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should have had our share; our sons would have had employment, and our country would have been so much richer. I have three sons, masters of ships. . I shall never build another wooden ship; but I would, if I could, go into the iron ships; they last longer. There ho great improvements in them the past five years, and we would have received the benefit of them. “Why not allow the merchant, if he thinks he can do it, to get his ship abroad, and try at least to run it He will not charge the Treasury for his failure and loss. “In time, as in Germany, the ownership leads to repair, and repair to building. The number of ship-yards and workshops increases, and the tonnage leaps up under this impulse. That which seemed a mustard-seed becomes a mighty tree. Every nation has tried the freeship experiment but the United States, and we are lowest to-day in our proportionate share of the navigation of the world. No one can say it is a failure until it is tried. All other schemes—and especially its opposite, protection—have been tried and failed. The commercial eminence of Great Britain, not to speak of Germany, France, Italy, and Norway, is supreme logic for the trial of the experiment. Germany is the best illustration; she has not as good coal and iron as we have, but she began to buy her ships on the Clyde, as we might have done a score of years ago. She is now building her own iron steamships. She builds now more than she buys. She has never subsidized. Her tonnage in 1856–57, when ours began to decline, was but 166,000 tons; last year she had 950,000; ours in eleven years dropped from 4,400,000 to 600,000, and all its vast income was lost. “Last week I read that a new steel steamship, the Rugia, of 6,500 tons, was turned out for our trade from the Vulcan Works at Stettin, warranted for the safety of 1,200 passengers, with steel life-boats and steam steeringgear and a refinement in the reversal of her engines in seven seconds. German growth has been in iron screw-steamers, which she began to buy abroad. They could not afford to wait, this phlegmatic people, for their own shipyards to arise, but began to repair in the blacksmith shops and little foundries of their “free towns,” and now, where the little furnace glowed, mighty engines are made to mate the ocean in its wildest tempest ! “Even Japan has a fleet of fifty-seven iron steamers, and China leaves us laggard and unprogressive. Fifty years of Cathay—nay, twenty years—is worth more than a century of our experience. “Twenty years ago Norway and Sweden traded with us and had but 20,000 tons in the trade; now they have 850,000. The Viking is abroad, and we are stupidly looking on. Everybody is making money out of our carrying and commerce but ourselves. What avails it that ours is the largest carrying-trade of any nation since we do not do the work? It adds to the humiliation.
elements of commerce.
“It makes the humiliation worse to consider the losses in money as well as the prestige at Sea. “The gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Randall) has called upon the Treasury for the amount of ocean freights on exports and im. W. during the year ending June 30, 1882. uch loose understatement will be set at rest by the report. It may be reached by the average percentage on the values. What, then, is the result 7 “Aggregate of exports and imports for the fiscal year (exclusive of specie) was $1,475,132,831, and the freights on this at 20 per cent. would be $295,036,566. Only about 22 per cent. of the carrying trade is down in American bottoms, so that our freight account for the year would stand thus: Received by American ship-owners, $42,903,044; received by foreign shi owners, $252,128,521. Making every deduction for foreign trade, with Canada, Mexico, the West, Indies, Hawaiian Islands, Central America, etc., this enormous outlay appears.
