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and continuance. Both parties had come to the knowledge, that, on account of the perfection of the British manufacturing arts, of their superiority in skill over those of other nations, and on account of the position which they occupied in the hands of great capitalists, there was no risk in this abolition of protective duties. They had, indeed, an exact measure of the risk in the gauge of duties realized from this source, which had come to be trifling, and were the result of accident, or of any other cause than that of competition in trade. It was also well understood, what would be the moral effect on the world, by this course of procedure; that, on this basis, they could set up a challenge for Free Trade to all nations, with the show of an example; that they could say, we have become converts to our own writers (pensioned for that very purpose) on public economy; and above all, it was well understood, that the acceptance of this challenge by other nations, would result in the sole advantage of the party which threw down the glove, and the overthrow and ruin of those who should take it up. The position of the challenging party, was one of conscious strength and superiority. Both the government and the manufacturers knew, that no nation could compete with them, on a platform of Free Trade, because all other nations were, some an age, and some a century, behind them, in skill, and in strength of position; and they knew, that such opponents would require, at least equal time and equal chances as had been enjoyed in Great Britain, under a system of protection, to be prepared for such a strife.
There was another great and important understanding between British manufacturers and the British government, in the adoption of this measure, viz., the abolition of the corn laws. These laws were the only obstacle in the way of the complete triumph of British manufactures over all the world, on the basis of Free Trade. It had been seen, that British arts and British capital were going abroad, to set up where food was cheaper, and vie with the home arts and home capital. M'Gregor, one of their highest authorities, and who had been made a principal witness before the committees of parliament on this subject, had told them, that, "from $20,000,000 to $25,000,000 were annually drawn from the kingdom, by persons of fortune, who go to France, Italy, Switzerland, and other parts of the continent, where they can live better, at less expense than at home. Now," said M'Gregor, "provided our commercial system were of a more enlightened character, [free trade in corn], measures would speedily be adopted, which
would have the effect of assimilating the prices of necessaries in England and on the continent. There is at present nothing to stop the progress of manufacturing industry on the continent of Europe; and time only is required to enable foreign manufacturers to produce a sufficient supply of goods to supplant us. We might, in every manufacture we now possess, meet foreign countries in every market of the world, and in most instances, undersell them." Another writer adds: "We allow the resources which would enable us to accomplish this, to be counterbalanced by protecting duties on the importation of food." And their present great pensioner, M'Culloch, who preaches one doctrine for home, and another for foreign parts, says in his commercial Dictionary: "Our establishments for spinning, weaving, printing, bleaching, etc., are infinitely more complete and perfect than any that exist elsewhere, etc." See pp. 93 and 94 for this important extract.
Here, as need not be said, the plan is fully disclosed, confessed, promulgated-not, indeed, for the advice of foreign nations, though it transpires incidentally-but as an incitement to domestic legislation. M'Culloch, who knew, has told the exact truth, which brings us to one of the main points of this chapter, viz., that Great Britain is the only nation prepared for Free Trade. To install her manufacturing arts in this impregnable position, she has made one great sacrifice, that of her corn laws.
It will be seen, therefore, that this abolition of duties on manufactures, and on bread-stuffs, vaunted forth as Free Trade to all the world, is in the direct line of her policy of protection, sustained for two hundred years, by which she has become the richest and most powerful nation in the world, and that it is all done on the principle of protection; that is, to protect and further her own interests, and the interests of her manufacturers and artisans, against all the world. Great Britain had arrived at the point, in her commercial history, when Free Trade, in these particulars, was her true policy, as much so as protective duties had formerly been. Protective duties once, and the abolition of them now, so far as carried out, are both based on the same principle, viz., interest, policy, demonstrated by taking up a position adapted to a change of circumstances, in relation to the rest of the world. Great Britain was not only prepared for this modification of her policy, by having shot far ahead of all other nations in her manufacturing arts; but with this advantage, on the basis of Free Trade as a general rule among all commercial states, she could distance them
yet farther and more rapidly than before, as they would have no Protection against her, when she no longer needed it for herself against them. It would be the skilful contending against those who are less skilful; the strong against the weak; the well-fortified in their position, against those who have yet to gain a position; the issue of which could not be doubtful.
