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H. OF R.]
Duties on Imports.

(May, 1789. to charge us for every comfort and enjoyment of rest. He was against receiving the motion into life, and at the same time take away the means of this bill, though he had no objection to taking it procuring them; they do not wish to break us up by itself, on the principles of humanity and down at once.

policy; and therefore would vote against it if it He was convinced, from the inaptitude of the was not withdrawn. motion, and the want of time to consider it, that Mr. Ames joined the gentleman last up; no the candor of the gentleman would induce him to one could suppose him favorable to slavery ; he withdraw it for the present; and if ever it came detested it from his soul; but he had some doubts forward again, he hoped it would comprehend the whether imposing a duty on the importation white slaves as well as black, who were imported would not have the appearance of countenancing from all the jails in Europe; wretches, convicted the practice; it was certainly a subject of some of the most flagrant crimes, were brought in and delicacy, and no one appeared to be prepared for sold without any duty whatever. He thought the discussion. He therefore hoped the motion that they ought to be taxed equally with the Af- would be withdrawn. ricans, and had no doubt but the constitutionality Mr. LIVERMORE was not against the principle and propriety of such a measure was equally ap- of the motion; but in the present case he conparent with the one proposed.

ceived it improper. If negroes were goods, wares, Mr. Tucker thought it unfair to bring in such or merchandise, they came within the title of the an important subject at a time when debate was bill; if they were not, the bill would be inconalmost precluded. The committee had gone sistent. But if they are goods, wares, or merthrough the impost bill, and the wbole Union was chandise, the five per cent. ad valorem will emimpatiently expecting the result of their delibera- brace the importation, and the duty of five per tions; the public must be disappointed, and much cent. is nearly equal to ten dollars per head; so revenue lost, or this question cannot undergo that there is no occasion to add it even on the score of full discussion which it deserves.

We have no right, said he, to consider whether Mr. Jackson said, it was the fashion of the day the importation of slaves is proper or not; the to favor the liberty of slaves. He would not go Constitution gives us no power on that point; it into a discussion of the subject; but he believed is left to the tates to judge of that matter as it was capable of demonstration that they were they see fit. But if it is a business the gentleman better off in their present situation than they is determined to discourage, he ought to have would be if they were manumitted. What are brought his motion forward sooner, and even then they to do if they are discharged? Work for a not have introduced it without previous notice. living? Experience has shown us they will not. He hoped the committee would reject the motion, Examine what has become of those in Maryland; if it was not withdrawn. He was not speaking many of them have been set free in that State. so much for the State he represented as for Geor- Did they turn themselves to industry and useful gia; because the State of South Carolina had a pursuits? No, they turn out common pickpockprohibitory law, which could be renewed when ets, petty larceny villains. And is this mercy, its limitation expired.

forsooth, to turn them into a way in which they Mr. Parker had ventured to introduce the sub- must lose their lives; for when they are thrown ject after full deliberation, and did not like to upon the world, void of property and connexions, withdraw it. Although the gentleman from Con- they cannot get their living but by pilfering: necticut (Mr. Sherman) had said, that they What is to be done for compensation? Will ought not to be enumerated with goods, wares, Virginia set all her negroes free? Will they give and merchandise, he believed they were looked up the money they cost them, and to whom? upon by the African traders in this light. He When this practice comes to be tried there, the knew it was degrading the human species to an- sound of liberty will lose those charms which nex that character to them; but he would rather make it grateful to the ravished ear. But our do this than continue the actual evil of importing slaves are not in a worse situation than they slaves a moment longer. He hoped Congress were on the coast of Africa. It is not uncommon would do all that lay in their power to restore to there for the parents to sell their children in human nature its inherent privileges, and, if pos- peace; and in war, the whole are taken and sible, wipe off the stigma under which America made slaves together. In these cases, it is only a labored. The inconsistency in our principles, change of one slavery for another; and are they with which we are justly charged, should be done not better here, where they have a master, bound away, that we may show, by our actions, the pure by the ties of interest and law, to provide for their beneficence of the doctrine we hold out to the support and comfort in old age or infirmity, in world in our Declaration of Independence. which, if they were free, they would sink under

