhanced by the tariff, to the amount of three could have lasted forever, she would have continued to fourths of the entire return which they receive for their flourish on to the end. But it was not in the nature of things exports. It follows that the direct operation of the impost that it could last much longer than it did. Great Britain duties throws upon the people of the staple-growing States was acting the part of the prodigal, who couverted his ina weight of taxation very nearly proportioned to their ex- heritance into an annuity for fifteen years, and then exports.
pended bis whole annual income.
She was living upon But, sir, there remains to be presented a view of this the resources of posterity, and, if she had gone much fur. subject, very little considered heretofore, either in this ther, she would have exhausted them.
But when peace country or in Europe, which will exhibit the unequal and was restored to Europe, the picture of British prosperity oppressive operation of this Government in a most strik was reversed. When superficial observers were expecting light. When this is taken into the estimate, the coming an increased prosperity from the cessation of war and mittee will perceive that I have been quite within the mark, its expenditures, & sceue of distress and ruin ensued, not in assuming that the staple-growing States are burdened more astonishing and apparently unaccountable than the in proportion to the amount of duties levied upon their former prosperity. But the one was just as natural as the commerce. Next to the unequal exactions of Govern- other. The sudden withdrawal of the disbursements of ment, nothing can be more distressing to a country of such the Government, to the amount of more than one hundred vast extent, than the unequal disbursement of its reve- millions of dollars, without any corresponding reduction nues. Great as I have shown the inequality to be, in the l of the taxes, was like withdrawing his accustomed stimu
H. of R.]
[APRIL 29, 1830.
lus from a man who habitually took his bottle of wine a es of productive industry in the United States would have day: A paralysis was thrown over the industry and pros- to contribute nineteen million six hundred thousand dolperity of the nation, from which no one can predict when lars. Let us now compare this equitable distribution of she will recover.
the taxes, with that which actually exists under our present Now, sir, when you have looked at this picture, and syetem. The growers of cotton, tobacco, and rice, as I then looked at that; when you have compared the distress bave heretofore shown, now actually contribute to the sup, and suffering of Great Britain since the peace of Europe, port of this Government fourteen million eight bundred with the prosperity which preceded it, you have, on the thousand dollars, being nine million nine hundred thouone hand, an exemplification, and only a faint one, of the sand dollars more than their just proportion; and the grow blasting and withering influence of enormously unequal ers of cotton and rice contribute twelve millions, being taxes levied in one portion of the Union, with scarcely any eight million five bundred thousand dollars more than their return in the form of Government disbursements; and on just proportion. the other, of the animating and invigorating influence of I am aware that the inequality of our present system of large disbursements in portions of the Uniou that make impost duties, as a scheme of taxation, is so enormous, that scarcely any contributions, comparatively speaking, to the it is calculated to astound those who have not thoroughly public revenue.
examined the matter. With a view, therefore, of presentI will now ask the attention of the committee to a coming the question in a more practical and a familiar point of parison which I propose to institute between the actual view I will suppose that à general excise were imposed distribution of the burdens of the federal taxes among the upon all those productions which constitute the basis of the different classes of productive industry and the different internal commerce of the Union, and that the impost dogeographical subdivisions of the Union, and the distribu- ties upon foreign commerce were reduced to the same tion that would take place under a just and equitable sys- rate. As a mere question of distributive justice, it cannot tem of taxation. What, then, is the true principle of dis- be doubted, for a moment, that the exchanges of internal tributive justice, in the apportionment of taxes among the commerce should be subjected to the very same imposidifferent portions of the community! It is laid down in a tions with the exchanges of foreign commerce.
