Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 48.djvu/16
6 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
mand that lie be given his freedom, had followed precedents, he would have denied the application, for such precedents were opposed to it. But recognizing the change which an advanced civilization had effected in the government of the English peo- ple, and that the slave was held, to quote his language, " in virtue of positive law " (precedent), " which preserves its force long after the reasons and occasions from whence it was created are erased from memory," he granted the application ; and incorpo- rated into the policy of the English Government the 'principle of which the British people have ever since been proud that no person can continue to be a slave after he has planted his foot on English soil.
Other obstacles, at present almost insuperable, in the way of establishing a correct system of taxation, are that the subject is not properly taught, if taught at all, in the higher institutions of learning of the United States and Great Britain ; that up to the present time there is rarely if ever given a correct and scientific definition of the terms "tax" and "taxation," which makes it somewhat doubtful if those who talk about their meaning and incidents know what they are talking about ; that there are no text-books on the subject generally accepted as authoritative ; that there is no clear and settled understanding even as to what constitutes the main subject of taxation namely, property ; that the meaning of terms which have formed the basis of statutes and legal practice is entirely different in the United States and other leading civilized nations ; and that, as a rule, professors of economic science in the United States have failed to recognize in their reasoning and teachings of this whole subject, that the Gov- ernment of the United States, both Federal and State, differs in many respects, both in theory and practice, from any other gov- ernment that has heretofore existed ; and that therefore ideas and experiences which are regarded as the basis of sound policy in respect to taxation in the former are not accepted as such in the latter. Thus the United States, alone of the great nations of the world, regards debts and credits as property rightfully subject to taxation. The United States is also the only nation in which the taxation of exports is forbidden both to Federal and State gov- ernments under any circumstances. To no other government, furthermore, than that of the United States is applicable the fol- lowing principle enunciated by the United States Supreme Court (116 United States Reports, p. 631) respecting the assessment and collection of taxes : " Any compulsory discovery, by extorting the party's oath, or compelling the production of his private books and papers to convict him of a crime or to forfeit his property, is contrary to the principles of a free government. It is abhorrent to the instincts of an American. It may suit the purposes of