« PreviousContinue »
has been on some parts of the coast, has seen foreign vessels coming in from the neighbou. ing continent, and has, no doubt, often observed females step out of them, apparently of the most uncomfortable corpulency. In due time, and without any surgical aid, they were safely delivered of their burdens, and were restored to the natural slimness of their graceful figures. (Laughter.) Such I believe to be a very common practice; and there is, in fact, no end to the ingenuity of the devices to introduce contraband articles. Not ouly ingenuity is displayed, but fraud and crime--perjury, and every possible evil moral cunceylan é We all know, that crime begets crime; that, in whatever it may begin, a progenies rủiosior always springs up; Nemo repente fuit turpissimus ; and a man who begins as a smuggler will probably end as something much worse. Perhaps be smuggles in the first instance only with the innocent purpose of making a present to a female friend or relative; but when a man is accustomed to the violation of the law, he will not find it very difficult, by degrees, to go further. He finds that he cannot effect his object without concealmenthe takes a false oath, and becomes familiarized to that species of perjury. He cominences by presents ; then thinks he may turn the practice to pecuniary advantage ; he smuggles opin a larger scale ; he extends his adventures, and instead of gloves, shoes, or silks, he tries the experiment of more valuable articles. He makes money, and in time is induced to embark in more desperate and more criminal speculations. What is the consequence? You are obliged to keep up a nary to prevent contraband trade, a circumstance alluded to on a former night. Battle and bloodshed ensue—the loss of life, and perhaps deliberate murder. All this is very melancholy, and yet for what is it incurred ? Under the fanciful nation that it is for the interest of the silk manufacture of this country. Why, Lord bless me, sir, we know very well after all, that the British silk manufacture is so highly thought of abroad at this moment, that I believe, if a market were open where the goods of this king low should compete with those of any other, the British goods would drive all rivalship out of the field. (Hear, hear, hear.) If this be so, there is not the slightest pretence for saying that, to change the system, would be to injure our silk manufactures. Let us accompany it with a reduction of duty on the raw article, and there is not a foreign country that will mat be glad to take our manufactured silks. I, therefore, hope that the House will think it full time to throw down this hollow, gilded, and distorted idol of imaginary protection; to harl it from its base, and to establish on the same foundation the well-proportioned stalde of commercial liberty. (Hear, hear, hear.)”
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, ON THE TARIFF BILL.
MAY 9, 1828.
MR. PRESIDENT,_This subject is surrounded with embarrassments, on all sides. Of itself, however wisely or temperately treated, it is full of difficulties; and these difficulties have not been diminished by the particular frame of this bill, nor by the manner hitherto pursued of proceeding with it. A diversity of interests exist, or is supposed to exist, in different parts of the country. This is one source of difficulty. Different opinions are entertained as to the constitutional power of Congress; this is another. And then, again, different members of the Senate have instructions which they feel bound to obey, and which clash with one another. We have this morning seen an honorable member from New York, an important motion being under consideration, lay bis instructions on the table, and point to them, as his power of attorney and as containing the directions for his vote.
Those who intend to oppose this bill, under all circumstances, and in all or any forms, care not how objectionable it now is, or how bad it may be made. Others, finding their own leading objects satisfactorily secured by it, naturally enough press forward, without staying to consider, deliberately, how injuriously other interests may be affected. All these causes create embarrassments, and inspire just fears that a wise and useful result is hardly to be expected. There seems a strange disposition to run the hazard of extremes; and to forget, that in cases of this kind, measure, proportion, and degree are objects of inquiry, and the true rules of judgment. I have not had the slightest wish to discuss the measure; not believing that, in the present state of things, any good could be done by me, in that way. But the frequent declaration that this was altogether a New England measure, a bill for securing a monopoly to the capitalists of the north, and other expressions of a similar nature, have induced me to say a few words,
New England, sir, has not been a leader in this policy. On the contrary, she held back herself and tried to hold others back from it, from the adoption of the constitution to 1824. Up to 1324, she was accused of sinister and selfish designs, because she discountenanced the progress of this policy. It was laid to her charge, then, that having established her manufactures herself, she wished that others
should not have the power of rivalling her; and, for that reason, opposed all legislative encouragement. Under this angry denunciation against her, the act of 1824 passed. Now, the imputation is precisely of an opposite character. The present measure, is pronounced to be exclusively for the benefit of New England; to be brought forward by her agency, and designed to gratify the cupidity of her wealthy establishments.