“Looking at the wall of adamant which shuts us in from all the world and shuts the world out from us in this once famous enterprise of ours, can we draw hope from the prospect? The gigantic results of a hundred years of national existence and energy are not discouraging. Over mountains and through valleys, upon rivers, across continents and under oceans, our enterprises by rail and telegraph have developed our resources. They astound by their marvels. And yet halting on the shores of two vast oceans we have said to the land, or rather the voice of either ocean has said to these enterprises and products of the mine and field: “Thus far, but by our help no farther. The illimitable ocean is beyond, and its trident is in another's grasp." Upon the west we face the Orient, rich in the We had hoped once that the Pacific would have been an American lake. That hope is dead. On the east we almost touch Europe, with its teeming industries, peoples, and civilizations; but they come to us in their own vessels, and bear away our produce. In this we have no pay, part, nor lot. On the south we were reaching across gulf and sea to the tropics at our doors and to the republics of our continent. Once we had mutual relations with the Dominion on our north ; but this and all such visions of material supremacy and splendor have faded. The ocean-coast still gives us its thunderous line of breakers, its seven thousand miles and more, indented with harbors of safety and bays of wondrous beauty. The net-work of our hundred thousand miles of railway still trembles with its immense freight, the garnered opulence of our sky, sun, soil, and mine. Cotton, corn, and petroleum—the triumvirate of our common weal—head the stately procession in which a thousand forms of labor and graces of art move and chant their praises to our smiling and copious land.
“The time was when amid the glory and pride of our country our models of ships and
adventure at sea were the theme of lyre and sail. It is now an unknown emblem upon the the praise of eloquence. It was comfort and sea. We welcome every race to our shores in wealth in peace, hope and safety in war. the vessels of other nations. Our enormous
“It was the horn of plenty and the nursery surplus, which feeds the world, is for others of seamen, for the maintenance of our inde- to bear away. We gaze at the leviathans of pendence and rights. Why should America commerce entering our harbors and darkening not have her part in these glories of the sea? our sky with the pennons of smoke; but the Was she not discovered by the genius, daring, thunder of the engines is under another flag and devotion of Columbus? Were not our and the shouting of the captains is in an alien colonies created into commonwealths by the tongue. Others distribute the produce, capitalmen who braved the dangers of the sea to found ize the moneys, gather the glories, and elevate here new empires ? Our country is born of their institutions by the amenities and benignithe sea! Its freedom is of the wind and wave. ties of commerce; and we, boasting of our in
"Shall these praises be forever an echo of vention, heroism, and freedom, allow the jailthe past? Are we to take no part in the en ers of a hated and selfish policy to place gyves lightenment and progress in science and art, upou our energy, and when we ask for liberty of which commerce is the procreant cause and to build and for liberty to buy, imprison our infallible gauge? Has the sea rolled back and genius in the sight of these splendid achieveaway from us at the command of the insolent ments. monarchs of capital ?
"Mr. Speaker, if you would that we should “To one born inland the sea has a weird and once more fly our ensign upon the sea, assist wondrous mystery. I have studied its moods us to take off the burdens from our navigation as a lover those of his mistress. Through the and give to us the first, last, and best-the ingenerosity of my fellow-legislators here, we dispensable condition of civilization by comhave been able to mitigate somewhat of its ter- merce-liberty." rors. Its enchantment has led me over liquid Mr. Dingley, of Maine, representing the maleagues on leagues to remotest realms. Not jority of the committee, said: "Mr. Speaker, I alone does it enchant because of its majestic agree with the gentleman who has just taken expanse, its resistless force, its depth and unity, his seat (Mr. Cox, of New York) that there is its cliffs, bays, and, fiords, its chemical quali- no subject before Congress more important ties, its monstrous forms, its riches and rocks, than that to which this bill addresses itself. its tributes, its graves, its requiem, its murmur The humiliating fact which confronts us is that of repose and mirror of placid beauty, but for the American carrying-trade is rapidly declinits wrath, peril, and sublimity. These have ing and the American flag gradually disappearled adventurous worthies of every age, by sun, ing from the ocean. The following statistics star, and compass over its trackless wastes, and of the Treasury Department tell the story more returned them for their daring, untold wealth, strikingly than any language can do: and the eulogy of history. “But it is for its refining, civilizing, elevat
Per cent. ing influences upon our kind that the ocean
Valne of exports carried in
and imports. lifts its mighty minstrelsy. Unhappy that nation which has no part in the successes of the
762,838 1,176,694 $281.227,465 82.9 sea! Happy in history those realms, like Tyre, 1848
904,476 1,223,218 281,901,170 81.7 Sidon, Carthage, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Nor
tonnage in foreign
American tonnage in coastwise trade.
