Pitt has not yet arrived at the degree of a school-boy in this species of knowledge; his practice has been confined to the means of extorting revenue , and his boast has been— how much! Whereas the boast of the system of government that I am speaking of, is not how much, but how little. The system of government purely representative, unmixed with any thing of hereditary nonsense, began in America.
I will now compare the effects of that system of government with the system of government in England, both during, and since the close of the war. So powerful is the Representative system, first, by combining and consolidating all the parts of a country together, however great the extent; and, secondly, by admitting of Edition: current; Page: [ 19 ] none but men properly qualified into the government, or dismissing them if they prove to be otherwise, that America was enabled thereby totally to defeat and overthrow all the schemes and projects of the hereditary government of England against her.
As the establishment of the Revolution and Independence of America is a proof of this fact, it is needless to enlarge upon it. I now come to the comparative effect of the two systems since the close of the war, and I request Mr. Adam to attend to it. America had internally sustained the ravages of upwards of seven years of war, which England had not.
England sustained only the expence of the war; whereas America sustained not only the expence, but the destruction of property committed by both armies. Not a house was built during that period, and many thousands were destroyed. The farms and plantations along the coast of the country, for more than a thousand miles, were laid waste. Her commerce was annihilated. Her ships were either taken, or had rotted within her own harbours.
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The credit of her funds had fallen upwards of ninety per cent. In fine, she was apparently put back an hundred years when the war closed, which was not the case with England. But such was the event, that the same representative system of government, though since better organized, which enabled her to conquer, enabled her also to recover, and she now presents a more flourishing condition, and a more happy and harmonized society, under that system of government, than any country in the world can boast under any other.
Her towns are rebuilt, much better than before; her farms and plantations are in higher improvement than ever; her commerce is spread over the world, and her funds have risen from less than ten pounds the hundred to upwards of one hundred and twenty. Pitt and his colleagues talk of the things that have happened in his boyish administration, without knowing what greater things have happened elsewhere, and under other systems of government. I now come to state the expence of the two systems, as they now stand in each of the countries; but it may first be proper to observe, that government in America is what it ought to be, a matter of honour and trust, and not made a trade of for the purpose of lucre.
The whole amount of the nett taxes in England exclusive of the expence of collection, of drawbacks, of seizures and condemnation, of fines and penalties, of fees of office, of litigations and informers, which are some of the blessed means of enforcing them is seventeen millions. Of this sum, about nine millions go for the payment of the interest of the national debt, and the remainder, being about eight millions, is for the current annual expences. This much for one side of the case. I now come to the other. The expence of the several departments of the general Representative Government of the United States of America, extending over a space of country nearly ten times larger than England, is two hundred and ninety-four thousand, five hundred and fifty-eight dollars, which, at 4 s.
On account of the incursions of the Indians on the back settlements, Congress is at this time obliged to keep six thousand militia in pay, in addition to a regiment of foot, and a battalion of artillery, which it always keeps; and this increases the expence of the War Department to , dollars, which is 87, l.
I request Mr. Adam and Mr. Dundas, and all those who are talking of Constitutions, and blessings, and Kings, and Lords, and the Lord knows what, to look at this statement. Here is a form and system of government, that is better organized and better administered than any government in the world, and that for less than one hundred thousand pounds per annum, and yet every Member of Congress receives, as a compensation for his time and attendance on public business, one pound seven shillings per day, which is at the rate of nearly five hundred pounds a year.
This is a government that has nothing to fear. It needs no proclamations to deter people from writing and reading. It needs no political superstition to support it; it was by Edition: current; Page: [ 22 ] encouraging discussion and rendering the press free upon all subjects of government, that the principles of government became understood in America, and the people are now enjoying the present blessings under it.
You hear of no riots, tumults, and disorders in that country; because there exists no cause to produce them.
Those things are never the effect of Freedom, but of restraint, oppression, and excessive taxation. In America, there is not that class of poor and wretched people that are so numerously dispersed all over England, who are to be told by a proclamation, that they are happy; and this is in a great measure to be accounted for, not by the difference of proclamations, but by the difference of governments and the difference of taxes between that country and this.
