Front Page Titles (by Subject) SECTION 16.: THE DISTRESSES OF THE UNITED STATES. - Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
SECTION 16.: THE DISTRESSES OF THE UNITED STATES. - John Taylor, Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated 
Construction Construed and Constitutions Vindicated (Richmond: Shepherd and Pollard, 1820).
About Liberty Fund:
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
THE DISTRESSES OF THE UNITED STATES.
The previous attempts to ascertain the principles and construction of our constitutions have been made with a view of unfolding the ultimate causes of the distresses experienced by the United States. If they have flowed from false constructions, and real violations of constitutional principles, the remedy mast lie in a return to those principles, and no where else; because good principles are useless, without practical extracts; and indeed pernicious, if they inspire a confidence, which serves as a cloak for abuses.
Let us previously take a glance at the causes which have produced the existing distress in Britain, as a mirror by which those which have operated here, will be visibly reflected. I premise, that the distresses of Britain cannot have been caused by a deficiency of manufactures, because she makes a superfluity of them, beyond the demands of home consumption, and a surplus for exportation. The best authority for facts within my reach, is the Edinburgh Review. It states, that the publick burdens of that country amount to the annual sum of £106,084,203 sterling. This total is compounded to taxes, £64,506,203. Poor rates and county levies, £12,000,000. Tithes, £5,000,000. And an enhancement of grain by the protecting corn-laws, £24,578,000. But the acquisitions by banking, and by all other exclusive privileges, are left out of the computation; and the total of the national burden is therefore stated at considerably less than it ought to be. Nevertheless, from this reduced total, the distresses of Britain are very clearly deduced. Estimating the profits of capital at three per centum, somewhat under the interest of money, but about the rate at which land sells, it requires a capital of three thousand millions of pounds sterling, to supply ninety millions annually, being about sixteen millions less than the annual expenditure; and the conclusion is irresistible, that the distresses of Britain arise from the condemnation of this vast mass of national capital to eleemosynary purposes. As I shall make some use of the corn prohibition when I come home, it is necessary to borrow a reason from the Review, to prove that it is a tax of this character. This tax arises from an enhancement of the price of bread beyond what it would cost, if importation was free. Now the Reviewers prove, that which is indeed obvious, that this tax is paid by consumers, and received by landlords; because, by increasing the value of agricultural products, or to speak more correctly, of agricultural manufactures, rents will be correspondently increased, and thus the protecting corn-laws must argument the income of capitalist land-owners. This transfer, though indirect, of the profits of labour to those who do not labour, is strictly of the eleemosynary character, and the tendency of every eleemosynary measure to produce national distress, in whatever garb it appears, is well established, both by he existing state of England, and also by all experience. We have universally seen national distress graduated by mortgaging national capital, for the gratuitous benefit of idle or unproductive individuals. Though some people are rich enough to be idle, it is an evil both corrected and more than counterbalanced, by the great productive right of the freedom of labour or of property; but when a nation is robbed by laws of this productive right, and forced to buy idleness, the best corrective of idleness is destroyed, and its prolifick procreator is created. Idleness is encouraged by being pensioned. Industry is discouraged by being subjected to the payment of these pensions. Capital becomes less productive by being taken away from its owners. And therefore, every increase of the eleemosynary family produces a correspondent degree of national distress, as in the case of England.
The United States, by associating themselves with several of this family, have found a degree of national distress, which they are gravely told was caused by futurity; for this is the amount of the doctrine, that our distresses have been caused by our having neglected to make our protecting duties high enough. If the affairs of a merchant, a farmer, or a mechanick, go on badly, he looks back for the cause, should he be a man of good understanding; but if he be a weak man, he rejects the evidence of experience, and trusts to some future speculation for amending his circumstances. This mode of discovering the causes of distress, that is, by shutting our eyes upon them, and taking a new leap in the dark, to cure the wounds already sustained from such chivalry, is constantly recommended by all abuses; because they abhor the prudence of looking back, as it would lead to detection; and therefore they assure us, that although we have hitherto felt nothing but thorns in the eleemosynary road, a-head it is strewed with flowers.
It is really wonderful that the most lively imagination should be persuaded, that our distresses have been produced by what we have not done; or that the effect has preceded the cause. This, however, is the doctrine of the protecting-duty panacea. We are ruined, it says, for want of more protecting duties and obstructions to commerce: but as causes precede effects, it is more probable that we have had too many. Instead, therefore, of ascribing the distresses of the United States to things which they have done, I shall look for them in things which they have done; to which I am induced by considering, that the national distresses of Britain and of the United States could not both have been caused by the manufacturing occupation, because abundance and scarcity could not have produced the same effects; and a similarity in the distresses does not indicate a contrariety in their causes.
