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APRİL 29, 1830.)
[H. OF R.
e equally liable to taxation upon every principle of equity that an excise duty of forty per cent. should be levied upon
and justice, amounting to two hundred and eighty inillions all the productions of the Southern States, whereas, of the e of dollars, which are not only entirely free from all Go immense amount of the productions of the northern, mid
vernment impositions, but a large portion of which actual. dle, and western States, only twenty millions should be ly receive Government bounties ! Šir, it is in vain for gen- subject to a similar excise, and the remaining two hundred
tlemen to attempt to disguise this gross and monstrous and eighty millions expressly exempted from any imposi. ir inequality, under the vague notion that the ultimate bur- tion at all? Would such a law bear inspection 1 Would in den of taxation falls exclusively upon the consumer. Even not such an invidious and unjust distinction shock the mo
if this were true to the letter, it would not materially vary ral sense of every man in the community i And yet, sir, the in the case as to the unequal operation of the revenue laws law I bave supposed would do nothing more than express,
upon the different sections of the Union. The complaint in words, what actually exists at this moment in the reveis, that upon less than seventy millions of the commercial nue laws of this Government, wrapped up and disguised exchanges of the country-principally belonging to the in the indirectness of their operation, and the generality of planting States——the whole of the federal taxes are levied, the terms in which they are expressed. while upon commercial exchanges, equally liable to taxa I have been recently looking into a British production tion, belonging to the farming and manufacturing States, of high reputation, which speaks in strong terms of the to the vast amount of two hundred and eighty millions of intolerable weight of British taxation. As a conclusive dollars, no imposition is laid at all by this Government. argument in favor of a reduction of the taxes, the writer Now I challenge any gentleman to point out a single in- asserts that they amounted, including the corp laws and stance in the history of the world—I will not except the poor rates, to a tax of thirty-three and one-third per cent. cruel exactions of the Roman Government from the con- upon the income of every individual in the kingdom. This quered provinces that can be compared with our own reve- be regarded as being so very oppressive, that no people nue systein, for the injustice and inequality of the contri- could possibly endure it. Now, sir
, every cotton planter in butions it draws from the people of the southern and south- the United States pays a tax of at least thirty-three and onewestern States. When all the States of this Union were third per cent. upon his income to sustain the Federal Go. Atlantic States, and were interested very nearly in an vernnient, in addition to his contribution to the revenue of the equal degree in the foreign exchanges of the country, no State in which he resides. lodeed, as almost the whole of his great injustice resulted from making these exchanges sus- income is derived from the exchanges of foreign commerce, tain the whole fiscal burdens of the Government. But the tax he pays upon the annual amount of that income even in 1790, the period to which I refer, Alexander Ha cannot be estinated at much less than the rate of the duty milton, the putative father of the probibitory system, deem- which is indirectly laid upon the productions of his indused it unwise and inexpedient to carry the duties upon try. And thus it is, that while we are vaidly and ignoforeign merchandise higher than seven and a half per cent. rantly boasting of our freedom from taxation, the people How would be have been astonished if any one had pre of a portion of the Union are subject to a more oppressive dicted that, in less than forty years, fourteen million eight burdeu than the most heavily taxed people on the face of hundred thousand dollars, out of a revenue of twenty- the earth. three millions of dollars, would be raised by duties upon lit Thus far, I have confined myself to the consideration of tle more than one-ninth part of the productive industry the mere fiscal operations of the Federal Government, and commercial exchanges of the Union !
