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free trade among them. And if he extends his survey over the whole earth, he can scarcely avoid the conclusion that free trade among all nations would be as advantageous to all nations as it is to the thirty-seven States of the American Union. But nations are not governed by theories and theorists, but by circumstances and politicians. The most perfect theory must sometimes give way to exceptional fact. We find, accordingly, Mr. Mill, the great English champion of free trade, fully sustaining Henry Clay's moderate tariff of 1816, but sustaining it only as a temporary measure. The paragraph of Mr. Mill's Political Economy which touches this subject seems to us to express so exactly the true policy of the United States with regard to the tariff, that we will take the liberty of quoting it.
“ The only case in which, on mere principles of political economy, protecting duties can be defensible, is when they are imposed temporarily, (especially in a young and rising nation) in hopes of naturalizing a foreign industry, in itself perfectly suitable to the circumstances of the country. The superiority of one country over another in a branch of production often arises only from having begun it sooner. There may be no inherent advantage on one part, or disadvantage on the other, but only a present superiority of acquired skill and experience. A country which has this skill and experience yet to acquire may, in other respects, be better adapted to the production than those which were earlier in the field; and, besides, it is a just remark of Mr. Rae, that nothing has a greater tendency to promote improvement in any branch of production, than its trial under a new set of conditions. But it cannot be expected that individuals should, at their own risk, or rather to their certain loss, introduce a new manufacture, and bear the burden of carrying it on, until the producers have been educated up to the level of those with whom the processes are traditional. A protecting duty, continued for a reasonable time, will sometimes be the least inconvenient mode in which the nation can tax itself for the support of such an experiment. But the protection should be confined to cases in which there is good ground of assurance that the industry which it fosters will after a time be able to dispense with it; nor should the domestic producers ever be allowed to expect that it will be continued to them beyond the time necessary for a fair trial of wbat they are capable of accomplishing." .
* Mill's Principles of Political Economy, Book V. Ch. X. $ 1.
In the quiet of his library at Ashland, Mr. Clay, we believe, would, at any period of his public life, have assented to the doctrines of this passage. But at Washington he was a party leader and an orator. Having set the ball in motion, he could not stop it; nor does he appear to have felt the necessity of stopping it, until, in 1831, he was suddenly confronted by three Gorgons at once, a coining Surplus, a President that vetoed internal improvements, and an ambitious Calhoun, resolved on using the surplus either as a stepping-stone to the Presidency or a wedge with which to split the Union. The time to have put down the brakes was in 1828, when the national debt was within seven years of being paid off; but precisely then it was that both divisions of the Democratic party-one under Mr. Van Buren, the other under Mr. Clay — were running a kind of tariff race, neck and neck, in which Van Buren won. Mr. Clay, it is true, was not in Congress then, — he was Secretary of State ; but he was the soul of his party, and his voice was the voice of a master. In all his letters and speeches there is not a word to show that he then anticipated the surplus, or the embarrassments to which it gave rise ; though he could not have forgotten that a very trilling surplus was one of the chief anxieties of Mr. Jefferson's administration. Mr. Clay's error, we think, arose from his not perceiving clearly that a protective tariff, though justifiable sometimes, is always in itself an evil, and is never to be accepted as the permanent policy of any country; and that, being an evil, it must be reduced to the minimum that will answer the temporary purpose.
