The tariff question has been discussed for more than a century, and the masses of the people are apparently as far from an intelligent understanding .of it as they were when Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury; and, worse, still, as Jean-Baptiste Say said in his Political Economy, ninety-five years ago, the victims of "protection" "are the first to abuse the enlightened individuals who are really advocating their interests."
It requires a degree of courage, therefore, to ask the reader to give patient, if not interested, attention while we thrash over old straw; but the object in view Constrains us to do it.
When the Federal Government was inaugurated under the Constitution, possessing the power to "lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises," a few years of experience taught the statesmen of those times the lesson which had been learned in other countries ages before, namely, that indirect taxation was least liable to excite popular discontent.
The different methods of supplying the treasury, with the reasons for and against them, were something like the following:
1. A poll or property tax would require a set of Federal assessors, list-takers, and collectors in every county in the Union, in addition to the State and county officers. The people would object to this; but, worse still, they would know how much tax they paid.
2. A part of what every man produced - an excise - could be taken for the use of the treasury; but this would have been even more objectionable than a poll or property tax. And
3. A, tax could be collected at the custom-house on articles imported from foreign countries; and since the importer could reimburse himself when he sold the goods to consumers, he would have no cause for complaint, and the consumers would not see the tax, hidden in the price.1
By the last of these methods there was scarcely a limit to the burden which could safely be laid on the people; one-half, or more, of their annual expenses for sugar, coffee, tea, salt, manufactures of iron and steel, clothing, hats, shoes, etc., etc., could be taken from them without their realizing the enormity of the tax, or who was i esponsible for high prices.2
Hence this was adopted; and as the
consequent high prices of foreign articles encouraged people in the
United States to enter upon the manufacture of similar articles, it
soon became the favorite method. In the course of time,;is the
advantages of this "encouragement" were more and more appreciated,
tariff acts came to be looked upon as acts to "protect" domestic
manufacturers against those of foreign countries, the raising of
revenue being regarded as of secondary consideration. For the first
twenty-three years, however, the rates did not go above an average of 171/2
per cent; but from about 1807 to 1815 the embargo, the non-intercourse
acts, and the war afforded a more powerful "protection" than any
tariff act could.3 The exigencies of war, too, induced Congress to double the rates formerly imposed.
"Manufactures. thus powerfully encouraged," says Vethake's Political Economy, "sprang into existence in the Northern and Middle States, where, for various reasons" - greater accumulation of capital, and, in the absence of steam power, the proximity of their water-power to the seaboard - "the most advantageous situations for them existed." "Now on the return of peace," he says, "and the consequent repeal of the double duties, there was necessarily a reaction." British manufactures, which had accumulated during Britain's wars with the United States and with Napoleon, were brought over and sold to the people at prices much below those they had been paying.
The manufacturers, therefore, clamored for a restoration of war prices through a restoration of the war tariff; but the shipping interests, having recovered their old-time lucrative commerce, opposed an increase of rates; and this opposition was voiced by Daniel Webster as late as 1824, during the discussion of the so-called " American system." But the real or pretended distress of the manufacturers prevented a "repeal of the double duties;" they were reduced about one-third; and the people who had been compelled to pay $1.35 (the war price) for an article worth $1, were still obliged to pay $1.25 for the benefit of the "distressed" manufacturers.
So that New England and Middle State manufacturers (there were few of the latter) were empowered to sell their wares at foreign prices increased by at least one-fourth of those prices together with the freight rates on "protected" ships, to the Southern farmers who received foreign prices for their surplus crops, whether sold at home or abroad; and from that time to the present have competed in the world's markets with the cheapest labor of Europe, Asia, Africa, and South America.
But this was not encouragement enough; and their " distress " induced Congress to pass the act of 1816. which so effectually checked imports that they fell from $129,964,931 in 1816 to $79,891,931 in 1817 and an average of $67,001,957 during the succeeding four years.
