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The Hon. Abbott Lawrence, in a letter to the Hon. William C. Rives, of Virginia, dated Boston, January 16, 1846, says: "We [of Massachusetts], previous to the war of 1812, were an agricultural and navigating people. The American system [the protective policy] was forced upon us, and was adopted for the purpose of creating a home market for the products of the soil of the south and west. We resisted the adoption of a system, which, we honestly believed, would greatly injure our navigation, and drive us from our accustomed employments, into a business we did not understand. We came into it, however, reluctantly, and soon learned,. that, with the transfer of our capital, we acquired skill and knowledge in the use of it; and that, so far from our foreign commerce being diminished, it was increased; and that our domestic tonnage and commerce were very soon more than QUADRUPLed.”
will give four-and-twenty times more encouragement and support to the industry of the country than the other."
And yet again: "The greatest and most important branch of the commerce of every nation, it has already been observed [this is a great point in his work], is that which is carried on between the inhabitants of the town and those of the country. The inhabitants of the town draw from the country the rude produce which constitutes both the materials of their work and the fund of their subsistence; and they pay for this produce by sending back to the country a certain portion of it manufactured and prepared for immediate use. The trade which is carried on between these two sets of people, consists ultimately in a certain quantity of rude produce exchanged for a certain quantity of manufactured produce. . . Whatever tends to diminish, in ANY country, the number of artificers and manufacturers, TENDS TO DIMINISH THE HOME MARKET, THE MOST IMPORTANT OF ALL MARKETS, for the rude produce of the land, and thereby still further to discourage agriculture. Those systems, therefore, which, preferring agriculture to all other employments, in order to promote it, impose restraints upon manufactures, and foreign trade, act contrary to the very end which they propose, and indirectly discourage that very species of industry which they mean to produce."
This, as can not be denied, is pretty strong and decided. It is always safe to leave the argument for Protection in Adam Smith's hands, when he is going on in his natural way. He can not help speaking the truth, and the whole truth; though he does not seem to have felt himself in court, and under oath, to speak nothing but the truth. He had masters to serve, who fed and clothed him, as shown in another chapter, and for their great political designs, he was occasionally compelled, as may be believed, to violate his conscience, not less than his principles.
THE EFFECTS OF A PROTECTIVE SYSTEM ON THE COTTON
The Reasoning of a Secretary of the Treasury, on the Cotton-Growing Interest, considered -The Importance of this Interest as compared with others-The Forty-Bale Theory "--A Variety of instructive Statistics on the Cotton and other Interests of the Country. The Claims of the Cotton Interest, as being one of superior Political importance, examined.-The Profits of Cotton Growers and Manufacturers compared — The Evidence of Mr. Clay and the "Southern Planter" on this Point.-Table of Prices of Cotton from 1790 to 1844-A Protective System more important to the Cotton-Growing Interest than to any other.-A remarkable and decisive Mode of Proof-Action of a Convention of Mississippi Cotton Planters on the Subject.
THE secretary of the treasury, in his annual report of December, 1845, said, "The cotton-planting interest suffers from the tariff [of 1842] in the double capacity of consumer and exporter.” This theory will be easily apprehended by a perusal of the following extracts from a speech of Mr. CLAY, in the senate, February,
"It is alleged that the import duty is equivalent to an export duty, and falls on cotton. The framers of our constitution, by granting the power to Congress to lay imposts, and prohibiting that of laying an export duty, manifested that they did not regard them as equivalent. Nor does the common sense of mankind. An export duty fastens upon, and incorporates itself with, the article on which it is laid. But an import duty on a foreign article leaves the exporter of the domestic article free-first, to import specie; secondly, goods which are free from the protecting duty; or thirdly, such goods as, being chargeable with the protecting duty, he can sell at home."
Again: "The case has been put in debate, and again and again in conversation, of the South-Carolina planter, who exports one hundred bales of cotton to Liverpool, exchanges them for one hundred bales of merchandise, and when he brings them home, being compelled to leave at the customhouse forty bales in the form of duties. The arrangement is founded on the assumption that a duty of 40 per centum amounts to a subtraction of forty from the one hundred bales of merchandise. The first answer to it is, that it. supposes a case of barter, which never occurs. If it be replied,
that it nevertheless occurs in the operations of commerce, the answer would be, that, since the export of Carolina cotton is chiefly made by New York or foreign merchants, the loss stated, if it really occurred, would fall upon them, and not upon the planters.
"But, to test the correctness of the hypothetical case, let us suppose that the duty, instead of 40 per centum, should be 150, which is asserted to be the duty in some cases. Then, the planter would not only lose the whole hundred bales of merchandise, which he had gotten for his hundred bales of cotton, but he would have to purchase, with other means, an additional fifty bales, in order to enable him to pay the duty accruing on the proceeds of the cotton! Another answer is, that if the producer of cotton in America exchanged against English fabrics, pays the duty, the producer of the fabrics also pays it, and then it is twice paid. Such must be the consequence, unless the principle is true on one side of the Atlantic, and false on the other. The true answer is, that the exporter of an article, if he invests his proceeds in a foreign market, takes care to make the investment in such merchandise as, when brought home, he can sell with a fair profit."
