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leaving a full choice to the national legislature. The opponents of the Constitution strenuously contended that the power should be restricted; its friends as strenuously contended that it was indispensable for the public safety, that it should be general.
§ 934. The general reasoning, by which an unlimited power was sustained, was to the following effect. Every government ought to contain within itself every power requisite to the full accomplishment of the objects committed to its care, and the complete execution of the trusts for which it is responsible, free from cvery
other control but a regard to the public good and to the security of the people. In other words, every power ought to be proportionate to its object. The duties of superintending the national defence, and of securing the public peace against foreign or domestic violence, involve a provision for casualties and dangers to which no possible limits can be assigned; and therefore the power of making that provision ought to know no other bounds than the exigencics of the nation and the resources of the community. Revenue is the essential engine by which the means of answering the national exigencies must be procured; and therefore the power of procuring it must necessarily he comprehended in that of providing for those exigencics. Theory as well as practice, the past experience of other nations as well as our own sad cxpcricnce under the confederation, conspire to prove, that the power of procuring revenue is unavailing and a mere mockery, when exercised over States in their collective capacities. If, therefore, the federal government was to be of any efficiency, and a bond of union, it ought to be invested with an unqualified power of taxation for all national purposes. 1 In the history of mankind it has ordinarily been found, that in the usual progress of things the necessities of a nation in every state of its existence are, at least, equal to its resources. But, if a more favorable state of things should exist in our own gov. ernment, still we must expcct reverscs, and ought to provido against them. It is impossible to foresee all the various changes in the posture, relations, and power of different nations, which might affect the prosperity and safety of our own. have formidable foreign enemies. We may have internal commotions. We may suffer from physical as well as moral calami
1 The Federalist, No. 31; Id. No. 30; Id. No. 21.
ties; from plagues, famine, and earthquakes; from political convulsions and rivalries; from the gradual decline of particular sources of industry; and from the necessity of changing our own habits and pursuits, in consequence of foreign improvements and competitions, and the variable nature of human wants and desires. A source of revenue adequate in one age may wholly or partially fail in another. Commerce or manufactures or agriculture may thrive under a tax in one age, which would destroy them in another. The power of taxation, therefore, to be use. ful, must not only be adequate to all the exigencies of the nation, but it must be capable of reaching from time to time all the most productive sources. It has been observed with no less truth than point, that “in political arithmetic two and two do not always make four."1 Constitutions of government are not to be framed upon a calculation of existing exigencies; but upon a combination of these with the probable exigencies of ages, according to the natural and tried course of human affairs. There ought to be a capacity to provide for future contingencies, as they may happen; and as these are, as has been already suggested, illimitable in their nature, so it is impossible safely to limit that capacity.
§ 935. In answer to this reasoning it was objected, that “it is not true, because the exigencies of the Union may not be susceptible of limitation, that its power of taxation ought to be unconfined. Revenue is as requisite to the purposes of the local administrations as to those of the Union; and the former are at least of equal importance with the latter to the happiness of the people. It is, therefore, as necessary that the State governments should be able to command the means of supplying their wants as that the national government should possess the like faculty in respect to the wants of the Union. But an indefinite power in the latter might, and probably would in time, deprive the former of tho means of providing for their own necessities; and would subject them entirely to tho mercy of the national legislature. As the laws of the Union are to become the supreme
1 The Federalist, No. 21.
3 The Federalist, No. 34 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 77 to 89 ; Id. 303 to 308 ; Id. 309, 311 to 316, 321 to 329 ; Id. 337 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 95, 96, 118 ; Id. 198 to 204 ; 3 Elliot's Debates, 261, 262, 290 ; 3 Amer. Museum, 834, 338 ; 1 Tucker's Black. Comm. 234, 235, 236.
law of the land, and as it is to have power to pass all laws that may be necessary for carrying into execution the authorities with which it is proposed to vest the national government, it might at any time abolish the taxes imposed for State objects, upon the pretence of an interference with its own.
It might allege a necessity of doing this in order to give efficacy to the national revenue; and thus all the resources of taxation might by degrees become the subjects of federal monopoly to the entire exclusion and destruction of the State governments."i The difficulties arising from this collision between the State and national governments might be easily avoided by a separation and distinction as to the subjects of taxation, or by other methods which might be easily devised. Thus, for instance, the general government might be intrusted with the power of external taxation, such as laying duties and imposts on goods imported, and the States remain exclusively in possession of the power of internal taxation. Or power might be given to the general governments to lay taxes exclusively upon certain specified subjects; or to lay taxes if requisitions on the States were not complied with;2 or, if the specified subjects failed to produce an adequate revenue, resort might be had to requisitions or even to direct taxes to supply the deficiency. 8
§ 936. In regard to thcsc objections it was urged that it was impossible to rely (as the history of the government under the confederation abundantly proved) upon requisitions upon the States. Direct taxes were exceedingly unequal and difficult to
1 The Federalist, No. 31 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 77, 78 to 89 ; Id. 91, 105, 112 ; Id. 293, 294 to 296 ; Id. 301, 302, 303; Id. 329 to 333 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 52, 53, 208 ; 3 Elliot's Debates, 77 to 91 ; 1 Tuck. Black. Comm. App. 240 ; 2 Amer. Museum, 543, 544.
