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Gazette of the United-States. [volume] (New-York [N.Y.]) 1789-1793, April 24, 1790, Image 1

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[No. 108,—Vol. ll.j
THE Editor accidentally met with the fol
lowing Eflay, and thinks the remarks are
of such a nature as deserve publication.
" Tl,erc arc cerUln '"uations where foppefcd evils are productive
of mach good."
A National debt attaches many citizens to the
government, who, by their numbers,wealth
and influence, contribute more perhaps to its
prefei vation than a body of soldiers. This ob
servation has been made by every one. A nati
onal debt not only prolongs the existence of the
form of government ; but it has a direift ten
dency to produce a wife and just administration
• This efFe»ft is not equally obvious. Every
measure tending to public good adds something
to the security of the debt. It is for the advanT
tage of the creditors to have that public, which is
their debtor, become rich. The fame reason ap
plies to the revenue laws. The creditors will
wish to bring into the treasury the moil money
with the least possible burden, or even difgult
to the people. This is equally true of the public
expences. This body of men will fee the public
money squandered with pain and apprehension.
Their influence will be exerted in fupportofa
system of frugality. It seems to be inanifeft that
the creditors will defxre to fee the public good
promoted, and of courfewill dread an opprefllve
and prodigal administration. It only remains to
calculate the influence that this body of men will
have, firft, upon the public opinion, and next up
on the government itfelf. In this country, they
are powerful by their numbers ; by their pro
perty ; by their patriotifin j for it was that which
made great numbers of thein public creditors.
They arejuftly denominated by the Secretary
" enlightened men." Their dispersed situation en
ables them to give a strong impulse to the public
mind in different parts of the country at th«
fame instant. Interest will wake when patrio
tifin flceps. As thefc persons have a common in
terest, and that corresponds with the general
interest of the society, felf love is combined
with the love of our country. They become
watchmen, and continue such, when other citi
zens, left interested, relax their attention to pub
lic affairs for the fake of their private concerns.
Much has been said in favour of republican jea
lousy. The creditors can never have ail interest
against liberty—for tyranny and public credit
cannot exilt together. Heaven grant that the
union and the public liberty may last forever. If
any expedient within the reach of human wisdom
can preserve those blessings, it is the unchanging
interest, which a powerful body of the belt and
wisest citizens will have in their fafe keeping—
who cannot neglect, and who will not betray the
trust—whom government cannot do without, and
who cannnot do without government.
Rome fell, an almost unresisting pray to a des
pot—why ? Roman liberty, as it was misnamed,
was 3 burden to every body, except to a few who
called their right to npprefe all others, liberty—
being made alternately the instrument and vi«fiim
ot tyranny, the weary world found even despo
tism, a pillow of repose. But if the best citizens
in Rome and in the provinces had really enjoyed
freedom, and their property had depended on the
security of the government, they would have ab
horred any change, and most of all a change
from liberty to tyranny. Caesar would have been
watched and obliged to seek fame in th# Senate,
or in the field, under their orders.
T> Y examples we are constantly ta«glit, that of
•*-» all the subjects which engross any fliare of our
attention, there are few 011 which we can reason
with lo little certainty as on thecontingent events
involved in every political system ; or in the whole
train ol human affairs, any, in which we are found
to deduce such wrong conclufious, or where we
meet with greater disappointments in the expec
tations we may have formed. In the common oc
currences of life, our judgment assisted by experi
ence is generally a competent guide in conduc
ing us to the obje<fls we have in view ; but the
politician finds himfelf in a great measure with
out this advantage, and is often obliged to con
fide in measures warranted only by presumption,
while he is si equently mortified ill perceiving the
res ult ofluch plans as he thought were conceived
in wifdoni and executed with prudence, prove
the reverie of all he had proposed to himfelf.
1 was led to these reflections by a view of the
pi efent ltate of public ass airs in this country, which
appear so eflentiallv to contradict the pleaiing
reveries of the Philosopher, and the sanguine
hopes of the well-meaning politician. I will not
attempt to delineate the durk pkfture which we
a fliort time since prefeiHerl to the view of the
world—the painful traces ij: :hat Ctuation are not
yet effaced from the reflerting mind—l will only
revert to the dawn of that day America ap
peared ushering with majeltic splendor thro the
dark clouds which had so long enveloped her po-
Imcal hemifpherc— I will just re cal to memory
that terafo honorable in the annals of mankind
which gave to her a form of government, not the
offspring of violence, but the result of calm and
mature deliberation, directed by a view to the ge
neral good—and to thatflill more glorious epoch
when the hand which had so ably guided us thro
a long and perilous war, was called forth to dis
tribute the blessings of Peace, Liberty, and Inde
pendence— Knchanting Profpe<ft ! The irradiat
ing beams of pleasure broke on us with a lultre
aim oft too dazzling—the Wertern wilds of Ame
rica resounded in echoing her future glory and
the peaceful waters of the lakes arose into bil
lows fwelledby the general joy.
