HAMILTON. Requests several Resolutions & reports from the Journal of the Senate be read— 7 Septr. 1780—part of the Governors Message— 9 Septr. part of the Answer of the Senate
10 Octr. Resolution of Assembly page 33
5th. Feby 1781—and a Letter from Rivingtons Paper— 19 March— 29 March 1781
20 July—1782 Resolutions—
CLINTON. These Resolutions tended to remove Evils we suffered during the War— The Impost I ever wished might be given to Congress—The Members of Committee then in the Legislature were of that opinion and know it was my opinion— I was of Opinion to give them the Money—but to collect it by our own Officers—
with him, yesterday, which led me to a conclusion, that it would be fair and proper, that these papers should be produced. But independently of that conversation, Sir I should have thought i my duty to bring them forward, because I believe that the melancholy experience of our country ought to have more influence on our conduct, than all the speculations and elaborate reasonings of the ablest men. I trust that this evidence will come home: that it will be felt. I am convinced that our greatest misfortunes originated in the want of such a government, as is now offered to us. I assure the gentleman, that the conversation I had with him yesterday was not the cause of bringing these papers into view. I declare that, if I know my own heart, I have no intention of acting uncandidly.
DUANE. I request the Honorable Member [George Clinton] to inform the Committee whether GEORGE CLINTON. I do not mean to create any dispute respecting the subject of these resolutions. I did inform the gentleman [James Duane], that there were several papers which would throw light on this question. All I say is, it would have been fair to produce all of them together, that the committee might not be deceived by a partial statement. I observed that all these resolutions were at a period antecedent to the completion of the union; when Congress had no power at all. The gentlemen are mistaken, if they suppose I wish to prevent the reading of them.
JAMES DUANE. I believe we shall find that there are resolutions subsequent, as well as antecedent, to the completion of the confederation. This we shall endeavor to shew. I am clear, Sir, that these exhibits will furnish more effectual arguments, than all that can be said. But I shall not enlarge. The papers will speak for themselves .
MELANCTON SMITH. I shall not oppose the reading of any papers, the gentlemen may think proper to produce. But we shall reserve to ourselves the privilege of giving what we think to be the true explnation of them.
ALEXANDER HAMILTON. We shall make the same reservation. By the indisputable construction of these resolutions, we shall prove that this
HAMILTON. These Resolutions were introduced to shew that it was the Settled opinion of the Legislature as well before as after the Confederation that the Powers of Congress were inadequate— Mentioning the Subject of a Dictator was not necessary— The Gent. says he is for an energetic federal Govt
—what is it If what we Contend for by this System— A Measure of Impost was once passed in this State but—afterwards frustrated by this State and Rhode Island— This failed in the State because not granted as Congress required— It was objected that it was not proper to grant any Very Extensive Power to Congress— Since the New System
is proposed the Ground is changed now it tho't best to encrease and Improve the old System— These things do not in my Mind Comport Yesterday— 1 That it is a republican System and the powers so divided that of 2d. The Genl. Govt. never could have an Intention to destroy That the States had sufficient Power to resist That there was a concurrent Jurisdiction (except Imposts[)] That the word Supreme
does not Supreme can only mean that those Laws cannot be changed by Superior Power—The Laws of the Individual States as to taxes will also be Supreme
Must be so adjudged in every Court— No necessity that the one should controul the other Ex gr. [i.e., e.g.] A Man indebted to two Creditors—he must pay both—the Creditor who takes the first Steps Every Power not delegated to the United States, rests with the respective States— When you give Genl. Legislative Powers to Govt. all Powers not reserved are Given (except the unalienable Rights of Mankind[)]— This must remain with the State Govt. unless such are given away to the Genl Govt—Nothing can be taken away but what is granted to the Genl Govt. Is the Power of Taxation taken away—No— Is an exclusive Grant of Taxation given (except on Imports) No— There might be another Method—as that of Naturalization That by Construction would give an Exclusive Right— Neither of these three modes are taken— This is a concurrent Jurisdiction and the Genl. Govt. & State Govt. may tax the Same thing (except Imports) otherwise why are imports excepted. Therefore the States have every power of Taxation (except on Imports) Suppose Imports one third—The States have two thirds open to them but not Exclusively so— The Duties on Imports were necessarily given to the united State [s] for uniformity— The States should yield to them a great part of the Resources of the Community to discharge a large Debt— When the United State [s] Debts are discharged the Expenditure of each State will be