Both charges, sir, are equally without the slightest foundation. The opinion of New England, up to 1824, was founded in the conviction that, on the whole, it was wisest and best, both for herself and others, that manufactures should make haste slowly. She felt a reluctance to trust great interests on the foundation of government patronage; for who could tell how long such patronage would last, or with what steadiness, skill, or perseverance it would continue to be granted? It is now nearly fifteen years since, among the first things which I ever ventured to say here, was the expression of a serious doubt whether this government was fitted, by its construction, to administer aid and protection to particular pursuits; whether, having called such pursuits into being by indications of its favor, it would not afterwards desert them, when troubles come upon them, and leave them to their fate. Whether this prediction, the result, certainly, of chance, and not of sagacity, will so soon be fulfilled, remains to be seen.
At the same time it is true, that from the very first commencement of the government, those who have administered its concerns have held a tone of encouragement and invitation towards those who should embark in manufactures. All the Presidents, I believe without exception, have concurred in this general sentiment; and the very first act of Congress, laying duties of import, adopted the then unusual expedient of a preamble, apparently for little other purpose than that of declaring, that the duties which it imposed were imposed for the encouragement and protection of manufactures. When, at the commencement of the late war, duties were doubled, we were told that we should find a mitigation of the weight of taxation, in the new aid and succour which would be thus afforded to our own manufacturing labor. Like argunents were urged, and prevailed, but not by the aid of New England votes, when the tariff was afterwards arranged, at the close of the war, in 1816. Finally, after a whole winter's deliberation, the act of 1824 received the sanction of both houses of Congress, and settled the policy of the country. What, then, was New England to do? She was fitted for manufacturing operations, by the amount and character of her population, by her capital, by the vigor and energy of her free labor, by the skill, economy, enterprise, and perseverance of her people. I repeat, What was she, under these circumstances, to do? A great and prosperous rival in her near neighbourhood, threatening to draw from her a part, perhaps a great part, of her foreign commerce: was she to use, or to neglect, those other means of seeking her own prosperity which belonged to her character and her condition? Was she to hold out, forever, against the course of the government, and see herself losing on one side, and yet make no effort to sustain herself on the other? No, sir. Nothing was left to New England, after
the act of 1824, but to conform herself to the will of others. Nothing was left to her, but to consider that the government had fixed and determined its own policy; and that policy was protection.
New England, poor, in some respects, in others, is as wealthy as her neighbours. Her soil would be held in low estimation, by those who are acquainted with the valley of the Mississippi and some of the meadows of the south. But in industry, in habits of labor, skill, and in accumulated capital, the fruit of two centuries of industry, she may be said to be rich. After this final declaration—this solemn promulgation of the policy of the government, I again ask, What was she to do? Was she to deny herself the use of her advantages, natural and acquired? Was she to content herself with useless regrets? Was she longer to resist, what she could no longer prevent? Or, was she, rather, to adapt her acts to her condition; and seeing the policy of the government thus settled and fixed, to accommodate to it, as well as she could, her own pursuits and her own industry? Every man will see that she had no option. Every man will confess that there remained for her but one course. She not only saw this herself, but had, all along, foreseen, that if the system of protecting manufactures should be adopted, she must go largely into them. I believe, sir, almost every man from New England who voted against the law of 1824, declared, that if, notwithstanding his opposition to that law, it should still pass, there would be no alternative but to consider the course and policy of the government as then settled and fixed, and to act accordingly. The law did pass; and a vast increase of investment in manufacturing establishments was the consequence. Those who made such investments, probably entertained not the slightest doubt that as much as was promised would be effectually granted; and that if, owing to any unforeseen occurrence, or untoward event, the benefit designed by the law, to any branch of manufactures, should not be realized, it would furnish a fair case for the consideration of government. Certainly, they could not expect, after what had passed, that interests of great magnitude would be left at the mercy of the very first change of circumstances which might occur.