In all these early years tariff rates were professedly adjusted so as to encourage certain "infant industries," and they were intended to be temporary.4 In 1831, however, the "American system" was adopted, designed not only to support the "infants", but to encourage the birth of _more "infants"; and when the act of 1828,5 still more sweeping in its provisions,6 revealed a purpose to quarter permanently on the agricultural class the manufacturers of the Northern States, the struggle for sectional control of the Government assumed a threatening aspect, which became more alarming when the agriculturists were defied by the passage of the act of 1832.7
About this time the denunciation of Southern people by the abolitionists of the North became violent, and tended to weaken the bonds of the Union; and they, together with the "free-soilers" and the manufacturers, began to devise schemes for the extension of Northern influence into the territory belonging to the United States, with the ultimate purpose of strengthening the North in Federal legislation. And in a few years the contest between the manufacturers of the North and the agriculturists of the South became a strife between the superior enlightenment and humanity of the North, and what Mr. Thomas R. Reed calls the "lower civilization of the South"!8
The effect of this system of taxation on the welfare of the people of the Southern States up to 1832 can be approximately estimated from statistics of exports and imports.
From statistical tables in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury (pp.322 et seq.) for the year 1858, we learn that the value of the average annual exports of domestic produce for the twelve years ending June 30, 1832, was $54,429,000, of which the South furnished cotton worth $26,130,750, tobacco worth $5,650,000, rice worth $2,019,000, turpentine worth by estimation (pp. 362-4) $2,500,000, breadstuffs and provisions worth (at least half of the exports) $13,025,000, and forest products worth (half of the exports) $3,000,000, besides many other articles, as fish, furs, skins, tallow, butter, horses, mules, cattle, beeswax, soap, etc., etc.9 But adopting the figures about which- there can be no reasonable doubt, we have 84 per cent as the South's contribution.
Assuming, then, that 84 per cent represented the South's share (which is unfair to the South, since a similar calculation for 1821 gives 91 per cent as her share) from 1789 to 1832, let us ascertain the comparative burden of Federal taxes borne by her during that period. We can make the calculation in two ways:
1. Let us suppose that foreign goods were received in exchange for all these exports, the South consuming foreign goods and the North consuming largely its own manufactures. The average population of the Southern States, including Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, for the first five censuses was 3,512,473, and that of the Northern States, including Delaware, was 4,267,075.
Dividing $84,000,000 and $16,000,000 (which are to each other as 84 per cent is to 16 per cent), we have the ratio of per capita tax $23.91 in the South and $3.75 in the North; or, in other words, the Southerner paid nearly six and one-third times as much as the Northerner towards the support of the Federal Government.
2. Let us take into the calculation the foreign articles imported up to 1832, and paid for with the profits of the coastwise monopoly, the "protected" foreign commerce, and the slave-trade. From a table on page 305 of the report of the Secretary of the Treasury for 1857-8, we learn that the exports of domestic articles up to and including 1832 amounted to $1,817,912,615, that the imports of foreign articles amounted to $3,355,482,058,and that the exports of foreign articles amounted to $955,326,630. The net imports, therefore, were $2,400,155, 428, or $582,242.813 more than the domestic exports.
Now add this to 16 per cent of the domestic exports and we have $873,108,831 as the North's share, and $1,527,046,596 as the South's share. Suppose again ,that each section consumed the goods received for its exports, and paid the duties. Dividing as before we find that the South consumed $434.75 to the North's $204.61 per capita, and paid taxes in proportion to these amounts. These calculations, however, as is known to everybody at all acquainted with the conditions prevailing in the two sections of the Union, are grossly unfair to the South; the 84 per cent should, perhaps, have been nearer 90, and possibly one-third or more of the extra imports were consumed in the South. The total amount of the taxes collected on these imports was $594,869,613, and for the privilege of consuming them the people had to pay an average of $24.78 on every $100 worth, which would amount to $107.76, per capita, in the South, and $50.70 in the North. But since the highest rates were paid on the goods consumed in the South (from 25 to 50 per cent on woolen goods, from 25 per cent to 5 cents per square yard on cotton goods, 50 per cent on straw hats and Leghorn bonnets, etc.), it might not be an exaggeration to put the Southerner's tax at $130 and the Northerner's at $38. This would show a per annum tax of $2.95. in the South and $0.86 in the North for each human being.
Now let us pause and inquire what was done with this money. According to tables on pages 1,547-50, Vol. 2, of the Statesman's Manual, of a total of disbursements from the Federal treasury of $842,250,820 up to and including the year ending June 30, 1832 - a portion of which was revenue received from other sources - $408,088.199, or nearly one-half, was paid as principal and interest of the public debt, held, as is elsewhere shown, principally in the Northern States; while another unknown amount went to the bounty-fed fishermen of New England and the Revolutionary pensioners of the Northern States.
