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suggestion, it is alleged that, in the largest importing city in the Union, a very great proportion, some say nearly all, of the woollen fabrics are imported on foreign account. The various papers which have come before us, praying for a tax on auction sales, aver that the invoice of the foreign importer is generally much lower than that of the American importer; and that, in consequence of this and of the practice of sales at auction, the American merchant must be driven out of the trade. I cannot answer for the entire accuracy of these statements, but I have no doubt there is something of truth in them. The main facts have been often stated, and I have neither seen nor heard a denial of them.

Is it true, then, that nearly the whole importation of woollens is, in the largest importing city, in the hands of foreigners ? Is it true, as stated, that the invoices of such foreign importers are generally found to be lower than those of the American importer? If these things be so, it will be admitted that there is reason to believe that undervaluations do take place, and that some corrective for the evil should be administered. I am glad to see that the American merchants themselves begin to bestow attention upon a subject, as interesting to them as it is to the manufacturers.

Under this state of things, Sir, the law of the last session was proposed. It was confined, as I thought properly, to wool and woollens. It took up the great and leading subject of complaint, and nothing else. It was urged, indeed, against that bill, that, although much had been said of frauds at the custom-house, no provision was made in it for the prevention of such frauds. That is a mistake. The general frame of the bill was such,

a that, if skilfully drawn and adapted to its purpose, its tendency to prevent such frauds would be manifest. By the fixing of prices at successive points of graduation, or minimums, as they are called, the power of evading duties by undervaluations would be most materially restrained. If these points, indeed, were sufficiently distant, it is obvious the duty would assume something of the certainty and precision of a specific duty. But this bill failed, and Congress adjourned in March, last year, leaving the subject where it had found it.

The complaints which had given rise to the bill continued; and in the course of the summer a meeting of the wool-growers and wool

manufacturers was held in Pennsylvania, at which

a petition to Congress was agreed upon. I do not feel it necessary, on behalf of the citizens of Massachusetts, to disclaim a participation in that meeting. Persons of much worth and respectability attended it from Massachusetts, and its proceedings and results manifested, I think, a degree of temper and moderation highly creditable to those who composed it.

But while the bill of last year was confined to that which alone had been a subject of complaint, the bill now before us is of a very different description. It proposes to raise duties on various other articles besides wool and woollens. It contains some provisions which bear with unnecessary severity on the whole community; others which affect, with peculiar hardship, particular interests; while both of them benefit nobody and nothing but the treasury. It contains provisions which, with whatever motive put into it, it is confessed are now kept in for the very purpose of destroying the bill altogether; or with the intent to compel those who expect to derive benefit, to feel smart from it also. Probably such a motive of action has not often been avowed.

The wool manufacturers think they have made out a case for the interposition of Congress. They happen to live principally at the North and East; and in a bill professing to be for their relief, other provisions are found, which are supposed (and supported because they are supposed) to be such as will press with peculiar hardship on that quarter of the country. Sir, what can be expected, but evil, when a temper like this prevails? How can such a hostile, retaliatory legislation be reconciled to common justice, or common prudence? Nay, Sir, this rule of action seems carried still farther. Not only are clauses found, and continued in the bill, which oppress particular interests, but taxes are laid also, which will be severely felt by the whole Union; and this, too, with the same design, and for the same end before mentioned, of causing the smart of the bill to be felt. Of this description is the molasses tax; a tax, in my opinion, absurd and preposterous, in relation to any object of protection, need. lessly oppressive to the whole community, and beneficial nowhere on earth but at the treasury. And yet here it is, and here it is kept, under an idea, conceived in ignorance and cherished for a short-lived triumph, that New England will be deterred by this tax from protecting her extensive woollen manufactures; or, if not, that the authors of this policy may at least have the pleasure, the high pleasure, of perceiving that she feels the ill effects of this part of the bill.

Sir, let us look for a moment at this tax. The molasses imported into the United States amounts to thirteen millions of gallons annually. Of this quantity, not more than three millions are distilled; the remaining ten millions being consumed, as an article of wholesome food. The proposed tax is not to be laid for revenue. That is not pretended. It was not introduced for the benefit of the sugar-planters. They are contented with their present condition, and have applied for nothing. What, then, was the object ? Sir, the original professed object was to increase, by this new duty on molasses, the consumption of spirits distilled from grain. This, I say, was the object originally professed. But in this point of view the measure appears to me to be preposterous. It is monstrous, and out of all proportion and relation of means to ends. It proposes to double the duty on the ten millions of gallons of molasses which are consumed for food, in order that it may likewise double the duty on the three millions which are distilled into spirits; and all this for the contingent and doubtful purpose of augmenting the consumption of spirits distilled from grain. I say contingent and doubtful purpose, because I do not believe any such effect will be produced. I do not think a hundred gallons more of spirits distilled from grain will find a market in consequence of this tax on molasses. The debate, here and elsewhere, has shown that, I think, clearly. But suppose some slight effect of that kind should be produced, is it so desirable an object as that it should be sought by such means ? Shall we tax food to encourage intemperance? Shall we raise the price of a wholesome article of sustenance, of daily consumption, especially among the poorer classes, in order that we may enjoy a mere chance of causing these same classes to use more of our home-made ardent spirits ?

