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of two per cent, on all incomes in excess of $4,000. During the uivil war a similar tax was levied, but it was deemed an emergency tax, was exacted for only a brief while, and after the return of peace, the unexpended proceeds of the tax were refunded to the States. Such a tax had ever met with the bitterest hostility of the Democrats, who refused to justify it even as a war measure. It had never found favorable mention in any Democratic I platform. There was no open evidence anywhere that the party had undergone a change of heart respecting this kind of taxation. The only platform of any party, in 1892, that contained a favorable mention of such a tax was the Populist platform, adopted at Omaha, in which the demand was for "a graduated income tax."
It was charged that this furnished the reason for the incorporation of the income tax clauses in the Wilson Tariff bill, and that the demand for its insertion by those who had proved such willing and profitable allies of the Democrats in 1892 could not be denied, and this especially since the demand proved pleasing to the South, where the blending of Populistic and Democratic doctrines was such as to obscure the political identity of both. In the after discussion of the bill, especially in the Senate, the Populist members laid bold claim to the fathership of this income tax feature, a claim which was not denied. It was therefore a concession to this new and helpful political element, though a wide departure from the recognized principles of Democracy, and a reflection on its record aa spread abroad in convention, legislative hall andin the bustings. Its one justification by those who fathered it, was that the rich were not bearing their full share of taxation. To this argument, those who introduced it into the tariff added another, to the effect that it was a necessity because the tariff bill as then framed would fail to raise sufficient revenue to meet the wants of the Government. It is needless to say that this argument struck the minds of economists and statesmen as somewhat remarkable, since the underlying principle of the Wilson bill was to substitute a revenue tariff for a protective one; and since in the introduction and establishment of a principle so momentous and a doctrine so cardinal, the one central feature of the bill, the revenue feature, should be so faulty us to wring a confession in advance that it was a failure.
The heading of the Wilson Tariff bill was " A bill to reduce taxation, provide revenue for the government and for other purposes." Mr. Wilson presented the bill in the House with a speech, in which he justified the departure indicated by the bill, by the doctrine that protection was opposed to the instincts of a free and prosperous people, that paternalism had proven harmful in widening the gap between labor and capital, and in favoring the classes at the expense of the masses. Passing over and explaining the various schedules, he asked for the measure that support which his party was bound to give if it expected to redeem its pledges to the people.
The parliamentary struggle over the bill now began. It was to be a prolonged contention. While Mr. Wilson in his introductory speech had sounded the keynote of argument, and had the administration at his back, and therefore presumably his party at his back, it became apparent at an early day that the bill contained inherent weaknesses which might force its material modification and greatly postpone its passage. It was not such a bill as out and out free traders had demanded and expected. It alarmed conservative Democrats who found their home interests threatened by it. It became an object of persistent and merciless attack by Republicans, who condemned it more for its glaring inconsistencies than for its general aim. As was facetiously stated at the time, it was a bill which met the views of but few of its friends, yet to which all subscribed under the plea that party necessity compelled its support without regard to its intrinsic merits.
The question of its passage in the House, therefore, became one of holding the party together, of keeping up a daily quorum, and of forcing issues as they arose. The rules of the House had been made exceedingly strong for this purpose, and the rulings of the speaker strenuous. Yet with all this it made difficult and tardy headway. Interest flagged as the debates progressed, and it became possible for the opposition, by refusing to help the majority to keep up a quorum, to check all progress. This brought about a change of rules, and the adoption of that principle of counting a quorum which the Republicans had adopted in the Fifty-first Congress, and which the Democrats had then so bitterly opposed.
Thus fortified, and with the idea more dominant than ever that the bill was a party necessity, it moved more rapidly toward passage. Few opportunities for amendment were given, though amendments were offered in great numbers. The heavy, dangerous end of the bill was its income tax feature. This was teriffically attacked by the Republicans as giving to the bill a sectional and revengeful turn, and as being at odds with all ideas of justice and a discouragement to frugality. It was as powerfully attacked by an able Democratic contingent, whose hostility, however, was rendered innocuous by the fact that in the end the}' would vote for it.
After nearly two months of discussion in the House, the bill was passed, February 1st, 1894, by a large and almost strictly party majority, augmented by the Populist strength. The vote stood 204 for, and 140 against it, seventeen of the latter being Democrats. The dominant forces had been well kept together during the struggle, and the passage of the bill was heralded as a signal victory for Mr. Cleveland's administration.
It was now ready for the Senate, and the great problem was how it would fare in a body of conservative tendencies and where the Democratic majority was meagre. Once in the Senate, it passed into the hands of the Finance Committee, and was immediately referred to a subcommittee composed of Senators Mills of Texas, Jones of Arkansas and Vest of Missouri. The bill had been bitterly denounced by the Republicans in the House as the boldest stride toward free trade taken since the celebrated Walker Tariff Act of 1846, as a sectional bill framed in the interests of the South and containing a cruel and unnecessary blow at the wealth and industry of the North, and as utterly ruinous to American prosperity. If this were so, it was surely now in the hands of its real friends, for the subcommittee which had it in charge, represented three contiguous southern States, neither of which had large commercial or manufacturing interests at stake. The committee evidently knew for what it had been chosen, for it went about its work in earnest, but in a way which soon led to loud public censure. It refused hearings to manufacturing interests where they were confidently expected and had been usually granted, on the plea that such hearings would lead to waste of time and indefinite postponement of conclusions. It attempted to remedy this defective method of procedure by sending out circulars inviting opinions as to the effect of changes in rates of duty, but the complaint was still general, that answers, which could not be satisfactorily framed in this way, were treated with indifference or wholly ignored.
After a period of suspense, which was greatly intensified by the prostrated condition of the country, an outline of such bill as the Finance Committee had agreed to report was tentatively submitted to the Senate. It immediately drew the fierce fire of the Republicans, and after one or two tests of strength, it was seen that further attempt to push the measure would prove a failure. While it was not directly recalled, the Committee gave it out that it had a more complete and satisfactory measure in reserve. When this was forthcoming it proved to be a revelation and sensation. It was no longer the Wilson bill as it had passed the House, and hardly a semblance of it, for it had been disfigured and transformed by more than four hundred amendments.
Why and how these amendments came to be made— amendments sufficient in number to constitute a new bill— can never be historically explained; yet it may be truthfully said that so far as conservative Democrats were concerned, they urged the importance of such concessions as would insure the speedy passage of the bill and give the country relief. These concessions were not only for reasons existing within the party, but for the purpose of modifying the ferocity of the Republican attack. Interests that had at first been denied a hearing were considered, and ntany of them obtained concessions that were of great value, if not entirely satisfactory. Several articles, such as coal, etc., which had found a place in the free list, were turned back to the dutiable list, every such change being a departure from the spirit of the original bill, and tending to make it more confused and anomalous