Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 1.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To William S. Wait [1]

Mr. William S. Wait: Vandalia, March 2. 1839

Sir: Your favour of yesterday was handed me by Mr. Dale. [2] In relation to the Revenue law, I think there is something [to] be feared from the argument you suggest, though I hope the danger is not as you apprehend. The passage of a Revenue law at this session, is right within itself; and I never despair of sustaining myself before the people upon any measure that will stand a full investigation. I presume I hardly need enter into an argumentPage  148 to prove to you, that our old revenue system, raising, as it did, all the state revenue from non-resident lands, and those lands rapidly decreasing, by passing into the hands of resident owners, whiles the wants of the Treasury were increasing with the increase of population, could not longer continue to answer the purpose of it's creation. That proposition is little less than self-evident. The only question is as to sustaining the change before the people. I believe it can be sustained, because it does not increase the tax upon the ``many poor'' but upon the ``wealthy few'' by taxing the land that is worth $50 or $100 per acre, in proportion to its value, insted of, as heretofore, no more than that which was worth but $5 per acre. This valuable land, as is well known, belongs, not to the poor, but to the wealthy citizen.

On the other hand, the wealthy can not justly complain, because the change is equitable within itself, and also a sine qua non to a compliance with the Constitution. If, however, the wealthy should, regardless of the justness of the complaint, as men often are, when interest is involved in the question, complain of the change, it is still to be remembered, that they are not sufficiently numerous to carry the elections. Verry Respectfully A. LINCOLN


[1]   ALS, owned by Mrs. Frank Davis, Hookdale, Illinois. William S. Wait was a prominent Democrat of Bond County.

[2]   Michael G. Dale, also of Bond County.