« AnteriorContinuar »
of the Union before adopting it as that of their Confederacy. In one State, South Carolina, the mischievous effects of the system of elections have been completely obviated by the rule of leaving the nomination of the choosers of the President to the State Legislature.
The natural result of this was that the public men whom the South produced were, as a body, superior to those of the North. This gave them an influence more than proportional to their numbers. But in the particular matters which were the subject of Federal legislation this did not do much good : for numbers were plainly what were required. The want of the power of balancing the overwhelming weight of votes against them was felt with constantly increasing urgency. During the greater part of the history of the Union, they contrived to keep their heads above water by the alliance of the Northern Democrats, the party of States Rights and Conservatism. It has not been always that that party has been most deserving of sympathy. Few in this country would be disposed to take the part of the Virginian Democrat Jefferson against the New York Federalist Hamilton. But things are different now. The different factions which have succeeded one another in opposition to them have got further and further away from the principles of the Fathers of
the Union. They have become more and more the party of the North, of Northern interests as opposed to Southern. That there should be such a party, as one of the subordinate agents in moving the wheels of the State, is perhaps natural; but the fact of that party's gaining the preponderance, coupled with that of the way elections have been managed in the North, has caused the disruption of the Union.
For a long time things went on, not very well, but passably. The South and its allies got the honour of governing. The North got the dollars. The Southerners managed the foreign policy, carried through the successful war with Mexico, and more than once prevented an English war when their Northern kinsmen were seized with an appetite for territory. But they had to pay a pretty heavy price for the honour of doing so. There was only one part of government that the North cared much about, and that part she was determined to have her own way. Let the South, if she likes, supply the officers of army and navy, the orators, administrators, and diplomatists. The North can humour her, for the North must have the control of taxation.
This implies a good deal, as it is an important point. There is, or was till lately, only one way in which Federal taxation could be raised to any large amount. It was not to be tolerated that the free and enlightened citizens of the Great Republic, where the Almighty Eagle spreads his catawampous wings in the setting sun, should be disturbed by the visits of the tax-gatherer. But the Bird of freedom did not object to customs duties, and customs duties would not only pay the Federal expenses to a very great extent, but also act as a protection to native manufacturers. The idea of making the benighted foreigners pay the cost of the best Government in creation, was pleasing alike to the patriotism and the smartness of the citizens; and it was an additional satisfaction to the pious manufacturers of New England, that they enjoyed thereby a pretty large bonus at the public expense.
There was, however, this difficulty. It is needless to point out that the fact of a Federal union, with perfect free trade among all its component members, made it absolutely necessary that the duties on importations from abroad should be perfectly identical in all parts of it; and there was a part of the American Union to which this arrangement was by no means acceptable. The North was, or might be, self-supporting. It manufactured its own implements; it made its own clothing; it grew its own corn. Its connection with Europe, as far as its own productions were concerned, consisted in selling its surplusage and receiving foreign gold in exchange. But with
the South it was very different. The Southern States were entirely dependent on foreigners for subsistence. They had, it is true, plenty of cattle. But the products of their soil were only valuable as articles of commerce. The indigo of Virginia, the cotton of Georgia, the sugar of Louisiana, were all raised with the view to exportation either to the north or northwest, whence they got the greater part of their clothing and their food, or (and this is the point) to Europe, whence they got, or wished to get, the implements necessary to the cultivation of their soil, and the preparation of its products for the market.
Now, here was the pinch. The Southern States were not manufacturing States. They have no “ native industry” to protect. New England, however, was largely manufacturing ; and she had “native industry” to protect. It was, therefore, as I said before, the interest of the South to have free trade, and that of the North to have heavy protective duties. If those duties could be made heavy enough to deter the Southerners from importing their necessaries from Europe, it would be a splendid stroke of business for New England. And if they persisted in being so unpatriotic as to decline to buy inferior goods in order to foster the manufactures of the North, why, they must pay for the luxury of preferring their own interests to those of their neighbours. And this would be in two ways. First, indirectlybecause they would pay by means of the customs the greater part of Federal expenditure, and thereby relieve the North of bearing its share of the cost of the Central Government; and, secondly, directlybecause the shipping and mercantile interests lying principally in the North, that part of the Union would realise a handsome profit on Southern importations, in the shape of freight, commission, and brokerage.
To do this required some management. As the tariff was to apply to all parts of the Federation, it could not be a matter of discussion in the Assemblies of the different States. It was reserved for the decision of Congress. In that body, or those bodies, were assembled the representatives of the States which were for Protection and the States which were for Free Trade ; and between their opposing interests, the amount of that tariff must be settled by some sort of compromise.
Now, it would have been quite intelligible if the Southern representatives had refused to accede to any tariff at all, as they might fairly have said that since they did not expect the North to pay anything for their benefit, they did not see why they should be expected to pay anything for that of the North. They did not, however, take this line. The struggle