OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

OF THE

-

CONSTITUTIONAL

CONVENTION

OF THE

STATE OF ALABAMA

May 21st, 1901, To September 3rd, 1901.

JOHN B. KNOX, Esq., President.

FRANK N. JULIAN, Esq., Secretary.

PAT McGAULY, Esq., Official Stenographer.

Volume II


WETUMPKA PRINTING CO..

Printers and Publishers

Wetumpka, Ala.

1940


OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

-

of the

-

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION

-

of the

-

STATE OF ALABAMA

-

May 21st, 1901, To September 3rd, 1901

____________

-

THIRTY - FOURTH DAY

__________

MONTGOMERY, ALA.,

Monday, July 1st, 1901.

The Convention met pursuant to adjournment, was called to order by the President and opened with prayer by the Rev. Mr. Patterson, as follows:

Almighty and most merciful God, Thou who art the ruler of the Heavens and of the earth, unto Thee shall all flesh come. From Thee we derive our being. Upon Thee we all depend. Upon Thy gracious providence we are dependent for the life that is within us and for all the means that sustain it; for the wisdom that is given to direct us in our councils, and for the skill which is ours to execute the plans which we form. Now as we come into Thy presence we acknowledge Thy right to rule and reign over us, and we pray Thee that Thou wilt for Thine own Name's sake, preside over the councils of these, Thy servants, today. Give unto them that wisdom which cometh froth above, that all of the things upon which they deliberate may be considered by them with care and with conscientious attention unto all the details and for the interests which are committed to their care. Guide, sustain and bless them. Keep them in physical health and strength, together with clearness of mind, soundness of judgment, warmth and tenderness of heart, that the grave interests which are in their hands may be properly conserved and that the issue may be for the glory of Thy name, and for the interest of our great and our beloved State. Hear and answer us, pardon our sins, and at last receive us to Thyself for the Redeemer's sake. Amen.

Upon the call of the roll, eighty - two delegates responded to their names.


1316

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Leaves of absence were granted to Mr. Kirkland for today ; to Mr. Searcy, Mr. M. M. Smith (Autauga), Mr. Proctor, Mr. deGraffenreid and Mr. Beavers for today; Mr. Reynolds (Henry) for Saturday and today; Mr. Samford (Pike) for today and tomorrow; indefinite leave for Mr. Altman (Sumter) on account of sickness.

The report of the Committee on the Journal was read, stating that the journal for the thirty - third day had been examined and found to be correct, and the report was adopted.

Upon the call of the roll of delegates for the introduction of resolutions, ordinances, etc.:

Resolution No. 213, by Mr. Fletcher:

Whereas, this Convention was called chiefly to make a Constitution  regulating suffrage and taxation ;and

Whereas, more than one half of the time allotted for its work by the enabling act has been consumed in the passage of one article, and

''Whereas, expedition is plainly essential to the carrying out of the purposes for which this convention assembled, and to economize expenses to the State and Whereas, it is believed that the consideration and disposition of the suffrage article as soon as possible will greatly facilitate and hasten to completion the business before the Convention.

Therefore be it resolved, That after the adoption of the Article now being discussed, the Article on suffrage shall be taken up for consideration, and continued until finally disposed of.

Be it further resolved, That all Articles heretofore made special orders shall be postponed, and taken up in their regular order, after the article on suffrage shall have been adopted.

The resolution was referred to the Committee on Rules.

Resolution No. 214 by Mr. Henderson:

Resolved, That whereas, under Chapter 5 of Article I of the statutes of this State it is provided that the expenses incurred in maintaining the office of the Department of Agriculture shall be paid out of the funds to the credit of the Department of Agriculture shall be paid out of the funds to the credit of this Department, derived from the sale of fertilizer tags, and further provides among, other duties that the Commissioner shall furnish information and illustrative maps, as to mines, minerals, forests, soils, climate, water, water power, industries, and aid in immigration, all of which is in the interest of the entire State, and


1317

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Whereas, this Convention, in adopting the report of the Committee on Executive Department has made the Department of Agriculture and Industries a Constitutional office;

Now, therefore be it resolved by the people of Alabama in Convention assembled, That no separate Department of this State should be maintained out of any special tax levied and collected under the laws of this State.

Resolved further, That it being evidence that the tax on fertilizers is largely in excess of the amount necessary for the protection of the farmers against spurious guanos, we therefore recommend that it shall be the duty of the General Assembly to enact such law as will require all taxes and licenses collected for the sale of fertilizer tags to be paid into the general fund of this State, as well as to make such just and proper reduction in said tax as will not exceed the cost of the purpose for which it was authorized to be levied and collected.

Referred to the Committee on Taxation.

Upon the call of the standing committees, the Committee on Schedule, Printing, etc., submitted the following resolution with a favorable report:

Resolution No. 165 by Mr. Oates:

Resolved, That inasmuch as the printed acts of the last session of the General Assembly are so voluminous as to make the unwieldly and easily destructible, that the Secretary of State he directed to have them bound as follows: The general laws in one volume ; the general and local laws in two volumes: the additional cost, if any, to be paid out of the public printing appropriation.

MR. HEFLIN (Randolph) - I move a suspension of the rules and that the resolution be put upon its immediate passage.

THE  PRESIDENT - It seems to the Chair that a suspension of the rules would not be necessary. The rules of the Convention requiring three readings only relates to ordinances, and when a resolution comes before the Convention, reported by a committee, it is in order for the Convention to take action thereon.

MR. HEFLIN (Randolph) - I move the adoption of the resolution.

MR. SPRAGINS - I move to lay it on the table.

The resolution was again read.

MR. PILLANS - It is possible there is a clerical error there. I think as read both times it says general laws in one volume, and general and local laws in two volumes. If that is the way it reads it should be amended to make it read correctly.


1318                OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

MR. OATES - I ask the gentleman who made the motion to table to withhold a moment. I want to show the delegates just what this resolution is aimed at.

MR. BURNS - A point of information. Has this Convention anything to do with what the last Legislature did?

THE PRESIDENT - The Chair will refer the inquiry to the Judiciary Committee. A resolution was introduced that they should pass on those questions.

MR. OATES - For the information of the delegates, that is the volume containing the general laws. (holding up the book) -

MR. GREER (Calhoun) - A point of order.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman will state the point of order.

MR. GREER (Calhoun) - This is not a debatable question.

MR. OATES - Who said it was debatable, my dear sir ; I am just showing you what it is. I am not speaking to it at all, and do not propose to. I know it is out of order. Now this is the other volume, which contains the local laws -

MR. GREER - I insist upon the point.

MR. OATES - And these general laws are embraced in that, and as I understand the resolution, it is to print these two volumes and that in one.

THE PRESIDENT - It seems to the Chair the point of order is well taken. The question is on the motion to table the resolution as reported by the committee.

Upon a vote being taken a division was called for, and by a vote of 51 ayes and 21 noes, the motion to table prevailed.

THIS PRESIDENT - The regular order will be the consideration of the report of the Committee on Taxation.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) - I desire to offer an amendment, if it is in order.

THE PRESIDENT - The Convention, at its adjournment, had under its consideration section four, and there was pending

an amendment offered by Mr. deGraffenreid, the gentleman from Hale.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) - I desire to offer an amendment to the amendment.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Watts) has the floor.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) - Will the gentleman from Montgomery yield to me for the purpose of submitting this amendment?


1319

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. WATTS - Provided I have the floor as soon as the amendment is offered.

MR. BROWNE - I make the point of order that the gentleman cannot yield for that purpose and still have the floor.

THE PRESIDENT - After the gentleman yields the Chair will rule on the situation when it arises.

MR. WATTS - I yield provided I am to have the floor as soon as the amendment is offered.

THE PRESIDENT - The Chair cannot make any guarantees about what it will rule until the situation arises.

MR. WATTS - Mr. President, I am aware that this proposition to reduce the limit of State taxation, from 75 to 65 cents is no doubt a popular move, and would be received by the people with pleasure and gratitude; but, Mr. President, whenever a question of public import has come up for consideration I have never stopped to think whether the one side or the other was popular, but I have tried to content myself with determining which side of the question was right, and having determined that, to follow that side, whether it be with the majority or the minority. You might just as well give to a child who cries for it a dangerous toy because he wants it, as to give to the people of Alabama a reduced rate of taxation, when it would be dangerous to the fair name of this good State. There has been in the Constitution since 187 5, a limitation of 75 cents on the $100 as to State taxation. There has assembled in this Capitol building a dozen Legislatures since that time, and but one, I believe, has ever thought the needs of the State demanded the tax rate to be at the limit. Some of these General Assemblies have put the tax rate at four mills upon the dollar. They have found their mistake. They have involved the State in difficulties which have compelled the Executive officers to violate the Constitution in going into the markets and borrowing money to meet the necessities of the State. If we have trusted the Legislature, in the past, why cannot we trust it in the future? The members of the Legislature come here, as we do, from the people. Are we to say that those gentlemen are not interested in the same manner that we are for the good of the people of this State, and for its good name? Are we to credit them with less patriotism than we possess? Why, then, Mr. President, should we refuse to leave this tax rate at 75 cents? Why should we reduce it to 65 cents? Why should we not leave to the General Assembly the determinating of the affairs of government? Let us look back a little. Let us look also at the present. We find the governor writing to this Convention, or at least to a prominent member of it, that it is dangerous to reduce this tax


1320                           

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

limit. We find the Treasurer, the man who takes charge of the funds, and who, is presumed to know best as to the liabilities of the State, warning us against this move. We find the Auditor of the State likewise, raising a cry of warning and telling us to beware. We find two ex - Governors upon this floor giving us their experience and telling us the move is dangerous. Not only that, Mr. President, but I have before the a statement showing the present income and present expenditures of this State, estimating the receipts and disbursements on the basis of a 70 cent tax rate. This is 70 cents mark you, and not 65 as proposed by this committee

RECEIPTS.

Assessment on $276,000,000, at 50 cents_________________ $1,380,000

Special soldiers tax, 10 cents___________________________      276,000

Special school tax, 10 cents ____________________________     276,000

Licenses ___________________________________________     210,000

Agricultural Department ______________________________        86,000

Insurance Department ________________________________        60,000

Convict Department  _________________________________      120,000

Solicitors fees ______________________________________         20,000

Railroad licenses ____________________________________         12,500

Telegraph, Express and sleeping Car Companies___________            12,000

Corporation charter fees______________________________          13,000

A. & M. College fund from U. S. _______________________         25,000

Miscellaneous sources ________________________________        50,000

      __________               

                                                                                                                  

Making a total of_______________________________   $2,540,500

DISBURSEMENTS.

Executive Department _________________________________     $ 43,500

Judiciary Department __________________________________      106,000

Military Department ___________________________________        24,000

Mining, Geological and Insurance Department_______________        14,500

Railroad Commission __________________________________        12,500

Health Department ____________________________________      13,000

Agricultural Department and schools_______________________      47,500

Pension to Confederate soldiers ___________________________    276,000

Educational Department, general appropriation _______________    550,000

Interest on trust funds ___________________________________    150,000

Special tax, schools _____________________________________    276,000

Interest on bonds _______________________________________    450,000

Feeding and removing prisoners ___________________________    100,000

Penitentiary ____________________________________________  114,000

Interest on A. & M. C. trust fund____________________________    46,000

University ______________________________________________   24,000

Montevallo _____________________________________________   15,000


1321

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Bryce Insane Hospital ________________________________    152,000

Schools for the Deaf and Blind _________________________      60,000

One - half expense Legislature___________________________      26,000

Errors, insolvencies etc . _______________________________     56,000

Miscellaneous _______________________________________      50,000

Total _________________________________________ $2,606,000     

Or a deficit of $65,500.

I am indebted to my friend Mr. Ashcraft for these figures. He has taken the trouble to ascertain them. Not only does he make this estimate, and I submit it to this Convention, but it is backed up by the following certificate:

July 1st, 1901.

Hon. J. T. Ashcraft,

Dear Sir - We hereby certify that the above estimate appended hereto is approximately a correct statement of what the annual receipts and disbursements of the State Treasury would be upon a tax rate of 70 cents, conceding that the tax values will be ten millions more than last year. This estimate is based upon a careful consideration of the records of our offices and the present and past business conditions in this State. The expense of holding the Constitutional Convention is not included in this estimate.

Yours very truly,

T. L. Sowell, Auditor,

J. Craig Smith, Treasurer.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) - For what year is that?

MR. WATTS - This is July 1st, 1901.

MR. O'NEAL - Is that an estimate for this year?

MR. WATTS - It is an estimate on the basis of a 70 cent rate for this year.

MR. O'NEAL - For this year?

MR. WATTS - Yes, as I understand it. I will read the certificate again so the gentleman can hear plainly.

The certificate was again read.

MR. O'NEAL - I still don't understand whether that is an estimate of the receipts and disbursements for this year or next?

MR. WATTS - It is an estimate of what the receipts of the treasurer would be upon a 10 cent basis.

MR. O'NEAL - For this year?


1322 

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

MR. WATTS - Yes, for any time on a taxable valuation of $276,000,000.

MR. ASHCRAFT - That is admitting the claim of the Committee that the taxable values will increase $10,000,000 this year, and make a total of $276,000,000.

MR. WATTS- Now, Mr. President, this statement shows there would be a deficit on this estimate of $65,500, but whether that estimate of a deficit is correct or not, do we want to risk a deficit? Had not we better have a surplus in our treasury than a deficit. What man that goes on a journey takes within his pocket only enough money to pay what he thinks may be the expenses of that journey? Does not the prudent man take some surplus with him? Should not the State of Alabama be governed by the same business principle?

Mr. President, it is but a few years before the State of Alabama will be called upon to fund its debt. Five years from today is suggested by my learned friend from Montgomery (Mr. Oates.)

The State of Alabama will be like any other borrower who goes into the market to borrow money.  If we go today we can say to the lenders we have the right to levy a tax limited only by 75 cents on the hundred dollars, and your debt is secure.  Your debt is absolutely secure, therefore give us the lowest rate of interest which can be had for fifty year bond.  If we go to these lenders saying that the limit is 65 cents, our credit is bound to be hurt.  Why, because we go to them with the statement that we have reduced our possible income by more than 13 per cent. Is it a business proposition, Mr. President for a merchant who has been getting along with good credit and a fair name, to reduce his annual income thirteen and more per cent and then go to his creditors? Could he expect the same consideration in the money world? We are to consider those propositions, and we are not to do anything which will cripple the power of this State to obtain the lowest rate of interest when we go to fund these bonds.

If, Mr. President, we limit the rate of taxation to 65 cents, it means one of two things. It means either that we must default on our public debt, or we must cut down our appropriation to our public schools, or we must cut down the appropriation to the Confederate soldiers.

What member of this Convention stands ready to take the position to do either? What man who has within his heart the love of Alabama is willing to put her credit at risk? What man is willing to run the risk of taking from her the proud position which she now has in the sisterhood of States? What man among us is willing to strike down the school facilities of the children of this State? Who is it that is willing to say that the child shall be deprived of its school privileges? Ought we not rather to


1323

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

provide that there shall be a school house on every hill for the accommodation of the children of this State? And who is it, Mr. President, that is willing to deny to those brave and patriotic men who stood up for this State, and followed her flag, the small pittance that is now granted to them ?

Another thing, Mr. President, which will follow. If we reduce this taxation to 65 cents, we simply invite the General Assembly to seek out more things upon which they can levy a privilege tax. You will find the citizen with the tax levied upon him as an individual, instead of upon general subjects of taxation. You will find the General Assembly seeking to tax this thing, or that, or the other thing, instead of raising the revenues of the State through the legitimate channels which have existed for years. Another thing; these gentlemen who are speaking on this subject, in favor of the reduction of this tax rate, seem to think that days of darkness and of depression may not come to this State again. Have we not had those days of depression in the past? Does not the recent history of this State show that the taxable values went down to about $241,000,000? Can we guarantee that we will not arrive at that point again? If we do, then what is our condition? Where will we get the help? Can we send our Governor again to New York city, to beg the money lenders there, to violate the law and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, and lend us money, when we have no authority to borrow it, and no sure revenues with which to pay it back? Let us not put ourselves in that position. Let us content ourselves with the same course which we have pursued up to this time. Let us not take any chances with the affairs of State, any more than we would with our own business affairs.

