« AnteriorContinuar »
her creditors altogether. Lastly, Mississippi has asserted that the pretended state loans were never recommended and approved in a legal manner, and that little or nothing of them has reached the state treasury; wherefore she is under no obligation to pay either capital or interest out of the public revenues. Let those, it is said, be responsible who received the money, or let those suffer who imprudently furnished it at their own risk. We cannot here go into the question as to how far those persons who negotiated the loans were empowered to do so, or transgressed the laws; and whether the demands of the creditors can legally be brought against the state, or only against the recipients of the money. We can only express a hope,—since twenty states of the Union have had no share whatever in the injustice or misfortune of repudiation, and five are about to free themselves from it as fast as they can,—that the twenty-sixth will also find ways and means of coming to an agreement with her creditors; and that thus the complaints of Europeans respecting America may be not only reduced to their proper measure, but entirely removed.
Note.—I will here give, by way of example, a few further particulars respecting the taxation of the single states.
In Alabama, taxes are levied on slaves, goods at auction, cotton in store, sales on commission, &c. (Amer. Alman. 1844, p. 264.)
In South Carolina the principal tax was levied as early as 1787 on real estate and slaves. In later times there has been added to it a sort of tax on trades, and one on theatrical performances and public exhibitions of all kinds. Statements on oath respecting property and income are made the basis of taxation; investigation and punishment however are resorted to in cases of necessity. Absentees pay double.
In Georgia the land-owners have contrived to have the taxes laid chiefly on merchandize and stock in trade ; at which of course the burthened parties loudly complain. (Buckingham's Slave States, ii. 115.)
In Illinois the state and city expenses are raised in proportion to property ; and this is the usual plan. (Ernst's Reisebemerkungen, p. 174.)
In Kentucky this tax amounted to only one tenth per cent.
In Massachusetts there is mention of a poll-tax on persons between the ages of 16 and 70, and a tax on personal and real estate ; the former is said not to exceed $1.50, and does not amount at most to more than a sixth of the sum required. All the rest comes from the property tax. Church property is not exempt from it; but exceptions are made in favor of the property of charitable and learned institutions, household furniture not worth over $1000, clothing, agricultural and mechanical implements, young cattle, the Indians and their effects, churches and church-pews.-As the income from bank stock (per cent.) and from auctions nearly covered the expenditure, the property tax was for a long time laid aside; and this occasioned in 1840 a new inquiry into the value of property, which was estimated at 300 millions. The entire revenue of the state amounted from 1837 to 1842 10 about 54 millions of dollars. In the year 1843, the expenses in round sums were: Pay of the legislature
61,000 State printing
7,777 Agricultural Society
4,060 Premiums for silk culture
Institution for the Blind
9,772 for the Deaf and Dumb 2,967 Militia services
27,295 Support of paupers
56,000 The governor
&c. In Missouri, the taxes raised from lands, houses, mills, negroes, cattle, and watches, amount to from za to į per cent. (Arnd's Missouri, p. 268.)
In Ohio the taxes amount to about 14 per cent. of the 132 millions of dollars at which the taxable property is estimated." (Amer. Alman. 1844, p. 278. Grund's Handbuch, p. 139 )
In Pennsylvania the income is raised from estates, auction-sales, collateral inheritances, tavern licenses, turnpikes, bank dividends, &c.
In Tennessee the taxable property was rated in 1840 at 125 millions of dollars, and the taxes amounted to $136,000. (Amer. Alman. 1841, p. 227.)
In Virginiu taxes are levied on lands, slaves, horses, wagons, licenses to merchants, attorneys, watches, pianos, &c.
In New York, the taxable property was estimated in 1840 at $654,224,000, and the taxes produced were $3,148,000. The entire debt, the interest of which is regularly paid, amounts to about 25 millions. (Amer. Alman. 1841, p. 195; 1845, p. 224.)
CHAPTER X XII.
The post-office establishment in the United States has never been mixed with the department of finance, or viewed as a principal source of public revenue. The intention is merely to make the receipts always cover the expenditures, and to prevent the necessity of any additional appropriation for the benefit of rich letter-writers. In the year 1790 there were 75 post-offices, 1,875 miles of post-roads, and an income of $37,000; in the year 1829 there were 8,004 post-offices, and 115,000 miles of road;
in 1838* there were 12,553 post-offices.
* Report of the Postmaster General, Hinton, ii. 276. Message of 1839. Ma. son, p. 219. † In the year 1843 there were transmitted : Letters subject to postage,
3,015,000 Drop-Letters for delivery, 1,026,000 Newspapers subject to postage, 36,334,000
postage-free, 7,161,000 Pamphlets and magazines, 2,000,000, &c.
The total transportation for last year amounted to 35,409,624 miles. The entire revenue amounted in 1790 to $37,935; and in 1844 to $4,237,285* The postage of a letter, i. e. of one piece of paper, no matter how large it may be, is for
not over 30 miles, 6 cents.
25 Two pieces of paper are charged with double, three with triple postage, &c.
Newspapers not over 100 miles pay 1 cent; over 100 miles, they pay 1į cents. Every publisher of a newspaper may send (under certain regulations) a copy of his paper to all other newspaper publishers free of postage. From Maine 10 New Orleans, at least 2000 English miles, the postage of a letter amounts to little over a shilling sterling, or to from 10 to 11 silver groschen for 500 German miles.
