This objection, like several others, is mis-stated. It means that protecting duties impair the productiveness of revenue duties, and not that they will destroy other sources of revenue; and that the very consequence will ensue which the Committee think so desirable, namely, a resort to unlimited excises and other internal taxes, in order to supply the deficiency. This consequence is the evil deprecated by the objection, and the Committee admit that it will ensue, and justify it as a blessing, because it will enable us to rival the masterly policy, by which Britain is enabled to extract an enormous revenue from a few people.
They rest their preference of excises over duties upon a single comparison, from which they deduce an equality between them in that one respect, and exclude from their consideration every sound argument disclosing the disparities between the two modes of taxation. They suppose that the preference of duties to excises, rests solely on the notion, that one mode is less compulsive and more avoidable than the other; and contend, because both are avoidable by submitting to privations, that the two modes are perfectly equal in this problematical or humble merit. It might be contended that even this imperfect test chosen by the Committee, is insufficient to establish an equality so destitute of importance, because it is evidently easier to forbear the use of foreign luxuries than domestick necessaries; but waving this undoubted fact, it is sufficient to recollect that the comparison is wholly delusive. Neither duties nor excises are avoidable; if they were, they could not be relied upon for revenue. Both will operate as a general tax, and if some evasions by particular subterfuges may be practised under both modes of taxation, these confer no benefit upon those who pay the tax. The Committee admit that excises, at least, are a compulsory mode of taxation, by contending that they may be relied upon for a revenue. But let us enquire if other comparisons, more substantial, between the two modes of taxation, do not exist. The collection of duties is less expensive than the collection of excises; therefore the people must pay a larger sum by one mode than the other, to place the same amount in the treasury. To provide objects for excises to operate upon, bounties to an enormous extent must be paid to capitalists; thus the amount paid by the people, compared with what the treasury will receive, may possibly be doubled. Excises are keys to every lock, and penetrate like foul air into every recess; duties leave our homes unviolated, and our quiet undisturbed by the eternal intrusions of vulgar officers hunting for penalties or bribes. Duties are liable to the limitations of the importation, which cannot long exceed the demand; of an ability to pay which is the only lasting source of demand; and of the check arising from a certain degree of moderation to make them productive; excises are liable to no such limitations, and may be pushed to any extent. Duties fall chiefly on the rich, and on those who are most able to pay, because these classes are the chief purchasers of imported commodities, and the poor chiefly subsist on home products; excises will reach the poor in a multitude of consumption beyond the reach of duties, and increase pauperism. Duties preserve a rule of taxation, between the States, fair and just, corresponding with the inhibition to tax exports, and unlikely to generate local dissatisfactions; by excises, irregularities may be created by a majority in Congress sufficient to shake or dissolve the Union. Yet the Committee say, "had the word impost been applied to domestick articles, and excise to foreign, the popularity of the two modes of taxation would have been transposed, for their operation on the people is the same." Transpose the names horse and rat, and their qualities would also be transposed. The rat, when called a horse, would become a useful labourer to supply the family with necessaries; and the horse, when called a rat, would gnaw our clothes, steal our food, infest our houses, and produce a great expense in cats, not to prevent, but to assist his depredations. In this, and many other instances throughout the report, the Committee have reasoned upon the ground that words make or change the qualities of things; and, having previously gotten rid of monopolies, and exclusive privileges by calling them regulations of commerce, they now propose in the same way to convert excises into imposts. Is it possible that the universal opinion of mankind, that excises are the most troublesome and oppressive mode of taxation, has been imbibed, not from an experience of their qualities, but from the sound of their names? There was a dog once in this State, famous for following and taking thieves. Upon one occasion, a thief and an innocent person were made to change clothes, and mingle with the crowd, into which the dog was sent to search for the thief. When he came to the clothes on the innocent man, he growled, but discovering his mistake, left him, continued his search, found, and seized the thief, though concealed in the borrowed dress. Do the Committee think that men are less sagacious than this dog?
The impolicy of borrowing, and the inability of the land owners to pay taxes, are two other arguments urged by the Committee in favour of excises, if not more profound, at least more conciliating. The national aversion to borrowing is courted by one, and its aversion to a land tax, by the other. Our system of revenue, they truly say, is at present composed of duties and loans, and they propose to exchange it for a system of excises. They ought in justice to have said for one of excises and loans; for two bad modes of providing revenue, instead of the best which can probably be devised. I summon all experience to testify, whether the mode of obtaining revenue by excises, has diminished or extended the mode of obtaining it by loans. Has the masterly effort of human policy in England had this effect? The reason why it has not, is plain. That policy is a system for transferring property, in which borrowing is an efficacious item; and an increase of taxes by excises is a mode of making it more productive to the gainers, and oppressive to the losers of the property transferred. By adopting it, we shall also adopt its effects, among which the additional funds it furnishes for borrowing, is most prominent.
Land holders must not be taxed, say the Committee, because the depression of agricultural produce forbids it; and it would be equally repugnant to the wishes of the legislature and the interest of the nation. They are too poor to pay a land tax, and yet rich enough to pay excises, sufficient to maintain and increase our present system of extravagance. How are they to pay these excises? With money. How are they to get this money? By the same depressed prices. These are not only to pay more than they now do to government, in order to prevent a recurrence to loans, but also more than they now do to capitalists, in order to create objects for excises to operate upon. Excises, like all other taxes, must chiefly fall on land and labour in the United States for some centuries; I might say for ever; and a suggestion to land owners that this mode of taxation will be a favour to them, is therefore evidently only soothing or cajoling. Whiskey itself, the example exhibited by the Committee, does not prove that excises will relieve the poor land owners from taxation. A tax upon it, reaches the grain of which it is made, the land which produces the grain, and the labour which cultivates the land. The example, however, affords other testimony. Let those who remember how many officers were necessary to enforce this small excise, compute the number which will be necessary to enforce a general excise; and let the land owners recollect that they must chiefly pay this expense, in addition to the excises upon their consumption; and then determine, whether the sympathy for their inability to pay taxes, expressed by the Committee, is genuine or delusive.