and have attempted to show the unequal action of your I am sure, if gentlemen did not permit themselves to be revenue system upon different parts of the Union, without carried away by a mere distinction in names, this unequal reference to the protection afforded by the impost duties distribution of the taxes would strike them more forcibly to certain branches of domestic industry. It now becomes than it dow does. If the whole revenue of the United my duty to trace the operation of what bas been very inStates were rnised by an excise, and, instead of levying an appropriately denominated the protecting system; and to impost on the merchandise imported, au excise duty to the ascertain, if possible, how far it contributes to increase same extent were levied upon our cottou when sold to the the inequality of the burdens imposed by the Federal merchant, and before it reaches the custom-house, the pal Government upon the people of the staple growing States. pable injustice, the outrageous inequality of the system, And, sir, let it be remembered that a revenue system, would be apparent to every one. 'It could not theu be grossly and palpably unequal in itself—a system which, undisguised, that the Government was exacting an excise der the most favorable modification, would levy the entire duty of forty per cent. from the cotton planters, while, amount of the federal taxes from one fifth part of the upon the productions of other parts of the Union, standing productions of the Union, while the other four-fiftbs are upon precisely the same footing, and amounting to dine entirely exempted from all mapper of imposition-let it times the value of the cotton made for exportation, it ex. be remembered, I say, that this is the substratum upon acted no duty at all. Now, as I have heretofore shown that which has been reared this monstrous and iniquitous suan import duty is precisely equivalent to an export duty perstructure—the protecting system. It did not satisfy upon the same commercial exchange, it follows, from the the manufacturers and their confederates, that the whole same course of reasoning, that an excise duty paid upon expense of supporting the Federal Governinent should be
cotton when it leaves the storebouse of the planter, is sustained by those branches of domestic industry, which on precisely equivalent to an export duty paid at the custom- make up the foreign commerce of the country—it did not pre house. Both are equally taxes upon the productions of satisfy them, that they themselves were not only exempted
the planter, and operate precisely alike in. all their bear from all impositions of the Government, but actually reeings, whether we regard them as throwing the burden of ceived an indirect bounty from the imposts laid upon other on the tax upon the producer or the consumer. And I have branches of industry for the purposes of revenue. No,
do hesitation in saying that I would regard a law imposing sir ; all this did not satisfy them; they are now making an excise duty of forty per cent. upon all cotton sold by a sure and steady, and, for any thing that can be done
the planters in the United States, and providing at the bere, an irresistible progress in the system of legislative si rame time that foreign merchandise received in exchange warfare, by which will be ultimately swept from the face
for it might be imported free of duty, as making not the of the ocean a large and valuable branch of foreigu comin slightest change in the burdens under which we now merce, exclusively belonging to the stapie-growing States, propone labor. How, then, let me ask_and I beg gentlemen to an. and which now actually contributes two-thirds of the re. answer me the question, if with clear consciences they can-venue of this Government. And, this, sir, is what they So bow would a law strike them, which provided in terms,' are pleased to denominate a system of protection.
H. of R.)
[APRIL 29, 1830. .
This system, which has been gradually built up, as far | sacrificed! And, sir, is it to be endured that these men as it has gone, by successive acts of Congress, on the should gravely get up and urge their own acts of injustice ruins of southern commerce, has now become, in the esti- and oppression as creating a pledge to maintain and extend mation of some gentlemen, an object of idolatry too sacred their encroachments upon the rights of the minority ! Sir, to be touched without profanity. When at an early I protest against a doctrine which thus sanctifies and conperiod of the session, I had the honor to introduce a bill secrates to-day, what was admitted to be injustice and to modify the existing lariff by a very moderate reduction oppression yesterday. of the duties, a very extraordinary excitement was mani. What, then, let us briefly inquire, is the tendency, and fested. A gentleman from Pennsylvania rose in bis place, what has been the effect, of the high duties imposed for and, as if some great indignity bad been offered against the purpose of protecting manufactures and other do. the majesty of the protecting system, approaching to