Ideas for a Science of Good Government
1883

by Hon. Peter Cooper, LL.D.

TARIFF.



UNITED STATES SENATE CHAMBER,           
WASHINGTON, April 17, 1868.


DEAR SIR :  I have received your favor of the 13th inst., requesting me to attend a conference of the friends of American industry on the 28th inst.

I regret, that the pressure of my public duties here will not permit me to leave Washington for the purpose indicated.  I have much pleasure in expressing to you my entire appreciation of the objects of your association, and my earnest wishes for its complete success.

Very respectfully, your obedient servant,             
H. WILSON.

HON. PETER COOPER, New York.”




HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,         
WASHINGTON CITY, April 25, 1868.


PETER COOPER, Esq., President of the American Industrial League :  Yours of 13th inst., inviting my attendance at a Conference of the friends of American industry in New York on 28th inst., is received.  My duties here will prevent my attendance.  It has been a life-long opinion with me, that it is the duty of the American people to promote, protect and encourage the interests of American labor ;  to stimulate and render profitable domestic production, whether agricultural, mining or manufacturing.

The country cannot long endure the excessive importation, now going on to the ruin of our own industry, while the interests of foreign capital alone are promoted thereby.

Respectfully,                   
WM. LAURENCE.”




FREE TRADE—ITS EFFECTS ON THE FARMER.


In my letter to the Hon. James Brooks in reply to a speech, made by him in favor of free trade, I say I am informed from Washington, that Mr. Brooks is now ready “ to mount on a peddler’s wagon and ride through the agricultural districts of the country, exhibiting hoes, shovels, axes, bars, chains, rods, knives, forks, cottons and woollens, to demonstrate to the eyes of the people the enormous taxation, imposed on them by the existing tariff.”

Before he commences this journey among the farmers, I propose to share with him a large part of the expense on condition, that he will inform the farmers as he goes through the country, that, according to Mr. Wells’ report, there are one million of men, now employed in the manufacture of those articles, so indispensable to every farmer.

I want him to ascertain from the farmers, how many millions of bushels of their grain and all other agricultural products are annually consumed by these hundreds of thousands of the working men of our country.  I want him to be very particular, as he goes along, to show the farmers how perfectly insignificant the amount of grain is, that has been sold abroad, when compared with the amount, that is annually consumed by the men, now employed in making the various articles he enumerates.  It will be well, as he comes in contact with the farmers, to ascertain, where they expect to find a market, when those hundreds of thousands, who now consume their produce, are forced to turn farmers and come in competition with them for a market.

I hope Mr. Brooks will quote from Mr. Wells’ report, where he states, “ that the American agriculturist does not command his own price in a foreign market, but the price commands him,” as he is compelled “ to sell at the price offered in London, the central market of the world,” where farm labor is hired for one-half the price, paid for it in this country.

It will be a matter of the greatest interest for the farmers to know, that Mr. Wells says “ there are now one million of skilled artisans in our country, making the largest and most valuable consuming class in this community.”

Mr. Brooks should tell the farmers, that these are the men, with their families, employers and laborers, who consume a large part of all they have to sell, and are now paying them more than they could get in any other part of the world.

I hope Mr. Brooks will be sure, as he passes through the country, to tell the farmer, that he and his friends are doing all they can to withdraw the legal-tender notes, and bring about a speedy return to specie payments, and that, notwithstanding, we are a debtor country to an amount nearly equal to our national debt. He can assure the farmers that, as soon as our bank paper is payable in specie on demand, there will be some four or five dollars of paper afloat for every silver or gold dollar in the country.

He should assure the farmers that, when all our paper money is made payable in specie on demand, it will prove the most certain means, that can be used to “ fertilize the rich man’s field by the sweat of the poor man’s brow.”

It will do this by ensuring the periodical return of those scenes of panic, pressure, general bankruptcy and ruin, that have so often changed the values of all property and labor some twenty-five or fifty per cent. in a single year, whenever it was for the interest of foreign creditors or merchants at home to withdraw a few extra millions from our banks, as they did in 1857, when a withdrawal of only seven millions produced the panic of that year, which sunk the values of all the property of our country to the amount of thousands of millions of dollars.  These millions were taken from the farmers, mechanics and merchants, who were in debt, and put in the possession of those, who had the means to buy at the ruinous rates, at which property of all kinds was compelled to be sold, thus making, as it ever must, the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

Mr. Brooks should sound an alarm as he goes through the country, and say to all, that there can be no security for any man, who is in debt, until our general government shall perform its most important duty, which is, not only to establish a just system of money, weights and measures, but a system of legal-tender paper money, in amount equal to the amount put in circulation at the end of the war by the necessities of the government.

Such a legal-tender paper money would be a bond and mortgage on the whole property of the country and a bond of union among the states, and would leave gold and silver to be an article of commerce in the hands of those, who hold it.

Mr. Brooks will perform a most valuable service to the country, if he will tell the farmers, that Dr. Franklin says, that the American people, under the old colonial government, were so immoderately fond of the manufactures and superfluities of foreign countries “ that they could not be restrained from purchasing them,” because such laws, if made, would be immediately repealed as prejudicial to the trade and interest of Great Britain.  Dr. Franklin then adds that “ it seems hard, therefore, to draw all their real money from them, and then refuse them the privilege of using paper instead of it.”

Mr. Brooks will perform a most valuable service to the country by showing the farmers, that the absenteeism, which has ruined Ireland, was nothing more than the turning of a hundred small farms into one large grazing farm, that can be managed by a single individual, instead of making a home for the hundred individual farmers.

He should show the farmers, that Ireland has been impoverished by the same policy, which England tried to force on her American Colonies, as will appear by the following facts of British legislation :

“ In 1710, a law was enacted in the House of Commons, which declared the erecting of manufactories in the Colonies tended to lessen their dependence on Great Britain.

In 1782, the exportation of hats from province to province and the number of apprentices were limited.

In 1750, the erection of any mill or engine for slitting or rolling iron was prohibited.

In 1765, the exportation of artisans was prohibited under a heavy penalty.

In 1781, utensils required for the manufacture of wool or silk were prohibited.

In 1782, the prohibition was extended to artificers in printing calicoes, muslins or linens.

In 1785, the prohibition was extended to tools, used in iron or steel manufacture, and to workmen employed.

In 1799, it was so extended as to even embrace colliers.”

All classes should gather wisdom by reflecting on the history and the experience of the past.

Free trade is beautiful in theory, and will be in practice, where all things are equal and peaceful in the relations of nations, and rapid transit shall go far to annihilate space.

If the farmers desire to secure for themselves a reliable market and the highest price for their product, they must use the means best calculated to effect that object—they must encourage the manufacture of the articles they consume and have them made as near their homes as possible.  This should be done wherever good raw materials can be found, that can be put into forms of usefulness with as small expense of labor in this country, as in any part of the world.

If I am not mistaken our country will rise out of its great embarrassment in a way, that would astonish the world, if our Government would perform what was and is its first and most important duty.

The Constitution made it the duty of Congress to adopt measures that will “ establish justice ;”  that is the only means by which the “ common welfare can be promoted.”

To establish justice for a nation there must be created and maintained a just and uniform system of money, weights and measures.

It is of the greatest importance, that all the paper money, allowed by the government, should be made as unyielding in its power to pay debts as the yard-stick or the pound-weight.

Our government, having been literally compelled to issue and use a legal-tender paper money, in order to save the nation’s life, has, by its use, caused the whole property of the country to be measured by its purchasing power.  By this use of paper money the government has created a most solemn obligation on its part to do no act to increase or diminish the amount of paper money beyond the absolute necessities of the government.  As an increase of the amount would inflate prices, without increasing real values, in the same proportion a diminution of currency must cause all property to shrink in price, and thereby put it out of the power of the people to pay the national debt.

One thing is certain, that the national debt can never be paid by a governmental policy, that shrinks the currency, destroys values, paralyzes industry, enforces idleness and brings wretchedness and ruin to the homes of Millions of the American people.  It is equally true, that Americans can never buy anything cheap from foreign countries, that must be bought at the expense of leaving our own good raw materials unused, and our own labor unemployed.  It should be remembered, that neither gold, silver, copper, nickel nor paper are money, without the stamp of the government upon it.  The Constitution has made it the duty of Congress to coin the money of our country and regulate the value thereof, and fix a standard of weights and measures, as the only possible means, by which commerce can be regulated between foreign nations and among the several States.

PETER COOPER.