But the whole story has not been told yet. After the "fostering" of manufactures had strengthened so many "infants" and caused the birth of many more, the Southern market began to be supplied with "protected" merchandise from the North, displacing foreign products to some extent, and this merchandise was sold in the South at about the same price the people had been paying for similar goods from abroad, the extra 24.78 per cent going into the pockets of the manufacturers. Indeed, during the years after 1816, the profit was much larger, being 34.9 per cent in the years 1825-'6.10
Truly, therefore, did Senator Benton say in 1828, while discussing the "bill of abominations": "Wealth has fled from the South and settled in the regions north of the Potomac, and this in the midst of the fact that the South in four staples alone, iu cotton, tobacco, rice, and indigo (while indigo was one of its staples), has exported produce since the Revolution to the value of $800,000,000, and the North has exported comparatively nothing."
And truly did the South Carolina delegation say in their address to their constituents after the passage of the tariff act of 1832: "That in this manner the burden of sr.pporting the Government was thrown exclusively on the Southern States, and the other States gained more than they lost by the operations of the revenue system."11
After these forty-four years of injustice came the compromise tariff of March 3, 1833, which provided for a gradual reduction of the rates down to 20 per cent in 1842. But even under that, when the rates had reached the lowest point,12 domestic manufacturers were enabled to charge foreign prices increased by ocean freights and tariff rates little less burdensome than before, since the principal reductions were on articles not produced in the United States. For example, the rate was reduced from 25 to 21i per cent on blankets, brass wire, buttons, carpets, clocks, copper vessels, cotton goods, cutlery, manufactures of flax, and woolen or worsted hosiery; from 30 to 23 per cent on adzes, axes, bonnets, books (knowledge), bridles and bridle bits, firearms, harness, drawing-knives, hatchets, wool hats, and straw hats; and on ready-made clothing from 50 to 29 per cent. On many articles the rate was raised, becauseof the "distress" of the manufacturers or of the treasury.
Thus we see that the manufacturers were enabled to levy tribute on other classes to the extent of at least one-fifth of the value of their goods and wares, and during these years and afterwards they were gradually increasing the output of their factories and driving foreign goods out of their "home market." So that the Southern farmer who sold $1 worth of cotton, or rice, or tobacco for $1, was compelled by law to pay at least $1.20 for $1 worth of goods made in the Northern States; and perhaps in ninety-nine cases out of every hundred he did not see the 20 cents "wrapped up" in the price.
After the close of the compromise period, the protectionists having promised that the low rates reached should remain permanent, they were encouraged by intervening events to violate their promise and restore in 1842 all the old high rates (in some instances increasing them), and to add over 260 articles to the dutiable list at very high rates. For example, on cotton bagging they levied 4 cents per square yard, on cotton cloth 30 per cent, on flannels (other than cotton) 14 cents per square yard, on salt 8 cents per bushel, on leather shoes 30 cents a pair,. and on woolen goods 40 per cent; and they provided for the birth of more "infants " by removing from the free list axle-trees at 4 cents per pound, bagging for grain at 5 cents per square yard, women's double-soled pumps at 40 cents per pair, leather bootees for women and children at 50 cents per pair, cut-glass candle-sticks at 45 cents per pound, trace chains at 4 cents per pound, and bluestone (for soaking seed wheat) at 4 cents per pound, etc., etc.
But even this act, drastic as it was, fell far below the hopes and purposes of the protectionists; it was the third tariff bill passed, at the same session, President Tyler having vetoed the other two.
Luckily for the country, however, the agitation of the tariff question was bearing fruit; the schoolmaster was abroad in the land, and the people were beginning to analyze prices and find what was " wrapped up " in them. And in 1844 they turned down the protectionists, and prepared the way for the reductions in the acts of 184613 and 1857.
