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and much more, Colonel Laurens and myself, when in
France, informed Dr. Franklin, who had not before heard
of it. And to complete the character of a traitor, he has,
by letters to this country since; some of which, in his own


hand-writing, are now in the possession of Congress, used
every expression and argument in his power to injure the
reputation of France, and to advise America to renounce
her alliance, and surrender up her independence.* Thus in
France, he abuses America, and in his letters to America he
abuses France : and his endeavouring to create disunion
between the two countries by the same arts of double-
dealing by which he caused dissensions among the com-
missioners in Paris, and distractions in America. But his
life has been fraud, arid his character that of a plodding,
plotting, cringing mercenary, capable of any disguise that
suited his purpose. His final detection has very happily
cleared up those mistakes, and removed those uneasinesses
which his unprincipled conduct occasioned. Every one now
gees him in the same light; for towards friends or enemies
he acted with the same deception and injustice, and his
name, like that of Arnold, ought now to be forgotten among
us. As this is the first time I have mentioned him since my
return from France, it is my intention it shall be the last.
From this digression, which for several reasons I thought
necessary to give, 1 now proceed to the purport of my

I consider the war of America against Britain as the
country's war, the public's war, or the war of the people ia
their own behalf for the security of their natural rights, and
the protection of their own property. It is not the war of
Congress, the war of the Assemblies, or the war of Govern-
ment, in any line whatever. The country first, by a mutual
compact, resolved to defend their rights, and maintain their
independence, at the hazard of their lives and fortunes.
They elected their representatives, by whom they appointed
their members to Congress, and said, act you for us, and we
will support you* This is the true ground and principle of
the war on the part of America, and, consequently, there
remains nothing to do but for every one to fulfil his obli-

* Mr. William Marshall, of this city, formerly a pilot, who had
been taken at sea and carried to England, and got from thence to
France, brought over letters from Mr. Deane to America, one of
which was directed to " Robert Morris, Esq." Mr. Morris sent
it unopened to Congress, and advised Mr. Marshall to deliver the
others there, which he did. The letters were of the same purport
with those which have been already published under the signature
of S. Deane, to which they had frequent reference.


It was next to impossible that a new country, engaged in
a new undertaking, could set off systematically right at
first. She saw not the extent of the struggle she was
involved in, neither could she avoid the beginning. She
supposed every step she took, and every resolution she
formed, would bring her enemy to reason, and close the
contest. Those failing, she was forced into new measures ;
and these, like the former, being fitted to her expectations,
and failing in her turn, left her continually unprovided and
without system. The enemy likewise was induced to pro-
secute the war from the temporary expedients we adopted
for carrying it on. We were continually expecting to see
their credit exhausted, and they were looking to see our
currency fail ; and thus, between their watching us and we
them, the hopes of both have been deceived, and the child-
ishness of the expectation has served to increase the ex-

Yet who, through this wilderness of error, has been to
blame ? Where is the man who can say the fault has not in
part been his? They were the natural unavoidable errors
of the day. They were the errors of a whole country,
which nothing but experience could detect, and time re-
move. Neither could the circumstances of America admit
of system, till either the paper currency was fixed or laid
aside. No calculation of finance could be made on a medium
failing without reason, and fluctuating without rule. ,

But there is one error which might have been prevented,
and was not ; and as it is not my custom to flatter, but to
serve mankind, I will speak it freely. It certainly was the
duty of every Assembly on the Continent to have known, at
all times, what was the condition of its treasury, and to
have ascertained at every period of depreciation, how much
the real worth of the taxes fell short of their nominal value.
This knowledge, which might have been easily gained,
would have enabled them to have kept their constituents
well informed, which is one of the greatest duties of repre-
sentation. They ought to have studied and calculated the
expences of the war, the quota of each State, and the con-
sequent proportion that would fall on each man's property
for his defence ; and this must easily have shewn to them,
that a tax of an hundred pounds could not be paid by a
bushel of apples or an hundred of flour, which was often
the case two or three years ago. But instead of this, which
would have been plain and upright dealing, the little line of
temporary popularity, the feather of an hour's duration, was


too much pursued : and in this involved condition of things,
every State, for the want of a little thinking, or a little infor-
mation, supposes that it supported the whole expences of
the war, when in fact it fell, by the time the tax was levied
and collected, above three-fourths short of its own quota.

Impressed with a sense of the danger to which the coun-
try was exposed by this lax method of doing business, and
the prevailing errors of the day, I published, last October
was a twelvemonth, The Crisis Extraordinary, on the re-
venues of America, and the yearly expence of carrying on
the war. My estimate of the latter, together with the civil
list of Congress, and the civil list of the several States, was
two million pounds sterling, which is very nearly nine mil-
lions of dollars.

