Mr. McKenzie. [James Andrew McKenzie (August 1, 1840 June 25, 1904) studied law, admitted to the bar; Kentucky, D.; soldier in the confederate army] Mr. Chairman, it is possible to appreciate, but it is not possible to express the embarrassment under which I labor on this occasion. At the close of the day's debate, and after so many exhaustive speeches upon this subject, I do not expect to say any thing either new or novel. The ground has been thoroughly trodden over. The reapers of Boaz have so thoroughly gathered and garnered the field that there is nothing left behind them for a modest and unpretentious Ruth like myself to glean. [Laughter.] I am, then, only going to indulge perhaps in some of the hackneyed phrases which have been worn threadbare in this discussion. I do not think the facts can be too often stated. I do not think that even the scroll of the heavens could contain the enormities, the outrages, and absurd iniquities of this tariff system.
This tariff discussion has been conducted at such great length that I doubt not the outside world is beginning to conclude that Congressmen "think they are under a sacramental obligation to exhaust every subject with a prolixity which scorns consideration of the preciousness of time and the brevity of human life." Yet, notwithstanding the great length to which this discussion has been extended, I shall ask the indulgence of the committee while I state as briefly as possible some of my objections to the bill, and discuss in a general way the subject to which it relates.
We are all familiar with it. It is infamous enough itself; it is a confession in avoidance and a confession in ignorantia, and it is a direct assertion that the great body of the American Congress, elected by a constituency as broad as the whole country, is unqualified and incapable of dealing with the great economic questions which are presented for our consideration.
The bill is as follows:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That a commission is hereby created to be called the tariff commission, to consist of nine members.
Sec. 2. That the President of the United States shall, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, appoint nine commissioners from civil life, one of whom, the first named, shall be the president of the commission. The commissioners shall receive as compensation for their services each at the rate of $10 per day when engaged in active duty, and actual traveling and other necessary expenses. The commission shall have power to employ a stenographer and a messenger; and the foregoing compensation and expenses to be audited and paid by the Secretary of the Treasury out of any moneys in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated.
Sec. 3. That it shall be the duty of said commission to take into consideration and to thoroughly investigate all the various questions relating to the agricultural, commercial, mercantile, manufacturing, mining, and industrial interests of the United States, so far as the same may be necessary to the establishment of a judicious tariff, or a revision of the existing tariff and the existing system of internal-revenue laws, upon a scale of justice to all interests; and for the purpose of fully examining the matters which may come before it, said commission in the prosecution of its inquiries is empowered to visit such different portions and sections of the country as it may deem advisable.
Sec. 4. That the commission shall report to Congress the results of their investigation, and the testimony taken in the course of the same from time to time, and make their final report not later than the first Monday in January, 1883.
This bill is an organic injustice. It delegates powers of a quasi legislative character to nine civilians, or experts. And, by the way, gentlemen of the House, the word expert in the last ten years has been made as odious in the American world as the Shakespearean word "occupy." It has a vague, general, indiscriminate signification that is extremely repulsive to all thinking minds.
This bill has one of two objects in view: either to secure delay in the matter of revising the tariff, or to secure a revision in the interest of a high protective system.
I pause here and ask any friend of this bill, any friend of protection, any friend of the existing tariff, if in any of the papers on file in this House the name of a single farmer appears as demanding or urging the passage of the bill. We have without number the petitions of the manufacturing interests of every section, signed, I doubt not, by their own employés, whose bread and meat and the shelter over the heads of whose families depend upon the dictum of their employers. I have no doubt we have cart-loads of such petitions on file here; but I ask gentlemen who are pleading for the passage of the bill to answer if the name of a single producer of the great cereals of America is on file in favor of its passage ?
Railroads doubtless petition for it; banks petition for it; the cotton manufacturers petition for it; the spinners of wool petition for it; manufacturers of Bessemer steel petition for it; the manufacturers of iron petition for it; and I ask you gentlemen on the other side who are presumed to be the especial champions of this bill, if in all the annals of the literature of petition on this subject the name of a single American farmer appears ? They are satisfied that they have been made for years the victims of this odious system of protection; and every paper on file asking for relief to the muscle that toils in the corn and tobacco fields in this great country asks for relief from the invidious, proscriptive, infamous system that discriminates against their labor and in favor of the capital and the protected industries of the land. There is not very much poetry in this sort of statement, gentlemen, but it is God's eternal truth.
These people who are protected by the present system may go on for a few years in riot, in the enjoyment of the splendid incomes which our present system secures to them; but I say that the time is not far distant when you will be called to an exact account by the American people that have been so long plundered by your infamous exactions. If the Republican party needed nothing else to damn it in the estimation of all right-thinking people, the fact that it is the author of the Morrill tariff bill is enough in the eyes of God and men to consign it to the infamy of an absolute and unconditional perdition. I do not mean the hell that is spoken of in this new translation of the Bible, but I mean the old, orthodox, unconditional hell of King James's version. [Laughter and applause.] I am not a new-translation man; I believe in an orthodox hell; and when I look on that side of the House and contemplate the iniquities of this infernal tariff system I realize the necessity of a hell. [Great laughter and applause.]
This bill, then, delegates the powers that belong to the American Congress to nine civilian experts to be chosen by an accidental President, hostile in his political views to a majority of the American people. It is an absolute surrender of the powers and privileges of this House delegated to it by the Constitution, which provides that all bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives. What does it propose ? It delegates to nine men powers and duties which by the Constitution of the United States belong exclusively to Congress. Is it not a humiliating spectacle that the representatives of the American people in this the highest deliberative body in the world should make the confession that they are incompetent to execute the high trust confided to them and to discharge the most vital functions of Government which they were elected and are paid to carry into effect ?
I say to you gentlemen over on that side of the House that if this bill becomes a law by your votes, in all conscience you ought to contribute out of your salaries enough to pay the expenses of these nine civilian experts. You were sent here to revise this tariff. You were elected to devise ways and means for carrying on this Government. If you admit your incapacity and delegate your powers and prerogatives to nine paid civilians, by every principle of common honesty known among men you ought to pay the expenses yourselves. That would make an enormous difference, I take it, in the votes on that side if it were tacked on as an amendment. [Laughter.]
