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Here the speaker discussed at length the question of the foreign market. He said in conclusion:
Mr. Chairman, it ought to be sufficient to deter us from hazardous experiments which look attractive in the figures of rhetoric, that under the protective policy which has prevailed for more than a quarter of a century the United States has grown so wonderfully in population, agriculture, manufactures, and all the elements which have to do with material prosperity, that even the most distinguished and most highly honored statesman of Great Britain-the peerless Gladstone-has spoken of her in debate in Parliament as the most marvelous and prosperous nation in Christendom. [Prolonged applause.)
General Joseph Wheeler [Ala.] supported the bill in a long speech which consumed parts of two days (May 4 and 5). He gave a summary of our tariff legislation from the first Congress down. Coming to the present, he dwelt particularly upon high tariffs as a basis for the formation of “trusts." He said in conclusion:
In revising the tariff, let us have laws so that we can ship our products in our own vessels, officered and manned by Americans, and we will defy every nation on the earth.
There are many things which should be done to bring about this desired end. We should reduce the tax on machinery, so that mills could be established at less expense; we should reduce the tax upon all necessaries of life; we should encourage reciprocal relations with all the nations whose trade we desire to obtain, so as to induce them to enact friendly tariff laws instead of the retaliatory measures now on the statute books of those countries, some of which were provoked by unnecessary and unwise discriminations in our laws; we should build up our merchant marine, and have American sailors upon every sea and in every foreign port. The sailors of our country are its commercial missionaries; they meet the persons who are to handle, purchase, and use our goods in their own country and at their own homes. We must have American sailors in every port to uphold and defend our merchandise.
On May 5 Richard P. Bland [Mo.] supported the bill. He replied to Mr. Burrows' speech of April 24, and then addressed his remarks particularly to the argument of
protectionists that, in order to avert a financial panic, the present system must be maintained.
He continued :
The gentleman from Michigan Mr. Burrows) took occasion the other day to criticise somewhat sarcastically the majority of the Committee on Ways and Means for the manner in which they had produced this bill. He even went so far as to say that it was a bantling without parentage. This comes with bad grace from the minority of the committee, who up to this hour have shown to the country that they are financial and tariff eunuchs, not having the virility or the manhood to present to this House a bantling of any character. [Laughter and applause on the Democratic side.]
Is it true, Mr. Chairman, that in this stage of our history we have reached a point where we have encumbered ourselves with a boomerang of tariff, a system of taxation that cannot be touched or interfered with without bringing disaster to the business interests of the country; while, on the other hand, it takes from the pockets of the people and piles up in the treasury a surplus amounting, I assert to-day, to $300,000,000 that ought not to be there? If this is true, and if this system is to be continued, sooner or later it will absorb the whole circulation of the country, reducing enormously property values, and bringing bankruptcy and general financial disaster upon the people. Is it true, I ask, that if we touch the tariff we are to be bankrupted, and if we do not touch it we are still to be bankruptedthat we are to be damned if we do and be damned if we do not? (Laughter.]
On May 10 Joseph G. Cannon [Ill.] opposed the bill. He talked particularly on the “trust” question.
Much has been said, Mr. Chairman, during this debate about trusts or combinations to limit the production and control the prices of products. It is claimed that our customs legislation is responsible for the same. These combinations are common in the country and throughout the world, and from time to time have existed for ages past. I submit, however, that the protective policy is one of the principal means of combating such organizations. Before our industries were diversified, and while we were dependent upon Europe for our manufactured products, the foreign manufacturer who wanted a good price and the importer who wanted a good profit and commission in handling the foreign product fixed the prices as they chose, but wherever protection was sufficient to afford the home manufacturer security against the cheap labor and capital of the foreign manufacturer home manufactories have been established and home competition has cheapened the product.
The manufacturer produces side by side with the agriculturist and other producers. Exchanges of products have been made upon smaller commissions and small charges for transportation. All over the country manufacturers come in direct contact with the retailers and consumers. This does not suit the importers, especially at New York, who with our Southern brethren are the most persistent enemies of the protective system. Let it be noted that a trust or combination between the importer and the foreign manufacturer cannot be reached by legislative penalty.
Mr. Chairman, these combinations are against public policy, and the American people can and will subdue and destroy them. We can reach “trusts” formed in the United States by legislative penalty, but “trusts” of foreign growth are beyond our reach, except as we reach them by development of home industries,
Seth L. Milliken [Me.] opposed the bill. He spoke particularly of the free raw materials proposed by it.
