THE
EDWIN BURGESS LETTERS
ON TAXATION

FIRST PUBLISHED BY
"THE RACINE ADVOCATE"
RACINE, WISCONSIN
1859-1860

Edwin Burgess



Introduction

Mr. Edwin Burgess, author of these letters on taxation (first published in the Racine Advocate of 1859-60,) was born in London, England, in 1807 and died in Racine, Wis., in 1869.

He received an ordinary common school education and served an apprenticeship to the tailors trade; a man of the average middle class of the early part of the 19th century; a competent craftsman and evidently a man of some ambition, as he emigrated to the United States in the middle 40s, locating in Racine, Wis., and establishing himself in a fairly successful business. So that by the time of the breaking out of the Civil War he was in possession of a modest competence and being in failing health he retired from business, but not from a keen interest in the welfare of his fellowmen.

In personal appearance he was one of the men you would hardly pass on the street without taking a second look at him (as his portrait which we secured after a long search among his old friends and neighbours will fully show.) We who were young at that time remember him as a man of liberal ideas in both politics and religion but most kindly, moderate and thoughtful in all things, but in the overshadowing presence of the anti-slavery campaign and the impending Civil War, these letters of his were passed over as the irrelevant dreams of a crank and at the time excited but little note or comment.

Yet, here was a man who probably never read the "Wealth of Nations" or the writings of any of the great political economists, out of a heart overflowing with sympathy for his fellowmen and especially for the masses of his fellow countrymen and a wonderful keenness of intellect evolved practically the whole theory of the Single tax as set forth and elaborated 20 years later by Henry George.

The verses accompanying the letters reveal a heart full of human sympathy, while the letters show an originality and depth of thought and clearness of statement, which place him among the foremost thinkers of the age. In fact a man of far more logical acumen and breadth of view than many of the men who figure largely on the rolls of fame.

In commenting on these letters, Mr. F.M. King, editor of the Liberator (single tax organ of New Zealand, to whose kindness and courtesy we are indebted for the copies from which this is printed,) who republished them in 1908, says: "The marvel of it is, that single-handed and in spite of chronic sickness, he should have worked out the true solution of the social problem 20 years before Henry George's work was heard of.

"As a working man, speaking to working men, these letters and poems are a legacy of which we should all be proud."

He made a visit to England in 1864, taking with him an edition of these letters and distributing several hundred on Broadway, N.Y, and the balance in the streets of London.

After his death his wife returned to England and in accordance with his wish had an edition printed for free distribution, one of which was found in Mr. Chas. Braillaughs collection of miscellaneous pamphlets now in the British museum.

The fact that the ideas he advanced fifty years ago are now commanding the attention of the whole civilized world and shaping very largely the destinies of Great Britain and her colonies, would seem to be a sufficient reason for the re-issue of these remarkable letters and it seemed unfair that the work and memory of such a man should be allowed to perish in the place of its birth.

In view of all which the reprint is put forth by his old time friends and admirers.

HYLAND RAYMOND,
WM. S. BUFFHAM


Land Versus Labour Tax

Why tax we the produce of anyone's toil
While it raises the price of the land,
And limits the sale, by enhancing the price
Of the food which the poor must demand?
It raises the price of the product of land,
And lowers the wages of toil,
So the workers have little their wants to supply,
And nothing to purchase the soil.

With little to buy, they have little demand
For the produce of anyone's toil;
So the workers are idle, as well as the land,
While weeds grow on much of the soil.
Men perish, tho' labour and land would afford
What would keep them in comfort and joy,
While the blessings of health and the comfort of wealth
Would follow their steady employ.

No taxes on aught that our labour can make,
For these would diminish free toil;
But so much per acre all over the land,
So that no one should hoard up the soil,
For the landlords have robbed us, for ages before,
Taxed all but the land which they stole,
Our food and our drink, our paper and ink,
To enslave us in body and soul.

May we reap the reward we've endeavoured to sow,
Of free land and the freedom of trade,
That the taxes may henceforth be all on the land,
And never on labour be laid.


TAXATION CONSIDERED

LETTER 1

Being in the County Clerk's Room of the Court House, I saw a large pile of papers headed "Statement of Property," to be filled out and sworn to by every resident owner. "The number and value of horses and cattle, mules and asses, sheep, hogs, pleasure carriages of every description, watches, moneys and credits, merchant's stock, manufacturer's stock and other articles of personal property;" which is everything that one person could sue another for stealing.

Now, I could not help thinking somewhat on the cost as well as consequence of such a method of Taxing People for the support of Government.

1st. Taxing people for their personal property - on their oath, is a premium on perjury, because those who lie the most, pay the least taxes; and children born under such influences will be famous for lying - if there is any connection between cause and effect in the condition of parent and offspring.

2nd. The means of valuing or assessing are very expensive; thus increasing the cost of government, as well as the cost of corruption.

3rd. Taxing personal property prevents production, because the tax being added to the article for sale, increases its price in proportion to the means of buying. Hence, less is sold and less is made, and the makers are less employed; and having, consequently, less with which to buy, the makers or other things will be less employed also - till the surplus workers will become paupers, and suffer much misery in consequence; many will become hopeless, and reckless because hopeless. Some will be tempted to commit crime for the temporary alleviation of their misery, which, repeated, soon becomes a habit; we have then paupers and criminals to support, pauper houses and prisons to build, officers to hire to superintend both; Legislators to make laws for their government; thus the Tax on personal property, or the product of industry, increases the amount of paupers and criminals, while the cost of keeping paupers and criminals, officers and Legislators, increases the amount of Tax and the cost of government, of course.

A friend of mine intended to buy a piano, but the Tax decided him against it; fewer watches will be sold, because they are taxed. If any person puts up a new fence, or make any visible improvement, which employs the unemployed and prevents their continuance as paupers, and beautifies the city - they are taxed annually in proportion to the evil they prevent and the good they do.

4th. Taxing personal property is not only costly, corruptive, and pauper making, and promotive of misery and crime, but inquisitorial; burdensome, and aggressive against our right to labour and enjoy the fruit of our toil unmolested; as long as we injure no one, we should be protected against aggression, instead of suffering aggression. Are we not now taxed for the aggression instead of the protection against it?

5th. Taxing people in proportion to their industry prevents industry; because when an industrious person labours twelve hours per day, successfully, he must pay twelve times as much taxes, because he has made twelve times as much property to be taxed, as if he had worked only one hour per day; and besides the limit of his means to pay the tax, whether in a watch, a piano, or a horse, no one likes to be taxed for the idleness of others, and he feels the injustice also, and improvements are thus prevented which would profitably employ the idle.

6th. Taxing personal property raises the price of land, and thus promotes its monopoly by the rich - because land being the source of our subsistence, which labour develops or increases, from which, and on which, all must live, and money instead of manhood being the qualification for owning land, it follows that in proportion as the taxes are on personal property, the land will be exempt, and it will be thus, comparatively cheap, or easy for the rich to monopolise: so that if all the taxes were on the land, it would sell for the lowest price, and would be most difficult to monopolise; but if all the taxes were on personal property, and none on the land, then the land would sell for the highest price, and labour would sell for the lowest price, because of the excessive competition of the landless and destitute workers, who by selling their labour for the smallest portion of its produce, would keep the land at the highest possible price; so, when you want land to be low, and wages high, put all the taxes on the land; but if you prefer labour to be low and land high, you have only to put all the taxes on personal property. All articles of productive industry cost the keeping of the maker and contriver, but the land costs nothing for either. It is the natural inheritance of all, for all time; and all should be protected in their possession, and those who own all the land should certainly pay all the Taxes for keeping them in possession and their neighbours out of it.


Wages Slavery

Must not our southern lords be fools
To buy their slaves, when they're so plenty,
When stealing land by laws and rules,
And keeping poor folks' stomachs empty,
Would give them wages slaves for naught,
Who'd beg to have their labour bought;
And women, too, breathe soft the word,
Who'd sell their bodies for their board?

Our wages slaves ne'er run away,
The fear of starving makes them stay;
Though they must earn the daily bread
For others' mouths beside their own,
Who on the best are ever fed,
Aping the monarch on his throne;
Yet hirelings bowed with want and care
Are glad the coarsest food to share.

The keep of chattels is a bore,
When sick or they can work or more;
Without the lash to drive the work,
Chattels are very apt to shirk;
But the poor landless wages slave,
Must clothing, food, and shelter crave;
For these he works with willing hand
For anyone by sea or land.

Then grasp the land, the source of wealth,
Of life, of energy, and health;
And only let the workers toil,
While you by law can reap the spoil.
What man or woman e'er so brave,
Will want not make a wages slave,
A slave in body and in mind,
To any tyrant of their kind?