Since that time, Congress have gone into a calculation,
and have estimated the expences of the war department and
the civil list of Congress (exclusive of the civil list of the
several Governments) at eight millions of dollars ; and as
the remaining million will be fully sufficient for the civil
list of the several States, the two calculations are exceed-
ingly near each other.

The sum of eight millions of dollars they have called upon
the States to furnish, and their quotas are as follow, which
I shall preface with the resolution itself:


October 30, 1781.


That the respective States be called upon to furnish the
Treasury of the United States with their quotas of eight mil-
lions of dollars, for the war department and civil list for the
ensuing year, to be paid quarterly, in equal proportions, the
first payment to be made on the first day of April next.

Resolved, That a committee, consisting of a member from
each State, be appointed to apportion to the several States
the quota of the above sum.

November 2.

The committee, appointed to ascertain the proportions of
the several States of the monies to be raised for the ex-
pences of the ensuing year, report the following resolu-
tions :

That the sum of eight millions of dollars, as required to


be raised by the resolutions of the 30th of October last, be
paid by the States in the following proportion.

New-Hampshire 373,598

Massachusetts 1,307,596

Rhode-Island 216,684

Connecticut 747,196

New-York 373,598

New-Jersey 485,679

Pennsylvania 1,120,794

Delaware 112,085

Maryland 933,996

Virginia - 1,307,594

North-Carolina 622,677

South -Carolina 373,598

Georgia 24,905

8,000,000 Dollars.

That it be recommended to the several States, to lay taxes
for raising their quotas of money for the United States,
separate from those laid for their own particular use.

On these resolutions I shall offer several remarks.

First, On the sum itself, and the ability of the country.

Secondly, On the several quotas, and the nature of a
union. And,

Thirdly, On the manner of collection and expenditure.

First, On the sum itself, and the ability of the country.
As I know my own calculations is as low as possible, and as
the sum called for by Congress, according to their calcula-
tion, agrees very nearly therewith, I am sensible it cannot
possibly be lower. Neither can it be done for that, unless
there is ready money to go to market with ; and even in
that case, it is only by the utmost management and economy
that it can be made to do.

By the accounts which were laid before the British Par-
liament last spring, it appeared that the charge of only sub-
sisting, that is, feeding their Army in America) cost annually
four millions of pounds of sterling, which is very nearly
eighteen millions of dollars. Now if, for eight millions, we
can feed, clothe, arm, provide for, and pay an army suffi-
cient for our defence, the very comparison shews that the
money must be well laid out.

It may be of some use, either in debate or conversation,
to attend to the progress of the expences of an army,


because it will enable us to see on what part any deficiency
will fall.

The first thing is, to feed them and provide for the sick.

Secondly, to clothe them.

Thirdly, to arm and furnish them.

Fourthly, to provide means for removing them from place
to place. And,

Fifthly, to pay them.

The first and second are absolutely necessary to them as
men. The third and fourth are equally as necessary to them
as an army. And the fifth is their just due. Now if the
sum which shall be raised should fall short, either by the
several acts of the States for raising it, or by the manner of
collecting it, the deficiency will fall on the fifth head, the
soldiers* pay, which would be defrauding them, and eternally
disgracing ourselves. Jt would be a blot on the councils,
the country, and the Revolution of America, and a man
would hereafter be ashamed to own he had any hand in it.

But if the deficiency should be still shorter, it would next
fall on the fourth head, the means of removing the army from
place to place ; and in this case, the army must either stand
still where it can be of no use, or seize on horses, carts,
waggons, or any means of transportation it can lay hold of;
and in this instance the country suffers. In short, every at-
tempt to do a thing for less than it can be done for, is sure
to become at last both a loss and a dishonour.

But the country cannot bear it, say some. This has been
the most expensive doctrine that ever was held out, and cost
America millions of money for nothing. Can the country
bear to be over-run, ravaged and ruined by an enemy, which
will immediately follow where defence is wanting, and de-
fence will ever be wanting where sufficient revenues are not
provided. But this is only one part of the folly. The second
is, that when the danger comes, invited in part by our not
preparing against it, we have been obliged, in a number of
instances, to expend double the sums, to do that which at
first might have been done for half the money. But this is
not all. A third mischief has been, that grain of all sorts,
flour, beef, fodder, horses, carts, waggons, or whatever was
absolutely or immediately wanted, have been taken without
pay. Now, I ask, why was all this done, but from that ex-
tremely weak and expensive doctrine, that the country could
not bear it ? that is, 1 that she could not bear, in the first in
stance, that which would have saved her twice as much at
last ; or, in proverbial language, that she could not bear to


pay a penny to save a pound ; the consequence of which
has been, that she has paid a pound for a penny. Why are
there so many unpaid certificates in almost every man's
hands, but from the parsimony of not providing sufficient
revenues? Besides, the doctrine contradicts itself; because,
if the whole country cannot bear it, how is it possible that
a part should ? and yet this has been the case : for those
things have been had ; and they must be had ; but the mis-
fortune is, they have been had in a very unequal manner
and upon extensive credit, whereas with ready money they
might have been purchased for half the price, and no body

