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title:“Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates”
authors:Richard Harison
date written:1788-6-27

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last updated:Jan. 22, 2013, 8:20 a.m. UTC
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Harison, Richard. "Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates." The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution. Vol. 22. Ed. John P. Kaminski. Madison: Wisconsin Historical Society Press, 2008. 1934-35. Print.
Richard Harison, Notes, Library of Congress

Richard Harison's Notes of the New York Ratification Convention Debates (June 27, 1788)

On Taxes & the Amendmt. proposed by Mr. Williams. SMITH. 1. The genl. Govt. should rest in some Degree not only for it's Foundation but Jurisdiction Operation upon the State Govts. Their Powers should be clearly defined otherwise the two Jurisdictions will clash— 2. The Power to raise Money necessary to be committed to Govt. & one of the most delicate Nature Must be committed to both Govts.—& each should have their distinct Objects to exercise it upon— 3. The Constitution gives the genl. Power to Congress.— the sole Restriction being upon Exports— have exclusive Powers as to Imposts Tonnage & Poundage & the Post Office— State Govts. have no exclusive Powers—but concurrent Powers 4. Genl. Govt. has the Judicial Power of determining— 5. This must destroy the State Govts. wh. cannot subsist without Money— 6. All Govts. spend more than their Income—& the Genl. Govt. will have Use for all the Money they can raise— 7. direct Taxation will be exercised by both Govts.—must interfere— will have two Sets of Officers—& of Courts—one Set must yield—
Instance of the Plantation—to illustrate the Interference Genl. Govt. must prevail—as the State Govts. have no exclusive Object of Taxation—If they contend they must contend without the Means of supporting the Contention, like going to Law in Forma Pauperis— The State Govts. will be gradually abolished—the very Taxes of the State Govts. will destroy them—it probably will become fashionable to decry the State Govts. as useless—with as much Zeal as now used to shew that the Con. is perfect and like a System framed in Heaven & given to us by express Revelation— Ancient Republics not similar to our own—& this Form of Govt. cannot subsist in extensive Countries—Writers say that Despotism only can subsist in great very extensive Regions—Legislation cannot be exercised over our Country—People will be oppressed without the Possibility of Redress—& it will be impossible for the Legislature to go thro' the Multiplicity of Business—Turkey—this Power leads to the Ruin & Destruction of the People— 8. Cannot have a Representation equal in sufficiently informed to know the Circumstances of the various Parts—State Govts. have answered well—all Circumstances considered.—Some have indeed acted ill such as Rhode Island—but what Govt. has not acted ill.—No Need to change our local Govts. but the Genl. Govt. must be altered the only Question is as to what Extent—The Want of Money is the great Evil—if that had been given the present Govt. might have gone on without Complaint—Even Requisitions have answered in a great Measure—perhaps as much has been collected as would have been by Taxation—they will be more operative hereafter.—The Language held in Congress has prevented the Operation of Requisitions—they are impeded by the domestic Debts of the States—Country improving & advancing in Value since the War, & will be better able to pay—Taxes & Requisitions will both be unequal in their Operation—& depends upon the relative Quantity of Money—If This Power is exercised the Union will be dissolved— the Idea of unlimitted Power of Taxation is novel—Requisitions failed, then the Impost was proposed—If all Sources of Revenue are now given the State Govts. had better be destroyed because they will otherwise be at War.—2
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WILLIAMS. fears the Annihilation of the State Govts. and thinks the Powers too indefinite—Congress may pass Laws to destroy the State Govts. under their genl. Authority to provide for the genl. Welfare—
concurrent Powers not expressed in the Constitution—too important to be trusted to Construction—wishes no Latitude left to interested Persons—if the Constitution is adopted it will not be known what is given up what is retained—If there is a concurrent Jurisdiction the Laws of Congress must be preferred—people must be doubly taxed or the States destroyed—In England Taxes very heavy, here may not be lighter—Poll taxes may be laid—in this State would be very unequal— & the Excise dangerous.
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R. R. LIVINGSTON. Many of the Principles not connected with the present Question—thinks the State Govts. advantageous & a Consolidation improper—As to the Excise it might be improper at the present Hour, but probably hereafter the Case will be different—Exports will decrease— Excises will be the only great Source of Revenue & are proper even in a View of Morality—Congress must have it, or it will be obliged to have Recourse to direct Taxation—The Subject of direct Taxation must be carefully attended to— cannot judge from the present Circumstances of Govt.—It may be necessary to have Recourse to it— the very Amendment implies that such a Necessity may exist—Requisitions have been ineffectual Bounty Money should be deducted—N. Hampshire has felt little of the Calamities of War & has not complied with RequisitionsN. York has complied more fully, because it felt the Calamities of War direct Taxes only necessary upon great Emergencies—Requisitions will be too slow—if refused the Remedy will be in— effectual & may plunge the Confederacy into Wars Loans cannot be negotiated—Impost will be necessary to fund the present Debt—In Case of War, we are most interested to strengthen Congress—as we are most likely to become the Seat of War—2dly. As to the Likelyhood of destroying the State Govts—. Not probable that the Union will be induced to destroy the State Govts. wh. leads to implies Corruption not likely to be so Concurrent Taxation may exist—The Ability to pay the Taxes is implied even by present Deliberations—3dly. respecting Indi— viduals—best that the Money wh. must at all Events be paid should go directly into the State Legislature General Treasury. All the States Citizens are interested in the Preservation of the Union, & in paying towards it.
