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sustain it are from the East, the South, and the West; every part of the country having, thus, an interest in its continuance and extension. A market for these exports, to any of these portions of the country, is infinitely of more importance to it than all the benefit to be expected from the supposed increased consumption of spirits distilled from grain.
Yet, sir, this tax is to be kept in the bill, that New England may be made to feel. Gentlemen who hold it to be wholly unconstitutional to lay any tax, whatever, for the purposes intended by this bill, yet cordially vote for this tax. An honorable gentleman from Maryland, (Mr. Smith,) calls the whole bill a "bill of abominations." This tax, he agrees, is one of its abominations, yet he votes for it. Both the gentlemen from North Carolina have signified their dissatisfaction with the bill, yet they have both voted to double the tax on molasses. Sir, do gentlemen flatter themselves that this course of policy can answer their purposes? Do they not perceive, that such a mode of proceeding, with a view to such avowed objects, must waken a spirit, that shall treat taunt with scorn, and bid menace defiance? Do they not know, if they do not, it is time they did, that a policy like this, avowed with such self satisfaction, persisted in with a delight which should only accompany the discovery of some new and wonderful improvement in legislation, will compel every New England man to feel that he is degraded and debased, if he does not resist it?
Sir, gentlemen mistake us. They greatly mistake us. To those who propose to conduct the affairs of government, and to enact laws on such principles as these, and for such objects as these, New England, be assured, will exhibit, not submission, but resistance; not humiliation, but disdain. Against her, depend on it, nothing will be gained by intimidation. If you propose to suffer, yourselves, in order that she may be made to suffer also, she will bid you come on-she will meet challenge, with challenge; she will invite you to do your worst, and your best, and to see who will hold out longest. She has offered you every one of her votes in the Senate to strike out this tax on molasses. You have refused to join her, and to strike it out. With the aid of the votes of any one southern state, for example of North Carolina, it could have been struck out. But North Carolina has refused her votes for this purpose. She has voted to keep the tax in, and to keep it in at the highest rate. And yet, sir, North Carolina, whatever she may think of it, is fully as much interested in this tax as Massachusetts. I think, indeed, she is more interested, and that she will feel it more heavily and sorely. She is herself a great consumer of the article, throughout all her classes of population. This increase of the duty will levy on her citizens a new tax of fifty thousand dollars a year, or more; although her Representatives on this floor have so often told us that her people are now poor, and already borne down with taxes. North Carolina will feel this tax also in her trade, for what of foreign commerce has she, more useful to her than the West India market for her provisions and lumber? And yet the gentlemen from North Carolina insist on keeping this tax in the bill. Let them not, then, complain. Let them not hereafter, call it the work of others. It
is their own work. Let them not lay it to the manufacturers. The manufacturers have had nothing to do with it. Let them not lay it to the wool-growers. The wool-growers have had nothing to do with it. Let them not lay it to New England. New England has done nothing but to oppose it, and to ask them to oppose it also. No, sir; let them take it to themselves. Let them enjoy the fruit of their own doings. Let them assign their motives, for thus taxing their own constituents, and abide their judgment; but do not let them flatter themselves that New England cannot pay a molasses tax as long as North Carolina chooses that such a tax shall be paid.
Sir, I am sure there is nobody here, envious of the prosperity of New England, or who would wish to see it destroyed. But if there be such anywhere, I cannot cheer them by holding out the hope of a speedy accomplishment of their wishes. The prosperity of New England, like that of other parts of the country, may, doubtless, be affected injuriously by unwise or unjust laws. It may be impaired, especially, by an unsteady and shifting policy, which fosters particular objects to-day, and abandons them to-morrow. She may advance faster, or slower; but the propelling principle, be assured, is in her, deep fixed, and active. Her course is onward and forward. The great powers of free labor, of moral habits, of general education, of good institutions, of skill, enterprise, and perseverance are all working with her, and for her; and on the small surface which her population covers, she is destined, I think, to exhibit striking results of the operation of these potent causes, in whatever constitutes the happiness, or belongs to the ornament of human society.
