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upon imports. But why have our tariff ships and putting them under our own laws been so framed as to prejudice and flag? If we cannot build ships, why destroy one great interest while foster- should our citizens be prohibited from ing others ? Why have our people purchasing them ? In no country in the looked on with indifference? Why have world except this great, free country of our law-makers been inert, while our ours, does such a barbarous prohibition ships have been disappearing from the exist. If we need ships and cannot build ocean? The answer must be found in the them, why should the right to buy be lack of broad and comprehensive states- denied ? manship in Congress and in the Execu- The following sentences are selected tive branches of the Government. There from some rather extended remarks, are, I am happy to say, indications that which I made in my report as Secretary the public mind is being awakened to of the Treasury to Congress, in 1866, the importance of having something upon the subject of American shipdone for the restoration of American ping : shipping. Over-production in manu- “No single interest in the United factures for the home demand, the want States, although it may be fostered by of foreign markets for the surplus, are legislation, can long prosper at the exawakening public attention in this di- pense of other great interests, nor can rection. The party of the future will any important interest be crushed by be that party which, comprehending the unwise or unequal laws without other interests of the whole country, fosters interests being thereby prejudiced. The all alike, or relieves the people altogether people of the United States are natufrom the burdens which a partial policy rally a commercial and maritime people, now imposes. If protection is to be the fond of adventure, bold, enterprising continued policy of the Government, and persistent. Now the disagreeable ship-building should be encouraged, and fact must be admitted that, with unmaritime interests protected, as well as equal facilities for obtaining the mamanufactures. If restrictions are to be terials, and with acknowledged skill in removed, and taxation for revenue only ship-building, with thousands of miles is to be the policy, the shipping interest, of sea-coast, indented with the finest largely relieved from the burdens now harbor in the world, with surplus prodimposed upon it, with fair compensation ucts that require a large and increased to steam-ships for carrying the mails, tonnage, we can neither profitably build will take care of itself. It will be a ships, nor successfully compete with proud day for the United States when English ships in the transportation of American ships share with those of other our own productions. It is a well esnations in the business of the seas, and tablished general fact that the people the American flag is seen again in ports who build ships navigate them, and that from which it has been long banished. a nation which ceases to build ships, On one point there should be accord ceases of consequence to be a commerbetween men of all parties : if by reason cial and maritime nation. Unless, thereof the tariff or any other cause we can- fore, the cause which prevents the buildnot profitably build ships, we should ing of ships in the United States, shall not be prohibited from buying and put- cease, the foreign carrying trade even ting them under our own flag. It is of our own productions, must be yielded urged, I know, that the building of ships to other nations. To this humiliation could not be a profitable industry in the and loss, the people of the United States United States, even if the duty on all ought not to be subjected. If other articles which are used in their construc- branches of industry are to prosper : if tion and outfit were taken off, by reason agriculture is to be profitable, and manuof the cheaper labor on the other side of factures are to be extended ; the comthe Atlantic. If this were a fact, which merce of the country must be restored, I do not believe, what justification can sustained, and increased. The United there be for keeping on the statute book States will not be a first class power the law that prohibits citizens of the among the nations, nor will her other United States from buying foreign built industrial interests continue long to
prosper as they ought, if our commerce her people were more skilful in the use is permitted to languish.”