ADDRESS AT A DINNER, GIVEN AT DELMONICO’S, BY THE COMMISSION MERCHANTS OF NEW YORK TO THE MANUFACTURERS OF MASSACHUSETTS, DECEMBER 14, 1870.


MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN :

I have indulged the hope, that the day will come, when all festive occasions, like the present, will be made feasts of reason as well as feasts of the good things, provided by Nature for our use.

In my attempt to reply to the toast, in honor of the City of New York, I would gladly, if I could, say something that might be remembered with profit.

When, my friends, I turn my thoughts in review of the rise and progress of this, my beloved native city—the city, where both my mother and grandmother were born—when I call to mind its rapid growth in population, wealth and power, it seems almost like a vision, that has passed ;  for at the time of my birth there were only about forty thousand inhabitants on this island.

When the mind wanders over the vast extent of the country, that now pours its treasures into our city—when we contemplate the untold millions, that will soon occupy its vast extent, with all our lakes, mountains, rivers and noble harbors, with all the floating palaces, that bring to our favored cities the choicest fruits of every clime—and when I look on the fiery steeds, that rend the air and cause the very earth to tremble beneath our feet, while they fly through space as on the wings of the wind—in view of all this, when I recollect, that it fell to my lot to put on the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad the first American built locomotive-engine, that carried passengers in this country, the recollection of all this, with the power we now have to send our messages through the world with lightning-speed, all seems like a dream.  These are but items of what science has done and will do for the world, when mankind become wise enough to beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks.  This they will only do, when knowledge shall cover the earth, as the waters cover the great deep.  Until that time shall arrive, we must remember, that the price of our liberty and independence is perpetual vigilance ;  for, as the poet says that “ Life is war, eternal war with woe—and he that bears it best, deserves it least.”

I trust, my friends, that the time will come, when it will be the pride and the glory of every American citizen to give the world an equivalent, in some form of useful labor, for all he consumes in life.

There is nothing, my friends, more important for us, as individuals, or as a community, State or Nation, than to gather wisdom from the history and experience of the past.

The Fathers of our country had gathered from the past an amount of wisdom, that enabled them to form for us a Constitution, which was intended to embody, in the forms of law, the highest wisdom, virtue and intelligence of a whole people.  They intended to make that virtue and intelligence a shield to protect the lives and property of all.  They intended, that our Government should be of the people and for the people, and become a tower of strength, on which we might rely with safety, for all that can make a nation rich, prosperous and happy.

The advocates of free trade with foreign countries are trying to persuade our Government and people, that it is for our interest to buy from other nations all the luxuries and superfluities they have to offer.  These advocates of free trade propose, that our own mechanics shall either work at the starvation-prices of foreign labor, or be forced to abandon their trades and become competitors with the agricultural interests of the country.

If we desire to bring upon our whole nation a fate similar to that, which has fallen to the lot of Ireland, India, Turkey, Mexico and Hindoostan, it is only necessary to arrange our tariff in a way, that will induce the people throughout the States to have all their manufacturing done in foreign countries, and pay for it, with the raw materials of our own.

Such a policy will, if I am not mistaken, secure for our Union of States as rapid a decline and fall as those of Spain, when she drove the Moors, her principal manufacturers, out of her country.

Such a policy might gratify our national thirst after all the dear-bought follies and fashions of European life ;  but it would bring ruin and wretchedness upon hundreds of thousands of the mechanics of our country, who have nothing to sell but their labor.  To break up the diversified employments of this vast number, by a change of tariff, and then, expect them to find for themselves other means of living, is about as reasonable as it was for Pharaoh to expect his people to make bricks without straw.  What the mechanics of our country have a right to ask of the Government is, that such an adjustment of the tariff should be made, as will secure the payment of the national debt and the expenses of the Government, from duties on imports, within a reasonable time.  The duties should all be raised from the smallest number of articles, that would yield the required amount.  The raising of duties should be made to encourage the manufacture of those articles, that are the most indispensable to the welfare of the nation in time of war.

It is fortunate for our country, that we are enabled to produce cotton and corn, with less labor than the same can be produced in any other part of the world.

With the surplus of these important articles for export, together with the gold and the agricultural and manufacturing products of the country, we shall be able to maintain an extended and profitable commerce with foreign countries, without reducing the price of labor, to the level that is now being paid for similar labor in foreign countries.

For our Government and people, to take the advice of the advocates of free trade, would be, about as wise, as for a nation at war with another, to control and regulate their action, by the advice of their enemies.  It is terrible to contemplate the ruin, that can be brought on a country by following the advice of men or Governments, that have a direct interest to mislead and deceive us.

There is nothing, my friends, but a diversified and well-directed labor, that can secure national wealth and general prosperity.

We must remember, that it is impossible to obtain anything cheap from foreign countries, that must be bought at the expense of leaving our own labor unemployed, and our own good raw materials unused.

In conclusion, it gives me pleasure to state, for one, that I see reason to hope, for a wise and economical Government over our city.  That hope was inspired by the fact, that our “ Citizens’ Association ” had obtained from the Supreme Court an order to take possession of the Street Commissioner’s books, which showed such a revelation of fraud, that he left his office at once.

This hope is founded on the laws, that were obtained, by an almost unanimous vote of the last Legislature of our State.  By these laws, we have secured responsible heads and a degree of stability in all the different departments of the government of our city.

As another ground of hope I would state, as President of the Citizens’ Association, that we have received the strongest form of assurance from the principal men, now in the most prominent departments of the Government, that it is their intention to do all in their power to secure for our city an honest and economical Government.

We have another ground of hope for the future growth and prosperity of our city and State, growing out of the legislation of the last winter.  It will be remembered, that a large body of men formed themselves into what is known as a Commercial Union.  They petitioned the Legislature for lower tolls, and for a reform in the management of the canals.  They were men, who saw and felt the great importance of bringing back to our State and city a commerce, that was being rapidly lost by the high tolls and bad management of the Erie Canal—a canal, that has more than doubled the value of the city of New-York, and has, from its tolls, paid $15,000,000 into the treasury of the State, after having paid, in addition, all its cost, and the expenses of running it.

Under the laws, passed last winter, the tolls have been reduced some fifty per cent., besides having removed the temptation of contractors to make profitable jobs out of the breaks, that so frequently took place on the line of the canal.

It is now rendered certain, that transportation on the Erie Canal, can be doubled, without enlargement, and that the price of freight can be reduced by the introduction of steam for towing the boats, without any injury to the banks of the canal.  The experiment has been fairly tried by an ordinary full-sized boat, to which steam was applied.  The boat passed from New York to Albany by its own power, and through forty locks on the canal, towing another boat a part of the way, and burning only one ton of coal in twenty four hours, showing a power of sixteen horses for twenty-four hours, at a cost of five dollars, when coal can be had at five dollars the ton.

The report of the experiment shows, “ that a loaded boat can be towed seventy-two miles, at a cost of five dollars, when the towing of boats with horses cost forty cents per mile for each boat this season, or $28.80 for seventy-two miles.”

With such advantages of cheap and rapid transportation for the heavy products of the West, what may we not hope for and expect, when our new system of wharves, now being devised by our excellent dock commissioners, Wilson G. Hunt at its head, shall invite to our city the commerce of the world ?




PROTECTION TO AMERICAN INDUSTRY AGAINST COMMERCIAL WAR.


NEW YORK, October 7, 1871.

Sir—The experience of nearly 81 years has taught me, that the greatest and most important question, that now demands the consideration of the American people is, whether we, as a nation, are willing to know the truth and let the truth make and maintain our freedom, or whether we have deliberately determined to follow the advice of men and nations, who have a direct and an immediate interest to mislead and deceive us.  For we may rest assured, that all trade, between foreign nations and our own, is a kind of Commercial War.  It is a war of interests, as all nations are using their highest arts to buy as cheap and sell as dear as they can.  All are trying to buy their raw materials in the cheapest market, and to sell their manufactured labor for the most, that can be obtained for it.  This they are doing by the use of all the arts, both fair and foul, that human ingenuity can devise.

