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they choose, can equalize taxation by constitutional amendment. The object is to make it impossible for the legislature to intersere with uniformity. How shall we do it? I think only by educating the people in the principles upon which this taxation is based. We must disentangle from the minds of the people of this state, the fallacy that taxation rests upon productive value. It rests upon
the protection that is given, and if you can get the people to understand that you have carried your point when it comes to the constitutional amendment. We must strengthen the hands of those men who are trying to get a constitutional amendment. If the constitutional amendment is carried next year in the legis. lature, then we must go to work with a will to make it an issue at the election which follows.
I am not able to make a close and concise argument upon the taxation of railways. I am not a man of business in the ordi. nary acceptation of the term. But on the general principles one man can know just about as much as another man, if bis head is right, and his conscience is right upon the question. We have to educate the people upon the principles of taxation.
Mr. Jordan — The explanation is as good as the article, and I think if we can get this before the church.going people in a fair and square way, there will not be much opposition.
Mr. Babbitt - I have always been a little afraid of ministers, though I go to church and pay my pew rent regularly. I will say this is the soundest and the best argument in favor of uni. versal taxation that I ever heard. I wish to draw attention to the transactions of 1877 and 1878, page 203, where I took this position : “Common justice and sound policy demand that millions of property, now exempt from taxation, bear its just proportion of burdensome expenses. Bonded wealth, railroad subsidies, college and church property, share alike with the cottage of the poor the protection of government. Then let compulsion, if necessary, impose equality. It cannot be that the Divine Giver of all good is too poor to pay taxes with his American subjects. And it is apparent, if His self-constituted agents fear bankruptcy if required to walk shoulder to shoulder, in building up a representative government upon the theory of
equal and universal justice, there is danger that the cry of repudiation, when once raised, will usher in a more serious panic than we have yet known. The beautiful proportions of our property idols will shrink to skeletons, emaciated and worthless, and the craven spirit of fear, wild with madness, will sweep over all restraint, and in its wake leave waste and ruin."
That is the position which the other side politically have taken. I would not have dared to do it if I had not lived in a county hope. lessly republican. This is the question that we have got to meet, and my friend here, Mr. Spencer, in taking the position that corporations with the power with which you see fit to clothe them, ecclesiastical bodies, or anything else having in their grasp accumulated wealth, are going to throw it broadcast and give it up without being compelled to do so, makes a tremendous mistake. We have got to take hold of this question and meet it fairly. We have got to do it in a spirit of brotherly love and self respect, for unless handled judiciously it will make us a great deal of trouble.
Mr. Delaplaine — Coming from the source it does, this is one of the most valuable documents that has ever been presented to the public. And I hope that some method will be taken by which it can be widely circulated.
Sec. Bryant-I want to express my gratification not only of the paper but of the kind manner in which it has been received. I was called to Milwaukee to the funeral of Dr. Wolcott, and I heard Mr. Gordon then talk. When I came home, I telegraphed him, asking him if he would not come here and deliver a lecture on taxation. He has done it, and it is a source of very great gratification to me that it has pleased the assembly. This is our paper, and will be published in our transactions.
Mr. J. M. Smith - When this question first came up a number of years ago, I must confess that I was opposed to the principle of taxing any religious property, or our public school property, or cemeteries, or anything of that sort.
I went east, and while riding through my native county my brother told me that there was thirty-five per cent. of the entire property of that township, which ran up to over ten millions, owned by church corporations, and exempt from taxation. Said
he, "what is going to be the end of this? They are increasing their property a great deal faster than any private property is increasing, and it looks as if it was going to ruin in the end." It set me to thinking, and for some years past I have been of the opinion that we must, in the end, tas our churches. It will come bard on some of them I know. It ought to be the principle of all the churches, if it is right. We should not do wrong because it is apparently good policy, or that some possible good may come some time.
Hence I have come to the conclusion some years ago that this question must come before us and that we must decide in favor of taxation, not only of our churches, but every other species of property that claims protection from the government. If it wipes out some of our churches, let :hem be wiped out. I will close by seconding the resolution.
