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duty proposed by this bill, although it would benefit the capital invested in works near the sea and the navigable rivers, yet the benefit would not extend far in the interior. Where, then, are we to stop, or what limit is proposed to us?
The freight of iron has been afforded from Sweden to the United States as low as eight dollars per ton. This is not more than the price of fifty miles of land carriage. Stockholm, therefore, for the purpose of this argument, may be considered as within fifty miles of Philadelphia. Now, it is at once a just and a strong view of this case, to consider, that there are, within fifty miles of our market, vast multitudes of persons who are willing to labor in the production of this article for us, at the rate of seven cents per day, while we have no labor which will not command, upon the average, at least five or six times that amount. The question is, then, shall we buy this article of these manufacturers, and suffer our own labor to earn its greater reward, or shall we employ our own labor in a similar manufacture, and make up to it, by a tax on consumers, the loss which it must necessarily sustain.
I proceed, Sir, to the article of hemp. Of this we imported last
year, in round numbers, 6,000 tons, paying a duty of $30 a ton, or $180,000 on the whole amount; and this article, it is to be remembered, is consumed almost entirely in the uses of navigation. The whole burden may be said to fall on one interest. It is said we can 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 $30 more. These three last sums, being the charges of transportation, amount to a protection of near seventy-five per cent. in favor of the home manufacturer, if there be 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 one hundred 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 an 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 mean time, 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 VOL. III.
good, at any price not exceeding, by more than a given amount, the current price of foreign hemp in our market. Every thing 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 three hundred 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
$ 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, hard
$ 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.,
25.00 $ 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 three hundred and fifty-nine tons, with copper fastenings, amounted to $ 1,056. With the augmentations of this bill, they would be equal to $1,400.
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 prɔtected 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 mortgagee 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 obtaining 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 authorized 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 cherish 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