Mr. SHERMAN thought the principles of the mo- the pressure of woe for want of assistance ? tion, and the principles of the bill, were inconsis- He would say nothing of the partiality of such tent; the principle of the bill was to raise rev- a tax; it was admitted by the avowed friends of enue, the principle of the motion to correct a the measure; Georgia, in particular, would be moral evil. Now, considering it as an object of oppressed. On this account, it would be the most revenue, it would be unjust, because two or three od Congress could impose. States would bear the whole burden, while he be- Mr. SCHUREMAN hoped the gentleman would lieved they bore their full proportion of all the l withdraw his motion, because the present was not

May, 1789.]

Duties on Imports.

[H. OF R.

the time or place for introducing the business. of America with respect to the African trade. He thought it had better be brought forward in We have liberty to impose a tax or duty upon the House, as a distinct proposition. If the gen- | the importation of such persons, as any of the tleman persisted in having the question deter- States now existing shall think proper to admit; mined, he would move the previous question, if and this liberty was granted, I presume, upon two he was supported.

considerations: The first was, that until the time Mr. Madison.-I cannot concur with gentle arrived when they might abolish the importation men who think the present an improper time of slaves, they might have an opportunity of evior place to enter into a discussion of the proposed dencing their sentiments on the policy and humotion. If it is taken up in a separate view, we manity of such a trade. The other was, that they shall do the same thing at a greater expense of might be taxed in due proportion with other artitime. But gentlemen say that it is improper to cles imported; for if the possessor will consider connect the two objects, because they do not | them as property, of course they are of value, and come within the title of the bill; but this objec- ought to be paid for. If gentlemen are apprehention may be obviated by accommodating the title sive of oppression from the weight of the tax, to the contents. There may be some inconsist- let them make an estimate of its proportion, and ency in combining the ideas whic gentlemen they will find that it very little exceeds five per have expressed, that is, considering the human cent. ad valorem ; so that they will gain very little race as a species of property; but the evil does by having them thrown into that mass of articles; not arise from adopting the clause now proposed; whilst, by selecting them in the manner proposed, it is from the importation to which it relates. we shall fulfil the prevailing expectations of our Our object in enumerating persons on paper with fellow-citizens, and perform our duty in executmerchandise, is to prevent the practice of actually ing the purposes of the Constitution. It is to be treating them as such, by having them in future hoped, that, by expressing a national disapprobaforming part of the cargoes of goods, wares, and tion of this trade, we may destroy it, and save merchandise to be imported into the United States. ourselves from reproaches, and our posterity the The motion is calculated to avoid the very evil imbecility ever attendant on a country filled with intimated by the gentleman.

slaves. It has been said that this tax will be partial and I do not wish to say any thing harsh to the oppressive; but if a fair view is taken of this sub- hearing of gentlemen who entertain different ject, I think we may form a different conclusion. sentiments from me, or different sentiments from But if it be partial or oppressive, are there not those I represent; but if there is any one point in many instances in which we have laid taxes of which it is clearly the policy of this nation, so this nature? Yet are they not thought to be jus- far as we constitutionally can, to vary the practified by national policy?' If any article is war- tice obtaining under some of the State Governranted on this account, how much more are we ments, it is this. But it is certain a majority of authorized to proceed on this occasion ? The the States are opposed to this practice; therefore, dictates of humanity, the principles of the peo- upon principle, we ought to discountenance it as ple, the national safety, and happiness, and pru- far as is in our power. dent policy, require it of us. The Constitution If I were not afraid of being told that the rephas particularly called our attention to it; and of resentatives of the several States are the best able all the articles contained in the bill before us, this 10 judge of what is proper and conducive to their is one of the last I should be willing to make a particular prosperity, I should venture to say that concession upon, so far as I am at liberty to go, it is as much the interest of Georgia and South according to the terms of the Constitutiou or Carolina as of any in the Union. Every addition principles of justice. I would not have it under they receive to their number of slaves, tends to stood that my zeal would carry me to disobey the weaken and render them less capable of self-deinviolable commands of either.

