The Harmony of Interests
Henry Charles Carey

Chapter Twenty-Fourth.
HOW PROTECTION AFFECTS CREDIT—INDIVIDUAL AND NATIONAL.



THE existence of credit is evidence of the existence of confidence that the man who desires to obtain for a time the use of property intends to return it.  The more universal this confidence, the more readily can the capitalist place his funds, and the larger will be the return.  The more universal it is, the more readily can the labourer obtain the necessary aids to labour, and the more productive will be that labour.  If protection be “a war upon labour and capital,” it must tend to destroy the confidence of man in his fellowman.

The object of protection is that of bringing the consumer to take his place by the side of the producer, exchanging labour for labour, and thus diminishing the necessity for credit.  Its effect is to diminish the machin ry of exchange, and thus to increase the productiveness of labour, and with it the power to obtain credit.

The object of the monopoly system is that of separating the consumer from the producer, and compelling both to repose confidence in distant men, thus increasing the necessity for credit.  Its effect is that of increasing the machinery of exchange, and diminishing the productiveness of labour, and thus diminishing the power to obtain credit.

That such is its effect in the colonies of Great Britain, we know.  In India, once so wealthy, the ordinary rate of interest is twelve per cent.;  but the poor cultivator borrows seed at the rate of one hundred per cent.  Credit there has no existence, and yet almost the whole exchanges of the country are made at a distance of many thousands of miles, by men in whom the con sumer and producer are compelled to repose confidence.

In the West Indies, credit has almost entirely disappeared.  In Canada, even the government cannot effect loans without a guaranty from parliament.  So is it throughout the whole range of colonies.

At home, capital is cheap, because of the want of general confidence.  The capitalist takes two per cent.;  but the labourer could not borrow at thirty per cent.  The capitalist that owns machinery is enabled to dictate the terms upon which it shall be used by those who work.  Sometimes he employs many work-people.  At others few.  Sometimes he works long time, and at others short time.  At all times his people obtain but a small proportion of the products of labour;  but at many times they obtain but a very small proportion, while at others they are unable to obtain the use of machinery at any price.

Abroad, the credit of English merchants is falling daily.  But recently, there were in the great city of Liverpool, scarcely half a dozen houses that could be trusted with a cargo of cotton.  Such are the effects of the system in which “Commerce is king,” and the consumer and the producer are placed at the mercy of the exchanger.

At no period in this country did confidence grow more rapidly than in the period between 1830 and 1834.  At none did it decline with such rapidity as between 1835 and 1842.  With the action of the tariff of 1842, it was restored, but with that of 1846 it again declines.  There is no demand for capital, and it is cheap.  There is little demand for labour, and it too is cheap.

Never, probably, since the settlement of the country, did the poor man find so much difficulty in obtaining the aid of capital, as in 1842, the period of free trade.  Never has he found it more easy than between 1844 and 1847.  The period of distrust has again arrived.  Money is said to be abundant, but the security must be undoubted, and the poor man pays two per cent. a month for the use of capital that the rich man cannot invest to produce him more than four per cent. per annum.  There is no confidence existing.

“Notwithstanding the cheapness and abundance of money,” says the New York Herald, “no one seems disposed to touch any thing in the way of speculation, and capitalists prefer loaning money at four per cent. interest, on good security, to purchasing stocks at present prices.  They say that when they lend money on first-rate security, at a low rate of interest, they are sure of the principal and a small amount of interest, when they want it.”

The re-establishment of the tariff of 1842 would restore confidence, and produce a demand for labour, and wages would rise-and a demand for capital, the price of which would also rise, and thus it would appear that in protection is to be found the harmony of interest between the labourer and the capitalist.


NATIONAL CREDIT.


From 1830 to 1835, the national credit grew, for we paid for what we imported.  From 1835 to 1840, credit declined, for we ran largely in debt for cloth and iron, for which our exports could not pay.  In 1842, national credit disappeared, for we were unable to pay even the interest on our debts.  From 1843 to 1848, national credit grew, for we paid interest and commenced the reduction of the debt.  In the last two years we have gone largely in debt, and must now either diminish our imports or run further into debt.

How long we can continue to do this, does not depend upon ourselves.  Any circumstance producing a change in the rate of interest in Europe, would cause our certificates of debt to be returned upon us for payment, and what then would be the state of the national credit? A nation that is largely in debt is always in danger of losing its credit.




Chapter Twenty-Fifth.
HOW PROTECTION AFFECTS REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE.



