Federalist Papers Summary No. 36

 

Federalist Papers Summary No. 36

 
 

Federalist Papers Author Alexander Hamilton
Alexander Hamilton

Federalist Papers Summary Number 36

The Federalist Papers Summary No 36:  Hamilton
January 8, 1788

The paper begins by revisiting the discussion of the types of people that will likely be the representatives of the House of Representatives.  The conclusion is the same that although on occasion some class of person from a different profession may rise to become a representative, most will be merchants, professionals and land owners.

A new objection to the proposed Constitution is given that claims “internal taxation”, items that States may also tax, cannot be processed efficiently by the National Government because of a lack of knowledge of individual State’s circumstances and revenue laws.  The rebuttal includes several points; the representatives in the National Government are some of the best people from the States with knowledge of the State circumstances, with indirect taxes on consumption items there is no difference in knowledge between States, with direct taxes on houses and land there may be significant differences between States but the Federal Government can use the intra-State taxing system to apply its own taxes, and there can be no clashes between the federal and local taxing laws because neither can control or inhibit the laws of the other.  The final argument on this particular issue suggesting States won’t need much revenue should bring a smile to the modern readers face “A small land tax will answer the purposes of the States, and will be their most simple and most fit resource”.  As intelligent and foresighted as our founders were they apparently did not anticipate service employee union pensions and Government mandates on the States resources. 

A few more objections are mentioned that concern double taxation with double sets of revenue officers and poll taxes.  Double sets of revenue officers is argued away because the Federal Government will just use the State officers if they tax the same items.  The double taxation will happen if the needs of the Union require internal taxes but the Federal Government will be prudent in its taxing authority making use of the ability of the wealthy to contribute rather than imposing upon the poor. 

Poll taxes can be implemented in States or on the national level but they are abhorred but allowed because no source of revenue should be excluded from the governments if needed to fulfill its responsibilities.  A poll tax here is apparently another name for a capitation tax and they both mean a tax of a uniform, fixed amount per taxpayer.  Recall a capitation tax that is not a uniform amount per taxpayer is not allowed.  A Poll tax today in the States means a prerequisite to being able to vote and that has been ruled unconstitutional because of the equal protection of the laws in the fourteenth amendment.

 

Summary Written by Donald Mellon

 

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