The Slave Trade
Henry Charles Carey
Of the Duty of the People of the United States.
The slave must apply himself to such labour as his master may see fit to direct him to perform, and he must give to that master the produce of his exertions, receiving in return whatever the master may see fit to give him. He is limited to a single place of exchange.
Precisely similar to this is the system which looks to limiting all the people of the earth, outside of England, to agriculture as the sole means of employment; and carried out by smothering in their infancy the manufactures of other nations, while crushing the older ones of India by compelling her to receive British manufactures free of duty, and refusing to permit her to have good machinery, while taxing her spindles and looms at home, and their products when sent to Britain. It is one which looks to allowing the nations of the world to have but one market, in which all are to compete for the sale of their raw products, and one market, in which all are to compete for the purchase of manufactured ones; leaving to the few persons who control that market the power to fix the prices of all they require to buy and all they desire to sell. Cotton and corn, indigo and wool, sugar and coffee, are merely the various forms in which labour is sold; and the cheaper they are sold, the cheaper must be the labour employed in producing them, the poorer and more enslaved must be the labourer, the less must be the value of land, the more rapid must be its exhaustion and abandonment, and the greater must be the tendency toward the transport of the enslaved labourer to some new field of action, there to repeat the work of exhaustion and abandonment. Hence it is that we see the slave trade prevail to so great an extent in all the countries subject to the British system, except those in which famine and pestilence are permitted silently to keep down the population to the level of a constantly diminishing supply of food, as in Portugal, Turkey, and Jamaica. The system to which the world is indebted for these results is called free-trade; but there can be no freedom of trade where there is no freedom of man, for the first of all commodities to be exchanged is labour, and the freedom of man consists only in the exercise of the right to determine for himself in what manner his labour shall be employed, and how he will dispose of its products. If the British system tends toward freedom, proof of the fact will be found in the free employment of labour where it exists, and in the exercise by the labourer of a large control over the application of its produce. Are these things to be found in India? Certainly not. The labourer there is driven from the loom and forced to raise sugar or cotton, and his whole control over what is paid by the consumer for the products of his labour cannot exceed fifteen percent. Can they be found in Ireland, in Turkey, or in Portugal? Certainly not. The labourers of those countries now stand before the world distinguished for their poverty, and for their inability to determine for themselves for whom they will labour or what shall be their reward. Were it otherwise, the free trade system would fail to produce the effect intended. Its object is, and has always been, that of preventing other communities from mining the coal or smelting the ore provided for their use by the great Creator of all things, and in such vast abundance; from making or obtaining machinery to enable them to avail themselves of the expansive power of steam; from calling to their aid any of the natural agents required in the various processes of manufacture; from obtaining knowledge that might lead to improvement in manufactures of any kind; and, in short, from doing any thing but raise sugar, coffee, cotton, wool, indigo, silk, and other raw commodities, to be carried, as does the slave of Virginia or Texas with the product of his labour, to one great purchaser, who determines upon their value and upon the value of all the things they are to receive in exchange for them. It is the most gigantic system of slavery the world has yet seen, and therefore it is that freedom gradually disappears from every country over which England is enabled to obtain control, as witness the countries to which reference has just been made.
There are, however, as has been shown, several nations of Europe in which men are daily becoming more free; and the reason for this is to be found in the fact that they have resisted this oppressive system. Germany and Russia, Spain, Denmark, Belgium, and other states, have been determined to protect their farmers in their efforts to bring the loom and the anvil to their side, and to have towns and other places of exchange in their neighbourhood, at which they could exchange raw products for manufactured ones and for manure; and in every one in which that protection has been efficient, labour and land have become, and are becoming, more valuable and man more free.
In this country protection has always, to some extent, existed; but at some times it has been efficient, and at others not; and our tendency toward freedom or slavery has always been in the direct ratio of its efficiency or inefficiency. In the period from 1824 to 1833, the tendency was steadily in the former direction, but it was only in the latter part of it that it was made really efficient. Then mills and furnaces increased in number, and there was a steady increase in the tendency toward the establishment of local places of exchange; and then it was that Virginia held her convention at which was last discussed in that State the question of emancipation. In 1833, however, protection was abandoned, and a tariff was established by which it was provided that we should, in a few years, have a system of merely revenue duties; and from that date the abandonment of the older States proceeded with a rapidity never before known, and with it grew the domestic slave trade and the pro-slavery feeling. Then it was that were passed the laws restricting emancipation and prohibiting education; and then it was that the export of slaves from Virginia and the Carolinas was so great that the population of those States remained almost, if not quite stationary, and that the growth of black population fell from thirty percent, in the ten previous years, to twenty-four percent. That large export of slaves resulted in a reduction of the price of Southern products to a point never before known; and thus it was that the system called free trade provided cheap cotton. Slavery grew at the South, and at the North; for with cheap cotton and cheap food came so great a decline in the demand for labour, that thousands of men found themselves unable to purchase this cheap food to a sufficient extent to feed their wives and their children. A paper by a farm labourer thus describes that calamitous portion of our history, when the rapid approach of the system called free trade, under the strictly revenue provisions of the Compromise Tariff, had annihilated competition for the purchase of labour:
The years 1839, 1840, and 1841 were striking elucidations of such cases; when the cry of sober, industrious, orderly men 'Give me work! only give me work; MAKE YOUR OWN TERMS MYSELF AND FAMILY HAVE NOTHING TO EAT was heard in our land. In those years thousands of cases of the kind occurred in our populous districts. Pittsburgh Dispatch.
That such was the fact must be admitted by all who recollect the great distress that existed in 1841-2. Throughout the whole length and breadth of the land, there was an universal cry of Give me work; make your own terms myself and family have nothing to eat; and the consequence of this approach toward slavery was so great a diminution in the consumption of food, that the prices at which it was then exported to foreign countries were lower than they had been for many years; and thus it was that the farmer paid for the system which had diminished the freedom of the labourer and the artisan.
It was this state of things that re-established protection for the American labourer, whether in the field or in the workshop. The tariff of 1842 was passed, and at once there arose competition for the purchase of labour. Mills were to be built, and men were needed to quarry the stone and get out the lumber, and other men were required to lay the stone and fashion the lumber into floors and roofs, doors and windows; and the employment thus afforded enabled vast numbers of men again to occupy houses of their own, and thus was produced a new demand for masons and carpenters, quarrymen and lumbermen. Furnaces were built, and mines were opened, and steam-engines were required; and the men employed at these works were enabled to consume more largely of food, while ceasing to contend with the agricultural labourer for employment on the farm. Mills were filled with females, and the demand for cloths increased, with corresponding diminution in the competition for employment in the making of shirts and coats. Wages rose, and they rose in every department of labour; the evidence of which is to be found in the fact that the consumption of food and fuel greatly increased, while that of cloth almost doubled, and that of iron trebled in the short period of five years.
