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John Taylor.

Construction construed, and constitutions vindicated online

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lar in this instance as in the bank case. In the latter, tmcation
kuLB begotten banks, and these banks have b^fotten a restric-
tion of the right of taxati(m reserved to the states; a very
anomalous progeny indeed ; the right of transmitting taxes
httB taken away the right of imposing them. Thus, as two per-
sons re-peq>M a deluged world by throwing «t(mes over their
keads, die tos«ng about of words is made to revive all the
powers ]m>hibited to a federal congress by a federal constitution,
9axd to resuscitate legions of those principles of de^iotism,
•which were intended to be suffocated by dii^sions and limita-
tions of power* It is not uncommon for a skilful verbalist, to
engraft upon an old root, new scions bearing very different fruit;
but we might as justiy contend that an a[^le engrafted on a
pear, would produce pears, as that a power to tax all other
OGcupi^onE. to enrich one, engrafted on the power to regulate
commerce, would be an imposition of duties ** to pay the debts
<< and provide for the common defence and generid welfare" of
the United States.



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During the prewr^ {mt OMwey towards thec^nelufwi of flie
cevolutioiiar J war, an ingeiMoua member of owignaa, hy wigr
of amosemeDty iii£(W9ie4 a^ very rich fnend of his, that can**
greaa bad resolved to engraft upoA the words *' gniend web
Sure,'' in the oU confedoratioii, an absolato power 9f&c prifato
pcoperty; and that coerced hj necessity, it had resolred, tha^
the estatos of one hundred of the richest kidiriduals in the
United ^tes should be soU, and anpUod to the ^ oooDunon
d^nce and general wdfee** for which it was the duty of own
gross to pnmdo. Being a gentleaum of great ii^gennity* ba
alarmed his friend 1^ many (dansiUe arguments to prove ^ii9i
oxistence of the power and a neoeasify, for its exercise ;.aci4
drew from him a serious and laboured answer. This case ia
oridntty mn^ stronger, than that under conrideratioc^ and
afliwrded a wider scope for the verbalizing science- Thewovdii
^to provide for the common defonco and general welfare" are ofi
laii^sr conq^s, than the words *' to r^lato commerce*" Tho
api^ibpalion of the money, tohe^inised by this vidation of prhnto
property, to the use of the nation, was more conformable to tine
consUtation, than a iranafer of (Nrivato property to privato
people. And it was nmre equitaido that toe rights^ of <me
hwdred men shooU be sacrificed to defend the natioD, than
that the righto of all other occupations sheafal be sacrificed to
enrich, the manufiEustoring class*

Let us place before our eyes toe root, and the scion proposed
to be engmftod on it The root is, ** omgress shall have pow^^
to r^ulato commerce ;" toe sciim, " congress shall have pomee
^ by protocting duties to tax nil otoer occupations for ttu& pur'*'
<< pose of enriching toe manufacturing claa&" But toe power to
lay duties had been defined and limited by the first clause rf
toe section, and tomr application limited to national use. Ihfr
power to regulate commerce could not be int^ded to convey
to congress an indefinite power of taxation, because a definUe
power of taxatiim had been previously expressed. Specification
precludes inference; at least, if the inference ccmtradieto the
specification. As the subject of taxation had been expresdgc
disposed of» it camiot be fairly supposed that it was tacitiy t»<
sumed; and as the specification appn^uiates duties. tothe mo
of toe United Stotes, this tacit resunqi^tion cannot also oontaui
a hidden power, to lay duties for the bei^t of a pasl|onbir



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^ceufaiioi^ Thi» recondite ]KMiir«rftc«ita^
r^;ttUte Gfmuiierce'' mgLj fiii4 Ql^e<;t» for their operation, as
thej are ni^tifiKioiias withc»it adding to the catalogue, a power
eacpresdjgiven in another clause; bQt» if they are flowed to
be a root, capable of endowing congress vfiih all powers having
relation to commerce, they will eimvey naany pow^is inconsisr
tent with the tenoor of the constitution.

