Page:A Compilation of the Messages and Papers of the Confederacy, Including the Diplomatic Correspondence, 1861-1865, Volume I.djvu/394

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Messages and Papers of the Confederacy.

shall be apportioned among the several States according to their respective numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole number of free persons, including those bound to service for a term of years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all slaves."

It was further ordered that a census should be made within three years after the first meeting of Congress, and that "no capitation or other direct tax shall be laid unless in proportion to the census or enumeration hereinbefore directed to be taken."

It is plain that under these provisions capitation and direct taxes must be levied in proportion to the census when made. It is also plain that the duty is imposed on Congress to provide for making a census prior to the 22d of February, 1865. It may further be stated that according to the received construction of the Constitution of the United States (a construction acquiesced in for upward of sixty years) taxes on lands and slaves are direct taxes, and the conclusion seems necessarily to be that, in repeating without modification in our Constitution this language of the Constitution of 1787, our convention intended to attach to it the meaning which had been sanctioned by long and uninterrupted acquiescence.

So long as there seemed to be a probability of being able to carry out these provisions of the Constitution in their entirety and in conformity with the intentions of its authors there was an obvious difficulty in framing any system of taxation. A law which should exempt from the burden two-thirds of the property of the country would be as unfair to the owners of the remaining third as it would be inadequate to meet the requirements of the public service.

The urgency of the need was such, however, that after very great embarrassment and more than three months of assiduous labor you succeeded in framing the law of the 24th April, 1863, by which you sought to reach, so far as was practicable, every resource of the country except the capital invested in real estate and slaves, and by means of an income tax and a tax in kind on the produce of the soil, as well as by licenses on business occupations and professions, to command resources sufficient for the wants of the country. But a very large proportion of these resources could be made available only at the close of the present and the commencement of the ensuing year, while the intervening exigencies