Amid all the screaming and howling virtue on the Republican side of this House reduction of salaries is not one of their distinguishing and peculiar characteristics. Seventy-five cents a day would be very fair pay for a man who votes for this bill. [Laughter.] I hope gentlemen will not get impatient with me; I have not occupied the attention of this House more than six hours in six years. [Cries of "Go ahead!"]
Now, let me inquire of gentlemen who advocate the passage of this bill where the members to compose this commission are to come from, and in what manner this extra-judicial commission is to be constituted ? Are you to let the Irish have representation ? There has been a great outcry in this House about demanding the release of the suspects on the other side of the Atlantic now in British prisons, with which I thoroughly sympathize. Our Irish population constitutes an important factor in our cosmopolite nationality. Are you going to give the German element representation ? They believe in personal liberty, and they are afraid of these fanatical people on the other side who advocate temperance bills and take a drink five times a day. [Laughter.]
Those gentlemen also occasionally, in a spirit of unusual and extraordinary morality, advocate the passage of bills for the government of Utah that will wipe out all the iniquities of the polygamic system and leave untouched the plain system of fornication known elsewhere. [Laughter.] But, gentlemen, I do not impugn your virtue; God knows that in my judgment there is not a single man in the House who is not as pure and as immaculate as the icicle that hangs on Diana's temple. [Laughter.] I am not here to make invidious allusions or comparisons; I only know that the Republican party occasionally experiences a spasm of virtue that generally ends in smoke, and nothing else. While they claim to be the God-and-morality party, they have ways very much like an average sinner. [Laughter.]
Again, I ask, are these commissioners to come from the great valley of the Mississippi River, which is the grand food-producing basin of the United States, and whose people are more interested in the free exchange of products than any other people on the face of this hemisphere ? Are they to come from protected New England ? Are they to come from the growing States on the Pacific coast ? And, by the way, I see the benevolent face of my friend from California [Mr. Page] beaming on me like an anti-Chinese lantern. [Laughter.] I ask him if he wants the Pacific coast left out in the general make up of this commission ? I ask the Representatives of New England if they want their spindles and their water-power at Lawrence and Lowell to be represented in the composition of this extraordinary quasi-judicial commission which is left to the discretion of President Arthur ? Are there to be representatives of all these sections and interests ? And, in addition, are they to be the beneficiaries or the victims of the present infernal and iniquitous tariff system ?
The English language has too great poverty of expression to properly convey to the American people an idea of the incongruities, the enormities, and the absurdities of the present tariff. Are they to be intelligent and impartial citizens, having no political or sectional interests to subserve, but anxious only to promote the general welfare of the whole country ? My God, gentlemen, how rare such a character is to-day ! How few of us, (and I speak in a general sense,) how few of us in casting our votes upon any great measure of public policy consider what its effect is to be upon the whole country ! Rather do we consider how it is going to affect us in securing our own nominations in the race for seats in this House.
How will this affect, not New England, not the Mississippi basin, not the Pacific coast, but the whole country ? And I ask you gentlemen who are fair-minded, it matters not what your political convictions may be, I put it to you personally, if in the adjudication of the great economic questions that are presented for the consideration of the American Congress we give them that broad national scope of observation and regard which by virtue of the high positions we hold here we ought to give them ? Or do we narrow to a district what should be designed for the whole country ? I want to ask those gentlemen on the other side if the agricultural, the mechanical, and the manufacturing interests shall all be fairly represented on this commission ? What assurance have you from President Arthur that it shall be so constituted ?
I served here in the Forty-sixth Congress, and remember that it was pretty generally understood among us all what sort of bills Mr. Hayes was going to veto, and what sort he was going to sign. I hope no such era is to be inaugurated under the new régime.
I ask you, gentlemen, if these great interests and I ask you in common fairness if they are not great interests the mechanical, agricultural, and all the industrial interests of the country will be represented on this commission ? Will the farmer ? No, gentlemen; the farmer has taken a back seat in this House for the last forty years. He has scarcely an advocate on this floor. How many have appeared here with a bill in the exclusive interest of the great farming industry of the country ? You apply for special relief for injustice alleged to have been done to the manufacturing industries; but who ever came before this Congress asking in the name of this great producing energy a single solitary measure for its relief ? I ask, then, again if the farmer is to be on that commission ? Do not tell me that the farmers have not intelligence enough to serve on any commission this House could authorize. Do not tell me that the farming interest is not sufficiently vast to require and demand a representation upon a commission so important to the American people as this. Will it be represented ? Will the banker, the merchant, the mechanic, the manufacturer, the railroads, the ship-owners, the ship-builders, the salaried and waged laborers of the country will they all have representation upon a commission so vital to all their important interests ? And, by the way, gentlemen, the salaried and wage laborers of this country have as much interest in this bill as anybody else. Who pays any attention to them ? They represent about eight-tenths of the whole body of the American people. Eight-tenths of our whole population make their living by the sweat of their brows, by tilling the soil, by working in the shops, the blacksmith-shops, the carpenter-shops, and all the varied industries of the land, or depend for sustenance upon the labor of those who are so employed. The salaried and wage laborers of the land are those who need and require protection.
Capital is cautious, conservative, and self-protective. You may put a man with a hundred thousand dollars in the wilds of Senegambia, and he is a comparatively free man, for he can buy all the African princes necessary to secure his safe return to the coast. It is not such men who require the protection of the law. It is the men who work twelve hours a day to support their wives and children, to supply them with bread and meat, and shelter over their heads, who require the protection of American legislators. They are the people for whom protective laws should be specially designed; not with a view to do any injustice to the moneyed interest; not with a view of doing any injustice to railroad or other corporations, but upon the broad catholic and benign principle that the helpless always demand the strong protective power of the law.
I appeal to you, gentlemen, who differ from me in sentiment, to know if it is not true that the legislation of the past twenty years has been in the interest of banks and bankers and railroad corporations and the great protected interests of the land ? I ask any gentleman here to point me to a single statute that adorns the statute-book of our country that is designed expressly and exclusively for the interests of the farming people.