The creation of a nest-egg for rearing an eleemosynary family was almost the first act of the federal government. It received the people of the states with the pre-existing relations produced by a paper-currency intercourse, prescribed by unavoidable necessity. This currency was called by two names, “certificates” and “paper money,” both offsprings of the same necessity, both sanctioned by publick faith, and both transferable; but one species had been collected into a few hands, and the other was more equally distributed among the people. These currencies, whilst passing, had gradually depreciated; and each temporary occupant had sustained the losses thereby occasioned during his occupation. In this state of things, justice called for some consistent remedy, equally applicable to all the currency and to all the sufferers. Either all the intermediate losses sustained between the emission and termination of the whole currency, or none, should have been reimbursed. Both the currencies should have been redeemed at their nominal value, or neither; or both should have been redeemed at their depreciated value. The last rule would have perfectly corresponded with the right of free will in contracts or exchanges, to risque gain or loss; but it was directly adverse to legislative interferences with this right, for the introduction of the eleemosynary system, to get rid of which the states had recently passed through a long war. Instead of an equal and consistent rule, according with the publick interest, and recommended by justice, an exclusive eleemosynary capitalist interest was created by a partiality, unjust as it regarded individuals, and highly impolitick as it regarded the United States, if such an interest be oppressive and dangerous to liberty. No recompense was made to those who had sustained losses of property and labour by depreciation, during the circulation of these credit papers. If the right of free will in exchanges be sound, no recompense was due or practicable, and each individual ought to sustain its consequences; but by no principle could it be right, that these losses, instead of being thus merged into the national capital, should have been seized by law, and bestowed upon a selected class, in order to introduce the eleemosynary system. The losses inflicted upon individuals by depreciation, during the circulation of these currencies, were either property or not property. As property, they were either transferred with the paper, or not transferred. If they were transferred, they passed with both the paper certificates and the paper money, to the last holder of each species of credit paper; and the right of all such holders to the value of the paper, when issued, was the same. But if these intermediate losses did neither pass, nor constitute a just claim to compensation on the part of the last holders, both the certificate and paper-money holders were equally excluded from advancing such a demand against the publick. However, disregarding consistency, the partiality was committed, of considering certificates as carrying to the last holder all intermediate losses, and paper money as carrying none. One sect of holders being a minority and influential, obtained the value of its paper when issued, with interest, and the other sect, including the body of the people, was put off with depreciated value without interest. This was the more glaringly unjust, as the receipt of depreciated paper money was enforced by tender laws highly penal, and the receipt of depreciated certificates was free and voluntary. By this management, a certificate which had passed from A to Z, depreciating as it travelled, and purchased by Z for a twentieth part of its nominal value, resuscitated the intermediate losses for the benefit of Z, and subjected the actual sufferers to taxes for paying to Z what they had themselves lost, with interest; whilst the certificate holders escaped the burden of contributing for making good to the paper money holder a claim of the same nature with his own. This exclusive partiality transferred about one hundred millions of capital, form the people of the United States to a capitalist sect artificially created, and became the source of a stream of taxation, which may perhaps run and increase down to another revolution. The wealth of this sect was not derived from fair industry, but from an unfair law [for what law can be fair which creates what industry never does, a rich eleemosynary sect?] which, under cover of a sovereign legislative power over property, contrived to gratify the personal interest of a few members of congress, and a sect of certificate holders, by slicing off one hundred millions from the national capital; a paltry sum indeed compared with subsequent speculations, but at that time considered as so very formidable, that it generated two animated parties. The certificate sect happened chiefly to reside in particular states, and had the address to persuade these states, that the trivial and transitory circumstance of personal residence was a sufficient reason to induce them to put upon their own necks an interminable eleemosynary system, to be transmitted with their other legacies to their children.
A greater speculation upon the national capital soon grew out of the hundred millions of capital thus created by law. The artificial capitalist sect wanted more profit than funding interest, and taking into partnership members of legislative bodies, in convinced the states collectively and individually, that they would be enriched, by enabling certificate, now funded debt holders, to convert their fictitious capital into bank stock, without changing its capacity as funded stock. Thus, the same paper transferred national capital to an eleemosynary sect, in two characters; and the first acquisition of one hundred millions became comparatively inconsiderable. The locality of artificial capital soon disappeared, as if providence designed to give all the states a taste of the eleemosynary policy, to enable them to decide, whether the residence of its disciples would make that policy a publick good. Let us consider whether it can be so in the form of banking.
To determine this question, I shall urge a new argument to prove, that banks, both state and federal, destroy a principle essential to all our constitutions, and essential also to every conceivable free form of government; and that this vital desolation has caused many of the publick distresses. The people, by all our constitutions, have delegated to their representatives a power of legislation; but by none have they delegated to their representatives a power to delegate legislative powers to persons, not elected by the people, nor indeed by themselves. Legitimate legislatures have no power to appoint deputy or attorney legislatures, and if they had, they must do it themselves, and not depute others to do it both for their constituents and themselves. These positions bring to a fair test the doctrine of legislative sovereignty. If it be true, I admit that our legislatures may create deputy legislatures, or enable stockholders or whomsoever they please to elect deputy legislatures, and invest them when elected with legislative powers; but if it be not true, then our legislatures cannot directly or indirectly invest bank directors with legislative power, formal or substantial. Now I ask, if a power of regulating the national currency, and increasing or diminishing its quantity at pleasure, is not both a formal and substantial legislative power? What is legislative power? Something able to dispense good or harm to a community. Cannot bank directors do this? Some body has said the money governs the world. Have those who govern money no governing powers? If they have any, are they legislative, executive or judicial? The idea, that banking was an aristocratical institution, has been hitherto inferred from its privilege of getting money in an exclusive mode; but it is far better founded. It establishes a great body of directors, invested with an absolute power of pecuniary legislation, and in no degree responsible to the people. If this be not a formal and complete aristocratical power, I am unable to conceive one. The house of lords in England is an imperfect aristocratical power, because it can pass no law without the concurrence of the commons; but if it could regulate the currency of the country without the concurrence of the representatives of the people, is there any one who can believe, that it would be less aristocratical and less legislative than it now is? In that case it would be an exact portrait of our bank directors.
I ask every candid man, whether the community has not suffered a great variety of calamities from the doings of bank directors, in the exercise of their powers over currency. What are these doings? Are they not powers, able to hurt very materially the whole United States? If they are powers, do they belong neither to the civil nor political classes of power? But if they belong to either, is not a body of men constituted as bank directors, are, and exercising powers either civil or political, affecting a whole community, an aristocratical department, as formal and as complete as can be imagined, and infinitely more so than the British house of lords?
Need we go searching about for the causes of the publick distress, after we have found a perfect aristocracy, exercising an absolute power over the national currency? If there be any object of legislation, through which a nation can receive deeper wounds, I hope it will never be discovered; as those which this can inflict, seem sufficient to punish us for all our political sins. The secret, as to the distresses of the United States, lies in the difference between republican and aristocratical legislation, upon the important subject of money. It is a power probably equal in its capacity of doing harm, to all other legislative powers united. It can derange the fairness of all exchanges between man and man; it can tempt by legislating an abundance of currency, and ruin by legislating a scarcity; it can raise and diminish prices according to its interest, its caprices or its partialities, without controul, detection or responsibility; it can refuse when it suits its interest, to redeem its own paper, and terrify the people and the government into acquiescence, by a fear of losing their debts and salaries, and by the inconveniences of wanting a circulating medium; and when it does not choose to pay its debts, it can put its funds in its pocket, say that it got nothing, and enjoy the fruits of fraud beyond the reach in justice. Can any republican legislature remedy these evils except by removing the cause? Dare any republican legislature to product the distresses, which have for years been mere sport, however cruel, in the hands of their aristocratical deputies? It is wonderful, after mankind have discovered the folly and mischief of a single legislative maximum of price, to see them quietly submit to an eternal alternation between maximum and minimum, and bear injuries from the aristocracy by which they are imposed, which would be indignantly resisted if imposed by a republican legislature. I do not compute the power of an aristocratical legislation, without responsibility, over national morals, it is sufficiently seen and felt, and it unfortunately operates most upon those classes of society, whose integrity and patriotism are perhaps the only hostages for the continuance of a republican form of government. These aristocratical legislatures have even been able to prescribe, not a test oath, but a test of honesty, to most or all or our republican legislatures, by furnishing them first with a pretext for raising their salaries, and then with a correspondent reason for reducing them; thus directly legislating upon that whole order of men, upon whose honest any patriotism a free and fair government immediately depends.