Mr. President, this tax on molasses will benefit the treasury, though it will benefit nobody else. Our finances will, at least, be improved by it. I assure the gentlemen, we will endeavour to use the funds thus to be raised properly and wisely, and to the public advantage. We have already passed a bill for the Delaware breakwater; another is before us, for the improvement of several of our harbors; the Chesapeake and Ohio canal bill has been brought into the Senate, while I have been speaking; and next session we hope to bring forward the breakwater at Nantucket. These appropriations, sir, will require pretty ample means; it will be convenient to have a well supplied treasury; and I state for the especial consolation of the honorable gentlemen from North Carolina, that so long as they choose to compel their constituents, and my constituents, to pay a molasses tax, the proceeds thereof shall be appropriated, as far as I am concerned, to valuable national objects, in useful and necessary works of internal improvements.
Mr. President, in what I have now said, I have but followed where others have led, and compelled me to follow. I have but exhibited to gentlemen the necessary consequences of their own course of proceeding. But this manner of passing laws is wholly against my own judgment, and repugnant to all my feelings. And I would, even now, once more solicit gentlemen to consider, whether a different course would not be more worthy of the Senate, and more useful to the country. Why should we not act upon this bill, article by article, judge fairly of each, retain what a majority
approves, and reject the rest? If it be, as the gentleman from Maryland called it, a bill of abominations," why not strike out as many of the abominations as we can? Extreme measures cannot tend to good. They must produce mischief. If a proper and moderate bill in regard to wool and woollens had passed last year, we should not now be in our present situation. If such a bill, extended perhaps to a few other articles, if necessity so required, had been prepared and recommended at this session, much, both of excitement and of evil, would have been avoided.
Nevertheless, sir, it is for gentlemen to judge for themselves. If, when the wool manufacturers think they have a fair right to call on Congress to carry into effect what was intended for them by the law of 1824, and when there is manifested some disposition to comply with what they thus request, the benefit cannot be granted, nevertheless, in any other manner than by inserting it in a sort of bill of pains and penalties-a "bill of abominations," it is not for me to attempt to reason down, what has not been reasoned up; but I must content myself with admonishing gentlemen that their policy is destined, in all probability, to terminate in their own sore disappoint
I advert once more, sir, to the subject of wool and woollens, for the purpose of showing that, even in respect to that part of the bill, the interest mainly protected is not that of the manufacturers. On the contrary, it is that of the wool-growers. The wool-grower is vastly more benefited than the manufacturer. The interest of the manufacturer is treated as secondary, and subordinate, throughout the bill. Just so much, and no more, is done for him, as is supposed necessary to enable him to purchase and manufacture the wool. The agricultural interest, the farming interest, the interest of the sheep-owner, is the great object which the bill is calculated to benefit, and which it will benefit, if the manufacturer can be kept alive. A comparison of existing duties, with those proposed on the wool and on the cloth, will show how this part of the case stands.
At present, a duty of thirty per cent. ad valorem is laid on all wool costing ten cents per pound, or upwards; and a duty of fifteen per cent. on all wool under that price.
The present bill proposes a specific duty of four cents per pound, and also an ad valorem duty of fifty per cent. on all wool of every description.
The result of the combination of these two duties, is, that wool fit for making good cloths, and costing from thirty to forty cents per pound in the foreign market, will pay a duty, at least equal to sixty per cent. ad valorem. And wool costing less than ten cents in the foreign market, will pay a duty, on the average, of a hundred per cent. ad valorem.
Now, sir, these heavy duties are laid for the wool-grower. They are designed to give a spring to agriculture, by fostering one of its most important products.
But let us see what is done for the manufacturer, in order to enable him to manufacture the raw material, at prices so much enhanced.
As the bill passed the House of Representatives, the advance of duties on cloths, is supposed to have been not more than three per cent. on the minimum points. Taking the amount of duty to be now thirty-seven per cent. ad valorem, on cloths, this bill, as it came to us, proposed, if that supposition be true, only to carry it up to forty. Amendments, here adopted, have enhanced this duty, and are understood to have carried it up to a duty of forty-five, or perhaps fifty per cent. ad valorem. Taking it at the highest, the duty on the cloth is raised thirteen per cent.; while that on wool is raised in some instances thirty, and in some instances eighty-five per cent.; that is, in one case from thirty to sixty, and in the other from fifteen to a hundred. Now the calculation is said to be true, which supposes, that a duty of thirty per cent. on the raw material, enhances, by fifteen per cent., the cost of producing the cloth; the raw material being estimated, generally, to be equal to half the expense of the fabric. So that, while, by this bill, the manufacturer gains thirteen per cent. on the cloth, he would appear to lose fifteen per cent. on the same cloth by the increase in the price of the wool. And this not only would appear to be true, but would, I suppose, be actually true, were it not that the market may be open to the manufacturer, under this bill, for such cloths as may be furnished at prices intermediate, between the graduated prices established by the bill.
