March 02, 1859 issue of the WEEKLY STANDARD (Raleigh, North Carolina)
   Transcribed and Posted by Myrtle Bridges January 31, 2003

In the House of Commons, on the 8th of Feb. 1859, on the bill requiring the County Courts of certain counties to tax all subjects embraced within the general revenue bill, for county purposes.
Mr. Speaker I did not intend to trespass upon the time of this House, but were I to remain silent and let 
this bill pass over my head, I would be false to myself, false to my constituents and false to my country. 
Sir, I am sent here by the freemen of Anson, to represent their interest,--to do that which will in my 
opinion best advance that interest, to do my duty faithfully and honestly. Sir, if in the discharge of what 
I conceive to be my duty to my people, I do wrong, trace it to the brain and not to the heart. This is a 
new proposition, the provisions of which as far as I know, never having been applied to any other counties, 
a proposition which should command the serious attention of every one within the sound of my voice. Sir, 
what does this bill propose? It asks you to delegate to the county courts along the line of the Wilmington, 
Charlotte and Rutherford railroad, power unlimited and unrestrained; it confers grants pienepotentiary, and 
stops not there, it makes this General Assembly issue its mandamus to these county courts, to levy a tax 
upon every article, every subject of taxation which comes within the provisions of the present revenue bill, 
or any other bill in force at the time of laying such tax, for the purpose of paying the principal and 
interest of bonds which have been issued or may be issued on account of subscriptions to said railroad. 
This road was chartered in 1854. In 1856, the Representatives along the line of this road, came to you and 
asked that this charter should be so amended as to give the counties, by and with consent of a majority of 
their voters, the right to subscribe to its capital stock. They asked this General Assembly to confer upon 
the county courts the power of laying taxes upon what? Not upon every subject of taxation which is embraced 
within the broad scope of this or any other revenue bill, but upon those subjects which are usually given 
to county courts. My friend from Richmond County [likely Oliver H. Dockery] very properly remarks that they 
now only have the right to tax land and poss. There was a provision in that amended charter, that the county 
courts should tax land and poll. With this understanding and with the law before them after having received 
the sanction of the people, they proceeded to make their subscriptions. Now sir, I would ask if it would not 
now be in bad faith to materially change one of those conditions, upon which this act was accepted, and upon 
which their subscriptions were predicated? Can you give the county courts the right to do an act upon a 
certain condition, and then, after the act is done alter that condition? In my opinion it is not right now 
to change the character of this grant, unless by the consent of the people. Do the people of my county want 
this change? If so, I have never heard it. I have never received any instructions from those who sent me here, 
and therefore must conclude that they do not want it. It is a move too important for me upon my own 
responsibility to force that upon them which I do not know they want. Sir, if I were to consult my own 
individual interest, this bill would certainly receive my support, for the reason that nine tenths of my 
estate consists in that property which is subject to taxation for this purpose. I would ask, Mr. Speaker, 
for whose benefit is this road made? What interest does it advance? What property does it benefit? Does it 
advance the interest of the merchant, the lawyer, the doctor, the dentist, the druggist? By this bill you 
must tax his total receipts and income. Does it benefit your watch, your old buggy, your old carriage? Yes. 
Does it benefit the mortgage deed which the unfortunate man is driven to the necessity of making to save 
his property from the grasp of the officer? Sir, all these subjects now come within the provisions of the 
revenue bill which has passed the House of Commons. No man knows what it will not reach. Sir, a few days 
ago, when this revenue bill was before this House, there was a grave proposition that all articles of produce 
that were taken out of the State by railroads should be subject to a tax. This was very ably advocated by 
some of the best talent of the House. Suppose, sir, that this provision should be incorporated in the next 
revenue bill, what effect would it have upon my county? Suppose that the Legislature should enact that all 
produce sold out of the State should pay a tax, what effect would it have upon the cotton bales of Anson? 
It stops not there. The county courts must tax it again. They can use no discretionary powers. They must 
do as the law directs. Sir, I would ask what interest does this road advance? Does it not advance the 
interest of the land and slave holder? Does it not enable him to transport his produce, to develop the 
resources of the country, to bring to light the hidden treasures of the earth? Sir, at the moderate 
calculation that the lands in my county are increased in value one dollar per acre, you have an appreciation 
more than double the amount of their subscription. These are facts incontrovertible. Look at the history of 
your central road-that road cost $4,000,000. Your worthy President, Mr. Fisher, in his recent report, says 
that the appreciation in real estate upon the line of this road has not been less than ten millions."Strike 
the road from existence, and before twelve months is value would fall more than ten millions." There is, 
Mr. Speaker, another view of this matter. By this bill you give the county courts unlimited power. You 
place as it were the sword in one hand and the purse in the other. They have more power than either branch 
of the General Assembly, for the reason that one is a check upon the other. Why, sir, I would ask, is it 
that your Senator in the other branch is required to possess and continue to possess three hundred acres 
of land in fee? Why is it that my friend is required to possess and continue to possess one hundred acres 
of land before he can represent his people in this body? It is because it was considered wise and safe by 
the framers of our fundamental law, that he should have an interest in that property which he proposes to 
tax. Land is the chief source from which our revenues are derived. It is and always has been looked upon 
as the basis upon which the government rests. Now sir, have the magistracy of the country, from whose 
tribunal there is no appeal, a common interest in all those subjects of taxation which are embraced within 
this bill> Is it not against the genius of our government? Is it not against the spirit of our fundament 
law, to confer upon men power unlimited to levy taxes upon all species of property in which there is not 
community of interest? Human nature is frail and subject to all the infirmities incident thereto. Sir, 
how can they act wisely and discreetly? This House has been two weeks engaged in trying to adjust differences, 
to reconcile conflicting claims and interests, to equalize taxation. The assembled wisdom of North Carolina 
is not able to do it. How then can you expect it from the magistracy of the country? I would not have you 
think I speak in disparagement of those of my county; far from it, I know them to be good and true men, 
but who may succeed them I do not know.

May 25, 1859 : Anson County has lost, within a few days, three from among its most valuable citizens. In our last we announced the deaths of Nelson P. Liles and Nathan Beverly. And now we have to add the loss of Walter R. Leak, Esq., President of the Bank of Wadesborough, who died, after a few days illness, at Terry's Landing, Arkansas, on the 5th inst. He was on a visit to friends and relations in that State, and the first intimation that many in North Carolina had of his death was on the arrival of his body at Wadesborough, for interment at home. He was one of the most respected and useful and influential citizens of the Pee Dee country, whose great sagacity and excellent good sense had secured him an ample fortune without deadening his feelings to the charities of life and the calls of the religion of which he was a worthy professor. His age was 47.

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