How, indeed, could it be otherwise than that the reward of labour should rise? The cotton manufacturer needed labourers, male and female, and so did his neighbour of the woollens mill; and the labourers they now employed could buy shoes and hats. The iron-masters and the coal-miners needed workmen, and the men they employed needed cotton and woollen cloths; and they could consume more largely of food. The farmers markets tended to improve, and he could buy more largely of hats and shoes, ploughs and harrows, and the hatmakers and shoemakers, and the makers of ploughs and harrows, needed more hands; and therefore capital was everywhere looking for labour, where before labour had been looking for capital. The value of cottons, and woollens, and iron produced in 1846, as compared with that of 1842, was greater by a hundred millions of dollars; and all this went to the payment of labour, for all the profits of the iron-master and of the cotton and woollen manufacturer went to the building of new mills and furnaces, or to the enlargement of the old ones. Unhappily, however, for us, our legislators were smitten with a love of the system called free trade. They were of opinion that we were, by right, an agricultural nation, and that so we must continue; and that the true way to produce competition for the purchase of labour was to resolve the whole nation into a body of farmers and the tariff of 1842 was repealed.
If the reader will now turn to page 107, he will see how large must have been the domestic slave trade from 1835 to 1840, compared with that of the period from 1840 to 1845. The effect of this in increasing the crop and reducing the price of cotton was felt with great severity in the latter period, and it required time to bring about a change. We are now moving in the same direction in which we moved from 1835 to 1840. For four years past, we have not only abandoned the building of mills and furnaces, but have closed hundreds of old ones, and centralization, therefore, grows from day to day. The farmer of Ohio can no longer exchange his food directly with the maker of iron. He must carry it to New York, as must the producer of cotton in Carolina; who sees the neighbouring factory closed. Local places of exchange decline, and great cities take their place; and with the growth of centralization grows the slave trade, North and South. Palaces rise in New York and Philadelphia, while droves of black slaves are sent to Texas to raise cotton, and white ones at the North perish of disease, and sometimes almost of famine. We could tell, says a recent writer in one of the New York journals
Of one room, twelve feet by twelve, in which were five resident families, comprising twenty persons of both sexes and all ages, with only two beds, without partition or screen, or chair or table, and all dependent for their miserable support upon the sale of chips, gleaned from the streets, at four cents a basket of another, still smaller and still more destitute, inhabited by a man, a woman, two little girls, and a boy, who were supported by permitting the room to be used as a rendezvous by the abandoned women of the street of another, an attic room seven feet by five, containing scarcely an article of furniture but a bed, on which lay a fine-looking man in a raging fever, without medicine or drink or suitable food, his toil-worn wife engaged in cleaning dirt from the floor, and his little child asleep on a bundle of rags in the corner of another of the same dimensions, in which we found, seated on low boxes around a candle placed on a keg, a woman and her oldest daughter, (the latter a girl of fifteen, and, as we were told, a prostitute,) sewing on shirts, for the making of which they were paid four cents apiece, and even at that price, out of which they had to support two small children, they could not get a supply of work of another of about the same size occupied by a street rag-picker and his family, the income of whose industry was eight dollars a month of another, scarcely larger, into which we were drawn by the terrific screams of a drunken man beating his wife, containing no article of furniture whatever another warmed only by a tin pail of lighted charcoal placed in the centre of the room, over which bent a blind man endeavouring to warm himself; around him three or four men and women swearing and quarrelling; in one corner on the floor a woman, who had died the day previous of disease, and in another two or three children sleeping on a pile of rags; (in regard to this room, we may say that its occupants were coloured people, and from them but a few days previous had been taken and adopted by one of our benevolent citizens a beautiful little white girl, four or five years of age, whose father was dead and whose mother was at Blackwells Island;) another from which not long; since twenty persons, sick with fever were taken to the hospital, and every individual of them died. But why extend the catalogue? Or why attempt to convey to the imagination by words the hideous squalor and the deadly effluvia; the dim, undrained courts, oozing with pollution; the dark narrow stairways decayed with age, reeking with filth, and overrun with vermin; the rotten floors, ceilings begrimed, crumbling, ofttimes too low to permit you to stand upright, and windows stuffed with rags; or why try to portray the gaunt shivering forms and wild ghastly faces in these black and beetling abodes, wherein from cellar to garret----'All life dies, death lives, and nature breeds
Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things,
New York Courier and Inquirer.
Our shops are now everywhere filled with the products of the cheap labour of England of the labour of those foreign women who make shirts at a penny apiece, finding the needles and the thread, and of those poor girls who spend a long day at making artificial flowers for which they receive two pence, and then eke out the earnings of labour by the wages of prostitution; and our women are everywhere driven from employment the further consequences of which may be seen in the following extract from another journal of the day:
A gentleman who had been deputed to inquire into the condition of this class of operatives, found one of the most expert of them working from five oclock in the morning until eleven at night, yet earning only about three dollars a week. Out of this, she had to pay a dollar and a half for board, leaving a similar amount for fuel, clothing, and all other expenses. Her condition, however, as compared with that of her class generally, was one of opulence. The usual earnings were but two dollars a week, which, as respectable board, could be had nowhere for less; than a dollar and a half, left only fifty cents for everything else. The boarding-houses, even at this price, are of the poorest character, always noisome and unhealthy, and not unfrequently in vile neighbourhoods. With such positive and immediate evils to contend with, what wonder that so many needlewomen take 'the wages of sin?'
Among the cases brought to light in New York, was that of an intelligent and skilful dressmaker, who was found in the garret of a cheap boarding-house, out of work, and nor are such instances unfrequent. The small remuneration which these workwomen receive keeps them living from hand to mouth, so that, in case of sickness, or scarcity of work, they are sometimes left literally without a crust. Philada. Evening-Bulletin.
If females cannot tend looms, make flowers, or do any other of those things in which mind takes in a great degree the place of physical power, they must make shirts at four cents apiece, or resort to prostitution or, they may work in the fields; and this is nearly the latitude of choice allowed to them under the system called free trade. Every furnace that is closed in Pennsylvania by the operation of this system, lessens the value of labour in the neighbourhood, and drives out some portion of the people to endeavour to sell elsewhere their only commodity, labour. Some seek the cities and some go West to try their fortunes. So, too, with the closing of woollens mills in New York, and cotton mills in New England. Every such ease compels people to leave their old homes and try to find new ones and in this form the slave trade now exists at the North to a great extent. The more people thus driven to the cities, the cheaper is labour, and the more rapid is the growth of drunkenness and crime; and these effects are clearly visible in the police reports of all our cities. Centralization, poverty, and crime go always hand in hand with each other.
The closing of mills and furnaces in Maryland lessens the demand for labour there, and the smaller that demand the greater must be the necessity on the part of those who own slaves to sell them to go South; and here we find the counterpart of the state of things already described as existing in New York. The Virginian, limited to negroes as the only commodity into which he can manufacture his corn and thus enable it to travel cheaply to market, sends his crop to Richmond, and the following extract of a letter from that place shows how the system works:
Richmond, March 3, 1853.I saw several children sold; the girls brought the highest price. Girls from 12 to 18 years old brought from $500 to $800.
I must say that the slaves did not display as much feeling as I had expected, as a general thing but there was one noble exception God bless her! and save her, too!! as I hope he will in some way, for if he does not interpose, there were no men there that would.
