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was as long a period as was generally required

DUTIES ON SPIRITS. to turn West India produce into cash; and an The House again resolved itself into a Comextension of the credit beyond that time would mittee of the whole on the bill repealing after be no advantage to the merchant, and would the last day of next, the act laying prove injurious to the revenue.

duties on distilled spirits, &c. and imposing Mr. Goodhue said, he hoped the clause others in their stead; Mr. BoU DINOT in the would not be struck out. He conceived that no chair. possible injury to the revenue could arise from The twelfth section which specifies the rates extending the time of credit beyond four months, of the duties being read, especially as the duties will be secured by suf

Mr. Parker moved that it should be struck ficient bonds or deposites. He hoped the bill out, in order to admit a substitute which should would be made as easy and as palatable as pos- provide for a different mode of raising the resible, for in any event it will be an unpleasant quisite additional revenue; the proposition he business.

had in view, he said, was a duty on molasses. Messrs. LAWRENCE, PARTRIDGE, Ames, and This, he observed, would answer every purpose SEDGWICK severally objected to the motion. without being liable to the objections which had

Mr. Sherman was in favor of it. He said it been offered against the plan of the bill. appeared to him to be necessary that the reve- Mr. Madison observed, that he had felt the nue of the United States should be as stable as force of the objections which had been urged possible. He considered an undue extension against the bill. He was in general principled of the credit for the duties as tending to defeat against excises, but of all excises, that on ardent that object, while it proves no advantage to the spirits he considered the least exceptionable. seller of the dutied articles; it rather creates a The question now to be determined, he conremiss and careless habit in doing business, and ceived, was this: is an addition to the present in its consequences will render the revenue un- amount of the revenue necessary? It had approductive.

peared that an addition is necessary; for his The motion for striking out was negatived. own part, he should prefer direct taxation to

The committee proceeded in the discussion any excises whatever; but he conceived this as far as the twelith section, without making would be contrary to the sentiments of the maany essential alteration. They then rose and jority of the people of the Unijed States; and reported progress.

he was fully convinced that it was contrary to Mr. Parker laid the following resolution on the opinion of a great majority of the House. the table:

Il, said he, any mode could be adopted, with“That the Secretary of the Treasury be directed out having recourse to excises, he would be the to lay before the House an estimate of the probable last that would give them support; but he conamount of the duties arising from the impost on the ceived there was none, and the plan proposed tonnage of ships and vessels, and on goods, wares, was divested of the most exceptionable proviand merchandises from the first of January, 1791, to sions usually connected with an excise system. the first of January, 1792.

Mr. Jackson observed, that his defeat yesterday should not deter him, while he had a

monitor within from rising in his place to do THURSDAY, January 6.

his duty, in opposition to a system unfriendly REPORT ON CHURCHMAN'S MEMORIAL. to the liberties of the people. He said, he was

Mr. Madison, from the committee to whom not the first on this floor who had been outvoted was referred the petition of John Churchman, by silent majorities; gentlemen of superior made a report, stating that there were two obabilities had met with sinilar treatment. He, jects contemplated in the memorial; the first however, felt so much respect for himself as to respected equipping one or more vessels to en- suppose that this silence proceeded from an inable the memorialist to ascertain by a voyage ability to answer the arguments which he had the truth of his magnetical theory; the other the honor to offer against what he considerent respects enhancing the penalties imposed by a most ruinous and mischievous system of taxa. law for counterfeiting original maps and charts; tion. with respect to the first, the cominittee declin

He then stated certain particulars respecting ed giving any opinion, but left it to the decision the produce of the revenue, to show that so of the Legislature; the other object the com- great a sum as is proposed to be raised by exmittee supposed might be accomplished by an

cise is unnecessary: increase of the penalty already provided by law;

He doubted not other resources of revenue the report was laid on the table.

might be explored which would be more palatASSENT OF CONGRESS TO CERTAIN ACTS. and lawyers, and in these particulars, he wished

able; he instanced a tax on salaries, pensions, A message from the Senate informed the that the example of Great Britain might be folHouse that they had passed the bill to continue lowed. the act declaring the assent of Congress to cer- He then dilated on the practice of sinuggling, tain acts of the States of Maryland, Georgia, which he contended would be promoted by this and Rhode Island, with several amendments, to bill; also the difficulties and opposition which which they desire the concurrence of this House. I were justly to be expected, by which the digni-

H. of R.]

Duties on Spirits.