"The important question," say the Committee, "presents itself. Will the proposed changes be beneficial to the revenue, or is it necessary for its preservation and increase? The revenue from the customs has rapidly decreased. Consumption diminishes with the increase of population. A reduction of duties will not increase the revenue. When the expenses of a government exceed its income, there must be a responsibility somewhere." Loss to the revenue is, throughout the report, the great evil to be deprecated, and gain to the revenue, the great good coveted. Far from apprehending that the treasury will be starved by an excise, I agree that it must be fattened because it can feed upon every thing; and that the patronage of the Federal government will be vastly increased also, by the multiplication of tax gatherers, and the bounties to capitalists. But ought the liberty and happiness of the people to be overlooked, in the ardent pursuit of these jewels, however brilliant they may appear to those eyes fixed upon the object of getting money for themselves; and ought we not to pause upon being told, that the agriculturists are too poor to bear a land tax, and yet that their taxes ought to be increased to enrich the treasury, extend patronage, and pay bounties? This is said to be necessary, because consumption, and consequently the customs, have diminished as population has increased. Are there no artificial causes for this phenomenon? Must not our ill-judged tariff, and other commercial restrictions be among them? The responsibility must lie somewhere. Can it be found anywhere but in bad laws? New laws must be the true causes of new effects. But the Committee, overlooking this truth, have ascribed our past prosperity solely to wars between foreign nations. If we could compare the losses we sustained from armed robbers, with the profits we reaped from these wars, it might be problematical on which side the balance would lie; but these enormous losses are suppressed to deprive our former republican policy of all its laurels, and to hide the visage of that which scowls more and more upon our prosperity, as it gradually supplants its rival. During the long experience which the United States had of the policy decried by the Committee, they found it good in periods of peace, as well as in those of foreign wars, and that it should now fail, must be owing to causes which did not then exist. Foreign commercial restrictions and prohibitions existed during these periods to a greater extent than now, but they could not prevent our prosperity and therefore no causes, but those of a domestick nature, can account for the gradual disappearance of the national prosperity then our elevation, now our regret. Do not the facts stated by the Committee, point directly to these causes? Why have consumptions diminished? Because the protecting-duty tariff has increased. Why have duties diminished? Because this tariff and other property-transferring measures, have diverted the profits of labour from being expended in consumption, by which the public treasury would have been supplied, to enrich the treasuries of capitalists. Why are agricultural products so excessively depressed? Because of the expulsion of foreign commodities by the existing tariff, which would have enhanced the value of domestick products by multiplying exchanges. To these internal regulations, add our imitations of English extravagance, in the expenses of government, and both the causes and the remedies we are in search of must be very easily discovered. Restore our renowned republican frugality, reform our tariff for the object of revenue only, and suppress exclusive privileges; and our treasuries will no longer be empty, government will not be obliged to plunge the nation deeper and deeper into debt, taxation will be light, and the national happiness, gradually lost, will be recovered by a reoccupation of the principles gradually deserted.
The Committee have disclosed one great cause of the decrease of consumption in proportion to population, by reminding us of the fact, that capital has increased in a few hands up to a redundancy. The same policy which begets this enormous transfer of profits or property, must beget a correspondent diminution of consumption, by depriving labour of that portion of its income applicable to consumption, and transferring it to the employment of accumulating capitals in other hands. Reversing the principle of a fertilizing irrigation, it collects the streamlets into a few lakes, and drowns many a fertile vale. These reservoirs of capital, drawn from the small profits of labour, and unfruitful to the treasury, can only have been created by legal mechanism. If the system for transferring property by banking, protecting duties, bounties, and political extravagance, has not done the deed, what has? Have foreign commercial restrictions, always existing, suddenly bethought themselves of inflicting upon us the two evils of exuberant, and empty purses? Why should they have operated so partially as to have enriched a sect of capitalists, and impoverished the rest of the nation? Why should this sect be encumbered with wealth by peace, and the people be reduced to poverty? Can the cessation of foreign wars have been the cause of both these effects? But if the accumulation of wealth in a few hands was not caused by foreign wars, it clearly follows that it is caused by domestick regulations; that this accumulation, and not peace, is the cause of that distress in which the capitalists do not participate, though exposed equally with other people to the cessation of foreign wars; and that it is this artificial accumulation which has diminished consumption, impoverished both the treasury and the people, and suspended the improvements of agriculture. Can it be denied, that the more of their profits are expended by the great body of the nation which subsists by agriculture, the more of them will be employed in obtaining the comforts of consumption, and in aiding the revenue; and that the more of these profits are taken from this great body of consumers, and taxpayers, and applied to the interest, bounties, and dividends which have created our exuberant capitals, the less can be applied to the other objects.
But instead of removing the causes of the disease, the Committee propose to increase them. The impost being crippled, by diverting the profits of labour from procuring the comforts of consumption, to the accumulation of artificial capitals, they propose to bestow more bounties upon this accumulation. The tariff having produced less and less in proportion to population, as it has been raised and raised, the Committee assert that it would not again become productive, by being lowered, and that it ought to be raised yet higher. If they had asserted that the same productiveness of the customs, experienced when the duties were low, could not be expected so long as an infinitely greater amount of the profits of labour, were diverted from consumption to accumulations, they would have been right. It would then follow that a diminution of the duties and a restoration of profits to the object of consumptions, united, would certainly increase the revenue; and on the other hand, that both an increase of duties, and also an increase of the policy of transferring profits to pecuniary accumulations, will diminish it. The Committee, therefore, had no design to assist the revenue, by increasing the rates of the tariff; and indeed they fairly acknowledge, that their object is still further to diminish the profits of labour, applicable to consumption, by transferring more of them to capitalists, that they may be able to prepare objects for an excise.
The Committee have justly observed, that taxation, either by excises or imposts, must fall on consumptions. To consider them with an eye to this equality only, is a concession which grants all that could be asked, and more than the excise system can reasonably expect. From this position it is obvious, that the system of augmenting capital, by diminishing the portion of income applicable to consumption, will cripple an excise, just as it has crippled the impost mode of taxation. Now as the policy of transferring property, coupled with imposts, has almost famished both the treasury and the nation, whilst it has created an exuberant capital in a few hands; it is but a dreary kind of comfort to be told, that the same policy, coupled with excises, also a tax upon consumptions, will fatten both. But the Committee go further, and say, that the transition to excises must cost us anew augmentation of capital, by monopolies of indefinite duration, to enable these monopolies to fabricate commodities for excises to operate upon; and as the bounties paid under these monopolies will still further reduce the profits of labour applicable to consumption, these excises must be applied to articles of the first necessity, and must be made more oppressive, in order to extort from necessaries, what could not be gotten from superfluities by the impost mode of taxation, when coupled with a monopoly, diminishing consumptions.
Upon this ground, the project of the Committee promises less than nothing. A change in the mere name of a tax, which is still collected through the medium of consumption, would leave us substantially where we were; but the payment of a great and indefinite bounty to capitalists, for this difference between names, and the additional expenses of collection, would make the remedy worse than the disease. One plan to relieve both the nation and the treasury, consists of frugality, free exchanges, free trade, and an abandonment of the policy of creating capitalists by exclusive privileges, bounties, and monopolies; general excises, and an increase of public expenditure, united with these universal instruments of tyranny, constitute the other. We have only to ask ourselves two questions. Which of these plans would be preferred by a patriot, and which by a capitalist? Am I a patriot, or capitalist?