Small— It is wise to leave open to the Genl. Govt the general Resources as they must be the General Paymaster— If there are not resources for all what will be the Conduct of the Genl Govermt. They will be destitute of prudence or they will defeat themselves— They must provide for the most urgent Necessity—The[y] must Satisfy their in part but not Totally— If they render themselves Odious to the People they defeat themselves but not the State Governmts. The State Govts. can lay their Taxes with equal Authority In practice it will be this— They lay Taxes on Such Objects as will be equally taxable in all the States, and will apply thro all the States equally— There will be an infinite Variety of Objects in the respective State Govts. As to Houses and Lands Generally if taxed by the Genl Govt. it will be according to the Quantity—It may also bear a State Tax One object only fix for State Taxes vizt. Personal Estate Then why not Separate these things and leave them to the State Govts. Answer—because in Times of War these things may be necessarily Taxed by the Genl. Govt. If men sent to the Genl Govt. are to be Harpies and Vultures but if to [be] considered as men of prudence attached A Poll Tax has been objected to [by John Williams]—This State has that Power—is it therefore a Tyrannical Govt. May not Cases happen in War or Otherwise as to make a poll Tax necessary—Exigencies may arise in which it will [be] indispensibly necessary Holland It is said it will be impracticable to Execute it— Then why is [it] unsafe to give if it cannot be exercised No reason given why it cannot be exercised— A Man in a National Govt. can compute what Taxes on Consumption Articles will bear—They can assess Lands—Can they not employ our own Supervisors for that purpose— If the Money is wanted and can be raised is [it] not better to give the Power and raise than to accumulate Debts— They cannot oppress One State more than Another because there is a Rule— It will operate Salutarily and with Caution and lay their Taxes on Luxuries And draw what they can from indirect Taxation— It is their Interest to do this because they will not render themselves Odious—This is Com Sense—and necessary to a Support of their Power— The State Govts. can go further in Experimts. in Taxation This Power is practicable and will operate in a Salutary Manner The Gent [Melancton Smith] yesterday entered into a Eulogium on our State Govts. This is not to the point if true— But the whole States Govt. have not operated well—Rhode Island has not operated well— In Our State Govt. has operated tollerably— but why so little Credit—why Lands depreciated why—no Money lent But if the State Govts. operate well what is that to the operat of the Genl Govt. which it is admitted do not It is to shew that in Time when the Embarrasmts are removed they will comply with requisitions— the Facts are otherwise—the Resolutions read contradict it— The States who suffered most by the war have paid most and best complied— The States having the Power of Deliberation wish to save themselves A State pressed with War will exert themselves and Comply— New Hampshire So. Carolina & Georgia have paid almost nothing—This State and Pensylvania paid allmost all that is paid— Congress can scarcely pay their officers & keep up a Shaddow of Govt. They are now negociating a Loan to pay —is this right in time of Peace— This is the History of Requisitions—They have not contributed any thing in proportion to each other even where they have contributed Now Proposition before the House Insert it The Proposition admits in its full force that an unlimitted Power of Taxation is necessary in the Genl. Govt. If the State Govts. are not able to supply the Genl Govt. and Support the State Govts. it comes to the same Thing—for by the Amendmt. the Genl Govt. is finally to tax & Collect— More likely to be less Burthensome in the Genl Govt. than in the State Govts. If the Genl. Govt. regulate by requisition they only demand in sums all they want If they Tax they will consider what Tax any Article can bear—If the Article can En] of bear it—They will tax Less— When Several States have not complyed will congress fix a Stigma And Collect by force. No— The others who are willing will distress themselves— Some of the States are so much in Debt that they cannot pay—A compromise must be made— Georgia offers Lands for her specie Requisition and a further Sum She is a Bankrupt—The Lands must be accepted and her Debt cancelled— If a War happens the like will happen again—We have paid but what we have paid too much we must loose— It is better to loose the Debt than enforce payment by war and blood— This State will be one of the Contributing and loosing States and therefore Another Argumt.—No Excise on the Growth or manufacture of any State—We are a navigating State—We have a Western Territory—Our Surpluss population will improve that—We shall be carriers and proceed in Agriculture— When the Merchant pays the Tax the loss is a loss to the State— New England full of people—Are manufacturers—That object will encrease with them— It is our Interest to have excises laid on manufactures— A Duty may be laid at the Still Head on Ardent Spirits— New England manufactures much more than our State— Pensylvania manufactures many things more than us— Connecticut is improving manufactures— Therefore we should Consent to Excise as it will relieve us— Virginia as an Importing State tho't that Excise would operate on them Injuriously— It would be an impolitic Restriction— we should suffer by it The Power may be safely Trusted to the Genl Govt. They exercise it prudently—If not trusted to them this State will Suffer and be un— equally taxed—2 3