THE more men live and work in connection with each other, the greater is their power to protect themselves.  The more widely they are separated from each other, the greater is their necessity for seeking protection from others.

The more they live in connection with each other, the larger will be the product of their labour, and the greater will be their power to contribute towards the maintenance of peace and order.  The less they live in connection with each other, the less productive will be their labour, and the less will be their power to contribute to that object.

With every increase in the productiveness of labour, the power of selfgovernment thus increases, with increased power to contribute towards the expenditures incident to the maintenance of government;  and with every diminution therein, the power of self-government decreases, with diminished power to contribute towards the public revenue required for paying others for performing the duties of government.

If protection be, as is asserted, a “war upon labour and capital,” it must increase the necessity for government by others, and diminish the power to contribute towards its maintenance.

The object of protection is, however, that of enabling men to live in connection with each other, the consumer taking his place by the side of the producer, each protecting, and protected by, the other.  This would seem to diminish the necessity for seeking protection from others.  Another object of protection is that of enabling men to exchange with each other, giving labour for labour, without paying so many persons for standing between them.  This would seem calculated to increase their power to pay for protection, should it be needed.

The object of the monopoly system-now known by the name of free trade—is that of separating the consumer from the producer, and diminishing their power to protect each other.  Their exchanges are to be always made in distant markets, and many wagons, ships, and men are to stand between, for the care of which fleets and armies are needed.  This would seem to increase their necessity for protection, while the diminished power of combination of action would seem to tend to decrease their power of paying for protection.

How stand the facts? The question will be answered by placing side by side the expenditures under the different systems:—

Protection.                     Free trade.
               Per annum.                    Per annum.
1829 to 1834. $16,800,000     1834 to 1841. $31,700,000
1843 to 1845.  20,700,000     1846 to 1849.  44,500,000

The necessity for contributing towards the support of government seems to have increased with the approach towards free trade, and to have diminished as we approached protection.

The revenue from customs in the several periods, was as follows:—

            Per head.                  Per head.
1830 to 1834.. $1.75    1835 to 1841.. 0.84½
1843 to 1847..  1.36    1848-49...     1.—

I exclude here the year 1847-48, because it was an entirely exceptional one.  We had imported a large amount of free goods—specie—in the preceding year, and we exported it again in 1847-48, to exchange for dutypaying ones, and the whole amount of duty received upon the goods so obtained in exchange, should be added to the revenue of 1846-47.

The power to contribute towards the revenue certainly decreased in the years of free trade, and precisely as the necessity for contributions increased.  The amount actually paid was greater than is here set down, because the government collected, between 1834 and 1841, a large amount of duties upon goods received in exchange for certificates of debt;  but that was merely a payment in advance of production, and the consequence of receiving such payment was, that it was nearly bankrupt in 1842, and compelled to borrow almost thirty millions to provide for the continuance of its own existence.

We are now doing the same thing.  The amount of debt incurred in the last year was not less than twenty-two millions, and upon this the government obtained duties, as before, in adcance of production, to the extent of almost seven millions.  If the power to buy on credit were now to cease, the amount collected would fall to twenty-two millions.  Were the debt contracted last year now to be paid, it would fall to fifteen millions, and a large addition would have to be made to the public debt, as in 1841-42.  How long a time is to elapse before such will be the state of things, it is not for me to predict;  but if we make this year a further addition of twenty millions to our foreign debt, and close as many furnaces as we did in the last one, the day for it cannot be far distant.

The power to contribute towards the maintenance of government depends upon the power of production, and every circumstance tending to diminish the one tends equally to the diminution of the other.  The power of production is now rapidly diminishing, and must continue so to do.

Such likewise is the case in England.  From year to year the payment of taxes is becoming more and more onerous, notwithstanding so large a portion of them is thrown upon the farmers and planters of the earth, by aid of the system under which they are compelled to give more food, cotton, tobacco, and sugar, for less and less cloth and iron;  and yet from year to year the expenditures have been increasing.  Poverty produced rebellion in Ireland, and chartism in England, and thus increased the necessity for soldiers and sailors.  The exhaustion of the older provinces of India led to a desire for Affghanistan, Scinde, and the Punjaub;  and the failure of a market for labour in the form of cotton, drove the Hindoo to opium, which led to a war in China, and thus was made a demand for fleets and armies.  The poverty of Canada led to rebellion, and to the building of forts and ships.  The anxiety to secure foreign markets has led to immense expenses for steamships and mail steamers, and thus the more the system tends to fail, the greater is the expenditure for its maintenance, and the less the ability of the people of England, and the farmers and planters of the world, to contribute thereto.