LETTER II

In my last, I endeavoured to show that "Taxing Personal Property" is corruptive and costly, and promotive of land monopoly, pauperism, and crime. I will now consider a few more of its evils.

7th. Taxing personal property promotes the monopoly of capital (as well as land), because whenever labour can be bought for a small portion of its produce, the larger portion (or the unpaid labour) is owned by the capitalist in the name of profit, with which he can starve the landless workers into worse terms, as long as they continue landless, in proportion to their numbers and necessities.

8th. Taxing personal property, by preventing production and promoting the monopoly of land and its products, makes the means of living the most precarious, especially for the landless, because there is less produced in proportion to the wants of the community; and as the land is high and labour low (from the taxes on industry and competition of the landless), it is proportionally beyond the means of the cheaply-paid labourer to purchase the land, or even to rent it; and when the means of living are the most precarious, the greatest anxiety is suffered by the landless, and the continuance of that anxiety causes nervousness, sleeplessness, misery, and insanity, which is transmitted to the offspring with increased force, and thus is insanity made hereditary.

9th. Taxing personal property promotes intemperance by making labour so cheap that the labourer must toil excessively for a living, thus causing bodily exhaustion as well as mental anxiety to the landless workers, and indolence also on the part of those who live on the labour of others. Those whose bodies are exhausted by excessive toil, and whose minds are suffering from mental anxiety, crave stimulants to recruit the body and make the mind forget its care; while those who live in idleness on others' toil, crave stimulants to quicken the circulation which should be sustained by honest, temperate toil, carrying with it the moral satisfaction, that for all they enjoy no one suffers. Then, and not till then, will the good be transmitted to the offspring, instead of the evil, as now.

Do we not find the most intemperance and insanity among those whose means of living are the most precarious? Look to the gold regions among miners; when they are fortunate, many will drink for joy, and when unfortunate, many will drink to drown their disappointment.

I was told recently that California has a beautiful climate, but that it produced much insanity. I asked if the insanity was not caused by the uncertainty of the means of living instead of the climate; for there is much gambling there also, and among gamblers the means of living are still more precarious, and the moral perception and sympathy still lower; and there we find more intemperance, insanity, and suicide, and these qualities being transmitted, must bear fruit accordingly.

10th. Taxing personal property by making land dear and labour cheap, promotes prostitution and disease to a fearful extent. Is not woman more sensitive and weaker physically than man, and when she can get no just reward for her labour, and frequently no right to labour, need we wonder that she sells herself legally or illegally for the means of living? Are not the high price of land, and the low price of labour, or the no right of land and consequently no right of labour, the main cause? Is not the right of land denied to man and woman and given to money and its owners, as though money had more right to land than man or woman? And thus is woman driven by injustice, poverty, and misery, into temptation, and prayed out occasionally in revivals.

Pray folks out of temptation, while driving them in,
Is the usual way to atone for the sin;
To fight the effect, while feeding the cause,
You will find the foundation of most of our laws.

11th. Taxing personal property is the main cause of rent, interest, and usury; for rent of land is but interest on the price, so that when the land is high the rent will be in proportion, and all the wages of the landless are required for their support; they cannot buy land or build houses, or have capital for business, but must pay rent or interest for all. Usury is but interest or rent of money, more than the law allows, which is sustained by the extremes of rich and poor, caused by land monopoly and its causes.

Let us not flatter ourselves that we are innocent of the effects, while we are sustaining the cause by our votes, advocacy, and laws. Do we really want permanent prosperity, and the interest of all to be honest and live on their own labour instead of speculating on the unpaid labour of others? Do we desire purity and truth instead of corruption and perjury to prevail? Then repeal all taxes on industry, and let the monopolists of land, the source of our living and the rightful inheritance of all, pay taxes in proportion to the value of what they monopolise, then poverty, prostitution, and intemperance, will soon be among the things that were.


Our Liberty and Land

We've robbers of the people's land, and pirates of free trade,
Who plunder us for doing good, by laws, which they have made.
Now, would you cease to be the slaves of such a robber band,
Repeal the tax on honest toil, and charge it on the land.

Then land will cease to sell for gold, and each can have his share;
While peace and plenty, joy and love, will be our daily fare;
Then all can work at farming, in the factory or mine,
To feed and clothe, and get their gold, and build their houses fine;

And then we'll build substantial homes, secure 'gainst fire and rain,
While landlords and monopolists may build to rent in vain;
For land and easy toil each morn, will all we need afford;
Then women will not sell themselves as now for bed and board;

For science and machinery shall aid our daily toil,
To manufacture all we need, and cultivate the soil.
Thus light and easy toil ere noon, will every want supply;
Then rent and care, and haggard want, we'll ever more defy.

We'll educate our children, too, in science, words, and facts,
Nor sell the homes of any for an education tax;
We'll teach them justice, truth, and law, and liberty and love,
To be philosophers indeed, and harmless as a dove;
For plenty then will teach for love, when labour is so light,

When every afternoon will be a Sabbath of delight.
We'll freely roam o'er Nature then, and cull her gems so rare,
And learn her hidden mysteries with all a student's care'
Such means would be a blessing to the teacher and the scholar

And need not then exhaust ourselves, nor drink to drown our care,
When all the riches Nature yields, in plenty we may share;
Then temperance and industry will bless the human band,
When all shall evermore enjoy their liberty and land.


LETTER III

Taxing personal property and offsetting by oath the indebtedness of the debtor, not only promote perjury, but make it the interest of those who own property without indebtedness to leave the State, because they, having no indebtedness to offset, will be taxed for all they own while the debtor who owes for more property than he owns need pay no tax on personal property whatever, no matter whether the debt be honestly or dishonestly contracted, whether there is any intention, or no intention that it shall ever be paid; so that anyone who has come to this country having swindled his creditors, or swindles them here, may be exempt from a personal tax in proportion to the extent of the swindle. Do we not thus make Wisconsin a profitable Paradise for rogues, by giving them an annual premium on never paying their just debts? For if they should become thrifty and saving, pay all they owe and save as much more, then they will have to pay so much more taxes every year, in proportion to their industry, honesty, truthfulness, and economy.

While the landowners of England were the lawmakers, they taxed almost everything but the land, to exempt themselves from the payment of taxes. Now, as we have had laws recently in Wisconsin to delay or prolong the time for the collection of debts, and now have a law to exempt the personal property of the debtor from taxation, and thus lay the burden of the taxes on the industrious and saving, we ought naturally to inquire into the motive, whether it is a sin of intention in which they were peculiarly interested, or whether it is a sin of ignorance from want of considering the consequences. If our legislators would exempt all personal property from taxes, I would say Amen; because then there would be the greatest inducement for industry and economy, and the tax would then only be burdensome to the land monopolist, who, in consequence of his land monopoly, is the greatest burden which society has to support; and society is quite as much to blame as the land monopolist, for it almost literally makes him a monopolist by making it his interest to be so; and as soon as he relinquished the land, which should belong to others, the land tax would cease to be burdensome to him; and until land monopoly is abolished there can be no permanent prosperity for mankind. While one man owns the land of a landless brother, he, to a certain extent, owns the labour of the man. If all owned what land they needed to cultivate by their own labour, they could be self-employing, and would not need to sell their own labour or produce for less than they could buy that of others, then we should no longer feel the degradation of "begging a brother of the earth to give us leave to toil," as Burns beautifully expresses the dependent condition of the wages slave.

I know one man who will put off building a large house until the taxes are levied this year, to save the taxes, and thus are builders kept idle; and can you blame the man when your laws have made it his interest to do so, especially in a place as tax-ridden as Racine is, and there are doubtless many in the same condition?

I know one man who loaned money and bought securities here for his brother who was living in another State; had the brother lived here he would have had a special tax to pay, but we made it his interest to live away and lost his custom, which would help to employ the unemployed, and diminish our pauper tax; and I had some suspicion that the buying in the brother's name was only to evade the tax, but shall we blame the effect in him when the cause is in ourselves, in our blundering laws which encourage deception and perjury, while producing pauperism, misery, and crime?

We exempt railroad property from local taxes, and gas property, and schools, churches, and banks; now, if it is good in one case, I challenge anyone to show that it is not good in all. Then away with your paltry special privilege legislating, and let us have instead, laws which, if universally applied, would cause the most permanent prosperity for all; and though we can never do good to the taxpayer by taxing him, let us be sure that we do him the least possible injury; and that, I contend, the "ad valorem" land tax will do, and no other forced tax whatever, for it is less costly in valuation and collection, less corruptive and unequal, and causes less pauperism, misery, and crime than any other tax; in fact it is the only Free Trade Tax, and sets up no board of inquisition on the industry of any man or woman.