8. Ruin Commerce
The phraseology adopted by the Committee in stating objections to the protecting-duty policy, is that resorted to at the bar, in stating the objections of an adversary. They are put in a hyperbolical dress, to exaggerate them into an aspect of absurdity. Comparative injury, and not absolute ruin or destruction, constitutes the true question as to the impression likely to be made, on revenue, commerce, and agriculture, by the policy of the Committee or its adversary. To understand the objection, we must consider what commerce is. Avoiding as much as possible the previous remarks applicable to its definition, it is necessary to remind the reader, that whether foreign or domestick, it ought to be an instrument for facilitating exchanges, and not for accumulating redundant capitals in a few hands by arbitrary and partial laws. Commercial accumulations flowing from extraordinary skill or industry, are merely means used by commerce, for effecting its beneficial intention; but using it as an instrument for transferring property, without suffering free will to compute compensations, destroys this essential principle for exciting its efforts, and extending its benefits.
One item of the policy of the Committee, is to destroy the end of commerce, for facilitating foreign exchanges, by exporting without importing; another, to substitute for this destruction a domestick commerce, not for promoting fair exchanges, but for effecting a great and lasting transfer of property. They imagine that foreign commerce will not be injured, by restricting it in an extensive degree, to exportation; and that domestick commerce will be encouraged by disemboweling it of its essential principle, and converting it into an instrument for effecting unequal exchanges, to enrich monopolists. Whether this novel system of political economy, will impair or nourish commerce, either foreign or domestick, or whether it has been the true cause of the evil days upon which we are fallen, may be illustrated by a further consideration of the nature of money. Currency, however fabricated, regulates value; and value, if left free, regulates currency, when it is used to facilitate exchanges; but when it is used to transfer property without compensation, it becomes an instrument in the hands of legislation, for fostering local and personal avarice. Domestick commerce, carried on by the instrumentality of currency, presents itself in two characters; that consisting of exchanges of value for value, settled by the medium of money with the consent of the exchangers; and that consisting of exchanging a less value for a greater, enforced by legal compulsion. The intrinsic value of the same commodities, never alters, but their prices are liable to fluctuations from their scarcity or plenty, whether occasioned by casualties, by the laws of nature, by improvements in fabrication, or by laws for transferring property. The value is of course liable to the same fluctuations. But if demand and supply are left free, these fluctuations, except the last, are encouragers of commerce, and money is a medium by which they are moderated, and reduced to an equilibrium, if not with exactness, at least with the fidelity of competition. In cases, however, of a legal enhancement of price, money is deprived of its equalizing utility, and is prohibited from diffusing this equilibrium of values, so evidently just, and so highly beneficial to mankind, both by invigorating their exertions, and extending their comforts. When wheat sold at six pence a bushel, both the raiser and consumer were in the same relative situation as when it sold at two dollars, if the fair equalizer of values was unbiassed by legal privileges; but if these were used, either to raise or lower the price of wheat, one of the exchangers of property was defrauded. Hence it appears, that relative, and not actual prices, constitute justice between occupations, and that the honest office of money is to adjust these relative prices. Whether the actual prices are high or low, the equalizing power of money, if exercised upon free exchanges, prevents any general calamity, and moderates to a great extent individual inconveniences. But laws for depriving money of its equalizing power, establish permanent inequalities of value between occupations, and create those very calamities; to prevent or moderate which, is the most valuable quality of money. The capacity of money to produce an equilibrium of values, operates between nations as well as occupations. The existing peace has diminished prices throughout the commercial world; but as money and commerce will equalize values, neither nations nor individuals sustain any injury from that circumstance. But if a nation shall prohibit itself from sharing in this universal diminution of prices, by crippling its own commerce; and shall moreover enhance by law the commodities for one occupation, whilst the prices of others remain depressed, all the individuals deprived of the compensation to be derived only from the capacity of commerce and money to equalize values, must be considerably impoverished. The government then undertakes to settle prices between occupations and individuals, and it loses sight of relative values, to destroy which is the only design of its interposition. By expelling foreign commodities, the United States are prevented from reaping any benefit from the universal fall of prices; and also deprived of the advantages of exchanging their own by the scale of relative values, which money soon establishes between nations; and by enhancing the prices of domestick manufactures, the relative values of domestick products are also destroyed, and the equilibrium which prevents a general fall of prices from producing any general or partial distress, is overturned; so that they cannot derive any compensations from the principle of relative values, or from commerce, either foreign or domestick. On the contrary, if these relative values were suffered to have an unobstructed operation, individuals would have the means of compensation in their own hands, and self-interest invariably finds it in some part of the commercial world, when not prohibited by governments from exercising its acuteness and industry.
If pecuniary income remains as high as it was when prices were double to what they now are, its real value is doubled, and a double portion of the profits or property of productive labour, absorbed by unproductive. It is by the branch of domestick commerce (if it can be called commerce) for the purpose of transferring property from productive to unproductive employments, that nations are oppressed and enslaved; and I do not recollect a single instance in the whole history of mankind, of a nation oppressed or enslaved, by leaving relative values to be settled by money and commerce. It is said to be necessary to establish this enslaving branch of domestick commerce, to counteract the teasings of foreign restrictions, which cannot enslave us. So far as these foreign restrictions counteract the power of money and commerce to equalize values, they resemble our domestick restrictions for the same purpose; except that the latter are infinitely more effectual, because the former are dissimilar, and the number of disunited nations enables a free commerce to shun, and often to benefit by them. But the relative capacities of foreign and domestick commercial restrictions to enslave nations, by means of a power in the government to regulate values, usurped from commerce and money, is very different.