Under the operation of these "free-trade" tariffs, as Mr. Blaine called them, there was more general prosperity and contentment than the people had ever enjoyed before, as is admitted by Mr. Blaine in his Twenty Years of Congress, though he gives much of the credit to other causes. But all this prosperity, so far as it came to the agricultural class, can fairly be compared to the relief experienced by a traveler who, having been compelled to carry on his shoulders two heavy rails, is permitted to throw down one of them. The manufacturer could still "wrap up" 24 cents in every $1.24 worth of firearms; hand-made clothing for men, women and children; willow baskets; straw, chip, and grass bonnets; brass manufactures; plain chinaware; clocks; combs for the hair; suspenders; stockings; calico and bleached homespun; cutlery of all kinds; earthenware of all kinds; straw hats; hoop iron; castings, vessels, etc.; leather shoes; manufactures of steel; iron bars, bolts, and rods, etc. He could "wrap up" 19 cents in every $1.19 worth of cotton bagging; buttons; thread; calomel; flannels; and woolen or worsted yarns. He could "wrap up" 15 cents in every $1.15 worth of copper bolts, nails, spikes, etc.; linen goods; window glass; grain bags; gunpowder; wool hats; laces; shot; steel; and blankets. In short, fully one-sixth of the wholesale prices of all his goods and wares was unearned profit, paid to him by the command of the Government of the Union.14
The resulting damage inflicted by this system on the agricultural class can be inferred from statistics furnished by the Treasury Department. According to tables on pages 315-6 of the report for 1857-'8, on page 73 of the Statistical Abstract for 1894, and on page 88 of the Agricultural Report for 1873, the exports of domestic produce for the forty-five years, beginning with 1826 and ending with 1860, amounted to $4,598,567,742, of which the agriculturists furnished $4,219,204,883, or nearly ninety-two per cent, the share of other producers being 8.24 per cent. These agricultural products were sold at "pauper labor" prices in foreign countries, and all the surplus not exported sold in the United States at "pauper labor" prices diminished by the cost of transportation to foreign countries. And during all these years the manufacturers were extending their operations so as to supply the demands of the "home market," at prices ranging from 20 to 50 per cent above "pauper labor" prices. The average was 23.5 per cent, and the agriculturists contributed to the treasury during this period $992,000,000, and perhaps nearly as much to Northern manufacturers,15 while the people in the manufacturing sections, consuming the products of their own factories, were relieved from all taxes except those collected on such articles as were not produced in the United States, which, if not placed on the free list, were usually taxed at a low rate.
This was the direct damage. Another wrong inflicted on the agricultural class was perhaps more completely hidden from view than the enhancement of prices, but it was none the less shameful. It was the swindling of the people by imposing on them with what we now call shoddy goods - woolen cloth composed of from 50 to 70 per cent of cotton and old woolen rags, white lead containing from five to twenty per cent of barytes, tin plate covered with a mixture composed largely of lead, etc., etc. In an unrestricted market frauds like these could never escape detection and condemnation.
Such was the "fire" the Southern people fell into when they jumped out of the British "frying pan" in 1776.
It would be unfair to the protectionists to deny that there was ever any plausible excuse for their system.
To a tariff tax per se, there can be no objection. In the early days when everybody consumed imported goods, such a tax honestly and Constitutionally expended, worked no injustice to any class or section. It was after the tariff began to be adjusted for other and unauthorized purposes that excuses were felt to be necessary.
1. One excuse is that if foreign goods were permitted to come in free of tax, British manufacturers would flood our markets with "pauper-made" products, drive out the "home" manufacturer and then advance prices to suit themselves. This was invented to impose on the ignorant who do not know that a hat or a yard of cloth can be made as cheaply in the United States as in England, that French, German. Belgian, Dutch, and other European manufacturers would contend with Great Britain for our trade, and that ocean freights impose a considerable restriction on the foreigner.
Another excuse is that by protection, and not without it, the manufacturers would furnish the farmers with a "home market" for the products of their farms.
This might have had some force in it; but the free homesteads and other inducements to build up the West so as to "multiply, develop, and strengthen the North," have had the effect of supplying the Eastern manufacturers with cheap farm products, of destroying the "home market" for Southern corn, wheat, beef, and pork, and of driving many of the Eastern farmers who had been dupes of this "home market" argument into other occupations or into the West.
3. The competition among manufacturers which protection alone, it was alleged, could bring about, would cause an ultimate reduction of prices to that general level which determines the profits of the producers of cotton, breadstuffs, provisions, wool, and other raw materials. This, too, was invented to impose on the ignorant. More than a century of this competition has failed to reduce prices to the promised level, as is evident from the refusal of our manufacturers to compete in the markets of the world. Instead of this they "shut down" when the "home market" appears to be glutted, and begin to devise schemes to have the Constitution amended so that they can regulate the hours of labor in competing establishments in the Southern States.
