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timated justly and equally. Some other measures for the wealth of the state must therefore be devised, some standard referred to, which would be more simple. He considered the number of inhabitants as a tolerably good criterion of property, and that this might always be obtained. He therefore thought it the best mode which we could adopt, with one exception only: he observed that negroes are property, and, as such, cannot be distinguished from the lands or personalties held in those states where there are few slaves ; that the surplus of profit which a northern farmer is able to lay by, he invests in cattle, horses, &c., whereas a southern farmer lays out the same surplus in slaves. There is no more reason, therefore, for taxing the Southern States on the farmer's
ad, and on his slave's head, than the Northern ones on their farmers' heads and the heads of their cattle; that the method proposed would, therefore, tax the Southern States according to their numbers and their wealth conjunctly, while the Northern would be taxed on numbers only; that negroes, in fact, should not be considered as members of the state, more than cattle, and that they have no more interest in it.
Mr. JOHN ADAMS observed, that the numbers of ple are taken, by this article, as an index of the wealth of the state, and not as subjects of taxation; that, as to this matter, it was of no consequence by what name you called your people, whether by that of freemen or of slaves ; that, in some countries, the laboring poor are called freemen, in others they were called slaves; but that the difference as to the state was imaginary only. What matters it whether a landlord, employing ten laborers on his farm, give them annually as much money as will buy them the necessaries of life, or give them those necessaries at short hand? The ten laborers add as much wealth to the state, increase its exports as much, in the one case as the other. Certainly five hundred freemen produce no more profits, no greater surplus for the payment of taxes, than five hundred slaves. Therefore the state in which are the laborers called freemen, should be taxed no more than that in which are those called slaves. Suppose, by an extraordinary operation of nature or of law, one half the laborers of a state could, in the course of one night, be transformed into slaves ; would the state be made the poorer, or the less able to pay taxes ? That the condition of the laboring poor in most countries — that of
the fishermen, particularly, of the Northern States- is as abject as that of slaves. It is the number of laborers which produces the surplus for taxation ; and numbers, therefore, indiscriminately, are the fair index to wealth ; that it is the use of the word “ property” here, and its application to some of the people of the state, which produce the fallacy. How does the southern farmer procure slaves ? Either by importation, or by purchase from his neighbor. If he imports a slave, he adds one to the number of laborers in his country, and, proportionably, to its profits, and ability to pay taxes. If he buys from his neighbor, it is only a transfer of a laborer from one farm to another, which does not change the annual produce of the state, and therefore should not change its tax ; that if a northern farmer works ten laborers on his farm, he can, it is true, invest the surplus of ten men’s labor in cattle ; but so may the southern farmer, working ten slåves; that a state of one hundred thousand freemen can maintain no more cattle than one of one hundred thousand slaves. Therefore they have no more of that kind of property. That a slave may, indeed, from the custom of speech, be more properly called the wealth of his master, than the free laborer might be called the wealth of his employer ; but as to the state, both were equally its wealth, and should therefore equally add to the quota of its tax.
Mr. HARRISON proposed, as a compromise, that two slaves should be counted as one freeman. He affirmed that slaves did not do as much work as freemen, and doubted if two effected more than one; that this was proved by the price of labor — the hire of a laborer in the southern colonies being from £8 to £12, while in the northern it was generally £24.
Mr. WILSON said that, if this amendment should take place, the southern colonies would have all the benefit of slaves, whilst the northern ones would bear the burden; that slaves increase the profits of a state, which the Southern States mean to take to themselves; that they also increase the burden of defence, which would of course fall so much the heavier on the Northern ; that slaves occupy the places of freemen, and eat their food. Dismiss your slaves, and freemen will take their places. It is our duty to lay every discouragement on the importation of slaves; but this amendment would give the jus trium liberorum to him who
would import slaves; that other kinds of property were pretty equally distributed through all the colonies; — there were as many cattle, horses, and sheep, in the north as the south, and south as the north ; but not so as to slaves ; that experience has shown that those colonies have been always able to pay most which have the most inhabitants, whether they be black or white; and the practice of the southern colonies has always been to make every farmer pay poll taxes upon all his laborers, whether they be black or white. He acknowledges, indeed, that freemen work the most; but they consume the most also. They do not produce a greater surplus for taxation. The slave is neither fed nor clothed so expensively as a freeman. Again, white women are exempted from labor generally, but negro women are not. In this, then, the Southern States have an advantage, as the article now stands. It has sometimes been said that slavery is necessary, because the commodities they raise would be too dear for market if cultivated by freemen ; but now it is said that the labor of the slave is the dearest.
