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produce this article if we will raise the duties. But why is it not produced now; or why, at least, have we not seen some specimens? for the present is a very high duty, when expenses of importation are added. Hemp was purchased at St. Petersburg, last year, at $101 67 per ton. Charges attending shipment, &c. $14 25. Freight may be stated at $30 per ton, and our existing duty is $30 more. These three last sums, being the charges of transportation, amount to a protection of near 75 per cent. in favor of the home manufacturer, if there were any such. And we ought to consider, also, that the price of hemp at St. Petersburg is increased by all the expense of transportation from the place of growth to that port; so that probably the whole cost of transportation, from the place of growth to our market, including our duty, is equal to the first cost of the article; or, in other words, is a protection in favor of our own product of 100 per cent.
And since it is stated that we have great quantities of fine land for the production of hemp, of which I have no doubt, the question recurs, why is it not produced? I speak of the water rotted hemp, for it is admitted that that which is dew rotted is not sufficiently good for the requisite purposes. I cannot say whether the cause be in climate, in the process of rotting, or what else, but the fact is certain, that there is no American water rotted hemp in the market.
We are acting, therefore, upon a hypothesis. Is it not reasonable that those who say that they can produce the article, shall at least prove the truth of that allegation before new taxes are laid on those who use the foreign commodity? Suppose this bill passes: the price of hemp is immediately raised $ 14 80 per ton, and this burden falls immediately on the ship builder; and no part of it, for the present, will go for the benefit of the American grower, because he has none of the article that can be used, nor is it expected that much of it will be produced for a considerable time. Still the tax takes effect upon the imported article; and the ship owners, to enable the Kentucky farmer to receive an additional $ 14 on his ton of hemp, whenever he may be able to raise and manufacture it, pay, in the meantime, an equal sum per ton into the Treasury on all the imported hemp which they are still obliged to use; and this is called “protection!” * Is this just or fair? A particular interest is here burdened, not only for the benefit of another particular interest, but burdened also beyond that, for the benefit of the Treasury. It is said to be important for the country that this article should be raised in it; then, let the country bear the expense, and pay the bounty. If it be for the good of the whole, let the sacrifice be made by the whole, and not by a part. If it be thought useful and necessary, from political considerations, to encourage the growth and manufacture of hemp, government has abundant means of doing it. It might give a direct bounty, and such a measure would, at least, distribute the burden equally; or, as government itself is a great consumer of this article, it might stipulate to confine its own purchases to the home product, so soon as it should be shown to be of the proper quality. I see no objection to this proceeding, if it be thought to be an object to encourage the production. It might easily, and perhaps properly, be provided, by law, that the Navy should be supplied with American hemp, the quality being
good, at any price not exceeding, by more than a given amount, the current price of foreign hemp in our market. Everything conspires to render some such course preferable to the one now proposed. The encouragement in that way would be ample, and, if the experiment should succeed, the whole object would be gained; and if it should fail, no considerable loss or evil would be felt by any one.
I stated, some days ago, and I wish to renew the statement, what was the amount of the proposed augmentation of the duties on iron and hemp, in the cost of a vessel. Take the case of a common ship, of 300 tons, not coppered, nor copper fastened. It would stand thus, by the present duties:
141 Tons of iron, for hull, rigging, and anchors, at $ 15 per ton
$ 217 50 10 Tons of hemp, at $ 30
300 00 40 Bolts Russia duck, at $ 2
80 00 20 Bolts Ravens duck, at $ 1 25
25 00 On articles of ship chandlery, cabin furniture, hardware, &c. 40 00
$ 662 50 The bill proposes to add: $ 7 40 per ton on iron, which will be
$ 107 30 $ 14 80 per ton on hemp, equal to
148 00 And on duck, by the late amendment of the bill, say 25 per cent
$ 280 30
But, to the duties on iron and hemp, should be added those paid on copper, whenever that article is used. . By the statement which I furnished the other day, it appeared that the duties received by government, on articles used in the construction of a vessel of 359 tons, with copper fastenings, amounted to $ 1056.
