« AnteriorContinuar »
the North. Federal legislation does all this. It does it by the simple process of eternally taking away from the South, and returning nothing to it."
This brings in another element. Not only is the South to find all the money, but the North is to get all the profit. Not only by being relieved from taxation, not only indirectly by protection to her manufacturers, but by direct bounties from the public purse. The patronage of the Union is almost entirely given to Northerners. Perhaps the South may get a little too; but what sensible man would think of wasting his loaves and fishes in bribing those who have not the power to make their support worth buying ? This is rather galling ; but worse is behind. The money which the Government ought to spend in useful works all over the Union goes almost entirely to the North. So that while New England and New York get abundance of things done for them with Southern money, the South finds her interests grossly neglected, and suffers a good deal in consequence. I will take one single example.
The whole coast of the States, though abundantly provided with harbours, is somewhat unsafe from sandbanks, sunken reefs, &c., and therefore has a great need of lighthouses. These it is the business of the Central Government to provide. The way in which this duty is fulfilled is a fair specimen of the spirit which actuates the men by whom the department is managed. The coast-line of the Northern States is about 800 miles in length. That of the Southern States is about 2500, or more than three times as long. Will it be believed that though the latter is fully as hazardous, and as much in want of safeguards for navigation as the former, the amount of lighthouses provided for it is not more than half of that provided for the North, perhaps hardly even that? And it should be noticed that this gratifies the North in three ways—First, By the employment of labour in the erection of lighthouses in the North ; secondly, By the discouragement, through the non-erection of them in the South, of any Southern shipping interest that might arise ; thirdly, By forcing foreign trade, which naturally would have gone to the latter as being the principal market, to pass through the hands of Boston and New York, whose citizens have reaped a pretty handsome profit thereby.
I am digressing shamefully, and must return. I said that in 1828 the South resolved that, as she could not succeed in protecting herself by dead opposition to the rising flood of Northern tariffs, she would try and save herself some other way. And she did so by making a proposal in Congress to which one would have imagined that no objection could have been taken. If the Northern States had any friendly feeling towards those of the South, they must have been delighted to agree to a proposal which would not satisfy the latter indeed, but which they could put up with, while, at the same time, it did not interfere with the interests which affected them selfishly. If they had been bitter enemies to those States, it might have been expected that they would have accepted it for very shame.
The proposal was, to insert into the bill an additional clause raising the duties on indigo. The sentences which I marked as quotations a short way back, expressive of the miserable condition to which the stronger half of the Union was reducing the weaker, are extracts from the speech of the proposer of the measure. That proposer was Benton, an eminent Missourian— the same, I believe, whose statue, or at least the cast of it, may be seen in Rome in the studio of Miss Hosmer.* He proposed it in he character, not of a Southerner, but of a Westerner; for in those days Missouri was much more Western than Southern in feeling, and at any rate had no sort of interest in the question of indigo; and he seems to have had no other motive for what he did than a sense of justice and a desire to preserve the Union. The Southern members of Congress supported him with all their strength; for, as I said before, indigo was a staple of all the Southern States from Virginia to Georgia. But this support did not arise from any abandonment
* I am not sure of this, however.
of principle. “I am opposed to this bill,” said the seconder of the proposal, a South Carolinian, “in its principles as well as in all its details. . . . . I determined to make no motion to amend it. But when such motions are made by others, I know no better rule than to endeavour to make the bill consistent with itself. . . . As a Southern man, I would ask no boon for the South ; but I must say that protection of indigo rests on the same principle as that of every other article proposed to be protected by this bill.”
It was of no use. The Northern majority would not hear of the application of their Protectionist principles to any interests but their own, and they threw Benton's proposal out, or, as they would say, tabled it. As if to add insult to injury, they not only refused to increase the indigo duty, but actually reduced it; and they had the effrontery to give as their reason for doing so, that the reduction would benefit the Northern manufacturers of woollen cloths.
If such was the fate of Benton's amendment in the Senate, where all the States, large and small, are represented equally, what was it likely to be in the House of Representatives, where votes are according to population, and where the numerical superiority of the North would be sure to tell? The Southern members felt themselves powerless, bound hand and foot, and given over to the mercy of their
enemies. But they could express their feelings, for at that time President Lincoln had not yet made it a crime to do so. Listen to them. It is again South Carolina that speaks. She speaks through another mouthpiece, and in more indignant tones, but the voice is the same. A short extract must suffice.
“Sir," quoth her representative,“ if the union of these States shall ever be severed, and their liberties subverted, the historian who records these disasters will have to ascribe them to measures of this description. I do sincerely believe that neither this government, nor any free government, can exist for a quarter of a century under such a system of legislation. Its inevitable tendency is not only to corrupt all public functionaries, but all those portions of the Union, and classes of society, who have an interest, real or imaginary, in the bounties it provides, by taxing other sections and other classes. .... What, Sir, is the nature and tendency of the system we are discussing? It bears an analogy but too lamentably striking to that which corrupted the republican purity of the Roman people. God forbid that it should consummate its triumph over the public liberty by a similar catastrophe, though even that is an event by no means improbable if we continue to legislate periodically in this way, and to connect the election of our chief magistrate with the