fence. In case of hostilities with foreign nations, I understood it had been intimated, that the they will be the means of inviting attack, inmotion was inconsistent or unconstitutional. I stead of repelling invasion. It is a necessary duty believe, sir, my worthy colleague has formed the of the General Government to protect every part words with a particular reference to the Consti- of the empire against danger, as well internal as tution; any how, so far as the duty is expressed, external. Every thing, therefore, which tends to it perfectly accords with that instrument. If there increase this danger, though it may be a local afare any inconsistencies in it, they may be recti- fair, yet, if it involves national expense or safety, fied. I believe the intention is well understood, becomes of concern to every part of the Union, but I am far from supposing the diction improper. and is a proper subject for the consideration of If the description of the persons does not accord those charged with the general administration of with the ideas of the gentleman from Georgia, the Government. I hope, in making these obser(Mr. Jackson,) and his idea is a proper one for | vations, I shall not be understood to mean that a the committee to adopt, I see no difficulty in proper attention ought not to be paid to the local changing the phraseology.

opinions and circumstances of any part of the I conceive the Constitution, in this particular, United States, or that the particular representawas formed in order that the Government, whilst tives are not' best able to judge of the sense of it was restrained from laying a total prohibition, their immediate constituents. might be able to give some testimony of the sense If we examine the proposed measure, by the

1st Cox.—12

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H. OF R.]

Duties on Imports.

[May, 1789.


agreement there is between it and the existing States were not in part repealed. Those who State laws, it will show us that it is patronized had endeavored to discountenance this trade by by a very respectable part of the Union. I am laying a duty on the importation, were prevented informed that South Carolina has prohibited the by the Constitution from continuing such regulaimportation of slaves for several years yet to tion, which declares that no State shall lay any

We have the satisfaction, then, of reflect- impost or duties on imports. If this were the ing that we do nothing more than their own laws case, and he suspected pretty strongly that it was do at this moment. This is not the case with one the necessity of adopting the proposition of his State. I am sorry that her situation is such as to colleague was more apparent. seem to require a population of this nature; but Mr. SHERMAN said the Constitution does not it is impossible, in the nature of things, to consult consider these persons as a species of property; it the national good, without doing what we do not speaks of them as persons, and says, that a tax or wish to do to some particular part.

duty may be imposed on the importation of them Perhaps gentlemen contend against the intro- into any State which shall permit the same, but duction of the clause on too slight grounds. If it they have no power to prohibit such importation does not comport with the title of the bill, alter for twenty years. But Congress have power to the latter. If it does not conform to the precise declare upon what terms persons coming into the terms of the Constitution, amend it. But if it United Siates shall be entitled to citizenship; the will tend to delay the whole bill, that, perhaps, rule of naturalization must however be uniform. will be the best reason for making it the object of He was convinced there were others who ought a separate one.

If this be the sense of the com- to be regulated in this particular, the importation mittee, I shall submit.

of whom was of an evil tendency, he meant conMr. Gerry thought all duties ought to be laid victs particularly. He thought that some regula de as equally as possible. He had endeavored to en- tion respecting them was also proper ; but it being force this principle yesterday, but without the a different subject, it ought to be taken up in a success he wished for; he was bound by the prin- different manner. ciple of justice, therefore, to vote for the proposi- Mr. Madison was led to believe, from the tion. But if the committee were desirous of con- observation that had fallen from the gentleman, sidering the subject fully by itself, he had no that it would be best to make this the subject of objection ; but he thought when gentlemen laid a distinct bill: he, therefore, wished his colleague down a principle, they ought to support it gene- would withdraw his motion, and move in the rally.