The Lay of the Landless

No spot I own on all the earth whereon to lay my head;
I have no right by law or might to earn my daily bread.
I'm pauper made for want of trade; my right of land is sold;
Not for a mess of pottage, but for silver and for gold,
By our patriotic office-rogues, who every wrong uphold.

O Land Robber! the land that should be mine.
That lovely land, that fertile land, by legal fraud is thine.

Who gave the rogues a right to sell the land where all should live?
What proof have we in heav'en or earth 'twas theirs to sell or give?
Until they make their title clear, should we uphold their cause;
Nor strive for right with mind and might, and make some better laws;
And in the cause of Truth and Right march on and never pause!

O Land Robber! the land that should be mine.
That lovely land, that fertile land, by legal fraud is thine.

Shall force and fraud forever reign o'er all the sons of men?
We've tried the sword with poor reward, then try the tongue and pen;
Yes! think and act, rely on fact, learn well to know the right,
And do it, too, with action true, sustained by mind and might.
And thus restore to each and all, the land; 'tis their by right.

O Land Robber! the land that should be mine.
That lovely land, that fertile land, by legal fraud is thine.


LETTER IV

In the Constitution of Wisconsin, sec.8, art.1, it says, "The Rule of Taxation shall be Uniform" upon such property as the Legislature shall prescribe.

Now I am totally at a loss to see the "Uniformity" of Taxation under our present law. If it is meant to exempt a certain value of everyone's property, why exempt horses under two years old, mules and asses under eighteen months old, and sheep and hogs under six months old? for according to this rule, one farmer may own a thousand dollars of such property, or any amount, but if his neighbour has a like amount, no matter how little older, he must pay double what he would have to pay were all taxed according to the value of their property. This, instead of being uniform, is burdensome and oppressive to one, while favouring the exemption of the other.

Do not suppose for a moment that I wish to make any point against farmers, or any other class whatever, for I would not tax any personal property, or product of industry in any form, but the land alone according to its market value, irrespective of all improvements.

But it would really be difficult to show how the mechanic is correspondingly favoured in exemptions; for he may have six months' fuel and provisions, if he should be fortunate enough to own as much, but if he should be owed as much, though it were his all, and he could not collect it before making his returns, then he must return it to be taxed, except he owes as much, because those who owed him were either unable or unwilling to pay him; in either case he must pay more taxes, and thus exempt others, or perjure himself to avoid the imposition.

According to art.9, sec.3, of the assessment law of Wisconsin, household and kitchen furniture, beds and bedding, or other personal property not exceeding two hundred dollars in value, is exempt from taxes. Now a widower being the head of a family, of course would have two hundred dollars of such property exempt; and a widow being the head of a family would be entitled to a like exemption; and I suppose a bachelor or maiden would be entitled to a like exemption each. But if they should commit matrimony, would they be entitled to a like exemption, or only two hundred dollars for each family; and if not, where is the uniformity of the tax? The same question will apply to the six months' provisions and fuel exempted by art.10, sec.3.

In art.14, sec.3, it says each person shall be entitled to exemption on other personal property, excepting moneys and credits, and articles enumerated in sec.8, to any amount not exceeding one hundred dollars; so that a person may have exempt from taxes a hundred dollar watch chain, but not a five dollar watch, or a melodeon, or a piano. Had our legislature no taste for music or mechanics? You may select for exemption a double horse wagon for work, but not a single one for pleasure. Is there one mechanic in a hundred who owns one hundred dollars beyond the furniture and other property that he could collect, to put into such property as is exempted? And if he cannot collect, then his credits must be taxed to diminish the taxes of those who are rich enough to own the exempted property. But why the articles enumerated should be exempt, and others taxed, I think it would puzzle a Wisconsin legislator to tell; or how taxation can be uniform with special exemption.

Again, how credit can be construed to mean property, except by the fist of the law, I am at a loss to determine. What is credit but expectation of property, which is in the possession of another (if existing at all), and is already taxed in the possession of the buyer? But when you tax credits it leads to double taxation, first for the property bought, and second for the credit or expectation also.

For example, suppose one person buys a house and lot of another, for one thousand dollars cash, then the cash is taxed to the seller, and the property to the buyer; but if the buyer buys the house and lot on credit, and loans his money for interest, then the house and lot is taxed to the buyer and the money to the borrower, and the credit to the seller of the property and the loaner of the money; and the same property may be sold over and over again on credit; and the same money be loaned, over and over again, and remain unpaid; and the credit be taxed for each sale or loan every time.

But it will be said that our somewhat recent law for exempting an amount of personal property from tax equal to the debts of the debtor, avoids the double taxation. In many cases this is true, but not in all, for if you owe for real estate and have no personal property to be exempt for what you owe, then the real estate will be taxed, and the credits also; and even if you owe for provisions, which you have consumed, and have nothing with which to pay, still the credit will be taxed, though no property exists to represent it; and if the house should be burnt, and the land washed away, still the credits will be taxed while the wealth is unmade which must cancel the credit.

And I contend that exempting an amount of property from taxes equal to what we owe is worse than taxing all property to those in possession, for then it would be the interest of the debtor to pay up, to save the taxes; which would benefit the creditor pecuniarly, and the debtor, morally, at least; and it also avoids the double taxation, and taxing for what has ceased to exist as property, and makes it our interest to trade for ready pay instead of credit, and gives no premium on perjury, debt, and swindling, and is less costly, extra-judicial, and inquisitorial; still, it is very inferior to ad valorem land tax, which, while avoiding all evils peculiar to taxing personal property and credits, makes land monopoly unprofitable, and keeps the land at the lowest price, and labour at the highest, while taxing personal property and credits both make land high and labour low.

Doubtless, this law for taxing money and credits was made to tax the loaner, and exempt the borrower; but while it does not put it within the means of the borrowers to get cheap or free land, it not only fails of its object, but absolutely increases the evil which it was intended to diminish; for the tax for credit as well as money diminishes the land tax and thus raises the price of land and produce, rent, interest and usury; and so will our poll tax, our taxes on personal property, and duties on imports. Thus are we fighting effects, and feeding causes continually, but I trust we shall soon try to see if we cannot better prevent the evils of which we so justly complain by removing their causes entirely.


The Temperance Land Reformer

Air - Fine Old English Gentleman

Oh, that a man into his mouth should put a deadly foe,
To steal away his health and wealth, and work disease and woe;
To drown his reason, love and worth, and desolate his home,
And leave his family in want, unheeded and alone;
Like a poor lost slave of appetite, a whisky-sucking drone.

Then cast a way the maddening draught, which thou can'st not control;
So that thou may'st not perish by the desolating bowl,
But live a useful, honest life, sustain thy moral health:
Be sure thy own, not other's toil, supplies thy store of wealth:
Like a thorough Son of Temperance who scorns to drink by stealth.

But whilst thou fightest the effect, strive to remove the cause,
That made thee sacrifice thy health, and violate its laws;
Say, was it not exhausting toil of body or of brain,
Or indolence, that made thee drink to rouse thy sinking frame:
Caused by the robbers of the land, who riot in thy shame?

Then let the land and man be free, so that excessive toil
The workers need no longer do, for drones to reap the spoil;
That all by honest industry may earn their daily bread,
So they may know that they have been by their own labour fed;
And thus a temperate, honest life, by everyone be led.


LETTER V

Another of the evils of taxing personal property, which destroys the uniformity of the tax, is, that much of the personal property is never taxed at all where debts are allowed as an offset to the personal property in possession; for example, merchants' goods being removed from where they were bought, frequently or generally escape taxing there, and when they are owed for here, or sworn to as such, according to sec.4, are exempt here also. I am told that the taxed personal property of New York City was only fifty millions, while Broadway alone probably contains much more wealth; so that besides the evils of perjury and extra cost in valuing, and double taxation for property and credits, and taxing what has ceased to be property, preventing production and promoting pauperism, misery and crime, and exempting railroad companies, gas companies, banks, colleges, churches, parsonages, universities, academies, etc., and moneys belonging exclusively to universities, colleges, academies, etc., I think it will be safe to estimate that one-half of the personal property existing is never taxed at all; while the conscientious who pay, must pay more for the exemption of the cunning who escape; not that I have any point to make against merchants or any other class, for I firmly believe that no product of industry should ever be taxed in any form whatever, but the land alone, according to its relative value, as the least injurious means of raising revenue, and to prevent the evil of land monopoly by making that monopoly unprofitable; and for the reasons named I take the affirmative of the land tax, and the negative of every other, and invite anyone to take the negative of the land tax, and the affirmative of any tax or tithe which he thinks better.

If all taxes were on the land, would railroad monopolists want to steal the land (the birthright of all) by millions of acres, while they deny to the landless and moneyless any land on which to get their "daily bread;" while they hire ministers to open their robbery meetings in Congress by prayer, and ask the blessing of the Creator on the robbery of His creatures? Do they not know well that it is only by keeping the workers landless that they can buy their labour for the smallest portion of its produce; and if all had what land they needed, their plundered land would be almost valueless for sale; though its value for production and human sustenance would be undiminished?

