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roads and railroad employees have suffered during the four years last past.
The earnings of the railroads for the year ending June 30, 1895, under free trade, and Democratic administration, were $1,075,371,462, a decrease in the gross earnings in 1895 as compared with 1893 of $145,038,412.
But this, sir, does not represent the full force of the blow the railroad interests of the country have received from the Democratic party. The railroads of this country, on June 30, 1893, gave employment to 873,603 men. On June 30, 1895, only 785,034 found employment. An army of 88,568 railroad employees were thus turned out upon the highways to seek in vain for employment, and in many instances to be compelled to beg for bread for themselves and families. These men in 1893, according to the statistics which I have obtained from the Interstate Commerce reports, received in wages $51,285,300. The men who remained in the employ of the railroads suffered a reduction in their wages in 1895, as compared with what they had received in 1893, of $9,800,000, so that the loss to railroad labor that has been brought upon them by this policy of free trade aggregates the marvelous amount of $61,085,300. Is there a railroad employee in the country to-day that believes that his interests will be subserved by the restoration to power of this repudiated Democratic party, or that the policy of free trade will bring him and his family the comforts, to say nothing of the luxuries, of life! But, sir, what is true of this great branch of business of the country is equally true of all of the great manufacturing interests and agriculture as well.
Mr. Hopkins closed with a eulogy of the reciprocity feature of the bill.
John C. Bell [Col.] opposed the bill.
The Populist party believes that no tariff bill is fair, and that the system is unfair, unless you incorporate with it a graduated income tax which provides for the wealth of the country paying something for the advantages it receives. [Applause.] Our customs duties are amply sufficient to furnish a basis of such protection, and more than is necessary to preserve our wage scale if they could be equally distributed, and I take it that the war that is made upon the tariff is not a war upon the system itself, but is directed against the pernicious system of giving protection to one industry or to one community and making other industries and other communities go without protection.
Now, Mr. Chairman, let us look at this tariff question without losing ourselves in discussions of what the Democrats have done or what the Republicans have done. If we follow blindly in the footsteps of our friend from Illinois who has just taken his seat (Mr. Hopkins), we shall think that the population of this country, the births and the deaths, all stop when the Republican party goes out of power. [Laughter.] Let us look at the
[ facts. The tariff question has been greatly obscured by the professional politician and the stump speaker calling a tariff on imports, when made into law by the Republican party, a “protective” tariff, and calling the same tariff, when enacted by the Democratic party, a 'free-trade” tariff, or “a tariff for revenue, with incidental protection,” which is the same thing under a different name. Then when the Democrats put an article on the free list the Republican party shouts “Democratic free trade!” while at the same time, when the Republican wants to put it on the free list, he has a little scheme which he calls “reciprocity, but which is simply free trade in its most cunning form, under another name, and by this device the Republicans sometimes even bribe other countries to join in free trade with us. [Laughter.]
Now, I wish to say this: With but few important and distinct exceptions, such as some raw materials and specific instead of ad valorem duty in part, and ignoring the income tax, there is no more difference between the Gorman-Wilson bill in principle and this bill than there is between tweedledee and tweedledum. And the changes are in the main against the struggling masses. Let us see about this. For the income tax, provided by the Wilson-Gorman bill in order to lighten the burden of the poor and require the rich to contribute to the protection of their own property, is substituted in this bill a tax on every pound of sugar and on every stick of lumber and every sack of salt-upon everything that is consumed.
The difficulty is not so much in the theory of our protective system as in its flagrant abuse and the influence of great aggregations of capital and favored industries. Protection is always asked in the interest of others. Now, observe how it is asked in behalf of the poor laboring man-just enough to cover the difference between the European scale of wages and our own. What hypocrisy! Who ever heard of the laboring man getting rich manufacturing? The statisticians clearly figured from the census of 1880 that about 6 per cent. on our dutiable list would cover the difference between the European wage schedule and ours. While the manufacturer then asked for the poor laborer his 6 per cent., he got for himself at the hands of Congress six times 6 per cent.
The great English statesman, John Bright, said in the debates in Parliament that the rich man paid only 1 per cent. of his income in protective tariffs, while the wage worker—the poor man-paid 20 per cent. of his wages. And that was probably the foundation of the principle of the income tax in Great Britain, to even up what the wage earner paid out of his income with that which was paid by the rich man out of his.
John Bright said that “wages in England had increased 40 per cent. since the system of free trade was introduced there in 1846." Adam Smith said that wages in the United States when we had free trade were 100 per cent. higher than in England at the same time and when England had the high protectivetariff system.
“Give the American workmen the home market” is a deceptive outcry that is showered incessantly upon the ears of every voter; but your laws give the American labor market to the lowest responsible bidder of the world, excluding the Chinese only.
