Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress Page: 187
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GALES & SEATON'S REGISTER
Territorial Land. Taxes—United States* Penal Code. [Jan. 12, 1825.
the amount of it. But this was to be paid, not into the
Treasury of the United States, but to the purchaser of
the lands; and, before a man could redeem his land,
he must hunt up the purchaser through all the States of
the Union. Mr. T. saw no objection to an arrangement,
by which an officer, residing at the seat of Government,
should receive moneys accruing in the territories, make
quarterly returns, deposite the money in bank, and,
from time to time, pay it over to the draft of the officer
residing in the territory. A draft on the Bank of the
United States would always sell at a premium in the
territories. Such a plan would afford great facilities to
the purchasers of the public lands, would impose but a
small burden on the officer here, and would promote
the public advantage, by improving the price of the
lands. He was persuaded they would sell much more
readily if the buyer knew the limit beyond which the
taxes could not go.
In reply to an inquiry of Mr. RANKIN, Mr. TAYLOR
explained the difference between the present resolution
and that formerly offered '<y Mr. WICKLIFFE.
Mr. WEBSTER also farther explained what was the
purport of the former resolution, (which had been refer-
red to the Committee on the Judiciary.)
Mr. CONWAY moved to strike out so much of the
resolution as proposed to restrict the amount to which
the territorial Governments might tax the public lands
within their limits. In support of this amendment, Mr.
CONWAY observed, that he thought it entirely unne-
cessary for Congress to adopt any restrictive measure
for the control of the Legislature of Arkansas in its
power to levy taxes. The tax imposed upon lands by
the laws of that territory was not more than sufficient to
meet the demands upon its treasury, and to support the
Government. There was no distinction made by the
laws of Arkansas between a citizen and non-resident
owner of lands. The tax was equal, and he was sure it
would not be increased, but would be reduced, as soon
as circumstances would justify a reduction, to a more
moderate rate. He was not opposed to trie general
tenor of the resolution; on the contrary, he thought it
mi:.; lit be productive of good, both to the territory and
non-resident owners of lands, in securing a portion of
revenue to the one, which might otherwise be lost, and
in affording protection to the property of the other. It
was only to that part of the resolution which he proposed
to strike out, that he objected, lie objected to it, be-
cause it would, if the proposition was carried into effect,
be an indirect repeal of a law of tile territory; and lie
doubted whether Congress could with propriety repeal
an act passed by the Legislature under the organic law.
It was certainly in the power of Congress to repeal the
organic law, and reorganize or abolish the Government,
which would destroy the whole system; but circum-
stances did not require this, and he thought it wrong to
adopt any measure which would have that eff ect. He,
therefore, proposed to amend the resolution as stated.
Mr. COOK, ot' Illinois, thought that the object of both
the gentlemen would be accomplished by engrafting on
the resolution a principle recognized in every act for
ihe admission of new states, in relation to the lands of
non-resident proprietors. If the clause now proposed
to be stricken out, were replaced by one which should
prohibit the taxing of the lands of non-residents more
than those of resident land holders, he thought the ob-
ject sought, would be fully attained. But if the powers
of the Territorial Government should be crippled, by
limiting the amount of taxes on the lands of non-resi-
dents (which formed by far the greater part of the whole)
the necessary expenses of the territory would oblige
tiiem to tax the land of the resident proprietors out of
all due proportion. And he saw no good reason why
resident citizens should pay more than noil-residents,
whose land they defended.
Mr. CONWAY had no objections to this, though he
was perfectly confident the Territorial Legislatures, (at
least that of his own Territory) would never lay more
burdens on non-residents than on their own citizens.
Mr. TAYLOR observed, in reply, that he could as«
sure the delegate from Arkansas, that he had offered
the resolution in no spirit of unkindness towards that
territory, in whose advancement he felt a lively interest.
He did not know that the Committee on the Public
Lands would be able to fix a maximum at all; but he
felt persuaded that, if they can, it will have a powerful
operation on the sale of the lands. The resolution only
proposed an inquiry, and, if its object was found im-
practicable, the committee would say so in their report.
He had not proposed the limitation from any suspicion
of the Territorial Legislatures; but it must be manifest
that, as nine-tenths of the lands in our territories was
held by non-residents, and, of course only one dollar in
ten of the taxes laid were to be paid by the resident
citizens, there was a strong temptation to lay very
heavy taxes. He did not, however, wish to restrain
them so far as to interfere with the support of all ne-
cessary institutions, and the general improvement of
the territories. Far from it. He did not see any neces-
sity for tile amendment proposed by the gentleman from
Illinois. No instance had occurred where it had been
attempted to tax non-residents more than those who re-
sided within the territories, and, indeed, the contrary
had grown to be a settled principle of the policy pur-
sued by the new states.
Mr. COOK replied and explained. His object in pro-
posing the limitation was only to secure equal rights.
He considered the restriction he had proposed as a suffi-
cient guarantee against the acts of the Territorial Le-
gislatures—as the members were elected by the resident
proprietors, and who would thus have to pay their full
share of all taxes, and would operate as a check on any
abuse. The gentleman from New York was certainly
in an error *hen he supposed that it had never been
attempted to tax the lands of non-residents beyond
others. It had been done to his knowledge, in some of
the territories, as well as in our new states. In Ken-
tucky, the principle was openly avowed—and he be-
lieved that security was required that the land should
be settled within a given time—and a similar regulation
may be adoped in the Territorial Governments. Arkan«
sas might be free from the charge, but this was no secu-
rity for the future.
Mr. CONWAY had another objection to the restric-
tion proposed by the gentleman from New York. It was
an indirect repeal of the organic law of the territory
which he represented—and which was practically the
constitution of the territory. This consideration surely
ought to have some weight. The power of the Territo-
rial Government to tax lands in the territory is now un-
limited. This goes to limit it, and takes away a power
vested by the organic law.
The question was taken on the amendment of Mr.
CONWAY, and negatived.
The resolution of Mr. TAYLOR was then adopted.
UNITED STATES' PENAL CODE.
The House then proceeded to the unfinished business
of yesterday, which was the bill farther to provide for the
punishment of crimes against the United States—(and
which was gone through in committee of the whole
on Monday last, and reported without amendments.)
Mr. WEBS TER stated, that, as he understood that sever-
al other amendments were to be offered, and in parti-
cular some by a member from Louisiana, (Mr- LIVING-
STON,) which that gentleman desired should be printed,
he should move the postponement of the bill till Monday
next, as soon as those amendments were presented.
Mr. LIVINGSTON then moved a series of amend-
ments, of considerable length, and embracing many new
provisions. The mover having said a few words in ex-
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Gales, Joseph, 1761-1841. Register of Debates in Congress, Comprising the Leading Debates and Incidents of the Second Session of the Eighteenth Congress, book, 1825; Washington D.C.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30752/m1/98/: accessed June 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.