James Madison Papers

Power of Congress to Tax Exports, [21 August] 1787

Power of Congress to Tax Exports

[21 August 1787]

The Committee of Detail report provided that “No tax or duty shall be laid by the Legislature on articles exported from any State” (Farrand, Records description begins Max Farrand, ed., The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 (4 vols.; New Haven, 1911–37). description ends , II, 183).

Mr Madison As we ought to be governed by national and permanent views, it is a sufficient argument for giving the power over exports that a tax, tho’ it may not be expedient at present, may be so hereafter. A proper regulation of exports may & probably will be necessary hereafter, and for the same purposes as the regulation of imports; viz, for revenue—domestic manufactures—and procuring equitable regulations from other nations. An Embargo may be of absolute necessity, and can alone be effectuated by the Genl. authority. The regulation of trade between State and State can not effect more than indirectly to hinder a State from taxing its own exports; by authorizing its Citizens to carry their commodities freely into a neighbouring State which might decline taxing exports in order to draw into its channel the trade of its neighbours. As to the fear of disproportionate burdens on the more exporting States, it might be remarked that it was agreed on all hands that the revenue wd. principally be drawn from trade, and as only a given revenue would be needed, it was not material whether all should be drawn wholly from imports—or half from those, and half from exports. The imports and exports must be pretty nearly equal in every State—and relatively the same among the different States.

Ms (DLC).

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