the mestic productions? It is too plain to admit of argument: guilt of treason, the measure was unceremoniously con- indeed, it has been candidly admitted by the chairman of demned, and strangled at the very threshold, without the the Committee on Manufactures, in former discussions, common forms of parliamentary proceeding. The gentle that domestic productions can only be protected by pro man to whom I allude, (Mr. Ramsey) as an excuse for hibiting the foreign articles that would come in competia course so unusual and uncourteous, stated that he tion with them. He openly avowed that he aimed at prohad no idea of having the repeal of the tariff of 1828 bibition, and it would have been folly to have aimed at discussed or agitated, until we had ascertained, by experi- less, if he really meant to give protection. No duty can ence, whether it was really as injurious as it bad been re- give any protection to any domestic fabric, which does not presented. I should be very unwilling to permit an igno- exclude a similar foreign fabrio; and, in the very nature of rant physician, wholly unacquainted .with my constitution things, the amount of protection cannot exceed the amount and habits
, to indulge in experimental quackery, at the of prohibition, though it may, and generally does, fall imminent hazard and almost certain sacrifice of my life. short of it. You cannot create a demand, for example, For the same reason, I cannot consent that the vital inte. for any domestic manufacture, by legislation, otherwise rests of my constituents should be put to hazard upon the than by excluding a similar foreign manufacture; and as result of an experiment in political quackery, which can your legislation is calculated to enhance the price of the only end in the ruin of those interests. The gentleman article, you certainly cannot create by it a demand for a says, give it a trial; not reflecting that, when the result is greater amount of the domestic fabric than yon exclude of ascertained, the patient may be dead. What has taken the foreigu. It may be confidently assumed, therefore, place, forcibly reminds me, sir, of the mode of trial adopt- that whatever may be the amount of iron and salt, and maed in times not quite so enlightened as the present, for as- pufactures of cotton, wool, iron, and hemp, which have certaining the guilt or innocence of certain venerable old been brought into existence in the United States by the women, charged with the dreadful crime of witch system of high protecting duties, at least an equal amount craft. In the dark ages of jurisprudence, these predes of foreign rival productions has been excluded by those tined victims were subjected to a species of trial, denomi- duties. "It will not be deemed an extravagant estimate to pated, I believe, the water ordeal. The mode of trial was suppose that the protecting system has caused to be provery simple, and, as it was no doubt supposed, perfectly duced, annually, articles of these various kinds, to the fair and equitable. A large stone was tied around the amount of twelve millions of dollars, which would not have neck of the person accused, and she was cast into deep been produced, but for the protection given them.
It water, under the very natural belief, that if she was really follows, then, as a corollary, that at least an equal amount guilty of dealing with the devil
, he would not permit her of these articles of foreign production must bave been exto sink. Wbile, therefore, bumanity cried out for cluded. But these are the very articles which we receive the rescue of the struggling and sinking victim, the stern from Great Britain, France, and Holland, in exchange for justice of the times replied, " let ber alone ! let her alone ! our agricultural staples. By excluding twelve millions of if she really be a witch, she certainly will not sink.” I such articles, therefore, we necessarily diminish the foreign peed hardly state to this enlightened audience the final demand for our staples, and principally cotton, to that issue of the trial. The innocence of the accused was most amount. There is scarcely any limit to the consumption conclusively established; but, unfortunately for the poor of our cotton in Europe, but that which is imposed by old woman, it was not ascertained until after she was con- our refusal to take manufactures in exchange for it I signed to a watery grave, and placed beyond the hope of therefore, we were permitted to import the twelve milresuscitation. And such, sir, will be the inevitable fate of lions of dollars worth of manufactures that have been exthat branch of our foreign commerce which is the rightful cluded by our commercinl restrictions, or, rather, if they and almost exclusive property of the planting States. 1 bad never been excluded by those restrictions, it cannot hava po idea of indulging gentlemen in these witchcraft be reasonably doubted that we should now have a demand ordeals with the rights and interests of the whole southern in Europe for four hundred thousand bales of cotton, be and southwestern portions of this Union.