1,439,694 1,797,825 830,037,088 way, whose gathered glories are symboled in 1855. 2,848,858 2,543,255 536,625,866
2,879.896 2,644,867 762,288,550 the trident! Happy in the present are those 1865. 1,518,850 8,881,522 604,412,996 nations who, under the favoring gales of com
1,448,846 2,638,247 991,896,889 1875.
1,515,598 3,219,698 1,219,484,544 merce, the fostering economies of freedom,
1,314,402 2,637,686 1,618,770,633 and the unwavering faith in the guidance of 1881. 1,297,085 2,646,011 1,675,024,818 Providence, bear the blessings of varied indus- 1882. 1,259,492 2,873,638 1,567,071,700 try to distant realms and bring back to their own the magnificent fruits of ceaseless inter “By reference to this table it will be seen change! Happy that nation whose poet can that the coastwise trade of the United States raise his voice to herald the hope and human- is prospering, as well as all our other protected ity of its institutions in the grandeur of the fa- interests. Restricted as it is to American vesmiliar symbol of Longfellow :*
sels, without competition from abroad, it occu"Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
pies precisely the same position as all other Humanity with all its fears,
domestic interests. While the statistics show With all the hopes of future years,
only a small gain in tonnage over that exhibIs hanging breathless on thy fate !
ited in 1855, yet there has been such an in“ Amid this divided marine dominion, in crease of steamers as to add materially to the which one power alone has half the rule of the actual carrying-tonnage of vessels engaged in ocean, shall America sit scepterless and forlorn the coastwise trade of the country. In 1855, --dethroned, ignoble, dispirited, and disgraced? estimating one ton of steam-vessels as equal to The ensign of our nationality takes its stars four of sailing-vessels
, which is very near the from the vault of heaven. By them brave men fact as to vessels engaged in the coastwise trade,
75.6 €6.5 27.7 85.6 25.8 17.4 16.0 15.5
we had the equivalent of 4,581,451 tons of sailing-vessels engaged in the coastwise trade. “In 1881 we had on the same basis the equivalent of 5,975,078 tons, showing a gain in the actual carrying capacity of our coastwise tonnage of 1,393,627 tons, or 30 per cent. It is to be borne in mind also that this increase has been in the face of the fact that the freight capacity of competing railroads has increased 120 per cent. during the last decade. So far, then, as the coastwise trade is concerned it is in a prosperous condition, and while some burdens have been pointed out which should be removed, yet on the whole we may point to it as having to-day more than three times the tonnage of the United Kingdom of Great Britain engaged in similar coastwise trade. “But it is when we turn to our foreign carrying-trade that we find a humiliating story, told by the statistics of the Treasury Department. The salient facts of these statistics are these: In 1840 82.9 per cent. of all the exports and imports of the United States was carried in American vessels, but in 1882 only 15.5 per cent. was thus carried. Here in forty-two years has been a decline of 67.4 per cent. in the foreign carrying-trade of the United States. “Looking still closer, as to the time when this decline took place, we find that 16.4 per cent. of it was before the civil war, and 12.2 per cent. since the war, and that the enormous decline of 38.7 per cent. took place during the four years of the conflict. It will thus be seen that the decline of our carrying-trade dates from 1855, and that the decadence before the war was as great as the decline which has taken place since the war. “We also find, looking at this period, that the decline in the construction of vessels for employment in the foreign trade was as rapid before the war as during any other period since in the history of this country. In 1855 there were 507 vessels built in the United States for the foreign carrying-trade, the highest point reached in our history. In 1856 the number declined to 463; in 1857 to 307; in 1858 to 108; and in 1859 to 107. “I allude to these facts, Mr. Speaker, in order to remove the impression which has obtained in many quarters, that the decline of our foreign carrying-trade began with the war. “Now, Mr. Speaker, without going further into the details of that decline, it is important we should be enabled to fix specifically the cause or causes of this decline in order to provide a remedy for it. “And in the first place I wish to show that the cause of this decadence was not, as my friend from New York (Mr. Cox) alleges, because our commerce has declined. That gentleman was pleased to say that the high tariff of 1861 had caused a decline of our commerce, and that a decline in our exports and imports to be carried necessarily had resulted in giving ocean-carriers less to do. “It is not true, Mr. Speaker, that there has
