« AnteriorContinuar »
sell to us, and, consequently, his ability to buy of us. Its effect on our own agricultural community is, to lessen their ability to sell their products, by diminishing the foreign demand; which reduces the price they can command for their products, at the same time that the duty enhances the price they must pay for every one of the protected articles they consume. We should like, therefore, to be shown, how it is possible, in the nature of things, for the government to contrive any way by which it can relieve the agricultural community from the burden of the tax imposed for the benefit of the manufacturer.
The manufacturing population do not and cannot, in a country of such vast agricultural resources as our own, afford an adequate home market for all our surplus produce. A manufacturing population, large enough to consume all the surplus agricultural products we could easily produce, would, with the present improvements in labor-saving machinery, be large enough to manufacture the principal articles of consumption for the whole world, and then the manufacturers would labor under the difficulty of having no adequate market for their goods. But this is certain, our manufacturing towns do not and cannot furnish an adequate market for our surplus agricultural produce. This surplus must either lie on the producer's hands, or else find a foreign market. But how is it to find a foreign market? Foreigners can buy of us only on condition of selling to us in return. We can refuse to buy of them only on condition of rendering ourselves unable to sell to them; for all trade is necessarily, directly or indirectly, an exchange of products. Purchases depend on sales, and sales on purchases. If we shut the foreigner out of our markets, we shut ourselves out of his; if foreigners shut us out of their markets, they equally shut themselves out of ours. But our protective duties, if they are really protective, restrict importations, that is, the sales of foreigners to us, and therefore, to precisely the same extent, our sales to them. Consequently, we restrict the foreign market to our agricultural produce to exactly the same extent that we restrict the home market to foreign manufactures. Here is a positive disadvantage to the agriculturist, for which you can give him no compensation.
Nor is this the only disadvantage. The price of manufactures is determined by the demand for home consumption, and is not affected by the foreign demand; as is proved by the fact, that a duty on foreign importations can be protective. When any article, no matter what, depends on the foreign demand for its price, it is beyond the reach of protection; for protection secures only the home market, but this article has already secured that, and demands a foreign market. But the price of our agricultural produce is determined, not by the demand for home consumption, but by the foreign demand, and is determined by the price we can command for the surplus which seeks a foreign market. But the protective tariff lessens this foreign demand, and, consequently, the price the agriculturist can command for his produce, whether at home or abroad; for a lessened demand always lowers the price. Thus, under the protective tariff
, the farmer sells less, and at a lower price. But the tariff raises the price of manufactures; for, if it do not, it is not protective. Consequently, under the operation of a protective tariff, the farmer sells less, and at a diminished profit, while at the same time he is compelled to pay a higher price for what he buys. You diminish his means, and increase his expenses.
Here is the necessary operation of a tariff for the protection of manufactures. Will the advocates of protection tell us how they propose to compensate the agricultural interest? The simple truth is, if you will impose a duty for the benefit of the manufacturing community, you must do it at the expense of the agricultural community, for this is the only way in which it can be done. As honest men, you should, then, boldly avow, that you mean to tax the farmer and planter for the benefit of the manufacturer; or else repeal your protective tariff, and refuse to grant a special protection to any industrial interest.
