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About three-fourths of the exports of Dantzic are to England, the remainder goes to the other countries of Europe. This is the point whence one-half the imports into England have been drawn in the last 20 years. The wheat exported from Dantzic, forming one-half of the English supply in years of deficient harvest, is delivered there from the river Vistula and its tributary the Bug. The former rises in the Carpathian mountains, and flows 450 miles through Poland and West Prussia, joining the Baltic at Dantzic. stream becomes navigable at Cracow, and thence the wheat is conveyed to the sea in open flat boats, which hold 1,200 bushels. These boats are, in seasons of leisure, constructed on the banks of the Vistula, above the reach of the water, of fir, rudely put together and fastened with wooden tree-nails. When the rains of Autumn, or the vernal sun melts the snows of the mountains, the river rises, and the boats are easily floated. A large tree running along the bottom and roughly cut forms the keelson, to which timbers are secured; it rises some ten inches from the floor; across this and extending to the sides, hurdles are laid, covered with mats of rye straw, which serve for dunnage. The space below receives the water which rains or leaks in above and below. The wheat is thrown in on these mats, piled as high as the gunwale, and without further ceremony proceeds on its voyage, carried along by the force of the stream. A small boat precedes, with a man in it, sounding to avoid shifting shoals. In this way the barge, conducted by six or seven men, occupies several weeks and sometimes months in its passage. The rain falling upon the exposed wheat soon causes it to grow, and the shooting fibres form a thick mat that serves as a protection to the remainder of the cargo. When the wheat is delivered at Dantzic the boat is broken up, and the men return home on foot. The grown covering of the wheat is removed, and the bulk spread out on the land to dry, being thrown in heaps as often as necessary to protect it from falling rain. After the lapse of some time and frequent handlings it becomes fit for storing in warehouses well constructed for that purpose. The wheat, however, becomes
so deteriorated in quality that nearly one-fourth is unmarketable. This is the manner in which one-half the English supply from Europe is conveyed to the points of exportation. The mode of culture is not more praiseworthy, being of a rude and primitive description. The fertility of the lands of Prussia, under the care even of skilful, affluent, and productive proprietors, was not equal in the best localities to seven-fold the seed, and in very many portions three-fold; that is, six bushels reaped for two bushels sown per acre. In Poland the product may be seven fold in some cases. As an instance of the cost of producing grain in Prussia and Poland, a paper prepared by Mr. Rothe, president of government of Dantzic, and laid before Parliament, states, that in a year of favorable sales of grain, the produce of an estate of 2,018 acres, of which 1,040 acres were cultivated with grain, sold on the spot at 72 cents per bushel, by which a loss of 20 per cent. was sustained, besides rent. The actual cost of that wheat delivered in London is $1 29 cents per bushel, without yielding any profit whatever to producers. In France the average yield of wheat per acre is 14 bushels, according to the returns of the Minister of Commerce. In England it is about 20 bushels.
The countries of Spain, France, Belgium, and Great Britain, are corn-importing countries. In France the excess of import over export, which last was mostly to Algiers, averaged, for eight successive years, 681,266 bushels grain per annum, and in some years the import is much larger. No country in Europe approaches France in the extent of surface appropriated to the wheat culture. More than twofifths of the tillable surface of France is cultivated with wheat; that is to say, of every 100 cultivated acres, 40 are sowed with wheat. The quantity of land thus employed is greater in the south-western departments than at the north; yet the acreable product is greater in the latter sections, a result ascribable both to superior cultivation and greater fertility. In the aggregate, the quantity of wheat produced in France is greater than that produced in Belgium, Spain, Holland, Prussia, Poland, Sweden and the British islands. The crop
is usually to the seed as 6 to 1. The consumption of wheat is also greater than in any of the other countries. The internal transportation is so costly and difficult, that prices vary very considerably in different sections, being always higher at the south than at the north, from the circumstance of greater fertility. The operation of rail-roads will probably equalize the prices while it will enhance the consumption of the whole. Notwithstanding the great fertility of France, and its great production of wheat, aided by protective corn-laws, it is generally a wheat-importing country. Its agricultural resources, by the aid of science and industry, may be developed almost indefinitely to meet its increasing wants, if enterprise is stimulated by competition instead of being smothered with parchment laws. To effect this, however, a great social revolution in the rural districts is first necessary. Belgium and Holland suspended their corn laws in October last, to allow of the free import of food to supply the deficit occasioned by her late bad harvests. The Russian country bordering on the Black Sea, has of late years sent forth considerable quantities of grain, and the trade in that article has made Odessa a place of importance. This year, however, Italy and the Mediterranean countries require all that it can spare at very advanced rates. Throughout Europe, therefore, the general features are decreasing productions of the land, and an increasing consumption of food, by which double operation the surplus of the most agricultural countries is yearly diminishing, while the wants of the corn-importing countries are annually becoming greater.
