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As for the whisky and wine, we all know the amount that constituted that part of the trade. Even admitting that the market is now supplied with foreign wines, and probably at cheaper rates, does this argue that the people are now in a suffering condition? The report says that cattle, or the capital invested in stock for ranchos, has not paid over a certain per cent. and offers this as a reason why the people of the south are unable to bear the burden of taxation. In regard to the cattle, it is a well known fact that many cattle and horses have been driven into the inining districts and sold at a handsome profit. Why, sir, one of the members of this Convention has a partner now on his way to the mining districts from Santa Barbara with 1,500 head, and this is only one person. The report makes it a most singular state of affairs, and I presume it would require another Adam Smith to explain how such changes could be brought about.
Is there any man here that will tell me that the people of the south will suffer from the discovery of gold in the upper portion of California ? Is it possible that, with the immense population that is flooding the country at all points of the com. pass, there are no beef eaters ? Is it possible that, with this rapid influx, there should be no demand for beef? And, sir, if there a demand for beef, is it pos• sible that the people of the south cannot find a market for it? The argument made use of in the report is utterly at variance with all systems of political economy that I have ever read. There are no people in California richer than the cattle owners.
I am not in favor of heavy taxation, for I know that the Southern portion of the people of this country are large landholders, and I do not approve of any system of heavy taxation being imposed upon them.
The report goes on to say:
“In the towns that have sprung up something might be collected; but, like all new communities, they make the most of their limited capital.”
Mr. President, I would like to know where the gentlemen got their information in regard to the limited capital contained in the new towns that are springing up. I know, sir, that public works have been performed by individuals at their own expense, and I have not seen a person in the town that I have come from who would object to pay a tax for either Municipal or State support, although their capital is, as the report says, limited. “In the opinion of the Committee the system of taxation might fail.”
Now, sir, the only failure that some of the gentlemen of the Committee appre. hend appears to be in the south, amongst the poor people. What does one of the southern gentlemen of this Committee say about the matter?
“The undersigned, a member of this Committee, finds great difficulty in organizing the ways and means best adapted to the present peculiar and unprecedented circumstances in which the State of California is placed, but would recommend, as the more eligible plan, that the Legislature be empowered to raise the proper revenue for defraying the State expenses by levying an income and property tax, which shall not exceed one quarter per cent., as likewise a poll tax, which shall be left entirely to the Legislature to decide upon, both in relation to the amount as well as the manner of carrying out the same.
A. STEARNES." This is the opinion of one of those poor men from the south.
A gentleman from the south, a member, a few days ago remarked that they were not in want of money but in want of wit. This is another voice from amongst the poor people from the south; and, as far as wit is concerned, I have no doubt he can be supplied with a certain kind now on hand in market, for sale cheap.
We have two reports on ways and means. I do not understand parliamentary rules, and would like to know if there can be two minority reports, as I believe the report was made by a Committee of two, and they differ in opinion. But I will vote for the proposition of the gentleman from Los Angelos, who seems to think that the poor people of the south are able to pay taxes.
Mr. STEUART said that, coming from a State where the burden of taxation had been very great, he could speak feelingly on the subject. It was a question of the most vital importance. He had endeavored already briefly to show the condition of the landed interests in California, and it was his opinion that for some time to come there could not be a sufficient revenue obtained from taxes levied upon the lands held by individuals to support the State Government. In view of the diffi. culty of obtaining means, he had submitted a plan for the consideration of the House, by which he thought additional revenue might be raised. With regard to the propositions before the House, he thought it was usual to appoint assessors from among those best acquainted with the character and value of the lands. He would vote for the section as reported by the Committee, because he believed it to be right and proper in itself.