of machinery than the people of the The causes of the decline of ship-build- Continent. She had also, what they ing referred to in these extracts were, had not, an unlimited supply of coalhigher prices of labor and materials in the great factor in manufacturing, and the United States than in Europe, and if not the inventor of the steam-engine, the Tariff. One of these causes has been she was the first to utilize it. She was much modified. Skilled labor has be- also the leading maritime power of the come abundant in the United States world, and consequently possessed the within the last twenty years, and greater facilities for sending her goods to all progress has been made in labor-saving ports that were open to her ships. To machinery on this side, than on the make the most of these advantages, she other side of the Atlantic. If all the adopted the principle of free trade. materials which are needed in the con- By it the raw materials which she struction of ships were relieved from needed were admitted free from taxaimport duties, the other cause of the de- tion and paid for in productions of her cline of shipping would be also modi- mills. By this means she had obtained fied ; but so much ground has been lost a manufacturing ascendancy too forby delay, and so strong has become the midable to be competed with by capiEuropean monopoly of the ocean traffic, talists of the United States, without that something more is required to build government aid. It was to free the up ship-building in the United States. United States from dependency upon
Not only should ship-building ma- Great Britain, for the goods which were terials be admitted free of duty, but needed, and of which they might be deUnited States Steamship Companies prived in case of war between the two should be liberally paid for the trans- nations, that our protective laws were portation of the mails. We should, in mainly advocated. These laws were for this respect, do what other nations have many years simply revenue laws with done to build up and sustain their mari- incidental protection. They were aftertime interests ;—but we must not stop ward so changed that protection became here. All efforts to induce investments the object and revenue the incident. of capital in ships will be unavailing “I am in favor of a judicious tariff,” unless foreign markets are secured for said John Quincy Adams, in a conversawhat we have to sell. Trade is essen- tion with Henry Clay and others. "I tially barter, and there can be no barter am in favor of a judicious tariff.” “And as long as trade is fettered with unequal I,” said Mr. Clay, am in favor of a duties on articles to be exchanged. tariff, judicious or not." Congress has
of late years been altogether with Mr. This leads me naturally to say some Clay, and adhered to protection until it thing upon a subject which ever since has become burdensome upon the peothe formation of the Government has ple-depriving producers to a considerbeen fruitful of discussion-the tariff. able extent of the benefits of foreign That in the infancy of our manufactures, markets for our surplus of agricultural protective laws were needed, and that productions, for which at remunerative the country has been in times past, prices there is insufficient demand, and greatly benefited by these laws, is ad- what is worse than all, our protective mitted by the advocates of tariff reform, tariff has created a demand for laborers, if not by free traders. Without Gov- which has brought over immense numernment protection against the compe-bers of foreigners for whom already tition of British manufacturers, capital. there is insufficient employment, and ists in the United States would not who are consequently restive, and may have engaged in manufacturing. Great become dangerous. Britain, early in the present century, Conceding that protective tariffs were became the work-shop of the nations. needed to induce investments in home From 1831 to 1870, she controlled the manufactures, and to sustain them when manufacturing of the world. She had they were too feeble to compete unaided more capital than any other nation, and with Great Britain, it is clear to my
mind that our tariff laws should have a pression which followed this crisis was, thorough revision, for the purpose of ac- however, of short continuance. The commodating them to the changed con- spirit of the people was too elastic and dition of the industrial interests of the buoyant and energetic to be long decountry. Protection was originally and pressed. Millions of debts were wiped properly advocated on the ground that out by the Bankrupt Act. The Governwithout it manufacturing could make ment notes were not called in. Bank no headway against the crushing power notes practically irredeemable, were of British capital, and on this ground abundant, for both of which employonly. Thirty years ago, few if any of ment must be found, and this employthe advocates of protection were bold ment was found in the construction of enough to advocate it as a permanent railroads, many of which were built not policy. It was to be temporary-not for business which required them, but perpetual. When the expenses of the for the business they were expected to civil war began to require immense rev create. So capital went into railroads enues, the tariff was largely increased, in amounts that would have been ruinand a patriotic people submitted to the ous, had not short crops in Europe, and additional burden thus laid upon them, abundant crops in the United States, because they had resolved that the Gov- greatly increased railroad traffic and ernment should be sustained. Not only created balances in our favor which were was the tariff increased, but an excise settled by importations of gold. system was adopted under which almost All this is now being changed. Maneverything that could be reached by the ufacturing of all kinds has been overtax collectors was heavily taxed. Noth- done. Mills have been built where they ing more was heard about protection. can never be profitable, no matter what Revenue was what was needed and taxa- governmental protection may be given tion was chiefly submitted to, not only to them. Our agricultural productions for revenue, but to give credit to the are declining in value. The tariff is immense loans that the Government gradually shutting up foreign markets was obliged to resort to, and it so hap- against our manufactured goods, and pened that these taxes, heavy as they favorable crops in Europe are diminishwere, and indiscriminately as they were ing the demand for our bread-stuffs. levied, neither diminished production Foreign nations, upon whose producnor checked importation. On the con- tions heavy duties are imposed, buy of trary, both were increased. So great us only what they greatly need, and canwere the necessities of the Government not dispense with the use of, and these in the prosecution of the war, that exist- articles are chiefly limited to cotton, ing cotton, woollen, and iron mills were wheat, corn, tobacco, petroleum, beef worked to their full capacity, and new and pork, and our markets for some of ones were created, while at the same time these articles are in danger. India is foreign importations were greatly stimu- becoming a formidable competitor in the lated. To pay for needful supplies, im- great wheat market of Great Britain, mense sums of money were required, and and petroleum from Russia is competing this requirement was met by the issue of with the petroleum from the United Government notes, so that in a great and States, in the markets of which, on this destructive war—the greatest and most article, we have had for years the condestructive that has ever been carried trol. on—the loyal States seemed to be highly To remedy the evils which are now to prosperous, and the burden of taxation be faced, wise counsels are needed in was not felt.