Let us now look to the other source of our national revenue—the PUBLIC lands.

The higher the value of labour, the more of it will be brought here for sale.  The more people come here, the more land will be required.  The larger and more valuable the freights homeward, the less will be the cost of freight outward, and the more numerous.will be the commodities that can be exported to pay for those we may choose to import.

Were we now importing a million of men annually, the sales of land would soon reach ten millions of acres per annum.  That point we should now reach in five years of perfect and fixed protection, and but few more years would be required to double both the importation of men and the sales of public lands.  Here is a vast source of public revenue.

Perfect protection would, by degrees, diminish the import of cottons, iron, and other duty-paying goods, but we should consume treble or quadruple the quantity of coffee, tea, and the raw materials for the production of which the soil or climate of the country is not suited, and thus should we raise the value of labour employed in agriculture throughout the world.

It is asked, “If we converted all our cotton into cloth, what would Europe produce to pay us for it?”  In answer, it may be said that the object of protection is that of enabling the consumer of food to take his place by the side of the producer of food, not to separate them.  It is to our interest that the people of England should supply themselves with clothing made by men who cat the food of England, and that such should be the case with those of Gernlany and Russia, Spain and Italy, and with every step in their progress they would need more cotton.  To pay for it, they would employ their labour in the production of thousands of articles of taste and luxury, of which we should then consume immense quantities, and therewith there would be improvement of taste, refinement of feeling, elevation of character, and increase of individual and national strength, of which now we can form no conception.

Upon such commodities the duties would be moderate, and, as the imports of the more bulky of the duty-paying articles diminished, the customs’ revenue would gradually decline, until at length the necessity for custom-houses would pass away, the power to maintain government with the land revenue having grown to take its place, and thus might be realized the wonderful idea of the government of an immense nation maintained without the necessity for a single man employed in the collection of taxes.

It would thus appear that between the interests of the treasury and the people, the farmer, planter, manufacturer, and merchant, the great and little trader and the shipowner, the slave and his master, the landowners and labourers of the Union and the world, the free trader and the advocate of protection, there is perfect harmony of interests, and that the way to the establishment of universal peace and universal free trade, is to be found in the adoption of measures tending to the destruction of the monopoly of machinery, and the location of the loom and the anvil in the vicinity of the plough and the harrow.




Chapter Twenty-Sixth.
HOW PROTECTION AFFECTS THE GOVERNMENT.



THE man whose labour is productive, and whose habits are economical, enjoys the confidence of the world;  while he whose labour is unproductive, and whose habits are wasteful, is looked upon with distrust.  With the one, each day is marked by an increase of strength;  while with the other it is marked by an increase of weakness.

So is it with communities.  The peaceful and industrious grow rich and strong.  The warlike and wasteful become poor and weak.

If protection be “a war upon the labour and capital of the world,” it must tend to cause diminution of wealth and strength, and the monopoly system of England must tend to the augmentation of both.

At no anterior period had the wealth and strength of this country grown with the rapidity with which it grew from 1830 to 1835.  The nation was at peace and all were employed.  At no period has decline been so obvious, or the descent more complete than in the period which followed.  The nation was at war, and production declined until in many departments of industry it almost ceased.  The name of America became almost a by-word for weakness and want of faith.  In the four succeeding years, the recovery was such as to be almost marvellous, and then it was that the power of the nation first began to be admitted.  That period has been followed by one of war and waste, and largely increased expenditure, rendering necessary the collection of large revenues, while production is diminishing.  The people and the government are now living on borrowed money, and how long they can continue to borrow is uncertain.  The revenue from customs in the year ending in June last was $28,436,000.  Of which there was collected on goods purchased with certificates of debt 6,600,000.

To meet the demands of the government for the present year, the whole sum of $28,000,000 would be required, and, if we should cease to be able to purchase merchandise on credit, the government would be driven again to the raising of money by means of loans, and if at the same time the debts now being created were sent back upon us for payment, the present year might witness a repetition of the troubles of 1841 and 1842.

During the existence of the tariff of 1842, the government paid its way, and therefore it was strong.  It is now carried on on credit, and therefore it is becoming weak.  To the extent of the foreign debt created, the country has eaten and drunk and used that for which it has yet to pay, and the government has had its thirty per cent.;  but a demand for payment would at once reduce the imports as much below the exports as they now exceed them, and the government would find its revenue decreased to the full extent of the present excess.