It is said by the advocates of this measure that there will be a surplus of $600,000 on the first of October next. Let me ask of those gentlemen how many hundred thousand dollars will the State then be liable for.

I am reliably informed that although there may be a surplus of $600,000 in the Treasury on the first of October next, that at that time or shortly afterwards the State of Alabama will be called upon to pay more than $1,000,000. If that is true why should we risk this reduction? Mr. President, this matter is of such importance that I have felt the necessity of saying something on the subject. It is a thing that we should stop and consider, we should not rashly do these things, we should consider the welfare of the State and we should remember the times that are gone. I see a ship, Mr. President, a noble vessel. She is loaded down with human freight. She has crossed the ocean and is now approaching her port. Every heart is beating with gladness and with excitement with the hope of being soon upon the land. There are two channels which lead to the harbor. To the untaught eye, the en-


1324

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

trance to each of these channels seems to be perfectly safe, but the experienced pilot knows that the channel to the left has hidden beneath its water rocks and shoals. He believes that with care he can guide the good old ship through that channel into port, but he knows that along his path danger is lurking, and that the striking of any shoal or rock means ruin and disaster to his ship. He knows that down the other channel it is absolutely safe. There are no rocks nor shoals there. The vessel can float in security through that passage. What would the prudent pilot do? Will he guide the ship down the left hand passage and seek danger, or will he insure safety by taking the one to the right? The good old ship of State, Mr. President, has passed over many seas. She rode with safety until a few years after the war between the States. Then she experienced the patriotic, the good citizens of Alabama who had had charge of it up to that time were displaced by the United States government, and a hireling band placed in charge of her. These new sailors were inexperienced. They were unpatriotic. They were strangers. They sailed the ship into harbors into which they should not have gone. They hoisted a piratical flag. They ran the ship and sailed the seas for the money that was in it for them. The good people of the State watched it until 1874. It was not until then that they could again seize the helm of the ship. They siezed it in 1874, and since that time they have managed the ship and run it with safety and security. She has now arrived, Mr. President, within sight of the harbor. There are two channels which lead to the harbor of financial prosperity. This Committee on Taxation say: Take the one to the left, it is safe, it is free from shoals, you can pass along it possibly without danger and without disaster. These men, Mr. President, are honest and true, they would not for any consideration lead us astray, but they have not made finance a study; none of them have been in charge of the finances of the State. On the other hand we find two ex - Governors of the State, the present Governor and the Auditor and Treasurer warning us from that course. They cry out to us take the old passage, the old channel into the harbor. It has been trusted for years and years. Do not attempt this strange passage until you know fully its dangers and its troubles. I beg you gentlemen of the Convention, don't let us do this thing. Don't let us vote for this 65 cents, and thereby put the State in danger, but let us vote to let this tax stay as it is and trust to the Legislature, as they assemble from time to time, to do that which is just and proper for this State. You must remember that there was no limitation in the Constitution until 1875. That limitation was put at 75 cents on the $100, and but once since that time has the Legislature reached the limit. Gentlemen this is too important a question to pass over lightly. Let us not vote because the measure may be popular, but let us vote according to our convictions as to what is right, what is for the best interests of this State


1325

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

and when we have done that, each of us, whether we be right or wrong, can at least have the approval of his conscience.

MR. MAXWELL - When I consented to become a member of this Convention I purposed in my heart that I would be only a silent member, that I would only attempt to speak when the roll was called, or the vote was being taken, and it may be, sir, that before I shall have delivered the remarks I now wish to submit, or soon thereafter, that I will be wishing that I had stuck to this purpose. But be that as it may, I have the honor of being a member of the Committee whose report is now under consideration, and I want to offer one or two reasons why I think the fourth section of that article should be adopted without amendment and as presented by the Committee. Now, Mr. President, this splendid array of legal talent here, and parliamentary talent, I am afraid of, and I hope they will not side - track me with their points of order to this or that effect, but that they will let me proceed without interruption. I shall not repeat the splendid array of figures gleaned from the Auditor's report by the Committee on Taxation, and so convincingly submitted by our distinguished chairman. These figures have been submitted to you. Distinguished members of the Committee like Judge Coleman and others as well as the Chairman himself have told you with what great pains this data was gotten up, and that it is entirely reliable. The figures are before the Convention, they speak for themselves, and unlike some other speakers they do not mislead, but they point unerringly to the truth of the practicability of the Committee's recommendation that the tax rate can be reduced from 7 1 - 2 to 6 1 - 2 mills, and that it can be done without jeopardizing any of the interests of the great State of Alabama, and they further show, Mr. President, that we ought to do this and thus fulfill the Democratic platform and pledge to the people of Alabama in Convention assembled that they would reduce the tax rate if found at all practicable to do so. Now it is urged Mr. President, by gentlemen on the other side of this question that we are dealing in estimates. That is true. We are dealing in estimates, and what government in the world, national, State, county, or municipal ever attempts to discover what its probable receipts or disbursements will be in any other way - it is the only way to do it. If we have our treasury full of money we need to make no estimate, we pay cash as we go, but unfortunately our treasury is not in that plethoric condition and we need to make estimates. The whole world makes estimates. Why the science of estimates and probabilities is as much a science as anything else. Just look at the mortuary tables of the great life insurance companies, and see to what a science they have estimated the computation of the probable duration of human life, and these tables have proven so accurate and stood the test of human experience and observation so long, that they have multiplied millions of dollars invested in human life. These


1326

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

estimates are not more accurate than estimates upon which this committee have placed their recommendation to this convention to reduce the rate of taxation from 7 1 - 2 mills to 6 1 - 2 mills. These figures, as I stated, have been before the Convention for days, and yet they have not been denied, although the fact stands out that some or the most distinguished members of this Convention, men most thoroughly acquainted with the financial affairs of the State refuse to vote for a lower rate of taxation, and yet they do not deny the figures, and they base their objection to the reduction upon the ground that some disaster may come along, that some contingency in the future may arise, by which it may not be possible to enable 6 1 - 2 mills to produce enough revenue to defray the expenses and the wants of the State, and at the same time the figures of this Committee stand out in unmistakable term; telling us that we can do this, and that we can do it without jeopardy to the interest of the State. It is urged, Mr. President, that our Committee is too sanguine, that it took too rosy a view of the future, that we are proceeding upon the idea that the present wave of prosperity will last forever, that no more clouds of adversity will ever darken our horizon, and that the present taxable value of $266,000,000 will never decrease, but will continue to increase from day to day, and year by year, and that our income will increase in the same proportion, and that this, with the saving we shall make in interest when the bonded indebtedness shall have been refunded at a much lower rate, than we now pay, will produce sufficient revenue to answer all the demands of our people. Now, Mr. President, I do not have much objection to that objection; it states the views of the committee pretty clearly, but I would only add this, that whether we have an increase in revenue, whether we have an increase in taxable values or not, if we do not have an increase in taxable values, and do not have an increase in disbursements, then with the revenue from other sources we will have revenue enough and to spare to meet the demands of our State. But suppose disaster should come, and suppose taxable values should recede a little, cannot we as easily and effectively meet any disaster by an increase in the taxable values, an increase in the assessable values of our property, as well as by raising the rate of taxation? Would not one plan be just as effective as the other? Wouldn't it amount to the same thing? Wouldn't it bring the same results? That is the way I see it, Mr. President. Now it is true that if our people were conscious of the fact that they had to return their property for assessment at its full value, the assessable value, they would feel we were practicing an injustice upon them, but Mr. President, my observation is that very few people return their property for taxation at anything like the value they set upon it when they put it upon the market for sale. We are not so poor as we think we are, and we are never so poor as when we are being interviewed


1327

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

by the Tax Assessor. Mr. President, I would state here today that it is my conviction that if a J. Piedpont Morgan syndicate with a capital of $500,000,000 should be formed for the purpose of buying out the State of Alabama the company would have to increase its capital stock before it would have money enough to pay for and get a title to the $266,000,000 of assessable values returned by the people of Alabama, the present year, and then, Mr. President, there is another ever present and always practical remedy at hand for hard times or short receipts: It is always practicable to use it, though there are some people who do not like to have this remedy prescribed, and they do not like to practice, it and its name is retrenchment of expenses; but, Mr. President, it is a great safety valve that will nearly always regulate and restore the equilibrium to financial affairs, and it is a good thing to practice, whether we are financially sick or not; it broadens our sympathies, it prepares us to meet and grapple with adverse circumstances if they should come, and it helps us in the practice of self denial. Now, Mr. President, with these remedies so potent and so powerful always at hand, I do not see that there is any use hesitating any longer about voting, for members of this Convention to cast their vote to reduce from 7 1 - 2 to 6 1 - 2 mills. We want the people of Alabama to understand that we are their friends, and that we want to frame a government that will not be a burden to them. It may be, that some members upon this floor do think that the committee is inclined to take too rosy a view of the future, but, sir, how can we be otherwise when we remember that Alabama, great and rich as she is in her fields, in her forests, in her soil, in her climate, in her manufactures, in her mines, in her commerce, and richest and greatest in her splendid and patriotic citizenship, has been put to the test and gone through ordeals heretofore and has been equal to any emergency that has ever been brought upon her, how can the help when we consider all this, being otherwise than hopeful? Why, sir, in the perils of war from 1861 to 1865, in the difficulties of property and carpet-baggers from 1866 to 1874, when she raised in her might, in the majesty of her strength and wrath and took back from worthless hands the government of her fathers again, since then she has been growing in prosperity and in the development of her great natural resources until in the last twenty - five years her taxable values have increased double, and yet we are told that she is yet in her infancy. We enter upon the threshold of this Twentieth century full of hope and full of pride and expectation of great possibilities. Her past is secure, though checkered, it is glorious, and we are proud of it. We are proud of her achievements, and, sir, we are here this day as delegates representing the sovereign people of the great State of Alabama in Convention assembled; we have abundant reason to thank God for the past, and to take courage for the future. I am proud of Alabama, and I would be the last man upon this floor that would put an obstruction in her onward


1328

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

and upward march to progress. Let us, then, Mr. President and Gentlemen of this Convention, remove the obstacle of high taxation from our Constitution; let us reduce it to the lowest limit, 6 1 - 2 mills, as recommended by the committee, and let us make our great State as inviting as she is to capital, still more inviting; let us fix our rate in keeping with the rate of our neighboring sister States, so that with our great resources above all others, we shall be more inviting a field for them to come to. Now, Mr. President, I want to say in conclusion, for the benefit of the distinguished gentlemen from Montgomery, who have so earnestly and eloquently plead for some Constitutional provisions to secure an enlargement of these grounds and this capitol building itself, that I am in hearty accord with the spirit that moves them, and that I differ with them only as to the source whence the money shall come. According to the figures submitted by our Committee on the 1st day of October, 1902, we will have a net balance in the treasury of about $347,000. Out of this the next Legislature can, and no doubt will, make the necessary appropriation to meet this necessary expenditure. I believe that these improvements ought to be made within the next year or two, and I would remind the distinguished gentleman from Montgomery that pride in the State Capitol is not confined to Montgomery alone. The scenes that were enacted here in 1861 when a new nation was born, and that makes this historic ground the common heritage of every Alabamian, whether we come from the Northern, the Southern, the Eastern or the Western borders of the State, it makes our hearts swell with pride every time we look upon its dome, or enter these sacred portals, and Mr. President, I believe that Alabamians can be trusted to secure the bonds that are necessary to buy and enlarge these grounds, and to adorn and beautify them, and to rebuild and rehabilitate this old capitol building around whose sacred walls are so many hallowed memories, and make it what it ought to be, a fit abiding place for the seat of a great and growing government like the State of Alabama. Mr. President, I believe with all my heart that this can be done, and that it can be done without any Constitutional provision- that the people of Alabama will take it in hand through their next Legislature, and that they will see to it that it is accomplished.

MR. FOSTER (Tuscaloosa)  - Mr. President, like my friend, the gentleman from Tallapoosa, I have been a silent delegate. I don't know that I should have attempted to make any talk upon this provision now up for consideration before the Convention, but for a somewhat accidental discovery of the necessary requirements to get the floor, and for the further reason that having been at first opposed to and afraid of the adoption of this report, I have expressed to some delegates my doubts as to the advisability of adopting this section. I am, Mr. President, in the attitude of a convert to the Committee's report. When it was first printed and


1329

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

laid upon my desk, and I had studied it and read it over, I thought that this section could not safely be adopted, and that in as much as the tax rate now is up to the Constitutional limit of 75 cents, and it seemed to be necessary in order to meet all the expenses of State Government, that we could not safely reduce that limit, and so, Mr. President, for the purpose of making a fight upon this provision, I proceeded to investigate the facts and figures for myself. Much to my surprise when I had done so, I found that I was on the side with the Committee. I feel assured, Mr. President, that this rate can be safely reduced to 65 cents. If I thought it would take one dollar off of the school fund, or one dollar off of the Confederate pension fund, or would impair in the least the credit of this State. I should oppose it, but believing that the figures, the facts, show that it can be safely reduced, I feel that I would be recreant to the pledge that the Democratic Convention put upon the Democratic members of this Convention to reduce tax rate, if practicable, if I did not vote to support the section as reported by the Committee. Now gentlemen argue as if this is a new and unheard of thing, as if the idea of limiting the discretion of the Legislature in the levy of taxes is something new in the history of the laws of this State. Why Mr. President, if I felt that way, if I had the absolute confidence in the legislatures, that gentlemen who have argued this question upon this floor seem to have, I should say let us not limit their discretion by any figures at all, let the Legislature be the sole judge of the limit.

MR. ROGERS (Sumter) - I wish to ask Mr. Foster if his confidence in the Legislature is as great as these gentlemen indicate, what would be the use of having a Constitution at all?