1 he happy unanimity and liberal policy which
marked the proceedingsofthe firflfelfion of Con
gress were calculated to confirm the most flattering
anticipation. Thefecond was opened by a speech
11 om the head of the nation, pure as the fountain
from which it ifiued, and urging in the most ex
prelnve language an early and eariieft attention
to such meafuresas would tend toeftablilh public
credit on an immovable basis, and restore to this
country that relpe<ftabijityfhe had lod in her'for
mer weak and confufed councils- To this end and
in conformity to a prior vote of government, the
Secretary of the Treasury reported a funding
fyifcejn, itamped the capacity of it 3 author,
and constructed on those Apsm national princi
ples which will alone lead us to national honor
—butalgs, every feature of this fair portrait, has
been wantonly distorted, or lays in broken pieces
at the several shrines of ambition, avarice, and
vanity—and the pride ofgaininga party athome,
or of leading one here, is found paramount to a
generous paifion for advancing the public good,
which is only seen to arise in the finoke of the
incense, burnt at the altars of State policies
Sad defalcations indeed in the aspiring hopes en
tei-tained from the late political revolution in this
country ! The failure of public measures is not
only to be attributed to the incapacity of rulers,
but to the palfions of ambition and resentment,
which are feldoin under control in men velted
with power, and where the degree of responsi
bility cannot by any human contrivance be made
adequate to the confidence reposed.
It is from the misapplication and perversion of
great talents we have every thing to sear—those
splendid abilities which are founded and intend
ed by providence to exalt national fame and pro
mote public happiness, operate in a contrary di
rection when abused ; and instead of procuring
honor, wealth and security to society, they in
volve in disgrace and entail inifery and disorder
on future generations.
It is to be hoped that the great neck ar, of Ame
rica, with all that superiority which belongs to a
cool and determined mind, will be found proof
againit the barbed fhafts of envy and interefled
ambition, and eventually triumph over both, in
his noble pursuit of the public welfare.
The free use of the press is the birth-right of
an American, which he will not consent to dilpofe
of for a mess of pottage ; it is the fan which kin
died that spark of liberty in this country, which
is fact spreading overall Europe, and bids fair to
illuminate the whole world.
The proportion for ajjuming the Jlatc debts under conjideration.
MR. William son observed that on a fubjeft which had
been handled by gentlemen of great information and abili
ties, he could not expect to offer new arguments, but as he had not
heard the arguments hitherto advanced, and as he differed very
much from the opinion of the late committee, it was a duty he
owed to himfelf, to the State he had the honor to represent, and
to the nation at large, to give fomc reasons why he conceived that
the debts of the several States ought not to be afTumed —He ob
served that the national debt had been ftatrd at 54millions ofdol-
art, the lntereftot thu sum is 3,240,000 dollars. The debts of
the individual States had been Hated at 115 millions, he helieved a
tew millions might be added to that amourit, for he knew that
many citizens of North-Carolina had good claims agaiftft the State
or the union not hitherto fettled, aud the State had inftrufted in
delegates to obtain a longer time for exhibiting claims again!) the
United States. He believed thecitirensofVirginiahad alfc many
cLiimj to exhibit, and when he tonfiderrd the present claims of
North-Carolina, were 6 or 7 millions of dollats ; he thought it
not improbable that the amount of the debts might be near p
millions—He would call it for the present 25; The inteieft of that
turn is one million and a balf. He thought that an annual tax of
;j,a40,0°0 dollars 1, a burthen I'ufficient tor the present abilities
»t tile nation ;he (?«> not cotnpiehend the 11 •_, ;heo-v, \\i. that
a great burthen is more ea&lv carried by making it greater • he
heartily wilhed a fafe voyage to the political veflel, but he 'had
tome apprchenfions chat with the propoled cargo (he may fink at
her anchors—He knew that the proposed ta* is small when we
conlider the number of our fellow-citijens, and compare it with
the numbers in fevera| kingdoms and the taxes paid bv them ; but
the facility ofraifiijg taxes by iinpoAs and excises, is according to
the number of inhabitants in any given (pace,
In the aity of Pans, where a vail body of people are collected
within a small space, the inhabitants are supposed by one species
ol tax and another to pay 64 livres per head : in other Darts of that
Kingdom it has been found difficult to colled tg livres per head
from the fubjefls, though France is well peopled and contains
many contidcrable cities.
Ii three times as much could be coHcHed in the city of Paris by
imposts duties andcxcifes as in the other parts of France, he con.
ceived that very small sums might be expected to arise in Ameru
ca from excises, and our impost mult decrease in proportion as
theinduftryandneceflitiesof the people increafe—Headmitcd that
direct taxes, as a land-tax or a poll-tax may be colkflcd with
lome degree of certainty, but he withed never to fee direct taxc.
lmpofed by the national government.