With the augmentations of this Bill, they would be equal to $ 1400. Now, I cannot but flatter myself, Mr. Chairman, that, before the committee will consent to this new burden upon the shipping interest, it will very deliberately weigh the probable consequences. I would again urgently solicit its attention to the condition of that interest. We are told that Government has protected it, by discriminating duties, and by an exclusive right to the coasting trade. But it would retain the coasting trade, by its own natural efforts, in like manner, and with more certainty, than it now retains any portion of foreign trade. The discriminating duties are now abolished, and while they existed, they were nothing more than countervailing measures; not so much designed to give our navigation an advantage over that of other nations, as to put it upon an equality; and we have, accordingly, abolished ours, when they have been willing to abolish theirs. Look to the rate of freights. Were they ever lower, or even so low? I ask gentlemen who know, whether the harbor of Charleston, and the river of Savannah, be not crowded with ships seeking employment, and finding none? I would ask the gentlemen from New Orleans,
if their magnificent Mississippi does not exhibit, for furlongs, a forest of masts? The condition, sir, of the shipping interest is not that of those who are insisting on high profits, or struggling for monopoly; but it is the condition of men content with the smallest earnings, and anxious for their bread. The freight of cotton has formerly been three pence sterling, from Charleston to Liverpool, in time of peace. It is now I know not what, or how many, fractions of a penny; I think, however, it is stated at five-eighths. The producers, then, of this great staple, are able, by means of this navigation, to send it, for a cent a pound, from their own doors to the best market in the world.
Mr. Chairman, I will now only remind the committee that, while we are proposing to add new burdens to the shipping interest, a very different line of policy is followed by our great commercial and maritime rival. It seems to be announced as the sentiment of the Government of England, and undoubtedly it is its real sentiment, that the first of all manufactures is the manufacture of ships. A constant and wakeful attention is paid to this interest, and very important regulations, favorable to it, have been adopted within the last year, some of which I will beg leave to refer to, with the hope of exciting the notice, not only of the committee, but of all others who may feel, as I do, a deep interest in this subject. In the first place, a general amendment has taken place in the register acts, introducing many new provisions, and, among others, the following:
A direct mortgage of the interest of a ship is allowed, without subjecting the niortgagee to the responsibility of an owner.
The proportion of interest held by each owner is exhibited in the register, thereby facilitating both sales and mortgages, and giving a new value to shipping among the moneyed classes.
Shares, in the ships of copartnerships, may be registered as joint property, and subject to the same rules as other partnership effects.
Ships may be registered in the name of trustees, for the benefit of joint stock companies; and many other regulations are adopted with the same general view of rendering the mode of holding the property as convenient and as favorable as possible.
By another act, British registered vessels, of every description, are allowed to enter into the general and the coasting trade in the India seas, and may now trade to and from India, with any part of the world, except China.
By a third, all limitations and restrictions, as to latitude and longitude, are removed from ships engaged in the Southern whale fishery. These regulations, I presume, have not been made without first ol)taining the consent of the East India Company; so true is it found, that real encouragement of enterprise oftener consists, in our days, in restraining or buying off monopolies and prohibitions, than in imposing or extending them.
The trade with Ireland is turned into a free coasting trade; light duties have been reduced, and various other beneficial arrangements made, and still others proposed. I might add, that, in favor of general commerce, and as showing their confidence in the principles of liberal intercourse, the British government has perfected the warehouse system, and authorised a reciprocity of duties with foreign states, at the discretion of the Privy Council.
This, sir, is the attention which our great rival is paying to these important subjects, and we may assure ourselves that, if we do not keep alive a proper sense of our own interests, she will not only beat us, but will deserve to beat us.