She was a fine-looking woman about 25 years old, with three beautiful children. Her children as well as herself were neatly dressed. She attracted my attention at once on entering the room, and I took my stand near her to learn her answers to the various questions put to her by the traders. One of these traders asked her what was the matter with her eyes? Wiping away the tears, she replied, 'I spose I have been crying. 'Why do you cry? 'Because I have left my man behind, and his master wont let him come along. 'Oh, if I buy you, I will furnish you with a better husband, or man, as you call him, than your old one. 'I dont want any better and wont have any other as long as he lives. 'Oh, but you will though, if I buy you, 'No, massa, God helping me, I never will.' New York Tribune
At the North, the poor girl driven out from the cotton or the woollens mill is forced to make shirts at four cents each, or sell herself to the horrible slavery of prostitution. At the South, this poor woman, driven put from Virginia, may perhaps at some time be found making one of the dramatis personŠ in scenes similar to those here described by Dr. Howe:
If Howard or Mrs. Fry ever discovered so ill-administered a den of thieves as the New Orleans prison, they never described it. In the negros apartment I saw much which made me blush that I was a white man; and which for a moment stirred up an evil spirit in my animal nature. Entering a large paved court-yard, around which ran galleries filled with slaves of all ages, sexes, and colours, I heard the snap of a whip, every stroke of which sounded like the sharp crack of a pistol. I turned my head, and beheld a sight which absolutely chilled me to the marrow of my bones, and gave me, for the first time in my life, the sensation of my hair stiffening at the roots. There lay a black girl flat upon her face on a board, her two thumbs tied, and fastened to one end, her feet tied and drawn tightly to the other end, while a strap passed over the small of her back, and fastened around the board, compressed her closely to it. Below the strap she was entirely naked. By her side, and six feet off, stood a huge negro, with a long whip, which he applied with dreadful power and wonderful precision. Every stroke brought away a strip of skin, which clung to the lash, or fell quivering on the pavement, while the blood followed after it. The poor creature writhed and shrieked, and in a voice which showed alike her fear of death and her dreadful agony, screamed to her master who stood at her head, 'Oh, spare my life; dont cut my soul out! But still fell the horrid lash; still strip after strip peeled off from the skin; gash after gash was cut in her living flesh, until it became a livid and bloody mass of raw and quivering muscle.
It was with the greatest difficulty I refrained from springing upon the torturer, and arresting his lash; but alas, what could I do, but turn aside to hide my tears for the sufferer, and my blushes for humanity!
This was in a public and regularly organized prison; the punishment was one recognised and authorized by the law. But think you the poor wretch had committed a heinous offence, and had been convicted thereof, and sentenced to the lash? Not at all! She was brought by her master to be whipped by the common executioner, without trial, judge, or jury, just at his beck or nod, for some real or supposed offence, or to gratify his own whim or malice. And he may bring her day after day, without cause assigned, and inflict any number of lashes he pleases, short of twenty-five, provided only he pays the fee. Or if he choose, he may have a private whipping-board on his own premises, and brutalize himself there.
A shocking part of this horrid punishment was its publicity, as I have said; it was in a court-yard, surrounded by galleries, which were filled with coloured persons of all sexes runaway slaves committed for some crime, or slaves up for sale. You would naturally suppose they crowded forward and gazed horror-stricken at the brutal spectacle below; but they did not; many of them hardly noticed it, and many were entirely indifferent to it. They went on in their childish pursuits, and some were laughing outright in the distant parts of the galleries; so low can man created in Gods image be sunk in brutality.
Where, however, lies the fault of all this? Cheap cotton cannot be supplied to the world unless the domestic slave trade be maintained, and all the measures of England are directed toward obtaining a cheap and abundant supply of that commodity, to give employment to that cheap and abundant supply of labour so much desired by the writers in the very journal that furnished to its readers this letter of Dr. Howe. To produce this cheap cotton the American labourer must be expelled from his home in Virginia to the wilds of Arkansas, there to be placed, perhaps, under the control of a Simon Legree. That he may be expelled, the price of corn must be cheapened in Virginia; and that it may be cheapened, the cheap labourer of Ireland must be brought to England there, to compete with the Englishman for the reduction of labour to such a price as will enable England to smother in their infancy all attempts at manufacturing corn into any thing but negroes for Arkansas. That done, should the Englishmans blood boil on reading Uncle Toms Cabin, he is told to recollect that it is to his advantage that the slave should be permitted to wear his chains in peace. And yet this system, which looks everywhere to the enslavement of man, is dignified by the name of free trade.
The cheap-labour system of England produces the slave trade of America, India, and Ireland; and the manner in which it is enabled to produce that effect, and the extent of its advantage to the people of England itself, is seen in the following extract from a speech delivered at a public meeting in that country but a few weeks since:
The factory-law was so unblushingly violated that the chief inspector of that part of the factory district, Mr. Leonard Horner, had found himself necessitated to write to the Home Secretary, to say that he dared not, and would not send any of his sub-inspectors into certain districts until he had police protection. *** And protection against whom? Against the factory-masters! Against the richest men in the district, against the most influential men in the district, against the magistrates of the district, against the men who hold her Majestys commission, against the men who sat in the Petty Sessions as the representatives of royalty. *** And did the masters suffer for their violation of the law? In his own district it was a settled custom of the male, and to a great extent of the female workers in factories, to be in bed from 9, 10 or 11 oclock on Sunday, because they were tired out by the labour of the week. Sunday was the only day on which they could rest their wearied frames. *** It would generally be found that, the longer the time of work, the smaller the wages. *** He would rather be a slave in South Carolina, than a factory operative in England. Speech of Rev, Dr. Bramwell, at Crampton.
The whole profit, we are told, results from the last hour, and were that hour taken from the master, then the people of Virginia might be enabled to make their own cloth and iron, and labour might there become so valuable that slaves would cease to be exported to Texas, and cotton must then rise in price; and in order to prevent the occurrence of such unhappy events, the great cotton manufacturers set at defiance the law of the land! The longer the working hours the more cheap and abundant will be the supply of labour, and it is only by aid of this cheap, or slave, labour that, as we are told, the supremacy of England in manufactures can be maintained. The cheaper the labour, the more rapid must be the growth of individual fortunes, and the more perfect the consolidation of the land. Extremes thus always meet. The more splendid the palace of the trader, whether in cloth, cotton, negroes, or Hindoos, the more squalid will be the poverty of the labourer, his wife and children, and the more numerous the diamonds on the coat of Prince Esterhazy, the more ragged will be his serfs. The more that local places of exchange are closed, the greater will be the tendency to the exhaustion and abandonment of the land, and the more flourishing will be the slave trade, North and South, and the greater will be the growth of pro-slavery at the South, and anti-slavery at the North. The larger the export of negroes to the South, the greater will be their tendency to run from their masters to the North, and the greater will be the desire at the North to shut them out, as is proved by the following law of Illinois, now but a few weeks old, by which negro slavery is, as is here seen, re-established in the territory for the government of which was passed the celebrated ordinance of 1787:
Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois, represented in the General Assembly.
3. If any negro, or mulatto, bond or free, shall come into this State, and remain ten days, with the evident intention of residing in the same, every such negro or mulatto shall be deemed guilty of a high misdemeanour, and for the first offence shall be fined the sum of fifty dollars, to be recovered before any justice of the peace, in the county where said negro or mulatto may be found; said proceeding shall he in the name of the people Of the State of Illinois, and shall be tried by a jury of twelve men.
4. If said negro or mulatto shall be found guilty, and the fine assessed be not paid forthwith to the justice of the peace before whom said proceedings were had, said justice shall forthwith advertise said negro or mulatto, by posting up notices thereof in at least three of the most public places in his district; which said notices shall be posted up for ten days; and on the day, and at the time and place mentioned in said advertisement, the said justice shall at PUBLIC AUCTION proceed TO SELL said negro or mulatto to any person who will pay said fine and costs.