It is eswork of the highest authority-and, indeed, no authority is sential
, indeed, to the perfect equality of taxation, that all necessary to give sanction to a rule of such apparent jus- indirect taxes should fall precisely alike upon all the protice-"That the subjects of every State ought to contribute ductions of domestic industry, made or manufactured for towards the support of the Government, as Dearly as pos- sale whether at home or abroad. If the planter is called sible, in proportion to the revenue which they enjoy under upon to pay a certain per centage upon the appual value the protection of the State. The expense of Govern of the cotton he exchanges for foreign manufactures, upon ment to the individuals of a great nation, is like the ex- what human principle can it be contended that the farmer pense of management to the joint tenants of a great estate, is not equally liable to pay the same per centage upon the who are all obliged to contribute in proportion to their in- annual value of the graiu and other productions which he terest in the estate. In the observance or neglect of this exchanges with the neighboring manufacturer; and that maxim, consists what is called equality or inequality of tax- the manufacturers, of every description, are not equally ation." According to this fundamental rule, the justice liable to pay the same per centage upon the annual valve and equity of wbich no man, I am sure, in this committee, of the manufactures they exchange for agricultural and will venture to controvert, an income tax would be the near- other productions in the domestic market? An impost and est approach that could be made to that equality which ought an excise duty are precisely the same in principle, differto be the aim of every Government, and which our own con ing only in the solitary particular, that they fall upon difstitution most carefully, but vainly, attempted to secure. ferent productions of domestic industry. And, whether the With a view to ascertain what would be the result of such tax ultimately falls upon the producer or consumer, a just a plan of taxation, so far as regards its distribution among regard to the principle of equality would require that all the various portions of the Union, I have made an estimate the producers and all the consumers of the country should of all the aggregate amount of all the incomes of the United equally participate in sustaining the financial burdens of States, giving, as the result, fifty millions of dollars. I have the state. subjected this estimate to the test of several modes of cal. If the value of the cotton exported by the planter is to culation, and I think it rather under than over the truth. be regarded as the measure of his income, upon the very A British economist estimated the income of Great Britain, same principle the value of the grain sold by the farmer in 1820, at three hundred and fifty millions of pounds or of the cloth bold by the manufacturer, should be regardsterling; and I cannot suppore it will be deemed extrava- ed as the measure of bis income, and the duty imposed aegant to estimate the income of the United States, in 1830, cordingly. at as many dollars. What, then, would be the distribu Now, sir, it will be found, upon examination, that a genetion of the burdens of the federal taxation among the ral system of impost and excise duties, equally applicable to different sections of the Union, if the people were taxed all commercial exchanges, whether foreign or internal
, would in proportion to their incomes ? It is to be remarked that bring us almost to the very same res as an income tax. the exports of the staple-growing States constitute the The advocates of the prohibitory system have habitually principal part of their annual income. But that I may dwelt upon the insigpificance of our foreign when comparbe certain of not making too low an estimate, I will assume ed with our internal commerce. In the well known adthat the income of all the persons engaged in produ- dress of the Harrisburgh convention, it was assumed that the cing cotton, tobacco, and rice, is seventy millions of dol- internal commerce of the Union amounted to five bundred lars, Dearly double the amount of their exports; and that millions of dollars, being nearly ten times the amount of the income of those engaged in producing cotton and rice our foreign commerce. think this estimate extravagant, is fifty millions of dollars. To produce a revenue of and will not, therefore, use it, even against the manufactwenty-four million five hundred thousand dollars, a tax turers themselves. It may be safelyassumed, however, of only seven per cent upon the aggregate income of the that the internal commerce of the Union amounts to two nation would be necessary. In the apportionment of this bundred and eighty millions, exclusive of the coasting sum, upon the principles of an income tax, there would trade in foreign merchandise. It follows, therefore, that fall to the shares of the growers of cotton, tobacco, and rice, while the whole of the taxes of the Federal Government only four million pine bundred thousand dollars, and to are thrown upon less than one-fifth of all the productious that of the growers of cotton and rice only three million five of national industry--the average amount of imports being hundred thousand dollars; whereas all the other branch- I less than seventy millions of dollars—there are productions