It is not a little singular that, while such is the actual state of affairs, each country has made laws prohibitory of the import of corn from others, on the plea, as expressed by the report of a committee of the French Chamber of Deputies, that if wheat were introduced without duty from the Baltic or Black Sea, our maritime shores would remain uncultivated, and the affect of a ruinous competition would effect more and more nearly the whole of our agricultural population." It is difficult to conceive how absurdities so gross can be gravely put forth by a body of men
pretending to ordinary intelligence, much less to the government of a great nation. All the countries of Europe enacted similar laws on the same plea. Whence, then, would the corn necessary to produce that ruinous effect be derived, if all those sagacious laws were repealed or suspended, as is now the case in Belgium? Which of all the counries that now raise grain under protective laws, would be endowed with such prolific crops through the repeal of laws by various countries? According to a resolution of both houses of Parliament, communications were made from the British consuls residing in the corn countries, respecting the quantity of corn that might be exported from each. The result, from all the countries of Europe, north, south and east, was 2,222464 quarters, or 17,179,712 bushels. The consumption of wheat in Great Britian for food and seed, has been estimated at 9 bushels per head. In France probably it is not more than 5 bushels. At this rate, if the whole quantity, as stated by the consuls, could be regularly furnished, of good quality and at present prices, it would supply but two weeks consumption to France and England alone at this moment, without taking into consideration the wants of other countries. Yet statesmen will declare that the removal of heavy duties will create sufficient wheat to throw out of cultivation the maritime shores of fertile countries. The whole export from Dantzic, as given in the above table, for 196 years, is equal only to 12 months consumption for the present population of England. The increase of the population of Great Britain in the last ten years, has been 2,300,000 souls, which requires 20,700, 000 bushels more wheat per annum, to feed them. While this increase has taken place, the exports from the wheat countries of Europe has diminished and the prices advanced, until they are now not materially less than in England. The quantity of wheat which can be exported from Europe, is best tested by the effect which a moderate demand produces upon prices. The effect of high prices for any continued period, is to stimulate production and produce a reaction and fall in prices, even although the demand which first occasioned the advance should be continued. When, therefore, a demand to
a given extent springs up, and being continued for any number of years, is not followed by a decline in prices, but rather the contrary, that circumstance furnishes almost irrefragable testimony that the demand is more than can readily be supplied. This evidence is furnished in the case of the English demand and its effect upon European prices during the last 16 years, a period sufficiently long to test the full effect of alternate good harvests and deficits in England upon the European trade. During the four years ending with 1832 the harvests of England were bad, and she imported annually 9,326,390 bushels of wheat. During the whole of that four years, the price ruled at the five leading corn-markets of the continent, at an average of 35s. per quarter, or $1,05 cents per bushel. From 1832, the five consecutive years ending with 1837, were of good harvests, and England imported 341,695 bushels per annum only. The average for wheat in those five years at the same ports on the continent, was 23s. per quarter, or 70 cents per bushel. In the year 1838 England imported 14,550,624 bushels, and the average of the continent rose to 38s. per quarter, or $1 14 cents per bushel. Now it is fair to infer that the low prices of the five years ending with 1837, must have ruined many corn growers, bankrupted many estates, and reduced the quantity of corn produced. The 14,550,000 bushels taken by England, however, appear to have exhausted the stocks in the warehouses, and raised the price 80 per cent. all over Europe. That stimulus would naturally again enhance the production. In the next year, 1839, England took near 22 million bushels, and the average price in Europe rose to 42s. per quarter, or $1 26 cents per bushel. That price was continued down to 1843, and the average for the five years ending with 1842, was 40s. or $1 20 per bushel, throughout Europe. The purchases of England during that time had reached 19,148,268 bushels per annum. In the three last years the purchases of England have averaged but five million bushels per annum, and in 1845 they were less than three million bushels. Nearly all the demand for account of Great Britain which had raised the level of prices from an average of 70 cts.
per bushel in the five years ending with 1837, to an average of $1 20 in the five years ending with 1842, had ceased, yet the price continued and continues to advance. Russia has suspended her corn-laws, and Holland and Belgium have remitted theirs, and the average in Europe is now $1 43 per bushel! against an average of 60 cents in the United States, and $1 67 in England.