They cannot wine you and dine you. They have no paid and salaried lobby here to protect their interests. The great majority of them are poor. Your corridors are not crowded with the salaried agents of the farming interests. But you cannot start out of one of these corridors without running across a railroad lobbyist; without running afoul of a man who wants to recharter the national banks; without running afoul of the man who wants to protect the salt interest; without running afoul of a man who is in favor of the protection of the iron interest. Not a single farmer is to be heard from, either by himself or his agents, in these corridors. Producing all the wealth of the country, establishing its prosperity, he stands in legislation representing seven-tenths of the whole population of the United States; he stands here without a lobby and comparatively without a friend. I conjure you, gentlemen, to think of the idea of delegating the great and important interests of the farmers of this country to such a set of wet-nurses. [Laughter.] This infant is too nearly strangled and starved by abstemiousness and by ill-feeding to hope that its life can be preserved by surrendering it to such an infernal foundling asylum as that. [Laughter.]
Now, I ask your attention respectfully to another idea. I am not trying to say anything new on this subject, because the ground has been trodden over very thoroughly. I am only attempting, like a good cook, to make the fare of yesterday passable again to-day by a varied dressing. I am putting more sauce into this thing than usual. [Laughter.] Under the provisions of this bill the President may exercise an absolute discretion in the selection of members of the commission. He may, if he chooses, appoint every one of the members from a single protected industry. He may take every one of them from your Bessemer-steel men; he may take every one of them from your wool men; he may take every one of them from the representatives of any of the interests that are here on this floor to-day, or are here through their paid lobbyists in the corridors of this Capitol.
I now come to the consideration of a question which I approach with many misgivings. I do not want to say anything unkind; it is not in my nature. [Laughter] I have served here a long time; and I appeal to gentlemen on both sides of the House if I have not been uniformly courteous and considerate of their feelings. But I am going to discuss a question which has somewhat of personality in it. I trust I shall be able to deal with it with that degree of deftness which will leave no sting behind. I come to contemplate the Committee on Ways and Means, and I pause in order to allow the average Congressional mind to grasp the vastness of this subject. [Laughter.]
Now I desire to ask why has not the Committee on Ways and Means, that mighty body which is the arbiter elegantiarum of this House, and which controls absolutely its economic destinies, why has not this Committee revised the tariff ? Is it possible that they are willing to confess in the face of Heaven and men that they are incapable of grappling with the grand questions which are referred to them by this House ? I am not disposed, gentlemen, to entertain as poor an opinion of that committee as they seem by their acts to entertain of themselves, and, God knows, modesty is not the weakness of the average American Congressman. [Laughter.] It seems to me that a sub-committee of the Committee on Ways and Means might be constituted consisting of the gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Kelley,] the gentleman from Iowa, [Mr. Kasson,] the gentleman from Minnesota [Mr. Dunnell] whom I see before me, my colleague, [Mr. Carlisle,] the gentleman from Virginia, [Mr. Tucker,] and the gentleman from Illinois, [Mr. Morrison,] thus embracing three great representatives of each of the two great political parties which are so nearly equally divided in this House and in the whole country.
Here is a sub-committee selected in a spirit of fairness, three of one party, and three of the other, representing the intelligence, the experience, the capacity of the two great political parties that are struggling for mastery in this country. I would have more confidence personally in the recommendations of such a sub-committee than in all the partisan commissions that President Arthur could select during the remainder of his official life. Here are men chosen by the American people, undergoing the cross-fire of adverse political criticism in their own districts, bringing to this House the prima facie fact that the people whom they have the honor to represent have indorsed them and expressed confidence in their wisdom, their fairness, and their justice. If we could have a sub-committee like this, consisting of three gentlemen on each side representing the two great political parties in this country, I ask gentlemen of this House if they would not have more confidence in the finding of that sub-committee than in this commission of wet nurses ? What say you, gentlemen ? I pause for one minute to know if any man in this House, Republican or Democrat, differs from me in that statement. [Mr. White rose.] Oh, John, sit down. [Laughter.] I do not mean any offense to my colleague. "Then none have I offended. I have done no more to Caesar than you should do to Brutus." [Laughter. Mr. White again rose.] I have given you a sub-committee composed of an equal number of the two great political parties represented on this floor; and I ask whether you would not have confidence in the wisdom of their conclusions ?
Mr. White. I beg my colleague's pardon for interrupting him--
Mr. McKenzie. It is no interruption.
Mr. White. My colleague said he would pause for reply; and I thought if I did not reply he might consider that I was agreeing with him.
Mr. McKenzie. No, indeed; I did not conclude that; I knew you did not. I knew you too well for that, John. [Laughter.]
Mr. Robeson. Will the gentleman from Kentucky permit me to ask him a question ?
Mr. McKenzie. With great pleasure.
Mr. Robeson. I would like to ask the gentleman why, when he makes up his sub-committee of the leaders of the two parties on that committee, he leaves off the representative leader on the Democratic side of the House, its late Speaker ?
Mr. McKenzie. Because it is not usual to constitute a Sub-committee out of the whole committee.
Mr. Robeson. Why, in selecting representative men for his sub-committee, does he not put on that committee the gentleman whom his party selected as their representative ?
Mr. McKenzie. I always make it a rule to pick out the best men I can find. [Laughter.] And by that language I mean to cast no colorable reflection.
Mr. McMillin. I suppose, too, that my friend from Kentucky does not want two of them, one-third, from the same State ?
Mr. Robeson. I do not care what State they come from as long as they are the representative men.
Mr. McKenzie. Kentucky generally sends as good people here as anybody else.
Mr. Candler. I should like to ask the gentleman a question.
Mr. McKenzie. Certainly.
Mr. Candler. I should like to ask him if we do not have the advantage of the ability and experience of the gentlemen he has named after we have received the report of the commission.
Mr. McKenzie. I will answer that by inquiring of the gentleman from Massachusetts what avenues of information are open to this wet-nurse commission that are not equally open to this House ?
Mr. Candler. I will answer the gentleman. He presents an exaggerated statement, which is not sustained, when he criticises the commission proposed by this bill. We shall have advantages in that commission in seeking information from the farmers whom he refers to as well as from the manufacturers.
Mr. McKenzie. You use the personal pronoun "we." To whom do you refer ?
Mr. Candler. When you stated that a wet-nurse commission will be appointed, it is something for which you have no authority. We have a right to believe that the President of the United States will appoint an intelligent commission, one that will command the respect of the country.
