Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 52.djvu/826

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
804
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

twice, but whether there is anything within its jurisdiction that it can tax at all.

"Resort must be had to a legal fiction to draw this debt into Connecticut. It does not appear from the record that even the eviences of the debt, the bond and deed, were held in Connecticut."

Under such circumstances, it is curious to note, as Judge Foster especially pointed out, to what a singular and absurd hypothesis and procedure the Connecticut authorities, as if conscious that they had abandoned reason and were dealing with sentiment, had recourse in order to get a basis and a warrant for their action. They first assumed that there was an imaginary property, separate and distinct from the material property; and then gave to such imaginary property an imaginary situs, thus "going far into the domain of the sentimental and spiritual for the purpose of taxation." Bishop Berkeley, it will be remembered, held to the opinion that matter does not exist, and that we only imagine that it exists; but it is not at all probable that he ever hoped, when alive, that his views would be so practically indorsed, and at so early a day, in the State of his literary adoption. He would have made, moreover, a desirable tax assessor and tax collector under the present Connecticut tax laws; for being logical, even if he was sentimental, he would doubtless have been willing to take the taxes in the pure product of the imagination. His successors, however, were not only sentimental but illogical; for, not content with assuming that the imaginary is the real, they tried to do what the good bishop never would have sanctioned—namely, take something out of nothing.

But apart from these curious and novel politico-economic and legal features, this Kirtland case involves constitutional questions of the highest interest and importance—as much so, perhaps, as any case ever brought to judicial arbitrament since the formation of the Federal Constitution.

The power of the State to tax the business of loaning money, like the power to tax any business transacted within its limits, by way of license or otherwise, whether the money be loaned to parties within or without the State, is unquestionable.

But this, however, can not be exercised by a State when the business is done without the State, though it be done by citizens of the State. Citizens of Connecticut transacting business in Illinois must, therefore, be subject to the laws of Illinois, and not to the laws of Connecticut. Again, if each State of the Federal Union has dominion over the property and business transacted within its territory for the purpose of taxation, that dominion must from its very nature be absolute and exclude the dominion of any other State over the same property and business. Again, the sovereignty of coequal