Slavery now travels North, whereas only twenty years ago freedom was travelling South. That such is the case is the natural consequence of our submission, even in part, to the system that looks to compelling the export of raw products, the exhaustion of the land, the cheapening of labour, and the export of the labourer. Wherever it is submitted to, slavery grows. Wherever it is resisted, slavery dies away, and freedom grows, as is shown in the following list of
Countries whose policy looks Countries whose policy looks to cheapening labour. to raising the value of labour. The West Indies, Northern-Germany, Portugal, Russia, Turkey, Denmark, India, Spain, Ireland, Belgium, United States under the Compromise, United States under the tariffs and the tariff of 1846. of 1828 and 1842.
Population declines in all the foreign countries in the first column, and it became almost stationary in the Northern Slave States, as it is now likely again to do, because of the large extent of the domestic slave trade. Population grows in the foreign countries of the second column, and it grew rapidly in the Northern Slave States, because of the limited export of negroes at the periods referred to. The first column gives the so-called free-trade countries, and the other those which have protected themselves against the system; and yet slavery grows in all those of the first column, and freedom in all those of the second. The first column gives us the countries in which education diminishes and intellect declines, and the period in our own history in which were passed the laws prohibiting the education of negroes. The second, those countries in which education advances, with great increase of intellectual activity; and in our own history it gives the period at which the Northern Slave States held conventions having in view the adoption of measures looking to the abolition of slavery. The first gives those foreign countries in which women and children must labour in the field or remain unemployed. The second those in which there is a daily increasing demand for the labour of women, to be employed in the lighter labour of manufactures. The first gives those in which civilization advances; and the second those in which there is a daily increasing tendency toward utter barbarism. We are now frequently invited to an alliance with Great Britain, and for what? For maintaining and extending the system whose effects are found in all the nations enumerated in the first column. For increasing the supply of cheap cotton, cheap corn, and cheap sugar, all of which require cheap, or slave, labour, and in return for these things we are to have cheap cloth, the produce of the cheap, or slave, labour of England, Scotland, and Ireland.
It is as the advocate of freedom that Britain calls upon us to enter into more intimate relations with her. Her opponents are, as we are told, the despots of Europe, the men who are trampling on the rights of their subjects, and who are jealous of her because her every movement looks, as we are assured, to the establishment of freedom throughout the world. Were this so, it might furnish some reason for forgetting the advice of Washington in regard to entangling alliances; but, before adopting such a course, it would be proper to have evidence that the policy of Britain, at any time since the days of Adam Smith, has tended to the enfranchisement of man in any part of the world, abroad or at home. Of all the despots now complained of, the King of Naples stands most conspicuous, and it is in relation to him that a pamphlet has recently been published by the present Chancellor of the Exchequer, in which are found the following passages:
The general belief is, that the prisoners for political offences in the kingdom of the Two Sicilies are between fifteen or twenty and thirty thousand. The government withholds all means of accurate information, and accordingly there can be no certainty on the point. I have, however, found that this belief is shared by persons the most intelligent, considerate, and well informed. It is also, supported by what is known of the astonishing crowds confined in particular prisons, and especially by what is accurately known in particular provincial localities, as to the numbers of individuals missing from among the community. I have heard these numbers, for example, at Reggio and at Salerno; and from an effort to estimate them in reference to population, I do believe that twenty thousand is no unreasonable estimate. In Naples alone some hundreds are at this moment under indictment capitally; and when I quitted it a trial was expected to come on immediately, (called that of the fifteenth of May,) in which the number charged was between four and five hundred; including (though this is a digression) at least one or more persons of high station whoso opinions would in this country be considered more conservative than your own. *** In utter defiance of this law, the government, of which the Prefect of Police is an important member, through the agents of that department, watches and dogs the people, pays domiciliary visits, very commonly at night, ransacks houses, seizing papers and effects, and tearing up floors at pleasure under pretence of searching for arms, and imprisons men by the score, by the hundred, by the thousand, without any warrant whatever, sometimes without even any written authority at all, or any thing beyond the word of a policeman; constantly without any statement whatever of the nature of the offence.
Nor is this last fact wonderful. Men are arrested, not because they have committed, or are believed to have committed, any offence; but because they are persons whom it is thought convenient to confine and to get rid of, and against whom, therefore, some charge must be found or fabricated.
Why is it that the king is enabled to do these things? Obviously, because his people are poor and weak. If they were strong, he could not do them. Men, however, never have anywhere become strong to resist power, except where the artisan has come to the side of the farmer; and it is because he has not done so in Naples and Sicily that the people are so poor, ignorant, and weak as we see them to be. Has England ever endeavoured to strengthen the Neapolitan people by teaching them how to combine their efforts for the working of their rich ores, or for the conversion of their wool into cloth? Assuredly not. She desires that wool and sulphur, and all other raw materials, may be cheap, and that iron may be dear; and, that they may be so, she does all that is in her power to prevent the existence in that country of any of that diversification of interests that would find employment for men, women, and children, and would thus give value to labour and land. That she may do this, she retains Malta and the Ionian Islands, as convenient places of resort for the great reformer of the age the smuggler whose business it is to see that no effort at manufactures shall succeed, and to carry into practical effect the decree that all such attempts must be smothered in their infancy. If, under these circumstances, King Ferdinand is enabled to play the tyrant, upon whom rests the blame? Assuredly, on the people who refuse to permit the farmers of the Two Sicilies to strengthen themselves by forming that natural alliance between the loom and the plough to which the people of England were themselves indebted for their liberties. Were the towns of that country growing in size, and were the artisan everywhere taking his place by the side of the farmer, the people would be daily becoming stronger and more free, whereas they are now becoming weaker and more enslaved.
So, too, we are told of the tyranny and bad faith prevailing in Spain. If, however, the people of that country are poor and weak, and compelled to submit to measures that are tyrannical and injurious, may it not be traced to the fact that the mechanic has never been permitted to place himself among them? And may not the cause of this be found in the fact that Portugal and Gibraltar have for a century past been the seats of a vast contraband trade, having for its express object to deprive the Spanish people of all power to do any thing but cultivate the soil? Who, then, are responsible for the subjection of the Spanish people? Those, assuredly, whose policy looks to depriving the women and children of Spain of all employment except in the field, in order that wool may be cheap and that cloth may be dear.
Turkey is poor and weak, and we hear much of the designs of Russia, to be counteracted by England; but does England desire that Turkey shall grow strong and her people become free? Does she desire that manufactures shall rise, that towns shall grow, and that the land shall acquire value? Assuredly not. The right to inundate that country with merchandise is a golden privilege never to be abandoned, because it would raise the price of silk and lower the price of silk goods.
The people of Austria and Hungary are weak, but has England ever tried to render them strong to obtain their freedom? Would she not now oppose any measures calculated to enable the Hungarians to obtain the means of converting their food and their wool into cloth to obtain mechanics and machinery, by aid of which towns could grow, and their occupants become strong and free? To render any aid of that kind would be in opposition to the doctrine of cheap food and cheap labour.