Mr. McKenzie. Is not this an intelligent House ?
Mr. Candler. After the report of the commission it will be dealt with as it deserves.
Mr. McKenzie. This body represents the intelligence of the American people. There is as much intelligence outside of it as there is here, and more, too, perhaps. [Great laughter.] But these Representatives were selected because of their intelligence and supposed fitness for their position upon this floor. Now, I ask the gentleman, in a Yankee way, a question. Does he suppose a finer body of experts can be selected outside of this House than in it ?
Mr. Candler. I do not want a body of experts. If I could appoint the commission I would appoint, and I hope the President will, men of established reputation and character, who, after they have investigated this matter, will give an opinion which will be of value to the whole country. It is not alone that we want a commission that can make a report, but we want to get the truth from the people, and we can get it in no better way than this.
Mr. McKenzie. The gentleman will pardon me. It is not the duty or part of the duty of this commission to give opinions, it is simply to collate facts; and I ask him if he is willing to concede the fact that a commission appointed by President Arthur has more capacity to collate facts with the great body of statistics open before us, than any committee that may be appointed by this House ?
Mr. Candler. No, sir. I believe from this House, Mr. Chairman, we can select men well qualified for that position.
Mr. McKenzie. Do not take up too much of my time.
Mr. Candler. But experience in this House and out of it satisfies us that it requires more time than any committee of this House can have.
Mr. McKenzie. I cannot yield further. If the gentleman from Massachusetts knew how many more good things I have to say he would not take up so much of my time. [Laughter.]
Mr. Candler. That is the reason you want a proper commission to investigate facts in detail and to discriminate.
Mr. McKenzie. It would take me five years to give the enormities and iniquities of this thing in detail. I am now only generalizing. [Laughter.]
Mr. Chairman, if I had time I would ask the indulgence of this committee while I analyzed this proposition. Here is this Committee on Ways and Means, a committee of thirteen members, consisting of Messrs. Kelley, Kasson, Dunnell, McKinley, jr., Hubbell, Haskell, Russell, Errett, Randall, Tucker, Carlisle, Morrison, and Speer. If I were to refer to the Congressional Directory, the finest repository of suppressed vanity that God Almighty ever permitted, [great laughter and applause,] I could satisfy you that divine wisdom never permitted a book to emanate from the American press which contained as much modest assumption. [Renewed laughter.]
Suppose I were to entertain the House upon the theory that this bill is a confession of weakness, that it is a confession that the Committee on Ways and Means of this House are not equal, intellectually, to the great task of grappling with the subject of the tariff and I submit to every member upon this floor, in common fairness and justice, if the bill does not show that to be the fact. Suppose, following out that idea, I were to refer to the biographical sketches so kindly furnished to Mr. Ben: Perley Poore by these gentlemen themselves; suppose I were to trace out the intellectual estimates placed upon themselves by these gentlemen and I presume they wrote the biographies themselves. [Laughter.] But I will not do it, because I have not now time. Still I invite the attention of the House and the country to the modest, shrinking, girlish estimate placed upon themselves by these God-fearing men. [Laughter and applause.]
I had begun to think, Mr. Chairman, that I had manifested a spirit of modesty myself, a sort of shrinking nature upon the floor of the House, but when I came to read these sketches by the members of the Committee on Ways and Means published in the Congressional Directory, I felt that I had been bold, self-assuming, and presumptuous, and was no longer entitled to believe myself a modest man. [Renewed laughter.] I invite attention to them; no more interesting reading exists in the annals of literature since the Canterbury Tales were written. [Laughter.] Look at the ages of these men. They are no spring chickens. [Renewed laughter.] They are about as thoroughly matured a set of individuals as I have ever encountered in this House. I thought I had the whole matter before me here, unless some of them have been too modest to insert it in the Record; but I will not take up the time of the committee now by reading them; still, if gentlemen choose to look they will find here about as interesting reading as they ever came across, and they will see that the compiler of this directory has succeeded in getting their ages, I suppose after the fashion of the census officers, who, when they found an old maid who declined to give her age, declared that they would set her down at eighty years, by which they generally managed to get a response. [Laughter.]
As the Representative of 180,000 people on this floor I demand of these gentlemen who support this bill that they inform this House what necessity exists for making the Executive the autocrat of the legislative department ? We have had a good deal of experience in this commission business. In the Forty-fourth Congress we created a commission that did not turn out in a very satisfactory sort of way. [Laughter.] It succeeded in foisting upon the American people as the President of the United States a man who had as much moral right to the office as I have to a quarter section of land in the moon; and, by the way, it was an administration that will go down in history remarkable for but two things, weak vetoes and cold water at state dinners. [Great laughter.] I will ask the untamed patriots on the Republican side of the House what is the necessity of placing in the hands of an accidental President the power to create the commission ? Why not create it ourselves ? Have you no confidence in your fellow-members ? I have, on this side of the aisle. [Laughter.]
Will not your constituents and I use the pronoun "your" when I refer to the members who will vote for this enormity will not your constituents say to you when you shall have enacted this bill into law by your votes, that you have confessed your weakness, confessed your inability to deal with the great economic questions presented for your consideration ? Will they not say you have degraded the legislative department of the Government by avoiding the duties which they imposed upon you ?
Suppose you had decided to delegate the power to appoint this commission to the Supreme Court of the United States; and I ask my eminent lawyer friend, the gentleman from New Jersey, [Mr. Robeson,] to give attention to this. If you had delegated the power to appoint this commission to tax the people to the Supreme Court of the United States, under the law, would that not be as much in conformity with constitutional authority ? I want my distinguished friend from New Jersey to pay attention; for when I state a legal proposition I turn instinctively toward the Nestor of the profession.
Mr. Robeson. I will answer if the gentleman will not tell me to sit down.
Mr. McKenzie. I ask your attention to it, asserting that I have no disposition to sit down on you. [Laughter.] Well, if you will not answer I will ask you an easier one next time. [Renewed laughter.]