The proposition of free raw material which the President makes, which is in every Democratic speech made in this House, and which is a continual song in the mouth of the free-trader, is about as absurd as any part of the free-trade argument. What is raw material? Nothing that has been made valuable by human labor; nothing that has been wrought or developed by the skill or muscle of man. But free-traders make their classification to suit themselves. Some place raw material at one stage of manufacture and some at another, and when an article has been wrought to the condition next to the last degree of perfection, so that they would not protect any workman except him whose labor has been applied to the last process of production, most of our free-traders cease to call it raw material.
John M. Allen [Miss.] followed. He spoke particularly upon the question of cotton.
Many of the arguments against this bill remind me of the discussion between Mr. Baps and Mr. Toots and Sir Barnet Skettles, given by Dickens in “Dombey and Son." Mr. Baps solemnly and seriously propounded the question to Mr. Toots: “What are you going to do with your raw materials when they come into your ports in return for your drain of gold ?” Mr. Toots, to whom the question seemed perplexing, replied that he'd cook 'em. (Laughter and applause.]
But Mr. Baps did not seem to think this would do, and when he met Sir Barnet Skettles he propounded the same interrogatory to him.
Sir Barnet had much to say upon the question and said it, but it did not appear to solve the question, for Mr. Baps retorted, “Yes, but suppose Russia stepped in with her tallows," which struck Sir Barnet almost dumb, for he could only shake his head after that and say, “Why, you must fall back on your cottons.” (Laughter.]
Now, gentlemen, we have been told here upon this floor that “the tariff has made New England what it is, and is going to give you people in the South, whenever you accept all the beneficial provisions, all that great prosperity that pertains to New England.” To hear these gentlemen talk you would suppose that they put the tariff upon the same ground as the plan of salvation; it is a thing you have to accept in order to get the benefit of it. (Laughter and applause on the Democratic side.]
THOMAS M. BAYNE (Pa.]. - Is the price of cotton fixed at London or at Boston?
MR. ALLEN.—It is fixed at Liverpool.
MR. BAYNE.—Does not the British manufacturer treat you in the same way as the Boston manufacturer ?
MR. ALLEN.—Yes; but he does not levy any tariff on us. It is the Boston man who gets the tariff, not the British man. [Applause.) If the Boston man gave us any more for our cotton than the Britisher, it would be a reasonable exchange, but he does not. [Applause.)
Now, sir, let me state that the Southern people are a people who would like to avail themselves of all the privileges that are within their reach. Gentlemen are attempting to make them out as a stubborn people, and a people who will not reach out their hands and take what is offered. When I hear the gentleman from New Hampshire and the gentleman from Ohio coming up here and making love to each other, billing and cooing, it reminds me, and if I had my voice I would give it to you in song, of the cooing of Bettina and Pippo in “The Mascot," when New England says: “I my factories love," and Ohio responds, “And I my sheep," and New England says, “When they make their biggest gobble, gobble, gobble" (great laughter), and Ohio
says, “When they softly bleat, bah, bah.” (Renewed laughter and applause.]
Mr. Chairman, if in the course of these few feeble and hurried remarks [laughter] I have said anything that is calculated in the least to reflect on or wound the tender sensibilities of the New England hen or the Ohio sheep, I ask pardon now, sir, and trust it will be granted. [Prolonged applause.]
William H. H. Cowles [N. C.], a Democrat, favored raising all revenues from the tariff, abolishing internal revenue. He spoke particularly against the taxes on whisky and brandy. He said in conclusion:
The people feel, sir, that all such taxes should be left to the regulation of their States respectively. They love their State governments, and more blood and treasure, including the days of the Revolution, have been spent to maintain the right of local self-government than for any other cause on this continent.
Mr. Chairman, it is not the whisky-making or the whiskydrinking element of society that I represent in this argument, but I feel that I voice the sentiment of the law-abiding, Godfearing Christian people of my country when I say, Down with the demoralizing system of internal revenue! The moral element of the land have got the true idea of this institution at last, which for so long a time—God save the mark-has run as an adjunct to morality and temperance, and their opposition will grow more and more intense as they learn more about it.
On May 16 Benjamin F. Shively [Ind.] supported the bill. He concluded his speech as follows:
Mr. Chairman, the issue is broad, plain, and distinct. The Government must have money to pay its expenses, its debts, the pensions to its soldiers. A large proportion of this money must be raised by customs taxation. Sufficient taxes must be thus collected, added to our internal revenue, to defray all the expenses of the Government economically administered. Within these limits I favor a discriminating tariff. At every point I would give American labor the benefit of the doubt, but let a measure of the regulating power of competition loose among the American combines, and compel them to allow freer raw material to our manufacturers and cheaper necessaries of life to our consumers. Reduce the surplus in the public treasury, and leave the present excess of taxes in the pockets of the people.