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tion has worked disastrously in the economy of the South. Protection in all its forms is scouted now-a-days, and we are told that nature and natural laws must have free play. Buckle tells us that protection lies at the bottom of almost all the evils of modern history; and the prevailing school of political economy bids us suffer the laws of supply and demand to regulate international intercourse without hinderance, as it does our daily business operations. But does it regulate our daily business operations? Here, it seems to us, is the fallacy in free trade as a popular doctrine, – that it assumes that our every-day actions are directed exclusively by the simple laws of political economy, which they never are for one hour; and asks why we do not do the same in public affairs. Political economy, in truth, is a theoretic and one-sided science, which studies human actions, as Buckle himself has shown, on the assumption “ that the great moving power of all men, all interests, and all classes, in all ages and in all countries, is selfishness,” and that in these sympathy has no part what
By studying these actions from this point of view, certain principles and laws are arrived at, which are true on this assumption, but are not true in point of fact, because man never is actuated solely by selfish motives and the desire of wealth. If he were, he would certainly, as is claimed, buy where he can buy cheapest, and sell when he can sell at the highest price. But the swindling contractor adorns his house with gems of art, and the capitalist gives the Sanitary Commission half the profit on the hard bargain he drives. The cold laws of political economy can never justify paying a woman six cents for making a shirt, because she will rather do that than starve; nor letting a hack for twenty dollars at a fire, because an invalid must have a carriage or be burned. Political economy can teach us a great deal, but if we choose it for our only guide, we perish, and deserve to. England, which reached its present pitch of greatness by the protective system, discards it now that it seems her interest, seeks to make all nations dependent upon her for manufactures, and abuses roundly all who do not accept her new light. But England is every day drawing nearer the chasm in which the South is whelmed, in which Rome once sank. Everything
is placed on one or two branches of industry; the gulf that separates rich and poor grows wider every day, the great estates are swallowing up the small freeholds, and now the cutting off for a season of the importation of one article has shaken her prosperity to its very base. If her boasted free trade does not at this crisis prove her ruin, it will be because this mighty and enlightened nation has a fund of energy which has been equal to every emergency hitherto, and will not fail her in this greatest peril.
The avowed object of free trade is to increase wealth ; of protection, to develop the resources of a nation, vary its industry, render it self-dependent, and educate its people. Neither pretends to have any aim except national prosperity, - a selfish aim, if you will, but surely it need not be asked which of these two forms of selfishness is the more enlightened. The American system, so called, seeks to promote a variety of industry in every field ; to do away with middlemen, and bring the producer and consumer side by side, to the advantage of both; to make our country practically independent of all others, and attract to its shores the industrious and needy of all lands. The policy of the Democratic party, on the other hand, tended to make us, like Portugal and India, the economic subjects of England. But the American system has, by a monstrous injustice, been identified with aristocracy, and set aside; while the Democratic party, by virtue of its specious name and its many elements of genuine democracy, has been the ruling power in the land for thirty years. It was not, however, merely the power of its name, nor what of truth there was in its platform, that won its triumphs, but its alliance with the slave power. It is a strange chapter in our country's history which tells how the party which claimed to be the truest defender of the rights of man against prerogative let itself be turned into the tool of an oligarchy which denies every one of those rights; and were the distinctive measure of this party (free trade) really democratic, it would be incomprehensible. This alliance results in part, no doubt, from the agreement of both in maintaining the doctrine of strict construction of the Constitution ;- the South, because it gave support to their favorite principle of State rights; the
Democratic party North, because whatever limited the power of the national government seemed to be so much secured to the people. Both could oppose protection on this ground. In the North this argument was aided by the false and wicked assumption, that nothing which, like the tariff, benefits the rich man, can fail to injure the poor man. But in the South, this opposition to the tariff and support of the Democratic party was chiefly grounded on a keen perception of class interests. The triumph of the Whig party in 1840, followed by the passage of the tariff of 1842, was the severest blow the oligarchy had received up to that time.