What the labouring people of that country earn, they apply to their own use, and to the education of their children, and do not pay it away in taxes as fast as they earn it, to support Court extravagance, and a long enormous list of place-men and pensioners; and besides this, they have learned the manly doctrine of reverencing themselves, and consequently of respecting each other; and they laugh at those imaginary beings called Kings and Lords, and all the fraudulent trumpery of Court. When place-men and pensioners, or those who expect to be such, are lavish in praise of a government, it is not a sign of its being a good one.
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And I am now more convinced than before, that the offer that was made to me of a thousand pounds for the copy-right of the second part of the Rights of Man, together with the remaining copyright of the first part, was to have effected, by a quick suppression, what is now attempted to be done by a prosecution. I have said in the second part of the Rights of Man , and I repeat it here, that the service of any man, whether called King, President, Senator, Legislator, or any thing else, cannot be worth more to any country, in the regular routine of office, than ten thousand pounds per annum.
It is worth and character alone which can render him valuable, for without these, Kings, and Lords, and Presidents, are but jingling names. But without troubling myself about Constitutions of Government, I have shewn in the Second Part of Rights of Man , that an alliance may be formed between England, France, and America, and that the expences of government in England may be put back to one million and a half, viz. And even this sum is fifteen times greater than the expences of government are in America; and it is also greater than the whole peace establishment of England amounted to about an hundred years ago.
So much has the weight and oppression of taxes increased since the Revolution, and especially since the year To shew that the sum of , l. In the first place, three hundred Representatives, fairly elected, are sufficient for all the purposes to which Legislation can apply, and preferable to a larger number.
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If, then, an allowance, at the rate of l. The Official Departments could not possibly exceed the following number, with the salaries annexed, viz. If a nation chose, it might deduct four per cent. Taking, however, this sum of one million and a half, as an abundant supply for all the expences of government under any form whatever, there will remain a surplus of nearly six millions and a half out of the present taxes, after paying the interest of the national debt; and I have shewn in the Second Edition: current; Page: [ 25 ] Part of Rights of Man , what appears to me, the best mode of applying the surplus money; for I am now speaking of expences and savings, and not of systems of government.
I have, in the first place, estimated the poor-rates at two millions annually, and shewn that the first effectual step would be to abolish the poor-rates entirely which would be a saving of two millions to the house-keepers, and to remit four millions out of the surplus taxes to the poor, to be paid to them in money, in proportion to the number of children in each family, and the number of aged persons.
I have estimated the number of persons of both sexes in England, of fifty years of age and upwards, at ,, and have taken one third of this number, viz. To save long calculations, I have taken 70, of them to be upwards of fifty years of age, and under sixty, and the others to be sixty years and upwards; and to allow six pounds per annum to the former class, and ten pounds per annum to the latter. The expence of which will be,.
There will then remain of the four millions, 2,, l. I have stated two different methods of appropriating this money. The one is to pay it in proportion to the number of children in each family, at the rate of three or four pounds per annum for each child; the other is to apportion it according to the expence of living in different counties; but in either of these cases it would, together with the allowance to be made to the aged, completely take off taxes from one third of all the families in England, besides relieving all the other families from the burthen of poor-rates.
The whole number of families in England, allotting five souls to each family, is one million four hundred thousand, of which I take one third, viz. The plan, therefore, as stated in the work, is, first, to remit or repay, as is already stated, this sum of four millions to the poor, because it is impossible to separate them from the others in the present mode of collecting taxes on articles of consumption; and, secondly, to abolish the poor-rates, the house and window-light tax, and to change the commutation tax into a progressive tax on large estates, the particulars of all which are set forth in the work, to which I desire Mr.
Adam to refer for particulars. I shall here content myself with saying, that to a town of the population of Manchester, it will make a difference in its favour, compared with the present state of things, of upwards of fifty thousand pounds annually, and so in proportion to all other places throughout the nation.