When a doctrine or theory-for this is nothing but a theoryis proved absurd, as above, that is enough. No reasoning can stand before a plain, palpable absurdity, like this. The cottonplanter usually sells his cotton, out and out, to a New-York broker, or to a merchant somewhere, at the market price, puts the money in his pocket, and there it is. But this theory supposes it is not there. Or, that, by some unaccountable process, 40 per cent. of it is afterward abstracted. If the planter, having the money for his cotton once in his own desk, lets a part of it go, it must be bis own fault. There is no such thing as barter in these transactions. The exporter of cotton pays the cotton-grower cash, and if he imports merchandise with its proceeds, instead of cash, it is because he expects more cash in the end, by profits on his imports, duties or no duties.
But admitting the truth and validity of the "forty-bale theory," or of what the secretary of the treasury calls "cotton suffering in the double capacity of consumer and exporter"—it would be hard to believe it—but admitting it, it has been demonstrated in another part of this work that protective duties in this country are not taxes, in the operation of the system, to any party or person; that protected articles of manufacture are generally cheaper-in the aggregate always cheaper; and that the system relieves the people
from a heavy burden of foreign taxation. Then where is this "suffering," this loss to be found? It has vanished; it is turned into a positive gain, in all cases, and with all parties in the country-producers, consumers, buyers, sellers, exporters, and importers. And thus the whole theory falls to the ground.
It was on the basis of this theory that nullification rose in 1832 -disturbed the repose, and menaced the integrity of the Union. The South-Carolinians were made to believe that they were taxed millions a year, "in the double capacity of consumers and exportMr. Clay, in his reply to General Hayne, in February, 1832, proved very satisfactorily, that, on their own principle, their tax, as a state, could not exceed $333,000, which was only about one third of their fair proportion of the public burden, when the revenue from customs was twenty-five millions. But even this burden is removed by the proof that protective duties are not taxes.
That the cotton-growing interest is one of great importance, both to the country and to the world, is evident enough; and those things which make it important to the world, all contribute to make it valuable to those concerned in it. But the following statement of the secretary of the treasury on this point, in his annual report for December, 1845, deserves a qualification and some abatement, in several particulars :
"Cotton is the great basis of our foreign exchange, furnishing most of the means to purchase imports and supply the revenue. It is thus the source of two thirds of the revenue, and of our foreign freight and commerce, upholding our commercial marine and maritime power. It is also a bond of peace with foreign nations, constituting a stronger preventive of war than armies or navies, forts or armaments. At present prices, our cotton-crop will yield an annual product of $72,000,000, and the manufactured fabric $504,000,000, furnishing profits abroad to thousands of capitalists, and wages to hundreds of thousands of the working classes, all of whom would be deeply injured by any disturbance, growing out of a war, to the direct and adequate supply of the raw material. If our manufacturers consume 400,000 bales, it would cost them $12,000,000, while selling the manufactured fabric for $84,000.000; and they should be the last to unite in imposing heavy taxes on that great interest, which supplies them with the raw material, out of which they realize such large profits."
The most impressive feature of the above passage, from the report of the secretary of the treasury, is the sympathy and concern
which he seems to manifest for British capitalists and laborers, as contrasted with his feelings toward American capitalists and laborers. To the former he is more than courteous; to the latter, here and throughout the report, he is somewhat severely censorious. It is not a little remarkable that he should be able so clearly to see the dependence of these "hundreds of thousands" of British "working classes" on their position, in connexion with their employers, and that he should so feelingly deprecate "any disturbance" of that position, by which they might be "deeply injured ;" and yet not be able to see the importance of not disturbing the same position of American laborers. The secretary seems to have great satisfaction in contemplating the growing wealth of British capitalists, and is apparently ready to vindicate their utmost prerogative. The slightest exposure of the British "working classes" to injury, very sensibly affects him. This does not appear to be the charity that begins at home, but that which roams abroad for beneficiaries.
Could he not think what would be the benefit to American labor without injury but a benefit to the cotton-growing interest, as shown in another part of this chapter-if 50 per cent. of the raw cotton exported were manufactured in this country, thereby retaining the six additional values bestowed upon it, not less than $200,000,000, instead of retaining only the $84,000,000? — The market or demand, for both the raw cotton and its fabrics, would still be the same- —even greater. As to the "heavy taxes on this great interest," which the secretary deprecates, it has been many times answered in this work. If such a monomania were not a calamity to more parties than one, it would be ludicrous enough.
In the next place, the value of the cotton-crop in this statement is hypothetical, and too high. According to the secretary's own tables, the export of that year was only $51,739,643; and the average annual export from 1841 to 1845, inclusive, was only $51,000,000. Add $12,000,000 for home consumption, according to his statement, and it would be only $63,000,000, instead of $72,000,000.
But this is here presented by the secretary as a great interest. There are several agricultural products of the country of greater value than that of cotton. That of hay, in 1844, by the patentoffice report, was upward of 17,000,000 tons, which, at $10, would be $170,000,000. Indian corn, in 1844, was 422,000,000 bushels; in 1843, it was 494,000,000; and in 1846, probably over 500,000,000: which, at 50 cents a bushel, would be $250,000,000.