The nature of a domestick commerce for transferring property, may be demonstrated by a few facts. In the time of Washington, wheat was worth two dollars, and the prices of labour and other property were equivalent. Then the Federal Government received three millions annually. For the sake of round numbers, let us suppose the price of wheat to be now one dollar, and the receipt of the Federal Government twenty-five millions. It is obvious that one dollar represents as much property as two did then, and that though the same equilibrium of value may remain in free exchanges; yet that the equilibrium in the commerce between productive and unproductive employment, or between industry and income, is excessively altered. Tyranny or oppressive taxation, is graduated by this equilibrium. For the same services, or nearly so, rendered by an indispensable species of unproductive labour, which then cost us three millions worth of property, we are now paying fifty millions worth of property. If we come nearer the fact by supposing the average price of wheat to be now seventy-five cents, and other property to be reduced to a relative value, productive labour is paying seventy-two and a half millions annually, for the same government which then cost it only three, estimated in property. The increased expenses of the State governments, have also contributed considerably towards augmenting the oppression arising from the property-transferring branch of domestick commerce. The difference between the amount of contributions to unnecessary, unproductive employments, in the time of Washington, and the existing amount, is still greater. If labour then paid to the infant policy of exclusive privileges even as much as three millions annually, and is now paying more than ten to banking alone, these ten by the same scale are now transferring twenty or twenty-five millions worth of its property instead of three. In the time of Washington, duties were chiefly confined to the object of revenue; now, they are extended to that of enriching capitalists. If these capitalists gain ten millions by this branch of property-transferring domestick commerce, labour is losing twenty or twenty-five millions more beyond what it then lost. It results from the estimate, especially if we include the State governments, that above twenty times more property is transferred annually from industry to unproductive occupations, than was transferred thirty years ago, being the difference between its losing six, or an hundred and twenty-five millions annually. The Committee say that foreign commerce ought to be diminished, in order to encourage and extend this property-transferring domestick commerce. If a European government, between one and two centuries past, when wheat was at one third of its present price, had in thirty years increased the contributions of labour to unproductive employments, twenty-fold, the effect would have been such as is felt here, from our excessive cultivation of the same kind of domestick commerce, and the appreciation of money. If the contributions of industry to unproductive occupations happen to be doubled or trebled by the appreciation of money, I see no remedy for the unforeseen calamity, but a reduction of these contributions to what they substantially were when imposed. What legislature would propose a great and sudden augmentation of taxation, when the value of money was uncommonly high, and the price of products uncommonly low? There is some strange defect in the structure of society, if such an augmentation can be made without any legislative act at all. It is still stranger that the Committee should think of legislating exactly like this invisible tyrant; of whose pernicious laws they are complaining; by proposing to augment the contributions of industry to unproductive occupations, further than his unconscionable conscience has gone. Some irresistible power has substantially doubled or trebled our taxes and contributions to exclusive privileges, without the consent, and contrary to the wishes of our representatives; and instead of advising them to resist this evil spirit, the Committee propose that they should become his accomplice by increasing taxes and bounties, because the means of paying them have greatly diminished. It is this policy only which causes peace to aggravate the distresses of nations, by making the domestick commerce for transferring property, infinitely more lucrative to unproductive occupations, and more oppressive to industry. The extravagances of war and the appreciation of currency, created capitals, bearing with less weight upon industry, whilst the prices of property were high; and the appreciation of currency, by depressing the prices of commodities, has correspondendy increased the value of income. The Committee propose to increase capital and income like war, and to enhance their value like peace, by restrictions on foreign commerce, and domestick exclusive privileges.
To justify this scheme for a domestick commerce, they have repeatedly urged the argument uniformly resorted to by every contrivance for transferring property. Whatever local or individual injuries it may produce, they contend that it will beget national prosperity. For this doctrine, they might have referred to English authorities and examples, more conclusively applicable than any they have quoted.
Many English writers, and among others the venerable Adam Smith*33 himself, justify the enrichment of Britain by the wealth drawn from her provinces, by the assertion, that the provinces are integral portions of the British empire; and that the trade between them and the mother country, is therefore to be considered as of a domestick character, and ought to be managed so as to promote the prosperity of the empire. Whether this doctrine is to be ascribed to the partiality of British writers for Britain, or to the design of deluding the provinces into an opinion, that the British monopoly of their commerce was no local injury; whether it was suggested by an ardour for local popularity, conviction, or avarice, it furnishes a parallel of the question we are considering. Admitting it to be true that the commerce between Britain and her provinces ought to be considered as domestick, because they constitute a portion of the British empire, it does not follow that these provinces sustain no injury from the domestick restrictions and monopolies to which their commerce is exposed. These regulations make use of the transferring capacity of money, by inflicting on the provinces a legal necessity of selling cheaper to Britain, and buying dearer of her, than they would do if she was checked by competitors. This double compulsion to buy of Britain and to sell to Britain, creates a domestick commerce, governed partly by the good, and partly by the bad soul of money. So far as the relative value of commodities prevails, its good soul predominates; but whatever is gained by Britain from the provinces beyond this relative value, by means of her monopoly, is bestowed by the bad soul of money, and is an acquisition of property without compensation. The United States, whilst portions of the British empire, constantly felt, and often urged, the great losses they sustained from the restrictions and monopolies of domestick commerce; and Britain as constantly felt the wealth she gained by them, and justified her acquisitions by the same argument now used by the Committee, namely, that these restrictions and monopolies contributed to the national prosperity. Neither side could convince the other, although the colonies, awed by power, would have made considerable sacrifices of their opinion, to obtain only partial alleviations of an oppression, of which they were quite sensible. For the sake of peace, they only contended that Britain ought not to compel them by law to buy, nor to collect in the colonies a tax for nurturing the property-transferring policy, which she had established between them and herself. But Britain, enamoured with this property-transferring domestick commerce, as our capitalists now are; and protesting that she was wholly uninfluenced by avarice, and only influenced by the national prosperity, as the capitalists now protest; continued to increase her restrictions and monopolies, as the capitalists have done, and are still striving to do. The parties therefore went to war to settle a question, which we are trying to settle by reason, as the colonies attempted to do, before that war commenced.
Let the capitalists or factories stand for Britain, and all the other occupations for the colonies, and very little difference between the two cases will appear. If domestick commercial restrictions could transfer property from the colonies to Britain, they may transfer it from these occupations to capitalists. If they were fraudulent and oppressive, though inflicted by the British Parliament, either as a regulation of domestick commerce, or a system of revenue, they may be also fraudulent and oppressive, though inflicted by an American Congress, also as a regulation of domestick commerce, or as a system of revenue. If such relations transferred great wealth from British colonies to British capitalists, they will also transfer great wealth from American States to American capitalists, wherever they may be located. If a compulsion upon the colonies to purchase necessaries of Britain, was impoverishing to the purchasers; a compulsion upon States and occupations to purchase necessaries of capitalists, must be equally impoverishing on the purchasers. Are not cargoes of internal manufactures, attended by a prohibition against competition, equivalent to cargoes of tea and British commodities, forced upon the colonies without being attended by competition? Will strong and free States be insensible to the oppression of this property-transferring policy, which was seen and resisted by weak and dependent provinces?
