Imagens das páginas



The Importance of Position, in all Competition, illustrated by familiar Examples.-Adam Smith's Illustration.-The Tribe or Nation that is ahead in Manufactures, can keep ahead, by Free Trade-The first Lessons on Protection to Great Britain.-The Way of her Beginning, and its Results-It was by this System that she was able to triumph over Napoleon.--Great Britain was Poor when she began her Protective System.-Behold the Consequences.-Great Britain always consults the Parties interested in Protection, and complies with their Wishes-Not so the United States.-A remarkable Example of turning Witnesses out of Court-British Manufacturers, from the Strength of their Position, have consented to dispense with Protection.—M'Gregor's Evidence and Advice to the British Government.-M-Culloch's Confession.-Action of the States of Europe, after the Overthrow of Napoleon, in Favor of Free Trade-Their Repentance.-Repentance of Russia-Manifesto of Count Nesselrode.-The Zoll Verein Treaty-Napoleon's Policy -The Policy of the European Continental Nations against Great Britain, defensive-The greater Cost of Money and Labor in the United States an insuperable Bar to Free Trade.-The Weak, not the Strong, require Protection-British Free Trade, not Free Trade.-British Differential Duties retained.-Effect of Commercial Treaties. -The Whole Truth in few Words.

As great things are illustrated by small, and things remote by those which are near and more familiar, we shall probably approach the main points of the subject of this chapter, with more advantage, and in clearer light, through examples with which most persons are familiar, and which all will be able to appreciate.


A man who has acquired a standing in any trade or commercial business, has an advantage over one who is just setting up. Who does not see that? An apprentice, who has worked but a little. while at his craft, can not do so well as an accomplished journeyOne mechanic is often preferred to another, because he is more skilful, and turns off better work; and one of two, equally skilful, will outdo the other, and get more custom, because he has more capital, and can make more display, and more noise, to attract attention. Position, in every trade and business, relative to others in the same pursuit, is much-is often everything for relative advantage, in the way of competition; and skill and capital are always of great account. By time, application, skill, capital, and position, one is constantly taking lead of another, in a kindred, or in the same pursuit. Who does not know the position of Stew

art, in New York, as an importer, jobber, and retailer of fancy How

and other dry goods? It has taken him a long time to acquire

that position. He has worked for it, taken great pains, acquired did great skill and taste, and from a small beginning, has grown rich; S. b.


has erected a magnificent marble edifice, with sumptuous fittings; employs a hundred clerks; has reduced everything to system, to go like a clock; and he is able, by all his experience, with his this capital, and by blending importing with jobbing and retailing, to he.esell a little cheaper, and a little better. So, at least, it is believed; and that is enough. His position is without a rival. Nobody can compete with him.



Stewart, among the New York merchants of the same class, is like Great Britain among nations. He necessarily keeps in check others, who, but for him, would rise. It is admitted that it is hard, for others, in the same line of business, to stand up against him, and that they suffer great disadvantage from the superiority of his position.

It is singular, though characteristic, that Adam Smith, in arguing against a protective system-he is at one time on one side, and at another on the other side-should have advanced the very principle we are now endeavoring to elucidate as constituting the neces sity of such a system. He says: "A rich man, who is himself a manufacturer, is a very dangerous neighbor to all those who deal in the same way." We not only grant Adam Smith his principle, here laid down, but we claim and appropriate it. Great Britain occupies, in relation to her neighbors, to all other nations, precisely the position of Adam Smith's "rich manufacturer." She " is a very dangerous neighbor to all those who deal in the same way."

It is never true, that the strong want protection against the weak; but it is always true, that the weak want protection against the strong, whoever may be the parties, or whatever the particulars in which one is strong and the other weak. In the present case, the parties are nations, and the subject of comparison is the state of their manufactures. That nation which is most advanced, and occupies the strongest position, in this respect, has the advantage over all others, and will certainly beat them, unless they protect themselves, in proportion as they are behind and weaker. This is the case from the first remove from a state of barbarism, to the highest attainments of civilization. The tribe that starts first in any manufacturing art, will have the advantage over the neighboring tribes which have done nothing in this way, and will desire that the latter


should remain where they are as producers of the raw materials. The manufacturing tribe will be in favor of Free Trade, because, in that way, it can make the other tribes dependent for those fine things, which will be wanted as soon as they are seen, but which can not be produced at home, because they do not know how to do it. They must, therefore, work, and pay with much labor for that which costs the manufacturing tribe but little; nor can the other tribes ever come into competition, under a system of Free Trade. They will require a protective system, not only to start, but as long as they are behind their more skilful neighbor. Superior skill, in this particular, is superior strength, which nothing can balance but the protection of the weaker party.

