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tem. Let us then adopt the measure before us, which will benefit all classes; the farmer, the professional man, the merchant, the manufacturer, the mechanic; and the cotton planter more than all. A few months ago there was no diversity of opinion as to the expediency of this measure. All, then, seemed to unite in the selection of these objects for a repeal of duties which were not produced within the country. Such a repeal did not touch our domestic industry, violated no principle, offended no prejudice.

Can we not all, whatever may be our favorite theories, cordially unite on this neutral ground? When that is occu. pied, let us look beyond it, and see if anything can be done in the field of protection, to modify or improve it, or to satisfy those who are opposed to the system. Our southern brethren believe that it is injurious to them, and ask its repeal. We believe that its abandonment will be prejudicial to them, and ruinous to every other section of the Union. However strong their convictions may be, they are not stronger than ours. Between the points of the preservation of the system and its absolute repeal, there is no principle of union. If it can be shown to operate immoderately on any quarter—if the measure of protection to any article can be demonstrated to be undue and inordinate, it would be the duty of Congress to interpose and apply a remedy. And none will co-operate more heartily than I shall in the per. formance of that duty. It is quite probable that beneficial modifications of the system may be made without impairing its efficacy. But to make it fulfill the purposes of its institution, the measure of protection ought to be adequate. If it be not, all interests will be injuriously affected. The manufacturer, crippled in his exertions, will produce less perfect and dearer fabrics, and the consumer will feel the conse. quence. This is the spirit, and these are the principles only, on which, it seems to me, that a settlement of the great question can be made, satisfactorily to all parts of our CHAPTER V.






FROM the necessary functions of government, and the

effects produced on the economical interests of society by their good or ill discharge, we proceed to the functions which belong to what I have termed, for want of a better designation, the optional class; those which are sometimes assumed by governments and sometimes not, and which it is not unanimously admitted they ought to exercise.

Before entering on the general principles of the question, it will be advisable to clear from our path all those cases, in which government interference works ill, because grounded on false views of the subject interfered with. Such cases have no connection with any theory respecting the proper limits of interference. There are some things with which governments ought not to meddle, and other things with which they ought; but whether right or wrong in itself, the interference must work for ill, if government, not understanding the subject which it meddles with, meddles to bring about a result which would be mischievous. We will there. fore begin by passing in review various false theories, which have from time to time formed the ground of acts of gov. ernment more or less economically injurious. Former writers on Political Economy have found it needful to devote much trouble and space to this department of their subject. It has now happily become possible, at least in our own country, greatly to abridge this purely negative part of our discussions. The false theories of Political Economy which have done so much mischief in times past, are entirely discredited among all who have not lagged behind the general progress of opinion; and few of the enactments which were once grounded on those theories, still help to deform the statute book. As the principles on which their condemnation rests, have been fully set forth in other parts of this treatise, we may here content ourselves with a few brief indications.




A phrase meaning the prohibition, or the discouragement by heavy duties, of such foreign commodities as are capable of being produced at home. If the theory involved in this system had been correct, the practical conclusions grounded on it would not have been unreasonable. The theory was, that to buy things produced at home was a national benefit, and the introduction of foreign commodities, generally a national loss. It being at the same time evident that the interest of the consumer is to buy foreign commodities in preference to domestic whenever they are either cheaper or better, the interest of the consumer appeared in this respect to be contrary to the public interest; he was certain, if left to his' own inclinations, to do what according to the theory was injurious to the public.

It was shown, however, in our analysis of the effects of international trade, as it had been often shown by former writers, that the importation of foreign commodities in the common course of traffic, never takes place, except when it is, economically speaking, a national good, by causing the same amount of commodities to be obtained at a smaller cost of labor and capital to the country. To prohibit, there. fore, this importation, or impose duties which prevent it, is to render the labor and capital of the country less efficient in production than they would otherwise be; and compel a waste, of the difference between the labor and capital necessary for the home production of the commodity, and that which is required for producing the things with which it can be purchased from abroad. The amount of national loss thus occasioned is measured by the excess of the price at which the commodity is produced, over that at which it could be imported. In the case of manufactured goods, the whole difference between the two prices is absorbed in indemnifying the producers for waste of labor, or of the capital which supports that labor. Those who are supposed to be benefited, namely, the makers of the protected articles (unless they form an exclusive company, and have a monopoly against their own countrymen as well as against foreigners), do not obtain higher profits than other people. All is sheer loss to the country as well as to the consumer. When the protected article is a product of agriculture - the waste of labor not being incurred on the whole produce, but only on what may be called the last installment of it - the extra price is only in part an indemnity for waste, the remainder being a tax paid to the landlords.

The restrictive and prohibitory policy was originally grounded on what is called the mercantile system, which, representing the advantages of foreign trade to consist solely in bringing money into the country, gave artificial encouragement to exportation of goods, and discountenanced their importation. The only exceptions to the system were those required by the system itself. The materials and instruments of production were the subjects of a contrary policy, directed however to the same end; they were freely imported, and not permitted to be exported, in order that manufacturers, being more cheaply supplied with the requi. sites of manufacture, might be able to sell cheaper, and, therefore, to export more largely. For a similar reason, importation was allowed and even favored, when confined to the productions of countries which were supposed to take from the country still more than it took from them, thus enriching it by a favorable balance of trade. As part of the same system, colonies were founded, for the supposed advantage of compelling them to buy our commodities, or at all events not to buy those of any other country; in return for which restrictions, we were generally willing to come under an equivalent obligation with respect to the staple productions of the colonists. The consequences of the theory were pushed so far, that it was not unusual even to give bounties on exportation, and induce foreigner; to buy from us rather than from other countries, by a cheapness which we artificially produced, by paying part of the price for them out of our own taxes. This is a stretch beyond the point yet reached by any private tradesman in his competition for business. No shop-keeper, I should think, ever made a practice of bribing customers by selling goods to them at a permanent loss, making it up to himself from other funds in his possession.

The principle of the mercantile theory is now given up even by writers and governments who still cling to the restrictive system. Whatever hold that system has over men's minds, independently of the private interests exposed to real or apprehended loss by its abandonment, is derived from fallacies other than the old notion of the benefits of heaping up money in the country. The most effective of these is the specious plea of employing our own countrymen and our national industry, instead of feeding and supporting the industry of foreigners. The answer to this is evident. Without reverting to the fundamental theorem respecting the nature and sources of employment for labor, it is sufficient to say, what has usually been said by the advocates

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