yond the existing demand. Even, therefore, if we grant, I am not unaware, sir, of the prevalence of an idea that what is not the fact, that the whole of the domestic dethe Goveroment stands pledged to maintain the system of mand for cotton has been produced by the prohibitory erhigh and prohibitory duties, from the mere circumstance of fect of our tariff
, it will follow that we have gained a marbaving once enacted it. Nothing can be more utterly falla- ket for one hundred and fifty thousand bales, by sacrificcious, than the idea that the faith of the Government is ing one for four hundred thousand. From this estimate, concerned in the maintenance of an unjust and oppressive it will be seen that the prohibition of foreign imports has system, siinply because it has been adopted. It assumes that resulted in curtailing the entire demand for cotton in the the Government is some ideal being at Washington, who markets of the whole world, including our own, two bud bas persuaded the manufacturers and others concerned to dred and fifty thousand bales. In addition, then, to the invest their capital in certain pursuits, by giving them the annual burden he bears in paying the duties upon the imassurance that the high duties would be maintained. ports be is still permitted to bring into the country, the Now, sir, what is the Government by which this pledge planter sustains an annual loss of seven million five bunhas been given to the manufacturers ? Is it not composed dred thousand dollars, being the value of the cotton for of the representatives of these very manufacturers, and which he bas lost a market, in consequence of the unjust of the interests associated with them, making together restrictions imposed upon bis lawful commerce by the suithat interested and despotic majority, by which the most cidal policy of his own Government. undoubted rights and interests of the minority have been I think I have by this time satisfied the committee that
APRIL 29, 1830.]
(H. OF R.
I bave pot exaggerated the burdens of the southern planters importance of preserving it, are certainly not diminished in stating that a duty of forty per cent. upon the amount of by what we have unavoidably lost. On the contrary, the their exports may be taken as the measure of these burdens. inducements to preserve and extend it are rather increas
I bave not the slightest doubt that I have greatly under-esti ed than diminished; and if a common interest pervaded i mated those burdens, looking to the operation of your im- the whole Union, a doubt would not be entertained on the
post duties in the double aspect of a system of revenue and subject. To exemplify this, sir, I will suppose the whole a system of protection. Having now, sir, made out the case United States to be the property of a single individual. of the southern planters—having demonstrated the grossly Would the owner of this vast estate be guilty of the conunequal and oppressive operation of your whole tariff system summate folly of refusing to carry on a free and unrestrictupon the productions of their lawful industry, I will now ed trade in cotton, tobacco, and rice, because his custom. proceed to the consideration of the principal ground upon er either would not purchase or could not purchase his which the advocates of this system have attempted to rest grain also ? Such absolute fatuity cannot be ascribed to it, as a measure of justico and expediency. It is almost any individual having the common use of his faculties.
universally conceded by all the supporters of the protect- And yet, sir, such is the wisdom that governs the affairs į jog policy, from Alexander Hamilton down, that if all other of nations, this Government is now actually exhibiting the
nations would throw off the restrictions they have im very infatuation which capnot be imputed to any ivdiviposed upon commerce, it would be wise in the United dual, however ignorant and stupid. States to pursue the same policy, but it is contended, The great misfortune is, sir-and it gives us the true key that, as long as other nations continue to impose restrictions to the whole system-that, while this Government is an upon the free importation of our productions, it is expe- undivided and indivisible unity, the country over which it dient and necessary that we should countervail their re extends is divided into various and—disguise it as we may gulations, by imposing similar restrictions upon their pro- -diametrically adverse interests. Hence, it results, that ductions. Now, sir, if I am not greatly deceived in the the law wbich throws a restriction upon the commerce of view I have taken of the matter, this is the capital error the southern States, to the great and obvious injury of the which lies at the foundation of the whole protecting sys- planter, is obviously calculated, and professedly intended, tem. And nothing will, perbaps, tend more clearly to ex. to promote the interest of the porthern manufacturer. If pose the true genius and character of that system, than a the manufacturer can gain ten per cent. by the restriction, brief examination and exposure of this error. I waive, it is his interest to adhere to