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HAMILTON. Mr. Hamilton—bravo! As far as it went one of the most excellent energetic Speeches that ever I heard—He began by displaying the Form of the proposed Constitution—shewing that it was truly republican— that if the Govt. was such as to be deserving of Confidence all Confidence should be placed in it, otherwise it could not answer the Purposes of Govt.— that the Situation of the Country might require the Use of all it's Resources— that as to direct Taxation the two Govts. possessed concurrent Jurisdiction that—it was not probable they would interfere that the Authority of Congress to make Laws which were to be the Supreme Law of the Land, did not imply that the State Laws where they have concurrent Jurisdiction should not also be supreme
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[MELANCTON SMITH?] more safe—Power to draw forth all the Resources of the Union not in any Govt. except a despotic Govt.—Genl. Govt. will have many exclusive Sources of Revenue—Excise & direct Taxes only necessary upon extraordinary Occasions—State Govts. will be better able to lay the Tax equally—& will have more of the Confidence of the People therefore their Laws must be better executed—unless from Want of Inclination in the State Govts. —1. State Govts. will comply with Requisitions if able— must be inclined to support the Genl. Govt.— Additional Security from Power of Coercion—will be induced to comply from an Apprehension of Interference of Officers of General Govt. Calculation of England does not apply—Standing Army—Fleets—Garrisons—Money will be wanting for Paymt. of State Debts as well as Debts of the Union—they are nearly equal in Amount.—The general Govt. would not have raised more than the State Govts. have (Hiatus)— During the War direct Taxes could not have been raised except at the Point of the Bayonet—In the Condition of N England no more Money would have been raised by Taxation than by Requisitions—Inability the Cause of Failure, and Expectation of the Impost succeeding—Gentn. from the Failure of Requisitions conclude too much—Genl. Govt. will obtain more by Requisitions than by direct Taxation—No such Taxation could be carried into Effect, by the genl. Govt.—it would not be complied with probably this Power if it could be complied with, would oppress the People—the S. Govts. would know the Circumstances of the People best—Deficiencies of Taxes & Requisitions would be nearly equal—would be induced to be as moderate in one Way as in other—& will lay out all the Money they get—No Requisition will be made unless the general Govt. is wicked & mad—unless the real Exigencies of the Govt. require it—This Power dangerous to the Existence of the State Govts.—& the Amendmt. renders their Interference necessary—Only requisite to meet when Senators are to be chosen—Where the Revenue & Force of the Union are placed all Power is placed—they may destroy all subordinate Powers—State Govts. are component Parts of the Genl. Govt—& should have Power of the Sword & Purse in Part.— Leaves further Observations to another Time, as to Safety of State Govts. and Concurrent Jurisdiction
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Afternoon MELANCTON SMITH. Impost will find it's Level. As to Excise— Several unanswerable Reasons agt. it 1. Will operate unequally by falling upon the manufacturing States— 2. Requisitions will be equal because the manufacturing States will increase in Numbers. 3—improper to discourage Manufactures.— Ideas stated as to concurrent Jurisdictions by Mr. H. not accurate—but he admits that there is a concurrent Jurisdiction tho' that may be under the Controul of the general Govt— JOHN LANSING, JR. As to concurrent Jurisdiction Genl. Power to levy Taxes in the Genl. Govt. & Power to interfere by the Declaration that their Laws would be the Supreme Law of the Land —May declare their Laws to be paramount—Case of the two Creditors not fairly stated—one is to be considered as having a Conveyance of the Debtor's whole Property—Genl. Govt. have a Right to say that no more than ld. a-Day an Acre ought to be imposed SAMUEL JONES. Clause proposes to give Genl. Govt. every Object of Taxation— it is objected that State Govts. will have no Subject left— Neither State nor Genl. Govt. is a comp[lete?] Govt. alone— necessary to harmonize— to give some Stability to State Govts.—this admitted—the Question as to the Extent—[The?] One Side say they have no Support the other that they are strong enough—the Object of the Amendmt. to give further Support to the State Govts.—Excise will answer that Purpose & be a Fund for their Support wh. they will not abuse—improper to limit the Quantum of Taxes for the general Govt. but some Fund must be fixed for the [State?] Govt.—this will be the proper Fund—Concurrent Jurisdiction Time will come when both the Excise & Exports must go [to the?] Genl. Govt.— As to concurrent Ju[risdiction?] not to be found in the Constitution [it?] must be deduced from Arguments founded upon it—if concurrent Jurisdiction exists, there must be some [Supreme?] Power to controul—& one superintending Tribunal—the Construction is not just [clear?] & necessary—such concurrent Powers [ought?] not to exist & the Construction is not necessary. Between Individuals he should decide in Favor [of?] the Construction—might create Contests—does not know how far Genl. Govt. could exercise this Power but thinks it could not be exercised fairly and equally—not sufficently informed—Apportionmt. between the States is easy, between the Counties would be difficult—Numbers would be no Rule—cannot take up last Quota because Circumstances may vary—Valuation expensive—all these Difficulties removed by adopting the Amendmt.— (a) Limitation of Exports in the Constitution shew the Power may be limitted as to Objects—

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