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tone adopted towards these writers, in the late debate? We would also ask, whether the doctrines of such men do not require to be fairly met and disproved, not by the compendious course of an appeal to the practice of statesmen, but by manly counter reasonings; by showing that the doctrines in question rest on false premises, or irregular deductions from true ones. Till this is done, the friends of the tariff system must be content to have it said, by fair and candid observers, that they give up the defence of their cause by argument.
But we have not quite done with this topic. Not only do the chairman of the committee, and his colleagues, do great injustice to what really is contained in the writings of the political economists; but they commit the equally gross injustice of throwing out, as a standing answer to every antitariff statement, that it is borrowed from these books. They first attempt to give the books the abovementioned character, and then think they have answered any statement by saying, it comes from the books, it is merely the ipse dixit of Adam Smith. An example will make this clear. Mr Webster, in the course of his speech, took occasion to speak of the exploded doctrine of the Balance of Trade, which he had rightly denominated jargon and nonsense. After showing it to be so, by the most rigid and severe exposition of the nature of commercial exchanges, in which not an allusion was made to any writer or book, he closes the topic with this appeal to 'practice.'
'Allow me, Sir, to give an instance, tending to show how unaccountably individuals deceive themselves, and imagine themselves to be somewhat rapidly mending their condition, while they ought to be persuaded that, by that infallible standard, the balance of trade, they are on the high road to ruin. Some years ago, in better times than the present, a ship left one of the towns of New England with 70,000 specie dollars. She proceeded to Mocha, on the Red Sea, and there laid out these dollars in coffee, drugs, spices, &c. With this new cargo she proceeded to Europe; two thirds of it were sold in Holland for 130,000 dollars, which the ship brought back, and placed in the same Bank, from the vaults of which she had taken her original outfit. The other third was sent to the ports of the Mediterranean, and produced a return of 25,000 dollars in specie, and 15,000 dollars in Italian merchandise. These sums together make 170,000 dollars imported, which is 100,000 dollars more than was exported, and is therefore proof of an unfavorable balance of trade, to that amount, in this adventure.
We should find no great difficulty, Sir, in paying off our balances, if this were the nature of them all.'
And how does the Chairman of the Committee of Manufactures reply to this? We feel regret in quoting him. After naming Mr Webster in the preceding paragraph, and calling him 'more of a philosopher than a politician,' he goes on to add, not a little has been said about the balance of trade, and we have been beset, throughout almost the whole of this debate, by authorities drawn from the books of the writers called modern political economists. Is this fair, above all in a practical man? Mr Webster quoted no book on this subject. The principle, which he very happily illustrated, may be found, indeed, in several books. But Mr Webster did not go to them for it, did not give it on any authority, but its own selfevidence. Why did not the chairman, if he really was desirous of treating the subject practically, confute this practical instance; and show how, on his theory of the balance of trade, the Mocha voyage could be profitable.
With respect to this pretended contrast of a practical and theoretical policy nothing is more certain, than that it is an. alternative, not between theory and practice, but between two theories. On one side it is said to be the interest of the nation to leave the direction of individual industry to individual judgment. This you object is a theory. Be it so. But when in return you say, with the chairman of the committee, that it is best for the government to direct individual industry, that government is nothing but restriction, that it is for the sake of restriction that men formed societies, and the like; is not this a theory? What is there more practical in this proposition, than in the first? And which is the most rational, which looks most practicable, which is most republican? The records of the inquisition do not contain a doctrine more purely despotic in its tendency, than, that all government is restriction. The object of government is directly the reverse, to devise the smallest amount of restriction, by which the greatest liberty can be secured.
Again, the approved writers on political economy say, that it is conducive to the national wealth that every individual consumer should buy where he can buy cheapest, and, which is the necessary consequence, sell where he can sell dearest; that is, where he can get most necessaries and comforts for
the fruits of his labor. This is said to be mere theory. But, on the other hand, when the friends of the tariff policy tell us, it is more conducive to national wealth, that the consumer buy of a countryman, is not that theory? Must it not be shown, that the former is a false theory, and the latter a true theory, and till this is shown, do they not, as theories, stand on the same ground? At any rate, if the theories of political economy be not unintelligible or absurd in their terms, which we presume is not pretended, they are either true or false; if true, they are confirmed in practice, for that is the meaning of a true theory, viz. a theory which agrees with the facts; if false, they can be shown to be so. But so far from this being done, the advocates of the tariff policy call them metaphysical, and turn their backs on them.