If all the taxes were on the land, and all owned their share, the tax for all would be equal but not oppressive. But if one almighty monopolist should own the whole of the land, unless one person should suffer for the act or wrong of another, then all should live as well by the labour of the monopolist as they could by their own labour on their own land; and if the land tax will not provide the best remedy, I shall be duly grateful to anyone who will show me a tax that will, or any better legal remedy whatever.

If all the taxes were on the land, and none on improvements, then there would be the greatest encouragement for improvements and industry; then farmers and merchants would not turn land speculators, and run all over creation to buy land at ten shillings per acre with the produce of their toil, but make and enjoy the comforts of life with their families at home, instead of being a curse to the landless and their families elsewhere; they could then have no fear that their children would suffer for want of land whenever they might need it.

Were all the taxes on the land, and the people's land free to the landless - as it should be - then none would be driven into the wilderness to suffer the changes of climate and want of society; but those who desired could then settle nearer to their kindred and friends, and enjoy the blessings of friendship, love and home, with much less cost and inconvenience.

Were all the taxes on the land, and the people's land free, then the hitherto landless could soon build their own homes on their own land, and raise all they needed to consume or exchange, and no longer need the land, houses, or capital of others; then rent, interest, and even usury would cease for want of poverty to sustain them, for the curse, land monopoly, being removed, the effect would cease with the cause. Thus would the happiness of mankind be immeasurably increased, and misery be proportionately diminished; then would earth be redeemed from the giant sin of land robbery, and the Paradise of the present or future be as far above that of the past, as the intelligence of the philosopher is beyond the ignorance of the child.


Freedom for Man and Trade

Young Liberty is growing fast, he soon will be of age,
And with the tyrants of mankind the war of Freedom wage:
Then bravely raise his banner high, let all who would be free
Enlist to aid the sacred cause of Truth and Liberty.

CHORUS
Our standard unto every land should ever be unfurled
With Freedom for all human kind, free commerce with the world.

Unbound to creed, to party, sect, to colour or to clime,
Our watchword, Freedom unto all, throughout all space and time;
Freedom to think, to write, to speak, free printing-press and land,
Freedom for woman and for man, in justice we demand.

The shackles from the slave shall fall, the dungeon cease to be;
Tyrants of body and of mind, "make way for Liberty;"
The faggot fires no more shall blaze for martyrs good and brave,
Our language cease to bear the blot of master and of slave.

Inquisitors and ruling knaves too long have been combined,
To blot from out the face of earth the rights of all mankind;
'Tis time that Liberty should reign with Justice, Love and Truth.
To be the guardians of mankind, the friends of age and youth.

A free earth unto all mankind, an Eden then will bloom,
To bless with plenty every home, and beautify the tomb;
Then Peace and Wisdom, Truth and Love, and Liberty shall reign,
Instead of War and haggard Want, and Tyranny and Shame.

The Tongue and Pen are often far more mighty than the sword,
Lives are destroyed by swords and guns, but errors by a word;
Swords strike but single foes, while words "strike thousands at a blow,"
Which, by a free unshackled press, to all the world may flow.


LETTER VI

The Secretary of the Treasury, Mr. Howell Cobb, in his report on the Finances, dated December 6th, 1858, page 7, when speaking on taxes for revenue, says:

"Such duties should be laid as will produce the required revenue, by imposing on the people at large the smallest and the most equal burdens.

"It is obvious that this is most effectually done by taxing, in preference to others, such articles as are not produced in this country; and among articles produced here, those in which the home product bears the least proportion to the quantity imported, are the fittest for taxation. The reason is, that in taxing articles not made in the country, the whole sum taken from the consumer goes into the Treasury, while in the other class the consumer pays the enhanced value, not only on the quantity imported, but on the quantity made at home. This last tax is paid, not into the Treasury, but to the manufacturer, thereby rendering such a duty not only more burdensome, but grossly unequal - the home producer being benefited at the expense of the consumer."

Now, while fully admitting that taxes should be raised to "produce the required revenue, by imposing on the people at large the smallest and the most equal burdens," I distinctly deny that any tax on any product of industry whatever, or any tax but the Land Tax, can possibly do it.

Now, let us look at the amount of duties collected, who pay the duties, and what is the result.

The amount collected for the fiscal (or revenue) year of 1857, ending June 30th, was over fifty million dollars; the cost of collecting is reported as over three million dollars, or six per cent on the whole. Much of it will be spent for war vessels to prevent one of the rights or man to Free Trade which our rulers call "smuggling;" another item of cost growing out of the prevention of Free Trade is litigation or numerous law suits for violating the tariff; another enormous expense is the erection of custom houses, which, in eighteen places completed, cost one hundred and thirty-five thousand dollars each.

The average amount of the tariff may be twenty per cent., which the importer must pay, and charge his profit on the twenty per cent. duty, which will be at least twenty-two per cent. to the retailer, who will charge his profit on the whole amount, which, if he add one-third to the Whole, including seven per cent. on the duty, will make the duty of twenty per cent, twenty-nine or thirty per cent. to the consumer.

And who are the consumers of the imported goods? Are they not "the people at large," on whom were to fall the smallest and most equal burdens of taxation? Who buy the hats, bonnets, jewelry, daguerreotype plates, china, porcelain, earthenware, stoneware, beer, ale and porter, all of which pay twenty-four per cent, while wines and brandies pay thirty per cent. duty?

Who are the consumers? Is it not safe to say that two-thirds are consumed in the Free States, and a great portion by the hard working, ill paid, landless labourers and producers of the nation's wealth? Do not all such taxes go directly to promote the profit of land monopoly and man monopoly (or slavery)? Does it not take the taxes out of the pockets of the toiling consumers, and by exempting the land from so much taxes, enable the landlord to sell or rent his land for so much more? Do people buy these imported goods in proportion to the land they hold, or in proportion to the slaves they hold? If not, who pay the taxes and make landholding and slaveholding profitable?

Land monopoly is really the parent of chattel slavery, for if no persons owned the land of others, or more land than they needed to cultivate by their own labour for their own support, they would not covet their fellow-men as slaves; but, having obtained the land of others by legal or illegal robbery; they crave their fellowmen as slaves to work it for them; and Africa must be robbed, and slaves must be bred, and men, and women, and children reduced to bondage, to maintain in luxury and idleness a land-robbing and man-robbing aristocracy, a nobility forsooth, based on the lasso, the manacles, and the lash; the gag, the fetter, and the thumbscrew; the whipping-post, the chain and ball, the man-stealer, and the bloodhound.

But remember that this land-stealing and man-stealing are done, not only by the sanction of our laws, but by our method of taxing, which has made both evils doubly profitable. The law might sanction slavery to all eternity if it was unprofitable, and no law worshippers would be patriotic enough to hold slaves any more than they would carry white men to Africa for slaves at a loss. Let us, then, remove this cause or temptation, which is the profit, by putting all the taxes on the land, and the effect will assuredly cease. I shall endeavour to show that the land tax would make slavery profitless also.

People finding land-robbery and man-robbery profitable, their priests ransack the laws of Moses and the teachings of Christ to sanction the robbery and prove the piety of the institution; and patriotic politicians quote their political ancestors to justify the wrong - as though evil grew venerable by age, and wrong right by authority; and as though we had no standard of right but the law of the priest and politician. While slavery is profitable there will be no lack of patriotism and piety to sustain it; the trinity of profit, patriotism and piety, will be in perfect unity; but take away the profit of slavery, and the patriotism and piety will be nowhere.

How many in the love of wrong will seek a law or creed,
A custom or authority to sanctify the deed;
But that which gives the highest joy to all of humankind,
Needs no command to justify, no human law to bind.


LETTER VII

We would naturally suppose that the question, What is the best means of raising revenue? would be one of the first considerations of every party desiring to govern this country or any other; but I am at a loss to find any party in any country that has investigated the subject, and recorded a satisfactory reply.

In this country, our revenue is raised by duties on imported goods and the proceeds or profits of the sales of public lands; and when the expenditure exceeds the revenue, the deficiency is supplied by an issue of notes on the treasury, bearing interest, which are to be redeemed by future duties on imports and sales of public lands.

But it is evident that the sales of land cannot be much relied on for revenue, as they only amount to between three and four million dollars a year, and about one-third is generally consumed for collecting, surveying, mapping, rent of offices, etc., and the payment of Indians will probably about balance the account, to say nothing of Indian wars; besides, the sales must soon diminish and ultimately cease, unless we buy or steal more territory. Therefore, our main dependence for revenue is on duties on imports; and is it not our duty and interest to inquire if that is the best means of raising revenue?