been any decline in the foreign commerce of this country since the war. At no period in the history of this country has our foreign commerce increased more rapidly than since 1865. From 1850 to 1880 the population of this country increased 115 per cent., while our foreign commerce increased during that same period 400 per cent., showing that our exports and imports have increased over our population nearly 300 per cent. “The gentleman from New York was pleased to intimate that the tariff of 1861 had repressed our foreign commerce, which the tariff of 1846 had fostered, and to give this as a reason for the decline of our foreign carrying-trade. But the facts are against him. During the fifteen years from 1846 to 1861, the foreign commerce of this country increased $525,000,000; but between 1865 and 1880 this commerce increased $1,000,000,000. In 1855 the imports and exports of the United States were $536,625,366, of which about $405,000,000 were carried in American vessels, and only $131,000,000 in foreign vessels. In 1880 the exports and imports of the United States were $1,613,770,633, of which American vessels carried only about $280,000,000. If American vessels had carried the same proportion of the imports and exports of the United States in 1880 which they did in 1855, there would have been $1,200,000,000 for American tonnage, but instead of that our vessels actually carried less than one fourth of that. “Looking more closely at the figures, we find that neither the so-called revenue tariff of 1846, nor the modified revenue tariff of 1857, nor the so-called protective tariff of 1861, has exerted any influence over the rise and fall of our foreign carrying-trade. Under the tariff of 1842 our carrying-trade prospered; under the tariff of 1846 it prospered for nine years, and then steadily declined during the remaining six years before the tariff of 1861 was enacted. “So, Mr. Speaker, we must look for the causes of the decline of our foreign carryingtrade beyond the tariff. Our exports and imports, which represent commerce, have been spread out in every direction, and yet our American carrying-trade has been constantly declining, and consequently it is not any decline of commerce which has caused the difficulty. “But my friend from New York was pleased to say that the tariff of 1861 prevented any successful competition with the ship-builders of the Clyde in the construction of iron vessels, the inference being that if we had continued the tariff of 1846 all would have been well. “Let us look at this claim. The duty on iron imposed by the tariff of 1846 was 30 per cent., and the duty on iron imposed by the tariff of 1861 averaged about 40 per cent. Now, this difference of 10 per cent. in these tariffs made a change in the cost of the iron used in ship-building of only a little more than one
quarter of a cent per pound. What would one steam, and not the free-ship law, that gave the quarter of a cent a pound have done for us in English merchant marine the advantage of our the competition with English iron-ship build- own which has resulted so disastrously to ers? Nothing at all. Consequently the diffi- American tonnage. Speaking of the results culty in the construction of iron vessels under of the first year's operations of this law, he the tariff of 1846 was practically as great as says: the difficulty in their construction under the
“Our (the British) ship-owners naturally viewed tariff of 1861.
with great alarm the rapid strides made by American “I have alluded to this point merely to shipping. Nor were their fears allayed by a reference show that the causes of the decline of the to the Board of Trade returns, wherein it appeared that American foreign carrying-trade are outside previous to repeal been 393,955 tons, there had been a of any controversy between the friends of a decrease in the year after repeal of 180,576 tons. Our tariff for revenue and a tariff for protection. position appeared, therefore, critical ; and had it not
" Prof. Sumner, perhaps the ablest advocate been for the resources we held within ourselves (reof free trade in the United States, thus brushes ferring to iron, coal, and cheap labor) and the indomaside the tariff argument of the gentleman then and there have gained an ascendency which
itable energy of our people, foreign shipping might from New York:
might not afterward have been easily overcome.