It can be shown, that the wars of commercial interests are more insidious and more to be dreaded, than wars of conquest.  There is nothing in all history, that admits of more complete demonstration than the fact, that the wars of commercial interests, carried on by England alone, have led to, and caused a greater destruction of life and property, during the last 70 years, than has been occasioned by all the wars of conquest, that have taken place in the civilized world during that period of time.  It is now less than 75 years since a company, chartered by Great Britain, commenced a mercantile war on the people of Hindostan, a country with its then 150,000,000 of inhabitants, famed for manufacturing the finest quality of goods, and for being in possession of the riches of the East.  History tells us, that “ in no part of the world has there been seen a greater tendency to voluntary association for a mutual exchange of labor than once existed in Hindostan. . . . Each village had its distinct organization, under which the natives had lived from the earliest times down to a recent date. . . . Revolutions might occur, and dynasties might succeed each other ;  but, so long as his own little society was undisturbed, the simple Hindoo gave himself no concern about what might happen at the capital. . . Though often over-taxed and plundered by invading armies, the country continued both rich and prosperous,” until an East India Company, chartered and sustained by the power of Great Britain, commenced a war of encroachments on the trade and commerce of that country.  This war of commercial interests led to a war of conquest, which, after the battle of Plassey, had established British power in India.  “ The country became filled with adventurers ;  men whose sole object was to accumulate fortunes, by any means, however foul,” as was shown by the indignant denunciation of Burke in the Parliament of Great Britain.  Fox declared, in a speech on the East India bill, that “ the country was laid waste with fire and sword, and the land once distinguished most above others by the cheerful face of fraternal government and protected labor, the chosen seat of cultivation and plenty, is now almost a dreary desert, covered with rushes and briars, jungles and wild beasts.” . . .

Macaulay says, “ The misgovernment was carried to such an extent, as seemed hardly compatible with the existence of society.  They forced the natives to buy dear and sell cheap.”  They insulted, with impunity, the tribunals, the police and the fiscal authorities of the country.  Enormous fortunes were thus rapidly accumulated at Calcutta, where 30,000,000 of human beings were reduced to the extremity of wretchedness.  They had been accustomed to live under tyranny ;  but never tyranny like this.  Under their old masters, they had one resource—when the evil became insupportable, the people pulled down the Government.  But the English Government was not to be shaken off.  That Government, oppressive as the most oppressive form of barbarian despotism, was strong with all the strength of civilization.  It resembled the government of evil genii rather than the government of human tyrants. . . . Under the title of Zamindas, a landed aristocracy was created and held accountable for the collection of the taxes.  Fullerton, a member of the Madras Council, says :  “ Imagine the revenue leviable through the agency of 100,000 revenue officers ;  collected or remitted at their discretion, according to the occupant’s means of paying, whether from produce of the land or his separate property ;  and, in order to encourage every man to act as a spy on his neighbor and report his means of paying, that he may save himself from all extra demand, imagine all the cultivators of a village liable at all times to a separate demand, in order to make up the failure of one or more individuals of the parish.  Imagine collectors to every county, acting under the orders of a Board, on the avowed principle of destroying all competition for labor by a general equalization of assessments, seizing and sending back all runaways to each other.  Lastly, imagine the collector, the sole magistrate or Justice of the Peace of the county ;  through the medium of whom alone, complaint of personal grievance, suffered by the subject, can reach the Superior Court.  Imagine at the same time every subordinate officer, employed in the collection of the land-revenue to be a police officer, vested with the power to confine, put in the stocks and flay any inhabitant within his range, on any charge, without oath of the accuser or sworn recorded evidence in the case.” . . . Under this state of things, “ the works constructed for irrigation have gone to ruin, and the richest lands have been abandoned.”

Capt. Westmacot tells his readers, that in places the longest under British rule, there is the largest amount of depravity and crime.  Campbell, one of the most distinguished of British poets, characterizes the course of their policy in India prophetically when he says :

“ Foes of mankind, her guardian spirits say,
Revolving ages bring the bitter day,
When heaven’s unerring aim shall fall on you,
And blood for blood these Indian plains bedew.”

“ The immolations of an Indian Juggernaut,” says a recent writer, “ dwindle into insignificance before it, and yet to maintain this trade the towns and cities have been laid in ruins.”  The middleman system of Ireland and of the West Indies was transplanted to those countries of the East, to which Macaulay declares, that “ the English Government became as oppressive as the most oppressive form of barbarian despotism.”  The poor Hindoo was not allowed to make salt from the waters of the ocean.  Every form of tax and exaction was forced on that people, in order to drive them to send all their cotton and wool to England (the great workshop of the world) to be converted and returned.  Sir Robert Peel says :  “ The effects in India exhibit themselves in such a ruin and distress, that no parallel can be found in the annals of commerce.  The great city of Decca, that only 70 years since contained 90,000 houses, and exported millions of pieces of the finest quality of goods, is now a mass of ruins.”  The same authority says :  “ For the accomplishment of this work of destruction, the children of Lancashire, England, were employed 15 to 17 hours per day during the week, and until 12 o’clock on Sunday, cleaning and oiling machinery, for which they received two shillings and nine pence per week.  The object was to underwork the poor Hindoo, and drive him from the markets of the world.”  The pound of cotton, costing in India one cent, was passed through British looms, and sold to the Hindoo for from 40 to 60 cents.  “ Thus England was enriched, as India became impoverished.  Step by step, British power was extended, and everywhere was adopted the Hindoo principle, that the sovereign, as proprietor of the soil, was entitled to half the gross produce.”  While these exorbitant local taxes were expended among its own people, the burden could be borne ;  when these taxes were drawn from the people and expended on absentee landlords, the burden brought desolation and premature death to millions of the people of that country.  History tells us, that one-half of the labor of that people ran to waste for the want of employment.

The exactions of British power in China, made to force the sale of opium in that country, are stated to cause the death annually of 500,000 of the Chinese people, besides a tax of nearly $20,000,000.  The ruin of Portugal was effected by the Government’s having been induced to adopt a British commercial policy, which broke up the harmony of the agricultural and mechanical interests—interests, that had for so long a time made Portugal rich and prosperous.  “ It is less than 200 years since the merchants of London petitioned their Government to restrain the manufacture of cloth in Ireland.”  Of all the 1,700,000 slaves, imported into the British West India Islands, only 660,000 were found living on the day of emancipation.  This was the result of a war of commerce.  The planters on those islands had been deprived by law of all right “ to refine their own sugar, or to introduce a spindle or a loom, or to mine coal, or to smelt their own copper,” thus depriving the people of the islands of all power of association, and exchange of labor, and harmony of interests, without which ruin falls to the lot of every community.  The British policy, that was forced on the Island of Jamaica alone, cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of men, in order that a few absentee owners might live in splendor on the Isle of Britain.  The policy of forcing the whole labor of a community into the single pursuit of making sugar effectually prevented the growth of towns and schools, and impoverished the people and the land.  All communities require the families of the blacksmith, the carpenter, mason, and of other tradesmen, to consume a large part of the agricultural product of the soil, to secure them prosperity and to enable them to leave offal to enrich the land that feeds them.  “ On the Island of Jamaica, with a population of 320,000 black laborers, and with inexhaustible supplies of timber, that island has been without a single saw-mill up to 1860.”  Out of the amount paid to the British Government by the people thirty years since for the products of its 320,000 black laborers, the Home Government took no less than $18,000,000, or almost $60 per head, and this merely for superintending the exchanges.  The negroes, imported into Jamaica were no more barbarian than those, brought to Virginia and North Carolina ;  yet, while each of the negroes, imported into the latter States is represented by seven of his descendants, the British Islands present but two for every five they have received.  But a century since, Portugal and the West Indies were England’s best customers.  What are they now ?  All impoverished by a policy, that has broken up their own home commerce, and has subjected their countries to the heaviest kind of tax—the tax of transporting their heavy products to great distances, to be exchanged for the light products of other countries.

The first attempt at manufacture in the American Colonies was followed by interference on the part of the British Legislature. . . . “ In 1710, the House of Commons declared, that the erecting manufactories in the Colonies tended to lessen their dependence on Great Britain. . . . In 1732, the exportation of hats from province to province, and the number of apprentices were limited. . . . In 1750, the erection of any mill or engine for slitting or rolling iron was prohibited. . . . In 1765, the exportation of artisans from Great Britain was prohibited, under a heavy penalty. . . . In 1781, utensils, required for the manufacture of wool or silk were prohibited. . . . In 1782, the prohibition was extended to artificers in printing calicoes, muslins, or linens, or in making implements, used in their manufacture. . . . In 1785, the prohibition was extended to tools, used in iron and steel manufacture, and to workmen so employed. . . . In 1799, it was so extended as to embrace even colliers.”

