University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
Link to University of Wisconsin Digital Collections
The History Collection

Page View

Jensen, Merrill; Kaminski, John P.; Saladino, Gaspare J. (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Pennsylvania

B. The Dissent of the Minority of the Convention,   pp. 617-640

Page 636

gress, under this government, is expressly vested with the authority of
laying a capitation or poll tax upon every person to any amount. This
is a tax that, however oppressive in its nature, and unequal in its opera-
tion, is certain as to its produce and simple in its collection; it cannot
be evaded like the objects of imposts or excise, and will be paid, be-
cause all that a man hath will he give for his head. This tax is so
congenial to the nature of despotism, that it has ever been a favorite
under such governments. Some of those who were in the late general
convention from this state have long labored to introduce a poll tax
among us.
The power of direct taxation will further apply to every individual,
as Congress may tax land, cattle, trades, occupations, etc. to any
amount, and every object of internal taxation is of that nature, that
however oppressive, the people will have but this alternative, either
to pay the tax, or let their property be taken, for all resistance will
be vain. The standing army and select militia would enforce the
For the moderate exercise of this power, there is no control left in
the state governments, whose intervention is destroyed. No relief, or
redress of grievances can be extended, as heretofore, by them, There
is not even a declaration of RIGHTS to which the people may appeal
for the vindication of their wrongs in the court of justice. They must
therefore, implicitly, obey the most arbitrary laws, as the worst of
them will be pursuant to the principles and form of the constitution,
and that strongest of all checks upon the conduct of administration,
responsibility to the people, will not exist in this government. The
permanency of the appointments of senators and representatives, and
the control the Congress have over their election, will place them
independent of the sentiments and resentment of the people, and the
administration having a greater interest in the government than in
the community, there will be no consideration to restrain them from
oppression and tyranny. In the government of this state, under the
old confederation, the members of the legislature are taken from among
the people, and their interests and welfare are so inseparably con-
nected with those of their constituents, that they can derive no ad-
vantage from oppressive laws and taxes, for they would suffer in com-
mon with their fellow citizens; would participate in the burthens they
impose on the community, as they must return to the common level,
after a short period; and notwithstanding every exertion of influence,
every means of corruption, a necessary rotation excludes them from
permanency in the legislature.
This large state is to have but ten members in that Congres;s which
is to have the liberty, property, and dearest concerns of every individual

Go up to Top of Page