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Allow me now, my dear sir, to ask you if you really believe that the
facts are such as they here are said to be 7 Do you not, as well as myself, know, that for years past, the wealthy mill owners of New England have been opposed to any change of system that could, by giving increased protection, tend to augment domestic competition for the sale of cloth, knowing, as they did, that such competition must decrease the cost of cloth to the consumer. So is it now, with the wealthy iron master. He can live, though all around him may be crushed by British competition; and then, in common with his wealthy British rivals, he must profit by the destruction they have made. Such being the facts, and that they are so I can positively assert, are you not, by opposing protective measures, aiding in the creation among ourselves of a little “ oligarchy of mill owners,” whose power to increase the “tribute money” of which you so much complain, results directly from the failure of Congress so to act as to increase domestic competition for the sale of cloth and iron 2 The less that competition, the less must be the reward of labor, and the larger the profits of the capitalist, but the greater must be the tendency towards pauperism and crime, and the less the power to consume either cloth or iron.
“Hitherto,” as you here tell your readers, our people “have been oppressed by powerful and compact minorities.” In this you are right —a small minority of voters in the Southern States having dictated the repeal of the protective tariffs of 1828 and 1842, and having now, with a single and brief exception, dictated for thirty years both the foreign and domestic policy of this country. In 1840, however, the free people of our Northern States, farmers, mechanics, laborers, and miners — the men who had labor to sell and knew that it commanded better prices in protective than in free trade times—rose in their might and hurled from power this little “oligarchy” of slave owners, then taking for themselves the protection which they felt they so greatly needed. That it is, which they now seek again to do — desiring once again to free themselves from the control of that “powerful and compact minority” of slaveholders, under whose iron rule they so long have suffered.
Permit me now, my dear sir, to ask on what side it was you stood, in
the great contest of 1842? Was it with the poor farmer of the North who sought emancipation from the tax of transportation, by the creation of a domestic market for his products? Was it with the mechanic who sought the re-opening of the shop in which he so long had wrought? Was it with the laborer whose wife and children were perishing for want of food? Was it with the little shopkeeper who found his little capital disappearing under demands for the payment of usurious interest ? Was it not, on the contrary, with that “little oligarchy” of men who owned the laborers they employed, and opposed the protective policy, because it looked to giving the laborer increased control over the products of his labor? Was it not with the rich capitalist who desired that labor might be cheap, and money dear? Was it not with those foreign capitalists who desired that raw materials might be low in price, and cloth and linen high 7 Was it not with those British statesmen who find in the enormous capitals of English iron masters “the most potent instruments of warfare against the competing industry of other countries”? To all these questions the answers must be in the affirmative, your journal having then stood conspicuous among the advocates of proslavery domination over the free laborers of the Northern States. – We have now another free trade period, when crisis has been followed by paralysis, and it may, my dear sir, be not improper to inquire on what side it is that you now are placed. Is it by the side of the free laborer who is perishing because of inability to sell his labor 7 Is it by that of the poor farmer of the West, who finds himself compelled to pay five per cent, per month, to the rich capitalist? Is it by that of the unemployed mechanic of the Middle and Northern States? Is it by that of the farmer whose land diminishes in value because of the enormous tax of transportation to which he is subjected 7 Is it not, on the contrary, by the side of that “little oligarchy” which holds to the belief that the laborer is “the mud-sill” of society, that slavery for the white man and the black is the natural order of things, and that “free society has proved a failure " ? For an answer to these questions, allow me now to point you to the fact that you have here invoked the aid of a Senate, the control of which is entirely in the hands of that same “oligarchy,” for resisting any and every change in our commercial policy asked for by the farmers and laborers of the Northern States. Now, as for thirty years past, your opponents are found among the men who sell their own labor, while your chief allies are found in the ranks of those by whom such men are classed as serfs. Need we wonder, then, that your journal should be always advocating the cause of the millionaires, and thus helping to augment the pauperism and crime whose rapid growth you so much lament 7 The facts being thus so entirely the reverse of what you have stated them to be, is it not, my dear sir, most remarkable — That, after aiding, during so long a period, in the establishment of pro-slavery domination over our domestic and foreign commerce, you should now venture to assert, that “the mill owners have dictated the whole system of indirect taxation, ever since the late war with Great Britain ‘’’ That, the necessity for resorting to such mis-statements does not furnish you with proof conclusive of the exceeding weakness of the cause in support of which you are engaged 7 That, regard for truth does not prompt you to a re-examination of the question, with a view to satisfying yourself that of all the pro-slavery advocates, the Journal of Commerce not excepted, there is not even a single one that has proved more efficient than yourself? Hoping that you may follow my example by giving this letter a place in your columns, and ready to place within the reach of millions of protectionist readers, whatever answer you may see fit to make, I remain, Yours, very respectfully, - HENRY C. CAREY. W. C. BRYANT, Esq.