Mr. Gwin, I will not detain the House long, for I believe there is a general disposition to get through with this subject. The proposition that I presented to the House this morning is copied from the Constitution of Texas, leaving out certain provisions which I do not think proper to introduce. Texas is very similarly situated to this country. There are there many landholders who have large estates which are not productive. I do not wish to do injustice to any portion of the people of this country; and this desire to do justice to all parts led me to examine for precedents where there were large landholders. Hence, I offered the proposition—not precisely as it is in the Constitution of Texas, but all I thought was necessary to cover the case, I want it distinctly understood, in advance, that the main argument urged here on the subject of assessors—that they should be elected in the county where the lands are situated—the argument brought forward that, by implication, my proposition contemplates that these elections shall be held in any other part of the State, is without foundation. I have never known that practice in any State of the Union. I want the assessors to live in the county where the property is. I am in favor of that ; but I want the Legislature to have the power to form a system of taxation. I say that taxation should be equal and uniform throughout the State. “ All property in this State shall be taxed in proportion to its value, to be ascertained as directed by law.” Then, if gentlemen wish to be more specific on this subject, I am perfectly willing that the assessors shall be residents of the county or district in which the lands are situated.
In regard to the comments on the report of the Committee of Ways and Means, I shall only say a word or two. I do not look upon it that any argument has been brought against it. These paper missiles thrown upon the House may be laid aside to be used elsewhere. I have seen such things before, and I am not at all afraid of their effects. That the price of cattle has risen, I do not doubt ; but has every thing else, and the relative value is the same. We are assured by the southern people themselves, that the products of the farms in the southern part of the State have been diminished in value, because of the great difficulty of procuring labor. I know the people of California will sustain their Government by any tax put upon them. I am in favor of establishing a State Government, and asking as a matter of right that the expenses of this Government shall be paid by the Government of the United States until we are prepared to pay it ourselves; and if we do not get it from that source, I believe the people will sustain an equitable taxation, whatever it may be. They are prepared to go through with what they have started, and that is, to establish a government here. My only opposition to incorporating any specific plan of taxation in the Constitution is, that it may give rise to some inequality in its ope. ration, owing to the different interests in the different parts of the country. For this reason, I prefer leaving the subject to the Legislature, with the general provision that taxation shall be equal and uniform, and property taxed according to its value-principles which nobody will deny. 'I have not the least apprehension that the property of landholders will be unfairly assessed. As members of this Convention, forming a fundamental law, we should be cautious how we introduce
any thing to the disadvantage of one portion of the country or another. The whole object and scope of the report of the Committee of Ways and Means was to show that the people of this country were not prepared for taxation as yet, and that they ought not to be required to impose a burden upon themselves when it was the duty of the General Government to furnish them with means--not asking this in à spirit of humble solicitation, but as a matter of right.
Mr. Price. I offered an amendment to the original section as it was reported from the Committee of the Whole, to strike out what I considered a legislative provision, and I did it, sir, upon this principle ; that the provision was restrictive in itself, and was a right that belonged peculiarly to the Legislature, and one which it would seem like aggression on our part to interfere with. I want to send this Constitution to the people with no insulting or aggressive provision, such as, in my opinion, is done by the section as it originally stood. I do not wish to see the landed proprietors of this country disproportionately taxed. I believe that by putting this provision in the Constitution it will be attended by results that all would deprecate. It might operate very injuriously upon the landholders of the south. I appreciate their position, sir, and I should be willing to put any guard or protection around them that is consistent with our duties here.
The question being on Mr. Gwin's amendment, as amended by Mr. Jones, it was adopted; and the report of the Committee of the Whole, as amended, was then concurred in.
On motion, the Convention took a recess till half.past three.
The consideration of the “Miscellaneous Provisions' of the Constitution was resumed.
The amendments of the Committee of the Whole to the 14th section were con. curred in, and the section, as amended, was adopted.
On motion of Mr. STEUART, the additional section reported by the Committee of the Whole, to follow the 14th section, was amended, by inserting at the close thereof the words, “except for eleemosynary purposes;" and thus amended the amendment of the Committee of the Whole was concurred in; and the section adopted, viz: No perpetuities shall be allowed, except for eleemosynary purposes. Section 16th was adopted as reported by the Committee on the Constitution.
