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4. Patent Rights. They belong to the class of monopolies, and are therefore opposed to the liberty of industry. As stimulants to industry they are of less value than many think, because only a very few of the patented rights are worth more than the high expense
them. This institution and its kin, the system of protective duties, were originally calculated to create a kind of industrial aristocracy, to serve as a support to the tottering rule of the landed aristocracy and their sovereigns in AsiaticEuropean empires. There the governments have, under different pretexts, as that of crown rights, domains, sovereignty, &c. great revenues. The nobility are similarly situated. The industrious men of influence have, in their turn, in the course of time, succeeded in extorting from them certain monopolies, protective duties, patent rights, &c., to get rich also. Hence we meet in such countries some very rich men and an immense mass of poor people, who are now so much degraded or degenerated, that they prefer, when in distress, humbly to beg their governments, who deprived them first of the means of subsistence, for support and bread, instead of trying self-government, and reclaiming their primitive rights, first among which is liberty of industry. Shall we have such a state of things in America? With us, it should be left to the people to reward meritorious discoveries and public benefactors. Neither states nor Congress can do it better, nor will they have the means of doing it, if we take proper care of ourselves. States are not established to make people rich. This should be borne in mind by those who clamor for high tariffs, charters, incorporation acts, bank privileges, harbor, road, bridge, and other repairs, at the public expense.
5. Post. This forwarding business is, as a public one, also of well known European financial origin, where, at the same time, it is used by.government officers to discover the contents of letters trusted to their care. ernments, generally, do not understand how to manage this forwarding business well, has been proved of late by the post office reforms in England and America, planned and forced through by private citizens, almost in spite of the officers of government. It is obviously against liberty of industry to place this forwarding business in the hands of governments. If left free, it will be done better, more cheaply and safely, by enterprising men, than it ever will
be by officers, who are appointed according to the dictates of the policy of the ruling party, with little or no regard to their qualifications. The late Congressional law, which prohibits private competition, deserves the name of a legislative outrage. It is a rude aggression and infringement of the liberty of industry. This
prohibitive clause should have been discarded by a uniform movement of all the courts, as unconstitutional Congress ought to suspend or give up (as advised by Mr. Amos Kendall when in office as Postmaster General) this business. This, alas, obviously will not be done by the political parties of to-day.*
* The reader may find proof of what we have stated here in Mr. C. Johnson's Post Office Department Report to the Congress, in December, 1846. Among other equally significant things, he says,
1. That the Post Office Department should have the exclusive control of the Magnetic Telegraph.
2. Because this Telegraph is so powerful for good or for evil to the citizen, that it cannot be permitted to remain in the hands of individuals uncontrolled by law.
3. That the evils or benefits of this Telegraph cannot be over estimated.
4. That the government should get the exclusive control of it by purchase.
We ask, what this Telegraph has to do with the letter-forwarding business? If the Telegraph supercedes letter-writing and transportation, why, we ask, should Mr. Johnson and Congress trouble themselves about it? Is a letier a part of the Union ? Must we write letters for Congress' sake? That is the very language of despotic governments, who frequently make use of similar phrases about the press, liberty of speech and conscience, and who have controlled all these bulwarks of humanity, by laws, licenses, and prohibitions, in such a manner, that their humble subjects cannot utter or write a word to the public without the most gracious permission of their lords, because, forsooth, “the evils or benefits of the press, speech, pulpit, magnetic telegraph, &c., cannot be over estimated !” Before long, our terrible Secretary of War will raise the same cry concerning the evils and benefits which may be or may not be produced by the vegetable gunpowder, and will insist upon controlling it by very sharp laws, exactly as the petty princes in Europe have done already. Very gratifying to the European statesmen will be such a document, addressed to the North American Congress in the year of our Lord 1846, and it cannot fail, that its despotic author will acquire quite an “European reputation,” which seems to be at present the highest aim of our statesmen and soldiers !
The only evil which we are able to discover about that telegraph is, that it is not so universally practicable as to crush at once by competition this public nuisance called the Post Office Department. This purchasing and money wasting, and interfering with private industry, is the curse of such impertinent business. Is a Mr. Johnson a better letter-forwarder than a Mr. Harnden, or a Mr. Adams, because he
18. We proceed to examine what is right in regard to the so called Internal improvements, and will speak first of,
1. Roads. Roads of all kinds should be built by those who are most in want of them. We do not comprehend how Congress ever can be in want of a road, or obliged to build one, so long as we have towns or counties to take care of this business. To build what is termed a national road, is no more the business of Congress, than it would be to establish a national shoe factory, or to erect our town halls or county court houses. Such national chimeras and playthings of politicians remind us of the pyramids in Africa, and similar useless governmental works in Asia and Europe. What is generally the end of such works, we have seen, of late, in several of our sister states, viz., state bankruptcy.