The post here as elsewhere, from the want of sufficient legal provisions, has fallen into disputes with the monopolizing contractors of roads and railways respecting the time of conveyance and costs of transportation. Congress then made use of its constitutional right, to pass a law that the department should not pay over $300 a year per mile for the daily transportation of one or more mail-coaches, and that the railroad companies must demand no more. According to the contracts, usually made for four years, the transportation per mile costs on an average,
by horse and sulky, 6 cents.
railroad and steamboat, 1216 Jackson is blamed for dismissing an unusually large number of postmasters, and appointing none but persons of his own political creed. I Hence since 1836 a right of co-operation has been given to the Senate, at least in the appointment to the most considerable offices. Formerly the entire right of appointment lay in the hands of the postmaster general. The postmasters receive a share of the proceeds; but this must not exceed a cer
If, as is asserted, there were actually sent in one year, by government officers, senators, representatives, postmasters, &c.,
Among these receipts the letter postage amounted to $3,676,161, the newspaper postage to $849,743.
† Report of 1838. The transportation for about one forty-eighth of the distance is per railroad.
| Buckingham's Slave States, i. 233.
three millions of letters postage-free,* this abuse
must very considerably lessen the receipts. In the United States the postoffice lays no exclusive claim to the transportation of packages and goods;t but in recent times its exclusive right even to the conveyance of letters has unexpectedly been disputed, and it has been asserted that every single state and every individual projector has the right to establish post-offices as well as the general government. It seems absolutely necessary that an appropriate and decisive law should be passed relative to this subject, and that the abuses of the franking privilege should be abolished. So long as this is not done, any considerable reduction of the postage, without great deficits, will be impossible; and indeed the entire system of national postage must sink into embarrassment, to the serious detriment of all the remote lying provinces.
According to news that has just reached me, the postage of a letter under 300 miles has been fixed at five cents, and over that distance at ten cents. I
THE TARIFF AND NULLIFICATION.
Introduction of Duties—Reasons for and against Protective Duties–Nullification,
Compromise Act-Jackson and Calhoun against High Duties—New Tariff-Commercial Independence-Wages-New Factories-Advantages and Disadvantages of America-Protective Duties for Agriculture-Raising of Taxes-False views respecting Duties—Clay and Webster on the Tariff-Proposals for CompromiseEvils and Means of Remedy-Smuggling-German Customs-Union.
The words of the Constitution of 1787 respecting the right of Congress to levy taxes, are as follows: "The Congress shall have power to levy and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts, and provide for the common defence and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts, and excises, shall be uniform throughout the United States."
* American Almanac for 1844, p. 132. † Mason, pp. 134-143.
| This law went into operation on the 1st of July, 1845. It further says, that "every letter or parcel not exceeding half an ounce in weight shall be deemed a single letter; and every additional weight of half an ounce, or additional weight of less than half an ounce, shall be charged with an additional single postage.”—TR.
With very transient exceptions in times of necessity and war, the general government has imposed no excise or other taxes, but has provided for the general expenses wholly out of the sale of public lands and the duties on imports. Yet it is said in the first custom-law of the 4th of July, 1789, that "duties shall be imposed for the payment of the public debt, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures." As however they amounted to only five per cent on an average, no great objection was made. But during the last war with England, many domestic manufactures were established; which it was said could not support themselves on the restoration of peace, without higher duties to protect them against British competition. It was declared also to be but proper, to retaliate on the English corn and tobacco laws. Hence ensued in the year 1816 the first, and in 1824 a second augmentation of the tariff.
of the tarift. In the year 1827 long investigations and interrogations were ordered respecting the costs of production, the price of labor, &c.; and, as is usually the case, the fluctuating, uncertain, partial information procured, led to still more erroneous conclusions, on which was based a new and much higher protective tariff for the manufacturers.* That the question of revenue was utterly laid aside, appears from the simple fact that the public debt was then almost wholly extinguished, and the income with good management exceeded the expenditure.
The consequence of these new custom-laws was, that on the coast and particularly on the Canadian border,f an immense contraband trade sprang up; and thus honest merchants suffered, to benefit a few smugglers and manufacturers. But the partizans of protective duties did not suffer themselves to be disturbed by these and similar results. They said: “The words of the Constitution (quoted above) give to Congress absolute authority to determine what are the wants of the general government, and how much is required for the welfare of the whole country. As now in particular the several states do not protect their fellow-citizens against foreign and injurious competition, do not establish and promote home manufactures, and cannot regulate the prices, all this becomes the peculiar duty and office of Congress, to whom the entire legislation respecting duties has been committed. Herein consists the true American system, which every friend of his country is bound to support."
In refutation of these views, the opponents of high protective duties said : “ Congress has a right to collect only what is actually
* Thus on ready-made clothing of every kind there was laid an import, duty of 50 per cent. as if the tariff had been made by tailors and shoemakers. Wool was raised from 15 to 50 per cent., woollen goods from 25 to 50 per cent., hemp from 30 to 60 per cent.--Hinton, ii. 237. M'Gregor's Legislation, p. 194.
† E. g. from the island of Campobello in New Brunswick and in Passamaquoddy bay.--M'Gregor's America, ii. 37.