[Jan. 6, 1791.

ty of the Government would be insulted. Can might serve to increase the fermentation which this Government, said he, protect its officers the people are in. An excise he considered of from the resentment of any one State in the this nature; it would in its operation produce Union. He reprobated the idea of placing the the worst consequences. A more exceptionGovernment in such a situation.

able mode of taxation he conceived could not Mr. LAWRENCE observed, that he doubted be devised. A direct or poll tax he supposed not every gentleman's mind was open to con- would not be so odious; and though, for his viction, and he hoped and expected that every own part, he should prefer an excise to either question would be treated dispassionately. He of the former taxes, yet such was the aversion did not rise yesterday to answer the gentleman, of the people to it, that he should prefer almost because he was not impressed with the force of any other alternative. He thought other objects his arguments in the manner the gentleman might be found from which the necessary revesupposed the House was. He then adverted nue could be raised. He instanced duties on to the act of the last session, by which the inland navigation, law proceedings, legal condebts of the particular States were assumed. veyances, &c. Having taken this debt upon ourselves, the He then adverted to the operation of an exconsequence is obvious, nor can we ever get cise, especially in the State of North Carolina, over the dishonor of not making the necessary and said that the consumption of ardent spirits provision for paying it. He then adverted to in that State was so great that the duty would the statements which had been submitted to amount perhaps to ten times as much as in the the House by the officer to whom the Union State of Connecticut. On the whole, he hoped had entrusted the direction of its finances, if the section is not struck out, that the excise From these it fully appeared that a much great-will be reduced. er deficiency in the revenue existed than some Mr. Sherman observed, that the subject now gentlemen appeared willing to allow. If this before the committee was thoroughly discussed deficiency exists, and if the United States are the last session; and as nothing new or of weight bound to make provision for the debts they have or importance had been offered the present ses. assumed to pay, the duties contemplated by the sion against it, he thought it would be a useless bill appear the most obvious for the Govern - waste of the time of the House to go into a parment to recur to. He adverted to the idea of ticular reply to the objections offered against direct taxation, and inquired on what principle the bill. This, he thought, a sufficient answer will gentlemen consent to this mode of raising to the charge of carrying questions by silent the necessary supplies? Will they make the majorities. representation of the several States the rule by He then entered into a short consideration of which it shall be apportioned? He doubted the subject generally, and defended the system whether direct taxes on this principle would be from the charges which had been adduced reagreeable, even to the gentlemen who have specting its unequal operation. mentioned them. He then remarked on the Mr. LIVERMORE was in favor of the bill. He objections to an excise, on account of the mode said he considered it as an equal and just mode of collection. He said a rigorous collection of taxation; and, as such, will be agreeable to would bear hard only on the dishonest, while it the people—they will consider it as drinking would protect the fair trader from bearing an down the national debt. So far, said he, as my undue proportion of the public burthens. observations have extended, I have not found a

He observed on the uneasinesses which are single individual who has objected to it. He said to prevail in some of the States; and to then obviated the objections to the bill, which obviate the force of these reflections, he in- he conceived arose principally from the word stanced the harmony and peace that prevailed excise. He thought the term very improperly in those States which bear a much greater pro- applied on the present occasion, for the duty portion of the public burthens than those which cannot be said to be an excise. He then gave complain, as was abundantly evident from the a description of what had been considered in documents in possession of the House.

times past as an excise, which, to be sure, is a Mr. STEELE stated his objections at large to very unequal tax, inasmuch as it fell on the an excise; he adverted to the particular situa- poor only, who were obliged to purchase in tion of affairs in some of the Southern States, small quantities; while the rich, by storing their especially North Carolina. The Assembly of cellars, escaped the duty: But this bill prothat State had rejected the proposal of taking vides that the duty shall fall equally on the rich an oath to support the Constitution of the Uni- and poor. It is to be paid, or secured, by the ted States, with scorn; they had also refused importer of foreign spirits, and on the still-head to admit Continental prisoners into their gaols; on domestic spirits. This will equalize the and another circumstance more hostile to the burthen, and leave no room for complaint. He General Government than either of the forego- then adverted to direct taxation; and, by a vaing had taken place, which he forbore to men- riety of particulars, showed that it was utterly tion.

impossible to lay a direct tax that would not He said such was the present state of the prove unjust, unequal, and grievously opprespublic mind, in various parts of the Union, that sive. he should dread taking any measures which Mr. BloodWORTH spoke against the bill. He

JAN. 6, 1791.)

