« PreviousContinue »
power in Europe that can suppose, that, in expressing our opinions on this occasion, we are governed by any desire of aggrandizing ourselves, or of injuring others. We do no more than to maintain those established principles, in which we have an interest in common with other nations, and to resist the introduction of new principles and new rules, calculated to destroy the relative independence of states, and particularly hostile to the whole fabric of our own gov
I close, then, sir, with repeating, that the object of this resolution is, to avail ourselves of the interesting occasion of the Greek revolution, to make our protest against the doctrines of the Allied Powers; both as they are laid down in principle, and as they are applied in practice.
I think it right too, sir, not to be unseasonable in the expression of our regard, and, as far as that goes, in a ministration of our consolation, to a long oppressed and now struggling people. I am not of those who would in the hour of utmost peril, withhold such encouragement as might be properly and lawfully given, and when the crisis should be past, overwhelm the rescued sufferer with kindness and caresses. The Greeks address the civilized world with a pathos, not easy to be resisted. They invoke our favor by more moving considerations than can well belong to the condition of any other people. They stretch out their arms to the Christian communities of the earth, beseeching them, by a generous recollection of their ancestors, by the consideration of their own desolated and ruined cities and villages, by their wives and children, sold into an accursed slavery, by their own blood, which they seem willing to pour out like water, by the common faith, and in the Name, which unites all Christians, that they would extend to them, at least some token of compassionate regard.
UPON THE TARIFF ; DELIVERED IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES, APRIL, 1824.
MR. CHAIRMAN,—I will avail myself of the present occasion to make some remarks on certain principles and opinions which have been recently advanced, and on those considerations which, in my judgment, ought to govern us in deciding upon the several and respective parts of this very important and complex measure. I can truly say that this is a painful duty. I deeply regret the necessity, which is likely to be imposed upon me, of giving a general affirmative or negative vote on the whole of the Bill. I cannot but think this mode of proceeding liable to great objections. It exposes both those who support, and those who oppose, the measure, to very unjust and injurious misapprehensions. There may be good reasons for favoring some of the provisions of the Bill, and equally strong reasons for opposing others; and these provisions do not stand to each other in the relation of principal and incident. If that were the case, those who are in favor of the principal might forego their opinions upon incidental and subordinate provisions. But the Bill proposes enactments entirely distinct, and different from one another, in character and tendency. Some of its clauses are intended merely for revenue; and, of those which regard the protection of home manufactures, one part stands upon very different grounds from those of other parts. So that probably every gentleman who may ultimately support the bill will vote for much which his judgment does not approve; and those who oppose it will oppose something which they would very gladly support.
Being intrusted with the interests of a district highly commercial, and deeply interested in manufactures also, I wish to state my opinions on the present measure; not as on a whole, for it has no entire and homogeneous character; but as on a collection of different enactments, some of which meet my approbation, and some of which do not.
And allow me, sir, in the first place, to state my regret, if indeed I ought not to express a warmer sentiment, at the names, or designations, which Mr. Speaker has seen fit to adopt, for the purpose of describing the advocates and the opposers of the present Bill. is a question, he says, between the friends of an "American policy,"
and those of a "foreign policy." This, sir, is an assumption which I take the liberty most directly to deny. Mr. Speaker certainly intended nothing invidious or derogatory to any part of the House by this mode of denominating friends and enemies. er in names, and this manner of distinguishing those who favor and But there is powthose who oppose particular measures, may lead to inferences to which no member of the House can submit. It may imply that there is a more exclusive and peculiar regard to American interests in one class of opinions than in another. be resisted and repelled. Every member has a right to the presumpSuch an implication is to tion, that he pursues what he believes to be the interest of his country, with as sincere a zeal as any other member. I claim this in my own case; and, while I shall not, for any purpose of description, or convenient arrangement, use terms which may imply any disrespect to other men's opinions, much less any imputations of other men's motives, it is my duty to take care that the use of such terms by others be not, against the will of those who adopt them, made to produce a false impression. Indeed, sir, it is a little astonishing, if it seemed convenient to Mr. Speaker, for the purposes of distinction, to make use of the terms "American policy," and "foreign policy,' that he should not have applied them in a manner precisely the reverse of that in which he has in fact used them. thought necessary, it would be well enough, one would think, that If names are the name should be, in some measure, descriptive of the thing; and since Mr. Speaker denominates the policy which he recommends " new policy in this country;" since he speaks of the present measure as a new era in our legislation; since he professes to invite us to depart from our accustomed course, to instruct ourselves by the wisdom of others, and to adopt the policy of the most distinguished foreign states, one is a little curious to know with what propriety of speech this imitation of other nations is denominated an while, on the contrary, a preference for our own established system, "American policy," as it now actually exists, and always has existed, is called a "foreign policy." This favorite American policy is what America has never tried; and this odious foreign policy is what, as we are told, foreign states have never pursued. Sir, that is the truest American policy which shall most usefully employ American capital, and American labor, and best sustain the whole population. With me it is a fundamental axiom, it is interwoven with all my opinions, that the great interests of the country are united and inseparable; that agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, will prosper together, or languish together; and that all legislation is dangerous which proposes to benefit one of these without looking to consequences which may fall on the others.