For this aristocratical legislation, the state and federal governments have appropriated a portion of the capital of the community, far exceeding that appropriated for all our republican legislatures. It is probable, that the dividends of banks have sometimes amounted to twelve millions of dollars annually, requiring a capital of four hundred millions to supply; but as these dividends have sustained an occasional diminution preparatory to an augmentation, nine millions only may now constitute the total of the dividends received by all the banks; yet in contemplation of a prospective augmentation, twelve may be assumed as a future probable amount, and four hundred millions of national capital as appropriated to the use of bankers. It would have been correct to have charged banking with a great augmentation of salaries, expenses and taxation, which it has bestowed upon the community, but this enormous item is left out, because the community possess the means of throwing it off; until it does so, however, it ought to be considered as nearly or quite equal to the other.
The thirdele emosynary appropriation of national capital was effected by the protecting-duty laws. There is more difficulty in computing its amount, than in the similar instances of the same system we have passed over, because we cannot ascertain the portion of the tax they inflict, which gets into the pockets of owners of manufactories. But, as these laws create a species of aristocratical legislature over manufactures, exactly of the same character with the created to regulate currency, there will undoubtedly be a great similitude in their proceedings. Behold then a great community, industrious, at peace, and in distress. What an enigma? But behold its currency consigned to the regulation of bank directors, and its consumptions to the regulation of manufacturing capitalists, and you will confess that there is no enigma in the case.
The corn laws of England are equivalent to our protecting-duty laws, with respect to that portion of the tax, which goes into the pockets of capitalists. The prohibition of the importation of grain, until wheat gets to the price of eighty shillings sterling a quarter, is a tax upon the nation for augmenting the rents of landed capitalists. Whatever is carried by our protecting-duty laws into the pockets of manufacturing capitalists, is a tax upon the community for augmenting their wealth. Bread and manufactures being both necessaries, both these taxes are direct and unavoidable. By the corn laws of England, the manufacturers are compelled to pay about one-third more for home made bread, than they would have paid, if importation had been free. At this time, the price of wheat in England is about nine shillings sterling, and about eighty cents here. By our protecting-duty laws, agriculturists and all other occupations are compelled to pay for home made manufactures, about one third more, than if importations were free. The corn law tax falls most heavily on the poor, whence arises much of the distress of the working manufacturers. Our protecting-duty tax must also fall most heavily on the poor, because every tax upon necessary consumptions operates as a poll tax. A protecting-duty system exists in England in favour of manufacturing, but it inflicts no tax upon the nation, because the surplus of manufactures, beyond the wants of home consumption, renders their monopoly impossible, and makes the law internally, nominal; but the land capitalists have used this inoperative law as a pretext, to inflict an impoverishing tax upon manufacturers by the corn laws. Protecting-duty have been passed here in favour of several agricultural manufactures, but they are wholly unbeneficial to agriculturists, and inflict no tax upon any other occupation, because of the abundance of agricultural manufactures beyond the home demand. Yet the manufacturing capitalists here, in imitation of the land capitalists in England, have seized upon these inert laws as a pretext, for inflicting an impoverishing tax upon all other occupations for their own benefit. The appropriation of English national capital to the use of land capitalists is a heavy item of an eleemosynary system in favour of the rich, which requires a great standing army to maintain. The appropriation of a large portion of he capital of the United States to the use of the same system, has only caused hitherto such distresses, as suggested a necessity for the English army. An important distinction, however, exists between their corn laws, and out protecting-duty laws. Corn possesses few or none of the qualities of a general or universal currency. Being too perishable to bear repeated voyages, and of universal growth, it is unsuitable for a re-exportation and exchange; and would not act as circulating currency upon English manufactures, or increases their value in any considerable degree. But manufactures possess most of the qualities of an universal currency. They are susceptible of long preservation, and can endure repeated voyages, and are every where in demand. They are in short a better currency than any local paper. A surplus imported, beyond the wants of internal consumption, is therefore an accession of mercantile currency as valuable as coin, and will have a similar effect in raising the value of products in the country so fortunate as to obtain it. We here continually of the balance of trade; but we err, if we compute this balance only by money, and reject those things which money represents. A nation would have the balance of trade in its favour if it never brought home money, and only more valuable things than it carried out; nor would it be difficult to prove, that it would be better to receive a balance of trade in commodities, than in coin. Many cities have derived great prosperity from being depots of commodities, because they are the most valuable species of universal currency; and if all the manufactures of England could be circulated by way of the United States, it would undoubtedly add to our wealth. Whatever portion can be so circulated, will have a comparative effect. Nor is it a sufficient answer to this observation to say, that protecting-duties do not prohibit importations for exportation, because by diminishing the home market, and changing an alluring invitation into a scowling prohibition, the adventures of commerce will be dispirited, and the sources of a surplus for re-exportation dried up. However this may be, it is evident that the English corn laws, bad as they are, may be defended by one argument, of which our protecting-duty laws cannot avail themselves; namely, that an importation of corn is not an acquisition of an universal currency, and an accession of wealth.
But there is another material distinction between corn, and the whole compass of manufactures. The consumption of manufactures excites the effort and industry, which are better sources of national wealth, than exclusive privileges and commercial prohibitions. It converts numberless feelings of human nature into productive labourers, and constructs comfort, taste, pride, luxury and self-love into a machinery, worked by the steam of our passions, which compared with the sluggishness caused by suppressing gratifications, or with the animation inspired by consuming corn, will manifest the true character of the intervening gradations. Freedom in he enjoyment of the comforts and elegancies of life is the parent of that activity which reimburses a nation, both with intelligence and re-productions for its consumptions, by enlarging the capacities of the mind and body. By copying the English corn laws, we are therefore cultivating two supernumerary evils, with which those laws are not chargeable, in expelling from our shores a general and valuable currency, and in suppressing some of the strongest motives for bodily industry and mental improvement.