LETTER TENT H.
DEAR SIR. — Allow me to beg that you now review with me some of the facts that thus far have been presented for your consideration, having done which, I will ask you to say if in the annals of the world there can anywhere be found a more admirable contrivance for the annihilation of domestic commerce than that which exists among ourselves, consequent upon the adoption of British free trade doctrines. Closing our mills and furnaces, the government compels our people to seek the West. There arrived, they find themselves taxed for transportation to such extent that not only have they no power to develop the mineral wealth that so much abounds, but are wholly unable even to construct roads by means of which to go to the distant market. Few in number and poor, they are driven to seek relief at the hands of their British friends, or masters, pledging their lands and houses as security for the payment of railroad bonds. In due season, the foreign creditor becomes owner of the road, anxious to increase his revenue, but, above all, anxious to promote the dispersion of our people, and to secure the maintenance of our existing colonial dependence. Seeking to accomplish that object, he taxes your farmers for the transportation of the produce of distant lands — compelling them to make good all the losses resulting from cheaply carrying the products of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Thus destroying the value of the land and labor of Atlantic States, he compels a further emigration, and thus on and on he goes—fully carrying out the British plan of recolonization, while always lauding the advantages to be derived from the British free trade system. It is a remarkably ingenious arrangement, and the more you study it, the more, my dear sir, you must be led to wonder at the folly of our people in having so long submitted to it. The British people are somewhat heavily taxed, but for every dollar they pay for the support of their own system, do not our people pay ten for the support of foreign people and foreign governments 2 That the strength of a community grows as its internal commerce increases, and declines as that commerce decays, is proved by the history of every nation of the world. Such being the case, allow me to ask you now to look with me into that commerce among ourselves, with a view to determining its extent. How much does Kentucky exchange with Missouri : What is the annual value of the commerce of Ohio with Indiana, or of Virginia with Kentucky? Scarcely more, as I imagine, than that of a single day's labor of their respective populations; and, perhaps, not even half so much.-Why is this the case? Is it not a necessary consequence of the absence of that diversity of employments within the States, everywhere seen to be so indispensable to the maintenance of commerce? Assuredly it is. Ohio and Indiana have little more than one pursuit—that of tearing out the soil, and exporting it in the form of food. Virginia and Kentucky sell their soil. in the forms of tobacco and of corn. Carolina and Alabama have the same pursuits; and so it is throughout by far the larger portion of the Union — millions of people being employed in one part of it, in robbing the earth of the constituents of cotton, while in others, other millions are employed in plundering the great treasury of nature, of the constituents of wheat and rice, corn and tobacco, and thus destroying, for themselves and their successors, the power to maintain commerce. The commerce of State with State is thus, as you see, my dear sir, but very trivial; and the reason why it is so, is, that the commerce of man with his fellow-man, within the States, as a general rule, is so exceedingly diminutive. Were the people of Illinois enabled to develop their almost boundless deposits of coal and iron ore, and thus to call to their aid the wonderful power of steam, the internal commerce of the State would grow rapidly — making a market at home for the food produced, and enabling its producer to become a large consumer of cotton. Cotton mills then growing up, bales of cotton wool would travel up the Mississippi, to be given in exchange for the iron required for the roads of Arkansas and Alabama, and for the machinery demanded for the construction of cotton and sugar mills, in Texas and Louisiana. That, however, being precisely the sort of commerce which Britain so much dreads, and that, too, which our own government desires to destroy, the capitalist feels no confidence in any road dependent upon its growth, whether for the payment of interest upon its bonds, or dividends upon its stock. Hence the almost entire impossibility of obtaining the means of making any road that does not lead directly to Liverpool and Manchester. Look with me, I pray you, into the Report just now published, of the Sunbury and Erie Railroad—running, as it does, through a country abounding in mineral wealth and fertile lands. Its length is 288 miles, 