it, though it impose a burdeu for the present, as belonging to another branch of inquiry, of forty or fifty per cent, upon the planter. Hence it is the policy of countervailing regulations, calculated and de- that the majority of this House are pursuing a policy with signed to induce other nations to abandon their restric- regard to the interests of the whole Union, which no butions. No one pretends that ours are of that character, man being would pursue in regard to bis own interest. It either as to their design or tendency. As a mere question is worth while, sir, to trace the operation of this policy a of political economy, then, I maiotain that the restrictions little more in detail. Great Britain, it is alleged, will not, which foreigo nations in pose upon the importation of any or, which is the same thing, does not, in fact, purcbase the production of ours, in pursuing their established policy, grain of the northern, middle, and western States, and, furnish not the slightest ground, upon the score of inte consequently, those States have nothing wherewith to rest or expediency, for imposing similar restrictions upon purchase British manufactures. This is the complaint. any of the productions of these foreigo nations. I will il- Now, sir, if this be true, the wisdom of man could not lustrate my view by considering the operation of the Bri- more effectually exclude British manufactures, or give a tish corn laws upon the commerce of the United States. more complete protection to domestic manufactures, in Let it, then, be granted that Great Britain has absolutely those States. If they have nothing to give in exchange prohibited the importation of foreign grain. No one pre. for British manufactures, what earthly necessity is there tends that she bas not an undoubted right, under the law to exclude them by law? The domestic manufacturer is of nations, to do so. We have no just cause to complain absolutely secured against foreigr competition by the sinof it. Indeed, her policy in this respect is not only imi- gle fact, that the British manufacturer will not take any tated, but applauded by the advocates of the restrictive thing in exchange for bis fabrics, wbich the people of those system here. Then, sir, the exclusion of our grain from States have to give. What, then, is the real object of the Great Britain is simply a fact to be considered by this Go- restrictions which the tariff States are so anxious to throw veroment, without any regard to the causes that have pro- about our foreign commerce? It is not, sir, be assured, duced it. It is precisely the same thing to the grain grow. to prevent those states from importing British manufacers of this couotry, as if the increased fertility of Great tures, who have nothing to give in exchange for them. Britain, resulting from a newly discovered manure, bad That would be impotent and gratuitous legislation. The enabled the farmers of that country to produce grain as true object-dieguise it as gentlemen may--is to prevent cheaply as it can be produced in Kentucky or Ohio. There those states who have the means of paying for British macould be no more effectual exclusion of our grain than nufactures, and who have a deep and vital interest in prewould result from this. And yet I can hardly suppose serving that branch of commerce, from importing those there is a map in the world
be so absurd as to manufactures, in order to promote the interest of those contend that these agricultural improvements in Great States who have not the means of paying for British mapuBritain would furnish any colorable ground for excluding factures, and who really bave, or believe they have, a deep Ler manufactures ; or, in other words, for probibiting the and vital interest in destroying that branch of commerce. free exchange of those of our productions which she might Twist and turn it as you may, to this complexion it still require, for such of her own as she could most advan- must come at last." Hence it is, that to the gross inequatageously give us for them. Now, it seems impossible for lity of the revenue system of the United States, the majobuman ingenuity to draw ady substantial discrimination be- rity of Congress bave superadded the intolerable burdens tween the case I have supposed and that of the British
corn of the probibitory system. Will any gentleman from Maslaws. In both instances, we lose a market for our graip, sachusetts, or Rhode Island, or Vermont, have the bardiin the one from natural and in the other from artificial hood to maintain that the duties imposed on cotton and causes; and the question which arises upon this state of woollen manufactures, varying from forty to sixty per cent. facts, is simply this: would it be wise iu us to deprive our are equally a burden upon bis constituents as they are upselves of our remaining commerce with Great Britain, be- ou mine? Will any gentleman from Pennsylvania assert cause circumstances beyond our control bave deprived us that the enormous duty upon iron imposes an equal burof a portion of it? The value of what remains, and the den upon the people of Pennsylvania and upon those of
H. of R.]
(APRIL 29, 1830.
