Friday, July 22, 2011

"In every tax, your object should be revenue"

In The Old Republicans, Norman K. Risjord cites a speech delivered by Virginia Rep. Alexander Smyth on Thursday January 30, 1823 as "the first time it was openly asserted on the House floor" "that the protective tariff was unconstitutional." Rep. "Smyth maintained that the power to lay and collect taxes was for purposes of revenue only; Congress had no power to protect domestic manufactures":
Sir, I consider the committee who brought in this bill as an unconstitutional committee. Show me your authority to encourage domestic manufactures. You have nothing to do with manufactures but to pass a law for giving up runaway apprentices; and nothing to do with agriculture, but to pass a law for giving up runaway slaves.

You have power "to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States." The power granted to you is a power to raise revenue for the purpose of executing your granted powers; not a power to impose taxes to diminish the revenue, thereby to encourage and protect domestic manufactures. If you levy taxes for any other purpose but to raise revenue bona fide, you abuse your power.

You have a choice of subjects of taxation, but, in every tax, your object should be revenue. If, by the imposition of the duties necessary to the raising an adequate revenue, manufactures are encouraged, it is a beneficial consequence. The Convention who former the Constitution, have never mentioned the subject of manufactures; yet, they had under consideration a proposition to give the General Government a controlling power over manufactures, which they appear to have rejected. [Here Mr. S. read some passages from the Journal of the Convention to show that such a proposition was, with others, referred to a committee; that several of the other propositions, which were referred with it, were inserted in the Constitution; but this was omitted.]

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