As long as we have free trade in labor, the wage worker must be injured rather than benefited by a high tariff.
Now, Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, it is vain for us to protest against the passage of this bill as your cherished remedy; but we predict that until you legislate some for the consumer and laborer, who are powerless to protect themselves, the masses will continue to go into bankruptcy, and the army of the unemployed will continue its tramp in search of work. What the people want is the money of the Constitution, a free competition in our own country, and a fair chance in the markets of the world for all the people and for all of our industries.
E. W. Carmack [Tenn.] opposed the bill. He spoke chiefly on the delusion of the protectionists that the tariff increased home markets.
The farmer must sell his products in open and free competition. The price of every bushel of wheat and of every pound of cotton sold in this country is fixed by the price of the surplus in Liverpool and by the competition of the most degraded pauper labor on earth. No tariff law can prevent the competition of the Russian peasant, the Indian ryot, and the Egyptian fellah with the American producers of the field and farm. The farmer, while thus compelled to sell in open competition with all the world, must buy the necessaries of life in a market where protection laws exclude competition from abroad and trusts and combines have strangled competition at home. He is thus ground between the upper and the nether millstone of competition and monopoly, and crucified between the foreign pauper and the American thief. [Laughter and loud applause on the Democratic side.]
Is it possible, Mr. Chairman, for any sane man to even hope for the time when all our agricultural products will be bought and consumed at home? By what process is this to be accomplished ! Gentlemen tell us that by “fostering American industries,” by encouraging the building of mills and factories, we will increase the number of consumers of American farm products. But there is a limit beyond which we cannot pass in this matter of creating consumers by developing manufactures. The manufacturers themselves must find consumers for their products, and whenever they reach the point that they can find no more they have reached the limit of their own capacity to consume the products of others. I believe it is true that in nearly all the great branches of industry in this country there is a capacity to produce in six months more than the American people can consume in twelve months. Sir, American industry has already grown so great that it can grow no more until it breaks down the walls that confine it to one country and goes out upon the sea. [Applause.) ]
Sir, this country is not large enough, the wide world is none too large, to give ample scope for the genius and enterprise of American industry. The greatest protection to American labor is that which the American workingman has within himselfhis superior skill and productiveness, his energy, his intelligence, his industrial prowess, which make him more than equal to any competitor the world can send against him. Mr. Blaine demonstrated a great truth when in his Report on the Cotton Goods Trade he showed that, while the American operatives received a higher wage rate, they turned out more goods for every dollar they received than any other workingmen on earth, and that, in fact, their labor was cheaper to their employers than the labor of European operatives. The same is true in practically every branch of trade and industry.
On March 23 John L. McLaurin [S. C.] opposed the bill, chiefly because of its discrimination in favor of manufacturers against farmers, especially the planters of the South,
Mr. Chairman, it is claimed that the manufacturer, by reason of his investment in buildings, machinery, etc., should be encouraged in his enterprise, and to a certain extent insured against loss. Just why this class should be selected for Government favor I am unable to conceive. The census shows that there are more farmers than manufacturers and operatives, with nearly three times as much invested in lands, buildings, etc. Why is the investment of one class more sacred than that of another? Why should one be favored by legislation and the other neglected?
Mr. Chairman, there is no such thing in commerce or exchange as a raw material. The very moment that the hand of labor touches it it ceases to be a raw material, and so far as this laborer's effort goes becomes a finished product. [Applause.) The rough and muscular arm of the miner who takes the iron ore from the bowels of the earth is as necessary to the manufacture of the delicate mainspring of my watch as the skillful hand which finally fashioned it. While the mainspring was the finished product of its maker, the iron ore was no less a finished product to the miner. Cotton and wool are classed as raw materials, while the fact is, they are indeed a finished product. I venture the assertion that the labor, time, and money expended in selecting, grading, and bringing to its almost perfect state the fiber and texture of our present wool and cotton have been more than has been expended in perfecting all the manufacturing machinery in this country. Then why, I ask, are the fostering arms of the Government thrown about the one while the other is made to shift for itself?
Again, is the cheapening of the manufactured article through free raw material or the lowering of wages really a benefit to the people? I contend it is not. The tyranny of money is at the bottom of cheap production. When the East had, through its protected industries, plundered the balance of the country of nearly all its stock of money, it instituted a series of congressional enactments which doubled the purchasing power of every dollar.
It is this monopoly of money and manufacture that we of the South especially meet face to face in all of our productive efforts. And it is this monopoly that would be broken to a certain extent if equal rights were extended to each and every industrial enterprise regardless of place or kind. It is this monopoly that has cheapened production at the expense of labor and raw material, and which will continue to exercise this power until we of the South awake from our present theoretical dreams