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Valley of the Shadow

Valley Spirit: December 15, 1869

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The Income Tax
(Column 01)
Summary: Protests against a suggestion to renew the income tax. Calls it unconstitutional and oppressive against certain sectors of the economy, especially salaried professionals like clerks.
Full Text of Article:

It is well known that this unjust and inequitable tax, under existing laws, can not be imposed after next year. The President, however, has taken occasion to recommend a renewal of the law for three years, suggesting that the amount be reduced to three per centum. This tax ought to be abolished. The law ought to expire by its own limitation.

The Income Tax was one of the alleged necessities of the War. Money was needed in large quantities, and whilst men clearly saw the inequality which the law worked, out of the fulness of their patriotism, they paid whatever was assessed without a murmur. But now that the exigencies of those times have passed away and a renewal of the tax, is recommended, the liveliest discussion is being elicited as to its operation, and a vast majority of the people may clearly be said to be hostile to its continuance.

The Income Tax is unconstitutional. The Constitution of the United States provides, that "no capitation, or other direct tax shall be laid, unless in proportion to the census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken." This tax is not laid upon property and fixed according to representation.

Again, out of the tremendous population in the United States, but 240,000 persons pay this income tax. And who are they? They are the men who can least afford to pay it. They are not the men who own a large quantity of real estate. They are not the men who have thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested in Government bonds. This is not a tax on property. The men who pay the most of it are the clerks who draw a salary above one thousand dollars, professional men who have an income over one thousand dollars, and all who are in possession of salaried offices.

The farmer eats his eggs, chickens, vegetables, pork, beef, mutton, butter, and drinks his milk and cream, and in making up his income, he is not charged with the value of these articles. But the clerk who receives a salary of fifteen hundred dollars, or the poor person who ekes out a miserable existence on twelve hundred a year and boards all the itinerant preachers who come along, is forced to buy all these articles at high prices and gets no credit for them when he comes to make out his income return. Surely there is no justice or equity in this.

Let this law which thus bears with crushing force upon the few, be wiped out of existence forever. Let us have no such glaring, oppressive inequality as this, in a land which boasts that it has made all men equal before the law.

Grant Restless in Bonds
(Column 01)
Summary: The paper denounces the hypocrisy of President Grant who now advocates repeal of the Tenure of Office Act after supporting the removal of Andrew Johnson for its violation.
(Column 02)
Summary: Comments on a bill proposed in Congress to prevent any State from withdrawing consent to the 15th amendment once a legislature has ratified it. Says this represents tyranny and usurpation, since the Supreme Court should decide on that issue. Asks the people if they will tolerate such tyranny from one branch of the Federal Government.
Full Text of Article:

As was anticipated, the Radicals in Congress are already engaged in an attempt to patch up their blundering reconstruction policy. Three fourths of the States have not yet ratified the proposed fifteenth amendment. Several of the State Legislatures threaten to withdraw the ratification of this amendment by former Legislatures. They claim the right to do this at any time before the necessary number is procured. This is a question on which people differ, and on which strong arguments have been advanced on both sides. It is a question that ought to be decided by the highest judicial tribunal in the land. But the Radicals are not willing to wait for such a decision. Senator Williams, of Oregon, has made haste to introduce a bill which declares that when a State has once given its assent to a constitutional amendment, that assent is conclusive and all subsequent action of the State as to that amendment is void.

Thus Congress is asked, and will doubtless attempt, to settle this disputed point. How can Congress undertake to settle the constitutional authority of the States? Whence does it get this power? Who made it the judge? Surely this is an attempted infringement of the rights of a coordinate branch of this Federal Government that ought to receive the condemnation of every citizen who has any regard for the constitution of the United States, and who desires the rights of the respective departments of the Government, as well as the rights of the States, to be preserved. Or shall the Legislative Department be allowed to exercise the rights which belong to the Executive and Judicial Departments?

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