The Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Howell
Cobb, in his report on the Finances, dated December 6th, 1858, page 7,
when speaking on taxes for revenue, says:
should be laid as will produce the required revenue, by imposing on the
people at large the smallest and the most equal burdens.
"It is obvious
that this is most effectually done by taxing, in preference to others,
such articles as are not produced in this country; and among articles produced
here, those in which the home product bears the least proportion to the
quantity imported, are the fittest for taxation. The reason is, that in
taxing articles not made in the country, the whole sum taken from the consumer
goes into the Treasury, while in the other class the consumer pays the enhanced
value, not only on the quantity imported, but on the quantity made at home.
This last tax is paid, not into the Treasury, but to the manufacturer, thereby
rendering such a duty not only more burdensome, but grossly unequal-the
home producer being benefited at the expense of the consumer."
Now, while fully
admitting that taxes should be raised to "produce the required revenue,
by imposing on the people at large the smallest and the most equal burdens,"
I distinctly deny that any tax on any product of industry whatever, or
any tax but the Land Tax, can possibly do it.
Now, let us
look at the amount of duties collected, who pay the duties, and what is
The amount collected
for the fiscal (or revenue) year of 1857, ending June 30th, was over fifty
million dollars; the cost of collecting is reported as over three million
dollars, or six per cent on the whole. Much of it will be spent for war
vessels to prevent one of the rights or man to Free Trade which our rulers
call "smuggling;" another item of cost growing out of the prevention of
Free Trade is litigation or numerous law suits for violating the tariff;
another enormous expense is the erection of custom houses, Which, in eighteen
places completed, cost one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars each.
amount of the tariff may be twenty per cent., which the importer must pay,
and charge his profit on the twenty per cent. duty, which will be at least
twenty-two per cent. to the retailer, who will charge his profit on the
whole amount, which, if he add one-third to the Whole, including seven per
cent. on the duty, will make the duty of twenty per cent, twenty-nine or
thirty per cent. to the consumer.
And who are
the consumers of the imported goods? Are they not "the people at large,"
on whom were to fall the smallest and most equal burdens of taxation? Who
buy the hats, bonnets, jewelry, daguerreotype plates, china, porcelain,
earthenware, stoneware, beer, ale and porter, all of which pay twenty-four
per cent, while wines and brandies pay thirty per cent. duty?
Who are the
consumers? Is it not safe to say that two-thirds are consumed in the Free
States, and a great portion by the hard working, ill paid, landless labourers
and producers of the nation's wealth? Do not all such taxes go directly
to promote the profit of land monopoly and man monopoly (or slavery)? Does
it not take the taxes out of the pockets of the toiling consumers, and by
exempting the land from so much taxes, enable the landlord to sell or rent
his land for so much more? Do people buy these imported goods in proportion
to the land they hold, or in proportion to the slaves they hold? If not,
who pay the taxes and make landholding and slaveholding profitable? Land
monopoly is really the parent of chattel slavery, for if no persons owned
the land of others, or more land than they needed to cultivate by their
own labour for their own support, they would not covet their fellow-men
as slaves; but, having obtained the land of others by legal or illegal robbery;
they crave their fellowmen as slaves to work it for them; and Africa must
be robbed, and slaves must be bred, and men, and women, and children reduced
to bondage, to maintain in luxury and idleness a land-robbing and man-robbing
aristocracy, a nobility forsooth, based on the lasso, the manacles, and
the lash; the gag, the fetter, and the thumbscrew; the whipping-post, the
chain and ball, the man-stealer, and the bloodhound. But remember that this
land-stealing and man-stealing are done, not only by the sanction of our
laws, but by our method of taxing, which has made both evils doubly profitable.
The law might sanction slavery to all eternity if it was unprofitable, and
no law worshippers would be patriotic enough to hold slaves any more than
they would carry white men to Africa for slaves at a loss. Let us, then,
remove this cause or temptation, which is the profit, by putting all the
taxes on the land, and the effect will assuredly cease. I shall endeavour
to show that the land tax would make slavery profitless also.
land-robbery and man-robbery profitable, their priests ransack the laws
of Moses and the teachings of Christ to sanction the robbery and prove
the piety of the institution; and patriotic politicians quote their political
ancestors to justify the wrong-as though evil grew venerable by age, and
wrong right by authority; and as though we had no standard of right but the
law of the priest and politician. While slavery is profitable there will
be no lack of patriotism and piety to sustain it; the trinity of profit,
patriotism and piety, will be in perfect unity; but take away the profit
of slavery, and the patriotism and piety will be nowhere.
How many in the love of wrong will seek a
law or creed,
A custom or authority to sanctify the deed;
But that which gives the highest joy to all
Needs no command to justify, no human law