248 of which are already made, and 148 completed by the laying of the iron—the expenditure having somewhat exceeded $8,500,000. There, however, the work stops, it being quite impossible to obtain, even as a temporary loan, either at home or abroad, the trivial sum that is yet required, except at the cost of sacrifices that must be ruinous to those who have commenced the work. Until it shall be obtained, the capital already expended must fail to be productive, and lands equal in extent to a moderate German kingdom, must fail to contribute to the maintenance of our people, and to the increase of the States in wealth, strength, and power. Thirty years since, Germany did as we are doing, exporting raw materials, and importing finished products. Adopting protection, she has placed herself in a position to compete with Britain for the purchase of wool and cotton, and for the export of knives and cloth. Then she was poor, but now she is so rich that her people take from us bonds by which our roads and lands are bound for the payment of rates of interest so enormous as to ruin the persons whose property has been pledged. —Thirty years since, we paid off all our foreign debts. Adopting free trade measures, we have since created a foreign debt that requires for payment of its interest alone, more than the products of all our farms that go to Europe. Then, we were rich and strong. Now, we appear as beggars for loans in every money market of Europe, and are fast becoming the very paupers of the World. .
That our system tends to the destruction of domestic commerce in the Atlantic States, is beyond a question. How it affects the value of land and labor throughout those Western States, in whose favor you now appeal to your Legislature, asking for a continuance of the system by means of which the New York farmer is made to pay the cost of transporting the corn and wheat of his Western competitor, we may now Inquire. -
Ten years since, Congress created in Illinois a great company of landlords—granting many millions of acres of land, coupled with the obligation to construct a road from north to south, across the State. Two years later, an ex-Secretary of the Treasury, author of the tariff of 1846, was found in London, engaged in peddling off the Company's stock and bonds. While there, he published a book, setting forth the fact that Illinois abounded in rich soils, and in coal and ores, and proving that the land alone would pay for making a road that was to cost, according to my recollection, some fifteen or twenty millions of dollars—the whole of which must, therefore, be clear profit to the stockholders. Eventually, the bait was swallowed, and the result exhibits itself in the fact that Mr. Cobden has been a ruined man — having been led by his free trade friends to invest therein the whole sum of $350,000 paid to him by the Manchester manufacturers, as compensation for his successful efforts at bringing about a repeal of the British corn laws, and of our protective tariff of 1842. ... • Why is this? Why is it, that the proprietors of so many millions of acres, and of a road crossing so many beds of coal and ores of various kinds, are ruined men? Because the road runs from north to South, and not from east to west, and cannot, therefore, be made a part of any line leading through New York to Liverpool. Because, the value of the land depended upon the development of domestic commerce—that commerce which “Britain has so much cause to dread.” Had the tariff of 1842 continued in existence, the coal of Illinois would long since have been brought into connection with the lead, iron, and copper ores of Missouri, and the country of the lakes, and with the cotton of the South; and then, all the promises of Mr. Walker, and all the hopes of Mr. Cobden, would have been fully realized. Had, however, that tariff been maintained, the people of Illinois would have made their own roads, and the country would have been spared the disgrace of having ex-Cabinet ministers engaged in the effort to persuade English bankers to lend the money required for their construction. They would have been spared, too, a succession of financial crises, bringing ruin to themselves, while enabling their British free trade friends to denounce them, in common with all their countrymen, as little better than thieves and vagabonds.
The less our domestic commerce, the greater is our dependence upon Liverpool and Manchester, and the less our power to construct any road that does not lead in that direction—the general rule being, that north and south roads can never be made to pay. Look to your own State, crossed by two railroads, leading through your city to Liverpool, while your people are being heavily taxed for an enlargement of your canals, which has for its only object an increase of competition on the part of Western farmers; that increase, too, established at the very moment when your railroad owners are compelling your farmers to pay all the