In estimating Henry Clay, we are always to remember that he was an orator. He had a genius for oratory. There is, we believe, no example of a man endowed with a genius for oratory wbo also possessed an understanding of the first order. Mr. Clay's oratory was vivified by a good heart and a genuine love of coun. try; and on occasions which required only a good heart, patriotic feeling, and an eloquent tongue, he served his country well. But as a party leader he had sometimes to deal with matters which demanded a radical and far-seeing intellect; and then, perhaps, he failed to guide his followers aright. At Washington, during
the thirteen years of his Speakership, he led the gay life of a popular hero and drawing-room favorite; and his position was supposed to compel him to entertain much company. As a young lawyer in Kentucky, he was addicted to playing those games of mere chance which alone at that day were styled gambling. He played high and often, as was the custom then all over the world. It was his boast, even in those wild days, that he never played at home, and never had a pack of cards in his house ; but when the lawyers and judges were assembled during court sessions, there was much high play among them at the tavern after the day's work was done. In 1806, when Mr. Clay was elected to the Senate, he resolved to gamble no more, that is, to play at hazard and “ brag " no more, and he kept his resolution. Whist, being a game depending partly on skill, was not included in this resolution; and whist was thenceforth a very favorite game with him, and he greatly excelled in it. It was said of him, as it was of Charles James Fox, that, at any moment of a hand, he could name all the cards that remained to be played. He discountenanced high stakes; and we believe he never, after 1806, played for more than five dollars “a corner.” These, we know, were the stakes at Ghent, where he played whist for many months with the British Commissioners during the negotiations for peace in 1815. We mention his whist-playing only as part of the evidence that he was a gay, pleasant, easy man of the world, — not a student, not a thinker, not a philosopher. Often, in reading over his speeches of this period, we are ready to exclaim, " Ah! Mr. Clay, if you had played whist a little less, and studied history and statesmanship a great deal more, you would have avoided some errors !” A trifling anecdote related by Mr. Colton lets us into the Speaker's way of life. “ How can you preside over that House to-day?" asked a friend, as he set Mr. Clay down at his own door, after sunrise, from a party. “Come up, and you shall see how I will throw the reins over their necks,” replied the Speaker, as he stepped from the carriage.*
Daniel Webster once said of him in conversation : “Mr. Clay is a great man ; beyond all question a true patriot. He has done much for his country. He ought long ago to have been elected President. I think, however, he was
But when noble feeling and a gifted tongue sufficed for the occasion, how grandly sometimes he acquitted himself in those brilliant years, when, descending from the Speaker's lofty seat, he held the House and the crowded galleries spellbound by his magnificent oratory! His speech of 1818, for example, favoring the recognition of the South American republics, was almost as wise as it was eloquent; for, although the provinces of South America are still far from being what we could wish them to be, yet it is certain that no single step of progress was possible for them until their connection with Spain was severed. Cuba, today, proves Mr. Clay's position. The amiable and intelligent Creoles of that beautiful island are nearly ready for the abolition of slavery and for regulated freedom; but they lie langrishing under the hated incubus of Spanish rule, and dare not risk a war of independence, outnumbered as they are by untamed or halftamed Africans. Mr. Clay's speeches in behalf of the young republics of South America were read by Bolivar at the head of his troops, and justly rendered his name dear to the struggling patriots. He had a clear conviction, like his master, Thomas Jefferson, that the interests of the United States lie chiefly in America, not Europe ; and it was a favorite dream of his to see the Western Continent occupied by flourishing republice independent, but closely allied, - a genuine Holy Alliance.
The supreme effort of Mr. Clay's Congressional life was in connection with the Missouri Compromise of 1821. He did not originate the plan of compromise, but it was certainly his influence and tact which caused the plan to prevail. Fortunately, he had been absent from Congress during some of the earlier
never a man of books, a hard student; but he has displayed remarkable genius. I never could imagine him sitting comfortably in his library, and read. ing quietly out of the great books of the past. He has been too fond of the world to enjoy anything like that. He has been too fond of excitement, — he has lived upon it; he has been too fond of company, not enough alone; and has had few resources within himself. Now a man who cannot, to some extent, depend upon himself for happiness, is to my mind one of the unfortunata. But Clay is a great man; and if he ever had animosities against me, I forgive him and forget them."
These words were uttered at Marshfield when the news reached there that Mo Clay was dying.
attempts to admit Missouri; and thus he arrived in Washington in January, 1821, calm, uncommitted, and welcome to both parties. Fierce debate had wrought up the minds of members to that point where useful discussion ceases to be possible. Almost every man had given personal offence and taken personal offence; the two sides seemed reduced to the most hopeless incompatibility; and the affair was at a dead lock. No matter what the subject of debate, Missouri was sure, in some way, to get involved in it; and the mere mention of the name was like a spark upon loose gunpowder. In February, for example, the House had to go through the ceremony of counting the votes for President of the United States, a mere ceremony, since Mr. Monroe had been re-elected almost unanimously, and the votes of Missouri were of no importance. The tellers, to avoid giving cause of contention, announced that Mr. Monroe had received two hundred and thirty-one votes, including those of Missouri, and two hundred and twenty-eight if they were excluded.
At this announcement members sprang to their feet, and such a scene of confusion arose that no man could make himself heard. After a long struggle with the riot, the Speaker declared the House adjourned.
For six weeks Mr. Clay exerted his eloquence, his arts of pacification, and all the might of his personality, to bring members to their senses. He even had a long conference with his ancient foe, John Randolph. He threw himself into this work with such ardor, and labored at it so continuously, day and night, that, when the final triumph was won, he declared that, if Missouri had been kept out of the Union two weeks longer, he should have been a dead man. Thirty-four years after these events Mr. S. G. Goodrich wrote: “I was in the House of Representatives but a single hour. While I was present there was no direct discussion of the agitating subject which already filled ererybody's mind, but still the excitement flared out occasionally in incidental allusions to it, like puffs of smoke and jets of flame which issue from a house that is on fire within. I recollect that Clay made a brief speech, thrilling the House by a single passage, in which he spoke of poor, unheard Missouri,' she being