Sir, I will detain you no longer. There are some parts of this Bill which I highly approve; there are others in which I should acquiesce; but those to which I have now stated my objections appear to me so destitute of all justice, so burdensome and so dangerous to that interest which has steadily enriched, gallantly defended, and proudly distinguished us, that nothing can prevail upon me to give it my support
Since the delivery of this Speech, an arrival has brought London papers containing the Speech of the English Chaneellor of the Exchequer, (Mr. Robinson,) on the 231 February last, in submitting to Parliament the Annual Financial Statement. The author hopes be may be pardoned for adding the followiny extract from that Speech, as showing, pretty clearly, whether he was right, in his representation of the prevailing sentiment, in the English Government, on the general subject of prohibitory laws, and on the silk manufacture, and the wool tax, particularly.
“ In the earlier part of what I have taken the liberty of adklressing to the Committee, I alluded to that portion of this question which refers to a more free and liberal system of policy in matters of trade. To this division of the subjert, I will now particularly invite attention. There are, as of course Honorable Gentlemen are aware, various branches of our commerce, loaded on the one hand with high duties upon the importation, and which, in an opposite direction, are encumbered with restrictions and prohibitions of differt og kinds. “Amongst these is the article of wool (Hear.) As the law now stands, (which, by the way, as far as duty is concerned, is of very recent establishment.) the duty is 60 per lb.; it was originally one penny. This daty was imposed in the year 1819, not at all, as has been often in my opinion, and indeed in the opinion also of my noble friend at the head of the Treasury, very inaccurately stated, for the purpose of protection, but merely with a view to the increase of the revenue. But the parties interested, and who sought the abrogation of this law, were always told: • You have no right to object to that duty, so long as you require that the produce of the British wool-grower should be confined to the consumption of this country,' (Hear.) It was never concealed, either in this House, or from the persons engaged in the trade; we constantly said, • If you will consent to the removal of that impolitic restriction, as we consider it, upon the export of British wool, we will propose in Parliament the repeal of the duty.' The discussion of this subject led to a good deal of communication, in the last year, with the manufacturing interests, in different parts of the country : they held meetings, at which various resolutions were adopted: as may be supposedl, it was found in the result, that there existed a discordance of opinion on the question at issue. Some were disposed to think that the repeal of the duty would be less of a benefit to thein, than the removal of the restriction would be an evil; they were therefore desirous that the matter should be left just as it stands, and that no alteration should be maile ; they were anxious indeed to get rid of the duty, but not at the expense of the loss of the prottetion they imagined the restriction aftorded them. Undoubtedly, however, a majority, I may say a decided majority, of the interests concerned in the woollen trade, were of opinion, that it would be beneficial to them to accede to that sort of compromise, that the duty shoult be repealed, anu a free export of the article permitted. I confess, on the best and most deliberaie view I have been able to take of the stibject, I cannot see what reasonable objecting there can be to adopt such a plan. (Hear, hear.) Certainly, a part of the plan 1 shall submit to Parliament, will be, to reduce the duty on foreiyn wool, from 6d. per pound, which it is at present, to 1l. per pound, as it was originally before the bill of 1819.' I shall then recommend that British wool be allowed to be exported, on the payment of a small duty of 1d. also, to put them upon a level, and to keep the balance even between the two. Thus shall we sucep away needless, and, as I think, injurious statutes of restriction, and not
merely those, but penalties, oaths, and Heaven knows what besides. (Hear, hear.) All of these are exceedingly inconvenient, and, what is more, they do no possible good. Thus, the whole trade will be put upon a footing, which, I am quite confident, will turn out to be most beneficial to both parties--the grower of British wool and the manufacturer of the foreign article On that matter I feel none of the apprehensions which at times have been expressed by both parties. I am satisfied that the consequence of the change will be a great extension of our woollen trade to every quarter of the world; and it is beyond my comprehension to imagine how such a state of things can be otherwise than advantageous to those who sell the raw material—(Hear!)