On motion of Mr. SHERWOOD, the 17th section, as amended by the Committee of the Whole, was stricken out, and the following inserted in lieu thereof:
Sec. 17. Absence from this State, on business of the State or of the United States, shall not affect the question of residence of any person.
Section 18th was adopted as reported by the Committee on the Constitution.
The additional section, reported as section 19th by the Committee of the Whole, was taken up, viz:
All laws, decrees, regulations, and provisions, emanating from any of the three supreme powers of this State, which from their nature require publication, shall be published in English and Spanish.
Mr. Norton moved to amend by striking out the word "supreme,” and inserting in lieu thereof the word “ several.”
Mr. Botrs moved to amend the amendment of Mr. Norton, so as to strike out of the section the words, "emanating from any of the three supreme powers of the State," which Mr. Norton accepted as a modification of his amendment.
The amendment, as amended, was agreed to; and, thus amended, the amend. ment of the Committee of the Whole was concurred in, and the section adopted.
Mr. Ord moved an additional section, as follows: 'The Legislature shall have power to extend this Constitution, and the jurisdiction of this state, over any territory acquired by compact with any State, or with the United States, the same being done with the consent of the United States.
Mr. NORTON. I have no objection to that, but I do not see the necessity of it.
Mr. McCarver. It is hardly probable that the Congress of the United States would consent to a provision of that kind. We are assuming enormous powers when we adopt such a provision as that.
Mr. STEUART. I will support the amendment. It is gravely agitated in Con. gress the propriety of annexing the Canadas and Cuba. It may be a very im. portant provision to us. Probably the extent of California will be such as to call upon us in a short time to take under our protecting wing the Sandwich Islands.
Mr. McCARVER. I expect to be a citizen of Oregon, and, if I were a citizen, I should object to the Legislature of your State fixing a Constitution upon me.
Mr. HASTINGS. Notwithstanding the protest of my colleague, I am disposed to favor the section. It may soon become necessary to annex the Sandwich Islands or Oregon. We will find it very difficult to make room for the immense popula. tion pouring in here.
Mr. Borts. I would not say a word but for the fear that this clause might pos. sibly creep into the Constitution. What is that you propose to do? After fixing the right of suffrage, excluding negroes and the descendants of negroes, you in. troduce a clause by which you may extend this Constitution to the Sandwich Is. lands, and make citizens of the Kanakas.
Mr. McCARVER. We are getting to be an almighty people here. Who knows but we may have a resolution presented to annex China? "If the Congress of the United States and California will assent to it, the Chinese may enjoy the benefit of the wisdom of this Convention in having our Constitution extended over them. As a citizen of California and of the United States, I protest against such a mea.
Mr. Sherwood. If we should chance at any time to annex a portion of the terri. tory south of us by consent of the people, I do not see why we should deny ourselves that right with the consent of Congress, to extend our Constitution over them. Being citizens of the western coast, it becomes us, if possible, to extend our pow. er. As
friend from San Francisco (Mr. Gwin) said the other day, I hope we will have six or more States upon this coast ; I hope, if I live forty years, to see the whole coast populated, and a vast empire on it, so that our power on the east and west will be the greatest in the world.
Mr. ORD. I do not think the meaning of this additional section is distinctly un. derstood. Suppose it were found necessary or convenient to California that Ore. gon should dispose of a part of her territory to California by donation, finding that she could not govern it conveniently, and California was willing to accept it; it would be necessary before we could extend our laws over that territory to have the power in our Constitution. The Legislature could not extend our laws over that newly acquired territory, however small it might be. It would be necessary, without this provision, to call a Convention. It is for the purpose of anticipating any contingency of that kind that this section is offered.
Mr. HILL. I shall oppose the adoption of this provision. I think it is useless. If we should get a portion of Oregon, it becomes a part of California. The present Constitution would extend over it.
Mr. Orb. It cannot extend beyond the boundary which we fix in the Constitution.