The contrast presented, on a review of the history of Great Britain and this country, is most instructive.  Sixty years since, the former was rich and populous, while the latter was poor and its population was small and widely scattered.  In wealth, the Union already exceeds her competitor, and in population it will do so at the close of the next decennial period.

The reason of this is to be found in the fact, that the policy of the one has tended to the separation of the consumer from the producer, while that of the other has, to some extent, tended towards bringing them together.  The English system is based upon “ships, colonies, and commerce,” and in carrying it out, her colonies have been in succession exhausted.  Ireland now lies prostrate and helpless—a burden upon her hands—an encumbrance rather than an advantage.  Poverty and distress are coming gradually nearer and nearer home, while she is encumbered with an enormous debt, no part of which can she pay, and the interest upon which is yet paid only by aid of a series of repudiations quite as discreditable as those with which she is accustomed to charge upon Mississippi and Florida.[1]

The American system is based upon agriculture, the work of production, and its object has been that of producing prosperous agriculture, by bringing the consumer to take his place by the side of the producer, and thus establishing that great commerce which is performed without the aid of ships or wagons.  By aid of that system the original thirteen States have planted numerous colonies, all of which have grown and thriven, giving and receiving strength, while those of England, so long the subjects of immense taxation, are now everywhere a cause of weakness.  All desire to abandon her, while all would desire to unite with us, and were they at liberty to exercise their inclinations, the sway of the Queen of Great Britain would, probably, at the close of the present year, be limited to that island alone, with its twenty or twenty-two millions of inhabitants.

The free trade of England consists in the maintenance of monopoly, and therefore is it repulsive.  The protective system of this country looks to the breaking down of monopoly, and the establishment of perfect free trade, and therefore is it attractive.

The one looks to “cheap” labour, and therefore does it expel individuals as well as communities.  The other looks to raising the value of labour, and therefore does it attract both individuals and communities.

Protection tends to the maintenance of peace, and the increase of wealth and power.  The colonial system tends to the production of causes of war, and the diminution and ultimate destruction of both wealth and power.

Between the views of those who would desire to see their government strong for defending them in the enjoyment of all their rights in relation to the other communities of the world, and those of others who desire to see the government peacefully and economically administered, there is therefore perfect harmony.




Chapter Twenty-Seventh.
HOW PROTECTION AFFECTS THE NATION.



THE man whose labour is productive, exercises the power of self-government, which increases with every increase in the productiveness of his labour.  With every diminution in his power of production, he loses more and more the power of self-government, and ultimately becomes a slave.[2]

So is it with nations.  With every increase in the productiveness of their labour, they are more enabled to determine for themselves their own course of action, uninfluenced by that of surrounding nations.  With every diminution therein, they are more and more compelled to shape their course of action by that of others, losing the power of self-government.

With the diminished necessity for combination with their neighbours, there is an increased power for voluntary combination, (annexation,) tending still further to increase the return to labour.  With increased necessity for combination, there is diminished power for voluntary combination, with diminished return to labour.

If protection be “a war upon labour and capital,” it must diminish the power of voluntary union, and increase the necessity for uniting our efforts with those of distant nations.  If the English monopoly system tend to increase the value of labour and capital, it must tend to increase the power of voluntary union, and diminish the necessity for involuntary union.

Of all the nations of the world, there is, at the present time, not one that exercises in a less degree the power of self-government than that of Great Britain.  For the last thirty years, her policy has been dictated by others.  The repeal of the laws prohibiting the export of machinery was a matter of necessity, and so have been, in succession, all the laws relative to duties on imports.  The duty on cotton was abolished because other nations had obtained machinery.  Slave-grown cotton was admitted duty free, while slave-grown sugar was subjected to heavy duties, because a supply of cotton was matter of necessity.  The restrictions on slave-grown sugar were abandoned, because the abandonment was necessary.  The navigation laws have, step by step, been abandoned, as matter of necessity.  The corn laws were repealed because it was deemed necessary to conciliate the growers of corn into becoming large purchasers of cloth and iron.  With each step in her progress, pauperism and crime increase, and the necessity for places of banishment for criminals increases, and with each there is increased difficulty in finding places willing to receive them.  Having exhausted Van Diemen’s land,[3] and Norfolk Island, the Cape was recently selected for the purpose, but the colonists have set an example of successful resistance that will be elsewhere followed.  Canada is now to be set free, and Ireland is to be retained, neither of them of choice, but both as matters of necessity.  The nation has lost the power of self-government.  Its policy is being dictated to it by the other nations of the world.  The tendency to voluntary union has ceased to exist, and each day brings with it new evidence that the dissolution of the British empire is at hand.