The war of the Revolution of our own country was brought on by a war of commercial interests.  It was a war, that showed a determination on the part of the mother country to keep her Colonies entirely dependent on England for all forms of manufactured articles.  Laws were enacted to prevent the Colonies from manufacturing out of their own good raw materials things, indispensable for their own use, and necessary to give employment to those, who have nothing to sell but their own labor.  The war of the Revolution was a war of resistance to a war of commerce, then being forced by the mother country on the Colonies.  Our conquest of a country did not deliver us from the consummate power of highly educated British diplomats, whose business it has always been to find the weak places in surrounding governments, and to so control the legislation of those countries as to make them tributary to the wealth and power of Great Britain.  These diplomats, after having secured for their own manufacturing interests more perfect protection and more perfect mechanical powers, than any other nation possessed, have enabled their Government to gain greater advantages by their war of commerce on our own country, than they could have gained, if the Colonies had remained entirely under their own control.  Such has been the consummate ability, that foreign diplomacy has been able to exert in a war of commerce, which has brought our country in debt to foreign Governments to an amount the interest on which is now equivalent to a large proportion of the agricultural export of the country.  This state of things must continue or grow worse, unless our Government will raise its whole revenue out of duties on imports, and relieve the country from all forms of direct taxation, and by that means encourage the application of knowledge, economy and labor, in a course of efforts to supply our own wants by our own industry, out of our own good raw materials, that can be put into useful forms with as small an expense of human labor here, as in any other part of the world.  Thus it will enable the country to win back its independence of foreign debt, by paying it off as fast as the amount can be raised from the duties on imports.

Our Government can only hold its power as a free system by avoiding in future all special, partial, or class legislation, and by the enactment of only such general laws, as are necessary and indispensable to establish justice.  Justice can only be established “ and the general welfare promoted ” by the Government’s holding entire control over all, that is allowed or intended to measure or weigh the different forms and values of labor in its course of exchange from one person to another.  Hence the absolute necessity for the establishment of a just and unyielding system of money.  This is indispensable to facilitate the business of the country.  If paper is to be coined into money, the amount should be limited and so regulated, that the sum could only be increased in regular proportion with the natural increase of the inhabitants of the country.  All Government paper should be a legal tender in the payment of all private debts, which were contracted during the time, that paper is allowed to circulate as money.  All persons should have the privilege of paying duties on imports, and also all contracts to pay gold, by adding to the amount in legal tenders a sum sufficient to be equal to the average premium, that gold had sold for during the month preceding the maturing of the contract—the Government to advertise the rate of premium on the 1st of every month.

The people of our country should never forget, that one of the great causes which led to the American Revolution, was the determination on the part of Great Britain to force its manufactures on the Colonies, to be paid for by sending raw materials to England ;  thus keeping them dependent by preventing them from manufacturing for themselves.  This policy of England has drawn to its little island the wealth of every country, that has allowed itself to become the subject of its policy and power.  It is still trying to persuade the people of this country to run their plows in competition with the mighty machines in England, where a single engine is doing the work of a thousand horses.  To see the folly of yielding to a British policy, we have only to look at the effects, produced on our country during the war with England.  At that time, when our foreign trade was cut off, labor was in demand and money abundant, furnaces and mills were built and all actively employed ;  wages were high and our national debt small.  Four years later, our country was persuaded to yield to a British policy of Free Trade.  At once all was changed ;  mills and furnaces were stopped, labor went begging, our poorhouses were filled, the prices of land declined, money became scarce, and interest high ;  the rich, who held mortgages, became richer, and the poor and those who were in debt, were ruined.  At that time, the American farmer had no foreign or home market for the surplus product of the country.  Complaints grew and increased, until things grew so bad, that in 1828, our Government found it necessary to adopt what I call a true American system—a system of Free Trade—a trade, that extended to all parts of our own country in all articles, that are the product of our own soil or of American labor.  By this system, duties were laid on imports, which soon gave new life and energy to the trade and business of the country.  The public debt was soon paid off and prosperity became universal.

By degrees, between 1834 and 1842, the tariff was again repealed.  The mills were again stopped, furnaces closed, lands fell to half-price, the sheriff at work, States repudiating their debts, the Treasury unable to borrow at home or abroad, and bankrupt laws were passed by Congress.  In 1842, the true American system was again tried ;  and in less than five years the production of iron alone rose from 200,000 tons to 800,000 tons.  Prosperity was again universal ;  mines were opened, mills were built, money plenty and the public and private revenues greater than ever.  Once more, in 1846, the British policy of Free Trade was adopted by repealing our tariff, and, notwithstanding the discovery of gold in California, money was as high as ever, British iron came in and gold went out.  In 1857, the culmination was reached and a crisis came on.  The Treasury was again nearly bankrupt.  In three years, emigration fell below the point of twenty-eight years before, and our own exports fell off to a mere nothing.  Such have been the effects of yielding to a policy recommended by men and nations, having interests to serve, that are at war with all the best interests of our own country.

A war of commercial interests is not peculiar to England alone.  It has been the habit of all trading nations since “ naught said the buyer.”  They will all continue to buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest, as long as men do not love their neighbors as they do themselves.  There are thousands of those, now engaged in foreign trade, whose fortunes depend on filling the country with foreign goods.  There are other thousands, holders of mortgages, who hope to buy in the property for the face of their mortgages, or for half its present value.  And that they will do, as soon as they can induce our Government to try another experiment, in what they call free trade.  The policy of these persons, who are all clamorous for free trade, would deprive millions of men of their means of living by mechanical employments, and drive them into competition with the farming and agricultural interests of the country, making the mechanics competitors of the farmers ;  instead of consuming, as they now do, ten times as much of the agricultural products of the country as is now sold in all Europe.  Moreover, by such a policy money-holders can obtain the necessaries of life and servants at less cost.

It would be as unwise for our country in time of war to govern the movements of armies by the advice of our enemy, as it would be for our Government to allow our national policy to be controlled by the advice of the trading nations of Europe, who will always consult their own interests, entirely independent of any interests of ours.  It is well to remember, that nothing can be purchased cheap of foreign countries, that must be bought at the expense of leaving our own labor unemployed, and our own good raw materials unused.  I advocate the cause of our manufacturing interests, because they secure to the farmer his surest and best market for the agricultural product of the country, and because experience has demonstrated the fact, that the surest way to maintain our independence, and cheapen goods to the consumer, is to foster the home productions of our country, and give diversified employment to our people.  I advocate all American system, because I desire the political power and the financial honor of the nation to be maintained and vindicated before the world.  This can be most effectually accomplished by making ourselves independent, as far as our own soil, climate and good raw materials will enable us to produce the articles we need ;  and this they do with as small an expense of labor as it would require to produce the same articles in any other part of the world.  I advocate a policy, that will maintain the National Government and pay the nation’s debt out of duties on imports.  The heaviest duties should be laid on all articles of luxury, and the lightest duties on all articles, that will aid in securing a diversified employment to our people.

There is nothing else our Government can do, that will so effectually stimulate and develop all the best energies of a free people, as will the adoption of a just, uniform and unyielding system of money.  It is greatly to be regretted, that our Government failed in its very commencement to perform the most important duty, enjoined by the Constitution.  They should never have allowed the individual States to issue paper money, that was to all intents bills of credit.  It has been the inflation of paper money, that has so raised the price of all property and labor, that we now tempt the world to sell us everything, and we have made everything with us too dear to sell with profit in return.  Free Trade with foreign nations must, where all things have been made unequal by the use of paper money, prove in the future, as it has in the past, a delusion and a snare.  It must in the future, as it has in the past, bring panic, pressure and ruin to untold thousands made bankrupt by the change of value of all kinds of property.  This must be the result of leaving our own labor unemployed and our own good raw materials unused.  The high price of labor and of all the products of labor, has made a tariff of duties on imports absolutely indispensable to enable the Government to pay the National Debt.  The duties must equal in amount the full extent of the increase in the price of property and labor by the use and inflation of paper money.  Washington declared a fact, when he said that “ In exact proportion as we either alloy the precious metals, or pour paper money into the volume of the circulating medium, just in that proportion will everything in a country rise, and labor will be the last that will feel it.  It will not benefit the farmer or the mechanic, as it will only enable the debtor to pay his debt with a shadow instead of a substance.”

PETER COOPER.




LETTER TO JACKSON SHULTZ, ESQ.

NEW YORK, November, 1874.

JACKSON S. SHULTZ, ESQ.,

MY DEAR SIR—I am glad to know, that you approve of my efforts to find out, how and where we have drifted financially as a nation ;  and as far as possible to show, how a wisely and well arranged revenue tariff has been made indispensable, as the only efficient remedy for the paralyzed condition of the trade and commerce of our country.