But there is another thought which ought to strike us,
which is, How is the army to bear the want of food,
clothing, and other necessaries ? The man who is at home,
can turn himself a thousand ways, and find as many means
of ease, convenience, or relief; but a soldier's life admits
of none of those ; his wants cannot be supplied from
himself: for an army, though it is the defence of a State,
is at the same time the child of a Country, and must be pro-
vided for in every thing.

And lastly. The doctrine is false. There are not three
millions of people, in any part of the universe, who live so
well, or have such a fund of ability, as in America. The
income of a common labourer, who is industrious, is equal
to that of the generality of tradesmen in England. In the
mercantile line, I have not heard of one who could be said
to be a bankrupt since the war began, and in England they
have been without number. In America, almost every
farmer lives on his own lands, and in England not one in an
hundred does. In short, it seems as if the poverty of that
country had made them furious, and they were determined
to risk all to recover all.

Yet, notwithstanding those advantages on the part of
America, true it is, that bad it not been for the operation
of taxes for our necessary defence, we had sunk into a state
of sloth and poverty ; for there was more wealth lost by
neglecting to till the earth in the years 1776, 77, and 78,
than the quota of the tax amounts to. That which is lost
by neglect of this kind, is lost for ever ; whereas that which
is paid, and continues in the country, returns to us again ;
and at the same time that it provides us with defence, it
operates not only as a spur, but as a premium to our in-


I shall now proceed to the second head, viz. ON THE

There was a time when America had DO other bond of
union, than that of common interest and affection. The
whole country flew to the relief of Boston, and, making her
cause their own, participated her cares, and administered to
her wants. The fate of war, since that day, has carried the
calamity in a ten-fold proportion to the southward ; but in
the mean time the union has been strengthened by a legal
compact of the States, jointly and severally ratified, and that
which before was choice, or the duty of affection, is now
likewise the duty of legal obligation.

The union of America is the foundation stone of her
Independence; the rock on which it is built; and is some-
thing so sacred in her Constitution, that we ought to watch
every word we speak, and every thought we think, that we
injure it not, even by mistake. When a multitude, ex-
tended, or rather scattered, over a continent, in the manner
we are, mutually agree to form one common centre whereon
the whole shall move, to accomplish a particular purpose,
all parts must act together and alike, or not act at all, and a
stoppage in any one is a stoppage of the whole, at least for a

Thus the several States have sent Representatives to as-
semble together in Congress, and they have empowered
that body, which thus becomes their centre, and are no
other than themselves in representation, to conduct and
manage the war, while their constituents at home attend to
the domestic cares of the country, their internal legislation,
their farms, professions, or employments : for it is only by
reducing complicated things to method and orderly connec-
tion, that they can be understood with advantage, or pursued
with success. Congress, by virtue of this delegation, esti-
mates the expence, and apportions it out to the several parts
of the empire, according to their several abilities ; and here
the debate must end, because each State has already had its
voice, and the matter has undergone its whole portion of
argument, and can no more be altered by any particular
State, than a law of any State, after it has passed, can be
altered by an individual. For with respect to those things
which immediately concern the union, and for which the
union was purposely established and is intended to secure,
each State is to the United States what each individual is to


.the Siafe he lives in. And it is on this grand point, this
movement upon one centre, that our existence as a nation,
our happiness as a people, and our safety as individuals,

It may happen, that some State or other may be some-
what over or under-rated, but this cannot be much. The
experience which has been had upon the matter, has nearly
ascertained their several abilities. But even in this case, it
can only admit of an appeal to the United States, but cannot
authorise any State to make the alteration itself, any more
than our internal government can admit an individual to do
so in the case of an Act of Assembly ; for if one State can
do it, then may another do the same, and the instant this is
done the whole is undone.

Neither is it supposable that any single State can be judge
of all the comparative reasonings which may influence the
collective body in quotatiog out the Continent. The cir-
cumstances of the several States are frequently varying,
occasioned by the accidents of war and commerce, and it
will often fall upon some to help others, rather beyond what
their exact proportion at another time might be; but even
this assistance is as naturally and politically included in the
idea of a union, as that of any particular assigned propor-
tion ; because we know not whose turn it may be next to
want assistance, for which reason, that is the wisest State
which sets the best example.