As a general remark, it may be said, that the interests concerned in the act of 1824, did not complain of their condition under it, excepting only those connected with the woollen manufactures. These did complain; not so much of the act itself, as of a new state of circumstances, unforeseen when the law passed, but which had now arisen to thwart its beneficial operations, as to them; although in one respect, perhaps, the law itself was thought to be unwisely framed.
Three causes have been generally stated, as having produced the disappointment experienced by the manufacturers of wool, under the law of 1824.
First, it is alleged, that the price of the raw material had been raised too high, by the act itself. This point had been discussed at the time, and although opinions varied, the result, so far as it depended on this part of the case, though it may be said to have been unexpected, was certainly not entirely unforeseen.*
* Extract from Mr. Webster's Speech, on the Tariff of 1824.—~ This bill proposes, also, a very high duty upon imported wool; and as far as I can learn, a majority of the manufac
But, secondly, the manufacturers imputed their disappointment to a reduction of the price of wool in England, which took place just about the date of the law of 1824. This reduction was produced by lowering the duty on imported wool from sixpence sterling to one penny sterling per pound. The effect of this is obvious enough; but in order to see the real extent of the reduction, it may be convenient to state the matter more particularly.
The meaning of our law was doubtless to give the American manufacturer an advantage over his English competitors. Protection must mean this, or it means nothing. The English manufacturer having certain advantages, on his side, such as the lower price of labor, and the lower interest of money; the object of our law was to counteract these advantages, by creating others, in behalf of the American manufacturer. Therefore, to see what was necessary to be done, in order that the American manufacturer might sustain the competition, a relative view of the respective advantages and disadvantages was to be taken. In this view the very first element to be considered was, what is to each party the cost of the raw material. On this, the whole must materially depend. Now when the law of 1824 passed, the English manufacturer paid a duty of sixpence sterling on imported wool. But in a very few days afterwards, this duty was reduced by Parliament, from sixpence to a penny. A reduction of five pence per pound, in the price of wool, was estimated in Parliament to be equal to a reduction of twenty-six per cent., ad ralorem, on all imported wool; and this reduction, it is obvious, had its effect on the price of home-produced wool also. Almost, then, at the very moment, that the framers of the act of 1824, were raising the price of the raw material here, as that act did raise it, it was lowered in England, by the very great reduction of twenty-sir per cent. Of course, this changed the whole basis of the calculation. It wrought a complete change in the relative advantages and disadvantages of the English and American competitors; and threw the preponderance of advantage, most decidedly, on the side of the English. If the American manufacturer had not vastly too great a preference, before this reduction took place, it is clear he had too little afterwards.
In a paper which has been presented to the Senate, and often referred to; a paper distinguished for the ability and clearness with which it enforces general principles—the Boston Report,-it is clearly proved, (what indeed is sufficiently obvious from the mere comparison of dates) that the British government did not reduce its duty on wool because of our act of 1824. Certainly this is true; but the effect of that reduction, on our manufactures, was the same precisely as if the British act had been designed to operate against them, and for no other purpose. I tbink it cannot be doubted that our law of 1824, and the reduction of the wool duty in England, taken together, left our manufactures in a worse condition than they were before. If there was any reasonable ground, therefore, for passing the law of 1824, there is now the same ground for some other measure; and this ground too, is reenforced by the consideraturers are at least extremely doubtful whether, taking these two provisions together, the state of the law is not better for them now than it would be if this should pass."