Mr. LIPPITT. I think there is some doubt whether this Constitution could be extended beyond the boundaries therein established. I can conceive the proba. bility of such an instance as that mentioned by the gentleman from Monterey, (Mr. Ord.). I do not think the Legislature would have power to extend the juris. diction of the State beyond what we have now marked in this Constitution. I would also remind gentlemen that, according to a provision already adopted, there is no way of calling a Convention of the people, so as to give that power to the Legislature, under two years ; it will be two years before that constitutional power could be given; and if the case alluded to should arise, we can conceive very rea. dily that it would be important that it should be acted upon immediately. If there is no power except by altering the Constitution, it would take two years to do it. I am therefore inclined to support the amendment.
Mr. Ellis. I merely rise to announce to the House that the previous question is around again.
Mr. McCARVER. I wish to refer to this fact: that the only instance on record in which the set limits of a State were altered was that of Missouri. The Constitution of Missouri made no provision for that purpose. A simple act of Con. gress, with the assent of the legislature, admitted an additional portion of territory into the State of Missouri. Now, if Oregon should be a State, and one of the parties should consent to make this donation, I have no doubt that the action of the two Legislatures and of Congress would be sufficient to accomplish the pur• pose.
Mr. Borts. I am astonished, sir, to hear gentlemen talk here about giving away human beings and selling human beings, without consulting them. Sup. pose Oregon, says the gentleman, should give away thirty thousand of her inhabitants to California ; the Legislature would extend our ws over them. Do you mean to say, sir, that our Legislature, shall assume this control over them, without consulting their wishes ? I deny, any such doctrine. The only way to accomplish the object, in such an event as that referred to, is to call a Convention to make a Constitution. Let it be the work of the whole popu. lation of California. I have no doubt that, when this Convention lays down the boundaries of this State, it is utterly impossible for the Legislature to alter a constitutional provision, the boundary being one. How can it be that, whilst the Constitution is there telling them what the boundary of this State is, the Legislature can violate that Constitution which every member must be sworn to support? You propose to leave to the Legislature the extension or contraction of this boundary question; that the Legislature shall make the boundary of this State precisely what they please; and without the consent of those persons that are so donated that you extend and force over them your
laws and your govern. ment.
Mr. SHANNON. I call the attention of the House to the 10th section of the 1st article of the Constitution of the United States.
Mr. Ellis. I move the previous question.
and nays being ordered, the result was as follows: Yeas.-Messrs. Carrillo, Covarrubias, Crosby, Ellis, Gwin, Hoppe, Hobson, Hollingsworth, Lippitt, Ord, Pico, Rodriguez, Reid, Sutter, Stearns, Steuart, Wozencraft-17.
Nays.—Messrs. Aram, Botts, Dimmick, Dominguez, Gilbert, Hanks, Hill, Hastings, McCarver, McDougal, Norton, Pedrorena, Shannon, Vallejo—14.
Mr. LIPPITT moved a reconsideration of the vote just taken ; and the article and amendment was ordered to lie on the table for further consideration.
On motion of Mr. Gwin, the House then resolved itself into Committee of the Whole, Mr. Lippitt in the chair, on so much of the report of the Committee on the Constitution as relates to the preamble.
The majority report being under consideration, as follows :
We, the people of California, grateful to Almighty God for our freedom, in order to secure its blessings, do establish this Constitution.
The minority report was called up by Mr. Gwin, as follows:
We, the people of the Territory of California, by our representatives in Convention assembled, at Monterey, on the first day of September, A. D. 1849, and of the Independence of the United States the seventy-third, having the right of admission into the Union as one of the United States of America, consistent with the Federal Constitution, (and by the Treaty of Peace between the United States and Mexico, ratified on the 30th day of May, A. D. 1848,) in order to secure to our. selves and our posterity the enjoyment of all the rights of life, liberty, and the free pursuit of bappiness, do mutually agree with each other to form ourselves into a free and independent State, by the name and style of the State of California," and do ordain and establish the following Constitution for the government thereof.