Sir, the bare statement of this question puts it beyond the reach of all argument. No man will seriously undertake the defence of such a tax. It is better, much more candid certainly, to admit, as has been admitted, that, obnoxious as it is and abominable as it is, it is kept in the bill with a special view to its effects on New England votes and New England interests.


The bill also takes away all the drawback allowed by existing laws on the exportation of spirits distilled from molasses; and this, it is supposed, and truly supposed, will injuriously affect New England. It will have this effect to a considerable degree; for the exportation of such spirits is a part of her trade, and, though not great in amount, it is a part which mingles usefully with the exportation of other articles, assists to make out an assorted cargo, and finds a market in the North of Europe, the Mediterranean, and in South America. This exportation the bill proposes entirely to destroy.

The increased duty on molasses, while it thus needlessly and wantonly enhances the price to the consumer, may affect also, in a greater or less degree, the importation of that article; and be thus injurious to the commerce of the country. The importation of molasses, in exchange for lumber, provisions, and other articles of our own production, is one of the largest portions of our West India trade, - a trade, it may be added, though of small profit, yet of short voyages, suited to small capitals, employing many hands and much navigation, and the earliest and oldest branch of our foreign commerce. That portion of this trade which we now enjoy is conducted on the freest and most liberal principles. The exports which sustain it are from the East, the South, and the West; every part of the country having thus an interest in its continuance and extension. A market for these exports is of infinitely more importance to any of these portions of the country, than all the benefit to be expected from the supposed increased consumption of spirits distilled from grain.

Yet, Sir, this tax is to be kept in the bill, that New England may be made to feel. Gentlemen who hold it to be wholly unconstitutional to lay any tax whatever for the purposes intended by this bill, cordially vote for this tax. An honorable gentleman from Maryland* calls the whole bill a “ bill of abominations.” This tax, he agrees, is one of its abominations, yet he votes for it. Both the gentlemen from North Carolina have signified their dissatisfaction with the bill, yet they have both voted to double the tax on molasses. Sir, do gentlemen flatter themselves that this course of policy can answer their purposes ?

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* Mr. Smith.

Do they not perceive that such a mode of proceeding, with a view to such avowed objects, must waken a spirit that shall treat taunt with scorn and bid menace defiance ? Do they not know (if they do not, it is time they did) that a policy like this, avowed with such self-satisfaction, persisted in with a delight which should only accompany the discovery of some new and wonderful improvement in legislation, will compel every New England man to feel that he is degraded and debased if he does not resist it?

Sir, gentlemen mistake us; they greatly mistake us. To those who propose to conduct the affairs of government, and to enact laws on such principles as these and for such objects as these, New England, be assured, will exhibit, not submission, but resistance; not humiliation, but disdain. Against her, depend on it, nothing will be gained by intimidation. If you propose to suffer yourselves in order that she may be made to suffer also, she will bid you come on; she will meet challenge with challenge; she will invite you to do your worst, and your best, and to see who will hold out longest. She has offered you every one of her votes in the Senate to strike out this tax on molas.

You have refused to join her, and to strike it out. With the aid of the votes of any one Southern State, for example, of North Carolina, it could have been struck out. But North Carolina has refused her votes for this purpose. She has voted to keep the tax in, and to keep it in at the highest rate. And yet, Sir, North Carolina, whatever she may think of it, is fully as much interested in this tax as Massachusetts. I think, indeed, she is more interested, and that she will feel it more heavily and sorely. She is herself a great consumer of the article, throughout all her classes of population. This increase of the duty will levy on her citizens a new tax of fifty thousand dollars a year, or more; and yet her representatives on this floor support the tax, although they have so often told us that her people are now poor, and already borne down with taxes. North Carolina will feel this tax also in her trade, for what foreign commerce has she more useful to her than the West India market for her provisions and lumber? And yet the gentlemen from North Carolina insist on keeping this tax in the bill. Let them not, then, complain. Let them not hereafter call it the work of others. It is their own work. Let them not lay it to the manufacturers.


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