The similitude of these cases cannot be evaded by the subterfuge of a difference between foreign and domestick commerce. They are both domestick, subject to the same principles, and made to transfer property by the same regulations. Domestick restrictions and monopolies, more effectually transfer property than foreign, because they can be more effectually enforced; and therefore these instruments are more extensively fraudulent and oppressive in domestick than in foreign commerce, and are infinitely more able to establish domestick tyranny, whilst it is quite uncertain whether they can obtain any species of profitable trade. There is no difference between a contiguity by land or by water, sufficient to make the policy of transferring property foul and oppressive upon British colonies, but fair and beneficial when applied to free States. Britain may, indeed, plead as she feels, that the oceans which separate her from her provinces, render them only half social; and that therefore she is justifiable in using restrictions and monopolies to cheat them of half their property in exchanging hers for it; but the capitalists cannot contend for an addition of fifty per centum to the price of their wares, because the imposition operates upon a sort of half-breed or mongrel citizenship, having only a right to half justice. The moral difference of representation, far from justifying the fraud, is the strongest argument against it. These States, when colonies, possessed a representation for internal purposes, and strenuously contended, that this representation was a provision against colonial oppression by commercial regulations, made by the British Parliament. Can it be possible, that this moral plea, deduced from colonial representation, could have been sounder than the same plea deduced from State representation, even if the latter had no auxiliaries? But are not the original sovereignties of the States, the reservation of internal rights of sovereignty, and limitations of the federal constitution, to prevent Congress from making some States tributary to others, powerful auxiliaries to the argument deduced from representation? Was not representation both State and Federal, instituted to prevent fraudulent transfers of property from State to State, and from the people, to exclusive privileges and legal combinations? If representation does wrong, the possibility of which is contemplated by every free government, some mode of correction is necessary. We have provided two; election, and a division of representation between the Federal and State governments, assigned to each distinct and independent powers, and divided the moral rights of representation, that one species may check the wrongs of the other. Had an accommodation with Britain taken place upon the ground of a representation in her parliament, and conferring upon it the same rights conferred on Congress, reserving to the colonies their local representations for internal purposes, could it have been fairly so construed, as to have rendered these local representations perfectly inefficient, and to have empowered the parliament, in virtue of a right to regulate the commerce between the colonies, to make one tributary to another, or the colonists generally, tributary to a sect of capitalists?
An argument applicable to the point of constitutionality, has been postponed to this place, because it is also applicable to the point of representation. The constitution empowers Congress "to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes." Under this authority it has undertaken to regulate internal exchanges between individuals, and to destroy the freedom of exchanges, by conferring monopolies upon some individuals operating upon other individuals. Foreign nations, States, and Indian tribes, are united in one article, and intended to be affected in one mode. Did this article empower Congress to make one Indian tribe tributary to another to build factories in one tribe, in order to provide objects for an excise, and to destroy the freedom of exchanges between the individuals composing the tribes? Did it give to Congress the same power as to foreign nations? If foreign and internal exchanges, were not intended by the article to be regulated by Congress, neither were State internal exchanges between individuals intended to be regulated by Congress, because the power being equivalent as to each, the construction must also be equivalent and the absurdity of a construction as to two of the cases placed on the same ground, demonstrates the character of the same construction as to the third. National and not individual regulations of commerce, between States as expressed, and not between individuals, were therefore meant; and the representation in Congress, is only a national representation of this national object, and not a representation of the freedom of internal exchanges between State individuals, any more than the British Parliament was, or would have been, had the proposed accommodation taken place.
The monopoly of domestick commerce outstrips that established by the British Parliament. The colonies were left at liberty to trade with Britain and her dependencies. This created a competition infinitely more extensive and effectual than that confined to our few factories. If the inferior British restrictions crippled our commerce, will not restrictions more general, cripple it also? The British restrictions left the British portion of the world open to colonial commerce; the protecting-duty policy prohibits or restricts our commerce with the whole world, and opens it with a few monopolies.
The Committee do not deny that foreign commerce will be wounded by this policy. On the contrary, they admit that such has been, and will be, the case, by urging its decay as an argument in favour of a monopolized domestick commerce. From the numberless intimate connections between foreign and domestic commerce, one is selected as a proof that the wounds inflicted on the former, will reach the latter. Our coasting trade is greatly fostered, if not sustained, by foreign commerce. Heavy products are carried to a few large cities, from whence they are exported, and the returns pursue the same route. If foreign importations are prohibited or diminished, and factories scattered sufficiently through the States to become markets for culinary goods, it must diminish or render unnecessary this coasting trade. But if this should not happen, and these factories should be so partially located, as to make some coasting trade necessary, yet the insufficiency of their manufactures to meet the demand, and the diminution of exchanges, must greatly impair it. Either the vaunted coasting trade, or the vaunted neighborhood markets, or both, must therefore be a delusion.
The case of tonnage duties, selected by the Committee to prove the wholesomeness of protecting duties, illustrates the confidence to which such selections are entitled. These duties are rather fiscal than prohibitory and if they were prohibitory, our abundance of tonnage would render the monopoly as nominal as the monopoly of manufacturing flour. The protecting duties are prohibitory and not fiscal, except to capitalists, and create an operating monopoly. Tonnage duties do not foster a dangerous and oppressive moneyed aristocracy; bounties to factories, levied upon consumptions, do. Tonnage duties fall on consumptions and go into the Treasury factory duties fall on consumptions, go into the pockets of capitalists; and, by expelling foreign ships, destroy or diminish the revenue drawn from them by tonnage duties. The design that foreign shipping should come here empty and pay a heavy tonnage, and that our shipping should return empty from foreign countries, having paid them a retaliating tonnage, is no bad epitome of the whole project. Have the Committee considered whether other nations will permit our ships to go to them loaded, if we force theirs to come to us empty? If we expel foreign ships, would not foreign nations expel ours? If we expel foreign commodities, will they not retaliate? Will these mutual expulsions foster commerce? We have been long engaged in what is called a war of reciprocity, and by the Committee a free commerce. Blow begets blow, and wound follows wound, and commerce is gasping in the battle. Now, say the committee, let us try "whether the transportation from one part of the country to another, of materials to supply our manufactories, and of manufactures back to the raiser of materials, and the export of manufactures, might not employ as much shipping and as many seamen, as the importation of foreign supply." It is thus admitted, that the policy of the Committee is to give a settling blow to foreign commerce, from a hope that an equivalent domestick commerce will grow upon its grave. To effect this, our factories and raisers of materials must live a great way asunder, to give employment to shipping and seamen in plying between them; and this ferry is to raise sailors and keep up a navy, until we can export manufactures. Foreign nations are of course to admit our ships and these manufactures, when we have gotten them to export, because we have expelled theirs. The fewer have been our expedients of this character, the more has our commerce flourished; and hence it is highly probable, that the most efficacious mode of defeating foreign restrictions to which we can resort, would be to establish a really free commerce, which would enlist the merchants of all nations to evade and counteract them. We have not gained a single victory in a twenty years' war of restriction against restriction, and the harder we strike the enemy, the more severely the blow recoils upon ourselves. Unless we assail him with a new weapon, success seems hopeless. The Committee propose to surrender our foreign commerce, and thus put an end to the contest. Suppose, instead of retiring within our shell from the combat, we should oppose free trade to foreign restrictions. We once tried it, and found ourselves fighting with swords against daggers. I know of no nation which has entered into a commercial warfare in this armour, that has not been victorious.