They would invest congress with an, internal p(»rer wet
p^PBont and tbiiigs, not represented in that hody ; and botii pro^
hihited to it, and reserved to legislatures in which they are
represented. The idide jH^op^iy and wealth of tt« country
are more nearly cminected with commerce, than roAds are with
war; and the mode of reasoning in that case wiH embrace
Hgriculture, and invest congress with a power of regulating
&at also, as is attempted by making it tributary to manufifcc*
iiuresw The constitution has. labou^ to prevent this illidt
intercourse between construction and a lust of power. <«Ne
**ot^itation or other direct tax sfaoU be laid, unless in proportion
<« to an enumeration. A*o taa> thall be laid on. attieles $3ifpoHed^
«*Na prefereoee shall be given, by any reguiation of commmmi
*< or rsi;eniis, to ports 5f one state over those of imotber.'' The
intention ^ these reftbrictioos was, to deprive congress of the
power of exerciaLng local or personal partialities. Protecting
duties operate in fact as a direct or capitation tax, for the benefit
i$i one oceupatiim, imposed upon a^l others by legal necessity ;
and such taxes ought to be i^pmiioned by the census, unless it
be said that tins rule is only rehired when the tax is imposed
for pubUc service* and may tiierel<H« be disregarded when it is
ipiposed £n- the benefit of a pecuniAiy aristocracy. << No taj^es
shall be laid on articles exported." The value of agrieultund
ttbiples must long depend ttp<m exclmnges with foreign nations^
They* are ccmsumers of our breadstu^', cotton, tobacco, fish, and
msny other articles. Consumers neither e:dst, nor can be spee-
dily created at home. These forrigners are utterly unable to
pay us in specie for the products we cao spare, and if they
eoulda, this q>ecie would d^reciate like paper money, unless we
eouid: esq^ort it, not to boy more specie* but articles of consumpf
iioxu A proh9nti(m» theref<»^, complete or partial, of the im*
portation of the articles of consumption in which agriculturists
mnat rec^ve paymeitt» is in imbtfauice a double t^ upon ex-



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ports. It lessens flteir vtivte, and enhances the price of the
few articles of consumption thej can procure at home. It will
have an effect similar to a diminution of circulating currency by
banks, because it diminishes the currency, (the soundest ima-
ginable,) circulated bj the freedom of exchanges. It is an illa-
tion to suppose, that this banishment of currency from the agri-
cultural market of our country will not cause it to decline,
because specie may still be brought in payment. The currency
IntHJght to this market consists of specie and articles of con-
sumption; by banishing both, the market would be starved; bj
banishing one, it will be half starred. It is surprising that gen-
tlemen who despise and deride a miser abounding in wealth,
and yet denying to himself the comforts and delights of life,
should recommend an example which they reprobate, for the
imitation of their country.

** No preference shall be given, hy any regulation of com'-
** merce or revenue, to ports of one state, over those of anothen'*
In all these prohihiti<ms, we find the great principle of inter-
dictitig to congress a power of regulating the wealth or pros-
perity of particular states or occupations, carefully enforced*
Ports is here put for people. Inanimate things have no rights,
and can enjoy no preferences.- A tax paid by agricultural to
manufacturing states, if the bounty be sufficiently high to enable
the manufacturing class to meet foreign competition, will ope-^
rate as a favour to particular ports in the state where the
manufacturers reside. The bounty, bestowed by the British
parliament upon Irish linen exported, was a preference to the
ports frdm which the exportations were made, i^ the same kindv
And all such bounties, direct or indirect, have been considered
universally as highly valuable local preferences. The weight of
the restrictive clauses of the constitution, as an exposition of the
intention to exclude congress from an exercise of power, inter-
nally, over persons or things, by which partialities or pecuniary
inequalities among states or individuals might be cultivated,
would be sufficient to over-balance a I6ng list of verbal subter-
fuges, by which this principle, so anxiously enforced, is endeai-
voured to be eluded ; even if literal prohibitions, exactly fitting
every deviation frcmi it, could not be found. Man's foresight
cannot anticipate all the artifices of ambition 4tnd avarice; but
the restrictive clauses of the cfmstitution^ compared with the



