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sive cool beds near Cumberland? That canal, when completed, would be possessed of great facilities, and, in some respects, would have the advantage over the canals of Pennsylvania, Itecause it would not be frozen so early in the season. Congress had done this partly with a view to securing their own supply. It was said, indeed, that the freight on coal was very large, but every body knew that, while our exports were cumbrous, coal was brought back partly as ballast. Vessels which took out cargoes of cotton, brought coal as they brought salt, on their return voyage, and at very low rates, so there was no great protection to our own miners in that respect.
Mr. W. said he objected to this breaking in upon a course of long-established and settled policy. This item of coal presented one of the clearest cases in the whole list of protected articles. It stood on as firm ground as woollens themselves, because the business of supplying it to the home market could not be carried on without great investment of capital. That investment had been actually made. The enterprise was in a course of successful operation, and the ultimate effect must be the supply of this important article of fuel at the cheapest practicable rate. The fears of monopoly were groundless; the canals were open to all —so was the mountain property; and it was abundant in Pennsylvania, in Virginia, and in the States on both sides of the great mountain range. And, if any reliance was to be placed on information received, the article could be furnished in abundance, with a reasonable profit, and at a cheap rate. Under these circumstances, would it be wise in Government to interfere? IVo complaint had been beard till within one season past; and, because there was, at this time, a temporary pressure, was it worth while to raise the cry of the poor against the rich, and thus to destroy a branch of industry which was itself, and in its consequences, an invaluable boon to the poor? Was this a longsighted policy? He thought not; and it was evident the Committee on Finance had thought not, for they had not inserted this item in the bill. Mr. W. said this protecting duty on coal stood upon a just foundation; it was subject to the gradual operation of the act of 1633, and ought not to be meddled with. This was no case in which the abuses of " regraters, forestallers," 8tc., called for the interposition of the law. The trade was free and open to all; coal lands were cheap, and in market every where, but it required the outlay of some capital to turn them to account. If this perpetual cry against every thing which required capital, and this crusade against all who possessed it, was to be indulged, how could the internal improvement of the country ever go on? The nation, while surrounded by all manner ol natural advantages, must sit down content to be poor. Was it not manifest, where few were very rich, that any thing which carried on the work of supply must be accomplished by combination and the collection of capital? If the Government were resolved not to leave the enterprises of our citizens to the effect of fair competition, but would perpetually interpose under the false notion of protecting the poor, great results could never be produced. The Pennsylvania canals had been decried as a monopoly. They were not a monopoly. Some of them belonged to the State, and, with a wise and liberal policy, she had thrown them open to all. Since the Government had, by its own acts, invited this investment, would they not consent to let well enough alone? He was not willing to turn accidents, or mere transient and temporary difficulties, into the grounds of continuous usage. He wished to see other avenues opened to the mountains as well as those of Pennsylvania. He held that the true interest of the community in relation to this supply of coal, and in consideration of the present state of things, was to let those who had embarked in the business go on, till competition between them should, by its natural operation, bring down the price to its minimum. To that point it was fast hastening; and when that had been reached, it would be time enough to consider whether any other and further. legislation upon the subject was necessary. Mr. W. was opposed to the amendment.
After some farther remarks by Mr. Niles and Mr. Proton,
Mr. Webster rose, and observed, that he should not have entered farther in the present debate if the member from Connecticut had not (as unfortunately he too often did) both misunderstood and misrepresented it. The member had represented him as saying the reverse of what he did say. That gentleman had quoted him as asserting that the poor had no interest in the reduction of the price of coal, whereas he had said exactly the reverse. The honorable member seemed to be in the habit of framing remarks for others, and then commenting upon them. Mr. W. had expressly declared that if he thought the interest of the poor would be promoted by reducing this tax, he would vote for its reduction, and that he was opposed to it only because he believed that the true interest of that class and of every other class in the community, required that the Government should keep its hands off from the subject entirely. Mr. W. had again and again declared that he did not mean to advocate the cause of the rich in opposing this reduction, because he believed that keeping on the tax would eventually bring down the price of the article to the poor. The member did not meet this argument. He did not contradict it, but stalked around it while he talked about monopolies, and the influence of rich men on the legislation of Congress. Mr. W. did not doubt that the object at which the Senator meant to aim was to make coal cheap; and did ne not understand that this too was the aim of Mr. W.? And how then could he impute to him the design to protect the capitalist, in derogation of the laborer? to advance wealth and disregard numbers? He hoped they should all in future endeavor to state each other's arguments with at least some degree of fairness. Coal was a necessary of life to all; to the poor as well as to the rich. The object to be attained was to get it as cheap as possible. The existing state of things had grown up under laws passed fifteen years ago, and the question was, whether, under that state of things, the proposition of the member from Connecticut would, in its practical result, lower the market price of this species of fuel. The member thought it would. Mr. *V. thought otherwise, and had given