We had one advantage which our great American com“No doubt these changes from wood to iron and petitor did not possess. We had' iron in abundance, Bails to steam) have been the chief cause of the decline and about this period we were specially directing our of ship-building in this country, and legislation has attention to the construction of iron ships to be prohad only incidental effects. It is a plain fact of bis- pelled by the screw. tory that the decline in ship-building began before the war and the high tariff.- North American Review, “Speaking subsequently of the contest for No. 182.
supremacy of the seas between 1853 and 1854, "It is important, Mr. Speaker, that we
the same distinguished English ship-builder
says: should brush aside all of these things which have nothing to do with the problems under "A very large amount of capital had been invested consideration, and endeavor to come down to California trade ; but even these before the close of
by Americans in the famous ships employed in the the facts we are investigating and ascertain the 1854 were becoming unremunerative, owing to the causes and devise remedies for the difficulty. competition of British iron and screw steamers, which
"The gentleman from New York was pleased were the main weapon whereby we bade defiance to to intimate that one great cause of the success the competition of all other nations in the general of the British carrying-trade as against that of ocean race then, just commenced.-Lindsay's * Mer
chant Shipping,” page 358. the United States, was due to the fact that in 1849 Great Britain modified her navigation “Could we have a stronger confirmation of laws so as to admit to registry under her laws the fact that it was not the free-ship policy foreign-built vessels. Now, I have to reply to which England inaugurated in 1849 that gave that suggestion that the facts show quite oth- her an advantage over us, but that it was solely erwise. This modification of the British law the accidental revolutiou in the ocean carryingtook place in 1849, it is true; and as its influ- trade which saved her from being distanced ence was exerted at once, we should reason- more and more by our wooden clipper-ships? ably expect from the importance assigned to We are thus brought to the conclusion that the free-ship remedy, a steady gain from that the inception of the decline of our foreign cartime forward of British tonnage as against rying-trade between 1855 and 1861 was due to American. But an investigation will show the two causes : fact is exactly the reverse. From 1849 for “1. The great change in over-ocean transthree years the merchant-marine of the United portation which was gradually being made States increased more rapidly, as compared from wooden vessels to iron, and from sails to with that of the United Kingdom, than ever steam and the screw-propeller-a change which before in the history of this country. Between gave England, with her cheap labor and her 1849 and 1855 the merchant marine of the mines of coal and iron near the sea-shore, & United States increased 1,877,985 tons, and greater advantage than we had when wood that of the United Kingdom only 894,828. It was the only material of which vessels were was during this period of six years' operation built. of the free-ship policy of Great Britain that “2. The adoption in 1854 of the policy of the American merchant marine enjoyed its removing every burden from and giving every highest prosperity. This prosperity would possible advantage to her merchantmen, couphave increased after 1855 had it not been for a jed with liberal appropriations in the form of new factor which appeared in the revolution postal pay, as well as subsidies, to secure the then fairly inaugurated from wood to iron and establishment of steamship lines to all parts of sails to steam.