Though in matters of bounden duty and reciprocal affec-
tion, it is rather a degeneracy from the honesty and ardour
of the heart to admit any thing selfish to partake in the
government of our conduct, yet in cases where our duty,
our affections, and our interest all coincide, it may be of
some use to observe their union. The United States will
become heir to an extensive quantity of vacant land, and
their several titles to shares and quotas thereof will naturally
be- adjusted according to their relative quotas, during the
war, exclusive of that inability which may unfortunately
arise to any State by the enemy holding possession of a part;
but as this is a cold matter of interest, I pass it by, and
proceed to my third head, viz.


It hath been our error, as well as our misfortune, to blend
the affairs of each State, especially in money matters, with



those of the United States; whereas it is to our ease, eonve*-
nience, and interest, to keep them separate. The expences
of the United States for carrying on the war, and the ex-
pences of each State for its own domestic government, are
distinct things, and to involve them is a source of perplexitv
and a cloak for fraud. I love method, because I see and
am convinced of its beauty and advantage. It is that which
makes all business easy and understood, and without which
every thing becomes embarrassed and difficult.

There are certain powers which the people of each State
have delegated to their legislative and executive bodies, and
there are other powers which the people of every State have
delegated to Congress, among which is that of conducting
the war, and, consequently, of managing the expences at-
tending it; for how else can that be managed, which con-
cerns every State, but by a delegation from each? When a
State has furnished its quota, it has an undoubted right to
know how it has been applied, and it is as much the duty
of Congress to inform the State of the one, as it is the duty
of the State to provide the other.

In the resolution of Congress already recited, it is recom-
mended to the several States to lay taxes for raising their
quotas of money for the United States, separate from those
laid for their own particular use.

This is a most necessary point to be observed, and the
distinction should follow all the way through. They should
be levied, paid, and collected separately, and kept separate
in every instance. Neither have the civil officers of any
State, or the government of that State, the least right to
touch that money which the people pay for the support of
their army and the war, any more than Congress has to
touch that which each State raises for its own use.

This distinction will naturally be followed by another.
It will occasion evefy State to examine nicely into the ex-
pences of its Civil List, and to regulate, reduce, and bring
it into better order than it has hitherto been, because the
money for that purpose must be raised apart, and accounted
for to the public separately. But while the monies of both
were blended, the necessary nicety was not observed, and
the poor soldier, who ought to have been the first, was the
last who was thought of.

Another convenience will be, that the people, by paying
the taxes separately, will know what they are for; and will
likewise know that those which are for the defence of the


country will cease with the war, or soon after. For although,
as I have before observed, the war is their own, and for the
support of their own rights, and the protection of their own
property, yet they have the same right to know, that they
have to pay, and it is the not knowing, that is often the
cause of dissatisfaction.

This regulation of keeping the taxes separate has given
rise to a regulation in the Office of Finance, by which it is

" That the receivers shall, at the end of every month,
make out an exact account of the monies received by them
respectively, during such month, specifying therein the
names of the persons from whom the same shall have been
received, the dates and the sums; which account they shall
respectively cause to be published in one of the newspapers
of the State: to the end that every citizen may know how
much of the monies collected from him, in taxes, is trans-
mitted to the Treasury of the United States for the sup-
port of the war; and also, that it may be known what
monies have been at the order of the Superintendant of
Finance. It being proper and necessary, that in a free
country, the people should be as fully informed of the
administration of their affairs as the nature of things will

It is an agreeable thing to see a spirit of order and eco-
nomy taking place, after such a series of errors and difficul-
ties. A government or an administration, who means and acts
honestly, has nothing to fear, and consequently has nothing
to conceal; and it would be of use if a monthly or quarterly
account was to be published, as well of the expenditures as
of the receipts. Eight millions of dollars must be husbanded
with an exceeding deal of care to make it do, and therefore,
as the management must be reputable, the publication
would be serviceable.

I have heard of petitions which have been presented to
the Assembly of this State (and probably the same may
have happened in other States) praying to have the taxes
lowered. Now the only way to have the taxes low, is, for
the United States to have ready money to go to market
with; and though the taxes to be raised for the present
year will fall heavy, and there will naturally be some diffi-
culty in paying them, yet the difficulty, in proportion as
money spreads about the country, will every day grow less,
and in the end we shall save some millions of dollars by it.

L 2


We see what a bitter revengeful enemy we have to deal
with, and any expence is cheap compared to their merciless
paw. We have seen the unfortunate Carolineans hunted
like partridges on the mountains, and it is only by pro-
viding means for our defence, that we shall not be in the
same condition. When we think or talk about taxes, we
ought to recollect that we lie down in peace, and sleep in
safety; that we can follow our farms, or stores, or other
occupations, in prosperous tranquillity : and that these inesti-
mable blessings are procured to us by the taxes that we pay.

Online LibraryThomas PaineThe political and miscellaneous works of Thomas Paine .. (Volume 1) → online text (page 23 of 65)