House for leave to bring in a bill on the same Mr. BURKE said, gentlemen were contending principles. for nothing; that the value of a slave averaged Mr. PARKER consented to withdraw his motion about eighty pounds, and the duty on that sum at under a conviction that the House was fully satisfive per cent would be ten dollars. As Congress fied of its propriety. He knew very well that could go no further than that sum, he conceived these persons were neither goods nor wares, but it made no difference whether they were enume- they were treated as articles of merchandise. Alrated or left in the common mass.

though he wished to get rid of this part of his Mr. Madison. If we contend for nothing, the property, yet he should not consent to deprive gentlemen who are opposed to us do not contend other people of theirs by any act of his, without for a great deal. But the question is, whether their consent. the five per cent. ad valorem on all articles im- The committee rose, reported progress, and the ported, will have any operation at all upon the House adjourned. introduction of slaves, unless we make a particular enumeration on this account. The collector

Thursday, May 14. may mistake; for he would not presume to apply the term goods, wares, and merchandise to any A message from the Senate informed the person whatsoever. But if that general definition House, that they had appointed a committee to of goods, wares, and merchandise, is supposed to confer with such committee as shall be named on include Áfrican slaves, why may we not particu- the part of the House, to report what newspapers larly enumerate them, and lay the duty pointed the members of Congress shall be furnished with out by the Constitution, which, as gentlemen tell during the session at the public expense. us, is no more than five per cent. upon their value. The petition of Archibald McLean, of the city This will not increase the burden upon any; but of New York, printer, was presented, praying to it will be that manifestation of our sense expected be employed to execute such portion of the printby our constituents, and demanded by justice and ing of Congress as they may think proper to allot humanity.

him. Mr. Bland had no doubt of the propriety or A petition from the distillers of Philadelphia good policy of this measure. He had made up and its vicinity, suggesting the propriety of a his mind upon it; he wished slaves had never greater difference in the duties on rum and mobeen introduced into America. But if it was lasses imported than had been proposed. impossible at this time to cure the evil, he was Said petitions were ordered to lie on the table. very willing to join in any measures that would The petition of Jedediah Morse presented some prevent its extending further. He had some days ago, was referred to a committee, consisting doubts whether the prohibitory laws of the l of Messrs. Huntington, CADWALADER, and Con

MAY, 1789.]

Duties on Imports.

[H. OF R.

TEE; and that from the citizens of New Jersey, certain injuries which they have sustained under be referred to the Committee of Elections. the operation of the acts of the late Congress,

A petition was presented from Englehart Cruse, were presented to the House, and ordered io lie praying for a grant of exclusive privilege for a on the table. term of years, to construct and vend within the Mr. White, one of the Representatives from United States, an improved steam engine, which Virginia, presented to the House a resolve of the he has inventéd, for raising water for the purpo- Legislature of that State, of the 27th of Decemses of mills, manufactories, &c. Referred to the ber, 1788, offering to the acceptance of the Fedesame committee to which Mr. Morse's petition ral Government ten miles square of territory, or is referred.

any lesser quantity, in any part of that Siate,

which Congress may choose, to be occupied and DUTIES ON IMPORTS.

possessed by the United States, as the seat of the The House then again went into a Committee Federal Government; which was read, and oron the impost bill, Mr. Page in the Chair.

dered to lie on the table. Mr. Smith moved to add a clause allowing a drawback of ten per cent. on the duty payable

DUTIES ON IMPORTS. on all goods imported in American vessels, owned An engrossed bill for laying a duty on goods, and navigated according to law, by citizens of wares, and merchandises, imported into the Unithe United States; which was carried by a vote ted States, was read a third time, and, on a motion of 30 to 16.

made, ordered to be recommitted to a Committee The committee then rose, and reported the bill of the Whole House immediately. with amendments; which, being agreed to by The House, accordingly, resolved itself into the House, it was ordered to be engrossed for a the said committee; and, after some time, the third reading. Adjourned.

committee rose, and reported the bill with amend

ments, which were agreed to by the House. FRIDAY, May 15.