MR. FOSTER - Very little at all, especially upon this tax limitation. I have no criticism to make upon the members of Legislatures, I have always found the members to be the best men in the world. The fact is it is not so much the fault of the General Assemblies that they have been extravagant in their appropriations, as it is the people of Alabama- we are living in an era of extravagant public expenditure- our National and State history of recent years shows it. We have the idea that when any enterprise is gotten up, especially if there is anything of a public character involved in it, we ought to come to the Legislature of Alabama, or to the Congress of the United States and ask for State aid. Well, now, when we come before the members of the General Assembly, if we cannot persuade them, I have seen it frequently, Mr. President, we add to our persuasive arguments the eloquence of beauty and bring in the ladies to besiege these gentlemen in the interest of some appropriation. Now I observe on page 21, the Roman numeral page, of the Auditor's report, that immediately after the ratification of the Constitution of 1875, the tax rate was fixed at 7 1 - 2 mills- the Constitutional limit. I infer from that that our forefathers who assembled in the Convention of 1875 did


1330

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

as this Committee is endeavoring to do today, they carefully examined and calculated the necessary amount of taxes to be levied upon the taxable property of this State, and having ascertained that they placed it at the limit of 7 1 - 2 mill. So, I say we are not attempting anything unheard of, or any new proposition here, when we figure out what will be necessary for the support of the State government, and the appropriations already made, and which we contemplate will continue in the future, and say that the tax limit shall reach that amount and no further, we are simply following in the footsteps of the framers of the Constitution of 187 5. Now, Mr. President, for the figures that lead me to my conclusion. This Convention is told by the distinguished Chairman of this Committee who has made a careful investigation of  it, whose estimates I think, are conservative and safe, that the taxable value of the properties of this State next year will be $278,000,000. Well, then, a tax of 6 1 - 2 mills on $278.000,000 in round figures is $1,807,000. Now I think we may safely estimate that the taxes from all other sources will certainly not be less than they are estimated by the Auditor for this year, than the actual receipts up to this time according to the Auditor's figures show, and I place that Mr. President, at $922,000 - those are the figures shown by the Auditor. So then we have as gross receipts on a basis of 6 1 - 2 mills $2,729,000. Mr. President, we might safely - appropriate $1,200,000 to the schools (I believe that is in excess of the present appropriation) give the same pension fund of $250,000, and have left for the general expenses of the State government $1.200,000, making a total of $2,650,000 for appropriations, and a surplus of nearly $80,000. Now, Mr. President, I know that figures have been used for different purposes by delegates who have argued this question, and I have been somewhat amazed at the different conclusions that have been drawn from these elastic figures, but I take the figures from the Auditor's report submitted to the Governor of this State, for use in the General Assembly, and I find that upon page 16 the Auditor says he estimates the disbursements for the year 1901 at $2,526,970, and in a foot note to that estimate he adds: "The above estimate of receipts and disbursements are made also for the year ending September 30th, 1902, except as to the item of $50,000 for Legislative expenses." Mr. President, I say it is not only practicable for us to reduce this limit, but it is necessary that we should do it in order to carry out the pledges that we are under to the people of Alabama. Now they say this limit of 75 cents does not fall hard upon any body. It does not, Mr. President, upon the man who comes before the General Assembly for appropriations, but there is a large element in the state which has no representation before that body; there is a larger element, the poor people of this State, who do feel this burden of taxation, and it is for those people, for the relief of those people that this committee, and those of us who favor this report are speaking here today. It has been suggested that we may impair the credit of the State. The distinguished gen-


1331

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

tleman from Montgomery (Mr. Watts) made a very strong argument upon that point, but I want to ask the gentleman if he does not know that character in the business world is as much a basis of credit as revenue?  I want to ask him if the character of the General Assembly of Alabama is not the main basis of credit when we go before those bond holders and bond buyers, upon which they are willing to risk their money and to take the bonds of Alabama? Why, Mr. President, when the rate was down to 4 mills was there any doubt that the General Assembly of Alabama would appropriate enough money to pay the interest on this debt?  They might argue in reply to that that there was a possibility of additional taxes, but, Mr. President, it all comes down at last to reliance upon the character and business honesty of the Legislature of Alabama. Now, sir, I have no fear, I don't think any delegate upon this floor has any fear, that the credit of Alabama will be hurt in the least by the reduction of the limit to 65 cents. It is also said that we may reach a period of depression.  That may be true, and doubtless will come, Mr. President, - those periods come occasionally as we have known in the history of our State, but I suggest, Mr. President, that the values as now assessed in this State are not upon any inflated basis, they are not even up to the value of property within this State.  There is no comparison between this period and 1891.  That was a period known as boom days, such a boom, Mr. President, as never swept over this country before, unless it were the boom days of 1836-37. I believe I have the dates right, I don't know, some time in the thirties.  Let us look at all these little towns, Mr. President - Ft. Payne, Piedmont, Tuscaloosa, where cotton fields were cut up into first avenue lots, and you saw the signs of streets out there without any street, and they sold at First Avenue lot figures.  Well, when the clash came they simply converted back to their actual value, they became cotton fields again, and they were taken off the market as corner lots and put upon their actual basis upon the tax books of the State.  There they are today upon that actual basis of valuation. So I say that there is not any inflation in the tax values of Alabama, and if the time does come, if there should come a time at the end of five years when the State debt is to be refunded, that a period of depression should again come upon this State, the tax values will, by that time have arisen, we may safely estimate, to over three hundred million dollars. I think, Mr. President, that gentlemen are unnecessarily alarmed about the credit of the State. The figures show that we may give to the schools and Confederate soldiers every dollar we now give them, pay, the interest on the public debt and keep up every appropriation that the last General Assembly made, and yet have a surplus in the treasury even at a basis of 65 cents.

MR. O'NEAL (Lauderdale) - Mr. President, I would not trespass upon the time and patience of this Convention but for


1332

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

candid conviction that this is the most important question which has been submitted for our consideration since our organization. It is with profound reluctance that I feel impelled from a sense of duty to oppose the report of the committee. I fully, appreciate the ability and patriotism of the committee and recognize that they have given this subject their most careful consideration and have reached their conclusion conscientiously after thorough study. When the report was first submitted I was inclined to accept it, but after listening to the debate and reviewing fully the arguments in its support I am convinced that the reduction is unwise and unsafe.

There are few delegates in this Convention except those whose optimism is impervious to argument, who will deny that after all that has been said in support of this reduction, after consideration of every estimate and every array of figures with which we have been furnished, there still remains the modest doubt. Like Banquo's ghost, the doubt will not down at our bidding, and hence I see no alternative but to resolve that doubt against the reduction and in favor of maintaining unimpaired the financial credit and honor of our State. It has been urged that we are pledged by the platform of the party to reduce the present limitation on the taxing power if possible. That is true, but we were not pledged to make a reduction which might affect the splendid credit which this State now sustains in the commercial center of the world.

We were equally pledged to take no backward step in the cause of education, or to impair the ability of the General Assembly to continue to dole out that small mite which we justly owe to that splendid body of men, whose ranks disease and age are rapidly thinning - the survivors of that band of heroes whose blood freely flowed at honor's call and now stands where it fell.

It is urged that. this reduction will be popular and will bring votes to ratify the Constitution.

Mr. President, if an overwhelming majority of the people of Alabama, the people to whose gracious confidence we are indebted for seats in this Convention, and who have vested us with such grave responsibilities, should with one voice demand this reduction and we, as their representatives, knew they were mistaken, that obedience to their commands would prejudice our credit, impede the proper administration of our State government, or fetter our progress, we should vote against the reduction, and disregard the demands, or prove unworthy of their confidence, and false to our consciences and our oaths. I warn you who may be influenced by such appeals, that if you are as I believe mistaken, if the effect of these reductions of the State bonded debt, or impede the progress of education, or in any way impair the efficiency of our State government, or cause a halt in that career of progress on which


1333

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

our State has entered, that instead of the approval you will receive the condemnation of the people of Alabama.

The distinguished Chairman of the Committee stated in his argument on the floor that no other extraordinary expense could be made for the next fiscal year. His estimate of a surplus of $59,000 is based on the supposition that we will not have any extraordinary expenses except those he enumerated. Yet, Mr. President, in less than twelve hours after he concluded his argument, the report of the Committee on Suffrage and Elections was submitted to this Convention, and if the Article on that subject which they report is adopted we will be confronted with an extraordinary expense of at least $100,000.

Under the suffrage plan poll taxes are voluntary - the payment cannot be coerced. We collected in the fiscal year ending September, 1900, $150,000 poll taxes. We can conservatively estimate a reduction of $50,000. And to this the expense of registration, about $30,000 or $40,000 more, and we have alone in this item $80,000 extraordinary expense, which is not embraced in his calculation.

So, the surplus with which the distinguished Chairman has dazzled our imagination— like snowflakes on the water— seen but once and gone forever. The distinguished Chairman in his zeal has gravely argued that a reduction of our tax limit is necessary to induce capital to invest in our borders- that industries will not locate in a State when you have a fixed tax on their property of 75 cents on the $100, when they can go to States where the tax is less.

Only a few states in the Union have such limitations. Texas, North Dakota, Montana, Missouri and some few Southern and Western States have such limitations.

After the close of the civil war commenced an era of profligacy - extravagance and reckless expenditure of public money almost without parallel. A horde of adventurers from every haunt of vice and crime flocked to the South, landed the negroes together with a compact of all departments of government in the States of the South, prostrate from the effects of the greatest civil war of modern times. They devised the various forms of taxation by which a people could be oppressed; issued bonds for railroads and public improvements which were never constructed and divided the proceeds between themselves and dishonest contractors. They imposed on the impoverished States of the South a burden of debt which brought bankruptcy and ruin to our very thresholds and destroyed public credit. Taught by their sad experiences, the people of Alabama, when they regained control of the State government in 1874, limited in the Constitution the amount of taxation which may be levied for State and county purposes. It is a wise provision and should not be disturbed. Such provisions, however, are not found in the great and progressive States of the


1334

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Union, and their marvellous growth in wealth and prosperity in the face of the absence of such limitation on the taxing power, is a complete refutation of the argument so earnestly made by the distinguished chairman of the committee - that no State can prosper or expect the investment of capital in its borders that does not contain similar limitation.

Another result of this limitation on the taxing power we have learned from experience, is that when, by reason of this prohibition on rate of taxation, the Legislature is confronted with a deficit, it is unable to provide necessary revenue.

To meet the expenses of government they must necessarily resort to license or privilege taxes to supply the deficiency. This is the lesson which a study of our financial history teaches. During the last administration to meet the increased demands of the State government, the Legislature swept the field of expedient and exhausted the catalogue of subjects on which they might impose the burden of a license or privilege tax. The result is that the State and county and municipalities in order to supplement an insufficient revenue have imposed license or privilege taxes on every class of occupation, industries or business from the wealthy corporation to the newsboy and bootblack and the humblest tailor in the State, from baseball parks to hobby horses. No occupation or business has escaped.

MR. REESE - Are not those taxes for city licenses imposed by the City Councils at the request of the merchants to keep out the competition of the farmer?

MR. O'NEAL - I care not at whose request they are made. I say such taxes operate onerously upon the great agricultural classes of the State, and the trouble is that by the limit upon your rate of taxation, you force the counties and cities of your State to supplement their deficient revenues by these harsh, arbitrary and unjust privilege taxes.

MR. CUNNINGHAM - I fail to see the connection in the rate of tax limit upon taxation for State purposes with the revenues for county and city purposes.

MR. O'NEAL - I will state the connection. The State is doing the same thing. The connection is this: The State is imposing these license privilege taxes on every class of business and occupation. As I stated, the last Legislature swept the whole catalogue of subjects and exhausted every imaginable subject to increase the privilege taxes and the city and counties have followed the example of the State.

MR. BROOKS - Don't the gentleman know that for many years the cities have been levying this privilege tax, long before the Legislature?


1335

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. O'NEAL - They have, but not to the same extent.

MR. BROOKS - Then it is not under the influence of the Legislature that they have done it?

MR. O'NEAL - They have been imposing it only to a limited extent. Not to the same extent as in recent years.

MR. BROOKS - Haven't these privilege taxes always been paid in the cities without reference to the State?

MR. O'NEAL - The Legislature would have it in its power to forbid the levying of such taxes. The Legislature grants every charter in the State, and it would be in the power of the Legislature to forbid any corporation or city from imposing any such privilege tax.

This form of taxation is the most arbitrary, unequal, unjust and inquisitorial that can be devised. It is not imposed according to the capital invested, or the income derived from the calling, occupation, profession or business. It operates as a positive and vexatious fetter upon trade and commerce to close the doors and avenues of employment to many of the most deserving in the State. It has retarded our growth and prosperity, for where the avenues of trade and employment are even partially blocked by restrictive legislation, the highest development of industry and commerce cannot exist.

In most of the towns and cities of the State are found numerous and vexatious statutes imposing license taxes on the sale of farm products, with the result that the market for the farmers has been curtailed and the cost of living increased enormously. In my own town, which is but an illustration of what exists in almost all others, the farmer cannot sell his beef or mutton to the consumer at retail. The country merchant, who formerly gathered the farm products of his neighborhood - poultry, butter, eggs and other fruits and vegetables - is required to take out license before bartering or selling to the consumer in the city. The farmer, it is true, can sell without license a portion of the products on his own farm, but if he supplements his supply by purchase from his neighbors, he must pay a privilege tax.

So these license or privilege taxes operate most oppressively and grievously on that class of our population - the great agricultural classes - which deserve and should receive the fostering care and protection of government.

So, Mr. President, the conclusions unmistakably follow that when you reduce the limit of State taxation and force the Legislature to resort to other methods to supplement the revenue of the State, you do not decrease taxation, but merely substitute for a just ad valorem tax in force throughout the State, the harsh, arbitrary, unjust and unequal system of license or privilege taxes.


1336

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

The adoption of this reduction means a perpetuation in this State of the harshest and most unequal and onerous system of license taxation ever imposed on a free people, with all the manifold evils.

So I say to the distinguished chairman of the Taxation Committee that the people of Alabama will not be misled by the morsel of tax reduction you offer them.

They are groaning beneath the burden of these license taxes, and you heed their appeals by offering them a remedy which only aggravates the evil - a remedy which you confess, if your estimates are erroneous, may jeopardize the splendid credit and high honor of this proud commonwealth.

Mr. President, the chairman of the Finance Committee and others, who have supported this report, base their estimate of a surplus of $59,000 in 1902, upon the assumption that the State, in the future will be exempt from a recurrence of the same extraordinary expenses which have existed in the past? Mr. President I have not read aright the lesson which financial history teaches if it be not true that what has occurred in the past will occur in the future. The average of extraordinary expenses in any government can be calculated with the same exactness as the average of ordinary expenses. He is wise, indeed, who can foretell what the future will bring, but one thing we all do know and that is that the same unforseen contingencies which have arisen in the past will most likely occur in the future. The distinguished gentleman from Tuscaloosa (Mr. Fitts) whose optimism is as innocent and guileless and as proof to argument as a Col. Sellers, tells us that during the Oates administration the State maintained the credit by borrowing money without legal authority and that our credit is so high that our ability under the law to pay will never be considered. He overlooks the fact that our credit was high because at that time we taxed only a rate of 5 1 - 2 mills and the capitalists of the country knew we could increase the rate to 3 - 4 of 1 per cent. I ask him if we had then been levying a tax up to the limit of the Constitution would even his surplus of optimism induce him to believe that the loan could have been so easily made.

MR. OATES - That is correct. The rate had been increased a half mill just about the time I was inaugurated, but the State's credit was so good that they borrowed a half million at 5 per cent.

MR. O'NEAL - Well, it was only five or five and a half mills, but if the money - lenders in New York had known that the State had no power to increase the taxes under the Constitution, if they had known that the constitutional limit had been reached, I would ask the gentleman from Tuscaloosa if even his surplus of optimism would lead him to believe that this money could be secured. That would be the situation we would be in if at any time a deficit should arise and we should seek a loan from the financial centers


1337

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

of the world. They would say "You have reached your limit, you can proceed no further."

MR. FOSTER - Was the rate increased after the money was borrowed for that purpose?

MR. O'NEAL - Certainly.

MR. FOSTER - I understood the gentleman from Montgomery (Mr. Oates) to say that it had been increased before.

MR. O'NEAL - It was increased afterwards as I remember.

MR. FOSTER - I understood it the other way, that it was increased before and not afterwards.

MR. O'NEAL - Now I have some figures here submitted to me by one of the most distinguished citizens of the State, one whose familiarity with this subject cannot be question.

Total assessments for present year, $267,000,000 will yield revenue, at rate of 7 1 - 2 mills, of_____________ $2,002,500 Bal. estimated receipts come from other sources ___________      545,000      __________


1338

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

There is not a County in the State that can live on a 2 1 - 2 mill rate.

If this limit prevails and the special taxes for schools and pensions, and special appropriations for schools continue there will still remain $1,400,000 of obligations to be met. Such as $450,000 for interest, over $100,000 for State officers, judges and solicitors, $50,000 interest to university and A. and M. College, $160,000 for Insane Hospital, $60,000 for' Deaf, Dumb and Blind and numberless other items. What will 2 1 - 2 mills realize on $275,000,000 of taxable property: $687,000, leaving $713,000 to come from other sources.

MR. BROWNE - Will the gentleman mind telling us the name of the gentleman whose figures these are :

MR. O'NEAL- They are made by Col. Screws.

MR. BROWNE - Of the Advertiser?

MR. O'NEAL - Yes, at my request.

Now one gentleman says we can meet the deficiency by raising the value of property. What an argument to make to an intelligent body of men! Raise the valuation of the property, increase the assessment, does that give the people any relief?

MR. BROWNE - Who made that argument?