Passing from this, sir, I am bound to say that Mr. Speaker began his able and impressive speech at the proper point of inquiry; I mean the present state and condition of the country; although I am so unfortunate, or rather although I am so happy, as to differ from him very widely in regard to that condition. I dissent entirely from the justice of that picture of distress which he has drawn. I have not seen the reality, and know not where it exists. there is no cause for so gloomy and terrifying a representation. In Within my observation
respect to the New England states, with the condition of which I am, of course, most acquainted, the present appears to me a period of very general prosperity. Not, indeed, a time for great profits and sudden acquisition; not a day of extraordinary activity and successful speculation. There is, no doubt, a considerable depression of prices, and, in some degree, a stagnation of business. But the case presented by Mr. Speaker was not one of depression, but of distress; of universal, pervading, intense distress, limited to no class, and to no place. We are represented as on the very verge and brink of national ruin. So far from acquiescing in these opinions, I believe there has been no period in which the general prosperity was better secured, or rested on a more solid foundation. As applicable to the Eastern states, I put this remark to their Representatives, and ask them if it is not true. When has there been a time in which the means of living have been more accessible and more abundant? when has labor been rewarded, I do not say with a larger, but with a more certain success? Profits, indeed, are low; in some pursuits of life, which it is not proposed to benefit, but to burden, by this Bill, very low. But still I am unacquainted with any proofs of extraordinary distress. What, indeed, are the general indications of the state of the country? There is no famine nor pestilence in the land, nor war, nor desolation. There is no writhing under the burden of taxation. The means of subsistence are abundant; and at the very moment when the miserable condition of the country is asserted, it is admitted that the wages of labor are high, in comparison with those of any other country. A country, then, enjoying a profound peace, a perfect civil liberty, with the means of subsistence cheap and abundant, with the reward of labor sure, and its wages higher than anywhere else, cannot be represented in gloom, melancholy, and distress, but by the effort of extraordinary powers of tragedy.
Even if, in judging of this question, we were to regard only those proofs to which we have been referred, we shall probably come to a conclusion somewhat different from that which has been drawn. Our exports, for example, although certainly less than in some years, were not, last year, so much below an average, formed upon the exports of a series of years, and putting those exports at a fixed value, as might be supposed. The exports of agricultural products, of animals, of the products of the forest, of the sea, together with gunpowder, spirits, and sundry unenumerated articles, amounted, in the several years, to the following sums, viz.
$27,716,152 33,842,316 38,465,854
Coming up, now, to our own times, and taking the exports of the years 1821, 1822, and 1823, of the same articles and products, at the same prices, they stand thus:
$45,643,175 48,782,295 55,863,491
Mr. Speaker has taken the very extraordinary year of 1803, and, adding to the exportation of that year, what he thinks ought to have
been a just augmentation, in proportion to the increase of our population, he swells the result to a magnitude, which, when compared with our actual exports, would exhibit a great deficiency. But is there any justice in this mode of calculation? In the first place, as before observed, the year 1803 was a year of extraordinary exportation. By reference to the accounts, that of the article of flour, for example, there was an export that year of 1,300,000 barrels; but the very next year it fell to 800,000, and the next year to 700,000. In the next place, there never was any reason to expect that the increase of our exports of agricultural products, would keep pace with the increase of our population. That would be against all experience. It is, indeed, most desirable, that there should be an augmented demand for the products of agriculture; but, nevertheless, the official returns of our exports do not show that absolute want of all foreign market, which has been so strongly stated.
But there are other means by which to judge of the general condition of the people. The quantity of the means of subsistence consumed; or, to make use of a phraseology better suited to the condition of our own people, the quantity of the comforts of life enjoyed, is one of those means. It so happens, indeed, that it is not so easy in this country, as elsewhere, to ascertain facts, of this sort, with accuracy. Where most of the articles of subsistence, and most of the comforts of life are taxed, there is, of course, great facility in ascertaining, from official statements, the amount of consumption. But, in this country, most fortunately, the government neither knows, nor is concerned to know, the annual consumption; and estimates can only be formed in another mode, and in reference only to a few articles. Of these articles, tea is one. Its use is not quite a luxury, and yet is something above the absolute necessaries of life. Its consumption, therefore, will be diminished in times of adversity, and augmented in times of prosperity. By deducting the annual export from the annual import, and taking a number of years together, we may arrive at a probable estimate of consumption. The average of eleven years, from 1790, to 1800, inclusive, will be found to be two millions and a half of pounds. From 1801 to 1812, inclusive, three millions seven hundred thousand; and the average of the last three years, to wit: 1821, 1822, and 1823, five millions and a half. Having made a just allowance for the increase of our numbers, we shall still find, I think, from these statements, that there is no distress which has limited our means of subsistence and enjoyment.
In forming an opinion of the degree of general prosperity, we may regard, likewise, the progress of internal improvements-the investment of capital in roads, bridges, and canals. All these prove a balance of income over expenditure; they are evidence that there is a surplus of profits, which the present generation is usefully vesting for the benefit of the next. It cannot be denied that, in this particular, the progress of the country is steady and rapid.
We may look, too, to the expenses of education. Are our Colleges deserted? Do fathers find themselves less able than usual to educate their children? It will be found, I imagine, that the amount paid for the purpose of education, is constantly increasing, and that the schools and colleges were never more full than at the present