Sec. Bryant - I am a little afraid of that resolution. Not on my own account, because I would go a great deal farther than most men. There is one word in that resolution about charitable institutions which might be misconstrued. It might mean state public charities, and I would rather not have anything of that kind go in, for while I would be willing to have everything in the state taxed except the public graveyards, I do not think this convention is quite ready to indorse that yet. In the common acceptation of the term, the public charities of the state means the blind asylum, insane asylums, etc. I do not want anything there that should be construed to mean them, unless you really intend it.
Mr. Anderson — During this session of the legislature, I have received a good many letters requesting that there should be a law passed prohibiting double taxation of real estate where the owner of a farm and the holder of a mortgage upon it both pay taxes. Now if there is any man in this house, or any man any. where that I can find, who can tell me how they shall prevent that double taxation, I would pay him five dollars an hour for his time. There is no lawyer in the city of Madison that I can find who can tell me how to prevent that. There is a large portion of the least productive property in this state that is doubly taxed. There is one important point in the equalization of taxes.
Amend your constitution as you please, and you do not reach that point.
The resolution does not cover one-hall the exempt property. Look over your statutes and you will find that there is a large quantity of other property, that the resolution does not touch, that is exempt.
Io regard to railroad taxation. I disagree with a good many of ing farmer friends. You cannot tax railroads as other property, and do justice to all sections of the state. Milwaukee, Janes. ville, and other places, would get a large amount of railroad property for local taxation, and a town where no railroad strikes would get none. Now it goes into the state treasury, and all receive the benefit equaliy. You cannot tax railroads or telegraphs as other property, and do justice to the community. If you take them as other property, then their property must be taxed where it is located. The rolling stock must be taxed where the company is located.
Mortgages may be transferred before the assessor comes around. You cannot tax mortgages held by nonresidents. You cannot permit the owner to take the amount of the tax that the mortgage ought to pay from the tax on his farin. Many farms are mortgaged higher than the assessed value, and in that case the man holding the mortgage would have to pay all the taxes. These difficulties all come up. This is a very
This is a very difficult question. I want you to understand that no man can solve this whole ques. tion. Those who think they can do justice will find they are very much mistaken.
Mr. Hiram Smith — We are not here to determine just how railroads shall be taxed, or how mortgages shall be taxed. We are here to express our opinion about taxation of all property not directly owned by the state. We shall only befog our minds by dragging in just the manner that mortgages and railroads and in. surance companies shall be taxed. Let us adhere closely to the principle wbether we should tax all kinds of property not owned by the state.
Mr. Porter - I have been in meetings where there was some opposition. I congratulate the speaker that I really think he has
made more converts to.night than he ever made in one sermon before in his life. (Laughter.]
Mr. Gordon - It isn't often that I get a chance at so many sinners. [Laughter.]
Mr. Field offered as a substitute for the resolution before the convention, the following, which was adopted :
Resolved, That this joint convention unanimously indorses the present movement to amend the constitution of this state so as to require that all property in the state shall forever hereafter be equally taxed, excepting only property owned by the general government and this state.
"Resolved, That copies of the above resolution be sent by the president of this convention to the president of the senate and the speaker of the assembly."
FEBRUARY 6, 9 A. M. Convention called to order by J. M. Smith, President State Horticultural Society.
A paper was read upon “Pruning Fruit and Ornamental Trees," by G. P. Peffer, of Pewaukee.
The President - How large a limb would you graft, in putting on new tops ?
Mr. Peffer Not over an inch or an inch and a half, at the furthest.
The President - If the limbs are large where they come out from the body, you go out to the end ?
Mr. Peffer — Of course; commencing near the top, and going downwards.
Mr. Hays – Do you consider, when you put the graft in the top of the old standard, that the graft will be hardier than it will on the natural root ?
Mr. Peffer -- No, it won't be any bardier, but the further you get away from the ground the more apt it is to stand the climate.
Mr. Hurd — What is the karm in pruning when there is frost in the wood ? Mr. Peffer —— As the frost comes out it deadens the edges.
19 - W. S. A. S.