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currency, which had paralyzed the industry of the country, I was sanguine in the hope and the belief that prosperity would be speedily restored.”
Mr. Tyler was thus in favor of the compromise act, because it contained a retroactive principle which forced up the protection to what was equivalent to forty per cent. How, then, can any one say that his whole life has proved him to be an enemy to protection? And let me add here, that, with this understanding of the compromise act, I am in favor of sustaining it also; and if its friends will unite with us in so adjusting the cash duty and home valuation principles, to which Mr. Tyler referred, as to make them equivalent to forty per cent., nay, or even to a fairly imposed and fully collected thirty per cent. ad valorem, - I will venture to say, that it will soon cease to have any opponents.
And now, Mr. Speaker, let me say a few words in conclusion of the whole matter, and with more immediate reference to the precise question upon which we are about to divide. The compromise act, as it is called, is about reaching its final consumma. tion. Its ten years of transition state are about to expire. Its proposed experiment of a uniform twenty per cent. ad valorem system is about to commence. Sir, in the judgment of a large portion of the people of this country, that experiment is destined to prove a failure. Its failure, indeed, is regarded by many, as a foregone conclusion. They think there is evidence enough on that point already. In their judgment, it will inevitably fail, in the first place, to produce revenue enough to meet the economical wants of the government, - using the word economy, not as some gentlemen in the course of this debate have used it, with mere reference to dollars and cents, but with relation to the honor, the dignity, the common defence and general welfare of the country. In their judgment, too, it will no less signally fail in exerting those favorable influences on all the great interests of American industry - commercial and agricultural, as well as manufacturing – which may be justly expected from the operation of a permanent revenue policy. They believe that the pay. ment of duties in cash which it prescribes, will be a serious grievance to the mercantile community, without the intervention of what is known as the warehousing system. They believe that the ad valorem duties which it universally imposes, will not only be a source of infinite fraud upon the Treasury, but will drive out the honest American merchant from his rightful business and occupation, and throw the whole importing trade of the country, where a large part of it has already gone, into the hands of the unscrupulous and fraudulent agents of foreign houses. They believe, too, that the home valuation principle which it contains, will be found utterly impracticable, and will involve our collection system, if attempted, in a state of things alike unequal and unconstitutional. They believe, still further, that the rate of duties which it establishes, and more especially if their payment in cash and their assessment upon a home valuation be abandoned, will prove entirely insufficient to protect the manufacturing and mechanical labor of the country from a ruinous competition with the cheaper labor of the old world, and that not merely our cotton-mills and woollen-mills will many of them be prostrated, but great numbers of the artisans and mechanics of our humbler workshops will be thrown out of employment. They believe that large quantities of ready made clothing, of hats, of boots and shoes, of ropes and cordage, of paper,
of iron ware, and wooden ware, and glass ware, will be imported under a twenty per cent. duty, and will undersell in our own markets the fabrics of our own industry. And let no gentleman believe it impossible that some of our workshops should be transferred to other lands. It has come to my knowledge, within a few days past, that an entire set of machinery for spinning and laying hemp, with the hands to manage it, has been very recently sent out from Massachusetts to Manilla, from which a liberal supply of ready-made rope may soon be expected, - a fact, which, perhaps, may prove interesting to the hemp-growers in Kentucky and elsewhere. But, still again, they believe that the fresh flood of importations which such a system of revenue will throw in upon us, will not only distress and prostrate much of our manufacturing industry, but will involve the agriculture of the nation equally in its disastrous results, both by diminishing the power of paying for its products in the home market, and by compelling it to reduce the price of those products to an amount, at which they can be used to advantage in balancing the account of the country in the foreign market. They believe, yet further, that the currency of the Union will partake largely of the common calamity; that our specie will be drawn away from us in ruinous amounts to pay for our excessive importations; and that the long desired day of return to a sound state of things will be still further postponed.