Northern Germany is becoming strong and united, and the day is now at hand when all Germany will have the same system under which the North has so much improved; but these things are done in opposition to England, who disapproves of them because they tend to raise the price of the raw products of the earth and lower that of manufactured ones, and to enable the agricultural population to grow rich and strong; and the more exclusively she depends on trade, the greater is her indisposition to permit the adoption of any measures tending to limit her power over the people of the world.
The people of China are weak, but does the consumption of opium to the extent of forty millions of dollars a year tend to strengthen them? The government, too, is weak, and therefore is Hong Kong kept for the purpose of enabling the great reformer to evade the laws against the importation of a commodity that yields the East India Company a profit of sixteen millions of dollars a year, and the consumption of which is so rapidly increasing.
Burmah, too, is weak, and therefore is her territory to be used for the purpose of extending the trade in opium throughout the interior provinces of China. Will this tend to strengthen, or to free, the Chinese people?
Can the people of this country become parties to a system like this one that looks to cheapening labour every where? Can they be parties to any system that can be maintained only on the condition of an abundant and cheap supply of labour? Or, can they be parties to an alliance that, wherever it is found, so far cheapens man as to render him a profitable article for the export trade?
Who, then, are our natural allies? Russia, Prussia, and Denmark are despotisms, we are told. They are so; but yet so beautiful and so perfect is the harmony of interests under a natural system, that that which despots do in their own defence strengthens the people, and carries them on toward freedom. Denmark is a despotism, and yet her people are the freeest and most happy of any in Europe. It is time that we emancipated ourselves from the tyranny of words under which we live, and looked to things. England has what is called a free government, and yet Ireland, the West Indies, and India have been prostrated under the despotism of the spindle and loom, while despotic Denmark protects her people against that tyranny, and thus enables her women and her children to find other employments than those of the field. The King of Prussia desires to strengthen himself against France, Austria, and Russia; and, to do this, he strengthens his people by enabling them to find employment for all their time, to find manure for their farms, and to find employment for their minds; and he strengthens Germany by the formation of a great Union, that gives to thirty millions of people the same advantage of freedom of internal trade that subsists among ourselves. The Emperor of Russia desires to strengthen himself, and he, in like manner, adopts measures leading to the building of towns, the diversification of labour, and the habit of association among men; and thus does he give value to land and labour. He is a despot, it is true, but he is doing what is required to give freedom to sixty millions of people; while all the measures of England in India tend to the enslavement of a hundred millions. We are told of his designs upon Turkey but what have the people of that country to lose by incorporation within the Russian Empire? Now, they are poor and enslaved, but were they once Russian the spindle would be brought to the wool, towns would cease to decline, labour and land would acquire value, and the people would begin to become free. It may be doubted if any thing would so much tend to advance the cause of freedom in Europe as the absorption of Turkey by Russia, for it would probably be followed by the adoption of measures that would secure perfect freedom of trade throughout all Middle and Eastern Europe, with large increase in the value of man. The real despotism is that which looks to cheapening labour, and the real road to freedom is that which looks toward raising the value of labour and land.
The natural allies of this country are the agricultural nations of the world, for their interests and ours look in the same direction, while those of England look in one directly opposite. They and we need that the prices of all agricultural products should be high, and those of manufactured articles low, while England desires that the latter may be high and the former low. That they and we may be gratified, it is required that machinery shall take its place by the food and the wool; that towns shall arise, and that man shall everywhere become strong and free. That she may be gratified, it is required that the food and the wool shall go to the spindle and the loom; that men, women, and children shall be confined to the labours of the field, and that men shall remain poor, ignorant, and enslaved. The more Russia makes a market for her wheat, the higher will be its price, to the great advantage of the farmers of the world; and the more cotton and sugar she will require, and the higher will be their prices, to the great advantage of the planters of the world. The more Germany makes a market for her wool, the higher will be its price, and the cheaper will be cloth, and the more cotton and sugar she will need. The more we make a market for cotton, the better will it be for the people of India; and the more we consume our own grain, the better will it be for the farmers of Germany. Our interests and theirs are one and the same; but it is to the interest of the British manufacturer to have all the world competing with each other to sell in his one limited market, and the more competition he can create, the cheaper will be products of the plough, and the larger will be the profits of the loom. He wishes to buy cheaply the things we have to sell, and to sell dearly those we have to buy. We wish to sell dearly and buy cheaply, and as our objects are directly the reverse of his, it would be as imprudent for us to be advised by him, as it would be for the farmer to enter into a combination with the railroad for the purpose of keeping up the price of transportation.
Russia and Germany, Denmark, Spain, and Belgium are engaged in resisting a great system of taxation, and they grow rich and strong, and therefore their people become from year to year more free. Portugal and India, Turkey and Ireland yield to the system, and they become from year to year poorer and weaker, and their people more enslaved. It is on the part of the former a war for peace, and fortunately it is a war that involves no expense for fleets and armies, and one under which both wealth and population grow with great rapidity and one, therefore, in which we may, and must, unite, if we desire to see the termination of the slave trade at home or abroad.
Russia and Germany, Denmark, Spain, and Belgium are engaged in an effort to raise the value of man at home, wherever that home may be, and thus to stop the forced export of men, whether black, brown, or white: England is engaged in an effort to destroy everywhere the value of man at home, and therefore it is that the slave trade flourishes in the countries that submit to her system. We desire to increase the value of man in Virginia, and thus to terminate the domestic slave trade. We desire that corn and cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco may be high, and cloth and iron low; that labour may be largely paid, and that man may become free; and the less our dependence on the market of England, the sooner will our desires be gratified.
Are we then to adopt a system of measures tending to the injury of the people of England? By no means. Her real interests and ours are the same, and by protecting ourselves against her system, we are benefiting her. The harmony of interests is so perfect, that nations cannot be benefited by measures tending to the injury of other nations; and when they allow themselves to be led away by the belief that they can be so, they are always themselves the heaviest sufferers. The sooner that all the agricultural communities of the earth shall come to an understanding, that it is to their interest to withdraw from the present insane contest for the privilege of supplying a single and limited market, and determine to create markets for themselves, the sooner will the English labourer, land-owner, and capitalist find themselves restored to freedom. That the reader may understand this, we must look once more to Ireland. The closing of the demand for labour in that country drove the poor people to England in search of employment. For half a century back that is, since the Union the western shores of our island, says a British journalist
Especially Lancashire and Glasgow have been flooded with crowds of half clad, half fed, half civilized Celts, many thousands of whom have settled permanently in our manufacturing towns, reducing wages by their competition, and what is worse, reducing the standard of living and comfort among our people by their example spreading squalor and disease by their filthy habits inciting to turbulence and discontent by their incorrigible hostility to law, incalculably increasing the burden of our poor rates and swelling the registry of crime, both in police courts and assizes; to the great damage of the national character and reputation. The abundant supply of cheap labour which they furnished had no doubt the effect of enabling our manufacturing industry to increase at a rate and, to a height which, without them, would have been unattainable; and so far they have been of service. North British Review, No. 35.
