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Again, as always under protection, there was economy in the administration of the government. Again, the necessity for contracting loans had passed away. Again, too, the foreign debt of the free-trade period was being diminished; and why? Because, once again, that colonial policy which looked to the dispersion of our people had been rejected.
Not content with the lesson that had thus been taught, the protective policy was again abandoned, and once again we find the colonial system re-established, the results exhibiting themselves in the following remarkable figures, indicating the extent to which the government has recently been repeating the experiment of “burning the candle at both ends”:
- Customs. Land Sales. Total. 1853–4 ............. $64,224,000 ......... $8,470,000 ......... $72,694,000 1854–5 ............. 58,025,000 ...... ... 11,497,000 ......... 64,522,000 1855–6 ............. 64,022,000 ........ . 8,917,009 ......... 72,939,000
As before, in every free-trade period, the government was becoming daily richer, while the productive power was declining from day to day. Expenditures, of course, increased—having reached, for those three years, exclusive of interest upon a large public debt, an average of $56,000,000, or nearly five times more than they had been thirty years before. Having thus laid the foundation for a crisis, need we wonder that that crisis came, leaving the government, but recently so rich, in a state of actual bankruptcy, and wholly unable to meet the demands upon it? Certainly not. It was precisely what has happened in every British freetrade country of the world, and in every free-trade period of our own. In each and every one, our people had been driven out from the older States, and the government had been enabled to take from them, in payment for public lands, the mass of their little capitals, leaving them to borrow at three, four, or five per cent, per month, of the wealthy capitalist, all that had been required to pay for their improvements—and finally leaving them in the hands of the sheriff, under whose hammer. their property had sold so cheaply as almost to forbid the purchase of lands that were as yet public and unimproved. The receipts from that source are now estimated at $2,000,000, and thus have we returned to a point that is really lower—our numbers being considered—than that at which we arrived at the close of the British free-trade speculations of 1817–18 and 1836–39. Looking at all these facts, my dear sir, is it not clear— That the system which you advocate, and which has usurped the freetrade name, is but a return to that colonial one described in the passages above submitted for your perusal? . That it has for its object the destruction of the power of combination, and consequent diminution of the ability to produce commodities in which to trade? That, as a necessary consequence, it tends to produce a growing dependence of both the people and the State upon foreign traders and foreign bankers? . That to its present long continuance is due the fact, that British journalists now speculate upon “the recovery of that influence which eighty years ago England was supposed to have lost”?
That the tendency toward recolonization is growing with every hour, and that with each successive one, we are more and more becoming mere tools in the hands of British traders? That, therefore, it is the duty of every friend of freedom and independence to lend his aid to the re-establishment of that protective system under which the country so much advanced in prosperity and power, in the periods which closed in 1816, 1834, and 1847?
Repeating the proposition, already so often made, to have your answers to these questions placed before a million and a half of protectionist readers, I remain, my dear sir, with great respect,
Your obedient servant,
HENRY C. CAREY. W. C. BRYANT, Esq.
Philadelphia, February 7, 1860. L E T T E R S E W E N T H.
DEAR SIR.—The essential object of the British system, as you
have already seen, is the suppression, in every country of the World, outside of Britain, of that diversity of human employments, without which there can be made no single step toward freedom. The more that object can be achieved, the more must other nations be compelled to export their products, and in their rudest shape, to Britain — doing so in direct opposition to the advice of Adam Smith.--This is what is called British free trade, the base of which is found in that annihilation of domestic commerce, whose effects exhibit themselves in the poverty, wretchedness, and crime of India, Ireland, Turkey, and other countries subjected to the system, all of which are so well reproduced among ourselves in every British free trade period. Real freedom of commerce consists in going where you will— exporting finished commodities to every portion of the world. Seeking that freedom, the most eminent French economists, as you have already seen, have held that it was “only the accomplishment of a positive duty” for governments “so to act as to favor the taking possession of all the branches of industry whose acquisition is favored by the nature of things,” and that when they failed to do so, they made “a great mistake.”
In full accordance with the idea thus expressed, the French Government has adhered to the policy of protection with a steadiness without example—the great result exhibiting itself in an export of the products of agriculture, in a finished form, such as can nowhere else be found. Thus protecting domestic commerce, the government finds itself repaid in the power to obtain revenue from a foreign commerce that has quadrupled in the short space of thirty years—the $100,000,000 of 1830 having been replaced by the almost $400,000,000 of each of the last three years — the population meantime having remained almost stationary. As a consequence of this the reward of labor has much increased, the people have become more free, and the State has grown in influence with a rapidity unknown elsewhere.
That it is to industrial development we are to look for the creation of a real agriculture, can now be no longer doubted—the Emperor having, in his recent letter, told his finance minister, that “without a prosperous industry agriculture itself remains in its infancy;” that “it is necessary to liberate industry from all internal impediments,” and thereby “improve our agriculture;” and that in so doing the government will be “creating a national wealth” and diffusing “comforts among the workingclasses.”
