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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 address the Senate on the subject.
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 1824, 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 the proprietors 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, I expressed 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, should troubles come upon them, and leave them to their fate. Whether this prediction, the result, certainly, of chance, and not of sagacity, is about to 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 on imports adopted the then unusual expedient of a preamble, apparently for little other purpose than that of declaring that the duties which it imposed were laid 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 succor which would be thus afforded to our own manufacturing labor. Like arguments 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 neighborhood, 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 for ever 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 neighbors. Her soil would be held in low estimation by those who are acquainted with the valley of the Mississippi and the fertile plains 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 slighest 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 has 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
said to have been unexpected, was certainly not entirely unforeseen.*
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 comparison of the respective advantages and disadvantages was to be made. In this view the very first element to be considered was, what is the cost of the raw material to each party. On this the whole must materially depend. Now when the law of 1824 passed, the English manufacturer paid a duty of sixpence sterling per pound 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 twentysix per cent. ad valorem 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-six 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.
* See above, p. 135.
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 think 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 strengthened by the consideration of the hopes excited, the enterprises undertaken, and the capital invested, in consequence of that law.
In the last place, it was alleged by the manufacturers that they suffered from the mode of collecting the duties on woollen fabrics at the custom-houses. These duties are ad valorem duties. Such duties, from the commencement of the government, have been estimated by reference to the invoice, as fixing the value at the place whence imported. When not suspected to be false or fraudulent, the invoice is the regular proof of value. Originally this was a tolerably safe mode of proceeding. While the importation was mainly in the hands of American merchants, the invoice would of course, if not false or fraudulent, express the terms and the price of an actual purchase and sale. But an invoice is not necessarily an instrument expressing the sale of goods, and their prices. If there be but a list or catalogue, with prices stated by way of estimate, it is still an invoice, and within the law. Now the suggestion is, that the English manufacturer, in making out an invoice, in which prices are thus stated by himself in the way of estimate merely, is able to obtain an important advantage over the American merchant who purchases in the same market, and whose invoice states, consequently, the actual prices, on the sale. In proof of this