Almy v. California (1860)
In Almy v. California (1860) 65 U.S. 169, a stamp duty was imposed by the legislature upon bills of lading, for gold or silver transported from that State to any port or place out of the State.The Supreme Court held that a duty on a bill of lading was the same thing as a duty on the article which it represented.
That case involved the validity of a stamp tax imposed in California on all bills of lading for the shipment of gold from California to a point without the State.
The particular bill of lading which was in question was for the shipment of gold from California to New York.
It was held that this stamp tax was at least an indirect burden on exports, and hence was void, because an export tax within the meaning of the Constitution.
It was decided that a state stamp tax on bills of lading was void, the Supreme Court said:
"We think this case cannot be distinguished from that of Brown v. Maryland. That case was decided in 1827, and the decision has always been regarded and followed as the true construction of the clause of the Constitution now in question. . . . The opinion of the court, delivered by Chief Justice Marshall, shows that it the case was carefully and fully considered by the court. And the court decided that this state law (the Maryland law under consideration in Brown v. Maryland), was a tax on imports, and the mode of imposing it, by giving it the form of a tax on the occupation of the importer, merely varied the form in which the tax was imposed, without varying the substance."
In sum, in Almy v. State of California, a statute of California imposing a stamp duty upon bills of lading for gold or silver transported from that State to any port or place out of the State was held to be a tax on exports, in violation of the provision of the Constitution declaring that "no tax or duty shall be laid on articles exported from any State."