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Jensen, Merrill (ed.) / Ratification of the Constitution by the states: Delaware, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut
(1978)

VI. The Connecticut Convention, 3-9 January 1788,   pp. 535-562


Page 549

The second objection is that the impost is not a proper mode of
taxation; that it is partial to the Southern States. I confess I am
mortified when I find gentlemen supposing that their delegates in
Convention were inattentive to their duty and made a sacrifice of
the interests of their constituents. If, however, the impost be a par-
tial mode, this circumstance, high as my opinion of it is, would
stagger my belief in it; for I abhor partiality. But I think there are
three special reasons why an impost is the best way of raising a na-
tional revenue.
The first is, it is the most fruitful and easy way. All nations have
found it to be so. Direct taxation can go but little way towards rais-
ing a revenue. To raise money in this way, people must be provident;
they must be constantly laying up money to answer the demands of
the collector. But you cannot make people thus provident; if you
would do anything to purpose, you must come in when they are
spending and take a part with them. This does not take away the
tools of a man's business or the necessary utensils of his family. It
only comes in when he is taking his pleasure and feels generous when
he is laying out a shilling for superfluities. It takes two pence of
it for public use and the remainder will do him as much good as
the whole. I will instance two facts which show how easily and in-
sensibly a revenue is raised by indirect taxation. I suppose people
in general are not sensible that we pay a tax to the State of New York.
Yet it is an uncontrovertible fact that we, the people of Connecticut,
pay annually into the treasury of New York more than fifty thou-
sand dollars. Another instance I will mention. One of our common
river sloops pays in the West Indies a portage bill of £60. This is a
tax which foreigners lay upon us and we pay it. For a duty laid upon
our shipping which transports our produce to foreign markets, sinks
the price of our produce and operates as an effectual tax upon those
who till the ground and bring the fruits of it to market. All nations
have seen the necessity and propriety of raising a revenue by indirect
taxation, by duties upon articles of consumption. France raises a
revenue of 24 millions sterling per annum, and it is chiefly in this
way. 50 millions of livres they raise upon the single article of salt.
The Swiss cantons raise almost the whole of their revenue upon salt.
Those states purchase all the salt which is to be used in the country;
they sell it out to the people at an advanced price; the advance is
the revenue of the country. In England, the whole public revenue
is about 12 millions sterling per annum. The land tax amounts to
about 2 millions; the window and some other taxes to about two mil-
lions more. The other 8 millions is raised upon articles of consump-
tion. The whole standing army of Great Britain could not enforce
VI. CONVENTION
549


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