But I invite attention to that broad question. I have been deal ing in generalities; now I ask attention to something that comes directly home to everybody who hears me. What will you do with the report of this commission when you get it ? What use will you make of the report of these civilian experts when it is made ? I have no doubt they will drink as much wine, smoke as many twenty-five cent cigars, interview as many "leading" manufacturers, visit the hospitable homes of as many people, and be entertained in as sumptuous a manner as they entertain at state dinners. I have no doubt they will visit Mr. Nimmo, and perhaps refer to my speech for their statistical information. [Laughter.] I invite their attention to it. [Great laughter.]
But after it is all done, after this laborious effort is made, I ask you, as representatives of the American people, what are you going to do about it ? [Laughter.] Do you intend to adopt it upon the idea that these people know immeasurably more about the true theory of revenue and protection than we do ? An angel direct from Heaven could not make a revelation in regard to the general literature of protection that would illuminate some members on that side of the House. [Laughter.] Are you going to admit the conclusions of these people; are you going to admit that their conclusions are wiser than any that could possibly be arrived at by the nearly four hundred representatives sent here by the people to look after their interests ? Whence their superiority ? They ought to go home and run for Congress. If these people are so much our intellectual and moral superiors, if they are able to deal with these questions, divesting themselves of all partisan prejudices, if they are able to deal with them in a spirit of fairness, justice, and liberality toward every section, then why in the name of all that is wonderful do not the American people recognize their superior abilities and send them here to Congress in place of this Committee on Ways and Means, that solemnly and gravely admits, in the face of God and men, that they have not the ability to tackle this question ? [Laughter.] I feel sorry for that committee; I think of it in the night-watches. It excites the commiseration of a heart, naturally tender, when I awake at night and think that the American people are here through their representatives, with a Committee on Ways and Means that comes before the House and blubberingly says, "We cannot tackle this thing ourselves, but we have got a gang of fellows outside that are able to do it at $10 per day and found." [Laughter.]
I want to ask you another question on the subject of iron, (and that is where the iron enters into my soul;) on the subject of iron will the consumers or manufacturers be heard or heeded before this august tribunal of nine ? On the subject of woolen goods will the ragged and suffering poor that pay the enormous duty on the wool and the manufactured product that constitutes their miserable squalid covering have an audience ? Or will the rich owners of the million spindles and the lordly proprietors of the herds upon a thousand hills be listened to and obeyed ? Will ear be given to the plaints of the lowly, the stricken, the oppressed, and an effort made to relieve their grievances ? Or will these doctrinaires be wined and dined by the manufacturing and protected interests, and listen to appeals whereby the thumb-screws of taxation and protection can be so applied as to wring an additional penny from the unwilling hand of penury and want ? [Applause.] Will the shivering, ague-stricken people of our malarial bottoms be listened to in their cry for untaxed medicinal herbs, or will the quinine kings of Philadelphia and New York be heard in their effort to restore a tax on quinine which, if ever enacted, should be styled "An act for the promotion of malarial fever?"
These are questions, as Lord Byron said, at once answerless and yet incessant; they appeal to our sense of justice and to all the finer, higher, and nobler instincts and impulses of our better natures.
Little as you may think it, gentlemen, Republicans are not wholly depraved. [Great laughter.] I say this in the interest of humanity; I say this for the general credit of our common country. It is an admission not extorted from me, but voluntarily made because I realize it, and I ask them, notwithstanding the great burden of sin and iniquity that hangs upon them like a cloud, notwithstanding the great dust and smoke that obscure the few good actions they have done, I ask them in the name of the shivering people of our malarial bottoms, I ask them in the interest of the half-naked and half-starved people of the whole country if they are willing to perpetuate a system for mere party supremacy that works so great ill and injustice to that class of our people that needs the protection of your laws. Do not all answer at once, gentlemen. [Laughter.]
Will Wall street have a voice in this business ? And the national banks, those blessed institutions that have brought such untold and incalculable benefits upon our poor tax-payers will they have a voice, together with other moneyed monopolies, to secure relief from the imaginary grievances of which they complain ? Or will the hard-fisted farmer, clad in the humble habiliments of hodden-gray that befit his calling, be able to secure audience and obtain redress for the real grievances under which he is now and has for so long a time been laboring ?
We hear our friends on the other side howl about the Democratic opposition to the rechartering of the national banks. Gentlemen, the Democratic party never made any other record that was honorable to it, if it never made any other record in the interests of the whole people rather than a protected few, it is the fact that we have got that national-bank interest as the under dog in this fight, and we intend to keep it there if we have to stay here all summer. [Applause.]
I ask you if you are going to adopt this system as a whole, or will you reject it? or what will you do with it ? A distinguished Senator said a few days ago at the other end of the Capitol I mean Senator Allison that he would vote for this bill because it secured non-action for two years. And another member of that body, older in service and not less distinguished, said that it was the duty of the American Congress when that bill came before it to adopt it without change and without question. The meaning of all this is that the existing system, cursed of God and abhorred of man, is to be continued indefinitely by a postponement of the subject, or, if changed at all, it is to be made still more protective and oppressive upon the great body of American taxpayers and consumers of manufactured articles.
The time has come when the people of America demand relief from this odious, this infamous protective system. We have a country too broad and too grand for such a miserable and restricted policy. It may do in France, it may do in any country of Europe whose territory is only equal to one of our great States; but for a country like ours, a country bounded on the north and the south almost by the poles of the earth, a country reaching through dozens of degrees of longitude, a country rocked and cradled in the roar of two oceans, the idea of applying a principle so protective, contracted, and proscriptive is ridiculous and unjust, and will eventually be repudiated by the American people. We cannot, as the representatives of fifty million people living under a system of government that guarantees to every man equal rights under the law, afford to foster and protect and further foist upon the people a system that is in contravention of every principle of their laws and of their civilization.
Mr. White. Will my colleague allow me to ask him if he in common with the rest of our delegation did not receive a letter from our own people asking for protection on hemp ?
Mr. McKenzie. I did not.
Mr. White. And does he not know that the cattle men in our State are very anxious about protection on cattle against the system which has been established in England, and which costs him and me, for we are both farmers, $20 to $30 a head upon our cattle, and which is a total loss ?
Mr. McKenzie. No; I did not receive any such letter. And I desire to say that I would not be in favor of the protection on hemp even if there was no Republican party in existence. [Great laughter.]
Mr. White. Does my colleague mean to say that he does not want the hemp used on his side of the House ?