The Committee observe, "that nature has not denied to the immense region watered by the Mississippi, the Ohio and the Lakes, the means of ship-building, or the supply of cargoes. Man refuses them a market, because he looks only abroad. Foreign commerce can present no preference over domestic." This immense region must, for ages, probably for ever, be agricultural. No equally interiour country has ever yet been a considerable exporter of manufactures. If this is susceptible of success in such an adventure, that success must be at the distance of some centuries. It cannot even enter into a competition with maritime countries, until its deficiency in populousness is removed. In the mean time, ship-building will make its interest more thoroughly agricultural, than that of the Atlantick region. Ships, the product of the forest, freighted with the products of the land, are themselves and their cargoes, only rendered valuable by foreign commerce. But the committee say what I cannot understand, "man refuses them a market, because he looks only abroad." Do they mean that our merchants look abroad for agricultural ships and cargoes, rather than purchase them at home? As such is not the case, and as I cannot discern any meaning in the expression, I am forced to consider it as an empty barrel, thrown out to draw off the attention of the western whale. Is it not obvious that this very branch of western commerce, destined soon to become highly valuable on account of the cheapness of timber, and its dearness in foreign countries, depends for prosperity on foreign commerce? Would these ships and their cargoes be purchased and eaten by domestick factories, Western or Atlantick? Why do the Committee endeavour to inspire a hope so absurd, by adding, "that foreign commerce can present no preference over domestic?" Will an undeniable truth establish an undeniable error? If horses are preferable to oxen, ought we therefore to destroy or hamstring our oxen? Far from inferring from the fact, that foreign commerce is not preferable to domestick; that therefore the destruction of the former will advance the western interest, there seems to be no stronger case than this ship-building and loading which they have selected, to prove the close connection between foreign and domestick commerce; and to show how necessary the one is to the prosperity of the other. Without foreign commerce, it is perfectly plain that the domestick commerce in western ships and their cargoes will dwindle and perish, even sooner than any other item of agricultural interest.
The objection is, that the protecting-duty policy will injure or destroy commerce, meaning foreign commerce, and the Committee justify this consequence by asserting that a domestick commerce between factories and raisers of raw materials will compensate us for the loss, because foreign commerce can present no preference over domestick. Foreign commerce is then condemned to death by this policy, leaving its partner, agriculture, as a legacy to capitalists.
9. Destroy Agriculture
Neither ambition nor avarice could ever succeed in depriving nations of their liberty and property, if they did not by some artifice enlist the services of a body of men, numerically powerful. The general promises the plunder of a town to his soldiers; they take it; and he keeps most of it for himself and his officers. These are enriched, and the soldiers remain poor. A demagogue promises liberty to a rabble, and by their help makes himself their tyrant. And capitalists, by promising wealth to mechanicks, accumulate it for themselves, and become their masters. The Committee disclaim a predilection for factory capitalists, and an enmity towards agriculture. I balance this argument by disclaiming also a predilection for agriculturists, and an enmity towards mechanicks; but I avow an enmity against all modes for transferring property by excessive privileges. As no man, however, can find the seeds from which his opinions have germinated, such protestations are frivolous, and they are also unworthy of weight; because the consequences, and not the origin of opinions, constitute their materiality. If it was important to decide, whether the policy proposed by the Committee or its competitor, could be convicted of foreign origin, the difficulty of the subject would not be increased; but I wave the unedifying enquiry, and proceed to the substantial part of the question, whether it will be most injurious to agriculturists or mechanicks. At the threshold of this enquiry, I have changed a term, by substituting mechanicks for manufacturers, to display truth more clearly. The term agriculture needs no such correction, because we have not the two conflicting classes of landlords and tenants, as we have of capitalists and mechanicks. Where the land of a country is owned by landlords, and worked by tenants, the phrase "landed interest" refers to the landlords, who may enjoy exclusive privileges of which the tenants do not partake; and the impoverishment of one interest may contribute to the enrichment of the other. In like manner, where the factories belong to capitalists, and are worked by mechanicks, the phrase "manufacturing interest" refers to the capitalists, who may enjoy exclusive privileges of which the workmen do not partake; and their impoverishment may contribute to the enrichment of the capitalists, as the impoverishment of tenants may enrich landlords. In deciding the questions, therefore, by the test of friendship or enmity, we ought to exhibit persons, and not confound distinct interests, as the objects of these passions. A cold calculation of the profit to be made by factories, may be a vice of avarice, but a friendly sympathy for the calamities of workmen, arising from the policy of making laws to accumulate this profit, can only flow from good will towards them.
The interest of mechanicks against the factory policy, advocated by the Committee, is infinitely stronger than that of farmers, because, they may more easily be swept into factories, and the profits of their labour more completely carried into the pockets of the capitalists, than can be effected in the case of land owners. These are so powerful as to be able, when they feel a loss, to give themselves a compensation, as the English landlords have done by the corn laws; and between the capitalists and landlords in that country, the mechanicks find poverty. A keen sense of misery fraudulently inflicted, is the cause of their frequent insurrections, and fixed hatred of the government. Why are soldiers necessary to protect their masters, their work-houses and their looms, against the mechanicks themselves? The great lexicographer Johnson, in defining the condition and character of an English mechanick, has called him "mean and servile." The definition is justified by the fact, that his best resource against ending his days in a hospital or poor house, is the shortness of his life. A mechanick employed in a factory rarely acquires a competence; opulence is out of the question; and he is completely excluded from public employments, by being doomed to a situation in which he can never acquire a capacity for them. He can hardly be considered as a citizen. A code of laws draws around him a magick circle, by making mechanical combinations punishable, lest they should check capitalist combinations; and he is reimbursed by penalties for the loss of hope.
The condition of the mechanick in the United States has hitherto been extremely different. It neither excites insurrections, nor inculcates a hatred of the government. It does not require a regular army to cure the agonies of misery. It neither shortens life, nor devotes old age to an hospital. It never fails to acquire a competency by industry and good conduct; sometimes rises to opulence; and receives its due share of public employments. Instead of being deemed mean and servile, it is capable of respectability, and the whole magistracy is open to it. I have heard that the son of a mechanick has been a President and I know that a weaver, a carpenter, and a carriage-maker (the two first from Pennsylvania, and the last from Virginia) were at one time for a long period, worthy members of Congress. Probably there have been many other similar instances. In State legislatures mechanicks are often seen, and as magistrates and militia officers, they abound. They are real, and not nominal citizens. How often do the hirelings of a factory in England, become members of Parliament, magistrates, or militia officers?