Duties on Spirits.

(H. OF R.

dilated largely on the present uneasiness which most unequal, and in this country would be prevailed in the State of North Carolina. His found the most oppressive. They are unequal, experience, he said, was directly contrary to because with whatever exactness they might be that of the gentleman from New Hampshire; apportioned upon capital or income, the only the people to the Southward universally con- two principles on which an apportionment can demn an excise.

be made, they may, and will be, very unequal Mr. SEDGWICK said, he was unhappy to hear as to the burthen imposed; because a man's that discontents prevailed in any part of the ability to pay taxes is not in proportion either United States. He could assure gentlemen to his capital, his property, or his income, but that he did not contemplate the execution of to that part of his income which is over and the laws by military force. He was sure that above his necessary expenses, according to the in no part of the Legislature were entertained usual manner of living for persons of his degree designs inimical to the public liberty. In fram- in the community. They will be oppressive in ing the present bill, great attention had been this country, because in many of the States the paid to prevent its being attended with those plentiful circulation of money, and the facility qualities which, in other countries, rendered of obtaining it, does not extend to the interior taxation by excise justly obnoxious to popular parts, nor could it be obtained by many of our resentment. He relied on the good sense and citizens without a great sacrifice of property. well-informed understandings of the people in It may be added, that from the extent of our every part of America, for the execution of settlements compared with the number of our such systeins for the support of public credit, citizens, the expense of collection would be imand for the diminution of the national debt, as mense. should be devised by the wisdoin of their Re- In regard to excises, Mr. S. said, that in presentatives. For the same purposes, he all insensible modes of taxation, it should be said, he confided in the patriotism of the gen-observed, that a much greater sum would be tlemen who came from those districts of coun- obtained from an individual than by any mode try where uneasiness was said to exist. He be- of direct imposition: this, without entering lieved there was indeed considerable deficiency into a discussion of the reasons upon which it to be provided for, for the support of Govern - was founded, is demonstrated by fact. He inment and of the public credit. This belief was stanced the porters of London, from whom, in founded in his confidence in the information the single article of beer, was drawn ten times received from the Secretary of the Treasury. as much as could be procured by the most riBut if there was no deficiency, his disposition gorous mode of direci taxation. With regard to support the bill would be the same; for he to the proposed duties, though the well-meant had never believed that a public debt was a consideration of morality which had been urged public benefit. Is it not, then, the duty of those by some gentlemen weighed but little with him, to whom the people have delegated the impor- because he doubted whether it was well foundtant'trust of guarding their prosperity, in a sea- ed, yet, if the consumption should be lessened, son of profound peace, to liberate them from he did not believe it would be attended with the burthen and pressure of debt? Therefore any sensible inconvenience. The consumption, the only question to be determined is, whether at present, amounts to an enormous quantity; the proposed duties are a proper source from from these considerations, as the measure is whence we might derive the necessary aids to dictated by sound policy, he hoped and believprovide for the payment of the interest, or the ed it would be supported by a good degree of diminution of the principal of our debt? He unanimity. believed that of all the subjects of revenue Mr. Smith, (of South Carolina,) adverted to which were within the power of Congress, none the funding system, to show that the faith of was so proper as the duty on ardent spirits, the United States was pledged to raise a sufficontemplated by the bill. In this sentiment, cient revenue to discharge the debt, which, by he believed he concurred with that of the that system, they have engaged to pay. The great body of the people. The several species Secretary's statements point out a deficiency; of taxation may be divided into the four follow- those statements, he had no doubt, were as ing: by impost; a tax on internal negotiations; accurate as the nature of things would admit. direct taxes; and that now under consideration, Gentlemen who find fault with the proposed excise. The impost duties had been extended plan do not offer a substitute. He then enteras far as was, in the opinion of any gentleman, ed into a defence of the bill, and showed in dictated by sound policy. The tax on internal what respects it differed from the English plan negotiations, which could not be carried on to of an excise. any considerable extent without the interven- He said, the present bill was not so exception of stamps, was subject to the objection tionable on account of its violating private probrought against the present bill, and that in a perty as the collection law. degree incomparably beyond it, of being oppos- He instanced, in a particular clause of that ed by public opinion. Direct taxes are still law, the power of entering houses by warrant more objectionable on that account, at least in from a Justice of the Peace-trial by jury is every part of the country which bis know- secured by this bill, and other provisions friend. ledge extended. They are of all taxes the I ly to personal rights are added.