Mr. Foster or Mr. Maxwell one, I don't remember. What relief does that give the people? If you are paying taxes on a piece of property valued at $500 and the back tax commissioner arbitrarily raises it to $1,000, are you not paying $1 on the $100 even if the rate were fifty cents on the $100? He says if we reduce the limit of taxation it will result in more economy and we can like a farmer with a short crop or an insufficient larder still live. Yes we can still live. We could close the public schools, we could leave the veterans of the South to bear as they have in the past, without murmur or complaint the pangs of poverty and want. We could set back the clock of progress in this State and halt in our march of development and industrial growth. If that is the feast to which we are invited I for one will have none of it. It may be popular to vote for tax limitation, but I for one will not let popularity weigh in the scales against my conscience and sense of duty to my State, my honest conviction and sworn obligations and responsibilities as a delegate on this floor.

Mr. President, we have the future of Alabama in our keeping. Let us not sacrifice our sense of duty to the demands of political expediency. Alabama has in the past few years grown marvelously in wealth and power. From the fiery furnace of reconstruction, from satrap rule, from military domination, from all the frightful


1339

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

results of misgovernment, robbery and jobbery, she has emerged, her garments pure and spotless as the faithful of old and all she asks is that we give her an honest ballot, a reformed suffrage--that we put no obstacle across her pathway and like an awakened giant she will move forward to grander and more triumphant victories in the fields of progress and commerce.

MR. SPRAGINS - My friend and next door neighbor will run with the fan tails. We can do nothing with him. He is a lost soul.

My friend is nothing if not eloquent, and by the way, Mr. President, all the eloquence that has been poured forth on the floor of this Convention has come from the side which opposes the report of the committee and desires the tax rate to remain where it now is. It is a question that should be considered coolly, calmly and deliberately and not discussed with passionate feeling or with eloquence. They tell us scornfully that it is a popular measure, that it is easy to get at this proposition because they believe it would be popular with the people of Alabama. That argument is as unfair and unjust as it can possibly be. They should give us credit for being honest and truthful and trying, as we see it, to do what is right, just as we give them credit for believing honestly and fairly that the reduction of ten cents on the $100 would destroy the public schools of the State, would take from the old soldier the pension that has been voted him by the Legislature and would take from the public schools the one mill tax. That is what they tell us and we have them credit for being honest in their assertions and they should give us credit for similar honesty, when we say that we have carefully investigated this matter and believe this reduction can be made without impairing the credit of the State, and that it should be made. We say it can be made without taking one jot or tittle of the appropriation to the public schools, and without in any way interfering with the pension to the old Confederates.

I have not the honor to be a member of the Committee on Taxation, but I have taken the pains and the trouble on the submission to me of figures made by Mr. Searcy of Tuscaloosa, a member of that Committee, who is a practical and successful business man of close powers of reasoning, to go over those figures carefully, spending two or three hours on it and I have come to the deliberate conclusion that we can make this reduction and ought to do it in order to be true to our pledges, not only to our open pledges but to our implied pledges to the people of Alabama to administer the government economically and to their best interests. I have no such specific knowledge and information as to the figures that I can go into detail upon this proposition. All that I can say is that when this report was submitted, I, with others, was startled, greatly startled, by the proposition of the


1340

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Committee to reduce the tax limit in the State of Alabama. My first impression was decidedly against it, and, for the purpose of informing myself and of casting upon the floor of this Convention an intelligent vote, I made the investigation just alluded to.

My distinguished friend who has preceded me says that the argument of the Chairman of the Committee on Taxation is inapplicable, that a bad impression would be produced, that it would be hurtful to the State of Alabama in the matter of immigration. The Chairman of that Committee is exactly right upon that proposition. The County of Madison from which I hail, as largely as any other county in Alabama, is receiving immigrants from the Middle West and Northwest, a class that is very desirable. They come with money in their pockets and pay spot cash for our plantations. I have in mind a former distinguished citizen of the State of Missouri, who, in the last few years, has come to Madison County and paid $13,000 spot cash for a plantation. The first question after I became acquainted with him was what is your constitutional rate of taxation in the State of Alabama. When I told him it was three - quarters of 1 per cent., he was dumbfounded and was startled so much so that if he had known those facts prior to his coming to Alabama it might have deterred him from making the investment. I found the same thing true with reference to the inhabitants of Ohio, Iowa and Illinois, to which the gentleman from Lauderdale has referred, that although there is no constitutional limit upon the rate of taxation, the rate of taxation is much lower than ours, and when we place the limit as high as three - quarters of 1 per cent., it will have the effect of deterring those men who, when they see it, will properly think if the last few Legislatures are to be looked to as examples, that the whole constitutional limit will be levied. It may not be known to some of the members of this Convention, but the last Legislature passed an act authorizing each county in the State of Alabama to make a new assessment map of the county, assessing the lands of the county instead of by owners by sections and subdivisions of sections. A careful estimate has been made in the county of Madison and after deducting all United States lands and all State lands and lands of churches and charitable institutions, it was found that 25 per cent. of the land had escaped from taxation. I am advised by other delegates upon this floor with whom I have conversed upon this subject, that a similar state of affairs exists in their county. I should think that should be considered as a potent factor in determining whether or not this tax limit should be reduced. It is true those lands are not the richest and most fertile in any county, that largely they are mountain lands, barren lands; but those lands are all worth one or two or three dollars per acre, and the increase in the assessment will be enormous. Does the gentleman from Lauderdale and do the other gentlemen who have argued as to the license taxes in the State, believe in the event the present tax limit shall be maintained, that the Legislature will take off the iniquitous taxes


1341

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

to which they refer? Is it not the sound judgment, is it not the honest opinion of the members of this Convention, that even if we put the limit at 75 cents the 75 cents will be expended and the privilege licenses still continue?

Furthermore, in some cases the privilege licenses should not be repealed. Is it not fair that a corporation whose stockholders have a limited liability to the amount of stock they own, should pay something for the special privilege that the law gives them? Is that an unjust and iniquitous tax?

There is another suggestion, Mr. President, that is urged, that in the course of five or six  years, a panic or depression is due in this country and in the event of such a depression the assessment will be largely decreased? Upon that proposition I desire simply to throw out this suggestion: If such a depression does occur and if there is such a depreciation of values, that depreciation will be from the point at which the panic begins and not from the present time. They all admit that assessment values are increasing yearly and in the course of five years at the present rate of increase, granting the depression should occur at the time, the slump in values will be from the then values and will no more than reach to the rock bottom where we now are.

In other respects the advocates for the retention of the 75 cents on the $100 do not argue fairly for this reason: They give you the figures as furnished to them by the Auditor, Treasurer, and Governor, but they do not consider the question what we will save by reason of refunding the debt and by reason of the quadrennial elections. I am advised by the Secretary of State that a general election in this State costs  nearly $200,000. It is my judgment that this Convention will establish quadrennial elections in Alabama and quadrennial sessions of the Legislature. In that we will be following only in the steps of the mother of Southern States, because I saw in the paper yesterday that Virginia had decided on quadrennial elections of the officers.

I think we can safely and wisely make this reduction. The margin of five mills as the Chairman and all the other members of the Committee have shown will provide for the unforeseen contingencies referred to so eloquently by the gentleman from Mobile. This Committee has been conservative. The figures show that the tax limit could be reduced to 60 cents on the $100, but out of abundance of caution they have placed it at 65 cents and they tell us that the 5 cents they put in is a reserve to meet these very unforseen contingencies that have so often been alluded to on this floor. I hope, Mr. President, that the report of the Committee as made to this Convention will be adopted.

MR. LOMAX - Mr. President, I do not pretend to be anything of a statistician, or to be an expert in matters of taxation.


1342

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Therefore, I shall not undertake to question the figures which have been furnished to this Convention by the Chairman of its Committee on Taxation, or those which have come from any other gentleman who has undertaken to predict what will be the resources of the expenditures of the State in the future.

But I care not how expert the statistician may be. I care not how learned in the subject of taxation the man may be who undertakes to make the prediction for the future, when you get beyond five or ten years in the future, you get into the field of speculation, and there lives no than who can tell what will be the resources or the expenditures of a State after that lapse of time. If this Convention were making a tax rate for the next year, or the next two years, or the next five years, then we might with confidence accept the predictions of the Chairman of this Committee and fix a rate. But the Constitution we make, if ratified by the people, as I believe it will be, will not be for any short period of time, but for a generation, or at least for twenty - five years. Such being the case, we ought to go slowly on this question of a reduction in the limit on taxation.

I have heard gentlemen discussing this question upon the floor of this Convention say that the gentlemen who are opposed to lowering the tax rate say this, that or the other thing. I hesitate not to declare that there is not a single delegate in this Convention who desires or wishes to put tip the tax rate or who is opposed to the reduction of the tax rate. The opponents of the report of this Committee upon the floor of the Convention are not opposed to a reduction of the tax rate, but are opposed to a reduction of the limit on taxation. That limit was fixed in the Constitution of 1875, and, if my recollection serves me aright, in the course of time from 1875 down until this good hour, it has never been found necessary, and no Legislature has been found, which put the rate of taxation at the limit fixed in the Constitution except one. So that this impression of want of confidence in the courage of the Legislature or in the willingness or wish of the Legislature to reduce taxation is not well founded. I do not believe there can be found in the State of Alabama one man or 133 men who can be sent to the Legislature upon a demand by the people for a reduction of taxation and who, when they get here, find that the rate of taxation can be reduced, but that will vote for its reduction. Fixing a limit and fixing a rate are widely apart. We must fix the limit of taxation in view of future contingencies. We must take into account what may happen in the future. We heard the other day an able, eloquent and ingenious address from a distinguished citizen of Alabama which was no less able and eloquent and ingenious because it happened to be the propaganda of a new dispensation of political thought and action in Alabama, in which he quoted from distinguished students of economic and


1343

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

industrial conditions the prediction that before many years had passed, the activity, the energy, and the aggressiveness of the industries of the United States in invading European home markets would combine the European nations in a war to prevent that invasion from continuing a war that would be backed up by fleets and armies, and the distinguished gentleman who quoted that prediction did not undertake to refute the possibility thereof. Should such a thing happen and this country be involved in such a war, in what condition would the people of Alabama be with a 65 cent limit on taxation? A war like that would involve the exercise of all the wealth and power and the capacity of this country to successfully maintain. A war like that would shut down every industry in the State of Alabama. It would paralyze the coal and iron industry from which we expect so much in the future. It would close down every cotton factory in the State of Alabama. It would make the work of the agriculturist unremunerative and would reduce him to poverty and want. Valuations would go down so that within a short period, unless we had a higher limit of taxation, the honor and credit of the State would be absolutely destroyed.

MR. HINSON - May I inquire what the gentleman is in favor of, are you in favor of the limit in the present Constitution?

MR. LOMAX - Yes.

MR. HINSON - Then I make the point of order, Mr. President, the gentleman is not addressing himself to the question before the House, which is the amendment of the delegate from Hale fixing the limit at 70 cents.

MR. LOMAX - My remarks apply equally to the amendment of the delegate from Hale.

THE  PRESIDENT - It seems to the Chair that the gentleman is properly within the limit of debate.

MR. LOMAX - I regret extremely that I have been so unfortunate in what I have said that I have not been able to inform my friend the delegate from Lowndes, of the position I take. I shall undertake to be more explicit and careful in the future, so that whatever I shall say shall have at least some applicability to the subject at hand.

Reference has been made, Mr. President, and frequently, to the vast possibilities of revenue which lie within the power of the State from the enormous increase in the building of cotton factories under our recent law which exempted them from taxation ; and a vast estimate was made of what would come to this State from taxation by reason of the enormous value of those cotton factories in 1907. Have the gentlemen forgotten the recent little flurry in China? Every man acquainted with the cotton trade of


1344

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the South knows that by reason of the little misunderstanding which occurred the other day in China every single cotton factory in the South that dealt in the coarse grades of cotton goods that went to the Chinese markets was absolutely paralyzed, and either had to run at a loss because they did not want their labor dispersed or run away, or else some of them had to shut down from time to time in order to save expenses.

MR. FOSTER - Would it not be better to remove all limitation in order to meet that great war you are expecting?

MR. LOMAX - I do not know that it would be better to remove all limit. The reason it would not be is that the people of Alabama are accustomed to a limit on the rate of taxation, and another reason why it would not be better to remove all limit is that the gentleman from Tuscaloosa and I stood upon a platform which pledged the people of Alabama that we would not raise the limit of taxation.

MR. FOSTER - Are we not equally pledged to reduce it if possible?

MR. LOMAX - Yes; and the very proposition to which I am addressing myself is that we are not pledged absolutely to reduce it because it is not practicable to do so.

MR. BANKS - Would it not be better to have no limit than too low a limit?

MR. LOMAX - I am afraid my friend was reading a newspaper when I answered the same question put by the gentleman from Tuscaloosa. I say it would not be better, I say for at least thirty years the people have been accustomed to a limit-

MR. BANKS - The gentleman misunderstood my question. I asked the gentleman if it would not be better to have no limit than too low a limit.

MR. LOMAX - Oh, certainly, I beg pardon of the gentleman. I did not catch his question. It certainly would be better.

I was proceeding to say, gentlemen of the Convention, and Mr. President, that the small affray in China the other day almost paralyzed the cotton goods industry of the South. No man knows when the Yellow Dragon of the East will wake up from his slumber. No man knows when the civilized powers of the world may be engaged in a war with China, which will absolutely shut off and destroy any possibility of trade with that country and, when that time comes, where will be your income from your cotton factories, nine - tenths of which are engaged in the manufacture of the coarser grades of cotton goods that go to that trade? Either they must shut down, or they must spend every dollar of their capital and every dollar of the increased capital they might get for


1345

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

the purpose of putting in new machinery to make goods for other trades.

When you are making a constitution, gentlemen, you must not look at the immediate present, or the immediate future, but you must look at the possibilities that lie in the vast future beyond. A great many promises have been made to us in recent years, of the increased trade which would come to America by reason of the acquisition of the Philippine Islands, and we of the South have been told that with the Philippine Islands in our possession, a vast trade would come to us by reason of our manufacture of the cotton goods and the production of the provisions necessary to clothe and feed those people. That there were millions to be fed and clothed, and it would make the South blossom like the rose. Millions to be fed and clothed ;fed on a banana, and clothed with a breech cloth. We have been in the entire and absolute possession of the bay, the harbor and city of Manila for a long period of time, and statistics show that almost nine - tenths of the increased trade with the Philippine Islands has been in the trade of American whiskey for the American troops. Now we are not engaged very largely in the manufacture of that article, and that in which some of our independent citizens are engaged, the white looking liquid, the aroma of which lingers upon the breath even after the second day, never gets exported further than the mouth of the mountain canon where it is manufactured, and where the revenue officer goes with fear and trembling.

Let us look at another phase of that question. The man who thinks that the convict system of Alabama is going to remain for another generation as it is today is a dreamer. The time is coming, and it is coming speedily, gentlemen of the Convention, when there will be an absolute, an entire and a radical change in the convict system of Alabama. You cannot always farm out your convicts as you do now. As it is today, the Convict Department is not only paying into the State Treasury an enormous revenue, but it is absolutely and entirely supporting the administration of the criminal laws of this State. When a change shall come in the system, and it must come as civilization grows and enlightenment extends, you will not only strike down the revenue which you derive now from the convict system, but you will find yourselves face to face with the proposition that the State of Alabama must provide some other means for the administration of the criminal law at a vast expense of money. With the small surplus that is promised us by the Chairman of this Committee, how will you make provision for the administration of the criminal laws in the sixty - six counties of Alabama? It is impossible to do it.

Members of this Convention cannot have forgotten the vast amount of money which was expended within recent years, when a quarantine against smallpox was inaugurated in Alabama. With


1346

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the small surplus that is promised under the conditions we have here, where would the funds come from to meet another epidemic of that sort, or an epidemic of yellow fever, or any epidemic that required a vast expenditure of money?