I agree with you most heartily in the belief, that a tariff should be strictly for revenue, and should be raised by specific duties, and from the smallest number of articles, that will yield an amount sufficient to enable the people to pay their town, city, State and National debts.

I well recollect the effects of all the tariffs, that have been passed by our Government.  The first one soon enabled the Government to pay off all the old National debt.  Its repeal shrunk the values of all property and labor, and brought on the country a widespread ruin, frightful to contemplate.  This state of things continued, until the Government was compelled as its only means of relief to adopt another tariff, that soon brought the country into a condition of prosperity greater than ever.

The history of one tariff has been the history of all that have been enacted—their repeal has brought ruin and their reenactment has brought prosperity.

The advantages of a revenue tariff have resulted from the stimulus it gives to all the industries of the country and the restraint it exerts upon the extravagant use of the fabrics of other countries.  This was the besetting sin of our people under the old colonial system, when, as Doctor Franklin says, “ the American people, under the colonial Government, were so immoderately fond of the manufactures and superfluities of foreign countries, that they could not be restrained from purchasing them.”

The advice of Bonamy Price may be adopted by our people with great advantage.  He advises that we, as a people, should produce more and consume less.  To bring this about it will require a course of action by the General Government, calculated to reinvigorate the paralyzed industries of our country.  As one means to promote industry, it may be well for our Government to consider, whether an export bounty on agricultural and manufacturing products would not enable our farmers to place their produce to better advantage in foreign markets, and thus make it the interest of our people to act in accordance with the advice of Sir Robert Peel to his countrymen, when he says :  “ Buy of yourselves and sell to yourselves.”  The savings of a nation will be found in the quantity, that it produces in comparison with that which it consumes.

Importers and dealers in foreign products will find it for their interest to advocate measures, that will stimulate industry as the best means to bring about a healthy trade, instead of killing the goose, that lays the golden egg.

The common fallacy, that greenbacks depreciated in value, as gold appreciated, is now annihilated by the present decline of gold, while the amount of outstanding greenbacks has been increased by a small amount.  It was the large issues of paper money, loaned on deposits, that caused the rise and speculation in gold, as it became an article of commerce.  As the speculation in gold subsided the price returned to its normal value.

I believe, that I have shown beyond all controversy in my late article, published in the Tribune of this city, that the United States were bound, from the day the Constitution was adopted, to take and hold the entire control of all, that has ever been allowed to circulate as money,—as none is legal without the stamp of the Government upon it.

I have shown, that the General Government has not only failed to prevent the local banks from issuing bills of credit in the form of pictures, called money, but it has failed to furnish what Thomas Jefferson said ought to have been furnished, namely “ Treasury Notes,” based on the credit of the United States, and in an amount equal to the amount of gold and silver, that would circulate if there was no such thing as paper money allowed.  Such a currency should only increase as per capita with the inhabitants of the country, and would carry with it all the credit, that our Government could give it.  And being a legal tender in payment of all debts to the Government and individuals, and for duties on imports, by simply adding an amount in currency, that will make it equal to the average price, which gold had borne during the month preceding the demand for payment, or the maturing of the contract.  This would be a paper money, suited to all the business of the country, and would be far more valuable than gold for ordinary business purposes, for the reason that it would not be constantly changing in volume, as gold and silver will by the operations of foreign trade.

Paper money is said to have been more valuable than gold for some five hundred years in the city of Venice.  The people found, that they could well afford to pay the State for taking care of their gold, while a bill in evidence of their ownership of gold was passing freely in all the business operations of the country, thus showing what Prof. Bonamy Price said of money is true, namely, that Money is a tool for the convenient exchange of one form of labor for another.  Our nation will show its wisdom by continuing to use a tool, which our experience has shown to be the best for the convenient exchange of all forms of labor, that was ever invented by the ingenuity of man.  I mean a legal tender paper money, issued, as it was, by the people’s Government to save for the people the nation’s life.  It has done its work nobly and should be embalmed in the hearts of our people, as one of the greatest blessings, developed by the terrible war through which we have passed.  It should have been issued from the first as a war measure, that makes every dollar expended a valid claim upon the whole property of the country for its final payment.  Our nation’s credit should avail towards paying the nation’s debts, instead of being loaned out without interest.

As merchants, farmers and mechanics, it behooves us to know, that a nation, continuing to spend more than it produces, is clearly on the road to ruin.

It is well for us to know, that in 1873 we imported $119,556,288 more than we exported.  In 1872 we brought merchandise from abroad amounting to $610,904,622, and exported $428,487,131, more than 182 millions deficit.  This shows where we must land, if we continue to buy foreign manufactured articles in greater amount than the exports of our country.  We have got to learn to do as Sir Robert Peel says to his people :  “ Buy of yourselves and sell to yourselves ” and give employment to our own people.

There is one power in our country, that can do more to restore confidence and general prosperity than any other, with which I am acquainted ;—I mean the power of the various working men’s organizations of our country.

I claim to have been a working man through a long, laborious, mechanical life, with all my sympathies enlisted in efforts, intended to elevate and better their condition.

In view of the sufferings of so large a number, I ask myself why is it, that so many, who are all as anxiously desiring happiness as I or any one can do, are now suffering all forms of poverty and want, and that in a country, where God has spread out broad fields, ever ready to yield all that is good for food, pleasant to the eye, and calculated to make us wise ?

I would most gladly, if I could, show my fellow working men the great mistake in their organized efforts to force their employers to pay as much for a poor workman as for a good workman :—And by their laws they deprive their own children from learning trades, that would make them in the future useful citizens of the Republic.  All the restraints, that prevent the members from working for the most they can get, and as many hours as they choose, are a self-imposed slavery.  These restraints and the taxes they levy on their different orders to maintain strikes, have done as much to break up the regular business of the country, and drive commerce away from our own city as any one thing, with which I am acquainted.

I should have regarded it as a terrible hardship, if I had fouled myself compelled to contribute out of my twelve shillings per day to maintain strikes, that would have prevented me from getting into a business, that has given me a house and home with the ordinary comforts, until I have now nearly reached my eighty-fourth year.

If working men will be advised by a friend, they will declare their independence of all these organizations, and associate themselves in business with such capital and friends as they can find, and take all the profits to themselves.

Such an independence will command for working men the heartfelt sympathy and respect of the best men of our country and the world, and will, I hope, induce many to put forth efforts to promote the substantial interests of working men, by acts and deeds, that will leave an influence, when this hand, that now writes, shall have mouldered to the dust, and these eyes, that now see will look down from a brighter and a better world on a continued stream of beneficent influences, flowing out and on, from every good word and work.

Very respectfully yours,           
PETER COOPER.




OPEN LETTER.

AUGUST, 1882.

TO THE HON. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE TARIFF COMMISSION :


The most profound anxiety for the welfare of this great and glorious country impels me to offer some thoughts on what I regard as one of the most important subjects, that can be presented to the American people.  My experience has compelled me to see and know, that all trade with foreign nations is a kind of commercial war ;  it is a war of interests—as the men of all countries are trying to buy as cheap and sell as dear as they can ;  this they do by the use of all the arts, both fair and foul, that human ingenuity can invent.  There is nothing comparable with the evils, that have resulted, and may result, from a war of commerce.  Invasion of armies is attended by waste of property, destruction of life, and suspension of all fair exchanges of the products of labor ;  but with the return of peace, all is as it was before.  Such, however, is not the case with the substitution of foreign trade for the home commerce of the products of our own land and our own labor.

Under the artful and alluring fascinations of the powers of foreign trade associations for mutual benefit, patriotism dies out, intellect declines, and the life-blood of a nation slowly ebbs away, rendering recovery difficult, and closing finally with the material and moral death of a nation.

The great boon, provided for us by the Declaration of Independence, with its Constitution and its code of laws, was, that Congress shall have power to make all laws, which shall be necessary and proper, to levy taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defence and the general welfare of these United States.

To accomplish these objects, the Constitution binds every member of the Government, under the solemnity of his oath of office, to make their every legislative act an intent to establish justice by the organization and execution of all laws, which shall be necessary and proper to provide a shield of protection for the lives, liberty and happiness of the American people.  This can only be accomplished by adopting a just balance in a true system of money, weights, and measures, by which justice can be most conveniently established in the operations of trade with foreign nations and among the several States.

Our Constitution was intended to use the strength and power of the nation, in giving protection to all the rights and interests in all and every form, in which labor can be applied to promote the highest welfare of the American people.  Daniel Webster has declared what all must see and know to be true, and in words of warning, as well as to what our Government is bound to do, in order to secure the rewards of honest labor to the heads and hands, that earned them.  He says :

“ The producing cause of all prosperity is labor ! labor ! ! labor ! ! !  The Government was made to protect this industry, and to give it both encouragement and security.  To this very end, with this precise object in view, power was given to Congress over the money of the country.”