Wherever all the capital and industry of a community is employed in one field of operations, especially if these are simple and uniform in their nature, there is always a tendency toward centralization. The management comes by degrees into the hands of a few rich men, who acquire a controlling influence over that branch of industry, and so over the community. This tendency exists, to be sure, everywhere; but is more or less neutralized in highly civilized and enterprising states of society, where labor is free to follow its interests, and there is a sufficient variety of employment to prevent too great power from coming into the hands of one branch. In England, since the enormous growth of the cotton manufacture, these evil effects have shown themselves to a large extent. But it is in a half-civilized community, like the Southern States, that they are seen most completely. Here one branch of industry, agriculture, has succeeded in choking the growth of all others; and in this again cotton has been gradually driving out the other staples, until a few cotton-planters have made themselves the uncontrolled rulers of this vast country. So rapid and complete has been this movement, so wide is the distance already become between the wealth and culture of the oligarchy and the misery of the “poor whites," that they do not scruple to claim that the degradation of one class is the necessary basis of any high civilization. And this growth of centralization has been the more rapid in the South, because agriculture is in its nature the most aristocratic branch of human industry. Trade is levelling; it has been the great engine of democratic progress in modern history. Manufac
tures are democratic ; they stimulate the inventive powers, and spread intelligence. A skilled artisan is in demand everywhere, and his humble workshop can compete with huge factories and unlimited capital. Both of these are gregarious and social. They bring men together to talk and interchange ideas. They are individual, too, because each man's senses and powers are quickened. Agriculture, on the other hand, with all its points of acknowledged superiority, does not quicken and arouse the mind like these. Its operations are more simple and local, and (on the part of the day-laborer) less intelligent. Add to this, that from early times the possession of land has given a dignity which no other has, and we have in the South all the elements of an aristocracy, — large landed estates, an ignorant and servile population, and a branch of industry which eminently invites to centralization.
It was into the midst of such a state of society as this that the tariff of 1842 threatened to introduce the activity and radicalism of the North. What wonder the oligarchs took alarm, and that their Northern allies, by all demagogic arts, and appeals to all the convenient prejudices of the mob, succeeded, four years later, in imposing upon the country the tariff under whose auspices the North was shaken by such financial instability and convulsions as were never before known, while in the South the oligarchy was made secure? For them the crisis was past. We well remember a gentleman from Georgia, the most enterprising of the Slave States, looking back regretfully to the old Whig times, when Georgia was going on so finely in the path of prosperity, — manufactures springing up under the protection of the tariff of '42, wealth increasing, everything promising well, – but the Abolitionists spoiled it all. He did not weigh the scales justly; he, a merchant, did not enter into the schemes of the cotton aristocracy. The Abolitionists formed a capital pretext to gather around the Democratic banner all the floating masses, and all those to whom slavery was the chief thing. So the Whig party of the South was killed, and the Abolitionists did it! But the country has never yet recovered what it lost in 1846. When at last the American policy was re-established, the Southern States, bound hand and foot to the slave aristocracy, had already been led into the path of secession.
So the third great work to be done in the South, after the overthrow of the oligarchy and the introduction of some comprehensive system of education, is the establishment of a truer economical system. Protection — the Morrill Tariff — must save the South, as it has saved the North, from utter, immediate ruin ; and we must look to the gradual growth of civilization and prosperity for the rest. It is appalling to think how entirely the resources of this magnificent region have been given over to cotton and tobacco, its soil exhausted, its population growing poorer and more degraded, its special resources hardly dreamed of. Here in New England, by reason of our youth, and the instability and lack of system in our industrial growth, we are far from having reached the European standard in any department. But we are, at all events, quick to learn, and ready to adopt. The South, on the other hand, has chosen to remain stationary, and, even supposing it to come out of this present trial in a mood to be taught and to act, it will be long before its society will be settled, or its depleted population renovated enough to enable it to make progress.
But when the time comes, (and it may come sooner than we think, especially if the plan is adopted of planting here and there military colonies of industrious Northerners or Germans,) it is not easy to set a limit to the height of prosperity this beautiful land may reach. Cotton will be its staple, as heretofore, for the world needs it; but it will no longer be raised by the unskilful and wasteful labor of slaves, and every bale will not be carried away to other lands to be manufactured. The rivers will be lined with flourishing manufacturing towns; the tracts of waste land will be turned into orchards and vineyards and market gardens; schools and churches will attest the new civilization, and society will begin to be governed by the principles of Christianity. We shall not need, when all the resources of the South are developed, to bring olives from Spain, figs from Smyrna, silks from France, or oranges from Sicily. Our broad territory, embracing wide extremes of climate, will be competent to supply itself with the products of all zones, and will know — the South especially will know — an independence and prosperity of which we have heretofore had only a presentiment.