In computing the evil inflicted by our protecting-duty laws, that inflicted by the English corn laws will reflect much probability upon our conjectures. The corn laws, says the Edinburg Review, inflict an annual tax amounting to £24,580,000. This, at three per centum profit, is a dislocation of above £800,500,000 of national capital for the benefit of land capitalists. The enhanced price obtained by manufactory capitalists upon their annual sales constitutes the tax here, and when we consider that a man consumes a far greater value in manufactures than he does in corn, it is obvious that a tax upon so many commodities either is, or will soon become more oppressive and distressing than a tax upon one. It present amount might be nearly ascertained by finding the difference between former and existing importations, and debiting the capitalists with the consumptions resulting from their diminution, as well as those arising from an increase of population. I conjecture that home manufactures may be annually sold to the amount of fifteen or twenty millions, and that their price may be enhanced by the protecting-duty laws about six millions. But I think that these laws ought also to be charged with a dead loss of three millions more, sustained by the mercantile, agricultural and maritime employments, by the expulsion from our ports of a great number of commodities, which would have increased profit, price and employment to that amount at least. These sums dislocate three hundred millions of national capital.
The fourth great trespass upon this capital is compounded of pensions and legislative waste of time and money by doing judicial business. It is probable, that these items have absorbed about three hundred millions of national capital, but as they are included in the item of taxation, it is unnecessary to estimate their amount for the condensed view to which I am advancing, however important it may be in considering the remedies for the publick distress.
Taxation is the last heavy item of the system for transferring national capital from its owners, to eleemosynary uses. Exact vouchers to ascertain its total amount in the United States are not attainable, but I suppose the expenses of the federal government to be about twenty-six millions, and those of all the state governments to be about thirteen millions. Dollars are meant in reference to the United States, and sterling money in reference to England. I have understood that the revenue of Virginia, exclusive of county taxes and poor rates, exceeded a million, and these taxes generally amount to nearly as much more. All the taxes of every kind in Virginia being about two millions annually, as that state only contains about one tenth of the whole population of the union, it would follow from this rule, that the taxes of all the states amount to twenty millions; but as I have no vouchers, seven are deduced as a sufficient precaution against error. We shall not, therefore, be very much mistaken, by supposing that the people of the United States are paying to all their governments at this time about thirty-nine millions. Estimating the profit of capital at three per centum, this item transfers from the use of owners to eleemosynary uses, thirteen hundred millions of national capital.
It is of no consequence whether the tern “eleemosynary” be correctly or incorrectly applied to taxes, or whether governments be classed as productive or unproductive, if the facts be admitted, that governments may become oppressive by taxation, and that taxation, light or heavy, transfers capital by absorbing profit. Nor is it very important, that the estimate of three per centum as the average nett profit of all the taxable capital of the country, should be exactly correct. When an evil is felt with sufficient severity to suggest a remedy, it is losing time to be computing its amount in drachms and scruples. It is the amount of national capital, whatever that amount may be, transferred by laws from the conventional and natural owners to eleemosynary uses, which is the true cause of the publick distresses; but considering the dead surplus of land in the United States, for want of labour to cultivate it, the general poorness of the soil, and the high price of labour, my conviction is, that the whole capital of the country, subject to taxation, does not average a nett profit even of three per centum.
In Great Britain, three thousand millions of pounds of national capital are mortgaged to eleemosynary uses, and in the United States, two thousand millions of dollars are mortgaged to the same uses. The difference is about six-fold. By computing the wealth and population of the whole British empire, and its great supplies from the four quarters of the globe, we should discover that it is able to raise six times more than we are, and thence we at one account for the existing similitude between the distresses of the two countries. It must be ascribed to caused common to both, and no other common cause can be found, except the system of appropriating national capital to eleemosynary uses.
In correspondence with this similarity between cause and effect, memory furnishes evidence which seems to be irresistible. The federal taxes in the time of Washington were three millions, and computing those of the states at half as much, one hundred and fifty millions of national capital sufficed to pay them. At that time, no national capital was mortgaged to manufacturing capitalists, and but little to bankers. Two great changes have taken place; a great hypothecation of national capital to eleemosynary uses, and a great increase of publick distresses in a time of profound peace. Can any body believe that these fellow travellers have no connexion with each other?
There is another consideration of vast weight, to be estimated by the reader, and by all republican legislators, before we advert to the remedies for the publick distress. It is, that taxes, pensions, bounties, dividends and protecting duties, have been at least doubled by a rise in the value of money, and a fall in the value of produce and property, since they were imposed, without any legislative act by the representatives of the people. Madmen or tyrants only impose taxes without regarding the ability to pay. The legislatures, therefore, which imposed all our burdens, must have estimated the publick ability to sustain them, and have been governed by that estimate. When half this ability is gone, the taxes are obviously doubled, and the same estimate, by which they were imposed, requires that half of the taxes should be taken off. It is apparent that the old tariff, though unaltered in figures, is in fact doubled; together with all bounties, pensions, dividends and legislative wages, in their pressure upon the people. The notion of the manufacturing capitalists, that their bounties should be further increased, after their value to themselves, and their pressure upon the people, has been doubled by the appreciation of money, and the fall in the prices of produce and property, is founded in the same reasoning, which would justify legislatures in raising their wages, and pensioners in asking for an augmentation of pensions. Look at this reasoning. The taxes were imposed, the bounties and pensions bestowed, and the legislative wages increased, when the depreciation of money and the price of produce enabled the people to pay twice as much, as easily as they can now pay half as much; therefore taxes, bounties, pensions and wages, all absorbers of national capital, ought to be increased. Such is the reasoning of the whole sect of eleemosynarians, and it utterly precludes a redress of the evils under which the United States are labouring.
There is another mode of reasoning, equally forcible, which obstructs it. Admitting that the publick distresses arise from legislative transfers of national capital to eleemosynary uses, it would be cruel to restore this capital to the rightful owners. Would a robber, who had, in a fit of generosity, divided a purse he had taken, between a rich and poor man, be wrong in reclaiming and restoring it to the owner? After repentance has opened our eyes, can conscience be appeased without reformation? But, this is the great argument which pleads against justice to the nation, and therefore requires some examination.