This certainly is of more consequence than that the same sums should be collected to be afterwards spent by riotous and profligate courtiers, and in nightly revels at the Star and Garter tavern, Pall Mall. I will conclude this part of my letter with an extract from the Second Part of the Rights of Man , which Mr. The hearts of the humane will not be shocked by ragged and hungry children, and persons of seventy and eighty years of age begging for bread.
The dying poor will not be dragged from place to place to breathe their last, as a reprisal of parish upon parish.
Widows will have a maintenance for their children, and not be carted away, on the death of their husbands, like culprits and criminals; and children will no longer be considered as increasing the distresses of their parents. The haunts of the wretched will be known, because it will be to their advantage; and the number of petty crimes, the offspring of poverty and distress, will be lessened. The poor as well as the rich will then be interested in the support of Government, Edition: current; Page: [ 27 ] and the cause and apprehension of riots and tumults will cease.
Ye who sit in ease, and solace yourselves in plenty, and such there are in Turkey and Russia, as well as in England, and who say to yourselves, are we not well off? When ye do, ye will cease to speak and feel for yourselves alone. After this remission of four millions be made, and the poor-rates and houses and window-light tax be abolished, and the commutation tax changed, there will still remain nearly one million and a half of surplus taxes; and as by an alliance between England, France and America, armies and navies will, in a great measure, be rendered unnecessary; and as men who have either been brought up in, or long habited to, those lines of life, are still citizens of a nation in common with the rest, and have a right to participate in all plans of national benefit, it is stated in that work Rights of Man , Part ii.
The limits to which it is proper to confine this letter, will not admit of my entering into further particulars.
I address it to Mr. Dundas because he took the lead in the debate, and he wishes, I suppose, to appear conspicuous; but the purport of it is to justify myself from the charge which Mr. Adam has made. This Gentleman, as has been observed in the beginning of Edition: current; Page: [ 28 ] this letter, considers the writings of Harrington, More and Hume, as justifiable and legal publications, because they reasoned by comparison, though in so doing they shewed plans and systems of government, not only different from, but preferable to, that of England; and he accuses me of endeavouring to confuse, instead of producing a system in the room of that which I had reasoned against; whereas, the fact is, that I have not only reasoned by comparison of the representative system against the hereditary system, but I have gone further; for I have produced an instance of a government established entirely on the representative system, under which greater happiness is enjoyed, much fewer taxes required, and much higher credit is established, than under the system of government in England.
The funds in England have risen since the war only from 54 l. That savage custom is exploded by the new system, and recourse is had to a national convention. Discussion, and the general will, arbitrates the question, and to this private opinion yields with a good grace, and order is preserved uninterrupted. That two different charges should be brought at the same time, the one by a Member of the Legislative, for not doing a certain thing, and the other by the Attorney General for doing it, is a strange jumble of contradictions.
I have now justified myself, or the work rather, against the first, by stating the case in this letter, and the justification of the other will be undertaken in its proper place. But in any case the work will go on. I shall now conclude this letter with saying, that the only Edition: current; Page: [ 29 ] objection I found against the plan and principles contained in the Second Part of Rights of Man , when I had written the book, was, that they would beneficially interest at least ninety-nine persons out of every hundred throughout the nation, and therefore would not leave sufficient room for men to act from the direct and disinterested principles of honour; but the prosecution now commenced has fortunately removed that objection, and the approvers and protectors of that work now feel the immediate impulse of honour added to that of national interest.
I am, Mr. Lord Lieutenant of the county of Surry; on the subject of the late excellent proclamation: — or the chairman who shall preside at the meeting to be held at Epsom, June I have seen in the public newspapers the following advertisement, to wit—. Taking it for granted, that the aforesaid advertisement, equally as obscure as the proclamation to which it refers, has nevertheless some meaning, and is intended to effect some purpose; and as a prosecution whether wisely or unwisely, justly or unjustly is already commenced against a work intitled rights of man , of which I have the honour and happiness to be the author; I feel it necessary to address this letter to you, and to request that it may be read publicly to the gentlemen who shall meet at Epsom in consequence of the advertisement.