2 3 Amer. Museum, 423 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 52, 53, 200, 206.
3 See The Federalist, No. 30 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 294 ; 1 Tucker's Black. Comm. App. 234, 235 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 294, 295 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 52, 53, 111, 112; Id. 200, 206, 208. It was moved in the convention, that whenever revenue was required to be raised by direct taxation, it should be apportioned among the States, and then requisitions made upon the States to pay the amount ; and in default only of their com. pliance, Congress should be authorized to pass acts directing the mode of collecting it. But this proposition was rejected by a vote of seven States agninst ono, one State being divided. Journal of the Convention, p. 274.
4 The Federalist, No. 30 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 303, 304 ; Id. 325, 326, 327 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 198, 199, 204.
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adjust, 1 and could not safely be relied on as an adequate or satisfactory source of revenue, except as a final resort when others more eligible failed. The distinction between external and internal taxation was indeed capable of being reduced to practice. But in many emergencies it might leave the national government without any adequate resources, and compel it to a course of taxation ruinous to our trade and industry and the solid interests of the country. No one of due reflection can contend that commercial imports are or could be equal to all future exigencies of the Union; and, indeed, ordinarily they may not be found equal to them.3 Suppose they are equal to the ordinary expenses of the Union; yet, if war should come, the civil list must be entirely overlooked, or the military left without any adequate supply.3 How is it possible that a government half supplied and half necessitous can fulfil the purposes of its institution, or can provide for the security, advance the prosperity, or support the reputation of the commonwealth ? How can it ever possess either energy or stability, dignity or credit, confidence at home or respectability abroad? How can its administration be anything else than a succession of expedients, temporary, impotent, and disgraceful ? How will it be able to avoid a frequent sacrifice of its engagements to immediate necessity ? IIow can it undertake or execute any liberal or enlarged plans of public good ?4 Who would lend to a government incapable of pledging any permanent resources to redeem its debts ? It would be the common case of needy individuals who must borrow upon onerous conditions and usury, because they cannot promise a punctilious discharge of their engagements. It would, therefore, not only not be wise, but be the extreme of folly, to stop short of adequate resources for all emergencies, and to leave the government intrusted with the care of the national defence in a state of total or partial incapacity to provide for the protection of the community against future invasions of the public peace by foreign war or domestic
1 The Federalist, No. 21 ; 1 Elliot's Debates, 81, 82 ; 2 Elliot's Debates, 105; Jd. 199, 204, 236 ; 1 Tucker's Black. Comm. App. 234, 235, 236 ; 3 Dall. R. 171, 178.
3 The Federalist, No. 41. See 1 Elliot's Debates, 303 to 306.
8 The Federalist, Nos. 30, 34. "A government," said one of our most distinguished statesmen, Mr. Ellsworth, of Connecticut, speaking on this very subject, “which can command but half its resources, is like a man with but one arm to defend himself." Speech in Connecticut Convention, 7th January, 1788 ; 8 Amer. Museum, 338.
4 The Federalist, No. 30.
convulsions. If, indeed, we are to try the novel, not tò say absurd experiment in politics, of tying up the hands of government from protective and offensive war founded upon reasons of state, we ought certainly to be able to compel foreign nations to abstain from all measures which shall injure or cripple us. 1 We must be able to repress their ambition and disarm their enmity; to conquer their prejudices and destroy their rivalries and jealousies. Who is so visionary as to dream of such a moral influenco in a republic over the whole world ? It should never bo forgotten that the chief sources of expense in overy governmcnt have ever arisen from wars and rebellions, from foreign ambition and enmity, or from domestic insurrections and factions. And it may well be presumed that what has been in the past will continue to be in the future.
$ 937. Besides, it is manifest, that, however adequate commercial imposts might be for the ordinary expenditures of peace, the operations of war might, and indeed ordinarily would, if our adversary possessed a large naval force, greatly endanger, if they did not wholly cut off, our supplies from this source. And if this were the sole reliance of the national government, a naval warfare upon our commerce would, on this very account, be at once the most successful and the most irresistible means of subduing us, or compelling us to sue for peace. What could Great Britain or France do in a naval war, if they were compelled to rely on commerce alone as a resource for taxation to raise armies or maintain navies ? What could America do, in a contest with a rival power whose navy possessed a superiority sufficient to blockade all her principal ports ? 8 And, independent of any such exigencies, the history of the world shows that nothing is more fluctuating and capricious than trado. Tho proudest commercial
1 The Federalist, No. 34.
2 3 Elliot's Debates, 290. 3 In the recent war of 1812, 1813, between Great Britain and the United States, we had abundant proofs of the correctness of this reasoning. Notwithstanding the duties upon importations were doubled, from the naval superiority of our enemy our government were compelled to resort to direct and internal taxes, to land taxes, and excises ; and, even with all these advantages, it is notorious, that the credit of the government sunk exceedingly low during the contest ; and the public securities were bought and sold, under the very eyes of the administration, at a discount of nearly fifty per cent from their nominal amount. Nay, at one time it was impracticable to borrow any
noney upon the government credit. This event, let it be remembered, took place after twonty years of unexampled prosperity of the country. It is a sad but solemn admonition.