(By the eighth section of this article, Congress is to have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises.–When we met in convention after our adjournment, to receive the report of the committee of detail, the members of that committee were requested to inform us what powers were meant to be vested in Congress by the word duties in this section, since the word imposts extended to duties on goods imported, and by another part of the system no duties on exports were to be laid.–6
In answer to this inquiry we were informed, that it was meant to give the general government the power of laying stamp duties on paper, parchment and vellum. We then proposed to have the power inserted in express words, least disputes hereafter might arise on the subject, and that the meaning might be understood by all who were to be affected by it; but to this it was objected, because it was said that the word stamp would probably sound odiously in the ears of many of the inhabitants, and be a cause of objection. By the power of imposing stamp duties the Congress will have a right to declare that no wills, deeds, or other instruments of writing shall be good and valid, without being stamped–that without being reduced to writing and being stamped, no bargain, sale, transfer of property, or contract of any kind or nature whatsoever shall be binding; and also that no exemplifications of records, depositions, or probates of any kind shall be received in evidence, unless they have the same solemnity–They may likewise oblige all proceedings of a judicial nature to be stamped to give them effect–those stamp duties may be imposed to any amount they please, and under the pretence of securing the collection of these duties, and to prevent the laws which imposed them from being evaded.
Congress may bring the decision of all questions relating to the conveyance, disposition and rights of property and every question relating to contracts between man and man into the courts of the general government.– Their inferior courts in the first instance and the superior court by appeal.7
By the power to lay and collect imposts, they may impose duties on any or every article of commerce imported into these States to what amount they please. By the power to lay excises, a power very odious in its nature, since it authorises officers to go into your houses, your kitchens, your cellars, and to examine into your private concerns, the Congress may impose duties on every article of use or consumption, on the food that we eat–on the liquors we drink–on the cloathes that we wear–the glass which enlighten our houses–or the hearths necessary for our warmth and comfort. By the power to lay and collect taxes, they may proceed to direct taxation on every individual either by a capitation tax on their heads, or an assessment on their property. By this part of the section therefore, the government has a power to lay what duties they please on goods imported–to lay what duties they please afterwards on whatever we use or consume–to impose stamp duties to what amount they please, and in whatever cases they please–afterwards to impose on the people direct taxes, by capitation tax, or by assessment, to what amount they choose, and thus to sluice them at every vein as long as they have a drop of blood, without any controul, limitation or restraint–while all the officers for collecting these taxes, stamp duties, imposts and excises, are to be appointed by the general government, under its direction, not accountable to the States; nor is there even a security that they shall be citizens of the respective States, in which they are to exercise their offices; at the same time the construction of every law imposing any and all these taxes and duties, and directing the collection of them, and every question arising thereon, and on the conduct of the officers appointed to execute these laws, and to collect these taxes and duties so various in their kinds, are taken away from the courts of justice of the different States, and confined to the courts of the general government, there to be heard and determined by judges holding their offices under the appointment not of the States, but of the general government.)