Mr. PAYNE urged the original resolution of Congress, to proportion the quotas of the states to the number of souls.
Dr. WITHERSPOON was of opinion that the value of lands and houses was the best estimate of the wealth of a nation, and that it was practicable to obtain such a valuation. This is the true barometer of wealth. The one now proposed is imperfect in itself, and unequal between the states. It has been objected that negroes eat the food of freemen, and therefore should be taxed : horses also eat the food of freemen ; therefore they also should be taxed. It has been said, too, that, in carrying slaves into the estimate of the taxes the state is to pay, we do no more than those states themselves do, who always take slaves into the estimate of the taxes the individual is to pay. But the cases are not parallel. In the southern colonies slaves pervade the whole colony; but they do not pervade the whole continent. That, as to the original resolution of Congress, to proportion the quotas according to the souls, it was temporary only, and related to the moneys heretofore emitted ; whereas we are now entering into a new compact, and therefore stand on original ground.
August 1. — The question being put, the amendment proposed was rejected by the votes of New Hampshire, MassaVOL. I.
chusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, against those of Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North and South Carolina. Georgia was divided.
The other article was in these words : “ Art. XVII. In determining questions, each colony shall have one vote.”
July 30, 31, August 1. - Present forty-one members. Mr. CHASE observed, that this article was the most likely to divide us, of any one proposed in the draft then under consideration. That the larger colonies had threatened they would not confederate at all, if their weight in Congress should not be equal to the numbers of people they added to the confederacy; while the smaller ones declared against a union, if they did not retain an equal vote, for the protection of their rights. That it was of the utmost consequence to bring the parties together; as, should we sever from each other, either no foreign power will ally with us at all, or the different states will form different alliances, and thus increase the horrors of those scenes of civil war and bloodshed, which, in such a state of separation and independence, would render us a miserable people. That our importance, our interests, our peace, required that we should confederate, and that mutual sacrifices should be made to effect a compromise of this difficult question. He was of opinion the smaller colonies would lose their rights, if they were not in some instances allowed an equal vote; and, therefore, that a discrimination should take place among the questions which would come before Congress. That the smaller states should be secured in all questions concerning life or liberty, and the greater ones, in all respecting property. He therefore proposed that, in votes relating to money, the voice of each colony should be proportioned to the number of its inhabitants.
Dr. FRANKLIN thought, that the votes should be so proportioned in all cases. He took notice that the Delaware counties had bound up their delegates to disagree to this article. He thought it very extraordinary language to be held by any state, that they would not confederate with us, unless we would let them dispose of our money. Certainly, if we vote equally, we ought to pay equally; but the smaller states will hardly purchase the privilege at this price. That, had he lived in a state where the representation, originally equal, had become unequal by time and accident, he might have submitted rather than disturb government; but that we
should be very wrong to set out in this practice, when it is in our power to establish what is right. That, at the time of the union between England and Scotland, the latter had made the objection which the smaller states now do; but experience had proved that no unfairness had ever been shown them; that their advocates had prognosticated that it would again happen, as in times of old, that the whale would swallow Jonah; but he thought the prediction reversed in event, and that Jonah had swallowed the whale ; for the Scotch had in fact got possession of the government, and gave laws to the English. He reprobated the original agreement of Congress to vote by colonies, and, therefore, was for their voting, in all cases, according to the number of taxables.
Dr. WITHERSPOON opposed every alteration of the article. All men admit that a confederacy is necessary. Should the idea get abroad that there is likely to be no union among us, it will damp the minds of the people, diminish the glory of our struggle, and lessen its importance; because it will open to our view future prospects of war and dissension among ourselves. If an equal vote be refused, the smaller states will become vassals to the larger; and all experience has shown that the vassals and subjects of free states are the most enslaved. He instanced the helots of Sparta and the provinces of Rome. He observed that foreign powers, discovering this blemish, would make it a handle for disengaging the smaller states from so unequal a confederacy. That the colonies should, in fact, be considered as individuals; and that, as such, in all disputes they should have an equal vote; that they are now collected as individuals making a bargain with each other, and, of course, had a right to vote as individuals. That in the East India Company they voted by persons, and not by their proportion of stock. "That the Belgic confederacy voted by provinces. That in questions of war the smaller states were as much interested as the larger, and therefore should vote equally; and, indeed, that the larger states were more likely to bring war on the confederacy, in proportion as their frontier was more extensive. He admitted that equality of representation was an excellent principle, but then it must be of things which are coördinate ; that is, of things similar, and of the same nature; that nothing relating to individuals could ever come before Con