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Umited powers bestowed, deimmstrate an abhotreBce of the ^

idesi, that the federal goTernment shwldliave a power of be-
stowing preferences of any kind upon states, districts or occa*
pations. The restrictiye clauses are precedents bj anticipation,
and the reason which suggested them, extends to similar cases.
This was the division of powers between the federal and state
governments, and therefore a construction so ingenious, as to
elude the letter of the restrictive clauses, will still be incwrect,
if it violates the reason which suggested them. Have protect-
ing duties been imposed bjr congress under the expressed poww
in the first clause of the eighth section "to lay duties/' or un-
der the clause "to regulate commerce?" If under the power
expressed, their purpose must be " to pay the debts and pro*
vide for the common defence and general welffure of the United
States;'^ if under a power inferred from that to regulate <?om-
merce, can the constitutional appropriation or purpose be there-
by evaded or repealed ? To lay them for the purpose of paying
the debts, enriching or advancing the welfare of particular per-
Sfflis or occupatioiis, seems to accord as little with the words of
the constitution, as with its sfMrit in creating a division of pow*
ers; assigning to congress those exclusively relating to the de-
fence, wel&re and debts of the mepibers constituting the union,
called ^states; and to the state governments, exclusively aiso^
those relating to the defence, welfare and debts of individuals
and occupations.

But the following argument seems to be conclusive. A go-*
yernment, which exercises a power of distributing welfare
among occupations uid individuals, must be sovereign and
absolute over persons and occupations, to enable it to do jus-
tice by bestowing countervailing favours, because it must of
necessity otherwise commit great injustice. Even the British
government acknowledges the right to »ich equivalents, and
accordingly endeavours to compensate tiie agricultural occupa^*
tion by particular favours and a considerable monopoly, for the
favours and monopoly it has granted to the manufacturing
class. It is unnecessary to enlarge upon the intricate system
of equivalents extended to a variety of interests in England ;
and it is enough to know that this system must exist as an
app^idage of exclusive privileges, necessary to give them even
in appearance of justi^fr and^uity; By thid game of govern- -



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Hi

ttent, thoagh played irith ^ktfessed fiiiimeftl, th^ great bodijr of
the people do not appear to have been gainerd. What then would
be ^e effect of a poWer in congt'ess to grant exclusive priTil^;ea
to two occupations only, those ai bankers and manufacturer,
without any power to grant to other occupations or the person^
engird in them^ the countervailing equivalents ? We must
therefore conclude, either that congress have no powek* to grant
exclusivie {Nivileges to the individuals engaged in these occupa-
tions, or that the constitution has invested it with an absoiuti^
internal power over persons and property; because it can never
be imagined, that its wise framers intended to invest congresi
with a power of grantilig exclusive privileges to two occupa^
tions, one of no value, and the other of inferior value, and td
prohibit it from advancing the welfare of the agricultural,
commercial, maritime, and scientifick occupations, of so much
more importance. We must either embrace an absurdity ^
flagrant, or discern that our decision upon this point is reduced
to a plain alternative; and that we are forced to conclude
either that congress may constitutionally incorporate, or grant
exclusive privileges to every species of human occupation, or td
none. By the first decision, congress will acquire an imlilmt<
ed internal power over persons and things ; by the second, the
powers reserved to the states will be retained. The third
q>inion, that congress may grant favours to particular states of
districts, by granting exclusive privileges to occupations locaHy
prevalent, is inconsistent with a possibility of disusing equal
justice or general welfare among the parties to the union, tkof
less forcibly impressed by the tenour of the constitution, than
by common sense and sound pdicy. All places and all states
are not susceptible of the same exclusive privileges, and thestf
cannot therefore be equalized, except the power of graptni^
tiiem shall embrace the means by which only it can be effected.
Each reader will select that of these opinions, which may cor-
respond with the true intentioii of the federal constituticm.

But, if all our le^slatures have an absolute power over per-
sons and property, and the freedom of exchanges is an ima^
ginary notion; and if the federal constitution does eti^power
congress to incorporate or grant exclusive privileges lo alt
occupations, or to two only, it still remains to be considered^
whetiier its exercise iswise^^msV^ to^ial ta tto V^lteA
States.



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It 19 s^i^ tluit prot^ctiiig duUes bj tt^ei
iexchanges will be a bounty to starving ai
turers. I shall not stop to enquire into
to provide for the poor of all occupation
iniquity of taxing the poor of all other
bou^nties for the poor of one ; nor to enfcn:
such a law« and one for taxing the dissentc
to raise bounti<es for the poor of the churc
press the existing similitude of these diss
England to raise bounties for the episcoj
pearly resemble those who will get the |
ties ; but passing over these fruitful argum
facts.