The legislative power over currency with which bank directors are invested, has been exercising, and is still exercising, so as to produce many political evils, and countless individual misfortunes. These have proved, that the prescriptions of an interested aristocracy in relation to currency contribute neither to the health of society, nor the happiness of individuals. They even render it impossible, that republican legislatures should impose taxes by any correct estimate, because they can diminish the ability to pay, by diminishing the currency; or lessen the efficacy of the sum collected, by increasing it. These are considerations sufficient to open our ears to the following reasons opposed to the argument of cruelty. If legislatures are sovereigns, they had a right to invest bank directors with a legislative power of regulating currency; if not, more cruelty is comprised in the breach of constitutions, by which the liberty of a great people is endangered, and their happiness impaired, than in their vindication. The retention of unconstitutional and misery-inflicting acquisitions, will be a liberal compensation for the restoration of republican legislation over currency; especially as bankers will receive the share of the benefits which may flow from it. Patriotick bankers will find complete consolation, by balancing publick good against aristocratical legislation. Suppose we had blundered upon a king over currency; ought we to adhere to the error, after we had discovered, that monarchy was as bad a principle of government in respect to the representative of property, as to property itself? George the third was recognized as their king for life by all the colonies, and the recognition was rivetted by the word allegiance, the force of which these colonies admitted. Bank directors have been recognized by all the states as aristocracies to continue for years, and the recognition is attempted to be rivetted by the word charter, to deprive legislatures of the power of repeal by a misnomer, the force of which neither they, nor our constitutions allow. Shall the illegitimate word charter impose upon us an aristocracy for years, when the true word allegiance could not preserve a king for life? Brutus exclaimed, “virtue, thou art but a name:” and it is now contended that liberty is only a word, subjected to another word of higher authority; but I do not see any possible mode of getting rid of monarchy or aristocracy, formal or substantial, except by their removal. George the third had only a negative upon our laws, and could not legislate over a dollar. Bank directors legislate over millions, and our governments have no negative upon their laws. Could the colonies have gotten rid of the royal negative, they would have acquired the independence enjoyed by our currency legislatures.
The cruelty of abolishing the protecting-duty system admits of the same answers, because that system is of the same character with banking. It invests a combination of capitalists with a legislative power over manufactures and exchanges. The nature of this power is illustrated by the article of cotton. Its price is universally diminished by an increased product in the East and West Indies, Brazil, Spanish America and the United States. The capitalists, by a partial monopoly of necessary commodities, have subjected our cotton planters and the rest of the community, to a considerable tax for their benefit. If this tax could raise the price of our cotton, it could no longer enter into competition with foreign cotton. If not, the tax paid by our cotton planters upon home made cotton goods, would be an addition to the expense of cultivation, to which their foreign competitors not being exposed, they would still enter into the competition under great disadvantages. If our prohibition of cotton goods could raise the price of cotton abroad, our cotton planters would derive no advantage, or a less advantage from it, than foreign cotton planters by the amount of the protecting-duty tax they paid to capitalists. If the tax could raise the price here and not abroad, it could only be momentary, as it could not be exported, and would be smuggled into this country; nor could our cotton manufacturers ever export their work, whilst their rivals could buy cotton cheaper. If the protecting-duty system could raise the price of labour, justly and equally, it would do nothing, because its relative prices would remain the same; but if it should disorder this relative value, it will cause such injuries to individuals as have been caused by banking. The cotton planters throughout the world are a community, or a species of United States, no section of which can tax other sections, or get bounties from them by taxing itself. The common law of this community is the natural right of free exchanges. It cannot choose a congress, with a power of granting exclusive privileges to favoured sections, nor can any section grant exclusive privileges to itself. Any section may, indeed, diminish or lose the benefits of this common law by taxing itself; but then it will be in a worse situation, than the sections which fully retain the right of free exchanges. Cotton manufacturers throughout the commercial world compose another community. It is said, that a tax upon our cotton planters will give them some advantage over foreign cotton planters. Would a tax upon our cotton manufacturers also give them an advantage over their competitors? This is a mode of suppressing rivalry, which I never knew any interest to try willingly. It is said, that by taxing cotton planters for the benefit of cotton manufacturers, the capitalists may be bribed to sell cheap in some period, long or short; but the first step towards obtaining cheap manufactures, is to get raw materials cheap; and, therefore, the bounty ought evidently to have been given to the cotton planters, as the surest mode of effecting the promised good. But the wrong end is selected to begin at, because the right one would not bestow an accession of wealth upon capitalists. These gentlemen admit, and indeed warmly contend, that the country is cruelly distressed; and call loudly for a remedy. They propose one, as they declare, out of mere patriotism; and that of a nature so complete and effectual, that they all agree in opinion. It is simply an increase of the very eleemosynary system, which has brought us where we are, in their own favour. If this remedy will cure the publick distresses, it ought undoubtedly to be applied; if not, the same remedy under which they have increased, ought to be renounced. The similarity between the distresses experienced by the several states, visibly quotes a cause common to all. Kentucky and Ohio manufacture more than Virginia and Maryland, and have also suffered more. Manufacturing is, therefore, neither the cause nor the remedy of the general distress. But Kentucky and Ohio pushed the banking member of the eleemosynary system, farther than Virginia and Maryland. If our distresses really proceed from this system, as I have contended, the argument of cruelty can only be settled, by comparing the mass of distresses sustained by the community, under its influence, with the distresses eleemosynarians will sustain by its abolition.
Annuities to bankers and capitalists differ in no respect from the English poor rates, except in being pension to the rich. What could be said of a nation, which had no mendicant nor poor class at all, but was so enamoured with the English poor laws, as to create one out of rich people? That it imitated the policy of the United States. The several states constitute the community called the United States. Its individuals being states, no mendicant class can exist in this federal nation, except one compounded of states; and we find no power delegated to congress to provide for poor states. But it has gone out of the federal community into other nations to find a class called poor soldiers, though these individuals are members of state communities, and though there is nothing in the constitution, investing congress with any power over individuals because they are poor, or enabling it to give pensions to poor soldiers, any more than to poor militia men. By a law of congress, poverty is made to criterion of a claim to a pension, and of course, of the right of congress to grant it. What bounds are there to such a power of legislation over persons? No such boundless power was delegated to congress by the federal constitution, because it was unnecessary to the objects of the union, and that body was wholly unqualified for its judicious exercise. Legislative bodies are less qualified for an exercise of a despotick pensioning power than even kings, and in fact none possess such a power because they are not sovereign. A law granting pensions or sinecures to an individual or class, is simply an exclusive privilege law; and is evidently of a different character from a general law, making provision for all poor people who may fall within its purview, by an indiscriminate rule; nor is this latter kind of law an exercise of a judicial function, because it acts, not upon persons or sects, but upon cases only. Neither has a gratuitous pension any resemblance to a pension paid in fulfillment of a contract, or to the right or duty reserved to the states of providing for their poor, not by exclusive individual selections, but by an equal and general law. These cases differing in principle, have been blended by an incorrect application of the word “pension” to both. If our legislatures, and congress in particular, have no power to give away the property of the whole nation by sinecures and exclusive privileges, to individuals and sects, either civil or religious; the question, whether more cruelty will be produced by restoring our constitutional principles, or by adhering to an error which is oppressive upon industry, sobriety and merit, remains open.
