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and well-discerned object, and its aim was exact, and the object was reached.
But the minimum had become the subject of obloquy and reproach. It was railed at, even, in good set terms, by some who professed to be, and Wik) doubtless were, friends of the protecting policy. It was declared to be deception. It was said that it cheated the People, inasmuch as under its operation they did not see what amount of taxes they really paid. For one, I did not admit the fact, nor yield to the argument. I had no doubt the People knew what taxes they paid under the operation of the laws, as well as we who passed the laws; and whether they stopped to make precise calculations or not, if they found the tax neither oppressive nor heavy, and the effect of the law decidedly salutary, I did not believe they would complain of it, unless it was made a part of some other controversy. The minimum principle, however, in its application to broadcloths, was overthrown by the law of 1832, and that law, as it came from the House of Representatives, and as it finally passed, substituted a general and universal ad valorem duty of fifty per cent. An effort was made in the Senate to resist this general aid valorem system, and to hold on to the specific duty. But it did not prevail. The Senate was nearly evenly divided. The casting or turning vote was held by a gentleman, a friend for whom I always entertain very high regard, a number from Maryland, not now in the Senate. After the discussion, be admitted himself almost satisfied that the law, in this particular, ought not to be altered; but his impression against the minimum, nevertheless, finally prevailed, and he voted for the new mode, that is to say, the general ad valorem mode of laying the duty; and, to render this effectual, he himself proposed to carry that duty as high as sixty per cent. The Senate fixed it, indeed, at fifty-seven per cent.; but the House non-concurred, and the law finally passed, as all know, establishing an ad valorem duty of fifty per cent, on woollen cloths, &c.
Now, Mr. President, when we recollect that the duties on woollen fabrics, of all kinds, bring into the Treasury four, or five, or six millions a year, every man acquainted with our manufactures must see at once that a portion of this vast sum is perfectly useless as a protecting duty; because it is imposed on fabrics with which our own manufacturers maintain no competition, and in regard to which, therefore, they ask no protection. I have instituted sundry inquiries for the purpose of learning, and of showing, what is the amount of duties collected annually on woollens, which have no distinct bearing, as protecting duties, on any of the products of our manufactures. At present I will only say, and will say that with great confidence, that of the surplus money now in the Treasury, several millions arc the proceeds of ad valorem duties, which have conferred no perceptible benefit whatever on our manufacturing establishments. It is, therefore, Sir, that I regard the law of 1832, and not the law of 1828, as the great error in our legislation. This law of 1832 was confirmed by the act of 1833, and is, of course, in actual operation at the present moment, except so far as it has become affected by the gradual reduction provided for by the last-mentioned act. I wish not to discuss the act of 1833. 1 do not propose, at present, to disturb its operation; but having alluded to it, I take the occasion of saying that I have not the least idea that that act can remain as the settled system of this country. When the honorable member from Kentucky introduced it, he called it a measure of conciliation, and expressed the hope that if the manufacturing interests should be found to suffer under it, it might be modified by general consent. Although never concurring in the act, I entertain the same hope. I pray most fervently that former strifes and controversies on the tariff question may never be revived; but at the same time it is my opinion that the principles established by the law of 1833 can never form the commercial system of this country.
But, Mr. President, the most striking increase in the public revenue is in that branch of it which is derived from the sales of the public lands. How happens it that the proceeds from this quarter have sprung up, thus suddenly, to such a height? The Secretary's estimate of the proceeds of the sales of the public lands for this year was only four millions. The actual sales are likely to be twenty. What has occasioned this great and unexpected augmentation?
Sir, we are to remember that the growth and prosperity of the country, generally, are remarkable, and that, as these increase, the western tide, both of people and property, increases also. The reflow of this property is into the Treasury through the land-offices.
The well-sustained demand for cotton has, of course, augmented the demand for cotton lands; and we all know that good lands, for the production of that crop, are sought for with great eagerness. We are to include, too, the great expansion of the paper circulation among the causes tending to produce heavy purchases; and the amount of foreign capital that has found its way, through one channel or another, into the country, and is giving an additional stimulus, and additional facility to enterprises, both public and private. Many of the States have contracted large debts, for purposes of improvement, and these stocks have gone abroad. I suppose there may be fifty millions of State securities now owned in Europe. Foreign capital, also, has been introduced, to a great extent of late, as the basis of commercial enterprise—a thing ordinarily to be expected, when we look to the low rates of interest abroad, and the great demand for money at home. It would be hazardous to esti mate proportions and amounts on such a subject; but it is certain. that a large amount of property now afloat, in ships and goods, owned by Americans, and sailing and transported on American account, is put into commercial operation by means of foreign capital actually advanced, or acting through the agency of credit. This introduction of foreign capital, in all the various forms, has doubtless bad some effect in extending our paper circulation, and in raising prices; and certainly it has had a direct effect upon the ability of making investments in the public lands.
