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speak are not the necessary results of an erroneous policy of which, during so long a period, you have been the steady advocate. The history of the Union for the past half century may now briefly thus be stated: We have had three periods of protection, closing in 1817, 1834, and 1847, each and all of them leaving the country in a state of the highest prosperity — competition for the purchase of labor then growing daily and rapidly, with constant tendency towards increase in the amount of commerce, in the steadiness of the Societary action, and in the freedom of the men who needed to sell their labor. We have had three periods of that system which looks to the destruction of domestic commerce, and is called free trade—that system which prevails in Ireland and India, Portugal and Turkey, and is advocated by British journalists—each and all of them having led to crises such as you have so well described, to wit, in 1822, 1842, and 1857. In each and every case, they have left the country in a state of paralysis, similar to that which now exists. In all of them, the exchanges have become more and more languid, the Societary movement has become more and more irregular, and the men who have needed to sell their labor have become more and more mere instruments in the hands of those who had food and clothing with which to purchase it. All experience, abroad and at home, tends, thus, to prove that men become more free as the domestic commerce becomes more regular, and less and less free as it becomes more and more fitful and disturbed. Such being the case, the questions as to the causes of crises, and as to how they may be avoided, assume a new importance—one greatly exceeding, as I imagine, that which you felt disposed to attach to them when writing the passage which has above been given. To my apprehension, they are questions of liberty and slavery, and therefore it is that I feel disposed to invite you, as a friend of human freedom, to their discussion through the columns of your own journal, the Evening Post—that discussion to be carried on in the spirit of men who seek for truth, and not for victory. If you can satisfy me that I am in error as to either facts or deductions, I will at once admit it; and you, I feel assured, will do the same. As an inducement to such discussion, I now offer to have all your articles reprinted in protectionist journals, to the extent of 300,000 copies — thereby giving you not less than a million and a half of readers, among the most intelligent people of the Union. In return, I ask of you only, that you will publish my replies in your single journal, with its circulation of, as I am told, fifteen or twenty thousand. That this is offering great odds, you must admit. It may, however, be said, that the replies might be such as would occupy too large a portion of your paper; and to meet that difficulty, I now stipulate that they shall not exceed the length of the articles to which answers are to be given — thus leaving you entire master of the space to be given to the discussion. Hoping to hear that you assent to this proposition, I remain, very respectfully, - Your obedient servant,
HENRY C. CAREY. W. C. BRYANT, Tsq.
PHILADELPHIA, December 27, 1859.
DEAR SIR.—Allow me now to ask you why it is, that great speculations, followed by crises and by almost total paralyses, such as you have so well described, always occur in free trade times, and never in periods when the policy of the country is being directed towards the creation of domestic markets, and towards the relief of our farmers from the terrific taxes of trade and transportation to which they are now subjected? That such are the facts, you can readily satisfy yourself by looking back to the great speculations of the four periods of 1817, 1836, 1839, and 1856, followed by the crises of 1822, 1837, 1842, and 1857 — and then comparing them with the remarkable steadiness of movement which characterized those of the protective tariffs of 1828 and 1842. Study our financial history as you may, you will find in its every page new evidence of the soundness of the views of Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton, Adams, Madison, and Monroe, each and all of whom had full belief in the accuracy of the ideas so well enunciated by General Jackson, when he declared that we “had been too long subject to the policy of British merchants”—that it was “time we should become a little more Americanized”— and that, if we continued longer the policy of feeding “the paupers and laborers of England” in preference to our own, we should “all be rendered paupers ourselves.” Why is all this? Why must it be so? Why must, and that inevitably, speculation, to be followed by crises, paralyses, and daily-growing pauperism, be the invariable attendant upon the policy which looks to the separation of the producer of raw products from the consumer of the finished commodities into which rude materials are converted 7 To obtain an answer to all these questions, let us look again, for a moment, to the proceedings connected with the printing and publication of the Evening Post. Dealing directly with your paper-maker, you pay him cash, or give him notes, in exchange for which he readily obtains the money —no artificial credit having been created. Place yourself now, if you please, at a distance of several thousand miles from the manufacturer, and count the many hands through which your paper would have to pass—each and every change giving occasion to the creation of notes and bills, and to the charge of commissions and storage; and you will, as I think, be disposed to arrive with me at the conclusion, that the tendency towards the creation of artificial credits, and towards speculation, grows with the growth of the power of the middleman to tax the producers and consumers of the world. Seeking further evidence of this, let me ask you to look at the circumstances which attend the sale of your products. Now, your customers being close at hand, you are paid in cash—your whole year's business not giving, as I suppose, occasion for the creation of a single note. Change your position, putting yourself in that of the Manchester manufacturers, at a distance of thousands of miles from your customers, compelled to deal with traders and transporters, and study the quantity of notes and bills, with their attendant charges, that would be created—the augmentation of price and diminution of consumption that would be the consequence—the power that would be accumulated in the hands of those who had money to invest, and desired to produce such crises as those which you have so well depicted—and you will, most assuredly, arrive at the conclusion that there is but one road towards steadiness and freedom, and that that road is to be found in the direction of measures having for their object the more close approximation of the producers and consumers of the products of the earth. Studying next the great facts of our financial history, with a view to ascertain how far they are in accordance with the theory you may thus have formed, you will see that, in those prosperous years of the tariff of 1828, from 1830 to 1833, the quantity of bank notes in circulation was but 80 millions. No sooner, however, had we entered upon the free trade policy, providing for the gradual diminution and ultimate abolition of protection, than we find a rapid growth of speculation, consequent upon the growing power for the creation of artificial credits—the average circulation of the years from 1834 to 1837 having been no less than 149 millions, or nearly