If such is the case with the owners of the loom and the anvil, how is it with their subjects who hold the plough and follow the harrow? Ireland has no power of self-government.  She is a mere machine in the hands of those who perform the duties of government.  Poor-laws are inflicted upon her to such an extent as almost to amount to a confiscation of property, and then other laws are passed to authorize commissioners to take possession of, and sell, a large portion of the property of the kingdom, thus encumbered.

The West Indies were gradually exhausted under the system, and their people despoiled of their property by virtue of laws passed by men who paid no portion of the enormous loss thus inflicted upon their fellow-subjects.  The people of Canada have had new systems inflicted upon them with a view to the maintenance of peace, but peace there is none.  All desire to obtain the right of self-government, the first step in which will be resistance to the monopoly system.

Of all the colonies of England, the only one that has prospered is this Union, and it has so done, because it has, in a certain degree, exercised the power of self-government, manifested by a determination to bring the loom and the anvil to take their natural places by the side of the plough and the harrow.  Hence it is that every colony of Great Britain, Ireland included, desires annexation to us and separation from her.  The tendency to voluntary union exists in a degree exceeding any thing that the world has yet seen.  Nevertheless, we are yet but little more than a colony.  Our people have no control over their own actions.  They are almost as dependent upon the will of those who now desire, though vainly, to guide the movements of England, as are those of Canada.

If the people of that country determine to make railroads, iron rises in price, and we build furnaces and open coal mines, and import people to make iron and mine coal.  If they cease to make roads, we shut up our furnaces and mines, and then the iron men and the coal men have to endeavour to raise food.  If they ask a high price for cloth, we build mills.  If employment become scarce with them, and their people cease to consume cloth, we close our mills, and our operatives are condemned to idleness.  If the Bank of England make money cheap, we buy iron and cloth on credit;  if it make it dear, we are called upon for payment, and then we break.  If employment for capital be denied at home, our houses and lands rise in price;  if capital become scarce, our houses and lands fall in value.  If we build mills and furnaces, our people stay at home;  if we close them, they scatter abroad.  If money be cheap in England, our government obtains a large revenue from duties on the goods that are bought on credit;  if it be dear, the revenue falls off, and the government begs for loans in Europe.  The value of every thing, and the movement of every thing, in this country, are settled by the movement of the Bank of England, of all the large institutions of the world the one in the government of which there is manifested the least capacity;  and the one, consequently, that possesses in the smallest degree the power of self-government.  Four times in thirty years has it been on the verge of bankruptcy, and yet to its car and that of the government of England, now floundering in a sea of troubles, is this Union attached by aid of the system now known by the name of free trade.

For thus relinquishing the power of self-government, there should be a large consideration;  yet all that we receive from Europe in return for all we send her is fifty cents’ worth of iron, half a pound of wool, as much flax, an ounce or two of silk, a cup and saucer, and the weaving and twisting of a pound and a half of cotton, per head, all of which could be produced or performed here by fewer people than have come here in a single year, when we have made a market for their labour.  Half a million of people would produce treble the flax, the wool, the silk, and the iron, the china-ware, and spin and weave treble the quantity of silk, wool, flax, and cotton, that we receive from Europe in return for all the land and labour employed in producing the cotton, tobacco, rice, grain, butter, cheese, pork, and other commodities that we send to that quarter of the world;  and that half million would consume almost as much cotton as is now consumed by all the people of Ireland, besides being customers to the farmer for fifty millions of dollars’ worth of food, timber, and other of the products of the soil.  We thus relinquish the power of self-government, not only without receiving an equivalent, but we give our property without an equivalent, and therefore it is that the farmers and planters of the Union remain poor when they might become rich.

Rich they would grow, for the people thus imported would require a vast amount of shipping, and cotton, rice, and tobacco would go cheaply abroad, while a vast consumption at home would maintain the price, and both farmer and planter would be enabled to consume more largely of coffee, tea, silks, books, pictures, gold, silver, and all other articles of necessity or luxury not produced at home, and the producers of those commodities would consume more cloth and iron, both of which we should then produce so cheaply that we could send them abroad, and thus would come wealth and prosperity, happiness and independence.


