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should increase with every increase in the competition for the sale of labor, resulting from the absence of demand for the human forces that are produced. In the one case, men are tending towards freedom, whereas, in the other, they are tending in the direction of slavery—the existence of almost universal debt being to be regarded as evidence of growing power, on the part of those who are already rich, to control the movements of those who need to live by the sale of labor. Where, now, is debt most universal and most oppressive? For an answer to this question, let me beg that you will look to India, where, since the annihilation of her manufactures, the little proprietor has almost disappeared, to be replaced by the wretched tenant, who borrows at fifty, sixty, or a hundred per cent, per annum, the little seed he can afford to use, and finds himself at last driven to rebellion by the continued exactions of the money-lenders and the government. Turn, next, to those parts of Russia where there are no manufactures, and find in the freetrade book of M. Tegoborski his statement of the fact, that where there is no diversification of pursuits the condition of the slave is preferable to that of the free laborer. Pass thence to Turkey—finding there an universality of debt that is nowhere else exceeded. Look, next, to Mexico, and find the poor laborer, overwhelmed with debt, passing into servitude. Pass on to Ireland, and study the circumstances which preceded the expulsion, or starvation, in ten short years, of a million and a half of free white people—that expulsion having been followed by the passage of an Act of Parliament for expelling, in their turn, the owners of the land from which those laborers had gone. Look where you may, you will see that it is in those communities of the world which are most limited to the labors of the field, that debt is most universal, and that the condition of the people is most akin to slavery—and for the reason that there it is, that there is least competition for the purchase of labor. There, consequently, there is the greatest waste of the great commodity which all of us must sell, if we would have the means of purchase. Turn, now, if you please, to Central and Northern Europe, and there you will find a wholly different picture — competition for the purchase of labor being there steadily on the increase, with constant augmentation of the rapidity of commerce — constant increase in the power to economize the great commodity of which I have spoken—and, as a necessary consequence, constant diminution in the necessity for the contraction of debt. Why should such remarkable differences exist? Because, in all of these latter countries, the whole policy of the country tends towards emancipation from the British free-trade system, whereas India, Ireland, Turkey, and Mexico, are becoming from day to day more subject to it. Looking homeward, we may now, my dear sir, inquire when it has been, that the complaint of debt has been most severe. Has it not been in those awful years which followed the free-trade speculations of 1816–17? Has it not been in that terrific period which followed the free-trade speculations of ’87 to '40—that period in which a bankrupt law was forced from Congress, as the only means of enabling tens of thousands of industrious men to enter anew upon the business of life 2 Has it not been in the years of the present free-trade crisis, which present to view private failures of almost five hundred millions in amount? When, on the other hand, has there been least complaint? Has it not been in those tranquil years which followed the passage of the protective tariffs of ’28 and '42? That it has been so, is certain. Why should it so have been 7 Because in protective times every man has found a purchaser for his labor, and has been thereby relieved from all necessity for contracting debt; whereas, in free-trade times, a large portion of the labor power produced has remained unemployed, and its owners, unable to sell their one commodity, have been forced to choose between the contraction of debt on the one hand, or famine and death on the other. Look next, my dear sir, to our public debt, and mark its extinction under the tariff of ’28–its revival under the compromise tariff—its reduction under that of '42—and then study the present situation of a national treasury that, in time of perfect peace, is running in debt at the rate of little less than $20,000,000 a-year ! Turn then, if you please, to our debt to foreigners, which was annihi. lated under the tariff of ’28—swelled to hundreds of millions under the tariff of ’33 — and since so much enlarged, under the tariffs of '46 and '57, that the enormous sum of $30,000,000 is now required for the payment of its annual interest. France, with a population little larger than our own, and one far less instructed, maintains an army of 600,000 men — carries on distant Wars —builds magnificent roads—enlarges her marine and fortifies her ports —and does all these things with so much ease, that when the government has suddenly occasion for $100,000,000, the whole is supplied at home, and without an effort. Belgium and Germany follow in the same direction — not only making all their own roads, but contributing largely to the construction of those which are used for carrying out the rude products of our land, and bringing back the cloth, the paper, and the iron, that our own people, now unemployed, would gladly make at home. They are rapidly becoming the bankers of the world, for they live under systems even more protective than were those of our tariffs of ’28 and '42. We, on the contrary, are rapidly becoming the great paupers of the world — creating seven, eight, and ten per cent bonds, and then selling them at enormous discounts, to pay for iron so poor in quality that our rails depreciate at the rate of five, six, and even ten per cent a-year. Looking at all these facts, is it not clear, my dear sir— That the necessity for the contraction of debt exists, throughout the world, in the ratio of the adoption of the free-trade system of which you are the earnest advocate 7 That the greater the necessity for the contraction of debt, the greater is the liability to the recurrence of commercial crises such as you have so well described 7 That the more frequent the crises, the greater is the tendency towards the subjection of the laborer to the will of his employer, and towards the creation of slavery even where it has at present no existence? And, therefore — That it is the bounden duty of every real lover of freedom to labor for the re-establishment of the protective system among ourselves?