Mr. McKenzie. I stick to what I said. There may be occasionally a Democrat that needs hanging, but it is only the exception, not the general rule. [Continued laughter.]
Mr. White. It is only the exception that gets it.
Mr. McKenzie. I hope my colleague will not interrupt me on the question of hemp. If he has no more important question than that to ask, I hope he will allow me to proceed in my humble way until I get through with this thing.
Mr. White. I beg pardon of my colleague. But in all serious ness I desire to say that I have before me a letter asking for protection on hemp.
Mr. McKenzie. I know you have, but I have not had the honor to receive it, and I would not vote for such a thing, if every man, woman, and child who has ever been in Kentucky from 1792 until to-day were to petition me to do it.
Mr. Carlisle. Will my colleague allow me to make a statement in response to the statement of the gentleman from the ninth district of Kentucky ? The growers of hemp in Kentucky in convention passed a resolution declaring explicitly that they agreed with the Kentucky Representatives on the subject of protection; but so long as other articles manufactured in this country were protected they thought they were justly entitled to have at least the small measure of protection that they now have under the law.
Mr. White. Will my colleague allow me to read the resolution, if there is any dispute about it ?
Mr. McKenzie. There is no dispute about it.
The Chairman. The time of the gentleman has expired.
Mr. Russell. I move that the gentleman's time be extended.
The Chairman. For how long?
Mr. Robeson. I hope the gentleman's time will be extended.
Mr. McKenzie. I am very much obliged to the gentleman from New Jersey.
Mr. Robeson. The gentleman is speaking directly upon the subject, and I wish to hear him.
Mr. McKenzie. Whenever there is the slightest indication that the House wants me to stop, I do not propose to go an inch further. [Cries of "Go on!" "Go on!"]. I want the electrician to light up here, for I have some additional facts, as little as you may think it, that bear on this question. [Laughter.]
Mr. White. I ask my colleague--
Many Members. Oh, no.
Mr. McKenzie. I cannot afford to be discourteous to my colleague.
The Chairman. The Chair desires to state the question before the gentleman proceeds. The request is made by the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. Russell] and the gentleman from New Jersey [Mr. Robeson] that the gentleman from Kentucky [Mr. McKenzie] be allowed to proceed without limit. Is there objection ? [After a pause.] The Chair hears none, and the gentleman will proceed.
Mr. White. My colleague was kind enough to allow my colleague from the sixth district [Mr. Carlisle] to make a statement.
Mr. McKenzie. And I will yield to you with equal pleasure.
Mr. White. Now, that there may be no misunderstanding about this matter, I desire to read but three or four lines:
Resolved by the hemp-growers of Kentucky, That we are in full accord with our Senators and Representatives in Congress on the tariff question, but desire that, while any other interest is protected by the General Government, the hemp interest of the country shall have that protection: and we respectfully request that they watch this interest in our behalf.
P.P. Johnston, President.
R.H. Prewitt, Secretary.
That shows clearly that as long as there is any protection in the country they want the same protection on hemp. Kentucky produces 80 per cent. of all the hemp grown in the country, and they want as high protection on that as there is on any other product. I would therefore like to know if the State of Kentucky, as far as hemp is concerned, is not a protective State
Mr. Carlisle. It has protection to the amount of 19 per cent. ad valorem, and no more, against 100 per cent. on other articles.
Mr. White. In addition to that, we are assured that we lose $20 a head on our cattle in the European market.
Mr. McKenzie. Now I come to another hard-pan fact. I ask the attention of both sides of the House when I say that the authors and supporters of this measure mean simply to secure delay in the matter of tariff legislation to bridge over the time between now and the next Presidential election, when possibly the "old man" will have something to say about what the Republican party shall do. The meaning of all this is, then, that the existing tariff is to be maintained by a postponement of the subject, or if the tariff be changed at all, it is to be made more protective and oppressive.
Mr. Chairman, the Morrill tariff in force to-day imposes an average duty of over 45 per cent. upon all dutiable articles. It is the highest tariff we have ever had during the entire history of our tariff legislation. Besides, it is a war tariff. It was not gotten up in time of peace, for the raising of revenue to carry on the Government, but was adopted in the midst of the greatest civil conflict that ever convulsed a nation in modern times; yet not a single change has been made in it from that day to this, except the effort made in the Forty sixth Congress to show the beneficent results of free trade, when that drug which relieves tertian ague was put on the free list in the interest of common humanity, and against the protest of some of the protectionists.
Will the House pardon me if I say that I indulge a reasonable pride in the fact that I happened to be the author of that bill, which has secured a reduction of 78 cents an ounce upon an article which is as necessary as flour in the domestic economy of every household ? Notwithstanding the howl which went up from the quinine kings of Philadelphia that it would break down their interests, it has secured a reduction of 78 cents upon every ounce of the sulphate and salts of quinine, while at the same time two additional manufactories of those sulphates and salts have been erected since the passage of that bill. In order to show that there has been in fact a reduction of 78 cents per ounce on quinine since the passage of that act, I refer to the following table, prepared by J.S. Moore, esq., a gentleman thoroughly familiar with this subject:
January, 1879, to June 30, 1879, price of taxed quinine ....... $3.63
July 1, 1879, to December 31, 1879, price of free quinine ........ 3.29
Saving per ounce ....................... 34
The year 1877, taxed quinine ................. 3.76
The year 1880, free quinine ................. 3.03
Saving per ounce ......................... 73
The year 1878, taxed quinine ...................... 3 54
The year 1881, free quinine ........................... 2.47½
Saving per ounce ........................... 1.06½
Or, if you want it still shorter, the average from January 1, 1877, to July 1, 1879, (two and a half years,) with duty on, was $3.64½. The average price of free quinine during two and a half years, from July, 1879, to December, 1881, was $2.86. Therefore the average reduction was 78 cents per ounce.
While it is not always true that the American manufacturer adds the full amount of the duty to the price of his product, yet it has been estimated by those most competent to judge, and has never been disproved, that upon the average he adds to his price at least two-thirds of the duty imposed upon the foreign article; or, in other words, he stops just short of the point which would permit the foreign article to compete with him, and thus secures absolute possession and control of the home market. In this way he inflicts two evils upon the country and the people. In the first place he prevents the Government from receiving any revenue from the article which otherwise would be imported, and in the second place he compels the American farmer and other consumers to pay him from 25 to 40 per cent. for his article more than it is really worth, its real value being what it would sell for in the open market in competition with like products from every other place.