They (re dangerous because they have been the means of cruel
Oppreliion ; the Romans had never been completely miserable till
one of their emperors had the addrelj to introduce a capitation tax ;
he observed that his fellow-citizens in North-Carolina were not
in general rich, few of them were ioprovident as to lay up money ;
for this reason while he was entrusted with their concerns he
(houldoppofeeverymeafurethat looked towardsdireft taxation,
he withed never to fee the day, when tofatisfy a land tax, or a ca
pitation tax, a poor man's cow or horse might be takenfrom him
on which he depended for the support of helpless children. Let
the State debts be once assumed and you mull proceed; ifyutir
calculations are bad, and they are nothing more than pure con
jecture, if they are bad, and the impost and excise does not come
up to your expectations, the national honor tnuft be preserved
the debt is yours and must be paid, let the means be ever so hard!
It will doubtless be observed that the interest of the State debtjj
must be paid either by the several State? or by the union, and it is
indifferent to the people under what name they make the pay
mcnti. til is argument lie.alledgid Was extremely fallacious, for
alter the national legislature has imposed such taxes as might be
come general, the State legislatures may with great ease, and in
lomecafcs with great advantage to the citizens, impose other tax
es The produce of the flute, is different; the inhabitants hav.-
different modes of living, and there is a difference even in their
vices ; wherefore different taxesmight.be proper i such taxes mi fi ht
be ufeful to corrcft vices or restrain habits that ftiould not be in
dulged ; it will certainly be granted that the legislature ofthe ftatr.
in many cases can best accommodate the burthen to the strength
and feelings of the citizens. It had hitherto been confidercd that
the Kates owed certain duties, and that they had a certain quofi
oi services to perform, from the particular pohcy of fomc ofthe
Kates, their debts had depreciated greatly, certificates had been
Jd at Bs - 6d. in the pound, pqoplc would not readily be recon
ciled to the new creed, "that all the debts lately paid, arc state
debts, but all the debts not paid, arc national debts," especially at
this discovery is made after most of the certificates have changed
their original holders, and have passed for a trifle into the hands of
moneyed men. C liar's wife fhouldnotonly be chaste.but with
out suspicion—He conceived that a national legislature should be
extremely cautious how they adopted new measures, efpeciallv if
there was a fmgle hook to which the suspicion of personal mteretl
might be attached
The situation of North-Carolina he alledged was somewhat dif
ferent frotn that of her After states; commiflioners had ort fundrv
occafioni ilTued continental securities to the citizens of the several
states, independent of thearmy certificatesjtothe'imountof 4, Rgii.ooo
dollars; of this sum about f),ooo dollars had been ilTued to the
citizens of North-Carolina—the citizens of that state have hardly
any continental securities, because the state by one accident or ano
ther has been obliged to a flume the payment of the continental dehis
ce has alTumed debts to the amount of 6 or 7 000,000 dol
lars. In what manner arejhe citizens to be rewarded for allthur
labors and supplies. He prayed the committee would attend to
the operation of this new fyflem; other states since the peice have
laid taxes to raise money for paying interest, and that interest hss
been returned into the hands of their own citizens. North-Caroli
na has imposed heavy taxes for finking certificates, being part of
the principal of the public debt; the citizen has drawn no relief
fiom those taxes, and to crown his misfortunes he is not to get a
credit for the certificates funk. The state has also iflued paper
money to the amount of 200,0001. that is to fay, half a million of
dollars; some of this money has been applied towards paying the
late continental line of the army* and some of it has been employ
ed in buying up public securities ; the fccurities are in the treasury,
but the paper money is in circulation ; our citizens are to he taxed
for finking this money, and we are not allowed a diitount for the
certificates which are purchased by the money : will not this be a
double tax ? we are required to pay our proportion towards the
interest of other people's certificates—we must at the fame time
pay taxes towards finking our paper money, which is another fpr
cies of certificates ; but we are not to be relieved in the mean time
by discounting the interest cf the certificates we have taken up.
Patience itfell would complain of such injustice. perhaps we lhall
be told that the double tax may be inconvenient but we shall be
repaid oti some future occasion ; we shall get a credit when the
accounts of all the states are fettled and the quotas of the several
states are fixed ; in other words ue may expctl jujlice at the day of
judgment. He prayed it might be observed that the accounts were
not in a train to be fettled ; that they could not poffiibly be fettled
under any existing law, and Congress had not >aken a single step
from which he could believe that they intended to make any set
tlement ; the original rule for fixing the quotas of the several states,
" according to the value of lands and their improvements," had
long since been given up as impra£licablc ; Congress had substitut
ed no other rule in its place, if they.were seriously disposed to fet
tle the accounts of the several ftaterj and to render some measure of
justice to the most deserving, the neceflary steps were obvious. Jn

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