Mr. Madison made a motion further to amend

the said bill, by adding to the end thereof a clause Mr. Bland, from the committee appointed to for limiting the time of its continuance. confer with a committee of the Senate, in pre- Mr. Ames expressed a doubt of the propriety of paring proper rules to be established between the the motion. He thought the bill ought to be iwo Houses, for the enrolment, attestation, publi- commensurate with the wants of Government. cation, and preservation of the acts of Congress, Mr. FITZSIMONS.-For want of a proper knowand to regulate the mode of presenting the ad-ledge of the true situation of our affairs, we are dresses, and other acts, to the President of the unable to determine how far the present provision United States, made a report, which was read, is equal to the necessities of the Union, and this and ordered to be referred to a Committee of the circumstance will tend to add considerably to our Whole House.

embarrassment in limiting the duration. If we Ordered, That Mr. SYLVESTER, Mr. WYN- make the time too short to supply the public KOOP, and Mr. Smith (of South Carolina,) be a wants, we shall not hold out to the public credicommittee to confer with the committee ap- tors a sufficient security for the punctual payment pointed by the Senate, to report what newspapers of their debts. If we should want to raise money the members of Congress shall be furnished with by a loan, we could only expect it according to at the public expense; and that it be an instruc- the duration of the fund: this makes the present tion to the said committee, on the part of this motion a subject of serious consideration. Not House, to receive proposals for printing the acts that I object to what the gentleman has in conand other proceedings of Congress, and report templation, but I wish such language to be used thereupon.

that shall designate the continuation of the law The several petitions of Francis Childs and to be till the wants are supplied, and thereafter John Swaine, and of Samuel Loudon and Son, cease. I am not of opinion that it should be for praying to be employed in the printing business half a century, because I hope our national debt of Congress, were presented to the House, and, will be extinguished in much less time; but really together with the petition of Archibald McLean, I must confess, at this moment, I feel considerable presented yesterday, to same effect, ordered to be embarrassment in determining in my mind the referred to the committee last appointed. period for which it should exist, whether an enu

Several other petitions of the citizens of New merated term of years, or a general declaration Jersey, praying that the elections of Representa- during the continuance of the public wants. tives from that State may be declared valid, were I think it will be necessary specially to appropresented to the House, and ordered to be referred priate this revenue : indeed, I think all revenue to the Committee of Elections.

should be appropriated at the time it is granted; A petition of the Baron de Glaubeck, praying but our want of knowledge respecting our situathe consideration of Congress for certain losses tion makes it impracticable to direct a special and military services during the late war; also, a appropriation at this time. Hence I cannot see petition of Bartlett Hinds, a wounded officer in what ought to be the decision of the House on The Massachusetts line of the late Continental he present

think something of this army, in behalf of himself and the Continental kind ought to be done, but I cannot say particupensioners in that State, praying relief against I larly what. I believe' other gentlemen will, on

H. OPR.]

Duties on Imports.

[May, 1789.

this occasion, find it easier to see the difficulty Besides, the objects for which the revenue is than to obviate it; but I hope those who have now wanting, will decrease annually; this will considered it will give their sentiments to the be an additional reason for limiting its duration. House, in order to enable us to form a judgment He was not for a very short term, he thought five, of what may be most expedient and proper. seven, or ten years would be more eligible than