All these sprouts of tyranny and instruments of oppression have sprung from the doctrines of legislative sovereignty, which has elongated the powers of congress from special delegation, into special reservation, and demonstrated that it has become necessary maturely to revise constitutional constructions. What can be a stronger invitation to the exercise of a duty so important to ourselves and our posterity, than the injudicious attempt to convert the federal union into a legal balance of power? If I have construed our constitutions in conformity with their intentions, these sprouts ought to be eradicated with out remorse; but, if I am mistaken, it is then to be considered whether it is best for the nation, that its distresses should be removed or continued. If these have been caused by transferring two thousand millions of national capital to eleemosynary uses, it is obvious that no remedy exists, but a restoration of so much of it, as may not be required for the purposes of a free and moderate government. Should only one half of this capital be now restored to its owners, the other half will bear as heavily on the community, as the whole did when the several burdens were imposed; if none is restored, it is evident that the weight of the burden will be doubled. This in fact has already happened, and is a most efficient cause of the publick distresses.
Let us, therefore, consider how much of the transferred capital may be restored to the people without injury to the government.
But as the two first savings, though they will increase the ability of the people to pay taxes, for the use of government, are not deductions from them, it is obvious that they would still bear heavier upon the community, though nominally reduced by the subsequent articles, than the whole did when property and products were more valuable. Other items towards liberating national capital must, therefore, be found, or a considerable portion of the existing distresses will remain. No additional retrenchments sufficient to remove these distresses that I know of, can be found, except by adverting to the army and navy. It would be frivolous for our legislatures to waste more publick money than they would save, by interminable little wranglings about little sums; and foolish in the people to be deluded into an opinion, that this was economy. The publick distresses being great, they can only be removed by great remedies. The European nations exist for the benefit of armies and navies, and armies and navies do not exist for their benefit. If this be right, these items, far from affording room for retrenchment, require additional hypothecations of national capital; but, if it be wrong, we ought rigidly to examine, whether these two great sources of expense will not admit of some reduction, beneficial to the community for whose good we yet suppose them to have been incurred. How is it possible, that the United States, having trebled their militia and strength, should yet require an army thrice as large, as in the time of Washington? Then they were engaged in a fierce war with several Indian nations; now they are in profound peace. Then the Indians were formidable; now they are feeble. And we are as distant from Europe as we were then. Governments say, that regular troops are cheaper than a militia; but taxes tell a very different tale. Ours have spoken very distinctly to the point. In fact, the idea is collected from partial calculations in time of war, quite inapplicable to times of peace. As to the navy, there may be more difficulty; but I do not know that it is much wiser to oppress the community for the purpose of building ships, which, may probably rot before war comes, than for the keeping of an army which may die without rendering any service. Perhaps it might be a better resource for naval defence, to prepare materials for building ships suddenly in case of war, than to build, man and wear them out in time of peace, by voyage of pleasure. But I leave this subject to those who understand it better.
If the protecting-duty system should be abandoned, and a traffic fabricated with a single eye to revenue, it is objected that consumptions will be increased. This effect is admitted; but I contend, that far from being an evil, it will be highly beneficial to the community. Consumptions are the food of industry; diminish them, she languishes; remove them, she starves; feed her with them, she performs double work; and this double work enables her both to enjoy more pleasures, and to pay more taxes. If half our duties were taken off, it is well established that the other half would produce more revenue than the whole now does. Why? Because industry, consumptions and enjoyments have all increased. Let the rival system face its competitor, and common sense decide which will add most to the happiness of mankind. It is simply this. Increase duties, and you diminish revenue, industry, consumptions and enjoyments. If commodities are a currency, having the effect of enhancing the prices of our commodities, this enhancement will also be a fund compensating for the increase of consumptions. In fact, the extent of consumptions is the true measure of national prosperity and happiness; both are contracted as these are diminished, and both are extended as these are increased. They are a measure of politeness, refinement and civilization; and their diminution to mere necessaries, is constantly attended by savageness. Between the extremes indicated by consumptions, namely, a situation the most exalted or the most debased, lie all the room for the ingenuity of the eleemosynarians.
The ancient appropriation of national capital in England, and the modern one in France, to the use of the clergy, caused severe national mischiefs, which were corrected in both countries by resumptions. The benefits of these resumptions have been acknowledged by most writers, and in the case of France, these benefits are considered by some as an ample compensation for its terrible revolutionary evils. National distresses, in both cases, arose from hypothecations of national capital to unproductive uses, and the remedy in both cases was a restoration. But these mischief-working appropriations of national capital were less oppressive to the people than ours which leave the capital in the hands of its owners, and take away the profit. Although the clerical appropriations consisted of land transferred by legal investitures, and were of a tincture somewhat less flagitious than our gratuitous hypothecations, they became pernicious to national prosperity, and produced evils which caused national uneasiness. The clergy long contended, that the true remedy for these evils was to endow more monastaries or manufactories of religion, and to convert more land into mortmain; and the advice, being followed, conducted the distemper to a paroxysm. We are advised to endow more capitalists, and to transfer more national capital to eleemosynary uses of various kinds. This advice leads us also towards a paroxysm. On the other hand, as the rights of vested property, or the claims of hereditary power, or the venerableness of religious sanctity, do not stand in our way; because, all our hypothecations of national property are legal experiments subject to legal abolition; we can now calmly retrace our steps, and desist from advancing to the gulf of revolution.