If a tax on commerce is the best means of raising revenue on the boundaries of countries or nations to bear the expenses of the general government, why not on the boundaries of states, counties, towns, and cities, as in Paris and other cities on the continent of Europe, to defray the expenses of state, county, town, and city government? If the principle is the best, why not apply it everywhere? but if not, why apply it anywhere?

In Paris, a city containing nearly two millions of people, there are numerous roads out of the city, through strong iron gates, protected by military; and all persons are searched, if suspected, every time they enter, to see if they have any articles on which duties may be levied, and the duties on fruit, meat, vegetables, tobacco, wines, spirits, etc., are there collected. What a glorious source of patronage this would be for a corrupt republic! What a paradise for official toadies! What an interesting scene to witness the "pants" of every gentleman, and the "crinoline" of every lady, subjected to official scrutiny! No wonder the press is gagged, and the people gagged and forbidden to hold public meetings, or sing the "Marseillaise," or anything which breathes of liberty, truth, and justice, just as the press and people are gagged with us at the South, if they write, speak, or sing of liberty for all, or lend "Uncle Tom's Cabin" to a coloured man, woman or child.

One would think that when we declared our Independence of Foreign Government, we would exercise the independence of thought, to see what means of raising revenue would leave the largest liberty, equality, and prosperity for all; and be the least expensive, burdensome, and oppressive to any; and if the tariff, high or low, for protection or revenue, or both, best fulfils these conditions, then carry it into every department where revenue is required.

To illustrate the relative merits of the tariff and the land tax, let us suppose, for example, that Racine exempted all merchants' and manufacturers' goods from taxes. and all grain, farm produce, etc., and all people from poll tax and all improvements from taxes, and put all the taxes on the land; and at the same time Milwaukee and Kenosha exempted all land from taxes, and put all the taxes on the farm produce and merchants' and manufacturers' goods and improvements and poll tax, in fact on all articles which are exempt from taxes in Racine; where would the mechanics, merchants and manufacturers settle? If all other advantages were equal, evidently where the goods were untaxed, because it would cost less to commence and carry on manufactories, and they could sell goods better also where no special tax raised the price of the article. Where would the farmers go to sell their produce and buy their goods? Doubtless where neither were taxed, because there they would obtain the most money for their produce, and the most goods for their money. Would not Racine grow rapidly while Milwaukee and Kenosha dwindled? And will not this be true of any city, town, county, state, or nation?

But where will the land speculators go? Will it not be where the land is untaxed? because there it will sell for the highest price, while it costs nothing to keep the land idle and the man idle; there the land monopolist might flourish, but there it would be more difficult to commence farming because the land will be higher, and manufacturing also, not only because the land for the factory will cost much more, but because of the high special tax on the raw material, and every implement for manufacturing it. And where the land is untaxed, the land being higher, the rents will be higher also, and it will be doubly difficult for the landless mechanic to buy a lot for his house, and his rent will be high in proportion as the land is high; and the high price and high rents, instead of defraying the expenses of government (as the land tax would do), go to enrich the land monopolist at the cost of every landless consumer; and by making and keeping people landless and dependent on the monopolist for employment, and thus making the means of living the most uncertain, promote misery, pauperism, and crime, and thus vastly increase the cost of government by increasing the taxes for the prevention of crime and the support of paupers, criminals, and their officers.

The land tax, unlike the tariff, would require no extra officers for assessing and collecting revenue for the general government, as the expenses would be defrayed by a percentage on the assessment for State purposes, which would be transmitted to the general government in the best manner.

Think what a saving that would be over the old feudal system of barbarian despots! No buying Cuba or any other country on the plea of the benefits of free trade, but free trade without buying the country for it; no Custom Houses and officers; no revenue service to diminish our liberties, increase our expenses, and rob us of our right of free trade on the plea of protection; no commercial treaties abroad for special monopolies, or vexatious litigation on tariff violations at home; more producers and fewer destroyers; standing armies and navies being no longer needed when our commercial motto shall be "Free Trade with all the world."

Our Stars and Stripes to every land should ever be unfurl'd,
With liberty for all mankind; free commerce with the world.


The Worker's Platform

Come, brother workers, one and all,
Get ready for the fight:
We're going now to battle for
The cause of Human Right.
First let us get our heritage,
The right to own the soil;
And then we'll see who'll nabobs be
On other people's toil.

Then raise the worker's platform,
The right of all to land;
The right to toil and eat the fruit,
In justice we demand;
The right to make, the right to own,
To freely sell and buy;
Say! who is there can show the wrong,
Or dare the right deny?

Why should we heed the tyrant's laws,
By which the few can hold
The land which should belong to all,
Which now they sell for gold?
With gold they buy our brethren, while
They rob us of our land;
Then we must starve or sell our toil
To feed the robber band.

'Tis time the proud and lazy drones
To toil should have a chance
That out of their own labour they
May pipe and sing and dance;
We've kept them idle long enough
In luxury and pride;
'Tis only right that they with us
The labour should divide.

And then our wives and children dear
Will have some time to learn;
In poetry and music sweet,
And dancing take a turn.
When decked by their own honest toil,
Who knows but they may shine
As well as any gentle folk
We've fed and clothed so fine.

We would not harbour vile revenge,
Nor wrong return for wrong;
But still we want such slavery
They should no more prolong.
To do as we'd be done unto,
Is all that we demand;
To justly share with them the toil,
And they with us the land.


LETTER VIII

The word tariff appears to have its origin in the name of an ancient town at the entrance of the Straits of Gibraltar, in Spain, called Tariffe, where a nest of pirates, legal or illegal, levied tribute on all vessels entering or departing between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. Whether the tax, or tribute, was levied on the plea of protection, right, duty, or robbery, this deponent sayeth not, but the plunder will be just as manifest, injurious, and degrading to the robber and the robbed under one name as another.

"The rose by any name will smell as sweet,"
And wrong by any name be just as great.

The expense of the United States General Government, from June 30th, 1857, to June 30th, 1858, were over eighty-one and a half million dollars, making about three dollars each for every man, woman, and child in the nation, or fifteen dollars for the head of each family, counting a man and wife and three children as a family. Now, were the public land free to the landless, and all the taxes on the land alone, irrespective of all improvement, would not one dollar per head, or about thirty million dollars be sufficient for all the purposes of the general government to protect their citizens in the possession of their natural rights (for it costs much less to protect us in the possession of the right of land and free commerce than to rob us or those rights)? If that estimate is correct, then we should save one million dollars weekly by ceasing to tax the industry of the country for the benefit of the land monopolist, which would keep the land at the lowest price and within the reach of the greatest number, and consequently labour would reach its greatest reward; and only when the land is at the lowest price will the competition to supply cheap food be equal to the competition to supply cheap manufactures for all, which cannot be while the many are landless as now.

But, with free or cheap land, the country would be much more densely populated, while the cities and villages would be much smaller, and we should much more nearly attain that proportion of population to land, which would be compatible with the greatest possible protection at the least possible cost.

By robbing the majority of their right of land in the country, and by taxing their industry to make the land-robbery profitable, we drive that landless majority into cities. which depopulates the country and over-populates the cities; till the cities become crowded full of cess-pools of pauperism, prostitution, misery, disease, and crime, while the country is comparatively a wilderness, where isolation and ignorance must prevail, from the want of that mental communion in which each receives and gives the greatest benefit to all; or why do farmers send their children to be educated in cities, where, unfortunately, they learn as much sensualism as science, and more intemperance than industry? And necessarily so, from the sickly hot-house life of cities, which dwarfs the bodies and limbs of children, just as the bodies and limbs of hot-house plants are dwarfed instead of developed; and as hot-house plants prematurely bloom and perish and become unfit for healthy reproduction, so it is with our girl and boy fathers and mothers, whose children seldom see many summers.

Is not this Nature's just penalty for the sin of land-robbery in the country, thus causing the hot-house life of cities, and giving us a doctor tax, frequently greater than the cost of government, besides populating our cemeteries and bereaving our homes; giving sad evidence of errors seldom thought of or reflected on, and still more seldom practically heeded?

Look at the landlord tax growing out of the same cause of land monopoly; people generally think of it about rent days, but rarely of the cause or remedy. Who can estimate the rental of the nation, or even of Racine city, every dollar of which is caused by land monopoly, except the rent for wear, risk, and insurance, which is the only natural rent, so that, were it not for land monopoly, everyone might soon become his own landlord?