It would be easy, Mr. Speaker, to enlarge on each of these points of objection to the anticipated operation of the compromise act. But I have detained the House too long already, and other opportunities will occur. All I will add now is, that such being the opinion of great numbers of persons in all parts of the country, it is but reasonable, it is but just, that the subject should be deliberately investigated in all its bearings. We seek no exclusive hearing for the manufacturing interests. We desire that the labor of the country should be looked to, in all its branches. We believe that the existing revenue system, if adhered to, will be disastrous to all alike; and we desire that its operations should be examined in reference to all alike. The House will bear me witness that the resolution of inquiry introduced by me at the last session, and afterwards sanctioned by the Committee on Commerce, was thus broad, comprebensive, and general in its terms. I heartily wish that resolution could have been adopted, and that the fruits of the investigation it proposed were now before us. We should not, in such case, be engaged in disputing on such a barren and bootless issue as the present. It was a measure which commended itself to the intelligent approbation of the whole community, and nothing but a most groundless jealousy of its object could have occasioned its defeat. I pray gentlemen to join in repairing the consequences of that defeat as far as we can. I pray them not to deny to this subject of the tariff a fair and full hearing at the present session, and not to send it to any committee who will be prevented, either by occupation or inclination, and much less by instruction, from attending to it thoroughly.
Sir, the strongest objection I have to the amendment and the instructions now under consideration is, that they seem to be proposed and pressed with a view to foreclose all further consideration or agitation of this subject of protection. They seem to have had their origin in something of the same design to de
prive the citizens of the free States of a hearing in relation to what may be called their own peculiar institutions, which has already deprived them of a hearing in regard to the peculiar institutions of the Southern States. Protection is an exploded term, says one. It is unconstitutional, and ought not to be so much as named in this House, says another. Abolish the Committee on Manufactures, says a third. Instruct the Committee of Ways and Means, says a fourth, to have no reference to the industry of the country. Sir, I implore gentlemen to take no such proscriptive course. I am not accustomed to deal in warnings. We have had quite too many of them from other quarters. But I tell them, that the excitement produced by your twentyfirst rule, deep and pervading as it has been in many parts of the country, — when compared with that which would be produced by an arbitrary effort to rule this subject of discrimination in favor of our own labor out of the House, - would be as the light murmuring of the distant wind, compared with the deeptoned thunder of the raging storm. The whole country has looked forward to this tenth year of the compromise act, as the time when the tariff was to be revised, as the time when the seal of silence which that act imposed was to be taken off, as the time when all who were interested in its provisions, were once more to be fairly and fully heard. I pray the House to grant that full and fair hearing by a Committee appropriate to
There would be work enough, indeed, in such an investigation, for half a dozen Committees, and I would not object, myself, to having the labor thus distributed. The Committee on Ways and Means might examine the revenue system of the country, for instance, simply with reference to the finances. The Committee on Agriculture might investigate its operation on the farming and planting interests, the corn, and wheat, the cotton, tobacco, and rice interests. The Committee on Commerce might inquire into its effects upon the commercial and navigating interests of the nation, and might well extend their examination into the influence of those reciprocity treaties, as they are called, which are giving such an advantage to the shipping of foreign countries in our ports ;— that West India Treaty of Mr. Van Buren's, more particularly, which, during the last ten or twelve years, has increased the British tonnage clearing from our ports for the British colonies and provinces, more than twentyfold, while it has increased the American tonnage clearing from the same ports less than threefold; which has increased the British tonnage clearing for all foreign ports from our own ports more than fivefold, while it has increased the American tonnage less than twofold; and which has already reduced the American tonnage entering our ports direct from the British West Indies more than one half. The Committee on Manufactures might, then, confine their attention to the condition of our manufactures and mechanic arts, and to the effect which is likely to be produced upon them by the ultimate operation of the compromise act. We should thus have a series of reports of great interest and value, embracing different views of the same general subject, and affording a basis for sound, intelligent, and impartial legislation.
The paragraphs of the President's message now under consideration relate, however, solely to discrimination in reference to manufactures. Let them go, then, to the Committee on Manufactures. Why should they not? Is that Committee composed of gentlemen friendly to a protecting policy? So much the more reason for such a reference. It is the parliamentary right of every interest to be heard through a Committee of its friends. What harm can result from such a course? The mere reference will commit the House to no particular course of action. The report of the Committee will be obligatory upon nobody. You have committed the President's plan of finance to those who are supposed to be favorable to the scheme; but you can crush the project, when it comes back, if you desire to do so, as easily as if you had referred it originally to its known opponents. So it will be with a protecting tariff, if one should be reported. If you are resolved to strike down the Labor of our own land, strike it down; but, in the name of all that is just and equitable, hear, HEAR, before you strike, and hear fairly, deliberately, and fully.