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the human mind in such an imposing shape-especially if they come from respectable authority. It is natural to receive them in faith for a season, when they are accompanied with the sanction of great names. It is the habit of the American mind—too much so, perhaps to defer to European, especially to British, authority, in matters of science. Is it strange, then, that this pretension, so cunningly devised, and backed with names of such repute, should have been transiently entertained among us, by the mere force of authority? Certainly it is much more reasonable to suppose this, than now, in all the light on this subject, to retain this species of faith.
A word is due to the influence of the pride of science on this subject. We have already given reasons to show why public economy, hitherto, has had no claim to be dignified with the name of a science, and particularly that the Free-Trade hypothesis can not possibly be a science, first, because it is a mere hypothesis still; next, because all its propositions are empirical laws; and thirdly, because they fall under that category of empirical laws which for ever precludes them from being reduced to a science. But, in every department of inventive research, will be found men of intellectual obliquity, and of loud pretensions, who sometimes get a theory in their heads, which they baptize with the name of a science, as in the case of Free Trade, then mount the hobby, and drive it with furious intent. True science, though always modest, is undoubtedly a thing of very just pride. As public economy has been installed among the sciences by British economists, the more extravagant the pretension, as to form and substance, so much the more captivating is its influence over that class of persons to which we have alluded above. Sobriety would as little suit their taste, as the labors of a genuine science would suit their habits. They want something that will strike the fancy, something that will prove itself; they want the philosopher's stone that will turn everything into gold; and this they find in Free Trade. It is a beautiful theory to such minds; what could be more charming? Besides, it costs nothing in the way of verification; for it has but one proposition. It is a science that stands on one leg. It never budged an inch, and never can, as such. Nevertheless, it is very captivating to those who think it is a science, and they dance around it, chanting their hymns of satisfaction, and doing homage as to a symbol of mystic import. Did ye never witness the exceeding delight, the ecstacy of these savans, and with what
airs of triumph they put to you their one-legged concern? They evidently think it a perfect beauty; it is a science, they say. Born in the closet, these notions have been transferred from one closet to another, and re-elaborated there, by the brains of every succeeding theorist, with all the fervor and satisfaction of scholastic pride, without the slightest knowledge of the practical operation of these principles in the common affairs of life. Like greenhouse plants, which perish before the rude action of the changing seasons, when exposed, so these Free-Trade principles, applied to the practical concerns of the commercial world, bring forth nothing but unripe or blasted fruit.
Men are sometimes found in eminent positions, even in connexion with our colleges and universities, who are compelled to borrow the capital of ideas in which they trade, in the way of teaching and writing. This capital, so far as this subject is concerned, as before shown, is furnished to their hands, in the greatest abundance, by British authorities. We have seen how it began to be formed, nearly a century ago, under the auspices of Adam Smith; what state reasons existed for laying this foundation; how it has been carefully husbanded, from that time to this, as a British state policy; how the greatest talent of the British empire has been seduced into this service, and kept industriously employed; and how this feeling a mere feeling-has become an instinct of the British nation, that Free Trade in all the world is necessary to their preeminence. Nor do they preach this doctrine insincerely, though as yet they have never practised it; but they are prepared for it, as shown in the extract from Mr. M'Culloch above, and as we have shown in a subsequent chapter, as soon as a general consent can be obtained. They have gained a position which enables them to afford it, and which will insure their advantage, their ascendency, over all other nations, on a Free Trade platform. This vantageground has been the constant aim of British statesmen for seventyfive years. Their writers, and their press in all its forms, during this period, have made the best argument that could be made; and their example has seduced many continental writers, and some portions of the continental periodical press, into their footsteps. There is no nation, whose authority in learning and science, is more commanding than that of Great Britain—none, certainly, more imposing in relation to us, who are of the same family, and who speak the same language. When we borrow ideas from any quarter, we more naturally borrow from that. All the most eminent British
authorities on public economy, are no sooner out of the press in London, than they appear here. Thence our economists, for the most part, borrow their capital on this subject; and our schools and colleges are greatly influenced and swayed by these two combined agencies, foreign and domestic. Here is to be observed the action of the simple, but potent principle of subservience to authority, laid down as one of the rules at the beginning of this chapter, to determine the reasons of the rise and progress of Free Trade. Ignorant of that great state policy which brought these works into existence in Great Britain, Americans become its victims, where they think they are getting a science all made at their hands. We will not say the subserviency, but the servility with which these notions of Free Trade have been copied in this country from British authorities, by Americans occupying eminent places in our seminaries of learning, and who have propagated them to the extent of their abilities and influence, is not simply a subject of regret for the evil which it does to the country, but of humiliation at the sight of such obsequiousness.