Farmers, do you ever think that when lots are rising in cities, rents are rising also, which you, as consumers, must pay when you buy your goods? Merchants, do you reflect that when land rises in the country from 10s. to 10 or 100 dollars per acre, you also pay the rent or interest of that land, in proportion to its price, on all the produce that you consume? Manufacturers, mechanics, and labourers, do you know that you must pay the high rents of stores as well as dwellings, and the high prices, interest, or rents of farm lands also, on all the farm produce and manufactures which you consume? And do we all understand that labour as one inevitably pays the whole? Yes, the mechanical contrivers for productive industry (not war), the manufacturers, merchants, and mechanics, the farmers and labourers, pay the whole expenses of extortionate governments, landlords, doctors, lawyers and legislators, kings, lords, popes, bishops, cardinals, priests and princes, pirates, paupers, prostitutes, gamblers, thieves, loafers, and the standing army and navy to boot.

Then comes the question how to reduce the government to the least cost with the greatest security and most certain means of living for all.

Wherever a population is very dense, as in cities, the moral influence is least, while the cost of government is greatest. Take New York City, which costs ten dollars per head, while Racine, with the estimate of thirty-six thousand dollars for 1859, will be four and a half dollars per head, counting eight thousand as the population in round numbers.

Public opinion is greatest for the moral restraint of evil and promotion of good, where each knows all, and is known by all for the greatest number and distance; and the towns and villages approach the nearest this condition.

But the cost of roads and schools is large in a thinly settled district, because there are few road makers in proportion to the roads required, and few children and far apart in the school districts. But if the land tax would abolish land monopoly, and make the means of living honestly the most easy and certain for all, and make it unprofitable to keep land idle, then people would settle near each other for convenience, comfort, society and profit; and farmers would not need to send their children to cities for education. In fact, few cities comparatively would exist, with free and cheap land in the country: and I do not think that town and village government now costs over a dollar per head, so that, besides saving a million dollars weekly by the general government, we should save millions weekly by city government, by saving health and morals, by rents, interest and usury, by diminishing pauperism, prostitution, disease, and crime, and the high price of land, which inevitably grows out of our taxing our labour and improvements for the profit of the land monopolist alone.


Song of the Earth

Listen, dear friends, to the song of the Earth:
Did I not bear every being at birth!
Am I not present wherever you rove
Over the mountain, in valley and grove?

CHORUS
Plough me, and dig me, rake, harrow and hoe
Plant and manure me, and freely I'll grow'
Sing me a song on the land or the main,
Then will your parent, Earth, never complain.

Do I not aid all your innocent glee?
Why is no song ever written to me?
All the rich fruit and the beauty I show,
Are they not pressed wherever you go?

Do I not turn to the sun and the moon,
Making it even, night, and morning, and noon?
Do I not hold all your metals in store
Iron and silver, and gold in the ore? '

Do I not bear all the ships of the main,
All the rich harvests of fruit and of grain?
Fishes that dwell in pond, river, and sea,
Are they not all well supported by me?

Animals grazing the hill or the plain,
Roaming the forest, or skirting the main,
Birds of rich plumage, of beauty and song,
All to your parent, Earth, ever belong.

Shall I expose my rich bosom in vain?
Parched with the sun, and then drenched with the rain;
Clad every winter with crystals of snow,
Swept by the whirlwinds that terribly blow.

Who supplies mortar and stone for your halls,
Clay for the potter, and lime for your walls?
Where would your statues and paintings e'er be,
Were marble and colour not given by me?

Do I not make all the forests to grow,
All the choice woods which the workers well know?
What would their planing and polishing be,
Were not the beauties provided by me?

Do I not hold every mountain and hill;
Beds for each ocean, lake, river, and rill;
Coal fields for fuel, and fining your ore:
What can a parent Earth do for you more?

When you are planting your fruit and your grain,
Blessed with the sunshine, the dew, and the rain,
Giving rich harvest to fill you with glee;
Think you how much is provided by me?

Let all your wars and your quarrelling cease,
Dwell on my bosom in plenty and peace;
Love one another, be honest and true;
Thus would your parent, Earth, teach unto you.

Let not a brother, when strong to command,
Rob anyone of his right to the land:
Is there not room on my bosom for all;
Why fill your Earth-life with wormwood and gall?

Why am I rented, and bartered and sold,
By part of my children for silver and gold;
Robbers by law, and rulers by might,
Foes unto justice, and freedom, and right?

Is not my bosom to everyone free,
Do I demand of each tenant a fee?
Take what is needed, but joyfully give
Everyone else the same freedom to live.

Let not the strong ones the weaker enslave;
Those who are strong, should be tender and brave,
Foes to the tyrant, and friends to the free;
Such would give joy unto you and to me.

When you are steaming by sea and by land,
All you desire being yours to command;
Gratitude ever will heighten your glee -
Oft a kind thought would be welcome to me.


LETTER IX

In considering the best means of promoting the production and distribution of wealth, we are naturally led to consider the advantages of home markets and manufactures, and how we can best encourage them without violating the right of free commerce, or putting any unnecessary tax upon any portion of the community. For this purpose I propose the Land Tax exclusively, and the repeal of all laws for the collection of debts contracted after the passage of the repeal.

Mr. Cobb says, in his report as Secretary of the Treasury, for 1857, that the theory of a protective tariff is, that it must be high enough to prevent importation or diminish it, or the home manufacturer will not be benefited; and if the tariff is high enough to exclude foreign imports, then we get no revenue, but every dollar which the manufacturer gains the consumer loses, and as the consumer must pay more for his goods he must buy less. But the remedy which he proposes is, what he calls a remunerative tariff, so that while the consumer buys his goods cheap, he at the same time pays the expenses of Government.

Now I think I can show a much clearer case with the land tax for revenue than any remunerative or protective tariff whatever; for, while all the taxes are on the land, not only does the land tax defray all the cost of government, and diminish the cost of government, but the land sells for the lowest price also, instead of the highest, thus keeping the land within the means of all, or at least the great majority of the people; so that we can have the greatest number of land owning producers of food, who having no rent to pay, can supply us with cheaper food minus the rent, or divide what was hitherto paid in rent between the producer and the consumer. And with land at the lowest price, rents would be the lowest also, and ultimately cease; so that the rent hitherto paid by mechanics, labourers, merchants, and manufacturers, would then be divided between the maker, the seller, and the consumer.

For, with all the taxes on the land, it would not pay to keep it idle, therefore speculation in land would soon cease and be transferred to untaxed manufactures or labour, which would increase the demand and raise the wages of labour and reduce the profits of capital and speculation; and at the same time we should create and sustain the most permanent and profitable home market for produce and manufactures, and settle for ever that oft-mooted question of political economists, how to realize the utmost economy in the production and distribution of wealth; and in this way it could be done with the least possible cost of government and with the protection of free commerce and free land instead of the violation of both.

Then, when food becomes cheap in the country, from cheap land and no tax on improvements, mechanics, manufacturers, and merchants can go where food is cheapest whenever it will pay better than having the food transported to them, as they will then have the increased means, which were hitherto paid in rents, with which to travel. And when farmers desire to settle near factories for the benefit of market and exchange, they may be sure the land will never be high nor manufactures either; because the tax is on the land, and not on the manufactures, which keeps the landlord's rent, and the speculator's profit from the land, and the robber tariff from the manufactures also.

But when all the revenue is raised by a tariff on commerce, the land being comparatively exempt from taxes, sells for a higher price; then we have fewer landholding producers and more land speculators and landlords, and thus the high tariff on manufactures tends to destroy that very home market which it was intended to create, by reducing the number of landowning producers, who are inevitably the best customers of the manufacturers and mechanics, and by which their means of living is rendered the most certain instead of the most precarious. So that the tariff, high or low, for protection or revenue, proportionately diminishes the home market for manufactures, while it robs us of our right of free commerce, increases vastly the cost of government, and pauperises and debases the community!

In England the landowners and farmers claim protection against the cheap food of other countries to sustain their high rents and high prices of land and food; there the lords have thousands of acres each in parks, pleasure grounds, and game preserves, while the landless are comparatively destitute, and their means of living exceedingly precarious; there land monopoly flourishes amazingly; there, in 1824, the land tax was only £1,183,00, while the tax on labour, or its product, was £49,432,000; there the land-monopolists, the descendants of the Norman pirates, have been the law-makers and tax-makers, and have for their exclusive interest put nearly all the taxes on labour; there, for a small commutation, they can now redeem the land from nearly all the little tax that is left on it forever, if the government of the landocracy should last so long, and the valuation of the land for the redemption of the tax is not its present valuation, but the small valuation at the time the law was made. Obedience to wrong is treason to justice and to man.