South Carolina ? On the contrary, do not these gentlemen pot look into the motives of the Legislature. But, sir, a distinctly and openly avow that the duties which throw a law, or a system of laws, calculated and designed to de. grievous and oppressive burdeu upon the people of the stroy commerce, or any branch of it, is not the less unconsouthern States, operate as a beneficial and sustaining stitutional because the Supreme Court cannot pronounce bounty to the people of the northern and eastern States? it to be so. 'It is not a question of which that court could I do firmly believe, that, if the proceeds of the public lands take cognizance. It turus upon great political principles, would defray the whole expenses of the Government, or wbich would be entirely out of place in a mere technical if the staple growing States would assume the responsibi- argument before a judicial tribunal, but which this body lity of payiug those expenses out of revenues raised by is under the most solemo obligations to regard in all its themselves, there are certain States in this Union—I allude proceedings. to those emphatically denominated tariff States — that As no one now pretends that these prohibitory duties would not consent to a repeal of the impost duties. No, are imposed for the purpose of raising revenue, I shall sir, they gain much more than they lose, by the aggregate proceed to inquire how far they can be justified by the effect of the duties imposed, and the disbursements made, clause of the constitution which authorizes Congress" to by this Government, regarding the system in the light of a regulate commerce with foreign nations.”. Wbat, then, mere pecuniary speculation. If a foreign invention were was the object of the convention in clothing Congress made, by which the operations of Government could be with this power to regulate foreign commerce ? I put it carried on without the expenditure of a single dollar, those to the conscience of every member of this body, upon the States would regard it as a nuisance, and probibit its im- bigh responsibility under which he is acting, to answer portation by as rigorous penalties as are now proposed in me the question, whether this power was not vested in regard to foreign manufactures. A greater calamity could Congress for the sole and exclusive purpose of preservscarcely happen to the interests of worthern capital, con- ing, protecting, and defending the very commerce which federated in favor of the protecting system, than would re- it proposes to regulate. No one, I am sure, can serioussult from an entire suspension of the fiscal operations of ly believe that there is any other legitimate object for this Government, including both taxation and disbursement which this power can bave been conferred, or for which This extraordinary, but undoubted fact, that those who it can be rightfully exercised. By constituting Congress control the legislation of Congress have a decided pecu- the guardian of our foreign commerce, the constitution piary interest in the increase and perpetuation of the bas imposed upon that body the high duty of extending burdens of taxation, brings me to the consideration of a its protecting arm equally and impartially to every lawview of this subject deeply interesting to the people of the ful branch of that commerce. No restriction, therefore, southern portion of this confederacy, and involving the can be lawfully and constitutionally imposed upon the highest principles of constitutional liberty.
foreign trade of any part of this Union, that has not for its The southern States, actuated by that uncalculating object the preservation, security, or improvement of the patriotism for which they have always been distinguisbed, very branch of trade upou which it is imposed. Any man have submitted without a single murmur, to a system of who will look into the history of the times which imtaxation which has drawn from the productions of their mediately preceded the Federal Convention, will be saindustry, at least double the amount of their just contri- tisfied that the great object of convoking that assembly, bution to the federal treasury. But, sir, when they find and of creating this Goveroment, was to provide for the an interested majority, "which feels power and forgets security of our foreign commerce. What language then right,” steadily aiming the imperial ban of the probibitory can be used strong enough to characterize those prohibisystem at the absolute annihilation of that very branch of tory regulations of Congress wbich are inevitably calcucommerce which has to largely and disproportionately lated, and openly, and avowedly intended, not only to contributed to support the expenses of the Federal Go- suspend for an indefinite time, but utterly to abolish and vernment-when they find that majority, confident in the destioy, forever, a great brauch of commerce belonging strength of numbers, openly and boldly avowing the unto eight sovereign States of this confederacy? There is just, and, I had almost said, vefarious and piratical pur, nothing, sir, either in bistory or fable, that can be compose of sweeping from the very face of the ocean a lawful pared with this most uppatural and monstrous perversion branch of trade, which almost exclusively belongs to the of power The very commerce which this Government people of these States--it is time for them to rise up in was created to preserve, and which it is under the clearthe majesty of their rights, and demand, in the name of est and most solemn coustitutional obligations to protect the principles of eternal justice and of constitutional liber and defend against all foreign outrage, is actually destroyty, « by what authority do you commit this monstroused by the Government which was created to preserve it, outrage ?"