There is only one objection to the restoration of the national capital appropriated to banks. What shall we do for the want of a currency? So then, it comes out unequivocally, that bank directors are legislators or lords paramount over the currency of this great community. What shall we do for want of religion? say the priests of established churches. The free industry of the people, if suffered by the government to operate fairly upon the commercial world, will rapidly supply us with a better currency than the involving, fluctuating, vanishing, counterfeited currency of corporations. If banks can pay their debts, we have a sufficient specie currency in hand; if they cannot, their credit ought to cease. But is it possible, that a chain of aristocracies can give us a national currency, whilst our chain of republicks are incompetent to effect the object? If this be true, the haste with which we have been changing our principles, admits of a better defence than I had foreseen. But, for my part, I do not hesitate to assert, that our republican legislatures are able to give us a better paper currency, if one be necessary, than the aristocratical legislatures they have put in commission, can possibly do. The republican paper currency would collect no dividends, and would not hypothecate four hundred millions of the national capital for the use of an eleemosynary family of banks. It would not collect specie for exportation; and its fund for redemption could never run away or be concealed. It is incomprehensible to me, how an opinion came to take root, that paper money issued by a nation ought to bear interest in favor of those who use it, but that paper money, issued by a corporation, ought to receive interest from the same persons. The nation and its territories cannot be dissipated, stolen, or concealed by directors, cashiers or clerks; nor its responsibility fail by the disappearance of its stock; whilst the stock of banks is very often a complete illustration of Berkeley’s philosophy. Do we derive this strange prejudice from the revolutionary paper money? Well, if that was damned by experience, we also know that the same upright judge has at least condemned the paper money of banks to purgatory, a place requiring the purification by fire. Experience then advises us to reject both these kinds of paper money most unequivocally; but it has something more to say. It has shown us three kinds of paper money; that in use throughout the colonies before the revolutionary war, that in use during the war, and that now in use. The first did great good and no harm; the second great good and great harm; and the third great harm and no good. The first collected no dividends for eleemosynarians, its stock was a colony, its quantity was regulated by republican legislatures, and its specie for redemption was taxation. The second was driven by the bayonet into the morass of redundancy, was unsustained by taxation, and rested upon the rotten prop of tender laws; but like a patriot, it fought manfully for its country, and disdained to live by infecting it with the eleemosynary policy. The third absorbed four hundred millions of national capital, pretended it had specie to pay its debts, lied, stopt payment, depreciated, aggravated publick expenses and taxation, sometimes became bankrupt, made bankrupts of many individuals, and by causing fluctuations in the prices of property, ruined and reduced to misery thousands of worthy people. Experience has decided that the first was the best and the last the worst. If a paper money was issued by Congress, restricted by a constitutional amendment to one year’s amount of all our taxes, state and federal; if it was distributed in portions equal to such taxes, making each state responsible for its portion without interest; if one moiety of all taxes and payments to the publick was allowed to be made in this currency; if it was not made a tender; and if banking was suppressed, a view of the circumstances attending the three paper money experiments seems to justify an expectation that of currency might be produced, infinitely preferable to the eleemosynary currency of corporations, and at least equal to that which flourished for many years before the revolution. But, as we are now wealthy and independent, it is rather to be expected that our republican legislatures would be able to improve upon the example of British colonies. In times of peace the success of this currency would be certain; in times of war, we might still borrow and fund, without being subjected to both interest and dividends for the paper borrowed, so as to hypothecate in fact about six hundred pounds of national capital for each hundred pounds borrowed. But though I believe that the best experimental paper currency was that before the revolution; and that an imitation of it would be our wisest course, if we must have a paper currency, which I do not believe; I do not enter into the subject, because it does not fall within my plan.
The question, however, might be certainly decided by any one state, should the federal government adhere to its hypothecations of national capital to unproductive and eleemosynary uses. Suppose a single state should make a trial of the policy of relieving its capital from such destinations as far as possible, by repealing banking laws; by prohibiting under sufficient penalties the circulation of every species of paper currency; by prohibiting with internal protecting duties, the introduction of all manufactures from other states, sent to collect eleemosynary taxes; by suppressing all gratuitous pensions; by reducing legislative wages; by a legislative forbearance to exercise judicial functions; by shortening legislative sessions; by suspending improvement and catch-penny projects, until it shall be ascertained how the suspension will work; by applying all its resources to the payment of its debts; and by reducing its taxes down to the rate, which such a policy would justify. It would then experimentally appear, whether the policy of condemning national capital to eleemosynary uses, or of leaving it to the use of its owners, was most favourable to national prosperity. The discovery of the longitude would be almost nothing, towards advancing human happiness compared with the success of this experiment; and if congress must rival monarchs in the bounty system, I discern no object so worthy of its liberality. It ought also to be highly gratifying to every state, to behold an experiment for testing the doctrines of the eleemosynarians; nor could it meet with any constitutional obstructions, because it falls within the powers reserved to the states. The state right of taxing both persons and property coming from other states remains; otherwise, neither would be subject to state taxation. Some states have prohibited the introduction of slaves from others, and have also taxed itinerant merchants. And some may think the introduction of home manufactures to collect an eleemosynary tax for capitalists, as injurious to their liberty and prosperity, as the introduction of slaves is thought to be by others. Both may be right, and both possess a power to keep off internal and local evil by internal and local laws.
The eleemosynarians endeavour to conceal their pecuniary speculations, under the general idea too hastily swallowed, that taxation naturally increases with population. I have no quarrel with taxation, except that species which hypothecates national capital for the uses of individuals or combinations, and not for the use of government. This only gives one man’s property, to another. We have been considering the principle, and the justice of taxation, and not its rate, though its rate unavoidably came into view, as an illustration of its principle and its justice. The principle and justice of taxation are equally applicable to a great or a small, to a rich or a poor nation; and if an increase of population furnishes any argument applicable to the subject, it is, that the more numerous we become, the more people will have bread taken out of their mouths by the sinecure system, to pamper eleemosynary appetites.
The preceding calculation of the amount of eleemosynary dislocations of national capital shews, that there is no connexion between the eleemosynary system and population, because the former has greatly outrun the latter. In Washington’s presidency, one hundred and fifty millions of national capital sufficed to supply the taxes, state and federal, then suggested by population, without the agency of an eleemosynary system. Now the single article of pensions, though the smallest item of that system, absorbs more of the national capital, than the whole expenses of our governments, state and federal, did then. Protecting duties absorb double as much, and banking still more. The whole national capital, now hypothecated, is thirteen times greater than it then was; and experience has determined, that thirteen nations of the then population of the United States may be governed for the money, as well as one was at that time. I do not pretend that my calculations are quite correct; but they are sufficiently so , to prove that the hypothecation of national capital to eleemosynary uses has far outstript population; and that this artificial system, and not our natural increase, is the true cause of national burdens and national distresses, to a very great extent.