We have had strikes in Alabama. The time was not many years ago, when encamped on the hills of Jefferson County was every State troop in Alabama, and they stayed there for weeks at an expenditure of enormous quantities of money.  Are we to be free from strikes in the future? No man can say so, because there is but one way to judge the future and that is by the past, and the time may come, and it may come at any moment, when by reason of a disagreement between operatives and employers there will require the use of every armed man in Alabama to preserve the peace. Money will have to be expended for the transportation of troops, for the pay of those troops, and for their maintenance. This may come once a year, it may not come in ten years, or it may come every year, and I submit that under the figures of this committee no provision is made for this sort of thing in the future.

Now gentlemen have asked the question if I do not think that the people will be grateful to us for giving them this reduction in the tax limit, or whether I believe that they have not got sense enough to know what they  want. I believe, Mr. President, that the people have not sense enough to know what they want, and sense enough not to be grateful for a small reduction of taxation, which is to be made up by increased assessments, and which will imperil the honor of this State. The honor of the State of Alabama is as clear to the humblest citizen as the small tax reduction that this change in the limit would take off of him, and he is not only not going to be grateful to you for making such a reduction, but he will say to you in no uncertain tones that to create a little cheap popularity for this Constitution before the people you have sought to deceive us, and you have done worse than that. We want the honor of our State maintained. We want her to go forward in her career of progress. We want the time to come when on every hillside in Alabama there will be a coke oven which shall make her the center of the industrial world, and the smoke of her factories and furnaces shall be like a "pillar of cloud by day," calling the children of toil into this land of happiness and contentment.

I appeal to you, gentlemen of the Convention, not to imperil these grand possibilities. Not to make it so that the honor of our State will be imperiled. Keep the time from ever coming again when outside the Constitution we must go to the marts of commerce in New York and pawn our Auditor's warrants for the money with which to pay our debts. Let us be in that position where we can take every advantage of the reduction in interest rates that may come, not tomorrow, or the next day, but at any time in the future. Let us have the manhood to say that rather


1347

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

than the cheap popularity which a small reduction in the limit of taxation will give to this Constitution before the people, that we stand first, last and all the time for the honor and the glory and the dignity of our grant commonwealth. (Applause.)

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) - The right Mr. President, to tax the property of the people was granted by the people themselves. They realized that it was necessary, to establish and maintain a governmental lower, to lodge in the fundamental law of the State the right to tax property in order that revenues might be derived to support their civic institutions. While they willingly lodged this right in the Constitution of our State, they did it in the belief that it never would be abused, and in the hope that as the years went by, and as the population increased, and the agencies of industry increased, and as the State became rich and powerful as she is today, that from time to time the limit in taxation would be reduced rather than raised.

Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, I concede to the opposition to the sixty - five cent limit honesty of purpose, as I do to those who champion that rate. I do not say to them, as they say to us, that we are playing for temporary popularity in this Convention, or appealing to the citizens of Alabama along that line. We hurl any such sentiment as that back into their teeth. We stand here doing what we think is right, in asking that this Convention reduce the tax limit in the Constitution under which we now live. Because we ask this on behalf of the people who are back and behind us in this great movement, are we to be charged with an attempt, or a desire to play for personal popularity? No, Mr. President, the intelligence of this Convention will mount above a plane like that. It will come upon a high plane, and reason about this great question and settle it as becomes true Alabamians.

We are told, Mr. President, that we would put the State in a terrible condition if we should make this reduction. Gentlemen seem to forget that we have given the Governor the right to borrow three hundred thousand dollars, and that three hundred thousand I dare say gentlemen of the Convention, will tide over any state of circumstances, it matters not how embarrassing they may become.

We are confronting the people of Alabama, or will ere long, with a new Constitution. It is not like a Legislature that assembles here and adjourns and reconvenes every two years. It is something new. It is odd. Twenty - five, fifty and sometimes a hundred years roll over the heads of States before the fundamental law is changed. The people of Alabama are looking to this Convention for a wise document in the way of an organic law. They are not entirely pleased with the progress that the Convention has made, it is true, but they do not understand what this Convention is doing and the work that it has to do. But when


1348

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

we close that door, and go away from here with a Constitution to be stamped by the approval of the sovereign voters of Alabama, we must have a document that will appeal to their judgment, to their sense of right, and their patriotism, and if you go out from this Convention with the proper suffrage plank, and a reduction of the tax, I care not what the opposition may be, it cannot stand before the people as they march with this Constitution to glorious approval. What we need, Mr. President and gentlemen of this Convention, is honest returns, and honest assessments, and proportionate taxes. Millions of dollars worth of property in Alabama escape every year. The poor man with his goods in sight bears the burden of taxation today. The farmer with his lands and stock where the assessor can see them, and where the neighbors can talk about them, makes it a matter of common knowledge, and he cannot hide it away. But the man with private securities, the man with his money hoarded away, and corporations, too, largely escape their fair share of the burdens of taxation in Alabama. Reduce this limit, then strike down this inequality of the law along the line of taxation, and let every man march up to the full line of his duty, and give in his property as he should, and you would not even need your sixty - five cents. Thirty - seven and a half would be fully ample. In a New England State, in a small town, a few years ago, there lived a man, supposed to be wealthy. They supposed him to be worth about a million of dollars. He gave in his property at one hundred thousand. He died, and his executors scheduled his personal property, and it was found that that man, in that small New England town, was worth six millions of dollars, and as soon as the tax assessor of that city place it upon the assessment roll, it reduced the tax rate one - half in that town. This illustration I gathered from a speech of ex - President Harrison on the subject of taxation.

I do not desire to detain this Convention, and I will not do so, but gentlemen tell us that we must leave it to the Legislature; that the Legislature will adjust the matter; and my distinguished friend, the gentleman from Lauderdale, has told this Convention that in 1896, the Legislature appropriated so much, that they doubled that nearly in ninety - eight, and their doubled it in 1900. With due regard and respect to the members who composed the last Legislature, they were characterized as being too extravagant with the people's money. It was talked of all over the State. Your newspapers had a great deal to say along that line. Gentlemen suggest here that this State and a few others, are the only ones that have a tax limit lodged in the fundamental law of the State. Well, the sooner the other States fall into line, the better it will be for them. I dare say that the delegates of this Convention are convinced that if you were to remove all tax limit, you could not, in ten years, have such a Constitution ratified by the tax payers of Alabama. You remove that limitation, and trust it to the legislature, and they will tell you the last Legislature appropriated


1349

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

everything, and went to the limit in the old Constitution, and they would go to another one if you made it a dollar, or a dollar and a half, or any other amount.

MR. OATES - I do not wish to interrupt the gentleman from Chambers, but I want to suggest to him, in connection with what he has said, as a part of his remarks, that there never was any constitutional limit upon the rate of taxation in this State until the Convention of 1875 put it there, and the reason of that was that the carpet - bag Legislature preceding had appropriated everything in sight and anticipated everything to come, and rendered the State and many of the counties insolvent.

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) - I thank the distinguished gentleman, Mr. President, for that suggestion. We have long since passed over the shattered ruins of reconstruction. Alabama has walked out from under the gloomy clouds that hovered over her in that awful time of distress and defeat, and, marching like a young giant, up the mountain side to victory and glory and true progress, she moves today unfettered and unhampered by anything that clung to her and menacled her limbs in reconstruction days. Seventy - five cents was necessary them; sixty - five cents is fully ample now.

I am fully convinced, after hearing the able argument of the chairman of this committee. He comes in with a report to which their  is not one dissenting voice from the committee, as I understand it. It is the unanimous verdict of that committee that Alabama should reduce her tax limit. The chairman of this committee has spent no little time and toil in the investigation of this subject, and I consider that his arguments, and those who have stood around him in this fight, remain until this good hour unanswered by the eloquent gentlemen of the opposition. I am thoroughly convinced, by the figures, by the arguments, and by the evidence that has been adduced here in this Convention, that Alabama can easily continue per progress with this sixty - five cent limit. A great and growing State, with her marvelous resources, her myriad advantages struggling, as she does, higher and higher, under the guidance of her civic masters - the people themselves - she will rise higher and higher in the scale as the years go by, and, in conclusion, I have only to say, if you will reduce the tax limit and adopt a suffrage plank that will meet. the approval of the white people of Alabama, this Convention's work will be endorsed by the sovereign citizens of the State, and they will rise up and call this Convention blessed.

Mr. President, I am done. It has been suggested to me that the previous question should be moved. I do not like to make a speech on a subject myself, and move the previous question without giving others an opportunity to be heard.


1350

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

MR. JENKINS - I hope before the gentleman moves the previous question, he will allow me to quote some figures from the Auditor's report. I have in my hand the Auditor's report, and I think any citizen in the State, and especially any member of this Constitutional Convention, can take this Auditor's report and on the face of it, taking the estimate of values as made by the distinguished chairman of the Committee on Taxation, see as a man who runs, can read it for himself, and it will show that it would be unwise, and very dangerous to adopt his suggestion.

But I do not grant to the distinguished chairman figures that I am unwilling to admit. He figures on a basis of $276,000,000, when never in the history of our State before has so high a valuation of property been attained. The average for the past ten or twenty years has never, exceeded $266,000,000, and last year the Auditor based all his calculations on $266,000,000. How do we judge the future? We judge it by the past. Watch the wheels of nature in relation to the affairs of man, and by the past of man, is the only way under the sun that we can judge the future.

MR. BROWNE - Will the gentleman allow me to interrupt him a moment?

MR. JENKINS - Certainly.

MR. BROWNE - Does he doubt that the taxable values for the next fiscal year will be two hundred and sixty - six million.

MR. JENKINS - Well, the figures have been offered for that, but I am judging by the past.

MR. BROWNE - Will the gentleman allow one other question ?

MR. JENKINS - Yes.

MR. BROWNE - Does he know upon what the Committee predicates their estimate that there will be an increase of at least $10,000,000 for the next fiscal year?

MR. JENKINS - Yes, he has written around, I understand, to all the Probate Judges in the State, but the Probate Judges may have made some mistakes. They are not the officials to get this matter up. It is the duty of the State Auditor to give us these figures, and not the Probate Judges of the State. He should have written at least to the Tax Asesssors, and not the Probate Judges, because I dare say there are not ten Probate Judges in the State as conversant with tax values as the Tax Assessors.

MR. BROWNE - Does the gentleman know where the Tax Assessor files his books, when they are made up?

MR. JENKINS - Yes, he generally files them in the Probate Office, when he has not got them at home working on them.


1351

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

But I want to say the gentleman is basing all his calculations on the present year, as if all the years to come were going to be like the present year, and I make the deliberate statement that this fall, if cotton should go to 3 cents a pound, and we have no reason to say positively that it will not go there, the tax values next year will shrink at least 33 1 - 3 per cent. You cannot base tax values only on the price of agricultural, mineral and mining products, and if these products go down, our tax values are going to fall. In less than ten years cotton has sold in this country for 3 1 - 2 cents, and many were glad to get 4, and last season is brought 9, 9 1 - 2 and 10. Now that is quite a difference, but we have no assurance that the present condition will continue.

MR. BROWNE - May I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. JENKINS - Certainly.

MR. BROWNE - What year was cotton worth 3 1 - 2 cents?

MR. JENKINS - I have the receipts at home, showing 3 1 - 2 cents on them. I do not remember the exact year.

MR. BROWNE - Does the gentleman know what the taxable value of all the property in the State was during the year cotton sold for 3 1 - 2 cents?

MR. JENKINS - I do not think that has any connection, because the taxable values are returned in the spring and these prices are made in the fall, and the prices affect the following year and not the year in which they are made.

MR. BROWNE - Well, the year after, what was the taxable value of all the property in the State? The year after cotton was worth 3 1 - 2 cents.

MR. JENKINS - I do not know. It was less than $250,000,000, and, Mr. President, I stand here and say that this Committee is basing the calculations of every year from now up to doomsday on this year, and that we cannot do it.

THE PRESIDENT - Will the gentleman suspend?

MR. HEFLIN (Chambers) - Before the announcements are made I desire to ask indefinite leave of absence for Mr. Duke on account of sickness.

The leave was granted.

Leave of absence was granted Mr. Walker for Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Willet and Mr. Wilson (Clarke), for today, and indefinite leave to Mr. Case on account of sickness.

Thereupon the Convention adjourned until 3 p. m.


1352

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

AFTERNOON SESSION.

The Convention was called to order by the President, and the roll call showed the presence of 81 delegates.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman from Wilcox has the floor.

MR. JENKINS - I have some figures that I want to read to this Convention. The committee put the tax rate at six and a half mills. We are levying now for old soldiers one mill. We are appropriating $800,000 for the public schools, $550,000 from the general appropriation, and $250,000 special appropriation making $800,000, $276,000,000 is the valuation of the property as given us by the committee. Multiply that by three mills and it results in a tax of $828,000, and when you deduct the expenses of assessment, it will not give you $800,000 for public schools. Now we can't cut that down. The Democratic platform pledged us to take no backward step in education. So it will require at least three mills to pay the standing appropriation for public schools. It requires one mill to pay the old soldiers. There is no debate on the proposition that makes four mills.  Four mills from six and a half mills leaves two and a half mills and multiplying the $276,000,000 by that gives you $690,000. That is our revenue minus the license fund. Now a conservative estimate of the license fund and funds from other similar sources which I hold in my hand for the year ending September 30, 1901:

Licenses ________________________________ $155,000
Solicitors' fees ___________________________      20,000
Insurance department ______________________      50,000
Corporations, charter fees ___________________     12,000
Railroad license tax _______________________       12,500
Telegraph, express and sleeping cars __________       12,000
All other sources __________________________     25,000

Those foot up $286,000. A liberal estimate would be $300,000 from license, but put it at $310,000 and add to it the $690,000 and it gives you $1,000,00.

Now what are your expenses to come against that?  If you turn to the Auditor's report, Page XXXVI, you will see the different expenses. For executive officers, which added to the expenses of the judiciary, $106,000, military department $24,000, mine inspectors $4,000, State geologists $7,500, insurance department $2,500, railroad department $11,000, health department $13,000. I omit the agricultural department and the pension department for this reason that there is no guarantee in the world that the revenue derived from the agricultural department is going to remain, because there is a strong sentiment in the State to repeal the tag license. A bill for that purpose passed the Lower House in the last Legislature. It went to the Senate and it got a ma-


1353

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

jority of the Senate but did not get the requisite three - fifths vote and failed. The bill was adversed by the committee in the Senate and required three - fifths to pass. But it will come up again and it is going to be cut down, if not be wiped out. Amounts to the educational and benevolent department foots up $1,148,000. In that is included the public schools for which I have already estimated and deducting the public schools from that it leaves $420,000 for the educational and benevolent institutions. State institutions like those at Auburn and Tuscaloosa and the Girls' Industrial School, Institute for the Deaf, Academy for the Blind, for Negro Deaf Mutes and Blind, Industrial School for Boys, A. and M. College, University and Normal colleges. That foots up $420,000.

Now the general expenses foot up $547,000 and this added up with the other items above named will give you $1,177,000. These are the actual every day expenses of the government. They are bound to come and you have to have the revenue to meet their and you have but $1,000,000 left on the basis of the valuation of property furnished us by the Tax Committee. That leaves a deficit of $177,000 every year.

Now, I have left out of the estimate the agricultural department of $47,000 because I do not believe we can count on that for all time to come. I firmly believe that the tag license will be reduced or repealed and that source of revenue cut off.

I have left out the convict department. And why? Because while it is true there is $125,000 to the credit of that fund but there is a great deal of expense connected with it. There is the expense of $114,000, hardly a profit of $25,000 and the history of that department in this State is that it won't make the revenue.

MR. CUNNINGHAM - Can I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. JENKINS - You can if you wait until I get through.

MR. CUNNINGHAM - Is not the expense of the convicts part of the expense of $550,000 and is it not a fact that the convict department is paying annually more than half of the deficit the gentleman is counting off?

MR. JENKINS - Feeding the State prisoners is in that but the salaries of the convict department are not, neither are the costs, bills of the courts and maintenance.

