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I send to the Chair an amendment, to come in at the end of the resolution :
“ Provided, That in the National Capitol, dedicated to the National Union, there shall be no picture of a victory in battle with our own fellow-citizens.”
In the debate that ensued, Mr. Wilson, of Massachusetts, said: “I rise more especially to say that I disagree with my colleague altogether in the proposition that no work of art shall grace the Capi. tol of this country that represents anything of the present war of a military or naval character. I do not believe in that doctrine." Mr. Howe, of Wisconsin, said : “If there were any one proposition which could make the original resolution more distasteful to me than it is in itself, it would be the proviso moved by the Senator from Massachusetts."
February 28th, the amendment of Mr. Sumner was rejected without a division.
Mr. Sumner then offered another :
* Provided, That no contract shall be made, until after a competition among the artists of the country, all of whom shall have an opportunity of offering themselves as candidates, and of exhibiting designs for the proposed picture; and the committee shall postpone any contract with Mr. Powell, until they shall be satisfied, after such competition, that he is the most meritorious artist."
This also was lost, Yeas 15, Nays 23, — as also another amendment, to purchase of F. B. Carpenter his picture of “The Emancipation Proc. lamation," instead of a picture from Mr. Powell, for which there were only two votes. The resolution was then passed.
Among those who expressed sympathy with Mr. Sumner on this occasion was General Robert Anderson, who commanded at Fort Sum
He wrote :
“I am glad to see that you, like myself, are looking forward to the time when this Rebellion shall end, and do not wish to see perpetuated, on canvas or in marble, a trace of its having existed.” 1
1 See, ante, Vol. VI. p. 499.
FREE SCHOOLS AND FREE BOOKS.
REMARKS IN THE SENATE, ON AN AMENDMENT TO THE INTERNAL
REVENUE Act, MAKING BOOKS FREE, FEBRUARY 27, 1865.
FEBRUARY 27th, the Senate had under consideration a bill to amend the Internal Revenue Act, by striking out of the clause relating to printed books the word "magazines,” and by inserting after the word “ newspapers" the words "and periodical magazines,” so that it would read : “On all printed books, pamphlets, reviews, and all other similar printed books, except newspapers and periodical magazines, a duty of five per cent ad valorem.” In commenting on this proposition and another adopted by the House, Mr. Sherman, of Ohio, remarked: “I almost became a convert to the idea of the Senator from Massachusetts, and that it would be better to strike out the whole clause, rather than to attempt to make these discriminations and qualifications and exceptions." Mr. Sumner followed.
AM very glad to hear the Senator from Ohio say
that he had become almost a convert to the idea of removing all tax on books. He reminded me of a certain person who was “almost persuaded to be a Christian.” I think it would be better for the Senator, had he become a complete convert. I am sure his influence would be better for the country.
I speak from no motive of self, and from no personal interest whatever, but from a profound conviction that for the best interests of the country there should be no tax on books. What you can extort out of this tax, in any event, is very small; and it is always a tax on
knowledge. Look at it as you will, to that complexion it comes at last. I do not think it worth while for Congress to adopt such a tax. It is the boast of our institutions that they stand upon the intelligence of the people, and it is a further boast that we supply education for all at the public cost; but books are indispensable in this benefaction. Every tax upon books, therefore, is an impediment to that education which is the pride of our country. Plainly it is inconsistent with the genius of our institutions. The result of this tax will be petty, but, to the extent of its influence, prejudicial.
Mr. Sumner moved to strike out the whole clause. Then, in reply to Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, he remarked :
The Senator from New Hampshire does not quite like to tax the Bible. Sir, I do not like to tax it. My proposition is broader than his; but he knows very well that the real signification of Bible is book.
MR. CLARK. Not in our language.
MR. SUMNER. I do not know about that. The Senator does plead, however, for the manufacturer of the shirt, whose shop is by the side of the bookseller; but the difference between the two cases is, as I have indicated: that, if you tax the book, you tax knowledge; if you tax the shirt, you but tax one of the general manufactures of the country. The distinction may not be accepted by all; and yet to my mind it is perfectly clear. You cannot tax a book without taxing knowledge. But it is said there are books that might very well be taxed out of existence. Where run the line ? How make the discrimination ? The trouble is more
than it is worth. Better, therefore, have no such tax than run any such line or make any such discrimination. A book is a book; and there should be no tax on a book.
Afterwards, in reply to Mr. Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, he remarked :
I HAVE only one word in reply to the learned Senator from Maryland. He does not regard a tax on books as a tax on knowledge. Pray, then, what is such a tax? I can imagine no tax more directly on knowledge. If the Senator can, I should like to have him indicate it. Possibly he can. I believe he cannot. If we repair to the experience of other countries, we find that books are not taxed. In England, where taxation is carried to the farthest point, we know that books are not taxed. We know, also, that, after long and protracted struggle, only during this last year was the last tax on knowledge overthrown, being the paper duty. And yet, Sir, Senators would take up the cast-off taxes of Great Britain, and do even worse. Great Britain has taxed paper, has imposed a stamp-tax also on newspapers, all of which have been latterly removed; but I am not aware that this taxing nation has imposed a tax upon books. And shall our Republic, founded on knowledge, whose duty and mission are to make knowledge cheap, impose, for the first time, a tax on books?
Mr. Wilson said : “I shall vote against exempting from taxation any book whatever, even the Bible. .. .. I am against these exemptions. What, Sir! a tax on books a tax on knowledge ? Suppose it is : so is a tax on the coat the boy who goes to school wears."
Mr. Sumner replied :
MR. PRESIDENT, My colleague does not see the difference between a tax on a boy's clothes and a tax on his book. The country, in its experience, from the first settlement at Plymouth Rock, has seen it. Clearly it saw the difference, when it undertook to say that education should be at the public cost, free of charge to every one in the community. My friend [Mr. HOWE] shakes his head; he knows well that one of the proudest acts in the history of New England was when at an early day she established her system of public schools, which has continued ever since, where every child is educated free of charge. He was educated at the public cost, but not clothed at the public cost. And, Sir, if know what gave to New England those elements of prosperity and of influence, which are, I think, sometimes recognized, you will find them in that very education at the public cost. It was because those early settlers, founders of communities, saw that the mind should be clothed, and willingly undertook to clothe it. The family at home were left to clothe the body. Now I would have the country act according to this illustrious precedent, which has done so much for the national name, and remove every impediment in the path of knowledge. Do not tell me that by the same rule you must remove the tax from clothes. The conclusion does not follow. If our fathers were right in establishing free schools, it is right for us ‘now to insist upon free books.
The amendment of Mr. Sumner was lost, – Yeas 5, Nays 27.