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Combining all these circumstances together, and, moreover, taking into view the extraordinary progress we have made, within a few years, in arts and manufactures, the idea of our capacity to interfere with the British in their own markets loses its apparent extravagance.
But, waving all these considerations, you may tranquillize your fears. Our exports to Europe consist, generally, of articles of prime necessity. She takes no more than is absolutely necessary. Her wants to purchase are as strong as ours to sell.
Your general position, that all commerce is founded on reciprocity of advantage' is incorrect. There is little reciprocity in half the commerce of the world. Where is the reciprocity of advantage in the immense trade we carry on with India and China? Where is the reciprocity in the commerce between two countries, one of which furnishes the other with luxuries, and receives in return the necessaries of life, or money? Where is the reciprocity in our trade with Great Britain, when we give the proceeds of the labour of five, ten, twenty, thirty, or forty of our citizens for that of one cotton manufacturer?
II. Assuming that the merchants are not protected, you infer that the manufacturers have no claim to protection.
The views you present of the conduct of the merchants, exhibit such a degree of discrepancy as will require all your skill to reconcile.
What a contrast between commerce Both the one class and the other, and manufactures! The first, except (the merchants and the manufacturers) when a war is wanted, says,
consist of an organized, restless, noisy, alone!" The constant outcry of the complaining, remonstrating, begging, other is, additional duties, additional petitioning, demanding, ever-craring set prohibitions, pains, and penalties on our of men, who, from their gregarious and competitors, and monopoly, under the associating habits, have a decided adname of protection, for us.
vantage over the quiet and scattered population of planters. With the mer chant and manufacturer, the interest of the body is always paramount to the
interest of the nation.' I presume you regard these views as perfectly consistent. But, I confess, I have sought in vain to harmonize them. I should as soon think to combine in one person all the long train of virtues of general Washington with the treachery of Arnold, or the enchanting beauty and mildness of the graces with the horrible physiognomy
of the infernal furies, as to depict a body of men, whose maxim was 'let us alone,' by the epithets you lavish on them, an organized, restless, noisy, complaining, remonstrating, begging, petitioning, demanding, ever-craving set of men. This inconsistency, however, is only noted to evince huw very carelessly you have studied the subject. It does not materially affect the question. Let me, however, ask
how many cases are there on record of merchants asking for war? When
declare that the merchants have as strong a right to demand that their interests should be protected, as the manufac
« let us
turers,' you fairly wish it to be inferred, that the interests of the merchants are not protected. The sentence is otherwise absurd.
You will, I trust, be surprised, and will deeply regret the superficial view you took of this subject, when you find, that the mercantile interest in this country has experienced the most foster. ing care of the government, and is as well protected as any interest in any country ever was.
The chief protection required by the merchants, and in the power of the government to bestow, is to their shipping. To exclude foreign shipping, for their benefit, is precisely equivalent to the exclusion of manufactures, for the benefit of our citizens concerned in that department. In the case of the coasting trade, the merchants enjoy as full and complete a monopoly as ever was granted to any body of men since the world began. This monopoly, which, when recommended for the manufacturers, excites so much horror, and furnishes such a fertile field for declamation to newspaper writers, is, without murmur or complaint, afforded to the favoured class, and thus the many are taxed for the benefit of the few. Let it, however, be distinctly understood, that I regard the policy as perfectly laudable. All that is censurable in the affair is the old story of 'straining at gnats and swallowing camels.'
If, therefore, it should appear that our government has, not merely by prohibitory duties, but absolute prohibition, secured to our own tonnage the whole of the coasting, and, very nearly, the whole of the foreign trade, I may retort your own declaration, mutatis mutandis, the manufacturers have as strong a right to demand that their interests should be protected as the merchants. And you, sir, in common justice, must admit the soundness of the claim, and are bound by that justice, to defend and support it.
To remove your doubts on the subject, I annex a statement of all the tonnage employed in the commerce of this country for twelve consecutive years: American Tonnage.
Foreign Tonnage. Coasting Trade.* Foreign Trade.t
Foreign Trade. 1 1805, 301,366
87,842 1806, 309,977 1,044,005
90,984 1807, 318,189 1,089,876
86,780 1808, 387,684
47,674 1809, 371,500
99,205 371,114 906,434
80,316 386,258 948,247
33,202 1812, 443,180 667,999
47,098 1813, 433,404 237,348
113,827 425,713 59,626
48,301 435,066 706,463
217,376 479,979 877,031
1814, 1815, 1816,
4,663,430 * Seybert's Statistics, p. 317.
† Idem, p. 318, 19
1,211,622 Idem. p. 319
Grand total-Coasting trade, American tonnage, 4,663,430
Foreign trade, do. do. 8,688,388
13,351,818 Foreign trade, in foreign vessels, 1,211,622
This table passes a strong sentence of condemnation on the hundred-times-told story of the mercantile motto, ' let us alone;' whicn, I trust, you will for ever efface from your common-place book. It is totally groundless. Had the merchants been ‘let alone,' and their trade allowed to "regulate itself,' according to the fashionable political economy of the day, they would have been ruined. The tonnage of the United States, and the important manufacture of ships, like so large a portion of the manufactures of cottons, woollens, pottery, glass, and paper, would have fallen a sacrifice to foreign rivalship.