It will hardly be imagined, that the wo
ries wrote the multitude of pamphlets and
Itppeared in favour of the protecting-dut
bounties upon the occupation of manuf
phenomenon does not arise from the coi
which exclusive privileges have been hither
b^en produced by a pure and disinterested
employers, of intending to enhance the \
themselves to pay. Allowing a motive so
ierested for the expenditure of talents and
brought forth by the occasion, it will be
tleinen to enquire, whether their charitable
by the mode they have recommended ; be
they have no mercenary design, it will be
to cool a consuming zeal, and save them
sore disappointment It will undoubted
be told, that all the bounties arising fron
project, must inevitably settle in their ow
the wages of their poor workmen (the objec
will ultimately be diminished by it Yi
be the consequences.

As consumers must pay these bounties,
consumers are poor, it follows, that if ad
have been bestowed upon the workmen in
impost on consumptions, it would have
comforts of more poor men than it would
this observation derives additional force
2D



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. ivhibtimir manufiurtories are jomsg, aad tliair ftMs^&mn^,
the J will be chiefl j consamed bj ihe poorest classes in socie^.
Our capitalists so well skilled in figures may therefore v^
easily discover, that their project b on the debit side in te
account of benevolence.

Their poor workmeui like all other poor people, are c<nii-
sumers themselves, and a tariff to bestow bounties by a general
monopoly will reach and tax them, with the exception of the
Solitary article manufactured by each. Thus each workman
will pay two measures of labour for one, on a multitude <^ arti^
cles, even if he should receive two measures for one, oa 4t
aingle article. What a number of these double prices, for ia«-
stance, will be paid by tiie poor grinder of snuff, for that por-
tion of ti^e double price which may get into his pocket ! Suck
is the theoretical benefit to the poor woriunen; practically^
even this poor benefit does not exist.

The theory supposes, that the workmen are to get the whtdsa
excess of price arising from protecting duties, but as they havt
a violent tendency to aggravate taxation and provoke a taste
for expense in the government; and as the system can only b#
enforced by a great increase of piMiek officers, the share of
these burdens, which Would fall on the workmen, would proba*
bly balance or certainly diminish the bounties very con»de»
rably.

But the system must encounter a still more formidable faei
It must meet and destroy a principle much sounder than itself»
before it can fulfil its promise to enhance the wages of the
Ivorkmen. The wages of laboub are not settled bylaw, but by
circumstances over which law can possess but a very feeble aii^
transient influence. As the level of wages among labouring
occupations had been settied previously to protecting-du^
laws, the circumstances by which it had been effected were too
stubborn to be suddenly subverted ; otherwise, when fifty ^Hrun
hundred per centum had been added to the price of a manit*
facture by law, the same addition would haVe been umfomtly
tnade by employers to the wages of their workmen. We know
that this is never the case. Even a struggle for the boun^
Seldom ensues between the employers and their workmen, and
it was never seen that the workmen have gottien it all. Now*
all could not possiUy be more than sufllcien^ to reimbutse^he



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WJiAimeth^ 4He loss they sustain bjtite uK^reaaed e^ptuse of
Ifovernment, and by the additional price they must pay for the
Articles they coBSHme, but do not febricate ; and if the employ-
ers get any part of the bounty, the labour of the workmen wiU
mt go 80 far in providing them with subsistepce, as it would
have gone, had not the price of consumptions been enhance^
by protecting duties ; and although the wages of manufacturin|;
labour should be somewhat raised, aboye the level of those paid
to the worknien in other occupations, the retrenchments w<mld
exceed the accession, and leave the workmen less to subsist
upon, than when the^r wages, expenses and taxes wer^ all
lower.

Suppose however, that the whde tax collected by a multitude
of monopolies from the community should go to tiie ^orkmen,
witiiout their employers being able to intercept any portion of
it, and suddenly create a great inequality between the wage^
eCnumufacturiog woricmen, and the workmen in other occupa-
tions; yet the circumstance of abundance, which so absolutely
diminishes the price of labour, would tread upon the heels of
the acquisition, and very soon defeat it An enhanced price
suddenly removes scarcity, begets plenty, and terminates in
cheapness* Therefore, when merchants design to obtain an
aaticle at a low rate, they wisely be^n with giving a high price*
The bait fills the market, and they avail themseiyes of the
abunduice to buy chea^i. So in this case, if the wages of the work-
men should be raised far above the level of the wages of labour
in other occupations, the bait would suddenly draw an abunr
dance of workmen to the manufacturing occupation, and this
abundance would immediately reduce the wages to the rat^
dictated by the necessity for subsistence, or by a comparison
with Urn wages of labour in other occupations, leaving to thf
employers the whole of the bounty* The most favourable ope-
ration of the protecting-duty system, as to the workmen, is,
that the whole body of consumers in the community, including
themselves, will be ta^d to raise a great annual bounty ; that
this will augment the expenses of government of which they
inust bear a share ; that this bounty may draw an abundance of
virorkmen to the market ; that this abundance will ce^inly
reduce their wages lower, comparatively with the expense
ef subsi^tcAce, than whcm there was a scarcity of workmen ;