Conclude An Appology for myself—have used Strong Expressions—am much Interested in this Constitution It is owing to my Earnestness and used to Strong Expressions— mean not to hurt the feelings of any Gentlemen— A Gent said (Mr. Williams) something about artful Cunning or ambitious Men— If this was a constitution that would establish a Nobility an Ambitious Man would have temptations— But what can any man hope from a Govt. depending on the Suffrages of the People Men must not only be considered as designing and Ambitious but also with affection or Attention to his posterity— It cannot be the wish of a rational Man who considers the Vicisitudes of Human Life to establish a Tyranny—
LANSING. I Shall confine myself to the Argumts. agt. the Amendmt. 1 A Power limitted only by discretion 2 Excises 3 Imposts (in which the States cannot interfere)
4 Stamps or any thing else they please They will have the Power of making Laws very extensive in their operation Many Siezuers 3d. the Jurisdiction of the Genl Court The Amendmt proposes 1st to Saves the Manufactures for the States from 2d. That the Genl. Govt. shall not levy until the States have been called on The Power of Taxation in Govt. necessary— Not necessary to the Extent here given— It is said that the duties on Imports will be adequate to ordinary Dem[ands] It has not be[en] said that Requisitions as formerly made were adequate The Amendment fully holds out the Remedy—And carries to Individuals the raising the Money— Therefore much of the Reasoning agt. Requisitions were here unnecessary— It [was] said yesterday by a Gent from N York (Chancell Liv) That the depreciation was a coercion on Individuals—This Amendmt. will [be] a much greater Coercion It is said they should have power to raise Money on a Sudden Occasion—Answer—Money on such Immediate Occasion must be raised on Loan as on the Revenue Laws in Britain— Have not the States where in a Capacity to make Laws passed Laws to Comply—It is owing to the Poverty of the Country or some other Causes which have rendered them unable— If they should neglect Congress have the Power to interfere and Compel them— It [is] said it is an Experimt—I think it a plausible Expermt. to produce the object desired— It is asked are you not as safe to give the Genl. Govt. Power as the State Govts. This has been repeatedly answered A more Intimate It was said that the publication of Accounts was a Sufficient Answer An Acct. without Vouchers very Inadequate— It was said we experience no Inconvenience by State And County Taxes—true they are Assessed & Collected under the Same In the other Cases must be collected by different Officers under Laws of the Genl. Govt. and in their own Courts— every thing that will impede Will it not be in the Power of the Genl Govt. to declare that their Debts shall be first paid—to exempt their officers from Penalties A Gent. from N. York (Mr Hamilton) Said Ideas of Danger could only arise from the Complection of the Times— That it was impossible a Govt. so organized Should injure the Liberties of the People— he cannot Shew In the Republic [United Netherlands]—The officers were at first really elected by the People now a Hereditary Aristocracy— The Venetian Republic now governed by a Hereditary Nobility— This was brought about by a Method much Similar Those who first appointed the Electors shewed that where their own Interest was concerned they disregarded remote Consequ[ences] The Doctrine of Purse & Sword was said to be misaplied— Wherever they are in one hand it is dangerous It is to be vested in the Genl. Governt. and therefore applies most forcibly— An Instance from the feudal System that in Strugles between Sovereign Barrons—The Latter generally prevailed— The Reverse in many Cases true— As long as the feudal Sovereigns were without military Service the Sovereign had little more than Homage— When the Sov[er]eigns by a commutation for military Service obtained Military force—The Barrons with arms and knowing to Use them were little more than vassals— Combinations among them were natural and Easy— The Example quoted by the Gent. [Alexander Hamilton] was perhaps the only one— The Causes before mentioned and the Gradual but certain Progress of the Judiciary brot on what they experienced, and what without some other Check [we?] have reason to expect— The Genl. Govt. but one Interest—The State Govts. various Interests and want uniformity— The Officers of the Genl. Govt. will have greater Emolumts. Interest & rank and Countervail the State officers— It is admitted by a Gent. (Mr. [Hamilton]) That the State Govts. must exist and were necessary to civil Liberty They must be hostile—This was a genl Sentimt. in Convention This the Sentimt. of the Gent in Convention—That he wished to Subvert the Individual State Govts. or reduce them to the Situation of Corporations— That it was the general received Opinion that a Hostility would exist.