For example; few or no foreign cloths, it is supposed, costing more than fifty cents a yard and less than a dollar, will be imported; therefore, American cloths, worth more than fifty cents and less than a dollar, will find a market. So of the intervals, or intermediate spaces, between the other statute prices. In this mode it may be hoped that the manufacturers may be sustained, and rendered able to carry on the work of converting the raw material, the agricultural product of the country, into an article necessary and fit for use. And this statement, I think, sufficiently shows, that no farther benefit or advantage is intended for them, than such as shall barely enable them to accomplish that purpose; and that the object, to which all others have been made to yield, is the advantage of agriculture.
And yet, sir, it is on occasion of a bill thus framed, that a loud and ceaseless cry has been raised against what is called the cupidity, the avarice, the monopolizing spirit of New England manufacturers! This is one of the main "abominations of the bill;" to remedy which it is proposed to keep in the other abominations. Under the prospect of advantage held out by the law of 1824, men have ventured their fortunes, and their means of subsistence for themselves and families, in woollen manufactures. They have ventured investments in objects requiring a large out-lay of capital; in mills, houses, water-works and expensive machinery. Events have occurred, blighting their prospects, and withering their hopes. Events, which have deprived them of that degree of succour, which the legislature manifestly intended. They come here asking for relief against an unforeseen occurrence; for remedy against that, which Congress, if it had foreseen, would have prevented. And they are told, that what they ask is an abomination! They say that an interest important to them, and important to the country, and principally called into existence by the government itself, has received a severe shock,
under which it must sink, if the government will not, by reasonable means, endeavour to preserve what it has created. And they are met with a volley of hard names, a tirade of reproaches, and a loud cry againt capitalists, speculators and stock-jobbers! For one, I think them hardly treated; I think, and from the beginning have thought, their claim to be a fair one. With how much soever of undue haste, or even of credulity, they may be thought to have embarked in these pursuits, under the hopes held out by government, I do not feel it to be just that they should be abandoned to their fate on the first adverse change of circumstances; although I have always seen, and now see, how difficult, perhaps I should rather say how impossible, it is, for Congress to act, when such changes occur, in a manner at once efficient, but discreet; prompt, but yet moderate.
For these general reasons, and on these grounds, I am decidedly in favor of a measure which shall uphold and support, in behalf of the manufacturers, the law of 1824, and carry its benefits and advantages to the full extent intended. And though I am not altogether satisfied with the particular form of these enactments, I am willing to take them, in the belief that they will answer an essentially important and necessary purpose.
It is now my painful duty to take notice of another part of the bill, which I think in the highest degree objectionable and unreasonable; I mean the extraordinary augmentation of the duty on hemp. I cannot well conceive anything more unwise or ill-judged than this appears to me to be. The duty is already thirty-five dollars per ton; and the bill proposes a progressive increase, till it shall reach sixty dollars. This will be absolutely oppressive on the shipping interest, the great consumers of the article. When this duty shall have reached its maximum, it will create an annual charge of at least one hundred thousand dollars, falling not on the aggregate of the commercial interest, but on the ship owner. It is a very unequal burden. The navigation of the country has already a hard struggle, to sustain itself against foreign competition; and it is singular enough, that this interest, which is already so severely tried, which pays so much in duties, on hemp, duck, and iron, and which it is now proposed to put under new burdens, is the only interest which is subject to a direct tax by a law of Congress. The tonnage duty is such a tax. If this bill should pass in its present form, I shall think it my duty, at the earliest suitable opportunity, to bring forward a bill for the repeal of the tonnage duty. It amounts, I think, to a hundred and twenty thousand dollars a year; and its removal will be due, in all justice, to the ship owner, if he is to be made subject to a new taxation on hemp and iron.
But, objectionable as this tax is, from its severe pressure on a particular interest, and that at present a depressed interest, there are still farther grounds of dissatisfaction with it. It is not calculated to effect the object intended by it. If that object be the increase of the sale of the dew rotted American hemp, the increased duty will have little tendency to produce that result; because such hemp is so much lower in price, than imported hemp, that it must be already used for such purposes as it is fit for. It is said to be