2. Canals. If canals are needed, and the subject is well brought before the people, they will be executed without state interference. Governments generally build either badly or expensively, and more for political interests than for those of the people, so that it is more important to have whig, democratic, native or liberly party canal commissioners elected, than men who understand the busi
If state works of this kind come into competition with private enterprise, as is the case in New York with the state canals and private rail-roads, the same outrageous policy is followed as we noticed under the caption of iPost.” All these works should be sold as soon as possible. They are a disgrace to self-governing freemen, because they apparently imply a reproach, as if the people were not capable of doing this business for themselves.
3. Improvements in Rivers. If rivers are navigable, they are water-roads. Therefore, the same is right here, which is right about land-roads. People who live in the river towns and counties, who get wealthy by making use of these water-roads, fisheries, sand and other products of rivers, are the ones who ought to keep the navigation in
styles himself Postmaster General ? How will a government purchase of this telegraph alter the case ? Will the telegraph in the hands of the government not do the same business that it now performs ? or will Mr. Johnson only allow one kind of correspondence, and intercept, according to his sovereign pleasure, all other kinds ?
The arrogance which pervades this document, when touching pri. vate competition, contemptible. But the reader may judge for himself, and if he does not feel it, we cannot help him.
order. It is their business, not that of States or Congress. If Congress takes care of it, revenues will be applied to it, to which all, rich and poor, contribute equally. The injustice of taxing in this way, the poor inhabitants of the prairies of the West equally with the rich inhabitants of the shores of navigable rivers in the East, needs only to be mentioned, to be at once fully appreciated.
4. Harbors. Some Presidents have approved harbor appropriation bills, others not This uncertainty of the question is caused by locating the business where it does not belong. According to the principle of self-government, the inhabitants of the harbor towns, and not Congress, should take care for the harbors, because they are the source of their wealth, and benefit them in many regards, so that they ought to bear the expenses of improving and keeping them in order. They are, for ships, what stables and sheds, &c. are for teams. With as good reason might we ask Congress to build these.
The jurisdiction over harbors and all kinds of ships coming in and going out, belongs also more properly to the County courts, (or respective justices of the peace,) than to Congress. Crimes are crimes, whether committed on board ship, in harbor, or on the high sea, and in neither case do they differ from those committed on land. We see not, that water can have any influence upon the trial and judgement; and why may not a County court, organized according to our plan of State Constitution, try a case of mutiny, as well as that of a homicide or riot? If Congress or States undertake to build new harbors, they will, more or less, affect the business of the neighboring harbors. This may be justly done with private means, but not with public funds.
5. Light-houses. These are large lanterns on waterroads, for which harbor, river, and sea towns should provide, because they are most directly for their benefit. There is no good reason for committing such Town or County business to States or Congress. As well might inland town people ask Congress to take care of their lanterns on streets and in squares. In consequence of the daily increasing extension of our Union, a speedy change in these things, for the better, is imperatively necessary. The centralization of such business in Congress leads to serious consequences.
It swells the public expenses beyond need, produces patronage which creates corrupting
power, and is so much against the plain principle of selfgovernment, that we need only to add, that merely by such business, and the influence, patronage, and corrupting power which it produces, the European governments are prolonging their baneful existence more than by their theories that they have, by the grace of God, a right to do such things. It is such improperly located business, which produces constant embarrassments in our Union. Congress has nobler business to perform than the building of roads or the putting up of lanterns. On this point we refer to the plan of a Federal Constitution, in the Appendix, which differs only in this respect from the present Constitution, that it gives to Congress only such business as rightfully belongs to it, and no more.*
19. We proceed now, in our examination of the public business, to slavery.
Slavery exists among us as something like a public business,
in consequence of the interference of states, and, to a certain extent, of Congress, in behalf of it. As we have noticed at another place, it is but a private business, like that of keeping horses and sheep; contrary to that, the slaveholders have placed it among the public business and mentioned it in their constitutions. This, as well as $ 3, section 2, article 1, of the Federal Constitution, is improper, and against the rules which are to be followed in making constitutions. We add, in the Appendix, under Note c, this section, and that part of the constitution of the state of Kentucky which applies to slavery, for the informa
* The intentions of the late Chicago Convention are against the principle of self-government, and not supported by the Federal Constitution of the United States. If Congress would be constitutionally bound to carry on hanking, build roads, canals, shore lanterns, and improve rivers, &c., there would not be among us any need of much talking or conventing about these subjects. Besides, governments are generally too prone to embark in business. The passage of the Federal Constitution which shall authorize Congress to do such business, reads thus:-" Congress shall have power to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indians.” This is diplomatic business, in consequence of which Congress has the right to make treaties with foreign governments, to protect the liberty of commerce at home, and between states and Indians, which are a kind of foreign nations. It is obvious, that this passage cannot be understood by self-governing freemen that it authorizes Congress to carry on banking, build bridges and roads, and improve harbors or establish shore lanterns, and more of such business, which belongs to individuals or towns, and not to states or Congress.