And, Sir, closely connected with these causes is another, which I should consider, after all, the main cause; that is, the low price of land, compared with other descriptions of property. In every thing else prices have run up; but here price is chained down by the statute. Goods, products of all kinds, and indeed all other lands, may rise, and many of them have risen, some twenty-five, and some forty or fifty per cent.; but Government lands remain at a dollar and twenty-five cents an acre; and vast portions of this land are equal, in natural fertility, to any part of the globe. There is nothing, on either continent, to surpass their quality. The Government land, therefore, at the present prices, and at the present moment, is the cheapest safe object of investment. The sagacity of capital has found this out, and it grasps the opportunity. Purchase, it is true, has gone ahead of emigration; but emigration follows it, in near pursuit, and spreads its thousands and its tens of thousands close on the heels of the surveyor and the land-hunter. When I traversed a part of the Western States, three years ago, I could not but ask myself, in the midst of the vast forests around me, Where are the people to come from who are to begin cultivation here, and to checker this wilderness with fields of wheat? But, when returning on the Cumberland road, or while passing along other great channels of commumcation, I encountered the masses of population moving westward, I was tempted to ask myself, on the other hand, a far different question, and that was, Where in the world will all these people find room to settle?
Nor are we to overlook, in this survey of the causes of the vast increase in the sale of lands, the effects, almost magical, of that great agent of beneficence, prosperity, wealth, and power — I.ntkrNal Improvement. This has brought the West to the Atlantic, and carried the Atlantic to the West. Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin are no longer places remote from us. Rail-roads and canals have brought the settlers of these regions so near to us that we almost see the smoke of their cabins and hear the strokes of their axes. From Maine to the upper Mississippi is already a beaten track, with one's acquaintances every where along the road, and that road even not a long one, if we measure it by the time required to pass over it.
Mr. President, if t am asked bow long these causes, or any of them, will continue to act, with this effective energy, I readily answer that I cannot foresee. Nor can I foresee other events, which may affect our revenue in years to come. And it is for this reason precisely, that what I propose is limited to a single year. All the uncertainties and contingencies which naturally belong to human affairs, hang over us. I know not what expenditures may be called for next year. I know not what may be necessary to satisfy the all-absorbing capacity of Indian wars and Indian treaties. I know not what events, at home or abroad, may shake our commercial security. I know not what frosts and blights may do against the cotton crops. I know not what may happen to our currency. I cannot tell what demands for the use of capital in other objects may slacken the purchase of public lands; for I am persuaded that, hereafter, our income from that source is likely to be much more fluctuating than heretofore, as depending less on the actual amount of emigration, and more on the occasional plenty or scarcity of money. Emigration must hereafter supply its wants, much more than formerly, out of lands already separated from the public domain.
Under these circumstances, it appears to me to be prudent to limit the proposed division to a single operation. Let us lighten the Treasury for once; and then let us pause, and contemplate our condition. As to what may then be expedient, events will enlighten us. We shall be able to judge more wisely, by the result of our experiments, and the future will be more visible as it approaches nearer.
It will be observed, Sir, that I give full time to the deposit banks to prepare themselves to pay over these funds. Time for this purpose is indispensable. We might do rather harm than good, if we were to require any sudden operation of that kind. Give the banks time; let them know what they have to do; let the community see into what channels the surplus funds are to flow, and when they are to begin to flow; and men of business will then be able to see what is before them.
I have the fullest confidence that if we now adopt this measure, it will immediately relieve the country. It will remove that severe and almost unparalleled pressure for money which is now distressing and breaking down the industry, the enterprise, and even the courage of the commercial community. I assure you, Sir, this present pressure is not known, or felt, or believed here, in any thing like its true extent. If we give no relief, I know not what may happen, even in this day of high prosperity. I beseech those who have the power, not to let the opportunity pass, but to improve it, and thereby to revive the hopes and reassure the confidence of the country. Having expressed these sentiments, and brought forward this specific proposition for one division among the States of the surplus funds, I should now move to commit the whole subject, either to a select committee, or the Committee on Finance, were it not that, looking to the present composition of the Senate, I am not desirous of taking a lead in this measure. The responsibility naturally rests with those who have the power of majorities, and who may expect the concurrence of other branches. Meantime I cheerfully give myself to any labor which the occasion requires, and I express my own deep and earnest conviction of the propriety and expediency of the measures which I have endeavored to explain and to support.
Mr. W. then proposed the following as an amendment to the "bill to regulate the deposits of the public money," as an additional section:—
Sec. . And be U farther enacted. That the money which shall be in the Treasury of the United States on the first day of January, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven, reserving millions, •hall be divided among the several States, in proportion to their respective amounts of population, as ascertained by the last census, and according to the provision of the second section of the first article of the Constitution; and the Secretary of the Treasury shall pay the same to such persons as the several States may authorize to receive it, in the following proportions, and at the following times, viz. one half on the first day of April, eighteen hundred and thirtyseven; one quarter part, on the first day of July, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven; and the remaining quarter on the first day of October, eighteen hundred and thirty-seven; and all States which shall receive their several proportions according to the provisions of this act, shall be taken and understood thereby to pledge the public faith of such States to repay the same, or any part thereof, to the United States, whenever Congress shall require the same to be repaid by any act or acts which shall require such payment ratably, and in equal proportion, from all the Sutca which bad received the same.