Nothing more accurate than this could have been said by the great Colbert himself—the man to whose labors France was first indebted for the relief of her domestic commerce from the pressure of internal restrictions and external warfare. Compare it, however, I pray you, with our policy, erroneously styled the free trade one, every portion of which seems to have had for its object the creation of impediments to domestic commerce, and the subjugation of our farmers to the tyranny of foreign traders. Look, if you please, to the almost endless series of laws having for their object the compulsory use of gold and silver, in a country which exports the precious metals to such extent as to have driven our people, throughout a large extent of country, to the payment of three, four, and five per cent per month, for the use of the small amount of money which, even at such rates, can be obtained. Turn next to the postage law proposed by your Southern free trade friends, at the last session, by means of which the charge for the transmission of letters was to be almost doubled. Study then the constant succession of free trade crises, by means of which our domestic commerce has been so often paralyzed. Pass on, and find the closing of furnaces and mills, followed by constant increase of difficulty in the sale of labor—constantly growing pauperism and crime — and as constant increase of that dependence upon foreign markets which has, in every other country, been attended by growth of slavery among men, whether black, brown, or white. Look where you may, you will find the system of which you have been the steady advocate, leading to the adoption of measures directly opposed to the teachings of Adam Smith and those of his most distinguished successors, here endorsed by Louis Napoleon. Turn next to another passage of the imperial letter, and find in it that agriculture must have “its share in the benefits of the institutions of credit,” and that the government must “devote annually a considerable sum to works of drainage, irrigation, and clearage.” Having read this, study, if you please, the proceedings of your free trade friends, constantly engaged as they have been, in the effort to destroy the credit of banks, and to prevent the substitution of paper for gold—and thus so far destroying confidence, that tens of millions of specie are now hoarded in private vaults by men who dare not spend it, and fear to lend it at any interest whatsoever-Turn, thence, to the condition of our treasury, and contrast it with that of France — the latter proposing to lend money to the people at low interest, while the former is constantly in the market as a borrower, and at higher rates of interest than are paid by any government that claims to rank as civilized. Pass next to manufactures, and find the Emperor telling his minister that, “to encourage industrial production, he must liberate from every tax all raw material indispensable to industry,” and that he must “allow it, exceptionally, and at a moderate rate, as has already been done for agriculture, the funds necessary to perfect its raw material”—meaning thereby, as I understand it, further grants of aid similar to those which have resulted in improving the breed of sheep, and in giving to French agriculture many products not native to the soil, and yet essential to the perfection of manufactures.—Having studied this, allow me next to request that you will examine the teachings of the author of the tariff of 1846—the tariff you have so steadily admired—and find him protesting against the imposition of “higher duties upon the manufactured fabric than upon the agricultural product out of which it is made.” Examine, then, his tariff, and find in it a systematic effort at the discouragement of industrial production by the imposition of heavy duties on the raw material of manufactures—sometimes so great, even, as to exceed those paid by the finished commodities for the production of which they were needed to be used. That done, look next at the repeated efforts of private individuals to improve our breed of sheep, and at the ruin that has been the consequence—that ruin having resulted necessarily from changes of policy that have closed our factories and sent merinos to the slaughter-house. Look in what direction you may, you will find that, with the exception of the brief and brilliant period of the tariff of 1842, the men engaged in the development of our great mineral treasures, and those engaged in introducing, extending, and perfecting works of conversion, and thereby giving the farmer a market for his products, have been regarded as enemies, deserving only of the hatred of the government; as men for the accomplishment of whose ruin fraud and falsehood might justly be resorted to — the holiness of the end sanctifying the employment of any means that might be used. Adopting these ideas, the Emperor assures his minister that he will find in them the road toward real freedom of trade—the great extension of commerce producing a necessity for “successive reductions of the duty on articles of great consumption, as also the substitution of protecting duties for the prohibitive system which limits our commercial relations.”—Having read this, do me the favor to turn to the period of the protective tariff of 1828, and find there precisely the state of things here described — the great increase of revenue having then produced a necessity for abolishing the duties that had always thus far been paid by tea and coffee. Look, next, to the working of that dispersive system, which scatters our population over the continent, and destroys the power of combination — at one moment filling the treasury to repletion by means of custom-house receipts and sales of public lands, and then leaving it bankrupt, to seek, as was done in 1842, and is now being done, for loans abroad, to keep the wheels of government in motion until the tariff can be raised. . The policy of the French Government was accurately defined, some three or four years since, by the President of the Council, and there is nothing in the Emperor's letter that is not in strict accordance with the determination then expressed, as follows:
“The Government formally rejects the principle of free trade, as incompatible with the independence and security of a great nation, and as destructive of her noblest manufactures. No doubt, our customs-tariffs contain useless and antiquated prohibitions, and we think they must be removed. Protection, however, is necessary to our manufactures. This protection must not be blind, unchangeable, or excessive; but the principle of it must be firmly maintained.”
We are told, however, that a treaty has been signed, in which there are great advances toward freedom of trade. If so, it does but prove the perfect accuracy of M. Chevalier, who is said to have been the French negociator, in regarding protection of the domestic commerce as the real and certain mode of reaching freedom of intercourse with foreign nations. “In every country,” as he has told his readers, “there arises a necessity for acclimating among its people the principal branches of industry”—agriculture alone becoming insufficient. “Every community, considerable in numbers, and occupying an extensive territory,” is therefore, as he thinks, “well inspired, when seeing to the establish