The improvement in the business of Europe, which has facilitated an increased consumption of food generally, and that of wheat particularly, appears to have resulted from two primary causes, viz: the construction of rail-roads, by which rapid and cheap communication has been effected in the mining and manufacturing districts, and in the extension of internal trade by customs unions, thereby removing artificial barriers to intercourse at the same time that the natural ones are overcome.
The states comprising the Zollverein or Customs Union and Belgium, in the official statistics, afford the most positive and marked indication of this improvement. The population of all the states now composing the Customs Union, in 1834, was 23,478,120. In 1845, the population of the same states was 25,534,321, being an increase of nearly one per cent. per annum. The revenue of the Customs Union rose from 14, 515,722 thalers in 1834, to 26,471,591 in 1845, having nearly doubled in ten years. This expresses of course the duties upon articles imported into the German states, and at the same level of duties would indicate a doubling of the trade in ten years. But inasmuch as that the duties have repeatedly been modified, the ratio of increase in the actual trade must be much greater. A new impulse was last year given to this trade by means of a treaty between Belgium and the German Union. The benefits which each nation has derived from their mutual concessions in favor of commerce, is already manifest in the trade of Belgium, according to official reports. When Belgium separated from Holland, in 1830-31, her manufacturing industry underwent a great reverse, inasmuch as that previous to that time, she had to supply Holland and her colonies with those productions of mining and manufactur
ing industry in which the resources of Belgium mainly consist. From the supply of 16 millions of people, including Holland and her India possessions, East and West, she found her consumers reduced to four millions. The free trade between her and Holland, which operated to mutual advantage under the union, was supposed to be injurious as soon as the governments became separated, and protective tariffs were mutually interposed to preserve home-industry from the supposed destructive effects of that competition which previously had benefited it. In 1833 the government of Belgium projected a uniform and comprehensive system of rail-ways, to the construction of which the surface of Belgium is, from its geographical position, adapted in a most extraordinary degree. The plan finally executed was that of taking one point in the centre of the kingdom, and constructing lines radiating from that centre to every side of the kingdom. The average cost of these roads is $42,000 per mile. The principal lines of these roads were opened in 1835, since when the business of Belgium has improved as follows:
per cent. in a few years; and having doubled in the last two years, when modified regulations and improvements upon the roads have facilitated the transportation of that trade which the improved condition of the German states, under internal free trade, has created. The external commerce of France has increased from 1,595 millions francs in 1835 to 2,496 millions francs in 1846, being near 75 per cent. in five years. As the French figures are official, or prices fixed by law to value the products, they represent quantities in a comparison, and therefore indicate the real progress of trade in a given number of years. The manufacturing and trading interests of the north and west of Europe may, as a whole, be put down having increased 60 per cent. in the last ten years, and must consequently have produced the same effect upon the consumption of food as has the progress of the same interests in Great Britain. Manufactures and trade present attractions in their elasticity and profits which agriculture in Europe nowhere holds out. This truth is peculiarly evident in the fact, that after a quarter of a century of profound peace, steady corn-law protection in all the countries of Europe, and large annual purchases of their surplus by England for nine consecutive years, Europe, as a whole, has failed in the last year to produce more than enough to feed her own people. In the United States the reverse has been the case. The population increases in the ratio of 100 per cent. every 20 years, and 80 per cent. of that population are active, enterprising, and skilful agriculturists, possessed of all the improvements of the age adapted to the most prolific soil ever occupied by man, and intersected by works that make the cost of time and money in the transportation of produce comparatively of but little moment. Railroads and canals, aided by steam, have brought the great valley of the Mississippi as near to London as a few years since was that of the Tweed. Many of the same men who formerly produced food in the north of England are now applying the same labor, with much greater success, to the same object in western America. The labor that served in England to raise 18 bushels average,