Congress. The attention of our lawWhen the war ended the paper circu- makers must be diverted from the maklation of the country (money as it is ing of Presidents and the distribution improperly called) instead of being re- of patronage, to the economic questions duced as it should have been, was in- upon the proper solution of which the creased, and artificial prosperity con- permanent well-being of the people must tinued until the crisis of 1873, put a depend. The most important of these temporary end to it. The terrible de- questions are those which arise from the
decay of our shipping, and the want of required to overcome what has already foreign markets for our surplus pro- been lost, but it will be recovered, and ductions. These, in fact, are the only more than recovered, if wisdom prevails really vital questions, except the currency in our national councils. That a country question, before the country, and they with sixty millions of people rapidly inought to receive the most careful con- creasing in population, washed by the Atsideration of Congress; and if party poli- lantic and Pacific Oceans, with thousands tics could be subordinated to them, there of miles indented with the finest of would I think be but little doubt in re- harbors ;—with unequalled facilities for gard to the conclusions which would be ship-building ;-with a soil better fitted reached.
to produce cotton, tobacco, maize, cattle What is now needed in the United and hogs, than is possessed by any other States, and needed more than anything country,—and with equal capabilities else to promote general prosperity, is for the production of wheat ;—that such such a modification of our tariff as will a country should be without ships to facilitate exchanges with other coun- transport its surplus to foreign ports, is tries. The protective policy must be an anomaly in the history of nations ;abandoned. A revenue tariff we must that in such a country, with manufactures have. Absolute free trade will be among of all descriptions well-established and the things hoped for, but not to be skilfully managed, with plenty of capital gained until the people are prepared to and cheap money, manufacturers who support the Government by excise duties have become enriched by our protective or by direct taxation. The Government tariffs should claim more protection than is mainly to be supported as it was be- a tariff for revenue will afford, is unreafore the late civil war by a tax upon sonable and unjust. imports which, although the most in The tariff ought to be carefully considious, and in some respects the most sidered not only with regard to its bur. unequal of all taxes, is, as it has always dens upon consumers but in its bearing been, the most popular, by reason of its upon commerce and navigation. The being felt only indirectly by consumers. leading nations of the world have been Against such duties, there never will be commercial, and ship building and ship serious complaint, and when judiciously owning nations. Such were they in imposed, separated as the United States mediæval ages, and such they will always are from European nations by the broad be. It was by such nations that trade Atlantic, (neither Canada nor Mexico, was extended and civilization was carried nor the South American States can be into countries that had been degraded formidable competitors,) they will afford by their isolation. By such nations, in all the protection thatour manufacturers search of markets for their productions, can fairly claim. In asking more than the American Continent was discovered, this, they are asking that the whole peo- and all other great land discoveries made. ple shall continue to be taxed for the What has made Great Britain the nation benefit of a few.