Land is frequently advertised for sale in England, "land tax and tithe redeemed,'" for these tithes are commuted for in the same manner, and there God is still professedly worshipped by priests sustained by public plunder; there the protection demanded is more against cheap food than cheap manufactures. What an idea, protection against cheap food, against the fertility of the earth and the freedom to eat of it! But what is the remedy? I say put all the taxes on the land, and repeal your stamp duties, your duties on imports, your inquisitorial excise laws, your robbing legacy duties, which tax nothing for the inheritance of land, because the land monopolists made the laws. Put all the taxes on the land, and then the landlord's rent will pay the cost of government, and keep the land at the lowest price forever; then cultivation, production, and plenty, will prevail, and much of the manufactures which you are now exporting will be needed at home; your home market will be vastly increased, you will be prosperous and permanent customers to each other, your poor laws will be diminished, your credit will not be needed; then poverty, beggary, and a land robbing aristocracy, and a tithe-eating Church and State priesthood will soon be among the things that were.

Then free trade, by removing the necessity for standing armies and navies, would open the reign of peace on earth and good will to all mankind; then arts, industry, commerce, and morals, would progress with accelerated force; our whole attention and energies would be devoted to the promotion of human good, the supplying permanently and bountifully our wants, and elevating our condition physically, mentally, morally, and socially; all nations would become as one family, in which a wrong done to one would be resented by all. The universal brotherhood of man would be realised, and the earth in its fruitfulness, bloom, and beauty would become the Eden home of the free, the noble, and the good.


Protection

Protection, in thy honoured name
What wrongs mankind degrade;
Aggression 'gainst the rights of man.
Free labour, land, and trade.

Some clamour for protection
Against cheap food and clothes:
Nor dream they in their ignorance
Of famine's horrid woes.

Home manufacturers often seek
'Gainst foreigners protection;
While farmers must pay double price
Till bunglers gain perfection.

And when for twenty years they've had
A most tremendous booty,
They'll cry you want to ruin them
If you remove the duty.

Whoever robs us of a right,
At manhood strikes a blow;
Replacing freedom's happiness
With tyranny and woe.

Free trade is part of freedom,
Which tyrants would invade;
And rob us of the benefit,
The right of honest trade.

Thus bit by bit they make us
Slaves to protection's laws;
And bit by bit we are deprived
Of freedom's peaceful cause.

'Tis moral wrong on cotton land
To raise the sugar cane;
If honest labour must be taxed
To make the planter's gain.

When toil and land are rightly used,
Each for their greatest worth
No nation needs protection laws
'Gainst any power on earth.

Protection's due alone to right
Resistance unto wrong;
But right produces plenty, peace,
And love, so pure and strong.

While wrong produces poverty,
And bloody war and hate
Brings ruin to a nation,
A colony, or state.

When will men see wrong never can
Be bound by time or space;
"That wrong unto the least of men,
Is wrong to all the race?"


LETTER X

Many may think that the means of raising revenue whether the taxes are levied on the land or labour - have nothing to do with chattel slavery; but if they will carefully examine the subject, I think they will find that, putting all the taxes on the land would be one of the best means of making chattel slavery unprofitable that can possibly be devised by human ingenuity.

Slave labour also requires more land to yield the same amount of produce than free labour; and, therefore, their taxes would be greater in proportion to their produce.

Were all the taxes on the land, the Slave states would have to pay as much tax for the general government as the Free States, because they have as much or more land. But as the expenses of the general government are now paid by duties on imports, of which the Free States consume three-fourths, consequently the Free States pay three fourths of the taxes for general government.

It costs vastly more for local government in the Slave States, for officers and overseers to keep slaves in bondage; and were all the taxes on the land, it would diminish the profit of slave produce in proportion to that of the Free States.

It costs vastly more for legislators to make laws to sustain slavery than to sustain freedom, besides the cost of slaves, of officers, spies, and bloodhounds, and slave-catchers, to sustain the heartrending iniquity.

Were all the taxes on the land, the Slave States would have to pay their own postage.

Were all the taxes on the land, it would not pay to keep land idle for speculation, and the poorer the cultivation the worse it would pay; and as slave cultivation is always poor and exhausting, thus far it would pay worse than free labour. Consequently, slave farms surrounded by free farms, and Slave States surrounded by Free States, could not, commercially compete with either in their surplus productions, and thus the profit of slaveholding would be diminished or destroyed; for the extra cost of slaves, and the extra cost of keeping them in bondage and ignorance - and their masters and overseers in idleness - would more than consume all that you could whip and starve out of the slave. I know no tax that would so effectually kill slavery as the per acre land tax; while no tax is so little cost to the Government, gives so little inducement to corruption, and so effectually destroys land monopoly - on which chattel slavery and wages slavery both depend, for did none own more land than they needed to cultivate or occupy, they would not want to steal their brethren, or hire others to cultivate it for them.

The slave must always remain in ignorance to keep him a slave, and consequently he can only do the cheapest labour; while the free man is daily growing in intelligence, and inventing machinery which tends to supersede slavery itself. And the cheaper and freer the land for all, the more will those who own their farms, who are interested in keeping them in the best possible condition, and who cultivate them by their own labour, closely compete with rented farms and slave labour, and thus tend, happily, to supersede chattel and wages slavery.

Were all the taxes on the land, it would not pay to keep it idle; the result would be cultivation to make it pay, which would cause an abundance of produce, for which manufactures would be made to exchange. And as the land would be free or cheap, the wages of labour would rise, because, whenever manufacturing paid less than farming, many more would farm the land, and thus equalize the wages of labour between farming and manufacturing. And as the wages of labour rise, the profits of trading fall, and as it would be useless to glut the market, and produce over-much, it would be less profitable to buy slaves and keep them for a market easily over-supplied, and which continually diminishes the profits of commerce, in proportion to the surplus production, till it would be harder to buy and whip slaves to work than to do the little work, with the aid of machinery, for our own subsistence.

But with cheap free land, with the aid of machinery, we could easily produce a super-abundance of all that is best for mankind, and have an abundance of leisure for the cultivation of our physical, mental and moral faculties, and thus produce, that physical, mental and moral elevation which slavery must inevitably dwarf instead of develop.

It is now said that one wages slave or landless hireling will do the work of two or three chattel slaves. But if a hireling will do as much better than a slave who is owned, how much better will free landowners work for themselves, thus saving all the cost of overseers, taskmasters, slave-catchers, officials, blood-hounds, and slave legislation, while enjoying all the fruits which have hitherto kept them in luxury, indolence, extravagance, and vice?

Then give us free land and the exclusive per acre land tax to keep the land as cheap as possible, or without price, forever, so that all who desire can have land to cultivate, and thus create an unbounded home market for our manufactures; then we may fearlessly remove all restrictions on commerce, and enjoy a peace-making, free, and fraternal commerce with every nation in the world.

The world is fast becoming densely peopled, and the same extent of land monopoly as formerly cannot be borne without a vast increase of misery, which should certainly be avoided by all just and practicable means. With our taxes on labour land becomes dearer continually, and is only owned permanently by the rich, who, owning the land practically, own the largest share of the labour of the landless, for Denton, of Michigan, long since computed that American labourers get less than one-fifth of the produce of their labour, while in England, in 1858, it was estimated at only one-sixteenth.

Then again I say, put all the taxes on the land, so that only those who profitably cultivate it and live on it can afford to occupy it; then the land, the source of all our subsistence, will cease to be owned by drones and speculators, but be permanently and profitably occupied, not only by the industrious tillers of the soil, but by the factories and homes of every being of our race.


Proud and Lazy Asses

The world is bored with silly pride,
As well as lazy asses,
Who raise their noses with disdain
At all the working classes.

I wonder they are not too proud
To own their great Creator,
For being "mean" enough to work,
And thus become their Maker.

Work built the palaces they own,
Provides their daily feeding;
And yet they think contempt for work
A proof of their good breeding.

Girls let their mothers toil and slave,
Will such poor things their duty do
That they may play like ladies;
To their poor little babies?

They keep their parties quite select,
Yet oft they dread a panic;
And thank their stars when they escape
"The smell of a mechanic."

God help the man who for a wife
Gets one of these fine ladies;
No wonder if her husband courts
The girls that nurse the babies.

Young college gents talk knowingly
Of the "old man" and "woman,"
As tho' old folks were common clay,
And young ones superhuman.

God save the world from learned dolts
From proud and lazy asses,
Who raise their noses with disdain
At all the working classes.