The essential error of this passage is found in the supposition that any set of people or any species of industry, is to profit by the cheapening of labour and the enslavement of man. Nothing of this kind can take place. The true interests of all men are promoted by the elevation, and they all suffer by whatever tends to the depression, of their fellow-men. The master of slaves, whether wearing a crown or carrying a whip, is himself a slave; and that such is the case with nations as well as individuals, the reader may perhaps be satisfied if he will follow out the working of the British system as here described by the reviewer. For half a century Irish labour has been, as we are here told, poured into England, producing a glut in the market, and lowering not only the wages, but also the standard of comfort among English labourers. This is quite true; but why did these men come? Because labour was cheaper in Ireland than in England. Why was it so? Because, just half a century since, it was provided by the Act of Union that the women and children of Ireland should either remain idle or work in the field. Prior to the centralization by that act of all power in the British Parliament, the people of that country had been vigorously engaged in the effort to produce competition for the purchase of labour at home; and had they been permitted to continue on in that direction, it would have risen to a level with English labour, and then it could not have been profitably exported. This, however, they were not permitted to do. Their furnaces and factories were closed, and the people who worked in them were driven to England to seek their bread, and wages fell, because the price of all commodities, labour included, tends to a level, and whatever reduces them anywhere tends to reduce them everywhere. The price of English labour fell because the Act of Union had diminished the value of that of Ireland.
If we desire to know to what extent it had this effect, we must look to the consequences of an over-supply of perishable articles. Of all commodities, labour is the most perishable, because it must be sold on the instant or it is wasted, and if wasted, the man who has it to sell may perish himself. Now we know that an over-supply of even iron, equal to ten percent, will reduce prices thirty, forty, or fifty percent, and that an excess of a single hundred thousand bales in the crop of cotton makes a difference of ten percent upon three millions of bales, whereas a diminution to the same extent will make a difference of ten percent in the opposite direction. Still more is this the case with oranges and peaches, which must be sold at once or wasted. With an excess in the supply of either, they are often abandoned as not worth the cost of gathering and carrying to market. A small excess in the supply of men, women, and children so far reduces their value in the eyes of the purchaser of labour, that he finds himself, as now in England, induced to regard it as a mercy of Heaven when famine, pestilence, and emigration clear them out of his way; and he is then disposed to think that the process cannot be carried too far nor continued too long.
Irish labour, having been cheapened by the provisions of the Act of Union, was carried to the market of England for sale, and thus was produced a glut of the most perishable of all commodities; and the effect of that glut must have been a diminution in the general price of labour in England that far more than compensated for the increased number of labourers. Admitting, however, that the diminution was no more than would be so compensated, it would follow, of course, that the quantity of wages paid after a years immigration was the same that it had previously been. That it was not, and could not have been so great, is quite certain; but it is not needed to claim more than that there was no increase. It follows, necessarily, that while the quantity of wages to be expended in England against food and clothing remained the same, the number of persons among whom it was to be divided had increased, and each had less to expend. This of course diminished the power to purchase food, and to a much greater degree diminished the demand for clothing, for the claims of the stomach are, of all others, the most imperious. The reader will now see that the chief effect thus produced by cheap labour is a reduction in the domestic demand for manufactured goods. As yet, however, we are only at the commencement of the operation. The men who had been driven from Ireland by the closing of Irish factories, had been consumers of food, but as they could no longer consume at home, it became now necessary that that food should follow them to England, and the necessity for this transportation tended largely to diminish the prices of all food in Ireland, and of course the value of labour and land. Each new depression in the price of labour tended to swell the export of men, and the larger that export the greater became, of course, the necessity for seeking abroad a market for food. Irish food came to swell the supply, but the English market for it did not grow, because the greater the glut of men, the smaller became the sum of wages to be laid out against food; and thus Irish and English food were now contending against each other, to the injury, of English and Irish labour and land. The lower the price of food in England, the less was the inducement to improve the land, and the less the demand for labour the less the power to buy even food, while the power to pay for clothing diminished with tenfold rapidity. With each step in this direction the labourer lost more and more the control over his own actions, and became more and more enslaved. The decline in the home demand for manufactures then produced a necessity for seeking new markets, for underworking the Hindoo, and for further cheapening labour; and the more labour was cheapened the less became the demand for, and the return to capital. Land, labour, and capital thus suffered alike from the adoption of a policy having for its object to prevent the people of Ireland from mining coal, making iron, or availing themselves of the gratuitous services of those powerful agents so abundantly provided by nature for their use.
The reader may, perhaps, appreciate more fully the evil effects of this course upon an examination of the reverse side of the picture. Let us suppose that the Irishman could at once be raised from being the slave of the landholder to becoming a freeman, exercising control over the application of his labour, and freely discussing with his employer what should be his reward, and see what would be the effect. It would at once establish counter-attraction, and instead of a constant influx of people from Ireland into England, there would be a constant afflux to that country, and in a little time the whole mass of Irish labour that now weighs on the English market would be withdrawn, and wages would rise rapidly. At the cost of the landholder, it will be said. On the contrary, to his profit. The Irishman at home, fully employed, would consume thrice the food he can now obtain, and Irish food would at once cease to press on the English market, and the price of English food would rise. This, of course, would offer new inducements to improve the land, and, this would make a demand for labour and capital, the price of both of which would rise. These things, however, it will be said, would be done at the cost of the manufacturer. On the contrary, to his advantage Ireland now consumes but little of English manufactures. No one, says the Quarterly Review, ever saw an English scarecrow with such rags as are worn by hundreds of thousands of the people of Ireland. Raise the value of Irishmen at home, make them free, and the Irish market will soon require more manufactured goods than now go to all India. Raise the value of man in Great Britain, and the domestic market will absorb an amount of commodities that would now be deemed perfectly incredible.
How can this be done for Ireland? By the same process under which the man of Germany, Russia, Denmark, and Spain is now passing gradually toward freedom. By providing that she shall be protected in her efforts to bring the consumer to the side of the producer, and thus be enabled to provide at home demand for all her labour and all her food, and for all the capital now deemed surplus that weighs on the market of England. It will, however, be said that this would deprive the English manufacturer of the market he now has in that country. It would not. He would sell more in value, although it would certainly be less in bulk. If Ireland spun her own yarn and made her own coarse cloths, she would need to buy fine ones. If she made her woollen cloth she could afford to buy silks. If she made her own pig-iron she would have occasion to purchase steam-engines. If she mined her own coal she would require books; and the more her own labourer was elevated in the scale of material comfort, and moral and intellectual improvement, the larger would be her demands on her neighbours for those commodities requiring for their production the exercise of mind, to their advantage as well as her own.