From this higher department of the American mind, as it has been brought into action on this subject, we are forced to descend for a moment, though with regret, into the arena of party politics, to see, if the prevalence of Free-Trade principles in that quarter, can be accounted for by one or more of the rules laid down at the beginning of this chapter. We believe, that the instincts of the American people, left to themselves, are necessarily on the side of Protection, and that nothing but some special and unnatural cause, some violent shock, could have carried them over, even for a transient period, to the other side. The entire mass of the free labor of this country feels, and has ever felt, that it can not and will not be placed side by side with the pauper labor of Europe, to be fed and clothed as that is fed and clothed, to be housed as that is housed, and starved as that is often starved. Yet Free Trade proposes this-we say, proposes it-because, if figures do not lie, it must necessarily lead to that result. How, then, has it happened, that a great and for a long time dominant party of this country should have adopted, and put into operation, by their chiefs and leaders, the doctrines of Free Trade as a public policy? We propose to answer this question, under the guidance of the rules we have laid down.
A mere accident in our political history, but a very comprehensive and momentous one, has contributed more, perhaps, than any
or all things else, to propagate among the people of this country, for a season, the influences of the Free-Trade theory. We mean the accidental position of the chief magistrate of the United States, arising, in 1831, out of a personal feud between him and the vicepresident. The president, in vindicating the executive authority, in the critical emergency of the country that followed, went so far as to render it convenient to himself, as a candidate for re-election, to appear afterward to recede somewhat, till he was supposed, apparently with justice, to have taken ground for Free Trade; and his unbounded popularity carried his party with him in that direction. For the first time, in the history of the country-it may be hoped for the last-this great American question, which ought for ever to unite all Americans, became, most unnaturally, a party question, and has been maintained as such, from that time to this, though with a manifest decreasing zeal for the Free-Trade cause among the people. To prove that this revolution in popular opinion was caused, first, by the social position of the president, and next by his authority over the party, it is only necessary to observe, that, down to that time, both he and they were among the soundest and strongest protectionists which the country has ever had in its bosom. The causes of the change, therefore, were undoubtedly purely moral, being a change of social position with the president, and subservience to his authority in his party. It is altogether unnatural, that any portion of the people of the United States should be the advocates of Free Trade, as all their instincts must necessarily be against it, when the subject is understood by them. It is not only the great question of the age, but it is emphatically an American question. It is the position and interests of the United States which have made it the question of the age, more than all other causes. European, especially British statesmen, know well, and have long foreseen, that, if freedom is not suppressed here, it will grow up there, and that freedom consists, as we have maintained in a subsequent chapter, in the great strife of the world for the rights of labor, for commercial rights, for the enjoyment and independent control of commercial values by those who create them. The great aim of British statesmen is to bring American labor down to the same level with European, which can only be accomplished by a system of Free Trade.
But this accidental and relative position of the two great political parties in the United States, on this question, induced as above stated, and which can hardly, in the nature of things, endure long,
has forced the people to act upon it, in the great political contests of the country, before they understood it. It is a question, in the consideration of which, if the people generally are forced to go farther than its simplest forms, where their instincts will decide for them, and decide most safely, infallibly, their minds will be embarrassed, and they will be compelled to rely on one of two modes of decision:- either to trust to their party leaders, or to wait till experiment shall prove in which of the two courses of public policy their true interests lie. This is precisely the position, unfortunately, in which the people of the United States have been placed, by making this question a party one. Neither the people, nor. their party leaders, as a body, have understood the subject. That was impossible. And nothing of the merits of the question was ever decided, in the result of popular elections, so far as it was ininfluenced by it, except as the people were instructed by experience, as for example in 1840. All other influences have been those of authority only.
Without having the remotest idea of the real character of Free Trade, in its practical operations, the people, very extensively, have been made to believe, that it means to buy where you can the cheapest, and sell where you can the dearest, which is very naturally thought to be right; and that protection is a tax, which every one naturally objects to. In this view of the subject, which we have elsewhere proved to be incorrect, it is not strange that demagogues, and a party press devoted to Free Trade, under the auspices of one of the most popular chieftains that ever swayed the sceptre of chief magistracy in the United States, should have led off a majority of the people, for a season, to believe in this doctrine, till convinced of their error by sad experience; nor is it strange, that the same mode of reasoning should still continue to have its influence, so long, unfortunately, as this is made a party question. But, as it is, in fact and properly, an American question, in relation to the foreign world, and has unnaturally been forced into the position of a domestic controversy, it can not always be held there. Sooner or later, the people are doomed to learn by experience, that the protection of American labor and arts, against foreign labor and arts, is indispensably necessary to their true interests.