LETTER XI

On the 20th of August last "S.S." replied to my letters on an exclusive land tax for revenue under the head of "Taxation Reconsidered." He thinks it wrong that the farmers who, he says, "make the least cost of Government" should pay in proportion to the land, which they own. I think if the farmers do make the least cost of Government it is because they enjoy their right of land, and are less exposed to the destitution, privation, and temptations of the landless; and this is one of the reasons why I put all taxes on the land, that none might monopolize the land which should belong to others, to support themselves, and thus diminish crime and the cost of Government, and create the best home market for our home manufacturers. For when the land is free and priceless, as it would be without law, or as the land tax would make it, then the people can either farm or manufacture, whichever will pay better than the other, but with the high price of land caused by the labour tax, the landless and moneyless have no choice but to labour for others if they can get the work, or beg, steal or starve. So that it is not the honest and thrifty, but the lazy and greedy farmers and land monopolists, who own vast quantities of land and cultivate but little, who make paupers, drunkards, and criminals of the landless, which "S.S." charges on the citizens and would fain make the citizens support all the drunkards, paupers, and criminals whom the land monopolists have made. Why, he might as well buy up and monopolize the breasts of the mother, and then blame the babe for crying for its food, for the land is to mankind what the breast is to the babe, the source of subsistence.

I believe that no one has a moral right to land because he has bought it, and paid for it, any more than the slaveholder has a moral right to the man, woman, or child he has bought and paid for; because no one can have a moral right to sell the land which belongs equally to all, or the man, woman, and child whose persons, liberty, and labour belong to themselves.

Does not "S.S." know that the land contains all the food of mankind, and that the landowners would charge the tax on the food they sold, just as the importer charges the duty, which he advances on the goods which he imports? And thus the land tax would be the most equal possible and the least costly and corruptive also; for when the taxes are on imported goods, only those who buy the goods pay the tax. Thus, the North buying three-fourths of the imported goods pays one-half of the taxes of the South, and when the taxes are on personal property, the most industrious and saving pay while the idle and extravagant escape. And when the personal property consists of imported goods, which have paid one tax on importation, they will be taxed again in the hands of the wholesale and retail merchants for state, county, town, and city purposes, while the land pays taxes only for local purposes and not for the general government, and the product of labour is frequently first taxed as raw material and afterwards as manufactured goods.

Then, look at the folly of taxing hundreds of different things, when the land tax reaches everything and destroys land monopoly as well, because every dollar of the millions will then be expended in the produce of the land, raw or manufactured, and thus do all pay taxes in the most equal manner possible and at the least possible cost, whereas when you tax hundreds of different things you make hundreds of times more cost, labour, and difficulty to raise "revenue," while you give a premium on war, smuggling, piracy, robbery and murder, perjury and fraud, thus morally degrading mankind. "S.S." prints the word "tailor" in capitals - I suppose to remind me of my business. I am really proud of its usefulness. But does he suppose that telling me what I was will alter the truth of what I say, or be a sufficient reply to my arguments?

"S.S" says that the land tax would cheapen food and raise manufactures, but, as I said before, the enterprising would equalize the value of their labour by working at whatever pays best which they cannot do without the use of the land.

"S.S." says the whole system of balances and averages would be changed, and this to the detriment and pecuniary ruin of the present and future farmers. Now, the farmers, as well as mechanics, could change their occupation if they found manufacturing more profitable, and much more easily than at present, because the land for the factory would cost probably nothing, and there would be no inquisitorial, pauperizing "labour tax" on manufactures to prevent them, so that it would be easier to commence farming because the land would cost less, and every implement and machine needed for cultivation would cost less also, and there would be no tax on the stock of the farmer or manufacturer, or on the improvements of either, so that the changes in values would be good for farming and manufacturing, and no "ruin" could result to present or future farmers or manufacturers from the land tax, but permanent prosperity to both.

"S.S." charges me with "class legislation, and professedly, designedly, unequal taxation." My conscience and, I think, my life denies it. But do we not judge others much by our own moral condition? What facts are referred to show my dishonesty? Rogue often cries Rogue to avoid suspicion and cast it on the innocent. The least truthful and honest have the least reason to suppose truth and honesty in others. "Judge not lest ye be judged." I think "S.S." professes to believe good of us all.

What the argument of the French nobles or lords was I know not, but the English nobles put nearly fifty millions of taxes annually on the labour and less than two millions of taxes on the land - this enables the nobles to own most of the land. There humanity must starve to keep parks, pleasure grounds, game preserves, moors, etc., for the splendour of the nobility and aristocracy, while the landless must manufacture, beg, steal, or starve, and rely on foreign countries for their food. And this is what I would fain prevent in America and every country and nation of the world, and I proposed and advocated the land tax for that purpose.

"If skilless I've performed my part,
The error lies not in my heart,
My head's alone to blame."

"S.S." would claim that taxing all property has destroyed the aristocracy of France, which exists, to a great extent, though much less than in England. The following figuring may tell why:

Taxes on land   on industrial produce
France£23,250,000£17,500,000
Austria7,779,0007,700,000
Russia3,999,0003,667,000
England183,00049,432,000

The above I copied from an English paper about the year 1849. In all the above countries except England, more than half the taxes are on the land, and the riches of the aristocracy are just in proportion as the land is exempt from taxes.

"S.S." says: "If the great burden of the land tax causes one to sell out, the same cause will prevent others buying." I contend that the taxes will be much less, and consequently less burdensome, because, the land being priceless, any persons, or, at least, many, could till the lands for themselves, whom we now keep as paupers and criminals. This would diminish the cost of government (or taxes), which will be less burdensome in proportion to the cheapness of land, and only the land kept idle or badly cultivated would be obliged to be sold because it would not pay the tax. And none can rightly keep land idle and make others suffer for their indolence, else, if one man could buy all the land he might keep all of it idle except enough to support himself, and starve everyone else to death.

"S.S." says: "At the low price of produce resulting from an increase of producers and a decrease of consumers, the farmer cannot sustain himself and pay his increased and increasing tax." This is the old fallacy of supposing that cheap land would compel people to farm while manufacturing paid better.

"S.S." says: "But supposing the prices remain relatively the same, what better is he off by paying a large tax to a government than paying the same amount in rent to a landlord?" I reply: Not only would the taxes be diminished by all the cost of the revenue service, but by that of every pauper and criminal who ceased to be landless, because of the free or cheap land, also by that of every pauper and criminal who found labour in manufacturing for the increased supply of the produce of the land, while the very rent to which "S.S." refers would be saved also by any houses that were placed on the free or cheap land by their owners, and all interest and usury would cese also, as all could easily own their own homes and make all the capital they needed. Then bankers, brokers, and usurers would soon die out from the universal prosperity of mankind.

"S.S." complains that the land tax would change the actual and relative value of land. The actual value is its productive power, which it would not change except by encouraging its use and making its idleness unprofitable. Its relative or money value might be changed by the Homestead Bill, which "S.S." might charge with destroying the hard-earned property of millions of monopolists by giving their birthright to millions of mankind. Let us remember that when we trade in the rights of others in buying risk, and not at the cost of the innocent or the wronged.

"S.S." says: "No man can have any more right to the soil another has bought than to the food that others have raised from it, or to the clothing or other products that he has earned by its cultivation." "S.S." still fails to distinguish between the land, which naturally and morally belongs to all, and the produce of the land, which naturally belongs to the producer. Suppose one man or many could buy all the land, who has the right to sell it? Would the buyers have the right to starve all the rest of mankind, and entail the land to their children with the eternal power of starving all other children? I think not, and therefore think the right of land is as inalienable as our existence, and that everyone who buys the land of others ought to lose it, just as the slaveholder who buys a man, woman, or child ought to lose what he paid for his covetous villainy.

"S.S." says: "When there is no other soil which he may acquire, and to which he may go, and no other food which he may procure, then he may assert a claim which it will be the duty of others to heed." Now, as "no one can rightly make others suffer for what he enjoys," so no one can rightly own land to the injury of others - to drive them out of any country or neighborhood. And this is it is the duty of all speculators to heed, now and forever. And to make it the interest of the land monopolist to let such land alone, and to prevent the taxes on the product of labour which prevent production and employment and to make it as easy as possible to commence and continue farming and manufacturing, and consequently to follow whichever will pay the best, are my principal reasons for advocating the land tax exclusively, and my continued examination only strengthens my conviction that I am right in theory as in practice.


In Love I'd Pass Away

Like the dew before the sunshine,
Like the light at close of day,
Like the fading of the autumn leaves
I'm passing now away.

The hand of death is on me,
And he's welcome, as a friend
For he suffering and sorrow brings
Unto a peaceful end.

When we cannot give back labour
For the labour we receive,
When our feeble words to harmony
The mind can scarcely weave:

When with pain and anguish sinking
When our sun of health is set
Then is not death a blessing,
To help us to forget?

Then, welcome dissolution
To the body and the brain,
When I cannot give back labour
For the labour that I gain.

For I would not live a burden
To one of human kind,
To leave in debt and wretchedness
A loving one behind.

No! better when my toil is done
To peacefully depart,
And trust to loving sympathy
To heal the wounded heart.

Like dew before the sunshine
Like the light at close of day,
Like the fading of the autumn leaves,
In love I'd pass away.