For these enormous differences between the condition of the mechanicks in England and the United States, there must be some cause. What can it be, except that the factory and capitalist policy, deprives them of the erect attitude in society inspired by the freedom of industry, and bears hardest upon them, as the chief objects of its gripe? Has this policy bettered the condition of mechanicks, even whilst it was creating enormous fortunes for their masters? If not, the strongest motive for resisting it, is the happiness and prosperity of the mechanicks themselves; though the success of this resistance will also contribute towards the happiness and prosperity of all other useful occupations, because the freedom of talents and industry, and the absence of a system for making both subservient to the interest of avarice, is the principle which must operate beneficially to all, though most so to that occupation most immediately assailed.
To counteract facts established by a double example, the same bribe is offered to land-owners here, which has created in England, a conspiracy between landlords and capitalists against mechanicks, by which they have been reduced to perpetual labour and perpetual poverty. The land-owners are told, that by coercing mechanicks into factories, the prices of their manufactures will be reduced, and that the land-owners will then be reimbursed for the bounties now paid to capitalists, by a future cheapness to be effected at the expense of mechanicks, thus coerced into factories. I do not deny that such would be the case, if the factory scheme could be carried to the same extent here as in England. This could not be effected, even if our populousness could furnish the materials, except by the English system of legislation to prevent mechanicks from breaking their factory chains, and compelling them to labour hard for low wages to supply the conspirators cheaply. But is not this coerced cheapness evidently imposed upon the mechanical occupation? If it could be effected in the United States, the first class of valuable and respectable citizens which would be ruined by it, would be the great body of mechanicks scattered throughout the country, who would be undersold by the factory capitalists, and compelled to relinquish their free occupations, and become hirelings at the factories. The promised consummation of the factory project, therefore, however tempting to farmers, would be a complete degradation of mechanicks from the equal and comfortable station they hold in society, to one much less desirable. Every present fraud offers a future bribe. The future cheapness offered to land-holders is too distant and uncertain, to induce them to enter into this conspiracy with the capitalists against the mechanicks; and besides, why should they get less than the English landlords for doing so? These have had their rents, and of course the value of their lands doubled or trebled into the bargain, and if without this additional bribe, cheapness would have been insufficient to compensate them for the evils of the capitalist-policy, the land-owners here may safely conclude that they will not be compensated by this promise alone, for co-operating in the conspiracy and that to make a good bargain, they ought to have the price of their lands doubled or trebled, like the English landlords.
The solitary promise of future cheapness to farmers, to arise from the factory policy, is met by many formidable considerations: If it could be fulfilled at some distant period, the great injury to society from reducing the respectable and numerous class of mechanicks down to Johnson's definition of them; from creating a moneyed aristocrat, and from establishing the policy of exclusive privileges, in which few or no farmers can ever share, would alone suffice to prove that the bribe, if received, would bring along with it a far greater cargo of evils than of benefits.
The prices paid by farmers to the great number of free mechanicks, scattered throughout the country, and by these mechanicks to farmers, promote neighborhood consumption; create much domestick commerce regulated by free exchanges, and not by a fraudulent monopoly; stimulate mutual industry, and increase the value of property but the prices paid to factory capitalists, so long as their monopoly operates, will to a great extent be employed in transferring and accumulating capital. A transfer of profit from industry to the accumulation of capital whether the profit is agricultural or mechanical, is a mutual diminution of the fund, acting and re-acting between industrious occupations, and begetting mutual prosperity. The more of his profits the agriculturist can save from the capitalist, the more employment he will give to his friend and neighbour, the mechanick; and the more of his are retained by the mechanick, the more he will consume of agricultural products, or enhance by his savings, the value of land. In either case would domestick commerce be rendered more beneficial to the society, by diverting these funds from this intercourse, to the accumulation of pecuniary capitals?
Monopoly is a word sufficiently indefinite, to enable ingenuity to obscure its malignity, by extending it to property acquired by industry and free exchanges; and though private property begets civilization, society, and happiness, it is made, by calling it monopoly, to supply arguments for its own invasion. If monopoly, like money, does really reach every species of acquisition, yet it may also possess good and evil qualities; and a discrimination between them is necessary, to reap the good and avoid the evil. The monopolies obtained by industry, admitting the phrase to be correct, are, like earning money, beneficial to society; those obtained by exclusive privileges, like stealing money, are pernicious. These qualities of monopoly are hostile to each other. The latter species of monopoly takes away the acquisitions of the former. The most enormous monopoly is that of monarchs of all the land within their territories, once established in Europe by the feudal system, and still subsisting in Turkey and some Asiatic countries. This deprives industry of its power to acquire, to a great extent. Of the same nature is the protecting-duty monopoly. A monopoly of land, enables the monopolist to extract wealth from the produce of land; and a monopoly of mechanicks, enables the monopolist to extract wealth from the produce of mechanicks. The monopolist in both cases is able to enhance the price of land or its produce, or the produce of his mechanicks, at the expense of buyers. Land was monopolized by the feudal system, incidentally to monopolize labour; by the factory system, the labour itself is directly monopolized. Next to that of land, a monopoly of manufacturing is the most extensive and oppressive of which we can have a conception. It even appears to operate more widely than a monopoly of land, because all are consumers of manufactures. It does not indeed take away the land itself of agriculturists, but it effects the same end which the feudal monopoly effected; it obtains a portion of its profits. If a law was made to bestow all the lands of the United States upon a few persons, it would be equivalent to a policy for enabling capitalists to build factories, and monopolize mechanicks. We should then have the English policy complete; landlords and tenants, capitalists and mechanicks. I know but of two modes of ascertaining whether a monopoly exists. One consists of appropriation without compensation, the other of an appropriation obtained by compensation. The latter is only called a monopoly, in attempting to confound it with the former. Loss and gain without an equivalent determined by free commerce, is established between farmers and capitalists by legal coercion, and if this does not constitute the former species of monopoly, the Committee may be right in denying its existence.