And it is the height of folly to suppose that the States conferred upon Congress the power to fleece about five generations of agriculturists in order that succeeding generations might buy cheap goods.
4. Another excuse was fairly set
forth in a speech in the Senate August 1, 1892, by Senator Hawley of
Connecticut. The substance of it was that without protection it would
be impossible to pay "American wages," and that the opponents of
protection were manifesting a cruel disregard of "the mourning of
labor."16 This "labor" means that employed in factories, and
excludes the white or black man who works in the cotton fields of the
South for 60 cents per day; and Senator Hawley insists that these
people shall be compelled by act of Congress to contribute a portion of
their 60 cents to swell the wages of the factory employee to $2.50 per
5. Another excuse for protection is that "the foreigner pays the tax," and that if Congress were to remove, say, the eleven cents now imposed on every pound of the cheapest wool imported, it would be equivalent to donating this tax to the foreign wool grower. This excuse for protection was advanced in the Senate of the United States no longer ago than January 18, 1898. by Senator Pettigrew, of South Dakota, who interrupted Senator Morgan's Hawaiian annexation speech with this sage question: "Does the Senator from Alabama mean to say that the Hawaiian Government would voluntarily seek the protection of some other power, and thus forego the great advantage those islands now enjoy in their reciprocity arrangements with the United States which results in our remitting to them annually not less than $6,000,000?"18
6. Another excuse is that there is a lack of patriotism in the Southern man who buys foreign goods in preference to "home-made" goods from New England; and that therefore a tax laid on him is a righteous penalty.
Which being interpreted means, as Dr. Johnson said, that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel."
7. Another excuse for protection - not the protection we have been laboring under for over thirty years, but the Dingley tariff - was given to the country on June 15, 1898 (about three months before cotton fell to 4 1/2 cents per pound on North Carolina farms), by Senator Pritchard of North Carolina. It is that the Dingley tariff has pr.oduced a prodigious balance of trade in favor of the United States by shortening the wheat crop of foreign countries and causing an extraordinary demand abroad for the wheat of the farmers of the Western States. "As a result," he said, "of the happy concurrence of conditions" - "the administration of the government by the great party of Lincoln, Grant, and Mc-Kinley" - "the volume of cash sent over to us from Europe breaks all previous records." It has also advanced the prices of farm products "from 15 to 40 per cent."
"Horses are 75 per cent higher than in 1897, and few to be had; poultry 150 per cent above last year * * * tobacco is higher than in four years."19
8. Another excuse is that under "protection," and not without it, everything the people of these States need will be produced "at home." This is addressed to that narrow selfishness which in some quarters is mistaken for "patriotism"; and it presumes dense ignorance in the persons addressed. It utterly ignores the universal disposition to refuse to buy from a man who refuses to buy from others; and it sends the farmer out into an unwilling world in search of markets for his cotton, wheat, tobacco, etc., and brings him back "home" to spend his reduced income in a "protected" market.
9. And last, but not least, was the justification of ante-bellum protection which appears in a speech of Hon. J. H. Walker of Massachusetts, commented on in the 16th chapter (Slavery) of this volume. It is that since the slave-holder paid no "wages," he was under some sort of moral obligation to divide his profits with the Northern manufacturers who were obliged to pay wages.
1. "The excise, being a tax which people could see and feel, was very unpopular, and in 1794 the opposition to it in Western Pennsylvania grew into the famous' ' Whiskey Insurrection,' against which President Washington thought it prudent to send an army of 16,000 men - as many as he had commanded at Yorktown....
"Nowhere was there any such violent
opposition to Hamilton's scheme of custom-house duties on imported
goods.... The people do not flock to the customhouse and pay the duty,
but the importer pays it, and then reimburses himself by adding the
amount of the duty to the price of the goods on which he has paid it.
In this way vast sums of money can be taken from people's pockets
without their realizing it.... When a tax is wrapped up in the extra
fifty cents paid to a merchant for a yard of foreign cloth, it is so
effectually hidden that most people do not know it is there."
Civil Government in the United States, page 258.
It may be added that when a similar article made in the United States is bought at the same price, fifty cents of it is the amount paid as a bonus to the manufacturer by the command of Congress, and that this fifty cents is just as "effectually hidden."
2. See Note O.
3. The following table of net
imports will show the degree of "protection":
- Tariff Compilation, 1884, page 299.