Still, though we complain of the way in which the argument on the principle of the tariff policy has been met, we allow very cheerfully that the appeal to the practice of those countries, which have all either prohibited or severely taxedimported manufactures, is a fair argument, and we shall do our best to answer it fairly. As it is put in the front rank of defence, by the friends of the tariff, as it is made to serve as an answer to all arguments on the principle of their policy, we shall reply to it, with the attention due to the importance with which it is thus clothed. We observe, then, in the first place, that this argument takes for granted the very thing to be proved, and that with the widest comprehension both of premises and conclusion. It is asserted that America is in a distressed, impoverished, and declining state; that certain foreign nations are rich and prosperous; that their tariffs of heavy and prohibitory duties on imported goods, and the consequent encouragement of manufactures, are the cause of this prosperity; and that, therefore, America has only to imitate these foreign nations in introducing the causes, and the effect will follow. Reduced to a series of plain propositions, the foregoing is the great argument from the practice of statesmen and the example of other nations, which has been made to serve as an answer to the best established principles of political economy. Now we consider it perfectly correct to observe, that this whole statement of facts is erroneous. We deny each proposition in the series. We deny that this country is in a state of impoverishment and ruin. We deny
that any foreign country is prosperous compared with America. We deny that there is sufficient ground to ascribe what prosperity is enjoyed by foreign nations to the restrictive system; and we finally deny that this system, even if productive of prosperity abroad, could be, with any certainty, depended on to produce the same effects here, considering the different circumstances of the old and of the new world. With regard to the first point, that this country is incorrectly alleged to be in a state of impoverishment and ruin, we should think it presumptuous to endeavor to add anything to the views, which are taken by Mr Webster in the commencement of his speech. We can ascribe it only to the conviction, into which an ardent mind may excite itself on any subject, that a statesman, so enlightened as Mr Clay, whose political glance is comprehensive enough to take in the whole of a country, should, on the ground of the facts, which he has collected in his speech on the tariff, draw the conclusion that this country is really, at this moment, on the whole, in an abject state. We rejoice that we are able, on this point, to appeal from this his unfavorable judgment, to his own on another occasion, where he justly speaks of this happy' this favored land; and represents it, as it is, full of energy, resource, and power. Nor is that gentleman unacquainted with the distress of Europe, nor with the hollow, unsubstantial, and deceptive nature of its prosperity. On this point also we shall make but a few incidental remarks, when led to the subject, in pursuance of what we esteem the most important proposition, viz. that even if the great foreign states are prosperous, there is not sufficient ground to ascribe their prosperity to their tariffs.
The aggregate condition of a nation, its general state of poor or rich, prosperous or declining, is a very complex effect, sometimes perhaps resulting from some few very predominant causes, but far more commonly from the joint effect of numerous institutions, laws, and national habits. To say, because you wish to recommend a high tariff, that foreign nations are prosperous, and foreign nations have high tariffs, and therefore the tariffs are the cause of the prosperity, appears to us an unstatesmanlike language. These nations, whose example in respect of the tariff is pressed upon us, have all of them many other institutions, far more prominent and marked, and really exerting a far more decisive effect on the
public condition, than any which can be rationally ascribed to laws regulating the importation of foreign goods. They have forms of hereditary monarchical, sometimes despotic government. Is not this an institution, which, traced in all its connexions and consequences, is a far more prominent institution than a commercial tariff, and therefore more entitled to be selected as the cause of the national condition, be it prosperous or adverse? These nations, moreover, have orders of nobility, immense landed capitals and very powerful political influence secured to certain families. They have vast standing armies, they have foreign insular or continental possessions. Now we are certainly not saying, that any one of these or all together, can make a nation prosperous and happy, without various other things, which we have not yet named. Yet we submit it to any one, who reflects on the springs of national character, that any one of these institutions must exert a far more decisive influence on the nation's condition, than its tariff; and of course there is no reason for ascribing the power and prosperity of the foreign nations to an engine of comparatively insignificant force, while others so potent are in action. Why fix on the tariff of duties to account for a national condition, which unquestionably arises from the combined operation of very various causes among which the tariff, at best, can be only one; from the institutions inherited from a remote ancestry, from geographical features, from the laws affecting the distribution and security of property, and, above all, from the state of civil freedom?
But it is not enough to say that the friends of the tariff, in adopting a course of reasoning like this, make use of an illogical argument; they really contradict the most unquestioned deductions not of political economy, for that admirable science some of them deride, but of political history and political experience. We freely confess, that it is of great importance that the most wise and most judicious laws, could they but be ascertained as such, should be enacted in the various and interesting branches of industry, even to the most insignificant details. But when this is done, it is idle to say that any one of them is the main spring of national prosperity. They do not make it, where the other and higher principles of public growth are wanting; nor do they destroy it, where these exist. It is the more important to make this remark,