The error in the whole British system is, that it looks to preventing everywhere local association and local commerce; and this it does because it seeks to locate in England the workshop of the world. The natural effect of this is a desire to compel all nations to transport their products to market in their rudest form, at greatest cost to themselves, and greatest exhaustion of their land; and the poorer they become, the greater are her efforts at competing with them in the rudest manufactures, to the great injury of her own people. The man who is constantly competing with men below himself, will be sure eventually to fall to their level; whereas, he who looks upward and determines upon competition with those who are above him, will be very likely to rise to their level. If all the world were engaged in perfecting their products, the standard of man would be everywhere rising, and the power to purchase would grow everywhere, with rapid increase in the amount of both internal and external commerce, but the commodities, exchanged would be of a higher character such as would require for their preparation a higher degree of intellect. At present, all the nations outside of England are to be stimulated to the adoption of a system that affords to their men, women, and children no employment but that of the rude operations of the field, while those in England are to be kept at work mining coal, making pig metal; and converting cotton into yarn; and thus the tendency of the system is toward driving the whole people of the world into pursuits requiring little more than mere brute labour, and the lowest grade of intellect, to the destruction of commerce, both internal and external. The more this is carried into effect the more must the people of England and the world become brutalized and enslaved, and the greater must be the spread of intemperance and immorality. To this, Ireland, India, and all other countries that find themselves forced to press their products on the English market, are largely contributing, and the only people that are doing any thing for its correction are those who are labouring to make a market at home for their products, and thus diminish the competition for their sale in the English market. Were Germany and Russia now to abolish protection, the direct effect would be to throw upon England an immense amount of food they now consume at home, and thus diminish the price to such an extent as to render it impracticable to apply labour to the improvement of English land. This would of course diminish the wages of English labour, and diminish the power of the labourers to purchase manufactured goods, and the diminution thus produced in the domestic demand would be twice as great as the increase obtained abroad. It is time that the people of England should learn that the laws which govern the community of nations are precisely the same as those which govern communities of individuals, and that neither nations nor individuals can benefit permanently by any measures tending to the injury of their neighbours. The case of Ireland is one of oppression more grievous than is to be found elsewhere in the records of history; and oppression has brought its punishment in the enslavement of the English labourer, land-owner, and capitalist. The first has small wages, the second small rents, and the third small profits, while the intermediate people, bankers, lawyers, and agents, grow rich. The remedy for much of this would be found in the adoption of measures that would raise the value of labour, capital, and land, in Ireland, and thus permit the two former to remain at home, to give value to the last.
The evil under which the people of England labour is that they are borne down under the weight of raw produce forced into their market, and the competition for its sale. This, in turn, reacts upon the world as prices in that market fix the prices of all other markets. What is now needed is to raise there the price of labour and its products, as would at once be done were it possible for all the agricultural nations to become so much masters of their own actions as to be able to say that from this time forward they would have such a demand at home as would free them from the slavery incident to a necessity for going to that market. Could that now be said, the instant effect would be so to raise the price of food as to make a demand for labour and capital in England that would double the price of both, as will be seen on an examination of the following facts. The United Kingdom contains seventy millions of acres, and an average expenditure of only three days labour per acre, at 12s. per week, would amount to twenty-one millions of pounds, or half as much as the whole capital engaged in the cotton trade. No one who studies the reports on the agriculture of the British islands can doubt that even a larger quantity might annually, and most profitably, be employed on the land; and when we reflect that this would be repeated year after year, it will be seen how large a market would thus be made for both labour and capital. The rise of wages would put an end to the export of men from either England or Ireland, and the increase in the home demand for manufactures would be great.
It may be said that the rise in the price of food would give large rents, without improvement in the land, and that the profit of this change would go to the land-owner. In all other trades, however, high wages compel improvements of machinery, and it is only when they are low that men can profitably work old machines. Were the wages of England this day doubled, it would be found that they would eat up the whole proceeds of all badly farmed land, leaving no rent, and then the owners of such land would find themselves as much obliged to improve their machinery of production as are the mill-owners of Manchester. If they could not improve the whole, they would find themselves compelled to sell a part; and thus dear labour would produce division of the land and emancipation of the labourer, as cheap labour has produced the consolidation of the one and the slavery of the other.
To enable Russia and Germany to refrain from pressing their products on the market that now regulates and depresses prices, it would be required that they should have great numbers of mills and furnaces, at which their now surplus food could be consumed, and their effect would be to create among them a new demand for labour with rise of wages, a better market for food to the benefit of the farmer, a better market for capital, and a greatly increased power to improve the land and to make roads and build schools. This would, of course, make demand for cotton, to the benefit of the cotton-grower, while improved prices for food would benefit the farmer everywhere. Maryland, Virginia, and the Carolinas, too, would then have their factories, at which food and cotton would be converted into cloth, and the value of man in those States would rise to a level with that of Mississippi and Alabama and our domestic slave trade would be brought to an end by precisely the same measures that would relieve England, Ireland, and Scotland from any necessity for exporting men to distant regions of the earth.
Nothing of this kind could at once be done; but Russia, Germany, and other countries of Europe are now, under protection, doing much toward it; and it is in the power of the people of this country to contribute largely toward bringing about such a state of things. Much was being done under the tariff of 1842, but it is being undone under the act of 1846. The former tended to raise the value of man at home, and hence it was that under it the domestic slave trade so much diminished. The latter tends to diminish the value of man at home, and hence it is that under it that trade so rapidly increases. The former tended to diminish the quantity of food to be forced on the market of England, to the deterioration of the value of English labour and land. The latter tends to increase the quantity for which a market must be sought abroad; and whatever tends to force food into that country tends to lessen the value of its people, and to produce their forced export to other countries. As yet, however, we have arrived only at the commencement of the working of the free trade system. We are now where we were in 1836, when the making of railroads by aid of large purchases, on credit, of cloth and iron, stimulated the consumption of food and diminished the labour applied to its production. After the next revulsion, now perhaps not far distant, the supply of food will be large, and then it will be that the low prices of 1841-2, for both food and labour, will be repeated.
In considering what is the duty of this country, every man should reflect that whatever tends to increase the quantity of raw produce forced on the market of England, tends to the cheapening of labour and land everywhere, to the perpetuation of slavery, and to the extension of its domain and that whatever tends to the withdrawal of such produce from that market tends to raising the value of land and labour everywhere, to the extinction of slavery, and to the elevation of man.
The system commonly called free trade tends to produce the former results; and where man is enslaved there can be no real freedom of trade. That one which looks to protection against this extraordinary system of taxation, tends to enable men to determine for themselves whether they will make their exchanges abroad or at home; and it is in this power of choice that consists the freedom of trade and of man. By adopting the free trade, or British, system we place ourselves side by side with the men who have ruined Ireland and India, and are now poisoning and enslaving the Chinese people. By adopting the other, we place ourselves by the side of those whose measures tend not only to the improvement of their own subjects, but to the emancipation of the slave everywhere, whether in the British Islands, India, Italy, or America.
It will be said, however, that protection tends to destroy commerce, the civilizer of mankind. Directly the reverse, however, is the fact. It is the system now called free trade that tends to the destruction of commerce, as is shown wherever it obtains. Protection looks only to resisting a great scheme of foreign taxation that everywhere limits the power of man to combine his efforts with those of his neighbour man for the increase of his production, the improvement of his mind, and the enlargement of his desires for, and his power to procure, the commodities produced among the different nations of the world. The commerce of India does not grow, nor does that of Portugal, or of Turkey; but that of the protected, countries does increase, as has been shown in the case of Spain, and can now be shown in that of Germany. In 1834, before the formation of the Zoll-Verein, Germany took from Great Britain, of her own produce and manufactures, only £4,429,727. Whereas in 1852 she took £7,694,059.
And as regards this country, in which protection has always to some extent existed, it is the best customer that England ever had, and our demands upon her grow most steadily and regularly under protection, because the greater our power to make coarse goods, the greater are those desires which lead to the purchase of fine ones, and the greater our ability to gratify them.
Whatever tends to increase the power of man to associate with his neighbour man, tends to promote the growth of commerce, and to produce that material, moral, and intellectual improvement which leads to freedom. To enable men to exercise that power is the object of protection. The men of this country, therefore, who desire that all men, black, white, and brown, shall at the earliest period enjoy perfect freedom of thought, speech, action, and trade, will find, on full consideration, that duty to themselves and to their fellow-men requires that they should advocate efficient protection, as the true and only mode of abolishing the domestic trade in slaves, whether black or white.