and professing to act under a power evidently conferred Sir, I never have been an advocate of strict limitations for no other purpose ! Yes, sir, and to add mockery to or technical refinements, in construing the constitution. the outrage, Congress very modestly claims the title of a I have always interpreted that instrument as I would any parental and protecting government, for the very act of other, by its plain sense and obvious intention, having re. sacrificing that commerce which it is bound to preserve, gard both to the letter and spirit. Taking these for my to build up on its ruins a distinct branch of industry-doguide, I utterly deny that Congress has the constitutioval mestic manufactures—which the constitution has not power to carry on a legislative warfare, either open or committed to the guardianship of the Federal Governdisguised, against any branch of foreign commerce, with ment in any respect whatever. The monster which should a view to the advancement of any other branch of pational devour bis own offspring, would not commit a greater industry. I know, sir, that I shall be asked if Congress outrage against nature, than this body is thus perpretating bave not the power of laying impost duties for the pur- against the constitution under which it assumes to aci, poses of raising revenue, and also the power of “regu- and from which only it can derive any legitimate authorilating commerce with foreign nations ;" and to these ques- ty. The only cause which can justify Congress in imtions I answer in the affirmative. I shall be then asked, posing restrictions and probibitions upon commerce, is how it would be possible for the Supreme Court to pro- the violation, by foreigo powers, of those principels of nounce a law of Congress unconstitutional, which pur- international law wbich are the guaranty of our commerports, upon the face of it, to be a revenue measure, or a cial and other sovereign rights as a nation; and the oply measure for the regulation of commerce. To this I ap- constitutional object to wbich these restrictions and proswer, that the Supreme Court could not, and would not, bibitions cau be directed, is to induce or constrain fopronounce such a law unconstitutional, because they can- reign powers to repeal the regulations, or abandon the
1 APRIL 29, 1830.]
(H. of R.
course of action by which our national rights are violated. (of the United States. I am decidedly of the opinion, there. This Goveroment was principally designed by its framers fore, that the embargo was a constitutional measure; but I
to concentrate the whole power of the confederacy, for am very far from believing that it was a wise one. r the purpose of resisting the aggressions of foreign nations Let us now see how the prohibitory acts, of 1824 upd
upon our rights on the ocean. If yo such aggression bas 1828 will stand a comparison with the embargo of 1807, been committed, if all our rights of commerce and naviga- in regard to the two esseutial requisites of a constitutional tion are secure under the protection of the law of nations, regulation of commerce. I mean a sufficient cause, aui a
even from apprebeuded encroachments, then, sir, I main- justifiable object. Wbat, then, was the cause of these two il tain that the case has not occurred, in which this Goverp- probibitory acts ? Was it pretended that any foreigo power
ment may rightfully interpose its power to vindicate the had violated our rights, by im posing restrictions up in our mi sovereign rights of the coufederacy, either by military force commerce, not warranted by the law of nations ? So far el or legislative restrictious and prohibitions.
from this being the case, the only measures of a foreigu I will now illustrate my views on this subject, by a power, which has been alleged as a motive for a proliilibrief examination of the embargo of 1807, a measure too i tory tariff on our part, is the prohibition of foreigu graiu memorable to bave been forgotten, and with the history by Great Britain ; a measure as highly applauded as it
of whiclı, ! take it for granted, every member of the was unwisely, imitated by the advocates of ihe probibitury \committee is familiar. It is a well known fact, that an system in this country. It was not to viudicate any viv
entire political party, constituting a decided majority of lated right, then, that the acts of 1824 and 1828' were so the people of New England, and beaded by men of very passed, and thus far they want the justifying cause that 1. distinguished talents and great political experience, de existed iu the case of the embargo. What, ther, is the
nounced the measure in question as an unconstitutional object, the final end, which these acts purpose to accumi perversion of the power to regulate commerce., I believe, plish? Are they intended to compel uny foreign power
, that every public functionary, from the chief Execu- to abandon restrictions injurious to our commercial rights,
tive downwards, and every department of the Government or even detrimental to our commercial interests! This o in almost every New England State, solemnly pronounced will scarcely be pretended. The only foreigo restriction the embargo law unconstitutional.
