New York Assembly. Remarks on an
Act for Raising Certain Yearly Taxes Within This State1
[New York, February 20, 1787]
On that part of the bill, which enacts that a tax be laid on certain instruments of writing in the courts of justice, and which particularly effects the gentlemen of the law.2
Col. Hamilton was of opinion that it was not proper to tax any particular class of men for the benefit of the state at large; but in the present instance it was to answer a very important purpose;3 it was putting in force that most excellent part of the constitution, which declares the judges should be independent of the legislature; this at present was not the case: He therefore supported the paragraph as it stood: Observing the salaries of the judges should be permanent; that they should neither fear the frowns, nor court the favor of the legislature; he believed it was right that this independence should arise from the tax proposed.4
The [New York] Daily Advertiser, February 22, 1787.
1. For information on the tax bill, see “An Act for Raising Certain Yearly Taxes Within This State,” February 9, 1787.
2. The section of the tax bill to which H is referring is given in the New York Assembly Journal description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). description ends as follows:
“Upon every seal affixed to any process or proceeding of the Court for the Trial of Impeachments, and the Correction of Errors, Court of Chancery, Supreme Court, Court of Exchequer, Court of Admiralty, and Court of Probates, in addition to the sums now paid, the further sum of and the further sum of upon every seal to any process or proceeding of the Mayors Courts of the cities of New-York, Albany, and Hudson, and the Courts of Common Pleas within the several counties of this State; to be paid in each case, by the Attorney, Solicitor or Proctor, on whose application such process or proceedings shall be had, when any Attorney, Solicitor or Proctor is employed; and when no Attorney, Solicitor or Proctor is employed, then to be paid by the person or persons applying for the same. Provided, that when the same shall be paid by any Attorney, Solicitor or Proctor, he shall have no allowance therefore in his bill of costs, neither shall he charge the same to, or receive the same from the person or persons by whom he is employed, under the penalty of Ten Pounds for every such charge or receipt, to be recovered with costs of suit, in any Court of Record having cognizance thereof, by and for the benefit of any person who will sue for the same, in an action of debt, founded upon this act.” (New York Assembly Journal description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). description ends , 1787, 58–59.)
3. Before H spoke, Richard Varick had argued that
“He saw no reason why any particular profession or order in society should be partially burthened with taxes. It was not consistent with the principles of equal justice. If gentlemen of the law gained by their practice; that practice was taxed when they were rated according to the wealth they possessed.” (The Daily Advertiser, February 22, 1787.)
4. The part of the proposed bill printed in the New York Assembly Journal description begins Journal of the Assembly of the State of New York (Publisher and place vary, 1782–1788). description ends and quoted in note 2 does not state the purposes for which the revenues from the suggested tax should be used. Presumably the money was to be used to pay the salaries of the judges of the state.
The Assembly refused on February 20 to strike out this clause. It did not appear, however, in the final version of the act.
Also on this date, according to The Daily Advertiser, H made a motion, which was carried, “that part of the bill respecting the impost” be erased. For the section of the bill to which he referred, see “An Act for Raising Certain Yearly Taxes Within This State,” February 9, 1787, note 5.