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and that the boiintj will inftlUbly settle in the poektte
•f their employers. Thas the system eventaates as all etiMr
exclttslTe-priyilege projects^ in an absolute conspiracy against
the interest of labour, by inflicting on it an additional bw^
den, precisely of the same character and effect, as if th^
sum paid to employers had been added to the salaries of the
irfBcers of government, or given as a bounty to any two or three
hundred men by name.

A few facts will be the strongest arguments in support of
this reasoning. Society may be divided into the classes of rich
and poor ; both are consumers ; but as the poor class is by far
the most numerous, it is of course the greatest consumer ; and
therefore, it must pay the greatest portion of the tax imposed
by the protecting-duty system, especially as that tax falls
chiefly upon coarse fabricks. In iron foundries for instancy
as in all other manufactories, the workmen belong to tiie poor
class, and consume more of the taxed articles of home manu-
Ikcture, than their employers ; upon all of which they pay the
tax. As to the tax upon iron itself, it is chiefly paid by the
poor of the whole community, because they consume more of
it than the rich. This instance is adduced to establish the fact,
that Ihe poor class, including the workmen in all the manufac-
tories, instead of receiving, actually pay the largest portion of
the protecting-duty tax.

The manufacturing workmen in England are among the poor-
est of the poor class, although the prohibition i^inst the impor«
tation of their fabrications is complete. Why has not this prohi-
bition enriched the workmen? Because it has established a
monopoly which operates only in favour of their empl^ers,
increases the expenses of government, and feeds unproductive
eafntal by sacrificing productive labour. It keeps down the
price of labour both by a concert among employers, and also by
a comparison with its price employed in other occupations $
and subverts the pretence, that the same system will produce
opposite effects in this country. It i^ evidently a system in fa-
vour of the rich, and against the poor class, because the first
elass possess the capital which the system nourishes, and the
second perform the labour, which supplies the nourishment.

Employers are called capitalists with great propriety, be-
cause more capital is necessary to estaUish a mUno&ctory,



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^um to employ onrsdres in indmdual oe(^qpalieii8. Fewfu
Bone, therefore^ of the manufacturiBg cajntaiists can belong to
the poor class of sotfcty. The mercuitile occupation requires
capital in the n^Lt degree> and of coarse furnishes the next
^west number of individuals belonging to the poor class. The
icienftifick and professional occupations include the next fewest
number of persons assignable to the poor class. And the agri*
cultural occupation Contains a much greater number of indi-
viduals belonging to the poor class, than either of these, because
Bo capital, except bodily labour, is necessary to go to work ;
And a very small sum suffices to procure means sufficient to
employ ourselves in that occupation, to the utmost extent of
bodily capacity. Of the v^ety of other occupations, highly
useful, but yet containing a still greater number of individuals
belonging to the poor clasd, I shall specify two, for the sake of
an observation suggested by each. The s^tafimng occupation
is chiefly composed of peo{Je having very Httie capital except
iheir bodily labour^ If a bounty should be ^ven to this occupa-
tion, by taxing all other occupations, these other occupations
would presentiy exclaim, that the law of plenty or scarcity, which
governs the price of labour, would certainly enable its employer,
the rich mercantile occupation, to appropriate this bounty to it-
self, by diminishing W2^s from an estimate of the bounty, and of
other wages ; and that, under pretence of favouring poor sailors,
the poor of all other occupations would be taxed, for the beneit
of the richest merchants. I see no difference between capi-
talist merchants and their sailors, and capitalist manufacturers
and their workmen. The carpenter occupation, like the agri-
cultural, contains a large proportidn of the poor class. A law
laying a heavy duty upon the importation of houses, as a



Online LibraryJohn TaylorConstruction construed, and constitutions vindicated → online text (page 22 of 34)