which has been alleged as an interference with our comThere never was a political party arrayed against this merce, is that imposed by the British corn laws. Governmeot with more unanimity upon any question, than Now, will it be seriously argued that the manufacturers were the federal party of New Eugland upon the uncon- of the United States are anxious to induce or constrain
stitutionality of that measure. Now, sir, what was the Great Britain to repeal ber corn laws ? Will any man in the ground upon which it was contended that the embargo was this House bazard i be assertion, that the prohibitory duties
unconstitutional ? I have recently beard that ground stated, imposed by Congress were designed to produce such an di from high authority, in a speech delivered not far off, in effect ? Nothing, sir, was more remote from the wishes of i which the idea seemed still to be maintained. The ground those by whom these duties were imposed. When the i was this: that the embargo law contaived no limitation subject of negotiatiug a commercial treaty with Great je upon its face, and was, therefore, an indefinite suspension of | Britain, providing for a reciprocal free trade between the
To suspeod commerce indefinitely, is to de- two countries, was agitated some months ago in the public stroy it; and the power to regulate commerce does not journals, in what tone and temper was it denounced by the confer the right to destroy it. Such, sir, was the argu- advocates of the manufacturing interest ? And when a ment, as I understand it. Though it is certainly a plausi- bill was reported a few days ago by the Committee on ble aud imposing argument, I do not think it a souud one. Commerce, proposing to effect the same object, in a partial It entirely overlooks the cause which induced Congress to degree, by legislation, what an electric terror seemed to pass the embargo law, and the object to accomplish which run through the ranks of the tariff party in this House ?
it was enacted, both of them considerations esseutial to the No measure could be adopted by any foreign Government, De correct determiuation of the question of coustitutionality. and particularly by that of Great Britain, that would be
Let it be remembered that the belligerent powers of Eu- more earnestly deprecated by the friends of the protecting rope bad committed a series of outrages upon our national system in this country, than an unconditional repeal of all
and commercial rights, in opeu violation of the clearest commercial restrictions. If the British Parliament were * priuciples of the law of nations. Here, then, was an un- about to abolish the corn laws, the manufacturers of the
doubted case for the constitutional interposition of the United States, if there was any disguise in which they power of the Federal Government. The casus fæderis ofcould present themselves, would pray for a continuauce of the constitutional compact bad evideutly occurred. The those laws as devoutly as the British landlords. Their rerights of the citizens were violated by foreign powers, and peal, sir, would be the most fatal blow that could be in. this Goveryment, having in charge the foreign relations of Hicted ou the manufacturers in this country, next to the rethe country, wus not only autborized to vindicate those peal of our own prohibitory duties. What would be the rights by commercial restrictions, but even by war itself, effect of this repeal upon the competitiou between the the last resort of injured nations. Indeed, the embargo British and American manufacturers While it would diwas a war measure in all its material characteristics, viewed minish the price of graiu one-half in Great Britain, and io reference either to its causes or its objects.
produce a corresponding reduction in the price of labor, And what, sir, was the end, the final end, which Con- and consequently in the cost of manufactures, it would gress proposed to accomplish by the embargo Was there produce an effect almost precisely opposite in the United å man in America at the time is there a man in America States. It is an established principle of political economy at present, so far gone in the delusions of party prejudice, in Great Britain, founded upon the actual condition of the as to believe that Mr. Jefferson, iu recommending the em laboring classes, that every rise or fall in the price of grain bargo, or Congress in adopting it
, aimed at the permanent produces a rise or fall in the price of labor, almost exactly destruction of commerce, or of any branch of it
, as the equal to increased or diminished cost of food for the laborer. ultimate and final end of that measure? It will hardly be This results from the fact, that the laborer is reduced to doubted, at this day, that the sole and exclusive object the minimum of human subsistence. His employer will which the Goveroment had in view, in this temporary sus pot give bim more, and canuot give him less. Å reduction pension of foreigo commerce, was to compel the bellige in the price of corn, therefore, from two dollars to one dolrent powers to relieve that very commerce from the shackles lar a bushel—an effect which would probably result from and restrictions which they had thrown around it, coutrary the repeal of the British corp laws-would reduce the price to the law of nations, and iu violatiou of the guvereigu rights of labor twenty-five per cent, and the cost of producing ma