———


To the consciousness of the necessity for protection against the monopoly system was due the state of feeling that led to the Revolution.  Resistance to oppression led, on various occasions, to non-importation resolutions, and the people were everywhere urged to endeavour to clothe themselves.  The necessity for protection war recognised by the early Congresses, and its importance urged upon them by every administration.

Fifty years since, power changed hands;  but with the accession of Mr. Jefferson came no change of policy.  He thought “the manufacturer should take his place by the side of the agriculturist.”  From that time, for a period of thirty-six years, every chief magistrate, elected by the people, was from the planting States of the Union, and all of them elected by the same party that elected Mr. Jefferson, and each and every one of them was an advocate of the system which tended to bring the loom to the neighbourhood of the plough, and thus to make a market on the land for the products of the land.  By the last of these, his views on this subject were forcibly expressed in a letter that has frequently been published, and from which the following is an extract:—

“ I will ask, what is the real situation of the agriculturist? Where has the American farmer a market for his surplus produce? Except for cotton, he has neither a foreign nor home market.  Does not this clearly prove, when there is no market either at home or abroad, that there is too much labour employed in agriculture, and that the channels for labour should be multiplied? Common sense points out at once the remedy;  draw from agriculture this superabundant labour, employ it in mechanism and manufactures, thereby creating a home market for your breadstuffs, and distributing labour to the most profitable account, and benefits to the country will result.  Take from agriculture in the United States six hundred thousand men, women, and children, and you will at once give a home market for more breadstuffs than all Europe now furnishes us.  In short, sir, we have been too long subject to the policy of British merchants.  It is true that we should become a little more Americanized, and, instead of feeding the paupers and labourers of England, [as we do by sending there for her manufactures,] feed our own;  or else, in a short time, by continuing our present [free trade] policy, we shall all be rendered paupers ourselves.”—President Jackson.

At the close of that period there was a change of policy.  Elected by the same party that had elected his predecessor, Mr. Van Buren adopted the policy which tends to the separation of the consumer from the producer, to the impoverishment of the land and its owner, and the maintenance of the monopoly system by which England had acquired the control of the movements of the world.  The effects were disastrous, as may be seen by all who study the diagrams given in the third chapter, and the consequence was a political revolution.  For the first time in forty years, a president was elected by the people not being of the party generally known as that of the Democrats.  Democracy had changed sides, and the people did not go with it.  The consequence of this was, nearly two years later, a return to the policy of protection and a restoration of prosperity, and with prosperity the party that had so long controlled the movements of the country was again restored to power.  Unwilling, however, to acknowledge that the revolution of 1840 had been the consequence of an error of policy, they ascribed it to various minor and insignificant causes, and proceeded to the enaction of the tariff of 1846, and the consequence was another revolution by which the party of protection was again restored to power.  Like the former, that revolution is now ascribed to minor causes;  but those who will study the diagrams to which I have above referred can scarcely fail to see that it was due to the fact that the party styled Democratic had espoused a course of policy that tended to diminish the value of labour, to degrade the labourer, to depress the democracy at home, and to maintain the aristocracy abroad;  nor can they, as I think, fail to arrive at the belief that no party adverse to protection can again hold power it this country.  Such being the case, the interest of both parties, if actuated solely by purely selfish considerations, would lead to the advocacy of the same course of policy—the one in power desiring that it might not be adopted, and that thus they might profit by the agitation of the question for maintaining themselves in authority, and the one out of power, that it might be settled, and the agitation of the question brought to a close.





CONCLUSION.



MUCH is said of “the mission” of the people of these United States, and most of it is said by persons who appear to limit themselves to the consideration of the powers of the nation, and rarely to think of its duties.  By such men the grandeur of the national position is held to be greatly increased by having expended sixty or eighty millions upon a war with a weak neighbour, and having thus acquired the power to purchase, at a high price, a vast body of wild land that would, in the natural course of events, have been brought within the Union, in reasonable time, without the cost of a dollar or a life.  By such men, the fitting out of expeditions for the purpose of producing civil war among our neighbours of Cuba, is held to be another evidence of grandeur.  Others would have us to mix ourselves up with all the revolutionists of Europe;  while a fourth and last set sigh at the reflection that our fleets and armies are too small for the magnificence of our position.