Sir George Staunton in history of the English embassy to China in 1793, states “that the taxes of China amounted to 5s sterling; of France under the monarchy previously to the revolution, to 16s; and of Britain to 34s; per head, upon their respective populations; and that China maintained a standing army of one million of infantry and eight hundred thousand cavalry.” In China, corporate pecuniary privileges were unknown; in France, they were rare; in England, they were numerous. In the two first cases, the weight of taxation upon individuals is diminished by population, as it must be, except for the intervention of an eleemosynary system. These few facts are credible witnesses to the following conclusions. 1. That the eleemosynary system both conveys the use of national capital to private people, and also greatly increases taxation. 2. That a sovereign power over labour or property is less oppressive in the hands of an absolute monarch, than in those of a representative legislature. 3. That the error of trusting republican governments with this tyrannical power, has probably caused their premature deaths, because they are most likely to push it to excess. 4. That great armies and low taxes are not incompatible; but that exclusive privileges and low taxes are so. Thus many of the states, without any armies to support, have found means to increase their taxes, by entering into partnerships with catch-penny speculations, which hypothecate the capital of the people, and are a losing trade. The eleemosynarians have been for some years our popular patriots, and their projects have already inflicted on us a tax of four dollars a head upon our whole population for the use of government, exclusively of the taxes to banks and manufactory capitalists. A less tax caused a civil war in France. Suppose some individual should offer to reduce the taxes to one dollar, if we would make him our king; politicians and the people would have this question to decide; which is best, a king with one dollar tax, or an eleemosynarian aristocracy, with four to the government and two to bankers and capitalists?
If a plain law were proposed to make tenants pay double rents to capitalist land-owners, every body would see its injustice. A law to make the same tenants pay a second rent to capitalist manufactory owners amounts to the same thing, but its injustice is not seen, because it is not couched in the same words. There are no small tenants who do not pay to capitalists under the protecting-duty system, more than their rents amount to; and who would not make a good bargain by buying of them with a second rent, a freedom of will in exchanges. Yet if a plain law was passed, enacting that all tenants who would pay a second rent to the owners of manufactories should enjoy the right of procuring necessaries without being subjected to the protecting-duty tax, it would open many eyes. But suppose, it could be ascertained how much each person paid to the owners of manufactories under the protecting-duty law, and a new law should be past, abolishing that indirect way to the money, restoring the freedom of exchanges, and enacting that the same sum, now paid in the character of consumers, should be paid by each individual to capitalists by name. The Gipsies, it is said, possess the art of so disfiguring a horse, that it is very difficult to recognize him. One would think, that they drew the protecting-duty laws, and so disguised men’s private property, that the owners no longer recognize it.
Our conduct is an enigma. A real hatred of the English policy is united with a real affection for its worst features, against which the English people would rebel, except for the bayonet. The poor system in England, though good in theory, strongly resembles our pension system in its effects. One breeds pauperism; the other pensioners. That is subject to monstrous abuses from cunning, vanity, partiality, benevolence or a love of popularity; so is this. Vestries or overseers, superintending small districts, are unable to prevent these abuses; legislatures, metamorphosed into vestries or overseers, are still more deficient in qualities to correct, and infinitely more copiously replenished with such as cultivate these abuses. Both systems are demoralizing and oppressive; but one is an attempt to discharge a social duty, whilst the other is an usurpation of sovereign power over property. And both have become publick nuisances. England is struggling to get rid of one, and the United States to establish the other. Tithes are taken from worthy and useful ministers of religion, gallant armies are disbanded, and meritorious civil officers are discharged for the public good; but the pension system claims an exclusive privilege of oppressing a nation. I have no doubt, but that this system receives more than all the civil officers both of the federal and state governments together. Can it be worth as much as civil government? At least it cannot be worth more; and no peculiar merit in any social occupation can possibly deserve, that social liberty should be sacrificed for its reward. If we were carefully to pick out from the superstitions and enthusiasms of mankind, the two by which they have been most frequently oppressed and enslaved, we probably ought to select the notions, that governments are sovereigns over property, and that they may gratuitously transfer it to peculiar merit. The art of magnifying individual power and capital at the publick expense, by the pretext of peculiar merit, is the inchoate feature of those measures which have terminated injuriously to the happiness of nations.
The authors of the Federalist appear to think, that in the division of powers between the federal and state governments, the largest share had fallen to the latter; but this must have been a mistake, so far as a capacity for augmentation is considered; because, most or all of the measures complained of as unconstitutional, have originated with congress; and a capacity for augmentation naturally encroaches. This symptom is sufficient of itself, to awaken the vigilance of those who think, that federalism is indispensable for the good government of so large a country as the United States. Federalism cannot exist without confederates, and confederates are inefficient without power. A tacit alliance between congress and a family of eleemosynarians, is a species of federalism inconsistent with the positive confederation of a family of states. These two kinds of confederation cannot subsist long together. If the eleemosynarian family should be made strong enough to defend congress against the states, it will be too strong for congress itself; and as courtiers for pay abhor the vacillancy of election, they will be always ready to desert from a fluctuating and dependant, to a permanent and hereditary patron. That congress should for a moment risque the friendship of the states, a federal militia fighting without pay, to cultivate that of a few mercenary troops, sure to desert unless allowed to plunder, is a policy for which I cannot discern a motive. By weakening the state governments, congress would weaken itself, since they are the props upon which its power rests; for if these props fall, a very different power from that of congress will spring from the ruins. The notion of a contest for power between the federal and state governments must therefore have originated from sounds without sense, or from artifices without honesty. It is like a warfare between two diagrams or two dogmas, or between two dancing masters about the figure of a reel, neither of whom can gain any thing by the contest, however they may cripple each other. No federal or state legislator can gain anything for himself by the success of the diagram or dogma under which he fights. Had we hereditary families, the warfare might be accounted for; but as we have not, we can only ascribe it to the eleemosynarian families, which may get something by it. The question of course settles into the plain alternative, whether to appease its old friends the states, or to cling to its courtiers, the eleemosynarians, is the best policy for the federal government. The alternative for the state governments is nearly the same; they ought to consider, whether an imitation of the federal eleemosynarian system, or a cultivation of the publick good, will by economy and justice, contribute most to their preservation. Political economists say, in defence of the freedom of property against exclusive privileges, that every man is the best manager of his own affairs. They ought to have added the reason, namely, that no man will form intricate schemes to cheat himself.
As for a balance of power, the other rival of our constitutional federal policy, it may be accurately estimated by considering whether an animal, created with a number of legs, would act wisely in cutting off one half, from a notion that it would walk better with half than with all.