H. OF R.]


[Jan. 7, 1791.

Direct taxes are as much objected to by sentially connected with a further provision for North Carolina as the excise; and though direct the public exigencies. taxes are mentioned, no plan is offered.

Mr. Srone particularly alluded to the stateHe then enlarged on the importance of punc-ment offered by Mr. Jackson, by which it aptuality in paying the interest of the public debt, peared that only the sum of 146,000 dollars and of having a surplus revenue in the Treasu-were wanting—whereas the Secretary's report ry. He doubted not the gentlemen in favor of calls for the enormous sum of 800,000 dollars. the bill were as patriotic as those who are averse He called on gentlemen to show the errors of to it. Difference of opinion is to be expected; the statement offered by the gentleman. It had but he had a better opinion of the good sense not been done. of the community than to suppose they would He then adverted to the number of people be led away by a sound; they will see and that would probably be wanted in order to judge for themselves; and when they see that make the duly productive. He believed they the law is free from all those obnoxious quali- would be so numerous as to be sufficient to ties which have been suggested, they will submit constitute an army. to it without complaint, especially when they Mr. Fitzsimon's read an estimate of the acrealise that the tax is equal, and the only effec- tual and probable produce of the present imtive resource within the present command of post and tonnage for the current year, by which the Government. The General Government it appears there will be a deficiency of upwards is authorized to lay excises-North Carolina of 300,000 dollars; but taking into consideraknew this when she adopted the Constitution. tion certain contingencies, which, should they The opposition, he suspected, was against the take place, will diminish the ainount of the object to which the money is to be appropri- present duties, it appeared that the deficiency ated.

would be much larger than the sum mentioned; Mr. Giles said, the sentiments of the people but even in case of a surplus being produced of the Southern States have been so differently by this bill, there are objects to which it can be represented from what he conceived to be the applied highly beneficial to the United States. state of facts, that, in justice to them, he con. He instanced' sinking the deferred stock, and ceived himself bound to take some notice of the three per cents. The reduction of the pubthe observations which had fallen from gentle- lic debt is an object which ought never to be men. He then stated certain principles on lost sight of. which taxation should be formed. Taxes should be necessary, and raised on a plan consistent

FRIDAY, January 7. with the principles of liberty. He adverted to

ASSENT OF CONGRESS. the necessity, which, he observed, was abundantly apparent from the report of the Se

The amendments of the Senate to the bill cretary of the Treasury; but he did not con- for continuing the act declaring the assent of fine his opinion to what had fallen from him. Congress to certain acts of the States of Rhode He instanced other reasons which would oc- Island, Maryland, and Georgia, were taken casion a necessity for replenishing the public into consideration.

Treasury. The expediency of the present Mr. Jackson observed, that on inquiry he mode he argued from the impost's being car- found that the State of Maryland had been ried to the utmost; from the approbation of this struck out of the bill, because it was found mode by a majority of the people; and though that the law, to which the clause referred, had uneasinesses might prevail in some of the South - been repealed. He hoped, therefore, that the ern States, he considered them as originating House would concur with the amendment of altogether from the want of due information. the Senate, otherwise the bill would be lost. Possessed of that inforination, he could pledge

Mr. SENEY said, he had been informed that himself to the committee that they would cheer- the reason for striking out “ Maryland” was, fully, acquiesce in whatever the Legislature because the law referred to had not been proshould decide to be for the general interest.

perly authenticated, or conveyed to Congress With respect to the bill's being agreeable through the proper medium, the President of to the principles of liberty and republicanism, the United States. He, however, should not at this would more properly come into view when present object to the amendments, as he doubtthat part of the bill which designates the mode ed not that when the law of the State of Maryof collection comes under consideration. At land was produced, with the authentication present, he would only say, that he had observ- said to be necessary, a bill might then be introed with pleasure, that there appeared to be a duced for declaring the assent of Congress to it. universal disposition in the members of the The amendments of the Senate were agreed House to manifest the most scrupulous atten- to by the House. tion, in all their deliberations, to the liberties

POST-OFFICE. of the people.

Mr. SHERMAN, from the committee appointed On the whole, he had no doubt that, on ma- for the purpose,reported a bill for the establishture reflection, the people would acquiesce in ment of Post-offices and Post-roads in the the present plan, when the honor, security, and United States. Read the first and second time, peace of the United States appeared to be es- and committed.