By some it is supposed that our “mission” is that of monopolizing the commerce of the world, and the time is anxiously looked for when we shall have “diplomatic relations” with “vast regions of the East,” Persia, Corea, Cochin-China, Burmah and Japan, with whom “nothing but the steam-ship can successfully introduce our commerce.”  By “persevering and successful efforts,” it is thought we may secure the “commerce of Japan.”  That done,

“New York,” it is thought, “would become the depot and storehouse and entrepots of the world, the centre of business and exchanges, the clearing house of international trade and business, the place where assorted cargoes of our own products and manufactures, as well as those of all foreign countries, would be sold and reshipped, and the point to which specie and bullion would flow, as the great creditor city of the world for the adjustment of balances, as the factor of all nations and the point whence this specie would flow into the interior of our country through all the great channels of international trade and intercourse.  With these great events accomplished, and with abundant facilities for the warehousing of foreign and domestic goods at New York, it must eventually surpass in wealth, in commerce, and population, any European emporium, whilst, as a necessary consequence, all our other cities and every portion of the Union and all our great interests, would derive corresponding advantages.”—Treasury Report, December, 1848.

The cost of a mission to Japan would build half a dozen furnaces that would add more to the wealth of the nation in five years than the commerce of that country would do in half a century.  The amount we have expended on the mission to Austria, in search of a market for tobacco, would bring here as many Germans as would consume almost as much of our tobacco as is now consumed in the empire, and those tobacco consumers would do more for the growth of New York than either Japan or Austria.

The English doctrine of “ships, colonies, and commerce” is thus reproduced on this side of the Atlantic, and its adoption by the nation would be followed by effects similar to those which have been already described as existing in England.  There, for a time, it gave the power to tax the world for the maintenance of fleets and armies, as had before been done by Athens and by Rome, and there it is now producing the same results that have elsewhere resulted from the same system, poverty, depopulation, exhaustion, and weakness.

But little study of our history is required to satisfy the inquirer that the power of the Union, and its magnificent position among the nations of the earth, are due to the fact that we have to so great an extent abstained from measures requiring the maintenance of fleets and armies.  The consequence has been that taxes have been light, capital has accumulated rapidly, labour has been productive, and the labourer has received wages that have enabled hin to feed, clothe, and educate his children, and the nation has thus performed its true “mission” in elevating the condition of man.  If we desire to find exceptions to this, we must look to those periods in which the policy of Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, and Jackson, was departed from, and when the government adopted measures tending to the maintenance of the English monopoly of machinery, and there we shall find taxes more heavy, capital accumulating more slowly, labour more unproductive, and the wages of labour so much depressed that the labourer finds it difficult to feed or clothe his children, and still more difficult to educate them.

Two systems are before the world;  the one looks to increasing the proportion of persons and of capital engaged in trade and transportation, and therefore to diminishing the proportion engaged in producing commodities with which to trade,with necessarily diminiished return to the labour of all;  while the other looks to increasing the proportion engaged in the work of production, and diminishing that engaged in trade and transportation, with increased return to all, giving to the labourer good wages, and to the owner of capital good profits.  One looks to increasing the quantity of raw materials to be exported, and diminishing the inducements to the import of men, thus impoverishing both farmer and planter by throwing on them the burden of freight;  while the other looks to increasing the import of men, and diminishing the export of raw materials, thereby enriching both planter and farmer by relieving them from the payment of freight.  One looks to giving the products of millions of acres of land and of the labour of millions of men for the services of hundreds of thousands of distant men;  the other to bringing the distant men to consume on the land the products of the land, exchanging day’s labour for day’s labour.  One looks to compelling the farmers and planters of the Union to continue their contributions for the support of the fleets and the armies, the paupers, the nobles, and the sovereigns of Europe;  the other to enabling ourselves to apply the same means to the moral and intellectual improvement of the sovereigns of America.[4] One looks to the continuance of that bastard freedom of trade which denies the principle of protection, yet doles it out as revenue duties;  the other to extending the area of legitimate free trade by the establishment of perfect protection, followed by the annexation of individuals and communities, and ultimately by the abolition of custom-houses.  One looks to exporting men to occupy desert tracts, the sovereignty of which is obtained by aid of diplomacy or war;  the other to increasing the value of an immense extent of vacant land by importing men by millions for their occupation.  One looks to the centralization of wealth and power in a great commercial city that shall rival the great cities of modern times, which have been and are being supported by aid of contributions which have exhausted every nation subjected to them;  the other to concentration, by aid of which a market shall be made upon the land for the products of the land, and the farmer and planter be enriched.  One looks to increasing the necessity for commerce;  the other to increasing the power to maintain it.  One looks to underworking the Hindoo, and sinking the rest of the world to his level;  the other to raising the standard or man throughout the world to our level.  One looks to pauperism, ignorance, depopulation, and barbarism;  the other to increasing wealth, comfort, intelligence, combination of action, and civilization.  One looks towards universal war;  the other towards universal peace.  One is the English system;  the other we may be proud to call the American system, for it is the only one ever devised the tendency of which was that of ELEVATING while EQUALIZING the condition of man throughout the world.