Mr. Lee thought the operation of the law could two or three, but he was decidedly against manot be well understood; that it was a system of king it perpetual. experiment, and ought to be temporary, in order Mr. SINNICKSON had understood that one of the that a future Congress might make such amend objects of the bill was the re-establishment of ments as time should discover to be necessary. public credit; but it never could be imagined that How perfect soever the theory might appear, a law, limited to three or four years, could do this practice might prove it otherwise; he therefore in any great degree; nor could any advantage wished its operation limited for three or five years. arise from loans negotiated and terminated within He thought it would be wise in the House to such a short period. Under these impressions, he adopt the motion, in order to prevent any injus-conceived the motion struck at the credit of the tice which a permanent and imperfect regulation new Government, which the people had just might have on posterity. He expected this would established. beget confidence in the Government, which was If the law was discovered to operate unequally, to him a very desirable object.

it might be amended by a future Legislature, who Mr. White.— The Constitution having autho- would take care to supply new funds to replace rized the House of Representatives alone to origi- those which were either given up or reduced. nate money bills, places an important trust in our Mr. Madison.—When he offered this amendhands, which, as their protectors, we ought not ment to the bill, he thought its propriety was so to part with. "I do not mean to imply that the obvious and striking, that it would meet no opSenate are less to be trusted than this House; but position. To pass a bill, not limited in duration, the Constitution, no doubt for wise purposes, has which was to draw revenue from the pockets of given the immediate Representatives of the peo- the people, appeared to be dangerous in the adple a control over the whole Government in this ministration of any Government; he hoped, thereparticular, which for their interest they ought not fore, the House would not be less cautious in this to let out of their hands. Besides, the Constitu- particular than other nations are, who profess to tion says further, that no appropriation shall be act upon sound principles. He imagined it might for a longer term than two years, which of conse- be considered by their constituents as incompatiquence limits the duration of the revenue law to ble with the spirit of the Constitution, and danthat period; when, if it is found conducive to the gerous to republican principles, to pass such a law public welfare, it may be continued by the legis- unlimited in its duration. Iators appointed by the people, and who alone are He hoped it would not be understood by genauthorized to declare upon this question in the tlemen who opposed his motion, that he supposed first instance.

them to be actuated with a desire to do injury to As to the restoration of our credit, or procuring either of those principles; he believed them to be of loans; if those who have money to lend, have moved only by an ardent desire to promote the confidence in our Government, and that confidence general welfare, by the re-establishment of public can only be regained by a punctual discharge of credit. He would heartily join his labors with our engagements, we shall be able to draw the theirs, to effect this object, but wished to do it in advantages from those causes which we formerly a way, that while they served their country, they did. It was sufficient heretofore, and from the might secure the liberties of the people, and do energy of the Government it is now more worthy honor to themselves. Besides the restoration of of trust.

public credit, he thought the act had in view the Mr. LIVERMORE hoped but little time would be encouragement of a particular description of peotaken up in the discussion of this subject, the peo-ple, which might lead them into enterprises of a ple were anxiously waiting the result of their de- peculiar nature, for the protection of which the liberations; beside, the impost was daily slipping public faith seemed to be pledged. But would away. He had no doubt of the propriety of the gentlemen infer from hence, that no alteration motion, because from the acknowledged imper- ought to take place if the manufactures were well fections of the bill, it would never do for a per established? The subject appeared to him in a manent system. If the people, who consider twofold point of view; first, to provide for the themselves subjected to very high and very une exigencies of Government, and second, for the qual duties, find no termination of the grievance, establishment of public credit; but he thought they will immediately adopt measures in their both these objects could be obtained without madefence, to thwart the views of Government; but king the bill perpetual. If the Government showed if they understand the law as temporary, and only a proper attention to the punctual performance of passed in order to gain experience for forming a lits engagements, it would obtain the latter; the better system, they will be induced to give it fair other would be secured by making provision as play, and bear the burden without complaint, the occasion demanded. If the bill was to be trusting to wi om and justice of Congress perpetual, it would be continued after the for such alterations as practice may show to be purpose for which it was adopted had ceased; the necessary.

error would in this case be irremediable; whereas,

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