It remains to show, that Great Britain is the only nation prepared for Free Trade- or rather to show it more clearly, as it can not but be in part manifest already. It is remarkable, though not generally known, that, although Great Britain had been preparing the way for more than half a century, by her pensioned writers on public economy, for the proposal of Free Trade to the world, it was never whispered from her public functionaries and statesmen, till within a few years. The thorough doctrine of Free Trade, indeed, was never promulgated to the world, till after the battle of Waterloo; which event is not mentioned as having any connexion with this full disclosure, but as an epoch of European history, subsequent to which, some efforts were made, by the states of Europe, for a more liberal commercial intercourse with each other, secretly instigated by the British cabinet. Russia plunged into it headloug, in 1818, and was obliged to tread back, in a great effort for her own rescue, in less than four years. In a public document, of 1822, from Count Nesselrode, Russian prime minister, we find the following graphic description of the state of things in that empire, produced by the relaxation of their protective policy: "Agriculture without a market, industry without protection, languish and decline. Specie is exported, and the most solid commercial houses are shaken. The public prosperity would soon feel the wound inflicted on private fortunes, if new regulations did not promptly change the actual state of affairs. Events have proved, that our agriculture and our commerce, as well as our manufacturing industry, are not only paralyzed, but brought to the brink of ruin." The remedy was promptly applied, the protective policy was re-established, and now reigns, in that empire, more firmly than ever. The Zoll-Verein treaty of the German states, formed for mutual protection against Great Britain in particular, and against the world generally, is the result of the same necessity. They have found it necessary to have systematic, as well as permanent protection. The following citation from a speech in the British parliament, delivered some ten years after the peace of Europe, is instructive here; and certainly it is frank: "It was idle for us to
endeavor to persuade other nations to join with us in adopting the principles of what was called 'Free Trade.' Other nations knew, as well as the noble lord opposite, and those who acted with him, that what we meant by Free Trade,' was nothing more nor less than, by means of the great advantages we enjoyed, to get a monopoly of all their markets for our manufactures, and to prevent them, one and all, from ever becoming manufacturing nations. When the system of reciprocity and Free Trade had been proposed to a French embassador, his remark was, that the plan was excellent in theory, but, to make it fair in practice, it would be necessary to defer the attempt to put it in execution for half a century, until France should be on the same footing with Great Britain, in marine, in manufactures, in capital, and the many other peculiar advantages which she now enjoyed. The policy that France acted on, was that of encouraging her native manufactures; and it was a wise policy; because, if it were freely to admit our manufactures, it would speedily be reduced to the rank of an agricultural nation; and therefore a poor nation, as all must be that depend exclusively upon agriculture. America acted, too, upon the same principle with France. America legislated for futurity, and was prospering under this system. In twenty years America would be independent of England for manufactures altogether... Since the peace, France, Germany, America, and all other countries, had proceeded upon the principle of encouraging and protecting native manufactures."
Napoleon established manufactures in France as they had never before existed there, and it is still found necessary to protect them. The more that Great Britain makes her demonstrations of Free Trade, so much the more does every nation in Europe find it necessary to protect itself—to stand on the defensive as she occupies a position from which she can beat them all. Nevertheless, there is a substantial equality among all European nations, as to the joint cost of money and labor, which are the two comprehensive elements of every commercial system, and the two powers employed in the commercial strifes of nations. On this account, if Free Trade would do anywhere, it would do among and between European nations. But it will not do even there. Much less will it do between Europe and the United States, when the joint cost of money and labor in this country, is more than a hundred per cent. greater than their cost in Europe, being so much against us; and for which there could be no possible compensation, under a system of Free Trade, not to speak of the imperfect state of our
manufacturing arts, as compared with those of Europe, and more especially of Great Britain.
It is this difference of cost of money and labor in the United States, as compared with their cost in Europe-the necessary consequences of which are abundantly considered in subsequent chapters of this work-it is this, we say, which establishes the second proposition at the head of this chapter, to wit, that the United States are the last nation that can afford Free Trade. As long as this difference exists, that is, as long as the states of society in these two quarters are so different—which is the same thing, or rather the cause of the difference in the cost of money and labor-the United States can never afford Free Trade. Free Trade must necessarily annihilate this difference in the states of society, not by bringing up European society to the American standard, but by reducing the latter to the level of the former, by the annihilation of the difference in the cost of money and labor. It is elsewhere shown, that the great thing to be maintained by a protective system in the United States, is American freedom, which consists in maintaining the rights of labor; that this was the great and sole object of the American revolution, and all that was acquired in the establishment of American independence. Grant that the United States can afford to lose all this, then it is conceded, that we can afford Free Trade.
Some further light may be thrown on this subject, by considering the position into which American manufactures, as a whole, would be thrust, on a basis of Free Trade, and the position into which the separate establishments would be thrust, under the influence of the same cause. As a whole, they would be positively injured, crippled, by the superior, more advantageous, and more commanding position of British and other foreign manufacturing arts, not to speak of the difference in the cost of money and labor, which is the most potent cause of all. They would be curtailed, restricted, and impaired. The home demand for the agricultural products of the country-which, as shown in another chapter, is by far the best market in every respect, but more especially in the amount of consumption-would be instantly and greatly curtailed, continually diminishing; the great cause of private and public wealth, arising from multiplying arts and kinds of labor, would cease to operate; and investments of capital in home manufactures, would be checked, abridged, and greatly diminished, by the necessity of diverting it to other channels. But the most calamitous