To illustrate the operation of this rule we may take the article of salt. The very highest quality of salt imported into this country during the last fiscal year cost on an average at the place of production 3 mills per pound, or about 16½ cents per bushel, while all the other qualities of salt imported during the same time cost 1 mill per pound, or about 5½ cents per bushel. Now the duty on the quality of salt first mentioned is 39 per cent, ad valorem, while the duty on the lower grade of salt, mostly used by farmers in curing meats and for ordinary domestic purposes, is 69 per cent. ad valorem.
There was manufactured in this country during the year 1880 salt to the value of $4,817,636, and the consumers of salt throughout the country have been compelled to pay to salt manufacturers here at home from 20 to 40 per cent. on this sum of $4,817,636 more than they would have been required to pay if salt had been free of duty, for the reason that two-thirds of the duty is always added to the price of the domestic product. So that it will be seen that this enormous bonus or bounty is payable to the salt manufacturer, and the Government gets not one dollar of it.
The product of our domestic manufactures of woolen goods, such as blankets, flannels, cloths, cassimeres, &c., articles of absolute necessity in this climate, amounted during the year 1880 to $266,998,454. The average rate of duty on such goods is over 60 per cent. Now, if 40 per cent. or two-thirds of the duty was added to the price of the domestic article, then the people paid as a bounty to the manufacturers of these goods during that year over $80,000,000; in other words, if this class of woolen goods could have been admitted free of duty, the consumers of such goods could have procured precisely the same quality and same quantity for more than $80,000,000 less than they were actually compelled to pay.
Now, Mr. Chairman, while this war tariff with its burdens on the poor remains substantially the same, (and I defy anybody to contradict me,) the income tax, the stamp tax on documents, the license taxes, and every tax upon the surplus wealth of the country has long since been repealed. The special license tax upon lawyers (and more than two-thirds of the members of this House are lawyers) has been repealed. The burden has been taken off of you, gentlemen, and off of your profession; but I ask you whether the great burdens of this tariff system do not bear with equal hardship to-day upon the great producing interests of the country as they did when this tariff was enacted as a war measure, and the people were assured that, as the original act embraced a tax on bank-checks, a tax on professions, a tax on incomes, the wealth of the country was to be made to bear its correlative proportion of the great burden of supporting that civil conflict, thereby quieting the murmurings of the farmer, the artisan, and the mechanic. I ask you, gentlemen, to-day whether every burden upon the lawyer, the doctor, the banker, the broker, every tax upon the income of the rich has not been repealed while these burdens upon the poor remain substantially the same ?
I now come to a beautiful piece of literature which I have collated with great pains. Do we not all remember that since this session began the gentleman from Kansas, [Mr. Haskell,] whom I do not now see in his seat, acknowledged the infamy and the outrage of this tariff system, and the Committee on Ways and Means concurred in the acknowledgment ? Did he not report here from the Committee on Ways and Means, by unanimous consent, a bill to enable some benevolent people in England to send here the half-worn clothes of the effete nobility over there to clothe the shapely limbs of the half-naked negro children in Kansas who left comfortable homes in Kentucky and elsewhere to go after the ignis fatuus of personal liberty, which in a negro's mind means absolute exemption from labor, which they hoped to find in Kansas. Did we not all vote for that measure ? And do not gentlemen remember the question which I put to the gentleman from Kansas as a humanitarian; for I know he is not only a man of large ability but a man of strong humanitarian impulses; and I sympathized with him in his efforts to clothe those half-naked negroes. I said to him: "Sir, why not make this measure applicable to the whole body of the American people ?" Is not a white man as good as a negro if he behaves himself ? [Laughter.]
Is it to go forth to the American people that the poor, half-clad, half-starved operatives of our manufacturing industries, the poorly clad and poorly paid employés of our agricultural industries, are to suffer, with no Congressional enactment to enable them to be clothed without the payment of the duty on wool and its manufactured products ? Are we willing to go upon record as asserting that this is a benign and God-like principle applied to a half-naked negro, but that the old system ought to be kept in force as applied to a miserable white man ?
Do we not remember Mr. McKinley ? By the way, I will say of him that he never did me the honor to vote with me in his life, [laughter,] and that is as good a reputation for Republicanism as a man ever made on God's earth. [Laughter.] Mr. McKinley, of Ohio, not long since reported to this House a bill to suspend the operation of the tariff laws in order that an invoice of English Bibles might be distributed among the American people. And I allude to California when I say that we have been appealed to in the matter of the admission of steam-plows free of duty to break the tule lands of that State. And here we Democrats, good people as we have always been, are willing to grant these favors as an act of personal benevolence to these distressed people, and it is no more than fair when we come before you pleading for the general welfare, and insisting that the great body of the American people are as much entitled to these favors as the parties for whom these acts were passed, that you shall grant our request. We have been appealed to by the people of the various sections for relief, and in these three instances we have accorded it.
Mr. Robeson. One other. In the appropriations for the relief of other sufferers in the valley of the Mississippi.
Mr. McKenzie. I am glad the gentleman alluded to that.
Mr. Robeson. That only shows--
Mr. McKenzie. One moment.
Mr. Robeson. That only shows that when we rise to the height of the necessities of our common humanity we sink out of sight legal principles and sometimes constitutional land-marks; and then we are ready to vote as an act of Christian charity, but not of right, for the relief of suffering humanity, appealing from the valley of the Mississippi or the banks of the Kentucky, as freely and if need be as recklessly as when we find it amid the snow-clad regions and under the hard Winters of Kansas.[Here Mr. McKenzie stretched out his hand to Mr. Robeson and they shook hands amid great laughter and applause.]
Mr. McKenzie. I am glad the gentleman alluded to the appropriation of money which was made by this House and the other for the relief of the flood-stricken people of the South. It was not only an act of charity but it was an act of principle.
Mr. Robeson. Ay, and an act of public duty.
Mr. McKenzie. And of public duty.
Mr. Robeson. Whenever the imperative necessities of our common humanity demand it then constitutions relent, laws are silent, and systems fade out of sight; but the gentleman must not disparage the rule by citing its exceptions.