twice what it before had been. Under the protective tariff of 1842, the average was but 76 millions; but no sooner had protection been abandoned, than we find an increase so rapid as to have carried up the average from 1846 to 1849, to 113, and that of 1850 and 1851, to 143 millions. In that period speculation had largely grown, but prosperity had as much declined. When the circulation was small, domestic commerce was great — mines having been opened, furnaces and factories having been built, and labor having found its full reward. When, on the contrary, the circulation had become so great, mines were being closed and miners were being ruined—furnaces and factories were being sold by the sheriff, and our people were unemployed. In the one case, men were becoming more free, while in the other they were gradually losing the power to determine for themselves to whom they would sell their labor, or what should be its reward. In the one, there was a growing competition for the purchase of the laborer's services. In the other, there was increasing competition for their sale. Such having invariably been the case, can you, my dear sir, hesitate to believe, that the question to whose discussion I have invited you, is not one of the prices of cotton or woollen cloths, but is, really, that of man's progress towards that perfect freedom of action which we should all desire for ourselves and those around us, on the one hand, or his decline towards slavery, and its attendant barbarism, on the other? That, as it seems to me, you can scarcely do. At no period in the history of the Union has competition for the purchase of labor, accompanied by growing tendency towards improvement in the condition of the laborer, been so universal or so great as in 1815, 1834, and 1847, the closing years of the several periods in which the policy of the country was directed towards the approximation of the producers and consumers of the country, by means of measures of protection. At none, has the competition for its sale, with corresponding decline in the laborer's condition, been so great as in the closing years
Great as was the prosperity with which we closed the period which had commenced in this latter year, three short years of the tariff of 1846 sufficed for reproducing that competition for the sale of labor, relief from which had been the object of the men who made the tariff of 1842. From the decline with which we then were menaced, we were relieved by the discovery of the Californian mines, and by that alone. Since then, we have thence received more than five hundred millions of gold, and yet at no period has there existed a greater tendency to increase of competition for the sale of labor than at present—the two cities of New York and Philadelphia, alone, presenting to our view hundreds of thousands of persons who are totally unable to eacchange their services for the money with which to purchase food and clothing. Is it not clear, from all these facts, that—
First, the nearer the place of consumption to the place of production, the smaller must be the power of transporters and other middlemen to tax consumers and producers, and the greater must be the power of the men who labor to profit by the things produced 7
Second, that the more close the approximation of consumers and producers, the smaller must be the power of middlemen to create fictitious credits, to be used in furtherance of their speculations?
Third, that the greater the power of the men who labor, and the larger their reward, the greater must be the tendency towards that steadiness in the societary action, in the perfection of which you yourself would find the proof of “infallible wisdom in those who conduct its operations”?
Fourth, that all the experiences of continental Europe, and all our own, tend to prove that steadiness is most found in those countries, and at those periods, in which the policy pursued is that protective one advocated in France by the great Colbert, and among ourselves by Washington, Franklin, Hamilton, Adams, Jefferson, and their successors, down to Jackson; and least in all of those in which the policy pursued is that advocated by the British school, which sees in cheap labor and cheap raw materials the surest road to wealth and power for the British trader?
Renewing my proposition to cause your answers to these questions to be republished to the extent of not less than 300,000 copies, I remain, my dear sir, with great respect,
Your obedient servant,
- HENRY C. CAREY. W. C. BRYANT, Esq.
PHILADELPHIA, January 3, 1860.
DEAR SIR.—In one of his Mount Vernon Papers, Mr. Everett in. forms his readers, that —
“The distress of the year 1857 was produced by an enemy more formidable than hostile armies; by a pestilence more deadly than fever or plague ; by a visitation more destructive than the frosts of Spring or the blights of Summer. I believe that it was caused by a mountain load of DEBT. The whole country, individuals and communities, trading-houses, corporations, towns, cities, States, were laboring under a weight of debt, beneath which the ordinary business relations of the country were at length arrested, and the great instrument usually employed for carrying them on, CREDIT, broken down.”
This is all very true — a crisis consisting in the existence of heavy debts requiring to be paid by individuals, banks, and governments, at a time when all desire to be paid, and few or none are able to make the payments. That admitted, however, we are not, so far as I can see, much nearer than we were before to such explanation of the causes of crises, as is required for enabling us to determine upon the mode of preventing the recurrence of evils so frightful as are those you have so well described. Why is it, that our people are so much more burthened with debt than are their competitors in Europe? Why is it, that it so frequently occurs among ourselves that all need to be paid, and so few are able to pay? Why is it, that crises always occur in free-trade times? Why is it, that they never occur in protective times? Why is it, that it so frequently occurs that those who are rich are enabled to demand from the poor settlers of the West, as much per month, in the form of interest, as is paid per year, by the farmers of England, France, and Germany? These are great questions, to which Mr. Everett has furnished no reply. Let us have them answered, and we shall have made at least one step toward the removal of the evils under which our people so greatly suffer. Let us try, my dear sir, if you and I cannot do that which Mr. Everett has failed to do—ascertaining the cause of the existence of so much debt, the constant preliminary to that absence of confidence which impels all to seek payment, while depriving so nearly all of the power to pay. The commodity that you and I, and all of us, have to sell, is labor— human effort, physical or mental. It is the only one that perishes at the moment of production, and that, if not then put to use, is lost forever. The man who does put it to use, need not go in debt for the food and clothing required by his family; but he who does not, must either contract debt, or his family must suffer from want of nourishment. Such being the case, the necessity for the creation of debt should diminish with every increase in that competition for the purchase of labor, which tends to produce an instant demand for the forces, physical or mental, of each and every man in the community—such competition resulting from the existence of a power on the part of each and every other man to offer something valuable in exchange for it. On the contrary, it