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than 240,000 dollars—provided the contemplated importation of arms takes place, and if a proportion of the present debt of the commonwealth be annually discharged; which the committee presume the legislature will consider both just and politic. The committee therefore report, that in their opinion, it will be necessary so to increase the taxes, as to produce an additional yearly sum of 115,000 dollars."
The said report being read a second time, was, on a motion made, ordered to be committed to a committee of the whole house on the state of the commonwealth.
A bill was brought in the same year to tax wholesale merchants selling 20,000 pounds' worth of goods annually, £103. Merchants selling more than 3000, and not exceeding 20,000 pounds' worth, in the same proportion. Retailers who sell £3,000 worth, to pay £6; and all who sell less than £3,000 worth, to pay £4. The evidence 1equired of the merchant as to the amount sold, was his own oath.
A bill was also introduced for the more effectual restraining of gambling. By this bill all gaming tables in the state were to be burnt on the gth of the next March. After that time, if any money
is staked as a bett, any of the by-standers were at liberty to snatch it ; and if the original possessor, or any other person attempted to deprive him of the possession of it, he was to be punished by fine and imprisonnient.
These bills were passed. The former very far outstrips the provisions of the English Income Tax. It is more of an inquisitorial nature, and ten thousand times more injurious to enterprize and industry.
The latter was called the scrambling law. Never was robbery before openly countenanced by legislative provisions. To “ snatch” a man's money, is so vile and dishonourable a species of robbery, that to suppose the people capable of it, was to brand them for a set of villains.
BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS.
THE Commissioners, who were appointed on the part of His Britannic Majesty, to form part of the Board, which assembled at Philadelphia, in 1797, returned to Europe in the spring of 1800, without effecting any part of the business, which they were sent to effect.
Before I state the circumstances, which prevented them from doing this, I shall insert an article or two, which will explain the origin of the dispute which these Commissioners were appointed to adjust.
In the treaty of peace of 1783, Great Britain stipulated to give up certain posts which she then held on the Western frontier of the now United States. She did not give them up, and the cause of this is explained in the following abstract of a letter from Lord Carmarthen, dated the 28th of February, 1786, to Mr. Adams, who was then American Ambassador in England.
" That when America shall manifest a real determination to fulfil her part of the treaty, GreatBritain will not hesitate to prove her sincerity, to Co-operate, in whatever points depend on her, to carry every article of it into full and complete effect.
“ The grievances complained of by merchants and other British subjects, having estates, property, and debts due to them in the several states, are as follow :
“ Massachusett's Bay. The act passed the third of November, 1784, suspending the payment of interest.
66 New York. The act of the 12th of July, 1782, by which British creditors are precluded from the claim of interest before the first of January, 1786, for debis contracted prior to the first of January, 1783, and executions on the principal are forbidden to be levied unul the expirarion of three years after the evacuation of New York.
“ The act of the seventeenth of March, 1783, confirmed by others in 1784 and 1785, &c.
Pennsylvania. The law passed soon after the peace, to restrain the recovery of British debts for a given period.'
Maryland. The act of October, 1780, al. lowing British debts to be paid into the Treasury; and that no provision is since made for it. The sum paid in is £ 144,574 gs. 4 d.
“ Virginia. By an ediçt of the governor, of the second of July, 1783, all British agents and factors who had arrived in that state, were ordered to depart the same ; which restriction was removed by the legislature in November following, and the British agents and factors were permitted to return. By an act of October, 1784, all British debts are to be paid by seven equal payments ; the first to be made the first of April, 1786, and so on annually. That no interest shall be allowed to British subjects between the nineteenth of April, 1775, and the third of March, 1783, the said time to be considered as one day. That no settlement made by bond or other specialty, shall bear interest. This act passed the house of delegates and senate, but did not at the same time receive all the formalities; therefore, it is doubtful whether it exists as a law. The sum paid into the treasury, on account of British creditors, £273,554 135. 7d.
« North “ North Carolina. Some acts of this state complained of, but not particularly mentioned.
“ South Carolina. By an ordinance, passed the twenty-sixth of March, 1784, no suit shall be instituted for a debt previous to the twenty-sixth of February, 1782, until the first of January, 1785, when the interest only, which had accrued since January 1780, might be recovered ; and on the first of January, 1786, one-fourth part of the principal, and all such interest as might be then due, and so on. By another act, of the twelfth of October, 1785, a debtor, during any period of a suit, is allowed to tender land, which, after being valued, the creditor is obliged to take at three-fourths of the valuation. These acts, and others, and the conduct of this state, are greatly complained of.
“ Georgia. This state is charged with having passed laws and regulations similar to those of South Carolina, with the aggravated circumstance, that the judges from the bench have declared, that no suit shall be proceeded in, if brought by a British subject, while, on the contrary, they allow British subjects to be sued by their creditors.
“ That no provision is made for the real property, confiscated and sold for public service, nor for money paid into the public treasury. His lordship observes, that most of the acts which interrupt and prevent the collection of British debts, in the preamble run thus : “ Whereas, this state is determined to fulfil and carry into effect the treaty in all its parts,” &c. Upon the whole, that a British merchant is in some states positively, in others virtually, prohibited by the legislature from recovering his property, which is a violation of the fourth article of the treaty of peace. In several of the states, judgment for interest for more than seven years, is actually suspended by law ; whilst in others, although the courts appear to be open,
the lawyers are afraid to prosecute for British debts.
“ Those creditors are deemed fortunate, who, upon giving up all claim to interest (which is equal to thirty, and, in some cases, to forty per cent.) can obtain security for the payment of the principal.”
Upon receiving this letter from London, the old Congress, which was then in being, sent the following circular letter to the governors of the respective states.
“ Our secretary for foreign affairs has transmitted to you copies of a letter to him from our minister at the court of London, of the fourth day of March, 1786, and of the papers mentioned to have been enclosed in it.
“We have deliberately and dispassionately examined and considered the several facts and matters urged by Britain as infractions of the treaty of peace on the part of America ; and we regret, that in some of the states, too little attention appears to have been paid to the public fuilh, pledged by that treaty.
“ Not only the obvious dictates of religion, morality, and national honour, but also the first principles of good policy, demand a candid and punctual compliance with engagements constitutionaily and fairly made.
“ Our national constitution having committed to us the management of the national conceins with foreign states and powers, it is our duiy to take care that all the rights which they ought to enjoy, within our jurisdiction, by the laws of natio s, and the faith of treaties, remain inviolate. And it is also our duty to provide that the essential interests and peace of the whole confederacy be