Page images

The Committee, after careful consideration at a full meeting, was unanimous in its report. And as the Committee represents all parts of the country and all sentiments of the Senate, I have thought that perhaps there might be a similar unanimity among Senators. Therefore I forbear all further remarks, and ask for a vote.

On motion of Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, the further consideration of the question was postponed.

January 11, 1865, it was resumed, when Mr. Hale spoke against the notice. He was followed by Mr. Sumner.

MR. PRESIDENT, — The Reciprocity Treaty has a beautiful name. It suggests at once exchange, equality, equity; and it is because it was supposed to advance these ideas practically that this treaty was originally accepted by the people of the United States. If, however, it shall appear, that, while organizing an exchange, it forgets equality and equity in any essential respect, then must a modification be made in conformity with just principles.

I mean to be brief, but I hope, though brief, to make the proper conclusion apparent. It is a question for reason, and not for passion or sentiment, and in this spirit I enter upon the discussion.

The treaty may be seen under four different heads, as it concerns, first, the fisheries, – secondly, the navigation of the St. Lawrence, - thirdly, the commerce between the United States and the British provinces, — and, fourthly, the revenue of the United States.

1. The fisheries have been a source of anxiety throughout our history, even from the beginning, and

for several years previous to the Reciprocity Treaty they had been the occasion of mutual irritation, verging at times on positive outbreak. The treaty was followed by entire tranquillity, which has not been for a moment disturbed. This is a plain advantage not to be denied. But, so far as I have been able to examine official returns, I do not find any further evidence showing the value of the treaty in this connection, while opinions, even among those most interested in the fisheries, are divided. There are partisans for it in Gloucester, and partisans against it in Maine.

If the treaty related exclusively to the fisheries, I should not be willing to touch it, - although the circumstance that representatives of these interests differ with regard to its value may leave it open to debate. But the practical question remains, whether any seeming advantage in this respect is sufficient to counterbalance the disadvantage in other respects.

2. Next comes the navigation of the St. Lawrence. This plausible concession has proved to be little more than a name. It appears that during the first six years of the treaty only forty American vessels, containing 12,550 tons, passed seaward through the St. Lawrence, and during the same time only nineteen vessels, containing 5,446 tons, returned by the same open highway. These are very petty amounts, when we consider the commerce on the Lakes, which in 1856 was estimated at $ 587,197,320, or when we consider the carrying trade between the United States and the Brit

1 Reciprocity Treaty: Executive Documents, 36th Cong. 1st Sess., H. of R., No. 96, pp. 28, 29.

2 Navigation of the Northern and Northwestern Lakes: Reports of House Committees, 34th Cong. Ist Sess., No. 316, p. 10.

ish provinces. Take the years 1857 – 62, and we find that during this period the shipping of the United States clearing for the British provinces was 10,707,329 tons, and the foreign shipping clearing during this same period was 7,391,399 tons, while the shipping of the United States entering at our custom-houses from the British provinces was 10,056,183 tons, and the foreign shipping entering was 6,453,520 tons. I mention these things by way of contrast. In comparison with these grand movements of value, the business we have been able to do on the St. Lawrence is trivial. It need not be considered an element in the present discussion.

3. The treaty may be seen next in its bearing on the commerce between the two countries. This has in creased immensely; but it is difficult to say how much of this increase is due to the treaty, and how much to the natural growth of population, and the facilities of transportation in both countries. If it could be traced exclusively or in any large measure to the treaty, it would be an element not to be disregarded. But it does not follow from the occurrence of this increase after the treaty that it was on account of the treaty. Post hoc, crgo propter hoc, is too loose a rule for our Government on the present occasion.

The census of the United States and of the British provinces shows an increase of population which must not be disregarded in determining the origin of this increase of commerce.

There are also the railroads, with prompt and constant means of intercommunication, which have come

1 Reciprocity Treaty: Reports of House Committees, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 39, p. 6.

into successful operation only since the treaty. It would be difficult to exaggerate the influence they have exercised in quickening and extending commerce. I cannot doubt that the railroad system of the two countries has been in itself a Reciprocity Treaty more comprehensive and equal than any written on parchment.

The extent of trade before and after the treaty is seen in a few figures.

In the three years immediately preceding the treaty the total exports to Canada and the other British

OVinces were $48,216,518, and the total imports were $ 22,588,577,- being of exports to imports in the proportion of one hundred to forty-six.

In the ten years of the treaty the total exports to Canada and the other British provinces were $ 256,350,931, and the total imports were $200,399,786. According to these amounts the exports were to the imports in the proportion of one hundred to seventy-eight. Taking Canada alone, we find the change in this proportion greater still. The total exports to Canada in the three years immediately preceding the treaty were $ 31,816,865, and the total imports were $ 16,589,624, being in the proportion of one hundred to fifty-two, while the total exports to Canada alone during the ten years of the treaty were $170,371,911, and the total imports were $161,474,349, being in the proportion of one hundred to ninety-four.

I present these tables simply to lay before you the extent and nature of the change in the commerce between the two countries. I forbear embarking on the much debated inquiry as to the effect of a difference between the amount of exports and of imports, in

volving, as it does, the most delicate question of the balance of trade. In the comparison I am making, it is not necessary to consider it. The Reciprocity Treaty cannot be maintained or overturned on any contested principle of political economy.

4. I come, in the last place, to the influence of the treaty on the revenue of our country; and here the custom-house is our principal witness. The means of determining this question are found in the authentic tables published from time to time in Reports of the Treasury, and especially in the report to Congress at this session, which I have in my hand.

Looking at these tables, we find certain unanswerable points. I begin with an estimate founded on the trade before the treaty. From this it appears, that, if no treaty had been made, and the trade had increased in the same ratio as before the treaty, Canada would have paid to the United States in the ten years of the treaty at least $ 16,373,880, from which she has been relieved. This sum is actually lost to the revenue of the United States. In return, Canada has given up $2,650,890, being the amount it would have collected, if no treaty had been made. This vast disproportion is to the detriment of the national revenue.

Here is another illustration, derived from the tables. During the ten years of the treaty the United States have actually paid in duties to Canada alone $16,802,962, while during this same period Canada has paid in duties to the United States the very moderate sum of $930,417. Here again is vast disproportion, to the detriment of the national revenue.

The same inequality is seen in another way. Dur

« PreviousContinue »