I say, Mr. President, that there was a time in the history of the State when the convict system did not pay a revenue but was a heavy drain on the treasury. That time may come again because there are a lot of people up in Jefferson County who have been contending for years gone by that the convicts should be taken out of the mines, and whenever you take them out of the mines there will come a bankruptcy in that department instead of a profit. That sentiment has been going on for years and there 


1354

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

is no telling what the future will bring forth. The convicts may be taken out of the mines and put on the farms, and instead of their being a revenue of $125,000, they may cost the State $300,000, as the State farm has cost us during the last six years. Now I maintain that in making figures of the revenue for all time to come, that that sort of question should he eliminated and not allowed to come in. The wise and economical administration and successful conduct of the department in the last few years is no guaranty that it will be so for all time to come. These are the figures and you cannot deny them. Take your pencil and work it out, and it will show just as I have stated it.

There is another question : We have on the statute books a law that has been vilified, abused, despised - I won't say cursed— but it has met the condemnation of the people over the State and that is the back tax law. There is no question in my mind but that the time will come when that law will be repealed ; and when you repeal that law you are not going to see valuations go up and stay up like they have in the last four years. That is going to affect the question, so will the tag license probably be taken off, so will the convict system badly administered so will the expenses of a complex election machinery which we are bound to have under our new Constitution. You are going to have new expenses you never had before. It will probably cost the State $100,000 to hold the first election under the system that we are going to adopt. In addition to that, there will be a falling off in the poll tax receipts of at least $50,000. We have had $150,000 collected from that course, but when you say to a man, "You need not pay the poll tax," there won't be one negro in a thousand that will pay the poll tax, and the result will be that the fund will go down. You are  face to face with these things. and you must think about them. And, in reply to the gentleman from Chambers  who says we ought not to let our State be shackled as she marches up the hill of progress, I want to say if you put a constitutional limit of six and a half mills upon the feet of that fair damsel as she walks up the hill of progress, you will shackle her so that she cannot walk with the steady stride and even step she ought to. Let her go on the road of progress untrammelled and unfettered, and walk up that high hill looking forward and upward without feeling the burden and shackles of an unjust tax limit upon her.

MR. HEFLIN - May I ask the gentleman a question?

MR. JENKINS - When I get through.

MR. HEFLIN - Did I make any remark about shackling a damsel? I desire to disclaim any intention of doing that.

MR. JENKINS - I was merely using the figure the gentleman started. The gentleman compared the State to a woman and talked about shackling her feet. He would hardly compare it to a man.


1355

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

I want to say as a State, we are enjoying great prosperity, such as we have not enjoyed for many years in the past, but if you vote this proposition in here today you will see the sun of prosperity, which is now riding so high and clear near its zenith, soon begin to falter and waver in its course, and, with sad and sorrowful countenance, you who sit here will see it begin to sink toward the west in a decline from which it will be many years before it returns.

And another point right here and I will close. There is not a word, there is not a breath that comes floating on the breeze from the people of Alabama to this Constitutional Convention demanding this reduction in our constitutional limit in the rate of taxation. The only demand that the people of Alabama have made to the delegates was that you should not raise the limit or change it in any material way so as to affect their prosperity and growth. And you gentlemen come here and voluntarily offer them something that they have not demanded. The people of the State are not demanding this proposition, and have not expected it, and you should not give them something for which they didn't look. Furthermore, you not only strike down the credit and honor of the State, but you allow the same tax which you take off in a general way to be assessed in a local way, so that there is no real reduction in the people's taxes. It is an apparent reduction and not a real one, and the only result of which is to jeopardize the honor, the integrity and the fair name of the State of Alabama, and when you do that, you will do a great wrong to the people of Alabama.

MR. BLACKWELL - I am sorry I cannot agree with the Committee in their report. If I thought I could, I would greatly prefer voting in favor of the reduction.

Very briefly, I want to allude to some statements that have been made. The first statement is that while the Legislature has the power to reduce the taxes, and while we insist they will do it and it is right, the opposition say they are afraid to risk the Legislature.

I want to call the attention of the Convention to the fact that the law fixing a limit of 75 cents on the $100 has been in existence since 1875, and yet, as a matter of fact, this limit of seven and a half mills tax has only been used in three years during that time, although it has been within the power of the Legislature to use it the whole of the period.

In the year 1876 they went to the limit the Constitution allowed, 75 cents on the $100. Then for three years they had 70 cents, or seven mills. Then followed six and a half mills for five years, and then six mills for two years, then on down to four for three years. The only way we have of judging what the Legislature will do in the future is by what the Legislature has done in


1356

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the past. The only two years, aside from the first that I have mentioned, in which the limit of the taxing power was exercised, was the last two years. Those in addition to the first one year under the Constitution make the three years. If we are to judge the Legislatures of the future by the Legislatures of the past, what right have we to say that the Legislature will not reduce the tax as they see the revenues of the State will justify and permit of the reduction? No one can say that they have failed to do it heretofore. Then, why does anyone presume to say they will fail to do it hereafter. You cannot judge of what is to come except by what has already passed; and if You make that the standard, you must admit as a matter of fact that as the opportunity presents itself, the Legislature will make the reduction, they have uniformly made it.

Now, there is another statement made, that as a matter of fact, as you are reducing the rate of taxation you induce the people to assess their property at better values. The figures as laid down by the Auditor do not justify any such statement. They say the highest assessed value that we have had was $275,000,000 in 1891, on the four mill basis. I admit that is true, but it began to decline and on that four mill basis it declined, and continued to decline ; and the highest assessment we have now is on a seven and a half mill tax.

MR. BROWNE - Was not that heavy decline after it reached $275,000,000 on account of the panic?

MR. BLACKWELL-Yes, that may be true, and I will come to that quicker than I intended. The people of the United States have panics oftener than any other people in the world. In England panics occur about twenty or twenty - five years apart. Panics with the Dutch occur about 100 years apart, because they are a very conservative, very painstaking, very careful, cold people. But in the United States the very air we breathe is intoxicating. The foods we live upon are intoxicating. A man makes a dollar easier in the United States than in any other part of the globe, and the result is he risks it oftener in speculation than any other people in the world. So the result is we have more panics; and when a panic occurs and settling time is had, directly after that only the gilt - edged people have credit. Then the next year credit is extended to a greater number and so on and on until all worthy people are embraced. Then the spirit of speculation running rife induces the American man to risk more and take in a broader field, and by and by the ability to pay promptly is lacking. Then everyone begins to want what is due him the minute they cease to pay, and a man goes to his debtor, who owes him $1,000, and tells him, "Pay me what you owe me," and the result is that every ten or fifteen years spreading over all kinds of credit, the settling time comes and every man puts his hand to the throat of another and says "pay me what you owe me," and when the settling time comes you have a panic which the gentleman from Talladega says


1357

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

induces falling values. We have had the speculative fever going on always, and while I trust we will never have it as we had it in 1891, still that spirit is abroad and we must take cognizance of it. Dollars are made easier here than any other place in the world, and therefore we risk them more freely and no one can see far enough down the vista of the future to tell what is in store for us on this line.

Gentlemen have been questioning and mistrusting what the Legislature will do. We show that the Legislature has reduced taxation every tithe an opportunity has presented itself and that we have only had three years out of twenty - six and that the limit of taxation has been reduced. Then why is the gentleman afraid of the legislature? Then if the legislature has satisfactorily handled this matter and there is danger of having a deficit anywhere if this limit is reduced, why is it not more conservative and sounder business principles, even admitting the gentleman from Talladega (Mr. Browne) is right, to take the safe side, to take no chance rather than have what he offers and take chances of getting through.

There is another thing to which no one has alluded. We are going to need more money than we have ever yet had before. The attention of the world is attracted to Alabama's resources. The Chairman of the Committee said the other day that he was connected with an immigration enterprise and that he wrote letters to people to induce them to come to Alabama and the first thing they wanted to know was how are your churches and your schools? You have to have money for schools and churches. Does the gentleman pretend to say it is not a good investment to increase the school fund greater than we have if we can stand it? Don't we know when we educate the people we increase their capacity and don't we know a man morally and intellectually educated makes every acre around him worth more money and increases the value of the property of the State of Alabama?

Not only is that true, but there is sleeping in the other end of the Capitol a bill proposing to pay the old soldiers of the State of Alabama $100,000 more money than we give them today.

I do not think we are able to pay the soldiers of Alabama as much as we pay the United States soldiers. For four years as an officer of the United States government I paid the United States soldiers. We paid out $2 a head for every man, woman and child in Alabama and we do not complain of the pension of the soldiers of the Federal army. Now, if we get more money and if there is anything that we are justified in spending it for, ought we not increase the pittance and pass that bill in the Senate giving $100,000 additional to the old Confederate soldiers. They do not complain. They have gone unmurmuringly ; and yet every empty sleeve, every lost leg is an eloquent appeal to the people of Alabama showing the needs of these men who, when the tocsin of war


1358

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

sounded in Alabama recognized Alabama as their native mother and shouldered their musket and went to the forefront where the bullets fell thickest and the battle waxed hottest. I do not ask you to give to the Alabama soldiers what we are giving to the Federal soldiers. That would be $4,000,000 for Alabama to give, but I say if there is a possibility without hurting the people of Alabama by allowing that limit to remain of being able to increase that pittance to them, ought we not do it? These are the men who have made the history of this country. These are the men whose acts and deeds are reporting to the present generation and will report to generations to come the courage, the manhood and the heroism that this country has possessed. These are the men, the worn out crippled men, for whom we should weave laurel crowns to place upon their brows. They put themselves up to stop the bullets of the enemy, and I for one want to go on record that I am in favor of fixing it so that we can give to that grand army of heroes that tardy justice to which they are so much entitled.

MR. SANFORD (Montgomery) - I know that the Convention is growing very much wearied with this discussion, and notwithstanding that fact, I ask its indulgence for a few minutes. If a stranger had entered the hall, and had not known the character of the assembly, he would have supposed it was an association of bankers greatly disturbed lest the interest on their bonds should default, or that there were men here anxious to sell bonds. That is not a fact. We are here to make a Constitution for the State. The borrowing of money is an unfortunate incident in the history of Alabama, as the issue of bonds has been. If she had never been able to borrow one dollar, or to sell a solitary bond, the influence and the power and welfare of Alabama would have been greatly augmented. We must not suppose that owing bonds and selling bonds and paying interest upon bonds is the chief object of government. I may be pardoned for reminding you that for forty years after 1790 such things as bonds of a State were hardly known in the United States. After the war of 1812, when the general government had become indebted to the extent of $13,000,000, there were no such State bonds. Such a thing was almost unknown in the history of this country, but in 1830 the people entered upon wild schemes of speculation and reckless enterprises. Alabama, in 1837, issued bonds to the extent of $5,000,000, and all the States engaged in this speculative mania, until 1840, when the failure of a bank in Pennsylvania precipitated a great monetary crisis and great depreciation of property in this country. Then Pennsylvania, Mississippi and Maryland defaulted, as also Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Louisiana. All of them afterwards paid their indebtedness, except Michigan, Louisiana and Mississippi. I only mention these things to show you that while we are all anxious to preserve the honor and credit of the State of Alabama, that merely to pay interest is not the chief object of government, and even those great


1359

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

States who were in arrears are now in the very front rank of this republic. But I am very much amused - I beg pardon- interested, in some of the discussions. The gentlemen opposed to the reduction first stated to you how much money is necessary to meet your present liabilities, and then they go forward and repeat item by item, every one makes up the sum so as to impress it, that it is about twice the amount that will be the amount disbursed by the 30th of September, 1901. Now, we are here for the purpose of making limitations. We are here for the purpose of establishing offices and defining the duties of those who occupy them. We have already limited the power of the people to elect one man a Governor oftener than once, and thereby disfranchise him, the people so far as that office was concerned, though faithful, efficient and competent men, are deprived of the right to electing him again. Why not limit the agent that has the power to put burdens upon the people? Why do you limit individuals from aspiring to office, and limit the people in their choice of officers, and yet decline to limit those men who have power to place burdens upon the people? The more you limit power, the more you expand liberty; the more you curtail authority, the better it is for the freedom, and, therefore, I am for limiting the Legislature in its power of taxation to the utmost point that can safely be done, and meet all of our obligations - interest on bonds, the ordinary expenditures of State, and whatever may be necessary. One gentleman says, why, if we should have war, all of your factories would shut down; your steel plants would go out of blast; your iron furnaces would close, and, therefore, we must not limit taxation. If all those things happen, we would be poorer then than we are now, and if we were poorer then than now, ought not the taxes to be lower, and ought we not to be more limited in the power of taxation? So it seems to me that that argument is utterly fallacious--the poorer we are the less you ought to take from us of food, raiment and shelter; and the less labor you ought to require of us to pay taxes. Another gentleman says, why, my little town of Florence is so oppressed with taxes in the way of licenses and privilege taxes that the people are beginning to sell their property. If that be so, if every little hamlet, village and town are oppressing the people, ought we not to see that the Legislature is still more restrained from taxing the people and adding burdens - the very reason why the Legislature of Alabama should not be permitted to do what the little municipalities everywhere are enforcing upon the people. Now it seems to me, Mr. Chairman, that most of the argument has arisen from apprehension. Apprehension based on what? On the apprehension of two very distinguished and much esteemed friends of mine from Montgomery County. Both have been Governors with great honor to the State and much credit to themselves, and all their argument is based upon their experience - one of seven years ago, and the other of nearly five years ago. They remember the difficulties that beset them when they bor-


1360

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

rowed money, it is a nightmare still upon their blessed spirits. They are afraid that the Governor shall not be able to borrow money. It is a mere conjecture. There is not any argument on that fact except conjecture and school - boy calculations. The Committee, on the contrary, has recently made investigation of the condition of Alabama.  They find from examining the very documents that our friends have examined and calculated with so much persistency - besides correspondence with leading men all over the State. We must remember that when this limit of 75 - 100 was fixed that Alabama, in round numbers, had about 1,200,000 people. In 1900 we had 1,800,000 people, half as many again and a corresponding increase in wealth, and therefore 75 cents on the $100 was all that ,was necessary as a limit in 1875. Twenty-five years later with 33 1 - 3 per cent. increase in population and in wealth, cannot we safely put it at 65 cents?  One gentleman said here--it is a little cheap popularity. That was rather an unjustified remark as applied to many of these gentlemen who are just as capable and patriotic as those who insist on holding the limit up to 75 cents. I might, if I were as unkind, say the reason why you wish it done is because, possibly, you are the owner of bonds in mills and you do not wish any mills built, and you keep up the high rate of taxation so they will be afraid to come and compete with you. Others might say they are bondholders and you are afraid your interest will not be paid if the limit be reduced. All of these apprehensions are absolutely futile. There is no ground for them. On the contrary, the argument of those delegates in favor of it, is based upon more recent calculations, investigations and ascertainment of facts than those that are opposed to the reduction. Why the very reduction itself to 65 cents is a compromise. The distinguished ex - Justice of the Supreme Court said that we could have reduced it to 60 cents, but out of deference to our timid friends, we put it at 65 cents. So 65 cents itself is a compromise between what really ought to be the limit and the timidity of some very estimable gentlemen with regard to the payment of interest on bonds. So, my friends, we should by all means, if possible, and we believe we are able to do it, reduce this limit. The poorer we are, the less we should he taxed. Every dollar, every mill of taxes, takes away from a poor man some necessary of life. Every mill that is saved gives him some necessary of life, gives to the rich some article of luxury not heretofore enjoyed, gives to the man of ordinary circumstances a comfort that his little family needs. Our friends here are mistaken in the argument - they speak of it as if the Legislature had power to limit it. It has no such power. They speak of it as if it were to reduce taxation, it does not reduce it five cents, it is merely to fix the limit beyond which hereafter the legislature shall not go. The tax of 75 cents in all probability, will be in full force until November, 1902, and therefore, there is no immediate danger and you have time to see the development of the country.