At foot * is given, as you see, your notice of refusal to enter upon the discussion to which you have been invited. For a reply thereto, permit me, my dear sir, to refer you to the following exposition of your own views in relation to free discussion, given by yourself, a few days since, in the Evening Post:
“THosp, PoliticAL LECTURES.-As our readers know, a project has been under consideration to give a course of political lectures in this city during the present winter, and in which our prominent politicians of all parties were to be invited to take a part. We now understand that the scheme has fallen through, mainly because no single Democrat could be found who was willing to ventilate his party opinions, and maintain them, in connection with a series of similar addresses by Republican, Radical, and American speakers. We are assured that of twenty Northern and Southern Democratic statesmen, who have been invited, not one has accepted the invitation. It is proper to say that the signatures to the letter inviting speakers represented a number of our very foremost citizens, of all shades of politics. If a letter, so respectably signed as to guarantee every courtesy to all who took part in the course, failed to secure at least one speaker to uphold Democratic principles, we may safely suggest that the old soubriquet of the “unterrified Democracy” is a misnomer. We regret the failure of the proposed course of lectures, but are glad to know that many Republicans were willing to
participate. Why cannot we have a few Republican speakers in an independent course?”
Obviously, these Temocrats fear discussion. For years, they have been advocating doctrines that will not bear examination before the people. What, however, shall we say to the free-trade advocates? Is there any one of them that would accept a proposition like to the one to which you have here referred 7 Would they even accept an offer that was so much better than this, that it would give them, of cool and reflecting readers, five hundred times as many as you could give to any Democrat, of mere auditors? Would Mr. Hallock, of the Journal of Commerce, accept the magnificent offer I have made to you, which, thus far, you have not accepted 7 Would it be accepted by Mr. Greene, of the Boston Morning Post 2 Will you accept it? If you will not, can you object to the course of the Democratic leaders to whom you have here referred 7 Scarcely so, as I think. w
Hoping to hear that you have reconsidered the question, and have decided to accede to a proposition which will enable you to address to a million and a half of readers, all the arguments that can be adduced in support of free-trade doctrines, I remain, my dear sir,
Very truly and respectfully yours, - HENRY C. CAREY. W. C. BRYANT, Esq.
PHILADELPHIA, January 17, 1860.
