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ments the price of productions, in our own manufactories, and makes it necessary to raise still higher the prices of their products; and this creates a demand for the imposition of new duties. This, as I understand it, is the honorable member's idea.
Now, it appears to me that there are several things worthy of consideration, in regard to this supposed course and progress of things.
In the first place, it is far from being always true that importations fall off in consequence of carrying on some branches of manufacture at home. Our history certainly shows no such result, looking through the whole of it, for twenty years. If there be a lar^e export, the return, if not made in one article, will generally be made in some other. It will usually happen in some way that, taking all branches of the trade of the country with all other countries together, the imports, in a series of years, will be about equal to the amount of exports, and the earnings of freights. We have now a list of free articles, of some of which the importations have been not only large, but extravagant; quite large enough, at any rate, to absorb exports; and quite too large, in my opinion, for the good of the country.
The gentleman very properly admits that specie cannot, for a preat length of time, set towards our country, from all others, to settle balances of trade, and to make up the deficiency of imports in relation to exports. Specie does, indeed, come to pay up an occasional balance in the trade between a particular country and the rest of the world, and it soon goes away again, to supply a deficiency in the place it came from, or some other place. There are vibrations in trade, and gold and silver correct these vibrations. But there are other causes, which sometimes operate with more violence. Disorders in the currency, and expected short crops, a political crisis, the fear of war, a panic of any kind,—any of these things is able to disturb the natural course of commercial dealings, and to arrest gold and silver, while they are peaceably performing the common functions of trade. Hence, if we see a very large import of specie in any one year, it does not necessarily follow thai our imports have, to that extent, fallen short of our exports. This import of specie may be owing to one or more of the extraneous causes above mentioned; and in not alluding to these causes, I cannot but think the gentleman overlooked a matter very important to be observed. In our trade with some particular countries, too, the return is in specie in a very great proportion. And as this trade is very irregular, the quantities of specie received from it in different years are very unequal. Thus, in 1833, the whole import of specie into the country was seven millions; the next year, 1834, it was seventeen millions. In 1836, it was thirteen millions; in 1837, it fell to ten millions; and in 1838, rose up again to seventeen millions. Such fluctuations find no corresponding alternation?, certainly, in the general balance between exports and imports. The general truth is undeniable, that the tendency of gold and silver, in the ordinary operations of commerce, is to flow to that country which has become a creditor country by the excess of its exports over its imports; but then their general tendency is so often diverted or arrested by the interference of other causes, that the amount of importation or exportation of specie for a given year, is not a criterion by which the balance of trade, or the amount of exports compared with imports for that year, can be decided.
A great portion of the specie imported into the United States comes from South America and Cuba, by way of New Orleans and other ports, and is the return for provisions, and more largely for manufactured articles, shipped to those countries. This fact is important, and deserves consideration in acting upon all subjects of this kind. It is undoubtedly true that the manufactures of the country bring into it a large supply of specie from South America and the West Indies.
The honorable gentleman, in maintaining his proposition that protection leads to an expansion of the currency, argues that the tariff of 1828 turned the balance of foreign trade in our favor; that this brought in specie; that the like cause turned the domestic trade in favor of the manufacturing States; and that the expansion of circulation, of which he exhibits tables, in those States, is thus distinctly traced to the effect of protection, as tending to bring gold and silver into the country. But all this, 1 think, admits of doubt. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, is not received as good logic. It strikes me, this import of silver, and, therefore, the expansion, so far as it resulted from that import, is quite as likely to be referable to the other causes which I have already mentioned. The specie, it is said, was collected in masses in the North, and there the currency was expanded. But was it not expanded, too, in the South? The gentleman's tables only show four or five Northern States; but how was it, and how is it, in the cotton-growing States? Has there been no expansion in Mississippi, Alabama, or less expansion in those States than in Massachusetts and Rhode Island? It will be found, I think, that there was the least expansion just where it is said the specie was thus brought in by the course of trade.
The next stage in the gentleman's argument is, that this supposed expansion of the currency would increase the cost of producing manufactured articles at home. How increase the cost? In no way but by increasing the price of labor. Now, I do not learn from him any facts showing that labor rose, greatly, in price, after the tariff" of 1828. If it kept up to what it had been, I incline to think that was all. The object, and, I think, the effect, of the tariff* of 1828, was not so much to raise prices high, as it was to keep the market steady, to give some check to the extravagant amount of foreign importations, and some security that labor should receive a reasonable reward. That is all that was asked. But the great abundance of capital abroad, ihe low rate of interest, and the great sacrifices, which were willingly made, for the purposes of prostrating our establishments, called for some security and protection, or we were not likely to be able to maintain competition. And we are always to remember that, when our own manufactures shall be prostrated by the extremely low prices of imported goods, then we shall be obliged immediately to pay extremely high prices for those same imported goods. The fact undoubtedly is, that, under the process of protection, the common price or cost of goods has become less. No one can deny that. Every body knows that goods are better and cheaper. A man's labor will buy more for him than it would. This is the effect of competition. If we take out of the market the products of our own labor, who does not see that prices would rise enormously? Let this be tried on any article. Take away, for instance, all American-made hats and shoes; would not the article be immediately doubled in price? Reasonable protection does not so much raise the price of labor, although it should raise it in some degree, as it diverges its uses, and multiplies its employments. It prevents any particular channel from being filled and choked up. One of the secrets of prosperity is, that there shall be a considerable variety in the pursuits and labors of men. » I fear our Southern friends do not feel the full influence of this important truth. For my part, as a well-wisher to the South, I should be glad to know that there were manufactures, such as were suited to their wants, the value of their labor, and their general condition, in every county, from this place to the Gulf of Mexico.