the world; while at the same time the Ameri. "Even Mr. W. S. Lindsay, the most promi- can Government neither lifted a burden nor nent promoter of the British legislation of offered any encouragement to her marine. 1849, is compelled to admit, in his History of " It was not until 1856-'56 that these causes Merchant shipping,' that it was in fact the began to exert a marked influence and to revolution from wood to iron and sails to change the current of the foreign carrying
trade. Prof. Sumner agrees substantially with this view, and I may add that even Mr. Wells, in his work on the American merchant marine, concedes that these were the real, substantial, and efficient difficulties which came upon us and changed the current of our foreign carrying-trade. “So long as wooden sailing-vessels controlled the foreign carrying-trade of the world we had an advantage in the construction of vessels over any other nation in the world. We had the cheaper material, and this superior cheapness of material enabled us to bridge over the difference in labor; for it must be remembered that in the construction of a wooden vessel, as compared with the construction of an iron vessel, the wood or timber when it is cut from a tree is further advanced toward the completion of a vessel than is the iron when the ore has been dug from the mines, smelted, and rolled or hammered into bars, angles, and plates. The amount of labor to be put upon the wooden vessel after the tree has been felled is less than one half of the amount of labor that is required to build the iron vessel after the ore is taken from its bed. “Therefore, Mr. Speaker, so long as we occupied the vantage-ground, possessed when wooden sailing-vessels ruled the sea, no nation could cope with us. “At that time, also, all our laws relating to our merchant marine were precisely the same, with the same difficulties, with the same discriminations as the English laws. But in 1852, 1853, and 1854 the Parliament of England began the revision of her merchant shipping laws, and removed every burden from }. vessels engaged in the foreign trade; while we looked on, too confident in the position we occupied. And there, Mr. Speaker, was the fatal error in the policy of this country. From 1855 to 1861 there was a steady decline year by year, as rapidly as at any time since the war, in our foreign carrying-trade. If the American Congress at that time had come forward and lifted all the burdens, and amended the shipping laws so as to give the same advantages to our vessels as the English Government gave to their vessels, and if in addition to that the American Government had given such generous mail contracts for the establishment of mail steamship lines as the English Government was giving, then we should not have to-day to lament over so humiliating a decadence of American shipping. “But more than that, Mr. Speaker. In 1861 came the terrible conflict of arms, the civil war, which engrossed the energies and the capital of this country for four long years. Instead of building up our shipping and our resources, we were tearing down; instead of constructing vessels, we were destroying them with powder and shot and shell. But what was England doing all that time? She looked on and laughed at our discomfiture. She let the Alabama sail out of her ports without hin
drance, and more than one third of all our tonnage engaged in the foreign carrying-trade was swept from the ocean, either by capture, or by sale to avoid capture. “During this time England was intrenching herself in the position she occupied. She was building up great iron ship-yards, and getting an advantage difficult to overcome. “If our hands had not been tied during that time, unquestionably we should have adopted some policy that would have met the advances of England in this race on the ocean. But we could do nothing, and when the war closed we saw not only one third of our ships swept from the ocean, but also the iron ship-yards of Great Britain firmly established, and built up, too, by every possible encouragement. We saw dockyards built from tonnage taxes exacted in part from American vessels that entered British |...". with all the ingenuity that could possily be devised, even going so far in order to establish steamship lines that she made contracts with various navigation companies to put on steamship lines, engaging that the Government would secure to the proprietors of the lines 8 per cent. dividend. “This was the course of England at the time when our hands were tied. And then, when we came out of the war, Mr. Speaker, our hands were again tied—tied because of the indirect results of the war. Bear in mind that we came out of the conflict with a depreciated currency and inflated prices. We came out with speculation raging over the land, and the result was that, with the engrossment of the public mind in the problems of reconstruction, it was practically impossible until the resumption of specie payments, and until the large rofits that arose from the opening of the far W. and from the building of railroads had passed away, and until the rate of interest on capital came back to the normal figure, and even below—it was impossible, I say, until about the year 1878 or 1879, for us to adopt any efficient measures that could have built up the American foreign carrying-trade. “It seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that instead of being amazed at the rapid decline of the American foreign carrying-trade under these circumstances, we should almost wonder that it has stood the trial so well. “Now, Mr. Speaker, having discussed what seems to me to be the causes of the difficulty in which we are placed, I wish to approach next the question of remedies. The foreign carrying-trade, unlike the coastwise trade, and unlike any other business we have in this country, is an unprotected trade. It must be carried on on the highway of the ocean, where competition from all nations meets it on a common platform. No possible device that we can make, no possible legislation that is open to us after our maritime reciprocity treaties have been entered into—for it must be remembered that while formerly there was a 10 per cent. discriminating duty in favor of imports in