Mr. McKenzie. Now, there is too much of this thing. [Laughter.] You are piling it on too thick. [Laughter.] But I was going to say, Mr. Chairman, that I was glad the gentleman alluded to that act of benevolence, kindness, and justice. God knows that people have suffered enough. The war swept over them, poverty succeeded, starvation has stared them in the face, and after that, as if the wrath of God was unappeased, the flood came and swept the remaining pittance of their subsistence almost from beneath them. But I point with equal pride and gratification to the fact that when fire, with its desolating wings, swept the great city of Chicago, and literally wiped it from existence, the great heart of the South responded with a benevolence unparalleled to the appeal for the relief of a people that had lately been their foes.[Applause.]
Mr. Springer. So did Congress in voting to remit duties on material for rebuilding.
Mr. McKenzie. I ask you gentlemen to think of a system of laws which prevents benevolence from clothing the naked, and which prevents Bible societies from distributing the Scriptures among the people.
Pay attention to this. Here is an incongruity which possibly has not occurred to the occult mind of the average tariff investigator. I invite the attention of both sides to one of the greatest economic curiosities presented in this great national museum which we have been for two weeks parading before the American people. Under the general law now in force on the subject, the Holy Scriptures, printed in our mother-tongue, are forbidden to enter the ports of the country without the payment of a duty, and yet during the last Congress the Committee on Ways and Means this committee for which I have such unbounded respect and which in the face of their protestation I have endeavored to defend through their agent, Mr. Tucker, of Virginia, reported, and this House passed, a bill to place Bibles printed in the Chinese language upon the free list. [Laughter.]
Now, think of this; it will grow on you the more you think about it. [Renewed laughter.] Thus while we are enacting a law to prohibit the Chinamen from coming to this country we are at the same time legislating to give Chinese Bibles an advantage over both King James's version and the new translation. [Laughter.]
Mr. Chairman, with all your sense of fairness, which I am quite ready to concede, I appeal to you as the organ of this committee, if a more laughable absurdity, incongruity, and injustice in the interest of morals and the reformation of the American people ever was presented than the fact that after we prevent the Chinamen through the aid of my friend from California [Mr. Page] and his confréres from coming to this country, we admit the Bible printed in his language, which no man born of American parentage ever did or ever will understand, at the same time imposing a duty of 25 per cent. on King James's translation, which has sent all our ancestors to Heaven. [Laughter.]
God knows if there ever was a time in the history of the American people when free Bibles were needed it is to-day. Just look on that side of the House. [Laughter.] I ask any moral reformer, I appeal to Moody and Sankey, I appeal to all the evangelists now living, in the name of mercy to come and exercise their best endeavors just beyond that aisle. [Laughter.] I am willing for the attempt to be made to convert these bold, bad people, notwithstanding I realize the fact that it will be an enormous strain upon the general plan of salvation. [Laughter and applause.]
Mr. Chairman, as long as the present body of Chinamen remain in the the United States I do not want the tariff interrupted in the matter of the admission of their Bibles free. If everything that has been said of these poor people by the gentlemen from California and others is true, they need the soothing and benign influences of the Scriptures just as much as the average type of Republican. I do not mean of course the man that has grown old in his iniquity; I just mean to strike a general average. [Laughter] These are matters that appeal at once to our sense of justice, our sense of fairness, our sense of morality, our sense of benevolence; and I commend them to all the people and to the American Congress as embodying the cardinal doctrines of the whole tariff system.
I do not mean with reference to a tariff for revenue only. I am in favor of that; and in this connection let me say I would cheerfully vote for such an amendment to the Federal Constitution as will enable this Congress to levy taxes for the support of the General Government upon values, upon property fixed by valuation, just as the assessor fixes it in our counties.
Mr. White. May I ask the gentleman if he is in favor of direct taxation ?
Mr. McKenzie. That is inhibited by the Constitution, except according to population, which is unjust and unequal, but when we get in power in this House, as we will do in the next election, I shall favor the introduction of measures of reform just as radical as that. ---[Democrats did gain majority in the House, but Mr. McKenzie was not re-elected, not even re-nominated; the Republicans were majority in the Senate]
Mr. White. That is all.
Mr. McKenzie. In conclusion and by the way I desire to say to the House that their kind attention has been such as I had not expected, nor did I deem myself worthy of such attention on the part of such a body I have endeavored in my weak, feeble way, in a manner perhaps incongruous, in perhaps not logical sequence or connection, in a manner lacking method, to present to the House and to the country what I deem to be the absurdities, the incongruities, and the inequalities of the present system of tariff legislation, and the fact that I am not, for one, in favor of adopting the plan of a commission suggested by the Committee on Ways and Means, and declaring thereby the opinion that this House is not capable of a satisfactory revision of the tariff.
If the Committee on Ways and Means is not competent, if they believe, as I am forced to conclude by their recommendation, that they are not, in the name of human conscience let them resign and let the Speaker have another opportunity to appoint one that can and will do the work; and if he needs any assistance in that regard I could furnish him some valuable suggestions. [Laughter.] I have endeavored to show that this system of revision is not compatible with the Constitution. I have endeavored to show that the commission, when created, is an extra-judicial body, with quasi-legislative powers, and is unknown to the Federal Constitution. I have endeavored to show that the responsibility of tariff legislation rests with the people's representatives in Congress, and that it is our duty, our sworn duty, to perform this legislative act and relieve the people from the burden of which they are loudly complaining. I do this sir, not as a partisan, not from a selfish desire to assist the Democratic party to success, for I would rather see a complete revision of the tariff in the interests of the people, and in the interests of what I believe to be right, under Republican auspices than to see the tariff remain as it is under a Democratic House. I have never been sufficiently imbued with partisanship to wish to see my party succeed at the expense of the great body of American taxpayers, and, if I do nothing else during my unpretentious service here, I shall always cherish it as one of the proudest reflections of my life that no vote I have ever given and no purpose which I have ever entertained has been inimical to the interests of the oppressed and the poverty stricken; that every vote I have given has been in the interest of the burdened taxpayers of the country, and not in the interest of those who are protected by law, and whose incomes are derivable from unjust, discriminative, and invidious legislation. I thank you, gentlemen. [Great applause.]