Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4

Document 12

House of Representatives, Tax on Carriages

29 May 1794Annals 4:729--30

An engrossed bill, laying duties upon carriages for the conveyance of persons, was read the third time, and,

Ordered, That the first section thereof be committed to a Committee of the Whole House immediately.

The House accordingly resolved itself into a Committee of the Whole House, on the said section; and, after some time spent therein, the Chairman reported that the Committee had had the section committed to them under consideration, and made an amendment thereto; which was twice read, and agreed to by the House.

Ordered, That the said section, as amended, be presently engrossed; and, the said section being accordingly brought in engrossed,

Mr. Madison objected to this tax on carriages as an unconstitutional tax; and, as an unconstitutional measure, he would vote against it.

Mr. Ames said, that it was not to be wondered at if he, coming from so different a part of the country, should have a different idea of this tax from the gentleman who spoke last. In Massachusetts, this tax had been long known; and there it was called an excise. It was difficult to define whether a tax is direct or not. He had satisfied himself that this was not so. The duty falls not on the possession, but the use; and it is very easy to insert a clause to that purpose, which will satisfy the gentleman himself. Mr. Madison had said that the introduction of this tax would break down one of the safeguards of the Constitution. Mr. A. really saw very little danger to the Constitution from it.

Mr. Madison explained.

The said bill was then read the third time; and, on the question that the same do pass, it was resolved in the affirmative--yeas 49, nays 22.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 3, Article 1, Section 9, Clause 4, Document 12
The University of Chicago Press

Annals of Congress. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States. "History of Congress." 42 vols. Washington, D.C.: Gales & Seaton, 1834--56.

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