Great Britain began a new career, some two hundred years ago, or more, then a poor nation—at least not rich—with her protective system, under the teachings of Sir Josiah Child, Joshua Gee, and others of their school. She found, as these men taught her, that for want of a protective system, other nations were drawing away her cash. The doctrine on which she then began to act, will be understood by the two propositions, on which Joshua Gee, who wrote, as he said, "by order of the lords of trade," founded his work. They are as follows: "1. That the surest way for a nation to increase in riches, is to prevent the importation of such foreign commodities as may be raised at home. 2. That this kingdom is capable of raising within itself, and its colonies, materials for employing all our poor in those manufactories, which we now import from such of our neighbors as refuse the admission of ours." This author gave an account of the trade of Great Britain with all parts of the world, and showed where protection was demanded, and should be applied, to check unfavorable, and bring favorable balThe protective system of Great Britain, appears to have been begun in earnest about this time, not far from the middle of the first half of the seventeenth century. Previous to that time, some of the continental nations were much ahead of her in manufactures; such as France, some parts of Italy, and particularly Flanders, directly opposite, on the other side of the channel-all which drained her of cash, to a most inconvenient extent. One of the first steps of reform was to import sheep from Flanders, and to persuade Flemish manufacturers to come along with them; after. which, when wool was grown at home, and manufactures of woollen were set up, under protective laws, severe penalties were enacted against the export of sheep or wool, for the second offence cutting


off the hand, and for the third death, which are still on the statutebook, though not in force. Joshua Gee's doctrine was no sooner reduced to practice, than its charm and power were profoundly and comprehensively felt, in the increase of private and public wealth. The protective policy then began to be applied in all directions, and soon grew up into a system, till Great Britain finally became, in the eighteenth century, a great manufacturing nation. She had emerged, by the influence of this system, from a state of dependence on other nations, to independence, and in turn, began to make other nations tributary to her, as she had been to them. It was the vitality and power of this system, which sustained her under all the burdens of her expensive wars, in the eighteenth century, still rising, and still expanding her strength and power by the same cause. Her power was in her arts, and by her machinery one man did. the work of two hundred, so that a nation of twenty-five millions of people, was equal to one of hundreds of millions. It was by her protective system, that she was enabled to sustain herself and her continental allies, for so many years, and with such unshaken firmness, against the gigantic power of Napoleon; and it was by this that she finally triumphed.

It need not be said, that Great Britain is now the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and she probably commands more active capital than all the rest of Europe. No matter for her national debt, as it is all owned by her own subjects. She is none the poorer for that; but the fact, that her credit has never failed, and still continues firm, under the burden, makes of it an additional evidence of her immense and untold wealth. She commenced her protective system, in the seventeenth century, if not a second rate nation, as to wealth and commercial greatness, at most on a par with many other nations. In less than a century, she began to display her superior strength; and in one hundred and fifty years, her commercial credit was a match for the whole world. During all this time, her protective policy was never relaxed, but was steadily improved and extended, till it embraced every commercial interest of her subjects, in relation to foreign parts. Her board of trade has always been the medium of communication between the interests of her people and public legislation regarding those interests; and no manufacturing art or enterprise ever asked protection at her hands, without receiving it; nor was protection ever taken away from any, without the consent of those engaged in it, the case of the corn laws excepted. She has ever been wise

enough to consult, through her board of trade, the wishes of the parties concerned, as being the best and most competent judges of the amount of protection wanted, or whether any was wanted-a remarkable contrast to a fact that occurred in the history of the twenty-seventh congress of the United States, when, on motion of the Hon. J. P. Kennedy, that a committee be appointed to take evidence for the adjustment of the subjects and rates of duty in the tariff of 1842, a member from Tennessee moved an amendment, that no evidence should be received from manufacturers! That is, that the only witnesses acquainted with the facts, should be excluded from court!

By means of this system of protection in Great Britain, operating for two centuries, with constant improvements and additions, as occasions required, the British manufacturing arts have acquired a perfection of skill, and a strength of position, which those of no other nation can rival, and before which the latter must fall, on a basis of Free Trade. The British government have long been aware of this; and as shown in the preceding chapter, have been aiming at this, for more than half a century, by the employment of a pensioned corps of Free-Trade writers of consummate abilities, whose doctrines, like British manufactures, are fabricated, not for home consumption, but for foreign use, and for foreign markets.

As above remarked, the British government has always imposed duties on manufactured goods competing with their own, at the request of the manufacturers, and has never reduced or removed them, without consent of the interested parties. It was not till within a few years that the British manufacturers have felt their position to be strong enough to do without protection. In 1839 and 1840, the deputations of the manufacturers who annually appear before the board of trade, to represent their respective interests, and as witnesses of fact on this great question, expressed to the board their willingness to give up the protection that had been afforded them, the manufacturers of glass and silk only declining to concur. Precisely in accordance with this representation, the protective duties have since been abolished, except in the cases of glass and silk, which are retained.

It is easy to see-it is, indeed, a simple matter of recorded fact. -that there has been an understanding between the British manufacturers and their government, on the subject of the abolition of protective duties, as much as before, in their enactment, measure,

« AnteriorContinuar »