income is therefore more expedient. The difference between the two must be at least 25 per cent., but under existing circumstances and for the purpose of an estimate it would be prudent to disregard the difference and assume that the returns of gross income will be about equal to the averaginterest. It is believed that even the proceeds of skill, speculation, and labor, which may be returned where no capital is involved, will not materially vary the result. The estimate formerly made to Congress of the value of all the property in the eleven Confederate States in which taxes have been collected was $4,632,000,000. If we leave out the odd numbers in these figures on account of such property as is now beyond the reach of taxation and for other contingencies, we have in round numbers $4,000,000,000. The average of interest in the Confederate States may be set down at 7 per cent., which would make the total income equal to, say, $280,000,000. A tax of 10 per cent. on this sum would produce in the gross about $28,000,000, and this, added to the property tax of $35,000,000, would raise a sum total of $63,000,000, or in round numbers $60,000,000 after deducting expenses and contingencies. It will probably be insisted that there is no occasion for the imposition of so heavy a tax, and many will contend that it is sufficient that the Government pay the interest alone of the public debt.
I ask leave most earnestly to dissent from this doctrine and to urge upon Congress a continuance of the policy already adopted by this Government of making portions of the public debt payable every six months after the probable termination of the war. The sinking funds devised by Mr. Pitt and the great statesmen of his time have proved deficient, not in principle, but in administration. The principle upon which they rest is the annual raising of an amount beyond the interest for the purpose of eventually discharging the principal. The punctual investment of these surplus sums at compound interest by the mere operation of numbers would be certain to discharge the debt in a given time. The failure of this plan in its effect upon the public debt of England arose from defects in its administration. As the invested fund increased in amount it offered constant temptation to the Government to make us party in power often preferred inventing pretexts to seize upon it or to court public favor by calling off unpopular taxes required for its increase rather than continue or augment those taxes. Besides, the neglect to make punctual investments as the interest accrued had a constant tendency to reduce compound interest to simple; and thus it was found impossible in a long course of years to preserve the fund inviolate or to maintain the constant supply from taxes, which the plan demanded. These defects are believed to be remedied by the plan upon which the $100,000,000 loan of this Government has been issued. It resembles the sinking-fund plan in requiring an annual surplus of taxes beyond the amount of interest on the public debt, but it differs from it in applying this surplus to the immediate reduction of principal. The machinery of a fund is dispensed with together with all its attendant officials. The best practical investment is made by paying off so much of the public debt, and the temptations and waste incident to a fund are avoided. The full benefit of a sinking fund is thus secured without its disadvantages. All that is required is the original adjustment of the payments of principal through an entire series of years and the steady determination of Congress to raise annually a fixed sum sufficient to make these payments in addition to the yearly interest. The number of years in which the debt will be paid will depend upon the