He predicted that conditions, which permitted the rapid accumulation of property in the hands of a few, remitting the masses to poverty, would soon destroy free institutions.

The experience of a long life made me see and know, how utterly impossible it is for the American people to buy anything cheap from a foreign country, that must be bought at the expense of LEAVING OUR GOOD RAW MATERIALS UNUSED, AND OUR OWN LABORERS WITHOUT EMPLOYMENT, THUS COMPELLING THE MILLIONS OF THE MECHANICS OF OUR OWN COUNTRY TO GO INTO COMPETITION WITH THE FARMERS, INSTEAD OF CONSUMING, AS THEY NOW DO, SOME THREE-QUARTERS OF ALL THE AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS, NOW RAISED IN OUR COUNTRY.

The advocates of free trade seem to be perfectly regardless of the wants of those millions of men and women throughout our country, who have nothing to sell but their labor ;  those millions, having been in the main reduced to this condition of poverty and want by a course of financial legislation so unwise and so unjust, that John Sherman, when a Senator, declared that it was without a parallel in ancient or modern times.  In his speech on that occasion he said :

“ That every citizen of the United States had conformed his business to the legal tender clause.”

His whole speech at that time went to show, that the legal money, which the Government had paid out in full settlement for all the forms of labor and property, had been actually used and consumed in the prosecution of our late terrible war for the nation’s life.  Senator Sherman was right when he declared, that the nation’s currency could not be contracted without bringing ruin to the debtor and the laboring classes throughout our country.

This cruel and unwise contraction of the nation’s currency has, in connection with repeated alterations in our tariff laws, broken up the manufacturing business of thousands throughout our country, and has shown, that a tariff of duties should be based on principles, that will give security and stability in the manufacture of all articles, that can be made out of our own good raw materials, and can be put in forms of usefulness in our country, with as small an amount of human labor in this country, as in any other part of the world.

This being an incontrovertible fact, there is no good reason, why those great manufacturing interests of our own country should be periodically ruined, as they have so often been, by repeated alterations of tariffs.  These alterations have been most successfully engineered through our Congress by the consummate skill of foreign diplomats, cooperating as they do with the great manufacturing and mercantile interests of our own and other countries, which can well afford to spend millions to break up and keep down the rising manufactures of this great and growing country.

History shows, that England gave the strongest kind of protection to her manufacturing interests, until they had attained to such a degree of power and perfection of machinery, that enabled the English, with the help of restraining laws, which their Government had passed to prevent their colonies from manufacturing anything for themselves, etc. . . .

All classes should gather wisdom by reflecting on the history and the experience of the past.

Free trade is beautiful in theory, and will be in practice, where all things are equal and peaceful in the relations of nations, and rapid transit shall go far to annihilate space.

Our Government, having allowed and used paper money, until the day’s labor has been made to cost at least two-thirds more than a similar day’s labor would cost in other countries, to bring about an equality in trade, will require a tariff based on the difference in the cost, that will purchase a day’s labor in our country as compared with that of foreign countries.

If the farmers desire to secure for themselves a reliable market and the highest price for their product, they must use the means best calculated to effect that object—they must encourage the manufacture of the articles they consume, and have them made as near their homes as possible, etc. . . .

After all I have read, written, and published to the world on the all-important subject of a tariff;  I come to the conclusion, that it should give full and complete protection to what Daniel Webster calls the producing cause of all prosperity, which he says is “ labor ! labor ! ! labor ! ! ! ”

This can only be accomplished by an amount of duties, that shall equal the difference between the cost of a day’s labor in our country, as compared with the cost of a similar day’s labor in other countries.

The difference, when carefully examined, will be found to be on an average, in this country, of from fifty to one hundred and fifty per cent. more, than what is now being paid for similar labor in other countries.

It will thus be seen, that justice cannot be established and the general welfare of the American people be secure, except by the manufacture of all those articles, which are absolutely necessary for our consumption as a free and independent nation.  Duties on all the most necessary and essential articles of industry, which our Government was made to protect, encourage, and secure, should be as nearly prohibitory as possible.  An amount of duties should be collected from the smallest number of articles, that will furnish an amount sufficient to pay the expenses of the general government of our country.  This would relieve our people from all internal taxation for the support of our national Government.

Mr. Bonamy Price, in his book on political economy, quotes from Hon. Ward, M.P., where he says, that 99 per cent. of the communications on the tariff represent individual interests, and demand protection for articles they produce.  Mr. Ward, Bonamy Price and all the advocates of unqualified free trade, base their arguments on a false foundation ;  they fail to see, that our Government has allowed local banks to issue pictures or bills of credit, called money, in open violation of the Constitution, which delegates only to Congress the power of coining money and regulating the value thereof ;  also of regulating commerce between the United States and foreign countries.

Our Government, having neglected from its commencement to make necessary and proper laws to issue a strictly national currency, based on the whole property of the country, and to establish a tariff only to raise a revenue sufficient to pay the national debt—should even now begin to assert that power and carry it out to the letter ;  for it is yet time to do right, correct errors and secure full and complete protection to the useful industries and labor, now employed in all the important manufacturing interests of our country ;  but there seems to be little hope of establishing justice, when our late Congress authorized the collection and accumulation of $150,000,000, which they tried very hard to squander without much thought of appropriating any and all surplus towards paying our enormous debt, which would, not only relieve taxpayers and producers, but the toiling masses.

History could probably not show such another accumulation of revenue in any other country, ancient or modern, monarchy or republic, and any nation or people, that allows it, is on the high road to corruption and ruin.

I indulge the hope, that you, Honorable Commissioners, will read with care my humble efforts to call and pin the attention of your Honorable Body on the absolute necessity there is, that the great and all-important questions of a national tariff, and of a strictly national paper currency must be settled in the interest of the mass of the American people, and not as they are now, in favor of monopolies of all kinds, especially banks and railroads.

Most respectfully yours,           
PETER COOPER.

The attention of your Honorable Committee is respectfully called to a few facts and figures in relation to the exports and imports of merchandise, and of gold and silver coin and bullion, during the last twenty-three years, and the influence our foreign commerce has on the volume of currency, and the relation of that volume to the industries of the country.  These facts and figures should convince every intelligent man, that to disturb our present tariff, especially in the way of reductions of duties on foreign imports, will be attended with great danger to the business prosperity of our own country.

From the preliminary report of the Chief of the Bureau of Statistics, published in the Bankers Magazine for September, we obtain some important facts in relation to the value of gold and silver coin and bullion, imported into, and exported from, the United States from the year 1860 to 1882, inclusive ;  also, of the excess of imports over exports.  “ The total exports of coin during this period was $932,226,125, and the total imports only $183,608,572.

During this period the exports of coin and bullion exceeded the imports for twenty years, and the imports exceeded the exports only for three years, and the total amount of exports of gold and silver coin and bullion over the imports in twenty-three years was $749,617,553.

During this entire period we have been under a high tariff, and a portion of the time a war tariff at that.  If we have lost $749,617,553 of gold and silver coin and bullion, which constitutes the base of our currency under a high tariff, what would have been our loss had we been under a system of free trade, or even with any great reduction in our present rates of duties on foreign imports.

We learn, also, from this report, that in the year 1881 the total exports of the country were $902,377,346, and the imports were $642,664,628, and the excess of exports over imports were $250,712,718 ;  but, in 1882, the total exports were only $750,351,173, and the total imports were $724,623,317, leaving the excess of exports over imports only $25,727,856.

From these figures it will be seen, that the increase in our imports during the past year has been $91,958,689, or 12.7 per cent.;  and that there has been a falling off in our exports in the year 1882, amounting to $132,026,173, over those of 1881, an actual change in the balance of trade of $233,984,862.

Now, if such an enormous change is taking place in one year, under a system of what may be called a high tariff, what, may I ask, would be the result, if an effort was made to reduce the rates of duties ?

The report of the Chief of Bureau of Statistics also informs us, that out of $91,958,689 of increase in imports during the past year $69,809,869 were dutiable articles, and the balance on articles admitted free of duty.

From the above table, in relation to the exports and imports of gold and silver coin and bullion, it will be seen, that in the fiscal year ending in 1882, the exports over imports were $6,940,186.  You will also observe from the foregoing table that, in 1881, the excess of imports over exports of coin was $91,168,650.  This shows, that in 1881 we had coming into the country a balance of over $91,000,000 of gold and silver coin and bullion, while in 1882 we have had $6,940,186 going out of the country.