4. See Note P.
5. See Note Q.
6. See Note R.
7. See Note S.
8. See Congressional Record, Second Session, Fifty-third Congress, page 2,033.
9. An act passed by the Legislature of North Carolina in 1784, and amended in 1805 and subsequent years, provided for the appointment at all the towns and landings on the waters of the State of inspectors of the following articles "exposed to sale for export": Beef, pork, rice, tar, pitch, and turpentine, staves and heading, fish, flour, butter, flax-seed, sawed lumber, and shingles.
10. It is denied by the protectionists that domestic manufacturers charge the foreign price plus the tax for similar articles they produce; but such a denial is intended to impose on the ignorant. Up to 1832 the protected manufacturers were not able to supply the "home market"; a great many foreign articles were imported; and the reader may judge for himself whether a bolt of Massachusetts homespun sold for less than a bolt of simlar homespun imported from Europe. if the price of the foreign bolt was $5, including $2 of tax, the domestic bolt sold for $5, $2 of it going as a bonus into the pocket of the manufacturer.
And he who makes this denial must explain the statistics of the census of 1850 - three years after Mr. Blaine's "free-trade" tariff was adopted. In 1849 there was $527,209,193 invested in manufacturing and other protected industries, not including those whose products were not worth over five hundred dollars; the raw material (including fuel) consumed was worth $554,655,038; the wages, salaries, etc., amounted to $229,736,377; and the products were valued at $1,013,336,463. This was a gain of more than 43 per cent on the capital in vested. - Lippincott's Gazetteer (1857), Article United 'States.
He must also account for the heavy gains of the woolen and cotton manufacturers in 1859. According to the censys of 1860, the "free-trade tariff" of 1857 being in force, woolen manufacturers realized 48 per cent on the capital invested, and the cotton man u facturers realized more than 34 per cent. - Eleventh Census, Manufacturing Industries, Part III, page 3.
11. Statesman's Manual, Volume II, page 996.
12. It was tinkered on twice in the interval.
13. This passed the Senate by the casting vote of Vice President Dallas.
14. When, after the wars with Napoleon, the British Parliament levied such a tax on foreign corn as to compel the people to pay about six cents for a 3-cent loaf of bread, the London blacksmith who complained at that form of robbery; was told that his complaint was unfounded, because he was not obliged to buy bread; and that it was his own fault if he allowed himself to be robbed for the benefit of the British landlord.
15. This was taking from the farmer $23.50 out of every $100 of his produce exported to foreign countries, while the manufacturer in the United States was enabled by the taxing system to take as much out of every $100 worth of farm products sold in the United States. Add to this the burden laid on his shoulders by the protected shippers, and the sum left him out of each $100 he had made was not much over seventy dollars.
16. The pretense that laboring men are the chief beneficiaries of protection is brought into discredit by the statement made by a Massachusetts "woolen workingman" to the Senate Finance Committee in 1894. The factory in which he worked produced daily $1,425 worth of woolen goods, while the wages paid per day was $172.50, or 12 per cent of the value of the goods. - Senate Reports. Second Session, Fifty third Congress, Volume XIII, page 87.
17. Senate Report, 986, Part III, First Session, Fifty-second Congress, pages 1,902-2,038.
18. Press Dispatch.
19. Press Dispatch.
That there may be no suspicion of
exaggeration in the statement made in the chapter on the tariff, the
following table has been constructed from data in Senate Report No
407, Second Session, Fifty-third Congress. It shows the value of goods
imported during the year ending June 30, 1893, and the tax paid at the
custom-houses, and from it these selections have been made:
|Bicarbonate of soda,||19,735.63||11,933.80|
|Plain white chinaware,||$2,110,856.05||$1,160,970.83|
Cheapest window glass,
Pen and pocket knives,
Cotton thread, yarn, etc ,
Ccllars and cuffs,
Shirts, etc., part linen,
Laces, edgings, etc.,
Woolen or worsted cloth -
Boots and shoes,
Salt in bulk,
Blankets of all kinds,
Wool hats of all kinds,
Women and children's dress goods, part wool,
Trace and other chains,
64, 834. 62
These taxes were levied not for revenue but for "protection," and everybody must be his own judge whether similar goods produced in the United States sold for less than the foreign price with the tax added. No sane man would buy these goods abroad and pay the tax, if he could buy them cheaper in the United States. And it may be added that, if the women of the country had been required, after paying $8.18 for dress goods, to hand over to a Federal tax gatherer $8.14, the reputations of certain distinguished gentlemen would have suffered. And it is quite probable that they would have diappeared altogether, if the poor people who paid $13.09 for woolen goods to clothe their families had been obliged to pay $21.36 as a tax .to a Federal tax gatherer for the privilege of clothing their families. But the $21.36 was "wrapped up" in the $34.45 the merchant charged for the goods, and the poor people didn't see it. And the authors of this robbery are statesmen and patriots!