It is to be vested in the Genl. Governt. and therefore applies most forcibly— An Instance from the feudal System that in strugles between Sovereign Barrons—The Latter generally prevailed— The Reverse in many Cases true— As long as the feudal Sovereigns were without military Service the Sovereign had little more than Homage— When the Sov[er]eigns by a commutation for military Service obtained Military force—The Barrons with arms and knowing to Use them were little more than vassals— Combinations among them were natural and Easy— The Example quoted by the Gent. [Alexander Hamilton] was perhaps the only one— The Causes before mentioned and the Gradual but certain Progress of the Judiciary brot on what they experienced, and what without some other Check [we?] have reason to expect— The Genl. Govt. but one Interest—The State Govts. various Interests and want uniformity— The Officers of the Genl. Govt. will have greater Emolumts. Interest & rank and Countervail the State officers— It is admitted by a Gent. (Mr. [Hamilton])
That the State Govts. must exist and were necessary to civil Liberty They must be hostile—This was a genl Sentimt. in Convention—This the Sentimt. of the Gent in Convention—That he wished to Subvert the Individual State Govts. or reduce them to the Situation of Corporations— That it was the general received Opinion that a Hostility would exist. [McKesson's Notes, NHi]
ALEXANDER HAMILTON here interrupted Mr. Lansing, and contradicted, in the most positive terms, the charge of inconsistency included in the preceding observations. [Childs, Debates, 123]
HAMILTON. There would be a rivalship of Power—That the danger was that the State Govts. sould Subvert the National Government It was not the prevailing opinion that the State Govts would be subverted.—He says that I tho't the Subversion of the State Govt Necessary— I wish to have an Extensive State Govt. but advanced as a Reason that the State Governmts. should carry Govts. Home The System fell Short of my Ideas in the Convention—[McKesson's Notes, NHi]
HAMILTON. There would be a rivalship of Power—That the danger was that the State Govts. would Subvert the National Government It was not the prevailing opinion that the State Govts would be subverted.—He says that I tho't the Subversion of the State Govt Necessary— I wish to have an Extensive State Govt. but advanced as a Reason that the State Governmts. should carry Govts. Home The System fell Short of my Ideas in the Convention—
JOHN LANSING, JR. The Honoble. Member will recollect he said between the Individual States and the united States there would be hostility— The Member wanted to place them in the Quality of Corporations— None of their Laws to take Effect without an Officer of the united States present— ALEXANDER HAMILTON. I Supposed a Rivalship of Power—I was for giving additional Cautions in favor of the National Govt. I held up the State Govts. as necessary to the Support of Goverment I think it highly improper and uncandid for a Gent. to mention in this Committee Argumts. by me used in that Convention— JOHN LANSING, JR. I am charged with being uncandid & improper Behavior— I did not at first express the matter as full as it came out afterwards— I was compelled to it—The Matters of that Convention were no longer Secrete when their proceedings were published — The Convention have a right to call on us— ALEXANDER HAMILTON. A disingenu[i]ty is imputed to me—That Honorable Member ought to retract it—It is improper to be here introduced—because if my Sentiments were improper—the Convention tho't differently—To bring forth Indvidial Sentiments to operate agt. the Acts of Convention—