But it is urged that manufactures are in their infancy, and require monopolies or bounties to make them grow. When is this allegation of the imperfection of arts and sciences to cease, as a justification of bounties and monopolies? How long will the world be persuaded that it is an infant, and ought to be scourged into knowledge? Europe is told that she is not fit for liberty, because political science is yet so imperfect, that she cannot bear it. Asia has been lashed from a considerable proficiency in arts and sciences, to a renovation of extreme ignorance. And the United States, as if they had blundered immaturely upon a free form of government, are retracing their foot-steps towards the alleged European unfitness for it. When will a maturity of arts and sciences arrive, to enable mankind to reject bad, and adhere to good principles, if they should have adopted them by chance? We are told, that many centuries past, when the mechanical arts were extremely simple and rude, bounties and privileges were expended for the sake of their introduction and improvement. We might also be told, that once upon a time mankind were so savage, that the feudal system was necessary for their civilization. Neither fact proves the propriety of bounties and exclusive privileges, or of the feudal system at present. The advancement of mankind in political science, and mechanical arts, has entirely changed their character in several countries, and a great proficiency as to both has certainly appeared in the United States. Our mechanical knowledge is so considerable in the opinion of the Committee, that they propose to create capitalists to monopolize it. Our political knowledge has even soared too high, and ought therefore to be reduced to the European standard. Will the time never arrive, at which arts and sciences can be entrusted with freedom, and left to their own unrestricted exertions? We have probably fewer eminent scientific people than skillful mechanicks, compared with some European nations; would it therefore be wise to prohibit ourselves from a participation of foreign knowledge, and bestow a monopoly of the sciences upon a combination of learned men, as we propose to bestow a monopoly of the mechanical arts, upon a combination of capitalists? Are not such monopolies of an equivalent character? No, say the Committee, we will import from Europe its system of exclusive privileges, monopoly, and extravagance: this is a blessing but we will exclude her manufactures; these are a curse.
Circumstances must be the same, to make examples worthy of imitation. When the Committee go back to distant times in search of examples, and overlook existing circumstances, they suppress the facts which ought to govern the conclusion. When England was ignorant of the art of manufacturing, it was wise to purchase information of foreign mechanicks, and obtain their instruction; but after she acquired the art, the end was obtained, and the only good reason for the purchase, ceased. The distinction between bounties for introducing the arts of manufacturing, and bounties for enriching a class of capitalists, after they are introduced, is manifest. The bounties in one case go to the mechanicks themselves; in the other, to masters set over them by laws. In one case the mechanicks are enriched; in the other, they are impoverished. One offers them a reward for their skill; the other, its degradation. The policy of rewarding mechanicks for introducing and protecting manufactures, bears no resemblance to the policy of enabling a combination of capitalists to monopolize mechanicks. The suggestion of the latter policy, admits that our circumstances do not require the former. It is founded on the fact, that we have a sufficient number of mechanicks for the capitalist-monopoly to act upon, so as to make it highly lucrative. Our abundance of mechanicks, and not their scarcity, has suggested the speculation; and the same abundance refutes the application to us, of the ancient policy of purchasing mechanicks from other countries, and also the modern policy of purchasing a moneyed aristocracy at the public expense, composed, not of foreign artisans, but of native capitalists. It has been asserted, and perhaps truly, that the number of the mechanicks, and their families, amount to half a million. Whatever may be their number, it is sufficient to detect the misapplication of precedents for alluring mechanicks from foreign countries, to us; and also the pretence, that this important class of our citizens receive the bounties, bestowed on factories. Rewards to a few artisan emigrants are practicable; but bounties to one in about eight of our white population, of a sufficient amount to wed it to a particular occupation, are impracticable. A tithe is a heavy tax, but it is nothing compared with a bounty to half a million of people. The clerical class in England does not amount to one hundred thousand persons, and about one hundred and twenty people, support one person of that class. The project of the Committee is, to make about eight people here pay a bounty sufficient to weld one person to the manufacturing employment. This estimate cannot be so inaccurate, as to weaken the argument deducible from it. A bounty to a class so numerous, must either be an intolerable tax upon the rest of the nation, if it is large enough to effect its object; or if the bounty is so small, as to be a light tax to the rest of the nation, it must be insufficient to have any influence upon a class so numerous. Our protecting-duty bounty must be of one or the other character. Its insufficiency hitherto for the purpose of influencing our great artisan class, is admitted by the Committee. At each increase it has promised to do so, and all its promises have failed, as to its effects upon this numerous class, although a few factories have been created by it. Whence arises these disappointments? Either from the great number of the artisan class, which causes the bounties to be insufficient to influence it, or because mechanicks do not receive them. The fact is, that although our class of mechanicks is too numerous to be purchased like a few foreign emigrants, yet that the bounties insufficient to enrich half a million, are an enormous acquisition to two or three hundred capitalists, and awakens their activity, whilst it has no perceivable effect upon the mechanical class.
In order to keep up a resemblance between the old authorities quoted, and the policy of protecting duties, the encouragement of artisan emigrants, is, however, frequently urged. And yet we are told, that the few who have accepted the invitation, proclaimed by this policy, reject its blessings upon their arrival, and pass on into the western country, to exercise or renounce their trades. And how can it be otherwise? Will mechanicks flee from factories and capitalists in England to be monopolized by factories and capitalists here? Mark this argument of the Committee and their admirers. It is necessary, by a bounty, to induce mechanicks to exchange the English regimen for the American. The news of a bounty brings them here, and they find the same English regimen. It is that which the Committee profess to imitate, and propose to introduce. The disposition of he English mechanicks to fly from it; to abandon country and connections to get rid of it; and to shrink into the western country from its resurrection in this country, where there are no parish nor penal laws to nail them to the loom, explodes the expectation, that the policy abhorred by mechanicks there, will be adored by them here. On the contrary, a horrour of factories and capitalists, carries emigrants as far from them as they can get, and also keeps native mechanicks at a distance from them. If our factories were as well filled as the English, cross desertions might take place, as men are prone to fly from one evil to another; but the deserters must still remain in the ranks, and be subject to the same oppressive discipline, whatever might be the bounties or pay of their officers, the capitalists, unless they could flee further, as they do here. Can such emigrations ever bear the minutest resemblance to the rewards and honours bestowed by wise kings, upon ingenious mechanical emigrants, when they were scarce; and their trades mysteries? Must not the emigrant mechanick fall into the ranks of the five hundred thousand, and can his pittance of the bounty, even if he could wrest it from the capitalist, have any influence over him? The factory servility will be as much hated here as in England; and the facility with which it may be avoided, unites with this hatred, to disclose the reasons why neither emigrants nor natives perceive the advantage of earning bounties for capitalists, and degradation for themselves. The difference between exporting slaves to Africa to make them free, and importing mechanicks to make them slaves to capitalists, is nearly the same, as that between purchasing ingenious artisans by great rewards to teach unknown trades, and tempting emigrants by promising to them the English inflictions. Would slaves wish to go to Africa to be again enslaved? Why not tempt emigrants by bounties, to work on our farms, as well as in our factories? New-York has swallowed more of the emigration quackery than any other portion of the Union. I know not whether it has filled her factories, her poor houses, or her jails; or whether the recruits raised by bounties to capitalists, prefer running away, to running after these intercepted bounties.
Notes for this chapter
End of Notes
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