Your Honorable Committee must be aware of the disastrous influence upon the business industries of our country, that a reduction of the volume of our currency always produces.  To contract the currency always tends to shrink prices.  If you take away the gold and silver coin and bullion, you take away the foundation, upon which all other currency rests.

We have over $700,000,000 of paper currency, that is practically redeemable in coin.  If any great amount of this coin is taken out of the country, will it not endanger the ability of the Government and the banks to redeem this currency in coin, and be likely to precipitate a financial panic ?

These facts should make your Honorable Committee hesitate long before you make any alteration whatever in our present system of tariff.


Some additional information, concerning the tariff, especially Franklin’s letter to Humphrey Marshall, will not be out of place here :


LONDON, April 22, 1771.

Sir :—I duly received your favors of the 4th of October and the 17th of November.  It gave me pleasure to hear, that tho’ the merchants had departed from their agreement of Non-Importation, the Spirit of Industry and Frugality was likely to continue among the People.  I am obliged to you for your concern on my account.  The letters you mention gave great offence here ;  but that was not attended with the immediate ill-consequences to my Interest, that seem to have been hoped for by those, that sent copies of them hither.

If our Country People would well consider, that all they save in refusing to purchase foreign Gewgaws, and in making their own apparel being apply’d to the Improvement of their Plantations, would render those more profitable as yielding a greater Produce, I should hope they would persist resolutely in their present commendable Industry and Frugality.  And there is still a farther consideration.

The colonies, that produce Provisions, grow very fast.  But of the countries, that take off those Provisions, some do not increase at all, as the European nations and others, as the West India Colonies, not in the same proportion.  So that tho’ the Demand at present may be sufficient, it cannot long continue so.  Every manufacturer, encouraged in our Country, makes part of a market for Provisions within ourselves and saves so much money to the Country as must otherwise be exported to pay for the manufactures he supplies.  Here in England it is well known and understood, that wherever a manufacture is established, which employs a number of Hands, it raises the value of Lands in the neighboring Country all around it :  partly by the greater demand, near at hand for the Produce of the Land, and partly from the Plenty of money, drawn by the manufacturers to that part of the Country.  It seems, therefore, the Interest of all our Farmers and owners of Land to encourage our young manufacturers in preference to foreign ones, imported among us from distant countries.

I am much obliged by your kind Present of curious seeds.  They were welcome gifts to some of my Friends.  I send you herewith some of the new Barley, lately introduced into this country and now highly spoken of.  I wish it may be found of use with us.

I was the more pleased to see in your Letter the Improvement of our Paper, having had a principal share in establishing that manufacture among us many years ago, by the encouragement I gave it.

If in anything I can serve you here, it will be a Pleasure to

Your obliged Friend and humble Servant,         
B. FRANKLIN.*

TO MR. HUMPHREY MARSHALL,

West Bradford, Chester County.




I quote the following letter and statistics to show how certain industries would increase and prosper, if carefully encouraged and protected by a judiciously discriminative tariff :


FLAX, HEMP, JUTE, ETC.  AN OPEN LETTER TO GENERAL GARFIELD.


“ 153 WALWORTH STREET,             
BROOKLYN, N.Y., 11th September, 1875.

GENERAL JAMES A. GARFIELD :

Sir,—In your speech at Warren, Ohio, as reported in the New York World of the 4th inst., you endorsed Senator Thurman’s statement of December last, that ‘ over production was one of the causes of the panic of 1873.’

We respectively submit, that the reverse of this was the case, and that the cause was mainly from under, not over production !

In support of this it is advanced, that last year under production caused the United States to import two hundred and seventy-one million dollars of flax, hemp, jute, ramie, silk, sugar, etc., viz.:


UNITED STATES IMPORTS, YEAR ENDING JUNE 30, 1874
(FROM REPORT OF CHIEF OF BUREAU OF STATISTICS).


Flax, hemp, jute (and their manufactures).... $30,000,000
Ramie and silk (and their manufactures).........25,000,000
Cotton (its manufactures)..................................25,000,000
Leather (and its manufactures).........................27,000,000
Wool (and its manufactures).............................59,000,000
Sugar (and its manufactures)............................93,000,000
Tobacco, rice, etc.................................................12,000,000
Total imports (gold) .......................................$271,000,000

From foregoing it is obvious that, during past twenty years, under production caused the United States to import over five billion dollars of above products, or more than double the public debt fund, which on July 1, 1875, was $2,128,825,089.

Manifestly, our security lies in rescuing these products from the foreigner’s grasp ;  that this is practicable is evident from what has been accomplished in wheat.

During twenty years ended 1874, America more than doubled its wheat exports to England (rising from 27 per cent. to 58 per cent.), whilst Russia decreased more than one-half (falling from 23 per cent. to 11 per cent.).

The introduction in 1855 of reapers, etc., was invaluable in enabling America to become the chief wheat-raising country in the world.

We submit, that a similar application of improved mechanics will enable America to export, instead of import, flax, hemp, jute, etc.

We further submit, that a sure way to this desirable end lies in a safe Government greenback currency, as recommended by the Hon. Peter Cooper in his Letter on the Currency, to wit :

That in the future we must put the whole power of coining money or issuing currency where, as Jefferson says, by the Constitution it properly belongs, ‘ entirely in the hands of the Government ;’  that this currency must be convertible into Government interest-bearing bonds, over which the Government has entire control ;  that the said greenbacks should be full legal tenders, and that the use of gold or other merchandise as money is a barbarism unworthy of the age, etc.

In the earlier ages gold was adopted to give assumed value to bank or government promissory notes.  We submit, that greenbacks issued and controlled by the United States Government, backed by the labor and intelligence of forty millions of people and four hundred million acres of the finest land under heaven, would be amply secured, superior to existing mode, satisfactory to every intelligent American, and hence sufficient for any other man.

America is largely a consuming country, although possessed of unequalled resources, that should exalt it to the highest position as a producing country.  This safe way is open ;  will America enter upon it ?

Yours respectfully,           
WILSON WATSON.”


Thus it may be seen, by the above letter, that it is impossible for us to import anything cheap from foreign countries, that must be bought at the expense of leaving our own good raw materials unused, and our own people unemployed.

PETER COOPER.




New York Mercantile Journal, March 31, 1877.

“ AMERICA VERSUS RUSSIA.


In 1875 the number of acres, cultivated in America, was 86,863,178, and the number of bushels produced 2,032,235,300, being a gain, as compared with 1872, of 18,582,981 acres and 369,903,700 bushels.

These statements clearly show the superiority of American methods of cultivation over Russian, or else of our soil over theirs, or both.  In 1872, 69,000,000 acres in America under six cereals gave 1,664,000,000 bushels, or 205,000,000 (50@150 per cent.) more than Russia received from double the acreage, 155,000,000 acres, yielding only 1,459,000,000 bushels !  During twenty years ended 1874, America’s exports of wheat to England were doubled, rising from 27 to 58 per cent. of England’s whole importation, while Russia’s decreased one-half-falling from 23 to 11 per cent.  In the same decade, America received from England 7 per cent. more for its wheat than Russia.

Russia’s strength is apparent in manufactures.  In 1677 she lead only 233 mills, while in 1875 she had 85,000.  In 1875 her flax and hemp mills (principally in Poland), employing 300,000 hands, produced 150,000,000 roubles, or $120,000,000, worth ;  while America, in 1870, had 33 bagging mills, producing less than $3,000,000 worth.  In 1875, we imported $25,000,000 worth of linens.  Russia spins American cotton, while America spins Russian flax !

America’s weakness is obvious in flax and hemp.  In 1870, we raised 27,000,000 pounds of flax and 1,750,000 bushels of flax seed ;  while in 1872, Russia raised 542,000,000 pounds of flax and 17,250,000 bushels of flax seed.  In 1870, America raised 12,746 tons of hemp ;  while in 1872, Russia raised, 967,444 tons of hemp, and 14,500,000 bushels of hempseed.

The best Western flax, which equals Russian, brings, in New York, $300 per ton.  Wheat and corn lands are good for flax, which is the most profitable crop raised in many sections.  In Morrow County, Ohio, the yield, in 1875, was $27.08 per acre, or double the average of the wheat and corn crops, per acre, in the whole country ;  the latter being $11.77 per acre.

America excels Russia in wheat ;  she could also surpass Russia in flax and hemp, marking an important era in our country’s production.”