1361

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

One member says he wants elasticity in the Constitution. How can elasticity in the Constitution develop the country? One gentleman speaks as though the reduction of the tax rate would impede the progress of Alabama. Gentleman have heard of the horse who, the more he carried, the faster he ran. I never heard of but one instance, my friend Mr. Abercrombie, who said of his horse Buck - Rabbit, the more weight you put upon him, the higher he jumped. So the more burdens you put upon the people, the more prosperous they come - the less weight they carry, the slower they run. That, my friend, is not in accordance with human experience either with the success of men or the fleetness of horses. Now, Mr. Chairman, I have but one word more. I am amazed at the contradictory statements. My esteemed colleague from Montgomery says that if you were to reduce this rate, this limitation of taxation, the people would rejoice, anal it would fill their hearts with gratitude. Why?  Because it is in accordance with common sense, and relieves them of heavy burdens. Another friend of mine from Montgomery, a very brilliant man, says the people would not be grateful at all, that they would rather pay the tax than to be relieved of burdens. They remind me--both of them are wrong in their positions - but they remind me of two men riding down Pennsylvania Avenue. Both of them were a little cross - eyed, each of them was mounted on a bicycle, they were riding at full speed, as the young men say, "scorching." Each saw the other coining, each was anxious to avoid the collision, but their care did not prevent their clashing together. They came together, one fell to the right and the other fell to the left, and one of them got up and brushing his knees said: "Why in the devil don't you look where you are going?" And the other said, rubbing his shoulder: "Why in hell didn't you go where you were looking?" And so of my friends from Montgomery, both of them are cross - eyed on this question, and they are going wrong. If you have high taxes you may have a splendid government, but a splendid government in a Republic, is a golden sorrow, but by having light burdens, low taxes, you will have a prosperous and a contented people, and such people make the glory of a country.

MR. WHITE (Jefferson) - I do not expect to take the wide range on the pending measure which has been taken by my friends on both sides of this question, nor do I expect to go into the statistics, for I have long since learned that if you will give a man paper and pencil, he can figure out a deficit or a surplus according to his own inclination. But I do want to ask this Convention to be consistent. A few days ago I was urging, the best I knew how, a limitation on or a repeal of the tag tax. All of my friends admitted one of two things, they all said the tax was unjust and unequal, but some said we could not spare the revenue, and therefore we must vote against it. Well, if we could not spare


1362

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

the revenue to relieve the farmer of that unjust and unequal taxation, how can we spare the revenues which will amount to $266,000 of a just and equal taxation. The better argument, however, was, and there was great force in it, that the legislature would attend to that matter, and that it was something peculiarly within the sphere of the legislature. I say there was great force in that argument. We remitted that to the legislature. Now, can we not afford to leave this question of limitation also to the legislature? When we undertake to say to the legislature that you shall not exceed 65 cents on the $100, or 6 1 - 2 mills, that we are afraid for you to have the power to levy 7 1 - 2 mills, have we not voted a want of confidence in the people of Alabama? The people of Alabama can only act through their Legislature, and the Legislature has never yet failed to respond to any material extent to a just demand for a reduction of taxation where that taxation was direct. It is only where taxes are indirect, and the people don't realize the burden, that legislators are disinclined to reduce taxes. I am going to advise you, gentlemen of the Convention, to adopt a strange course. I am going to ask you this afternoon to differ with me. I am going to take one position, and ask you to take another. If I should look narrowly upon the question, I would be in favor of the 65 cent rate, because the county from which I hail pours into the treasury every year $40,000 of this one mill tax. By leaving it at 65 cents, instead of 75 cents, the people of Jefferson county would retain annually in their pockets $40,000, or they would have $40,000 to apply to their local schools. But I shall take a wider and a broader view than that. The county of Jefferson, in her political destiny, is wrapped up with the destiny of sixty - five other counties in Alabama. The sixty - five other counties in Alabama must make the laws and the appropriations, and especially declare the policies under which Jefferson county and her people must live. I think that I ought not to look narrowly, and alone to the interests of my immediate constituency, but I should take in the whole field, look at the whole State as one great political unit in which the future destiny of every other county is locked with mine. Did it ever occur to you, and I want you men now from the poorer counties, the white counties in Alabama, to heed what I say, because the day will come when you will rue it if you do not heed it. I will take every county south of Montgomery save Mobile. Jefferson county pays as much taxes into the State treasury as all of them combined. I can take all the counties east of Jefferson and north of Elmore, saving Calhoun. Jefferson county pays as much taxes as all of these combined. I can take all of the counties north of Marengo and west of Jefferson to the Tennessee line, and Jefferson pays as much as all of them. But you say, Jefferson has the population as well, and she will receive back her share of this money. Let me show you: The population of the counties south of Montgomery of which I have just spoken, excluding Mobile, has 380,000


1363

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

population. Jefferson county has 140,000 population. Then Jefferson pays  into the treasury as much as all of them and receives back only in the proportion that her 140,000 bears to the population of 380,000. Take the tier of counties north of Elmore and east of Jefferson to the Tennessee line. They have a population of 344,000 people, and they pay no more taxes than Jefferson. Take the tier of counties west of Jefferson and north of Marengo, they have a population of 365,000, Jefferson has 140,000, and the disparity is even greater than that when you come to estimating upon the number of children, because the number of educated in Jefferson is less in proportion to the whole population than any other county in the State, because of the fact that there are thousands of men in Jefferson who have no families. Remember that in Jefferson county we pay taxes upon millions and millions of dollars that do not represent any population at all in Alabama, yet in justice and right that property should contribute to the up--building and the uplifting of the entire population of the State. Can you men who come from the poor counties, from the white counties of Alabama, refuse to take from the great county of Jefferson this boon, or rather can you refuse to allow Jefferson to make her contribution to the common good? I know, and you know, that when the times comes the common schools of Alabama will receive the blow that this reduction will give. When riots are running rampant in the land cash must be advanced to pay for their suppression, when epidemics sweep over the country, when we are scouraged with yellow fever and smallpox, cash must be advanced to meet the bills. You dare not vote down the old soldier tax, because there is a sentiment behind it that will never allow you to do it, but this blow that you do today you are dealing at the pale - faced children of Alabama that live in the hills.

MR. LONG (Walker) - Bare - footed?

MR. WHITE - Yes, bare - footed, bare - headed, barely receiving the necessities of life and without any of the means of education. Remember again, that the earning power of a people depends upon their education. Consult the statistics of this country and you will see in Massachusetts that the people of that State earn more money per capita than any other State in the Union, because of her educational advantages. You men from the poorer counties, the sons of whom must gather around the great industrial plants in my section, remember if your children are not educated, they must be the hewers of wood and drawers of water. If you want them to participate in that great development, and receive their share of the wage that will be paid, educate them in order that they may be enabled to take the best positions that this industrial development affords. Think over this, you men who represent a white constituency, whose lands are too poor, and whose property is too scarce, to provide them by local taxation with public schools. Remember that your hopes, and the, hopes


1364

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

of your children, are linked to the great industrial section, and that you must keep the chain that binds you to us together, when you break it you fall back and we leap forward, you will be left far behind. I ask you today, for one time in your lives, to be selfish. I think it is better for the whole State, and even better for my county, to pay an undue proportion of this money, than to allow the people of Alabama to continue in their illiteracy. I tell you, gentlemen of the Convention, that illiteracy has cast its shadow upon the industrial, political and the social life of Alabama long enough. I warn you, now, against what you are doing.

MR. WILLIAMS (Marengo) - I think the Convention is ready for a vote on this question. It has been discussed fully enough, and I therefore call for the previous question on the Section as reported by the Committee and on the amendment thereto.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman from Marengo moves the previous question on the amendment to the Section reported by the Committee.

MR. WHITE - In order that the amendment offered by the gentleman from Talladega (Mr. Graham) which was laid on the table may be recalled, I move to table the amendment offered by the gentleman from Hale.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman from Jefferson moves that the amendment of the gentleman from Hale be laid upon the table?

A vote being taken the amendment was tabled.

MR. WILLIAMS (Marengo) - I have moved the previous question on the Section as reported by the Committee.

MR. WHITE - In order that we may recall from the table the amendment offered by the gentleman from Talladega (Mr. Graham) I move to lay the Section as reported by the Committee on the table.

MR. BROWNE - And on that I call for the ayes and noes.

MR. WHITE - And I join in the call.

MR. BROWNE - All right, we will be with you.

The call for the ayes and noes was sustained by the rising of the requisite number and the result of the roll call on the motion to table the Section as reported by the Committee was as follows:

AYES

Ashcraft,

Cobb,

Eyster,

Banks,

Davis, of Etowah,

Ferguson,

Barefield,

Dent,

Graham, of Montgomery,

Beddow,

Eley,

Greer, of Calhoun,


1365

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

Henderson,

Norwood,

Smith, Mac. A.,

Jenkins,

O'Neal (Lauderdale),

Waddell,

Jones, of Montgomery,

Opp,

Watts,

Jones, of Bibb,

Reynolds (Chilton),

Weakley,

Locklin,

Rogers (Lowndes),

White,

Lowe (Jefferson),

Sanders,

Williams (Barbour),

Murphree,

Smith (Mobile),

 TOTAL - 32.

NOES

Messrs. President,

Heflin, of Chambers,

O'Rear,

Bethune,

Heflin, of Randolph,

Parker (Elmore),

Brooks,

Hinson,

Pettus,

Browne,

Hodges,

Phillips,

Burnett,

Howze,

Pillans,

Burns,

Inge,

Pitts,

Byars,

Jackson,

Reese,

Carnathon,

Jones, of Wilcox,

Robinson,

Cofer,

Kirk,

Rogers (Sumter),

Coleman, of Walker,

Knight,

Sanford,

Cunningham,

Kyle,

Sentell,

Davis, of DeKalb,

Leigh,

Sloan,

Espy,

Long (Butler),

Sorrell,

Fletcher,

Long (Walker),

Spears,

Foshee,

Macdonald,

Spragins,

Foster,

Martin,

Stewart,

Gilmore,

Maxwell,

Studdard,

Glover,

Merrill,

Tayloe,

Grant,

Moody,

Weatherly,

Grayson,

Mulkey,

Whiteside,

Greer, of Perry,

NeSmith,

Williams (Marengo),

Harrison,

Norman,

Winn.

 TOTAL - 66. ABSENT OR NOT VOTING

Altman,

deGraffenreid,

McMillan (Baldwin),

Almon,

Duke,

McMillan (Wilcox),

Bartlett,

Fitts,

Malone,

Beavers,

Freeman,

Miller (Marengo),

Blackwell,

Graham, of Talladega,

Miller (Wilcox),

Boone,

Haley,

Morrisette,

Bulger,

Handley,

Oates,

Cardon,

Hood,

O'Neill (Jefferson),

Carmichael, of Colbert,

Howell,

Palmer,

Carmichael, of Coffee,

Jones, of Hale,

Parker (Cullman),

Case,

King,

Pearce,

Chapman,

Kirkland,

Porter,

Coleman, of Greene,

Ledbetter,

Proctor,

Cornwall,

Lomax,

Renfro,

Craig,

Lowe (Lawrence),

Reynolds (Henry),


1366

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Samford,

Sollie,

Willett.

Searcy,

Thompson,

Williams (Elmore),

Selheimer,

Vaughan,

Wilson (Clarke),

Smith, Morgan M.,

Walker,

Wilson (Washington).

So the house refused to table the section as reported.

During the roll call:

MR. ALMON - I am paired with the gentleman from Jefferson, Mr. Cornwall; he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. BLACKWELL - I am paired with the gentleman from Jackson, Mr. Proctor; he would vote no and I would vote aye.

MR. CARDON - I am paired with the gentleman from Talladega, Mr. Graham; he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. CARMICHAEL (Colbert) - I am paired with Mr. Haley; he would vote no and I would vote aye.

MR. CHAPMAN - During the session of the convention on  last Saturday the delegate from Hale (Mr. deGraffenreid) approached me and asked me to pair with him. I told him I had some doubt about the propriety of pairing, as there might be some collateral question. After some conversation he left, without any understanding on my part that there was a pair. I any informed by delegates that Mr. deGraffenreid considered I was paired with him. I was subsequently informed by another delegate that Mr. deGraffenreid was paired with another gentleman. Although I did not understand that I had made a pair, I would not in any way like to be put in the position of violating a pair with Mr. deGraffenreid, and, for that reason, I ask that my name be passed, and unless there is a pair announced for him during the roll call, I will allow this pair to stand. If he were here, he would vote aye and I would vote no, but I will not have it so recorded unless another pair is announced for him.

MR. BROWNE - I had forgotten when I spoke to the gentleman who it was that told me of a pair that Mr. deGraffenreid had. Mr. Burns of Dallas told me that Mr. Craig of Dallas had stated to him that he was paired with Mr. deGraffenreid. I do not know that Mr. deGraffenreid was standing closer than four or five feet of us at the time. When the gentleman spoke to me about it this morning, I could not recollect who it was, but the gentleman from Dallas refreshed my recollection.

MR. LONG (Walker)—I heard the pair made between Mr. deGraffenreid and Mr. Craig.

MR. CHAPMAN - If that is the case, I will vote no. The vote was recorded.

MR. ELEY - I am paired with Mr. Proctor of Jackson.


1367

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. O'NEAL - There has been a pair announced for him.

Mr. Eley then voted.

MR. JACKSON - I desire to know if the amendment fixing the amount at seventy cents has been tabled?

THE PRESIDENT - It has.

MR. JACKSON - Then I vote no.

Mr. LEDBETTER - I am paired with the gentleman from Lee; he would vote no and I would vote aye.

MR. LOMAX - I am paired with the delegate from Tuscaloosa, Mr. Searcy; if he were present he would vote no and I  would vote aye.

MR. LOWE (Lawrence) - I am paired with Mr. Selheimer; if he were present he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. MILLER (Marengo) - I am paired with Mr. McMillan of Wilcox; he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. WILLER (Wilcox) - I am paired with Mr. Wilson of Washington; I would vote no and he would vote aye.

MR. OATES - I am paired with Mr. Morrisette ; he would vote no and I would vote aye.

MR. PALMER - I am paired with Mr. Wilson of Clarke; if he were here he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. SOLLIE - I am paired with my law partner, Mr. Kirkland of Dale: he would vote aye and I would vote no.

MR. CHAPMAN - I have some doubt as to the propriety of voting. I would not like to be put in the position of even allowing an intimation that I had broken a pair.

THE PRESIDENT - The gentleman can recall his vote.

MR. CHAPMAN - I would prefer to recall it rather than be put in the position of violating a pair.

MR. WILLIAMS (Marengo) - I move the adoption of the section as reported by the committee, and on that I call for the previous question.

A vote being taken, the main question was ordered.

MR. BROWNE -- I desire to congratulate the gentleman from Jefferson (Mr. White) upon his fine display of parliamentary ability. For two days, the Committee on Taxation has graciously yielded in order that every member who was opposed to this reduction of taxation should be heard. The gentleman from Jefferson secured the floor, and, in order to cut off the right of the


1368

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

Committee on Taxation to be heard from, after the previous question  has been called, moves to lay the amendment and section upon the table.

MR. WHITE - I wish to say to the gentleman from Talladega that I had no such desire. My purpose was simply to get the other amendment from the table.

MR. BROWNE --- Then the gentleman pleads ignorance of the parliamentary result.

MR. WHITE - If you had made known that you wanted to debate it, I would haven withdrawn it instantly.

MR. BROWNE - I think, Mr. President, the gentleman was very wise in the course he pursued. which certainly, whether he intended it or not, would have  had the effect of cutting off any reply to his remarks.

Only a few days ago the gentleman stood upon this floor the champion of the farmers of the State of Alabama, pleading long and loud in order that the poor farmer might be saved the sum of $80,000, although by making that saving to the farmer, would destroy all the agricultural schools within the State of Alabama. Today we hear him speaking long and loud against relief to his own people in his own county, saying that this reduction would benefit them, but opposing it.

Mr. President, this tax reduction will be for the benefit not only of the manufacturing district of Jefferson County, but of the farmers of the whole State, and I do not see the consistency in the position of the gentleman from Jefferson who urged upon this floor the repeal of the fertilizer tax in order that he might save the poor farmers a few dollars, and, today, he resists a reduction that would give them an equal amount. He reminds me of the little boy who went fishing. He went out and bated him a cat pole, then went with some angle worms and threw his line in, and, bye and bye, got a tug and pulled out a whopping big trout, when, with a look of disappointment, he threw it back in the stream and said, "I am fishing for cat; I am not fishing for trout."