she is—the nation upon whose domain Much the larger part of the revenue the sun never sets ? Not her manufactrequired for the support of the Govern- ories alone-extensive, varied, and profitment and the payment of the national able as they have been—but her manudebt, must be derived from duties upon factures, her commerce, and her shipping imports, and it will, therefore, be im- combined. Why have her merchants possible so to reduce them that they been able to take raw materials from all will not be protective. A tariff for rev other nations in exchange for their enue which must necessarily be to some manufactured goods ? Is it not because extent protective, is what is now re she has exempted those raw materials quired to increase and enlarge the for- from import duties? Why is her flag eign markets for our various manufac- seen upon every sea ? By what means tured goods, and our agricultural pro- has her supremacy as a commercial and ductions. Without these markets, our maritime power been secured and maingreat industrial interests can never be tained ? Is it not mainly because her permanently prosperous. Time will be statesmen have understood the simple
fact that trade is barter, and have freed ment of its representatives in foreign it from all restrictions.
lands, and the expenses of its ships of In all natural advantages, the United war in foreign ports. States are greatly superior to Great Britain. While, including her colonies, There is in these times much discusher domain is more extensive, the terri- sion in regard to landed property, and it tory over which she has absolute control is claimed by even fair minded and intelis insignificant in comparison, and so ligent men that land is the gift of God, doubtful is her hold upon her colonial pos- to which none should have the right of sessions, that some of her wisest states- exclusive ownership; that the manner men have thought that she would be in which it is held in all civilized counstronger without them. In what respect tries is a wrong to the public, and the is she superior to the United States ? main cause of the poverty which is so Not certainly in productions of prime generally prevalent. necessity, not in cotton or wool, not in That in some countries land is held in cattle, or swine, or grain of all kinds, too large quantities by a comparatively not even in what may be called luxuries, few people, whose ownership is perpetsuch as fruits of all descriptions-not in uated by legislative or sovereign powprecious metals, or even in iron or leader, is undoubtedly true. In such counor copper, which are more valuable than tries there is little trade in land, and the the precious metals ; nor in the inven- ownership of a home, no matter how tive power and manufacturing skill of humble, is beyond the reach of the great her people. In everything necessary mass of the people. The effect of this for national growth, everything needful has been the creation of landed aristocrafor the comfort and happiness of the cies, to the power of which labor has been people, the United States are vastly su- subjected. Nothing of this kind exists perior to Great Britain. In two things in the United States. Here not only is only are they inferior: in commerce, by there free trade in land, but the Governwhich is meant free exchange of natural ment has been for years, by homestead and artificial productions, and in ship- laws and low prices at which its immense ping, without which in combination, they territories of fertile lands have been subcannot take precedence of Great Britain, ject to entry, holding out the strongest and become what they ought to be, and possible inducements to industrious peowhat, with wise legislation, they would ple to secure for themselves homes. soon become, the leading nation of the Strangely enough, however, some of the world, to which all other nations would most earnest opponents of the exclusive be tributary.
ownership of land are in the United Without freer exchanges and a revival States. In their opinion, as land was of their shipping interests, the United not created by man, no man should be States, no matter how rich and populous the absolute owner of any portion of it ; they may become, will never be a great that it should be held by the state for nation in all that is needful for national the benefit of all. To correct the wrong greatness. No nation can be truly great which land ownership is inflicting upon that depends upon other nations for the the public, these advocates of equal means of transporting its productions rights contend that land should be so to foreign markets, or lessens the de- taxed that the owner would be willing mand for them by restrictions upon trade. to surrender his right to it. A half century ago the United States Land, it is true, is the gift of God, were almost supreme upon the ocean. but it is by man's labor that it has been Now they have no rank as a maritime made valuable. It is admitted by the power. I am proud of my country, but Land Reformer, that the improvements I cannot help being humiliated by the being of man's creation should not be consideration that our merchants must taxed, but it is the improvements that establish credits in London, in order to have given value to the land, and it pay for their purchases abroad; and that would be practically impossible to tax our Government is compelled to main- the latter without taxing the former. tain an agency in that city, for the pay- Most of the land in the United States,