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Art. 1.-PENNSYLVANIA IRON MEMORIAL.
Pennsylvania Iron Memorial. 1850.
This memorial to the Congress of the United States, by those interested in the manufacture of iron in the State of Pennsylvania, is intended, they say, “to lessen, if we cannot wholly remove, the prejudice which exists in the minds of many, against the government giving any attention to the grievances of manufacturers." "We cannot [say the memorialists] ask any legislation for our advantage, unless it be, if not equally for the benefit, at least not injurious, to the rest of the community. On this ground we are willing to base our present application for relief. We come without distinction of party, and ask to be heard upon strictly national considerations, that if any enactment is consequent upon our petition, it may be regarded as permanent and not partial legislation. We ask not for relief which may be withdrawn to
morrow, but for a settled policy."
This, so far, seems a fair and liberal invitation, on the part of the memorialists, for a thorough investigation into the wisdom, justice, and impartiality of the measures they seek; and, at the same time, a pledge on their part, that if it should not prove wise, just, and impartial, they would cease to desire it: and still less would they desire it, if it is not to be the permanent, settled policy of the country. Now, for a measure to become permanent and settled, in a free country, like this, all parties and interests must be NEW SERIES, VOL. VI.-NO. 11.
fully and indisputably convinced of its wisdom, justice, and impartiality. It is in vain to consider it as settled or permanent unless this conviction is firmly fixed in the minds of the people. Can such be pretended by the memorialists to be the case, when at the very threshold of their argument they state their object to be to remove prejudices which exist in the minds of many? Is it possible that the memorialists cannot see, that the current of public opinion, in this enlightened age, is opposed to them? To know whether the memorialists alone seek the public good, and are as impartial as they pretend to be, we must enquire, in the first place, why, particularly, they should be so much more active in their endeavour to have this measure “granted” to them, and to themselves alone, than the rest of the community; and whether there is, really, any peculiar grievance under the laws, of which these people have just cause for complaint and relief; and whether it is likely or probable, that they "petition” to have the measure granted” to them on account of some peculiar interest they think they will derive from it, or only because they desire the public good ; and also, whether it is likely that all other interests will be convinced and satisfied that there is nothing selfish in the objects of the memorialists, and that no injury will accrue to them? Until all this is done, the measure can never be considered as wise, just, or impartial, and therefore it would be absurd to consider it as the permanent and settled policy of the country. Besides the memorialists, very properly, reject that relief which may be granted “to-day and withdrawn to-morrow." The memorialists also, as reasonably, complain that the legislation of the country has, heretofore, been vacillating. Should not this last fact satisfy them that the people of this country can never be reconciled to high duties for the supposed benefit of one class and to the injury of all others; and that as long as they retain their liberty and intelligence, they will struggle against it? The memorialists say that what they want is a “steady market," and yet, who, now, would disturb the market by favouring legislation? “Pennsylvania," we are told by the memorialists, “now produces as much iron as Great Britain did in 1820 ; her product has doubled in ten years, under great disadvantages, and in ten years of favouring legislation it might be doubled again."
Here then it is admitted, in their own words, that they require of the common government favouring legislation to encourage and advance their peculiar enterprises. In short, they desire to be king's favourites—Gavastons, Dudleys, Empsons, and Buckinghams! Will other interests be satisfied unless as much be done for them? Are all interests to be favoured ? If so, where will it end? Cui bono! A regular compensation to each can scarcely be contemplated, for that would be nothing more than regular exchange, a quid pro quo, if it is desired to be made equal and satisfactory; and in that case it would be but justice to let the people make their own bargains. We would rather not have Messrs. Seward, James, and Morehead, intervening. If, to favour, means nothing more than that, " to support, or countenance," then surely it is a strange request, unless the party labours under some peculiar grievance, to ask for themselves, only, that which is equally the right of all. We are all entitled to the “support and countenance” of government. But it cannot be said to be a peculiar favour to have that granted to one, of which all are possessed and are entitled to be possessed. It is not to be let alone that they desire, for they say that is “good enough for merchants,” but not for them. When they speak of “favouring legislation” they mean something not general and common to all, but specific and common to Pennsylvania or New-York iron. They desire to be assisted by peculiar advantages ; “to be contributed to,” which we find is one meaning given by Dr. Johnson to the verb, to favour ; as, for instance,“
any enemy may be favoured in his approaches.” Or in the language of Pope,
"Oh, happy youth! and favoured of the skies,
Distinguished care of guardian deities." If such is the favour required by these memorialists, how is it possible that they can expect that general consent, which would be absolutely necessary to make such a measure the permanent policy of the country, free from fluctuations, and not liable to be changed from day to day? The general intelligence of the age must be lost, and the spirit of liberty as thoroughly crushed as a Louis Napoleon could desire, before common consent, in America, can allow such partial favouring legislation to settle down as the fixed policy of these States.
As the memorialists abjure all party ties, we presume their mode is to proceed on the same plan as the iron masters of Northern New-York propose in their late Convention held in Essex county, adopting the honourable plan of appointing lobby members, to take up their abode at Washington ; and that they too have
“ Resolved, That without distinction of party we will hereafter support no man for any political office who is not in favour of such a system of specific duties as will adequately protect the labour and capital of the country; and who will not truly and efficiently represent our interests upon these questions ; and that we will make this question paramount to all other Slate and National questions, and will persevere in our efforts, until adequate protection is afforded to the industrial interests of the country.”
By these representatives, bargains and coalitions are to be made of some interests against others, and dirty politicians bought up. In such a mode of tactics, Senator James might, if the ondits of Rhode Island be true, prove an efficient assistant, he being, it is said, a gentleman having some talent in the making of bargains. If nothing more is desired on the part of the iron masters than the public good, and that protection to which we are all equally entitled, why should they, while they make their request, as in the New-York case, denounce all statesmen who may differ from them, and declare that they will support no man for any public office, who will not lend himself to the support of their peculiar interest; and, moreover, that they will make that question paramount to all others, State and National? We presume we are still expected to believe that this course is entirely based upon national considerations, satisfactory to "the wisdom of all interests,” and that these gentlemen are, by no means, actuated by selfish motives !
As we are entirely ignorant of any grievances under which the iron masters labour which can be removed by the government, we must be excused from believing in the existence of any such, until they are shewn. No people can be said to suffer grievances unless they have been unjustly dealt by. They must have cause to complain of some human conduct towards them. That timely showers do not come to the relief of the farmer, or winds to the sailor, that success does not attend the ventures of the merchant, that the mechanic fails in his laborious under
* Is the newspaper, “ MEDIUM,” to be the organ of this party ?