It would be impossible in an hour or two hours, to undertake to reply to the false argument that has been made upon this floor against this tax reduction, and the false estimates of figures. Let it be sufficient to say that estimates have been used upon the other side that are confessedly false. They are predicated upon the estimates made by the Auditor, upon the thirtieth day of last year, which the Auditor now admits to be wrong and erroneous by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In reply to the farmer from Wilcox, who recollects when he sold cotton at 3 1 - 2 cents a pound, and recollects that the effect of that low price was to reduce taxable values, I desire to say


1369

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

that the fear of the lowest price of cotton within the memory of was 1898, when it sold for 3 1 - 2 cents a pound. The gentleman said, as a matter of course, the taxable values would decrease in the next year. The Auditor's report shows, that in 1899 taxable values increased three million dollars. One gentlemen upon the floor the other day said the suffrage ordinance, if adopted, would decrease the poll tax $250,000. Well, all I have to say in answer to that is we only collect $150,000 of poll taxes, and that the colored people only pay about $35,000 of that. It is a well known fact, Mr. President, that a great many of the boys who do the voting, do not pay any poll tax. Young men, twenty - two to twentyfive years old, who are clerking in stores, or engaged in other occupations, but who have no property that necessitates their going before the tax assessor, do not go and hunt him up to give in their poll tax, but now it means disfranchisement if they do not assess their poll tax and pay it, and I contend that we will get a greater yield from that source for schools in the future than in the past.

Just one minute on the figures again.  Mr. President and gentlemen of the Convention, I hold in my hands the figures as made by Judge Cook, and upon which this committee predicted figures.  It is admitted that they are correct, but they have gone to guessing against the actual figures.  The gentleman from Montgomery, Mr. Watts, read a paper that somebody said had come from the Auditor's office in which he showed that under certain contingencies or possibilities we would not have collected but $2,540,000 this year.  As a matter of fact they had collected up to the eighteenth day of June $2,612,000.  The collections will be from that date to September thirtieth, if no larger than last year, $190,000.  Our estimate was that they would be at least $10,000 more, making the total this year $2,712,000, and all expenditures will be $2,754,000.  Deduct and we have a difference in round figures $59,000.  Add that to the actual cash balance in the treasury October 1,1901, of $620,000, and you have $679,000 in the treasury, upon the first day of October against which are chargeable a like amount of liabilities, but they are payable in October, November and December.  Now I have another estimate—

MR. ASHCRAFT - Will the gentleman permit me to ask him a question?

MR. BROWNE - No sir, I have not the time. The total amount paid into the treasury during last October, November, December and January was $1,276,000. The total payments during October, November, December and January last were $1,247,000, showing that the receipts during those months were about $30,000 in excess of the disbursements. Did they decrease the $620,000 cash balance? By no means, but in that time they added


1370

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

about $30,000 more to it. Again, in 1895, upon the first day of October, there was a cash balance in the treasury of only $11,000. On the first day of October 1900, there was in the treasury $620000. A gain of $609,000.

Again, on the first day of July, two years ago, there was in the treasury, when the July interest upon the bonds had been paid, only $333,000. Today there is $902,000 in the treasury and the July interest long since paid. We are not gaining?  We cannot comply with our promises to the people toy reduce taxes, if practicable, when we are gaining in July cash in treasury $330,000 a year upon an average ?

No one has shown anything to controvert the figures or the estimates made by this committee. I say to you, Mr. President and gentlemen on this floor, if this report had been made by some other committee, and that statement had been made, and I had had doubts upon the subject, and had heard the able men who have opposed this measure make the kind of speeches they have made, and fail to pick any flaw in these figures, that doubt would have been entirely removed.

MR. WADDELL - May I ask the gentleman a question.

MR. BROWNE- No sir. You have not been able to show anything.  Your fears are at the bottom of the whole thing.  You fear you will not be able to build a magnificent Capitol, a Governor's mansion and buy these shacks south of here.  You fear your school teachers. You are friends of the schools, and are afraid you will not be able to pile up a large surplus and appropriate it to the public schools from the general fund of Alabama, when it is a well known fact to every one, or ought to be, that for every dollar you take from the people you swipe about fifteen cents off before it goes back to them, and then force them to divide it with a non tax paying race.  Tell me that we must relegate this matter to the Legislature?  Then why did the Democratic party put it in its platform?  I for one do not agree with those newspapers that say that was done only for the purpose of winning votes.  No man can pledge me for that purpose.  If I go upon a platform, and that platform has pledged those who stand upon it to a course of action, I will follow that course of action or get down off of the platform.  The charge has been made by able gentlemen, the charge has been made by my personal friends, and I know that they do not mean it, that we were in the attitude of members of the Legislature, who wanted to cut down the taxes and go back home and say "Ain't I a statesman, I saved you some money." The gentleman who said it did not mean it. We are simply undertaking to do our duty, under the instructions of this body, and the people, who sent us here.

Now, Mr. President, I desire simply to say this in conclusion. If any man upon this floor who is opposed to the report of


1371

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

the Committee could have found one figure wrong in this statement, could have cast one doubt upon it, I would have been the first man to say "for Heaven's sake don't let me, or my Committee, be the instrument by which the State of Alabama would become a defaulter."  As I knew that gentleman after gentleman was going to get up and attack these figures, I spent night after night and day after day, going over them, all of them, the ones made by the Auditor's office, and the ones made by me, and I never found but one mistake and that was a mistake of $20 made in the Auditor's office.

Mr. President, I have nothing more to say.

THE PRESIDENT The motion is to adopt the motion as reported by the Committee.

The motion was carried the Section adopted.

Section 5 was read as follows:

Sec. 5. No county in this State shall be authorized to levy a larger rate of taxation in any one year, on the value of the taxable property therein, than 1-2 to 1 per centum. Provided, that to pay debts existing at the ratification of the Constitution of 1875, an additional rate of 1-4 of 1 per centum may be levied and collected, which shall be exclusively appropriated to the payment of such debts or the interest thereon, provided, further, that to pay any debt or liability now existing against any county, incurred for the erection , construction and maintenance of the necessary public buildings, or bridges or that may hereafter be created for the erection of necessary public buildings, bridges or roads, any county may levy and collect such special taxes not to exceed a rate of 1-4 to 1 per centum as may be authorized by law, which taxes so levied and collected shall be applied exclusively to the purposes, for which the same were so levied and collected; provided further, that for the maintenance of public schools any county may levy and collect such special tax as may be authorized by law; provided such special tax, the time it is to continue and the purposes thereof shall have been first submitted to a vote of the property tax payers who are qualified electors in said county, and voted for my a majority thereof in numbers, and in value of taxable property, voting at such election; provided that the rate of such special tax for maintenance of public schools shall not increase the rate of taxation in any one year to more than $1.25 on every $100.00 worth of taxable property, for all State and county purposes, excluding any special tax for the erection, construction and maintenance of necessary public buildings, bridges and roads; and provided further, that such special tax for schools shall be apportioned equitably and paid to the public schools of such county, by the Court of County Commissioners or Board of Revenue thereof.


1372

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

MR. CUNNINGHAM (Jefferson) -- I desire to offer an amendment to that Section.

The amendment was read as follows:

Amend Section 5 by striking out in the fifteenth line the phrase, "property tax payers who are" and in the sixteenth and seventeenth lines the following words "in numbers and in value of taxable property."

MR. CUNNINGHAM (Jefferson) - When the Committee examined this report, there were two or three of us, possibly more, who did not approve of so much of the Committee's report as gave to property the right to vote in an election. We did not at the time, however, desire to embarrass the purposes of the Committee, and the objects that it had in view, by burdening it specially with a minority report, but we reserved the right, on the floor of the Convention, to offer the amendment that has been read at the Secretary's desk, and to which I desire briefly to call the attention of the Convention.

It will leave the Section to read like this, beginning in the twelfth line:

Provided further, that for the maintenance of public schools any county may levy and collect such special tax as may be authorized by law, provided such special tax, the time it is to continue and the purposes thereof, shall have been first submitted to a vote of the qualified electors in said county and voted for by a majority thereof voting at such election, provided that the rate of such special tax for maintenance of public schools shall not increase the rate of taxation in any one year to more—  "

In other words, it simply leaves it to the qualified electors of the county.

Now I have two purposes in offering this amendment. In the first place I will acknowledge the equity of the proposition that the property which pays the tax has an equitable right to vote upon the question, but I am fearful of the principle, Mr. President, of admitting the dollar to the right to vote. I believe it would be an innovation upon the established principles of the Party to which I have the honor to belong, and the fundamental principles of a Republican form of government. For that reason I am opposed to it as a matter of principle. In the second place, Mr. President, were it to be adopted, I cannot see very well how we could determine the fact as to how the property voted at these elections. I would either require a viva voce vote, or the ballots would have to be numbered. In either case it would result necessarily in a material change in the election laws of the State. I am heartily in favor of this tax. I am heartily in favor of local taxation for the public schools. I believe it to be to the best in-


1373

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

terest of the State of Alabama, and this was one of my reasons for supporting the Section which has just been adopted, but I believe, Mr. President, it would be too serious an innovation upon the established principles, usages and customs of this Republic and of the State of A1abanla to admit the dollar to vote in competition with man. For that reason I offer the amendment, and I am firm in the conviction and belief, that the property interests in the State can, in this, as in other particulars, rely upon the electorate, which we propose to purge, and to make pure, honorable, safe, conservative and patriotic, by suffrage regulations in this Convention. For these reasons, Mr. President, I hope the amendment will be adopted.

MR. BROWNE-  If the conditions all over the State of Alabama were the same as they are in my county, I would cheerfully agree to the amendment offered by the gentleman from Jefferson, but we must not forget that in making this Constitution we are making one for the whole State, for every county in the State, and that conditions are materially different in different counties.

The provision for school taxation incorporated in this Section is identical with the one incorporated in the Constitution of the State of Louisiana. It requires in that State a majority of the qualified electors who are tax payers in numbers, and in value of property, voting at an election. The provisions are exactly similar.

When this report was made it was said by some of the public press of Alabama that it was a most ridiculously absurd proposition. That in not a single county in Alabama would property vote this tax upon itself for the education of children. It may be that that sentiment found a lodgment with certain members of this body. But I wrote to the Superintendent of Education of  Louisiana, and I desire to read his letter upon this subject. I only asked him how the law worked, and if it was favored by the people; nothing else did I ask him. and he said:

"Our  State has local taxation for the schools, voted for by the people who are a majority in number and value of the property. Our school districts are either entire counties, cities, or small district,. Second, as a rule the voters do favor this special tax.' Third, I regard this special local tax as beneficial in its results."

Now in Texas they have a special school tax that can only be levied after having been voted for lay a two - thirds majority of the qualified electors who are property tax payers. That provision is not subject to the objection urged by the gentleman from Jefferson. The vote of the man who is worth $10,000 does not count for any more in Texas than the vote of the man who is only


1374

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

worth $100, but by requiring a two - thirds majority of all of the property tax payers you will readily see that, in the great majority of instances, before that tax can be imposed, a majority in value of all the property in the county must favor it. I would not object to so amending this law as to provide that it should be left to a vote of the property tax payers, who are qualified electors, and voted for by a two - thirds majority thereof. It seems to me such a provision would meet all of the objections urged by the gentleman from Jefferson, and still not be subject to the objection which would be raised by certain portions of the State of Alabama to the amendment proposed by him. There are counties possibly in the State of Alabama, where to allow a bare majority of the qualified electors to tax the property in that county for school purposes would almost amount to confiscation of property. That condition does not exist in North Alabama, but it does exist in parts of South Alabama and in order to make this law acceptable to all portions of the State of Alabama, I believe that it will be necessary to require it to be submitted to a vote of the qualified electors who are property holders.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - May I ask the gentleman a question ?

MR. BROWN E - Certainly.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - Does the gentleman know of any time in the history of Alabama, or of any Southern State, when property has been allowed to vote or when a man has been allowed to vote in proportion to his holdings of property?

MR. BROWNE - Had the gentleman been listening he would have heard my remarks a few minutes ago, when I said in Louisiana they have a provision that before this tax is levied-

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - I heard the gentleman's remarks as to the Louisiana special tax, but I ask the gentleman if he has ever known where a man has been allowed to number his votes according to the amount of property he owns, in any Southern State?

MR. BROWNE - In Louisiana they do it, when it is voting a tax upon the property, a voluntary tax, or a voluntary contribution, through governmental agencies, for schools.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - May I ask the gentleman another question ?

MR. BROWNE - Yes.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - In reference to this section, I understand you desire to make an explanation of this section.

MR. BROWNE - That is what I was undertaking to do.


1375

CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION, 1901

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) --- In connection with the amendment I would like to ask another question. This section, as I understand it, provides that before a special school tax can be levied in a county, it must be submitted to all the qualified voters of the County, does it not?

MR. BROWNE- Who are the property tax payers.

MR. LOWE- Now, for instance, in Jefferson County, before the tax could be levied for a school fund for Jefferson County, the voters in the city of Birmingham and Bessemer, in Pratt City, in Woodlawn, and in the other special school districts there, would be required to vote upon that question, would they not?

MR. BROWNE - I should think so, yes.

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - I ask the gentleman another question. Is that all the hope you hold out to the country people for a special school fund under this special tax? If there is anything else in it, I would like to have the suggestion?

MR. BROWNE- The gentleman must have been reading the editorials upon this Tax Committee in The Age - Herald for the last two weeks - -

MR. LOWE (Jefferson) - I am reading the report of the Committee now, to see if there is anything in it that I have not read.

MR. BROWNE- In this provision we are still holding steadfastly to the pledges we have made to the people that we would not increase the taxes. This provision is to the effect that the county can vote any tax that may be authorized by law, provided it shall not go beyond the present constitutional limitation. Now as we have lowered the tax rate from seventy - five to sixty - five, the county can only take one mill, or ten cents on the hundred dollars. Should the Legislature in the future, as I confidently think they will, see they can get along with less than sixty - five, and take only sixty, the county can levy fifteen for school purposes, which would be in addition to what they now receive.

In answer to the gentleman's suggestion. if this is all we can do for these little children, I want to say to him, and to other gentlemen who have paraded the bare - footed children before this body, that they are not the only persons whose hearts are touched by the glad songs the little children sing. It is a slander upon the fair name of Alabama to say that this State is doing less for the school children than any other State. We have before us frequently discussions in the newspapers, and they say look what Georgia is doing for her school children, and then look what a pitiful little sum Alabama gives? I tell you Alabama gives more to the schools than does Georgia in proportion to the taxable value of all the property. I have corresponded with every Super-


1376

OFFICIAL PROCEEDINGS

intendent of Education in the United States, and with very rare exceptions Alabama is doing as much for the schools, according to her taxable property, as any other State in the Union. We well know that under the present system that has been defended upon this floor, and has been defended in the lobby, that we are engaged in the farcical performance of taking money from the people, taking out a big swipe, and sending back from eighty to eighty - five per cent of it, and forcing them to divide it with a nontax paying race, when they do not use it for education. There is no use to mince words. There are counties in the State of Alabama that get large sums of money from the general fund, that do not spend it for schools. When they have deducted for the colored children, there is enough to divide around among the white people, and they do divide it. They do not pay it to the schools, but those white people send their children off to schools. Now that has been condemned in some portions of the State but that is all wrong. That is not deserving of condemnation. It is the system that is at fault. If you take from Lowndes county thousands upon thousands of dollars, and then give it back to her for school purposes. and she does not need it, there is no reason why we ought to keep it and not return it. We pay that money out per capita, because it is paid by them. Under the present system, the State of Alabama ought never to give one other dollar from her general fund to the schools, but they should leave it in the counties to be appropriated equitably among the schools in their own counties.

The hour of five having arrived, the Convention adjourned until tomorrow morning.

_____________