—therefore I see nothing but good to result from the repeal of the duty, and the removal of the restriction; and I hope that, in endeavouring to accomplish this object, I shall be supported by the House. (Much cheering.) The loss I anticipate to the revenue from such a proceeding, is 350,000/. per annum. The next item to which I shall call the attention of the Committee, is one which, I own, appears to be of paramount importance in this view of the subject. I mean in that view of the sulject which relates to the removal of restrictions. I allude to the item of silk. (Hear.) This trade is thus circumstanceil: there is a very high duty on the raw material, and a positive prohibition of the consumption of the foreign manufactured article. I will, with the leave of the Committee, take the latter first ; and, in the outset, I should wish to ask, where is the advantage of retaining the prohibitory system. (Hear, hear.) Where is the advantage of retaining it, looking at it either with reference to our intercourse with other nations, or with reference to our own domestic interests? (Hear.) For some years past there has certainly prevailed in this country, among its ablest statesmen and our most eminent writers, I shonki
say, indeed, among all men of sense and reflection, a decided conviction that the naintenance of this prohibitory system is exceedingly impolitic. We have recently made a certain progress towards the removal of the evil. Are we to stop short? If we do stop short, what will foreign nations say, and justly say, of our conduct? Will they not say, that, though we profess liberality, we hate it in our hearts ? that we have been endeavour. ing to cajole them to admit our own manufactures into their territories, while we continue rigidly by every means in our power, and by adhering closely to an antiquated system, to exclu le theirs ? When our practice is so at variance with our professions, it is impossible that they should give any credit to our assertions. Whenever a foreign state imposes a new duty on any of our manufactures, my right honorable friend, the President of the Board of Trade, is assaulted by representations from all quarters; instant measures are to be adopted to get the duty removed, and we are to remonstrate with the foreigo power against its continuance. What would be the consequence? Our Ambassador is instructed to state to the foreign court at which he resides, that the new duty imposed is very injurious to British interesis, and is viewed by this country in an unfriendly light. The answer of the foreign minister of course must be— It may be so; we cannot help it; for how can we admit your goods, if you do not admit ours?' With such a reply, the British Ambassador must make his bow and retire, discomfited and ashamed; and I defy the ingenuity of man to invent an argument to refute the powerful argumentum ad hominem of the foreign minister. Other countries must conclude that we are only attempting to delude them; that it is all pretence and hypocrisy on our part; and that we do not really believe that there is practical soundness in the principles we abstractedly recominend. I myself am well satisfied of the practical soundness of those principles, and that we ought to take the first opportunity of adopting them. (Ilear, hear) There never was so favorable an opportunity as the present for carrying our principles into effect, and for inviting foreign powers to act in accordance with them. Let us invite them to join with us in cutting the cords that lie down commerce to the earth, that it may soar aloft, uncontined and unrestricted. (Hear, hear.) If ever an opportunity for accomplishing this great good was attorded, it is the moment when I am speaking-and for God's sake let us embrace it. Are not our manufactures now in a state of universal activity? Is not everything in a condition of improvement? And is not capital in eager search of the means by which it may be profitably expended ? (Hear, hear.) We have thus the finest opportunity for emancipating ourselves from ancient prejudices, and for making a new start in the race of wealth and prosperity. (Hear, hear.) On these grounds I am anxious to propose the adoption of this liberal system. But give me leave to ask, if there are not many others independent of those merely of a commercial nature, which strongly support it?' In the first place, is it not perfectly well known, that, after all, these prohibitions, guard them and fence them with laws as you will, are, in point of fact evaded. (Hear, hear.) I remember, and I dare say many others have not forgotten, when the Hon. Member for Aberdeen, last year, even in this place, produced his Bandana handkerchief: he triumphantly unfurled the standard of smuggling; le hoisted, as it were, the colors of opposition to the Government and its laws, and having complacently blown his nose upon them, he returned them to his pocket. (Cheering and laughter.) He might not know at the time, though I reminded him of it afterwards, that there was not a gentleman near him at the tiine who had not a right to take possession of that handkerchief and export it to a foreign country. (Hear.) I mention this fact only as a strong practical illustration of the utter impossibility of carrying these prohibitions into complete effect. Everybody who