* “MR. CAREy’s CHALLENGE. — Mr. Henry C. Carey, of Philadelphia, known by various works on political economy, has challenged Mr. Bryant, one of the editors of this paper, to a discussion, in the newspapers, of the question of custom-house taxation. In behalf of Mr. Bryant, we would state that challenges of this kind he neither gives nor accepts. It would almost seem like affectation on his part to say that he has not read the letters—two in number, he is told—in which this defiance is given on the part of Mr. Carey, having, unfortunately, too little curiosity to see in what terms it is expressed ; but as such is the fact, it is well perhaps to mention it. His duties as a journalist, and a commentator on the events of the day and the various interesting questions which they suggest, leave
him no time for a sparring-match with Mr. Carey, to which the public, after a little while, would pay no attention; and if he had ever so much time, and the public were ever so much interested in what he had to say, he has no ambition to distinguish himself as a public disputant. His business is to enforce what he considers important political truths, and refute what seem to him errors, just as the occasions arise, and to such extent as he imagines himself able to secure the attention of those who read this journal, and he will not turn aside from this course to tie himself down to a tedious dispute concerning the tariff question at any man’s invitation. “The question of the tariff is not the principal controversy of the day. It may seem so to Mr. Carey, who is suffering under a sort of monomania, but the public mind is occupied just now with matters of graver import. To them it is proper that a journalist should principally address himself, until they are disposed of. He may make occasional skirmishes in other fields of controversy, but here is the main battle. When the tariff question comes up again, it will be early enough to meet it; and even them, a journalist who understands his vocation would keep himself free to meet it in his own way. “If Mr. Carey is anxious to call out some antagonist with whom to measure weapons in a formal combat, and can find nobody who has an equal desire with himself to shine in controversy, we can recommend to him a person with whom he can tilt to his heart’s content. One Henry C. Carey, of Philadelphia, published, some twenty years since, a work in three volumes, entitled “Principles of Political Economy,” in which he showed, from the experience of all the world, that the welfare of a country is dependent on its freedom of trade, and that, in proportion as its commerce is emancipated from the shackles of protection, and approaches absolute freedom, its people are active, thriving, and prosperous. We will put forward Henry C. Carey as the champion to do battle with Henry C. Carey. This gentleman, who is now so full of fight, will have ample work on his hands in demolishing the positions of his adversary, with which he has the great advantage of being already perfectly familiar. When that is done, which will take three or four years at the least, inasmuch as both the disputants are voluminous writers, we would suggest that he give immediate notice to his associates, the owners of
the Pennsylvania iron-mills, who will doubtless lose no time in erecting a cast-iron statue in honor of the victor.”
LETTER Fou RTH.
DEAR SIR.—In the notice of your refusal to enter upon the discussion to which you have been invited, it is said that you “had not read the letters” that had been addressed to you. That such had been the case, is not at all improbable; but how far a great public teacher, as you undoubtedly are, can be held justified in closing his eyes when invited to a calm examination of the question whether his teachings tend in the direction of prosperity and freedom for the laborer, on the one hand, or toward pauperism and slavery on the other, seems to me to be far less certain. Placed myself in his situation, I should regard it as one of great responsibility — one in which erroneous action, resulting from failure to give to the subject the fullest and fairest examination, would be little short of the wilful and deliberate commission of crime. That you agree with me in this, I cannot, even for a moment, doubt. That you had not read the notice served upon me, I regard as absolutely certain, and for the reason, that its tone and manner are entirely unworthy of you, and you would not, I am sure, permit anything to be said by others for you, that you would not say yourself. Further, you are there placed in the false position of doing what I know you would not do—shrinking from responsibility, by permitting yourself to be presented to the world as being only “one of the editors” of the Post, instead of the editor, as you are so well known to be. Mr. Greeley is the editor of his paper, and, as such, endorses the opinions, given editorially, of the many gentlemen by whom he is aided. So, too, is it with yourself; and the rule of looking to the endorser when the drawer cannot be found, applies in this case as fully as it can do in that of a promissory note. So far as I can recollect, the editor of the Tribune has never shrunk from any such responsibility—having repeatedly replied, over his own signature, to papers addressed to himself in reference to editorials that he had published. Quite sure I am, that were you now to cite him before the world, as I have cited you, demanding an examination of the principles upon which he had based his advocacy of protection, he would most gladly meet you—giving to all you had to say the benefit of his enormous circulation, and leaving his readers to decide for themselves, after calm perusal of your arguments. Like you, he might find it quite impossible to give to the question all the attention it might demand, but, in that case, he would, most assuredly, find some one to take his place— becoming responsible, as editor, as fully as if he alone had written. Like him, you are surrounded by persons who have treated this subject on hundreds, if not even thousands, of occasions—you making yourself responsible for all they have thus far said; and I am, therefore, at a loss to understand why you should now fail to profit by the admirable opportunity offered you, for establishing the truth of free-trade doctrines. Can it be, that their advocates dare not meet the question ? If so, are they not now placing themselves in a situation precisely similar to that so recently demo by you, in speaking of your Democratic opponents?