It will, perhaps, be said that even although the slave trade were abolished, slavery would still continue to exist, and that the great object of the anti-slavery movement would remain unaccomplished. One step, at all events, and a great one, would have been made. To render men adscripti glebŠ, thus attaching them to the soil, has been in many countries, as has so recently been the case in Russia, one of the movements toward emancipation; and if this could be here effected by simple force of attraction, and without the aid of law, it would be profitable to all, both masters and slaves; because whatever tends to attract population tends inevitably to increase the value of land, and thus to enrich its owner. There, however, it could not stop, as the reader will readily see. Cheap food enables the farmer of Virginia to raise cheap labour for the slave market. Raise the price of food, and the profit of that species of manufacture would diminish. Raise it still higher, and the profit would disappear; and then would the master of slaves find it necessary to devolve upon the parent the making of the sacrifice required for the raising of children, and thus to enable him to bring into activity all the best feelings of the heart.
Cheap food and slavery go together; and if we desire to free ourselves from the last, we must commence by ridding ourselves of the first. Food is cheap in Virginia, because the market for it is distant, and most of its value there is swallowed up in the cost of transportation. Bring the consumer close to the door of the farmer, and it will be worth as much there as it now commands in the distant market. Make a demand everywhere around him for all the food that is raised, and its value will everywhere rise, for then we shall cease to press upon the limited market of England, which fixes the price of our crop, and is now borne down by the surplus products of Germany and Russia, Canada and ourselves; and the price will then be higher in the remote parts of Virginia than can now be obtained for it in the distant market of England. It will then become quite impossible for the farmer profitably to feed his corn to slaves.
With the rise in the price of food the land would quadruple in value, and that value would continue to increase as the artisan more and more took his place by the side of the producer of food and wool, and as towns increased in number and in size; and with each step in this direction the master would attach less importance to the ownership of slaves; while the slave would attach more importance to freedom. With both, the state of feeling would, improve; and the more the negro was improved the more his master would be disposed to think of slavery, as was thought of old by Jefferson and Madison, that it was an evil that required to be abated; and the more rapid the growth of wealth, the greater the improvement in the value of land, the more rapid would be the approach of freedom to all, the master and the slave.
It will be said, however, that if food should so much increase in value as to render it desirable for Virginia to retain the whole growth of her population, black and white, the necessary effect would, be a great rise in the price of cotton, and a great increase in the wealth of the planters further South, who would be desirous to have negroes, even at greatly increased prices. That the price of cotton would rise is quite certain. Nothing keeps it down but the low price of food, which forces out the negroes of the Northern States, and thus, maintains the domestic slave trade; and there is no reason to doubt that not only would there be a large increase in its price, but that the power to pay for it would increase with equal rapidity. More negro labour would then certainly be needed, and then would exist precisely the state of things that leads inevitably to freedom. When two masters seek one labourer, the latter becomes free; but when two labourers seek one master, the former become enslaved. The increased value of negro labour would render it necessary for the owners of negroes to endeavour to stimulate the labourer to exertion, and this could be done only by the payment of wages for over-work, as is even now done to a great extent. At present, the labour of the slave is in a high degree unproductive, as will be seen by the following passage from a letter to the New York Daily Times, giving the result of information derived from a gentleman of Petersburgh, Virginia, said to be remarkable for accuracy and preciseness of his information:
He tells me, says the writer, he once very carefully observed how much labour was expended in securing a crop of very thin wheat, and found that it took four negroes one day to cradle, rake, and bind one acre. (That is, this was the rate at which the field was harvested.) In the wheat-growing districts of Western New York, four men would be expected to do five acres of a similar crop.
Mr. Griscom further states, as his opinion, that four negroes do not, in the ordinary agricultural operations of this State, accomplish as much as one labourer in New Jersey. Upon my expressing my astonishment, he repeated it as his deliberately formed opinion.
I have since again called on Mr. Griscom, and obtained permission to give his name with the above statement. He also wishes me to add, that the ordinary waste in harvesting, by the carelessness of the negroes, above that which occurs in the hands of Northern labourers, is large enough to equal what a Northern farmer would consider a satisfactory profit on the crop.
To bring into activity all this vast amount of labour now wasted, it is needed to raise the cost of man, by raising the price of food; and that is to be done by bringing the farmers market to his door, and thus giving value to labour and land. Let the people of Maryland and Virginia, Carolina, Kentucky, and Tennessee be enabled to bring into activity their vast treasures of coal and iron ore, and to render useful their immense water-powers free the masters from their present dependence on distant markets, in which they must sell all they produce, and must buy all they consume and the negro slave becomes free, by virtue of the same great law that in past times has freed the serf of England, and is now freeing the serf of Russia. In all countries of the world man has become free as land has acquired value, and as its owners have been enriched; and in all man has become enslaved as land has lost its value, and its owners have been impoverished.
1 In the first half of this period the export was small, whereas in the last one, 1836 to 1840, it must have been in excess of the growth of population.
2 From 1842 to 1845 the average crop was 2,250,000 bales, or half a million more than the average of the four previous years. From 1847 to 1850 the average was only 2,260,000 bales, and the price rose, which could not have been the case had the slave trade been as brisk between 1840 and 1845 as it had been between 1835 and 1840.
3 See page 108, ante, for the sale of the negroes of the Saluda Manufacturing Company.
The following passage from one of the journals of the day is worthy of careful perusal by those who desire to understand the working of the present system of revenue duties, under which the mills and furnaces of the country have to so great an extent been closed, and the farmers and planters of the country to so great an extent been driven to New York to make all their exchanges:
Mr. Matsell [chief of police, New York] tells us that during the six months ending 31st December, 1852, there have been 19,901 persons arrested for various offences, giving a yearly figure of nearly 40,000 arrests. *** The number of arrests being 40,000, or thereabouts, in a population of say 600,000, gives a percentage of 6.6 on the whole number of inhabitants. We have no data to estimate the state of crime in Paris under the imperial rÚgime; but in London the returns of the metropolitan police for 1850, show 70,827 arrests, out of a population of some two millions and a half, giving a percentage of less than three on the whole number of inhabitants. Thus crimes are in New York rather more than twice as frequent as in London. Indeed, if we make proper allowance for the superior vigilance, and organization of the metropolitan police of London, and for the notorious inefficiency of our own police force, we shall probably find that, in proportion to the population, there is in New York twice as much crime as in London. This is an appalling fact a disgraceful disclosure. New York Herald, March 21, 1853.
5 North British Review, Nov. 1852.
6 See Uncle Toms Cabin, chap. xxxi.
7 Letters to Lord Aberdeen, by the Right Hon. W.E. Gladstone, 9, 10, 12.
8 Rev. Sidney Smith.
9 See page 109, ante.
10 It is commonly supposed that the road toward freedom lies through cheapening the products of slave labour; but the reader may readily satisfy himself that it is in that direction lies slavery. Freedom grows with growing wealth, not growing poverty. To increase the cost of raising slaves, and thus to increase the value of man at home, produces exactly the effect anticipated from the other course of operation, because the value of the land and its produce grows more rapidly than the value of that portion of the negros powers that can be obtained from him as a slave that is, without the payment of wages.