Of the whole tonnage employed, our own merchants possessed ninety-two per cent. and foreigners the remaining eight=What a shocking contrast to the situation of the manufacturers! What deplorable partiality it displays!
I boldly ask you, as a man of honour, and I ask every fair, honourable, and upright man in the nation, to assign any reason that will stand a moment's examination, why such powerful and ellicient patronage should be afforded to one class of our citizens? why they should have a monopoly? why they should be protected against foreign rivals of every nation; and another class, of at least equal merit, equal claims, and equal usefulness, be abandoned to destruction by a tariff, which prohibits no manufactured article whatever, and exposes the manufacturers to the rivalship of every nation under the canopy of heaven? Jf you furnish satisfactory answers to these questions, you shall be my future Magnus Apollo in political economy,
The acts passed for the protection of commerce, and the mercantile interest generally, occupy a large space in our statute book. There are, probably, forty or fifty of them. In the eleventh address of the Philadelphia Society, there is an enumeration of sixteen of the most important, whịch, if formed into one volume, with a motto-let us alone-would exhibit as great a blunder as to prefix a motto from the Bible to Hoyle on Whist, or one from Barclay's Apology to a military dictionary.
I shall not enter into the detail of these acts, but refer you to the address in question, and rest satisfied with two examples of this * let-us-alone legislation, which commenced with the organization of the government, and has presided over its measures down to the dignified act excluding vessels of the subjects of his Britannic majesty, coming from colonies from which ours are excludeck
This system began so early, that the second and third acts passed by congress, in 1789, were for the protection of the merchants. The one secured them a monopoly (yes, this hated and odious word monopoly) of the commerce with China; not indeed by absolute prohibition, but by duties fully equivalent to prohibition. So early was our government awake on the subject, and so early did the merchants cry out-protect us.'
Tariff of duties on teas, imported from China, by act of July 10, 1789.
In American vessels. In foreign vessels.
45 All other green teas
27 This act contained a great variety of judicious and laudable clauses for the benefit of the merchants, which I do not judge it necessary to particularize.
The third act, passed by the first congress, July 20, 1789, subjected vessels owned by foreigners, to a tonnage of 50 cents, while American vessels were to pay only six.
I trust these strong and decisive facts will give the coup de grace to the hacknied phrase let us alone;'—that the world will in future be let alone' with it; and that its power to do mischief is at an end.
You assert that the amount of population and property engaged at present in commerce, is at least tenfold in our country to that employed in manufactures.'
This is an extravagant assertion. It is however extremely difficult to make an exact comparison; as accurate data are not easily procurable. But we can come near enough to the truth to prove the magnitude of the error.
The exports of the United States for 27 years, beginning October 1790, and ending September 1817, were about
$1,600,000,000* And I will suppose the imports to exceed the exports by 25 per cent, which would amount to 2,000,000,000
Averaging per annum
Mr. T. Coxe, who was appointed by the government to digest and arrange the returns of the manufactures of the United States, received with the tables of the census of 1810, and who had a better opportunity of ascertaining the truth than any other pera son, estimated the amount, on the fullest view of the subject, at 8172,670,000+ in that year. It is not hazarding much to suppose * Seybert's Statistics, pp. 142, 143, 144.
+ Coxe, p. 51,
that they have, since that period, doubled. I will, however, suppose that they now amount to only 300,000,000 dollars-or ever only 250,000,000. And I will further suppose, that 100,000,000 are the produce of the industry of private families. With all this reduction, what becomes of your broad assertion of 'tenfold property' engaged in commerce?
With respect to the population engaged in that branch, you are at least as wide of the mark,
In 1815, within thirty miles of Providence, there were 26,000 persons employed in the cotton manufacture alone. This is a pretty strong fact against you.
In the same year, a report of the committee of commerce and manufactures, states the number of persons employed in that manufacture throughout the union, at 100,000* And in the woollen
200,000 Suppose in all the other branches, 150 per cent. more, 300,000
Total, 500,000 This, it is true, is but a rough calculation. But it is, I am persuaded, rather below than above the truth.
The whole number of seamen employed in the tonnage of the United States, in 1816, was
70,000 I will make a large allowance for the persons engaged in commerce on land, and suppose them to exceed the sailors 150 per cent. or
105,000 But to remove all doubt, I shall add 50 per cent. more, 52,500
Total engaged in commerce
Now, sir, I again ask what becomes of your point blank assertion that there is'tenfold the population engaged in commerce, that is employed in manufactures. There is not one half. When you consider that commerce is carried on in our seaport towns alone; that in most of those towns, there are more persons employed in manufactures than in commerce; that the former are carried on in every one of the immense number of towns in the interior, and in many of them on a very large scale, you will readily perceive, that the most cursory glance would have sufficed to show you the extravagance of the idea, that there are ten times as many persons employed in commerce as in manufactures.'
I regret that my limits compel me to bid you adieu for the present.
* Weekly Reg. vol. ix. p. 447.
| Idem, vol. x. p. 82.
Seybert, p. 300.