The Power to Tax is the Power to Control

“This power, exercised without limitation, will introduce itself into every corner of the city, and country.—It will wait upon the ladies at their toilett [sic], and will not leave them in any of their domestic concerns; it will accompany them to the ball, the play, and the assembly; it will go with them when they visit, and will, on all occasions, sit beside them in their carriages, nor will it desert even at church; it will enter the house of every gentleman, watch over his cellar, wait upon his cook in the kitchen, follow the servants into the parlour [sic], preside over the table, and note down all he eats or drinks; it will attend him to his bedchamber, and watch him while he sleeps; it will take cognizance of the professional man in his office, or his study; it will watch the merchant in the counting-house, or in his store; it will follow the mechanic to his shop, and in his work, and will haunt him in his family, and in his bed; it will be a constant companion of the industrious farmer in all his labour [sic], it will be with him in the house, and in the field, observe the toil of his hands, and the sweat of his brow; it will light upon the head of every person in the United States.  To all these different classes of people, and in all these circumstance, in which it will attend them, the language in which it will address them, will be GIVE! GIVE!”  ‘Brutus,’ Essay VI (December 27, 1787) in The Anti-Federalist Papers and the Constitutional Debates, ed. Ralph Ketcham (New York, 2003), pp. 297-98.

This excerpt comes from the comments of an Anti-Federalist critic of the Constitution submitted to the States by the members of the Convention in Philadelphia.  The anonymous, ‘Brutus,’ was responding to those who promoted ratification of the new constitution by New York, that is, what is now called the Federalist Papers. Has the history of the United States since 1789 justified these predictions of ‘Brutus?’

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