Had we the Census Report of 1880, we could mention developments of home industries, that would show much more favorably, if they were more judiciously protected ;  but our late Congressional sessions have been so occupied to dispose of the $150,000,000 surplus, that the census must wait, till all the spoils were distributed, instead of applied to pay the nation’s debt and stop the interest thereon.

Perhaps flax, hemp, jute, etc., would thrive as well here as in Russia, if they were properly encouraged, and the $25,000,000 worth of imported linens per year might be produced and manufactured at home.  As our wheat crops have lately surpassed those of Russia, why should not our flax, hemp, barley, oats, etc., surpass those of Russia ?  Even silk, tea and sugar, might be produced so as to supply our wants ;  only a judicious tariff is needed ;  then “ bring producers and consumers close together,” as advocated by this most practical common sense article, which all can understand and appreciate :


“ BRING PRODUCERS AND CONSUMERS CLOSE TOGETHER.


“ It may be deemed an axiom, that the nearer the farmer and manufacturer are brought together the better it is for both parties.  The doctrine, so often taught, that the farmers are not benefited by protective duties on foreign imports, is false in theory and pernicious in effect.  The frequent suggestion, that Americans should confine themselves more exclusively to agriculture, is either prompted by a dense ignorance of economic laws, or by the selfish and unprincipled greed of foreign manufacturing interests.  It is probably more often the latter than the former.  If the question of transportation is alone considered, the argument is all on the side of protection, as affecting both parties ;  but especially so as regards the former.  It is as a rule life or death, success or failure, whether the farmer sells his wheat for $1.50 to a consumer near his home, or at $0.50 and sees $1.00 absorbed by transportation and middle-men, before it reaches the consumer at some foreign port.  The farmer is often blinded to the fact, that the foreign manufacturer, having vast capital and a monopoly of his productions, whether of cloths or other commodities, dictates the price of the wheat and his own cloths also.  The question of cheapness is a syren song of the free trader, by which the farmer is despoiled.  No word is more seductive or has more meanings than this word cheap.  Horne Tooke says :  ‘ The world is governed by WORDS.’  There is no word more ambiguous, or more sure of conquering the unwary or thoughtless than this word cheap.  Strictly, it means cheapness in money.  If an article brings but little money, it is called cheap.  Cheapness is often produced by low wages of labor.  Shirts, for instance, are made by poor needle women at 25 cents per dozen.  But what becomes of the needle woman, who makes the shirts ?  Cheapness to her is a mockery, for she has no money with which to buy the necessities of existence.  She is left to starvation and nakedness.  When Dr. Johnson was told, that eggs were so cheap on the Islands, that many could be bought for a penny, he said :  ‘ I It is not that eggs are so plenty, but pennies are scarce.’

Under a system of free trade, Revenue Tariff, so-called, which kills the manufacturer at the farmer’s door, destroys his home market and reduces the wages of labor to starvation prices, becomes a curse.  Cheapness, in this case, proves to be ruin.  The short-sighted farmer, who has been misled to vote for free trade, for fear of helping his manufacturing neighbor, goes for years without a new suit, and the products of his farm are absorbed by the non-producing carriers and middlemen between his gates and a foreign port, thousands of miles away.  Why are the Southern States becoming more prosperous since the war in many respects ?  Simply, because extensive manufactures of various branches are springing up.  This change creates a HOME market for the farmer through the largely increased means of consumption, and a very large item is saved to the real producers, the farmer and manufacturer alike, in the saving of transportation.  The less distance products of ANY kind are carried, the better it is for the consumer, who finally pays for everything.  Therefore, if farmers will but study this question in the light of common sense, and in their neighbors’ best pecuniary and social interests, as well as their own, they will surely never champion a system of free trade, nor even a Revenue Tariff.  Follow Henry C. Carey, and our own first and best friend, Hon. Peter Cooper on this question, and you will not be far wrong.”


This might be done at the South, where growers and manufacturers of cotton, sugar, silk, etc., could be brought “ close together ;”  it might also be done at the West, where growers and manufacturers of wool, flax, hemp, etc., might be brought “ close together,” so that growers and manufacturers could benefit each other, as well as the growers of cattle, vegetables and grain.  Let such common sense political economy be taught and prevail over this vast young country, instead of Adam Smith’s, Malthus’, Mill’s, Say’s systems ;  and let it be called “ Science of Good Government,” instead of Political Economy, which has been a tissue of vague theories, that might apply to small manufacturing countries like England, France, Netherlands, etc., either of which hardly equals New York State in extent.

When those authors wrote their books, they had no idea of these facts ;  neither have those writers, who now imitate their plausible speculations.  It should be remembered, that we have entire free trade all over this vast Republic, extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from Texas to Alaska, and numbering about as many square miles as Europe.

I have lately been reading G.B. Dixwell’s “ Premises of Free Trade ” and Henry George’s “ Progress and Poverty.”  I am glad these two American authors do not ape the English and French political economists :  Adam Smith, Malthus, Mill, Professor Cairnes ;  Say, Bastiat, Laveleye, Mongredien, etc. . . .

Dixwell tells us, p. 35 :  “ Volumes could be filled with examples of the errors, committed by economists of the English school in their deductive reasoning,” etc. . . Page 31, he says :  “ A large proportion of American converts to free trade became so really through influences, which are quite natural and amiable, but which are perfectly innocent of logic.  A vast host of wealthy and cultivated persons every year visit Great Britain, where they find almost every man, woman and child a free trade missionary, ready to tenderly influence and instruct their less fortunate cousins from the western side of the Atlantic,” etc. . . . Page 32, he observes :  “ Mr. David A. Wells, since his conversion to free trade, during a visit to England, becomes a hater of all tariffs,” etc. . . . Page 23 :  “ Professor Cairnes unfortunately based the main portion of his argument upon the statistical deductions of Mr. David A. Wells.  The Professor probably did not know how roughly these had been handled in Congress,” etc. . . . Again, page 31, Dixwell states :  “ Bastiat’s ‘ Sophisms of Protection were translated for the instruction of the American public under the auspices of ‘ The American Free Trade League, ” etc. . . . Dixwell gives the French political economists credit for entertaining their readers by their wit and vivacity, if they do not instruct them.

Henry George’s able work sets people thinking on social questions.  According to him dangers to free institutions result from the inequalities of the distribution of wealth ;  in this it seems to be antimonopoly.  After examining the Malthusian theory he tells us, p. 134 :  “ That theory is utterly inconsistent with the facts.  It is really a gratuitous attribution to the laws of God, etc. . . . For we have yet to find what does produce poverty amid advancing wealth.”  Critics accuse him of communism, because he does not seem to endorse property in land.  I consider his book a powerful plea for reform of some kind.  It opens a new era for a more practical common sense political economy.  Perhaps George and Dixwell will read my experience in the currency and tariff, and aid in establishing a Science of Good Government, based on a strictly national currency, a protective tariff and a wise civil service.



While they were printing the last pages of the book, I was preparing this short address, to be delivered February 1, 1883, at the Meeting of “ The New York Association for the Protection of American Industry,” in the large Hall of Cooper Institute.  As it may be my last public address, I add it here :


“ We have assembled, my friends, to call your attention to one of the most important subjects, that can now claim the care of the American people.  The advocates of free trade with foreign nations are trying to persuade our Government and people, that it is for our interest to buy from other countries all the luxuries they have to offer.

“ These advocates of free trade propose, that our own mechanics shall either work at the starvation prices of the foreign laborers, or be forced to abandon their trades and become competitors with the agriculturists of the country.

“ If we desire to bring upon our whole Nation a fate similar to that, which has fallen to the lot of Ireland, Turkey, Mexico, and Hindostan, it is only necessary to arrange our tariff in a way, that will induce the people to have all their manufacturing done in foreign countries, and pay for it with the raw materials of our own.  Such a policy will, if I am not mistaken, secure for our Union of States as rapid a decline and fall as that, which fell to the lot of Spain, when the Moors, her principal manufacturers, were driven out of the country.  Such a policy might gratify our thirst for all the dearly bought follies and fashions of European life ;  but it would bring ruin and wretchedness upon hundreds of thousands of the mechanics of our country, who have nothing to sell but their labor.

“ To break up this diversified employment of so vast a number by a change of tariff, and then expect them to find for themselves other means of living, is about as reasonable as it was for Pharaoh to expect the Israelites to make bricks without straw.”

PETER COOPER.




* I own the original manuscript of this letter and consider it a precious relic.  It shows the American Sage in favor of a protective tariff and home industry.