There are other interests, such as the commercial and navigation interests, which are also affected unfavorably by the protective policy, and for which there is no compensating advantage ; but we do not deem it worth our while to go into details. We have said enough to show the absurdity of attempting to afford an equal special protection to all interests. Such absurdities are well enough when put forth by “the Farmer of Ashland” and his partisans, because in perfect keeping with their general character and professions. We expect from that quarter nothing more sound or more honest. But we do grieve to find our Republican friends, men who profess a better creed, and who do know something of political economy, suffering themselves to be led away by Whig fallacies and absurdities. The only possible way of protecting all interests alike is for the government to afford special protection to
The only wise course for an American statesman to recommend to his countrymen is that of free commercial intercourse with all nations. We wish we were, as a people, wise enough and honest enough to refuse to raise our revenue by duties on imports, and to raise it only by a direct tax on property. Politicians may say what they please, may express all the horror they can contrive to affect at the proposition ; but a direct tax on property is the only honorable, the only just, the only wise tax. When the revenue is raised directly, the government is sure to be kept pure by being kept poor. Each man knows how much he pays, and is sure to look closely after its expenditure. But it is, at present, idle to contend for the system of direct taxation. That would be equal and just, and therefore must needs be offensive. The present system, which raises the revenue without any man's knowing precisely how much he pays, enables the government to plunder the people much more effectually, and to a much greater extent, than it could under a system of direct taxation, and, what is equally to the purpose, compels the poor man to pay relatively altogether a larger proportion of the tax than the rich. Your Abbott Lawrences pay no portion of the tax to the government, but receive a bounty from it; while the poor girl in their mills pays a tax of at least some thirty per cent. average on every manufactured article she consumes. So, of course, direct taxation is out of the question. It would be horrible to make the rich bear their due proportion of the expenses of the government. Are not the poor the lowest stratum of society? On whom else, then, should rest its weight? But, in case we cannot go to direct taxation, but will continue to raise the revenue by imposts, we insist the duties should be laid on revenue principles, and for revenue alone. This is what, and all, that the opponents of the tariff contend for; we are all of us willing to support a revenue tariff with discrimination, — but discrimination for revenue, not for protection. For such a tariff we contend, on such a tariff we will insist, and decidedly, firmly, perseveringly oppose the imposition of any other. No party can count on our support, and we speak not merely for ourselves individually, for on this question we represent a party, - any further than it labors in good faith, earnestly, and perseveringly, to adjust the tariffon revenue principles, and on revenue principles alone.
We have a high respect for the present candidate of the Democratic party. We hailed his nomination with pleasure ; for we thought, from such of his speeches as we had read, that he was opposed to a protective tariff, and because we trusted his nomination would prove the dawn of a better era. But he has seen proper to come out in favor of a tariff which discriminates for protection ; and no allegiance to party, no fear of endangering the success of the party in the election, shall deter us a moment from expressing our utter detestation of such a tarifl. Nobody will suspect us of any undue partiality to the Whig party, or to its candidates, and nobody can with justice doubt our strong attachment to the Republican party, with which our political fortune is bound up; but we say boldly, that we would rather see our party eternally in the minority, than to see it acquiring power by the abandonment of one honest
principle, or by the adoption of a single measure of policy repugnant to justice, and to the real prosperity of the country. If we knew that our individual opposition to a protective tariff would defeat Mr. Polk's election, - on which, however, it will have no effect, - we would not hesitate a moment to oppose such a tariff. We should regret his defeat ; but we should regret the defeat of the party less than we should its accession to power, pledged to a protective tariff, or, what is the same thing, to “a revenue tariff with discrimination for the protection of home industry." The fear of endangering the success of one's party is a padlock to many a man's lips. It never has been, and never shall be, one to ours. We do not chance to believe in the infallibility of parties, nor that attachment to party absolves a man from his individual responsibility. The great question, which will be asked us in that day when we must all give an account of whatever we have done, will not be, Have you been true to your party ? but, Have you been true to the best light you had, or could obtain, as to what was for the true interest of your country ?
But in concluding these brief remarks, which we are well aware do by no means constitute an adequate discussion of the great subject they concern, we will venture to predict, that the time is not far distant, when the Northern manufacturers themselves will be as strongly opposed to the present protective tariff as we are. These manufacturers are, no doubt, very respectable business-men, and know something of bookkeeping, - very respectable citizens unquestionably, liberal, hospitable, in private life, and able and willing to entertain one very agreeably with good dinners, and not bad wines; but they are by no means so far-sighted, even where their own interests are concerned, as they think themselves, or as many others think them. They must remember, that their principal market must always be the home market ; for ours is, and can be, but one manufacturing nation among many.
Their principal home market is at the South and West. Have they VOL. I. NO, IV.