SUCH is the true MISSION of the people of these United States.  To them has been granted a privilege never before granted to man, that of the exercise of the right of perfect self-government;  but, as rights and duties are inseparable, with the grant of the former came the obligation to perform the latter.  Happily their performance is pleasant and profitable, and involves no sacrifice.  To raise the value of labour throughout the world, we need only to raise the value of our own.  To raise the value of land throughout the world, it is needed only that we adopt measures that shall raise the value of our own.  To diffuse intelligence and to promote the cause of morality throughout the world, we are required only to pursue the course that shall diffuse education throughout our own land, and shall enable every man more readily to acquire property, and with it respect for the rights of property.  To improve the political condition of man throughout the world, it is needed that we ourselves should remain at peace, avoid taxation for the maintenance of fleets and armies, and become rich and prosperous.  To raise the condition of woman throughout the world, it is required of us only that we pursue that course that enables men to remain at home and marry, that they may surround themselves with happy children and grand-children.  To substitute true Christianity for the detestable system known as the Malthusian, it is needed that we prove to the world that it is population that makes the food come from the rich soils, and that food tends to increase more rapidly than population, thus vindicating the policy of God to man.  Doing these things, the addition to our population by immigration will speedily rise to millions, and with each and every year the desire for that perfect freedom of trade which results from incorporation within the Union, will be seen to spread and to increase in its intensity, leading gradually to the establishment of an empire the most extensive and magnificent the world has yet seen, based upon the principles of maintaining peace itself, and strong enough to insist upon the maintenance of peace by others, yet carried on without the aid of fleets, or armies, or taxes, the sales of public lands alone sufficing to pay the expenses of government.

To establish such an empire—to prove that among the people of the world, whether agriculturists, manufacturers, or merchants, there is perfect harmony of interests, and that the happiness of individuals, as well as the grandeur of nations, is to be promoted by perfect obedience to that greatest of all commands, “Do unto others as ye would that others should do unto you,”—is the object and will be the result of that mission.  Whether that result shall be speedily attained, or whether it shall be postponed to a distant period, will depend greatly upon the men who are charged with the performance of the duties of government.  If their movements be governed by that enlightened self-interest which induces man to seek his happiness in the promotion of that of his fellow-man, it will come soon.  If, on the contrary, they be governed by that ignorant selfishness which leads to the belief that individuals, party, or national interests, are to be promoted by measures tending to the deterioration of the condition of others, it will be late.



THE END.


 

1 The great expansion of the Bank of England in 1839, was followed by the destruction of confidence among individuals to so great an extent that the three per cents went up to par, and the government availed itself of the opportunity to compel the holders of the four and a half per cents to take in exchange new certificates, bearing three and a half per cent.  Shortly after the threes fell to eighty.  The last expansion has brought about a similar state of things.  Confidence is destroyed, and trade is paralyzed, and the threes are again almost at par;  and it is now suggested that a new arrangement may be made by which the government may be enabled to repudiate a further portion of the interest on the debt.

2 “The transition from absolute freedom to a state of slavery is now in progress among the Arabs of Mesopotamia, owing to diminished power of obtaining the means of subsistence by the modes heretofore pursued.  The poor and the weak are enslaved by those who are stronger and more wealthy.”—Spectator, March, 1840.

3 “ Thither nearly the whole convict population of Great Britain and Ireland, about 3500 annually in number, were sent for several years. *** The consequence was, that ere long three-fifths of the inhabitants of the colony were convicts. *** The morals of the settlement, thus having a majority of convicts, were essentially injured.  Crimes unutterable were committed;  the hideous inequality of the sexes induced its usual and frightful disorders;  the police, how severe and vigilant soever, became unable to coerce the rapidly increasing multitude of criminals;  the most daring fled to the woods, where they became bush-rangers;  life became insecure, and property sank to half its former value.”—Blackwood’s Magazine, November, 1849.  “At present, there are, or at least should be, above 5000 criminals annually transported from the British Islands.”—Ibid.

4 Russia is now raising by loan five millions of pounds sterling to pay the expenses of the war in Hungary.  The farmers and planters of the Union are the chief contributors to this loan.