[H. OF R.

Jan. 10, 1791. )

Vacancy in the Presidency.


It was then voted that it be referred to the mittee: Messrs. SedGWICK, WILLIAMSON, LawCommittee of the whole on Monday week. RENCE, CARROLL, CLYMER, STURGES, and SHERDUTY ON SPIRITS.

VACANCY IN THE PRESIDENCY. The order of the day being called for, which

In Committee of the whole on the bill, dewas the bill laying additional duties on distill. claring what officer, in case of vacancy, [by. ed spirits, Mr. Parker moved it should be death, removal, or inability,] in the office of postponed, in order to give the members time President, and Vice President, shall act as Preto consider the statements respecting the funds sident, Mr. Boudinot in the chair. received from the Secretary of the Treasury. The first clause of the bill was read, which A short debate ensued; further procrastination contains a blank to be filled up, designating the was objected to; the bill was said to be as old person who shall act as President. as Congress; it had been as fully debated as

Mr. Smith, of South Carolina, observed, that any subject that ever came before the House; by the Constitution, the vacancy is to be filled the session is wasting, and the time will bard- with an officer of the United States. This ly admit of finishing the business which the narrows the discussion very much. But he House are pledged to do this session, one arti-conceived there was a previous question neces. cle of which is to make provision for the sup-sary to be determined; and that was, whether port of the public credit.

the person appointed to supply the vacancy On the other hand it was said, that the House should hold the office during the time for which was not in possession of the necessary infor- the President and Vice President were elected, mation; the time while the requisite documents or whether he was to hold the office only till a are preparing may be employed to advantage; new election could take place. He thought, and when the members have fully satisfied that, by the Constitution, a new election was themselves of the exact sum necessary to be not to take place till the term for which the raised, they may proceed understandingly in President and Vice President had been elected the business.

was expired. He then descanted on the reRENEWAL OF EVIDENCES OF DEBT. spective offices of the Chief Justice, Secretary

The motion for postponing the bill obtained, I of State, and Secretary of the Treasury; and, and the House went into Committee on the bill by several particulars, showed, that the appointdirecting the mode in which the evidences of ment would most naturally devolve on the Se. the debt of the United States, which shall be cretary of State. He accordingly moved that lost or destroyed, shall be renewed, Mr. Bou- the blank be filled with the words “ The SeDINOT in the chair.

cretary of State." A great division opinion appeared in dis

Mr. LIVERMORE observed, that in considercussing this bill; the time of the committee was ing this question, he thought no reference employed only on the first section; they rose mentioned, for, as it was supposed that the case

should be had to the officers which had been without agreeing to any determinate principles-reported progress, and had leave to sit contemplated would not happen once in a hunagain.

dred years, he conceived that the present charLETTER FROM THE SECRETARY OF THE be entirely out of the question. He had in view

acters, who now hold the above offices, would TREASURY.

a different person, and that was the President A letter received from the Secretary of the of the Senate, pro tempore, and moved that the Treasury was communicated by the Speaker, blank be filled with this person. inclosing a statement of the amount of impost Mr. White observed, that the Constitution from August, to 30th September, 1789, and says the vacancy shall be filled by an officer of from 30th September, 1789, to 1st October, 1790. the United States. The President, pro tem

pore, of the Senate, is not an officer of the UniMONDAY, January 10.

ted States. Besides, this will give one branch

of the Legislature the power of electing a PreRENEWAL OF EVIDENCES OF DEBT.

sident. This, he conceived, was contrary to The House resolved itself into a Committee the Constitution, as both branches have a right of the whole on the bill directing the mode in to an equal voice in the appointment in this which the evidences of the debt of the United case. This will introduce the very evil intendStates, which may be destroyed, are to be re-ed to be guarded against. newed, Mr. Boudinor in the chair. The com- Mr. WILLIAMSON said, the motion was dimittee went through the discussion of the bill; rectly repugnant to the Constitution. Why not they made sundry amendments, which were choose the Speaker of this House? reported to the House.

Mr. LIVERMORE said, he was well aware of It was then moved that the bill be engrossed the objections offered by the gentlemen. He for a third reading. This was objected to by could have wished the Constitution had pointseveral members, and a motion for its recom- ed out the person. But he conceived that the mitment to a select committee, made by Mr. Senate was the only body that could do this Seney, after some debate, was carried; and the business. If either of the officers mentioned following gentlemen were appointed the com- I should be the person designated to supply the

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