The protective features of the tariff act of April 27, 1816, are constantly resurrected in Congress to confound Southern free-traders and low-tariff advocates, because it was supported by Mr. Calhoun. But a careful reading of it will confound the protectionists; all its protective rates were to be limited to three years, so as to give the "infants" time to exercise their legs and learn to stand alone. For example, it contained these provisions:
"On cotton manufactures of all descriptions * * * as follows, viz: For three years next ensuing the 30th day of June next, a duty of 25 per centum ad valorem; and after expiration of the three years aforesaid a duty of 20 per centum ad valorem," etc.; and
"On all woolen manufactures of all descriptions, except blankets, rags, and worsted stuff or goods" (all of which were left on the free list), "shall be levied, collected, and paid from and after the 30th day of June next, until the 30th day of June, 1819, 25 per centum ad valorem; and after that day 20 per centum on the said articles."
Indeed, some of the most grinding rates in the act of 1824 were to be temporary in their operation; but experience soon satisfied the Congress t hat there was no hope of the adolescence of the "infants." There are "infants" now on the protected roll which are more than a century old.
Mr. Calhoun's avowed object in favoring a three-years' encouragement of manufactures was to secure the production in the United States of such articles as were sorely needed in the War of 1812; and pro tanto, in his view, it was a war measure.
But even this temporary protection did not receive the support from the South which protectionists would have us to believe it did. The votes of the following States in the House of Representatives were as in this table:
The woolen manufacturers, not satisfied with the privilege of adding twenty-five cents to every dollar's worth of their products, induced their friends in the House of Representatives to pass a bill in February, 1827, "imposing additional duties on imported woolen goods," but it was rejected in the Senate by the casting vote of Vice-President Calhoun. Thereupon steps were taken by the woolen
manufacturers to unite in a convention at Harrisburg representa-tiv es of all the industries which were anxious to hav e their privileges enlarged. They were successful; the convention was held; and by united action they secured the passage of the act of 1828.'
Many of the rates in this tariff were dictated by the manufacturers, as is evident from the following passage in the report of the committee which framed the bi 1. They examined thirty witnesses, manufacturers and other interested parties, and then made this confession: " Indeed, many of the questions put to the witnesses will afford abundant evidence that the committee had not sufficient practical knowledge upon the subjects before them to enable them to make a series of interrogations, the answers to which would place the testimony taken in the clearest light. * * * None but a person intimately acquainted with the various operations could have drawn out a series of questions upon the subject, susceptible of clear and intelligible answers. "2
For example, not satisfied with the privilege of selling $1 worth of woolen goods for $1.30, they had the rate so changed that they could sell at $1.40 and $1.45, according to quality.
One of the strongest reasons given by the committee which framed the tariff bill of 1828 for the protection of the woolen manufacturers was as follows:
"That these depressions (in prices) are owing, in a very great degree, to the excessive and irregular importations of foreign woolen gcods into our markets: thus causing a fluctuation in, and an uncertainty of price for those goods, more injurious to the American manufacturer than even the depression of price which these importations produce." 3
Here was an act passed to insure certainty of prices to the woolen manufacturers. while the producer of cotton was unable to adjust his business to any certainty of price. His debts, his taxes, and the prices of his clothing, hats, shoes, salt, farming utensils, etc., did not vary; but the price of his cotton was as uncertain as the weather. In 1821 the Liverpool price of cotton was 19 cents, and in 1831 it was 12 cents (counting a penny as equal to two cents). And during this period the price of a bushel of wheat (at Albany and Troy, N. Y.) varied between six and fourteen shillings.
See Statesman's Manual, Vol. I, pages 662-63.
2 See Taylor's Universal History of the United States, page 437. Taylor, page 438.
See Alden's Cycloptedia, Article Cotton, and Report of Commissioner of Patents (Agriculture) for 1853, pages 142-43.
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