There is still another point of view in which I wish to present the question to the consideration of the honorable gentleman. Suppose the Southern States to produce, every year, the same quantity of cotton. If more be manufactured at home, less will be exported. Now, the honorable member seems to me to reason as if the whole true object or interest of the South was to export. But certainly this cannot be so. The object and interest of the cotton-growing States is to sell, not to export. If they find a customer at home who pays a good price, their object is answered. The true question, therefore, in this respect, is, not whether they export as much, but whether they sell as much, and at as good prices; and unless all the rules of trade are false, the fact of there being two markets for the sale of a commodity, instead of one, tends strongly to keep up, and to keep steady, the price of the article to be sold.
III. There is a third general idea of the honorable gentleman, upon which I would make a few observations.
It is, that the South and West are the great consumers of the products of the manufacturers of the North and East; that the capacity of the South to consume depends on her great staples; and that the sale of these depends mainly on a foreign market.
Now, I have already said that if the South can sell her cotton, or part of it, to New England, for the same prices, it is as well for her as to sell it all to Old England. Her income depends on the price, not on the place of sale. If an export of sixty millions is reduced to an export of forty millions, in consequence of there having been found a market at home for twenty millions, it is not only no worse for the South, but is, in truth, much better. This is perfectly plain; and I must confess it has always appeared to me to be the strangest thing in the world that our Southern friends should look with jealousy and ill-will on a market rising up in the North and East for their own great staple; thus not only giving them the general advantage of another large market,—which advantage is itself always great, — but giving them the additional advantage of a nearer market, and a more certain and steady market, because not so liable to be disturbed either by the political events or the commercial contingencies of Europe. I have inquired much into this subject, and I find that intelligent merchants in New Orleans and Mobile regard the home market as of very great importance to the cotton-planter. The Eastern demand, they say, comes in early, takes away the first part of the crop, and helps, therefore, to fix the price, and to fix it high. Some have estimated this advantage as equivalent to two cents on the pound of cotton. All must see, I think, that it is a clear and great advantage, and I wish the subject might be calmly considered and weighed by the honorable member from South Carolina and his friends.
But, at any rate, the fact that some portion of her annual product, instead of being exported, is sold at home, cannot possibly diminish the capacity of the South to buy and consume the manufactured articles of the East, or any other articles. The cottonplanter sends his crop to New York ; it is there sold, and all at the same price. How does it affect his income, or his ability to purchase what he wants,— whether all his cotton, so sold, be sent to Europe, or part of it carried to be manufactured in Massachusetts?
But, now, look to the other side. Of what consequence is it to the North and East that the South is able to buy their productions, if overwhelming importations from abroad render them unable to sustain competition? If the cheaper labor of Europe underbids them in every thing, — if these frequent inundations of foreign commodities break up their establishments,—how are they benefited by the ability of the South to buy and consume? So that, turn it as we will, it all comes back to the steady price and security of labor. And all the theories lately started, and pressed with so much earnestness, go directly and necessarily to one point; and that is, the reduction of the price of labor. On this I might say much, but, at present, will confine myself to one or two remarks.
In the first place, when labor is employed, labor can consume; when it is not employed, it cannot consume. Who buys the pork and the lard of the North-Western States? Who takes the corn of North Carolina and Virginia, and the flour of the latter State? Is it not the North and the East? Virginia and Carolina have no better customer than Massachusetts. To say nothing of the amount of naval stores received from North Carolina, and used by the navigating interest of the East, let me only refer to bread stuffs. Two millions of bushels of com, and four hundred thousand barrels of flour, have been imported into the single city of Boston in one year. Most of this corn is from North Carolina and Virginia, and much of the flour from Virginia. 1 find it has been estimated that upwards of six millions of dollars have been paid by Massachusetts for bread stuffs imported in a single year. All this is consumed and paid for by employed labor. Take away employment from our labor, or drive it from its accustomed pursuits, and its power of consumption is at an end.
But not only does the protection of labor in the North and East enable it to buy the products of the South, but all protection of labor increases general consumption. Hence we find that the manufacture of many useful articles at home does not diminish the aggregate amount of importations. This is a very important truth, and all our history confirms it. I have looked at the tables of exports and imports, from the very first origin of this Government, and I do not find any thing to countenance the idea that imports, in the aggregate, fall off in consequence of protecting labor at home. There were quite as great fluctuations forty or forty-five years ago, as there have been since the tariff of 1824. A wellemployed and prosperous community can buy and consume. An ill-employed community cannot buy and consume. This is the solution of the whole matter, and the whole science of political economy has not one truth of half so much importance as this.
One word more. The experiment of low wages has been often tried. We see it going on now in Asia and many parts of Europe. My colleague has recently given us a list of the prices of labor in various countries. We know what those countries are, and what the condition of the people is.
On the other hand, we have tried the experiment of high wages; and have we not made the best condition of society, for the general happiness of all classes, that has ever existed upon the face of the earth?
IV. A fourth sentiment of the honorable member is, that the