These figures show a most extraordinary increase in the trade of these roads, which were the chief agent in developing that extension of commerce which the official returns of the kingdom present. In 1831, when the separation took place, the general imports and exports of the kingdom amounted to 202,592,865 francs. In 1835, when the principal lines of roads were opened, it reached 359,675,121 francs; and in 1845 it reached 676 millions of francs, or $126,000,000, being 60 per cent. of the external commerce of the United States. The most interesting feature of this vast increase is that of the transit trade, or the passage of goods across Belgium from the sea to the interior countries of Europe in its vicinity, and vice versa. This trade, previously to the construction of rail-roads, amounted to but 14 millions francs. In 1845 it reached 125 millions francs, being 900
now suffices for the production of 30 bushels of wheat. The constant improvements in the means of transportation, and the competition of rival lines, are continually diminishing the cost of transportation, and the Imperial Parliament has now removed an hitherto almost insurmountable artificial barrier to the admission of grain into England. From London as a centre, the cost of transportation will now form the only difference between the wheat of Western America and of the North of England. As an off-set to the advantage of proximity, the former yields nearly double the quantity for the same amount of labor, and its produce are untaxed, either for rent, Church, or materially for county poor. In England the taxes for the two last items have been estimated at 15s. sterling per acre, or 18 cts. per bushel of wheat, and this alone is equal to the cost of producing wheat in the Western country. When the settler occupies the prairie, he encounters, the first year, the expense of fencing and breaking up the soil, in addition to the expense of seed-sowing, cutting and harvesting. The average expense of all these items for the first year is less than $8, and the product for the first year averages 20 bushels of sound wheat, which therefore costs 40 cents per bushel. After the first year, the expense of fencing and "breaking up" is not incurred, and the remaining expense will average $4 50 per acre, and the yield 30 bushels, or 15 cts. per bushel, or 5s. 6d. sterling per quarter. This wheat is the producer's own property. Whatever it brings in money is his own. It is not the property of a lordly owner, who must keep up his state and retinue out of the proceeds. It is the result of the industry of him who conquered the soil and drew forth its riches by his own exertions. Whatever profit the grain yields him is the reward of that industry.
It has been alleged that grain is produced at small cost in the serf districts of Europe, because labor is cheap. Thus, it has been alleged that under free trade in corn, the capital of England will be transferred to Europe, where labor can be had at 6d. per day, and that capital employing the unskilful and unwilling labor of serfs
on the worn-out lands bordering the Baltic, and which yield 6 bushels for two sown, will successfully compete with the active and intelligent industry of an American farmer on his ground. which yields 30 bushels of better wheat. Although the peasants of the North of Europe are no longer called slaves, they are so in fact, much in the same manner that slavery exists in Mexico. The peasants of Poland hold
a number of acres, usually 35 to 50, from their lord, for which they are bound to work on his land two days in the week with oxen; if he requires them two days more he pays 6 cts. per day, if the remaining two days of the week, he pays such a sum as they can agree upon. As he requires their labor usually when their own land most wants their services, it is any thing but willingly performed. He is bound to furnish them with oxen in case one dies, and also their ploughs and implements, such as they are. The peasants, since their personal liberty was promulgated in 1791, may leave the estate, but they must first discharge their debts to its lord. This is the same tenure of liberty as in Mexico, and the result is usually the same, viz. that they are always in debt, and are always hopelessly working on at the bidding of another. When the freedom of these peasants was first decreed, they were greatly alarmed, because it was viewed only in the light of relieving their lords from the duty of protecting them in old age and sickness. These people live in thatched wooden huts, in the single room of which the cattle and inhabitants crowd together. Their food is mostly cabbage, potatoes, black bread, &c. "Whenever the peasant," says Mr. Jacob, “has a small quantity of produce to dispose of in the market town, a portion of the money is first used to purchase salt, the remainder is commonly expended in intoxication." This is the country, these the people, and such their habits, from whom the American farmer is to apprehend successful competition in a steady English market for wheat. The mere supposition is a libel on the country.
There can be no trade, either internal or external in any country, which is not based on an interchange of the produce of industry. In the North of Europe,