reasons for this opinion, which he hoped were not altogether contemptible, and such as did not rightfully expose him to the charge of advocating the interests of wealth against labor. His argument had been briefly this: Here was a large capital actually invested in roads, canals, and machinery, the effect of which would, in a short rime, make coal abundant, and thereby make it cheap; while, in the meanwhile, the foreign supply was not wholly excluded, and enough would be imported by competition to keep down the price. The honorable member thought that Congress, by taking off this tax, would give the exclusive power of keeping up the price to American producers. Mr. W. differed in opinion. He thought that, by taking off this tax, they would give that power to British producers, and make our citizens the victims of their extortions. Did not rich men as well as poor make use of coal as a fuel? Was it not their interest to have fuel cheap as well as the interest of every body else? Ah, but the member was for the protection of labor. Very true. And Mr. W. insisted that the protective policy of the United States was aimed point black at the protection of labor. Did not the poor of our cities warm themselves over coal fires? What glowing pictures, or rather what shivering pictures of suffering had been presented to the Senate in the eloquent descriptions (if he thought them eloquent) of the honorable gentleman from South Carolina! But was not the laboring class in our cities the very first who received the protection of this Government? The first demand of a Constitution was for their protection. It had been the operatives spread along the Atlantic coast, whose voices brought the Constitution into being. It was not the voices of Hancock, of Adams, but of Paul Revere and his artisans which most efficiently advocated the movement for independence. It was the pouring in of a flood of foreign manufactures that gave the first impulse toward the adoption of a Constitution for our own protection; and had not the labor of our whole country been protected under it to this day? Had not the laboring classes of the United States their life, and breath, and being under that instrument? Take off
the protection which it extended to the hatters, and the shoemakers, and the whole class of mechanics who worked in leather, and see what would be the result. Go to the gentleman's own State, and take off the duty on tin ware, and he might possibly hear the tinkling of that argument. Three cents on every coffee-pot! What would the member say to that?
But it became enlightened legislators to take a different view of this subject. The true way to protect the poor was to protect their labor. Give them work to protect their earnings; that was the way to benefit the poor. Our artisans, he repeated it, were the first to be protected by the Constitution. The protection extended under our laws to capital was as nothing to that which was given . to labor; and so it should be. Since, in the year 1824,1 stood upon this ground, I have retained the same position, and there I mean to stand. The free labor of the United States deserves to be protected, and so far as any efforts of mine can go, it shall be. The gentleman from Connecticut tells us that coal is a bounty of Providence; that our mountains are full of it; that we have only to take hold of what God has given us. Well, Sir, I am for protecting the man who does take hold of it; who bores the rock; who penetrates the mountain; who excavates the mine, and by his assiduous labor, put us into the practical possession of this bounty of Providence. It is not wealth while it lies in the mountain. It is human labor which brings it out and makes it wealth. I am for protecting that poor laborer whose brawny arms thus enrich the State. I am for providing him with cheap fuel, that he may warm himself and his wife and children.
I observe that the very next item in the bill is one connected with the woollen factories in Connecticut. Will the honorable member go against all protecting principles? Will he talk to us on that item as he has done on this? Does not the poor man wear a cloth coat? Does he not want a great coat in cold weather? And is not that cloth taxed, and taxed for the benefit of Connecticut, and for the capitalists of Connecticut? Is cloth no necessary of life? Will the member draw us as fine a picture of the poor man shivering for want of a great coat of Connecticut cloth, as for want of a fire of Pennsylvania coal? Sir, the man who catches hold of a little idea here and a little idea there, and holds these out to us to show that a great line of national policy is unjust, takes a view, in my apprehension, too little comprehensive. We must not tax the fuel with which the poor man warms himself, because it is a necessary of life; and pray what will the honorable member do with bread? Is not that a necessary of life? and will any man here rise in his place, and move to take off the duty on wheat? Are not thousands of bushels imported from Europe? Does not the poor man pay the tax on it? And again I ask, will the honorable mem
ber bring in a bill to take off the duty on wheat? There is a duty on brown sugar — will he move to repeal that? If he will comprehend all the items included under the same principle of economy, it will show at least some consistency. But to select this article of coal, and have us make it free because it is a necessary of life, while he advocates a tax on other things equally necessary, is to act with no consistency at all. I know very well that many of the citizens of Boston have applied to have this tax diminished, and, if I thought it could with propriety be done, I would cheerfully do it. Some
Etilions, too, have been presented from one of our fishing towns; t they ought to remember that all bounties on the fisheries, as well as this duty on coal, rest upon oue great basis of mutual concession for the protection of labor, and for (he benefit especially of the operative classes of society. And whoever says that this is a system which goes for capital against the poor, misrepresents its advocates, and perverts the whole matter, from A to Z.
There are many oiher views which belong to the subject, but I will not now prosecute the argument. My object is to make coal cheap —perwuountly cheap: cheap to the poor man as well as the rich man: and to that end we shall arrive, if the laws are suffered to take their course. But to meddle with them, in the existing state of things, is the very worst thing that can be done either for poor or rich.