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Report of the Committee on Manufactures. May 23d, 1832.
Speech of the Hon. Asher Robbins of Rhode Island in defense of the System for the
Protection of American Industry. Delivered in the Senate of the United
States. March 2d, 1832.

UPON every consideration which we have been able to bestow on the condition, the spirit, and the expectations of the people of this country, it appears to us as settled, that they must have manufactures. A considerable portion of American capital, industry, and genius even now have no other profitable investment-can indeed be employed in reference to no other object. Whether the protective system was originally wise or unwise, whether the tarif of duties on imports was right or wrong, the surplus population of the middle and northern states must have employment. As their agricultural products are excluded from almost every part of the world, they have no alternative except manufacturing pursuits, or want of occupation. The mechanic arts in some form must be cultivated, or beggary will ensue. In this application of our resources and talents, we follow in the train of most other nations. The general pacification of Europe in 1815, has given this turn to human affairs. The nations of the continent with the cessation of war lost their employment, and we lost much of ours through the same change. They, therefore, turned their attention with the utmost ardor, to the mechanic arts. It is now no longer Great Britain that manufactures for the world. She finds her competitors as to many articles, in every state on the continent. As a few out of a multitude of instances showing the progress of these pursuits, it may be mentioned, that the cotton manufactures of France and Belgium have increased ten fold in ten years. The silk trade of the former country cannot have advanced at a much less rate. Iron and wollen manufactures have become a great object in Prussia, Germany, France and the Netherlands. Liege has already become the Birmingham of the Low Countries, as Ghent is their Manchester and Glasgow. Striking indications of genius and industry are every where munificently encouraged, especially at St. Petersburg, Berlin, Brussels, Paris, Munich, Stuttgard, and Vienna. The American people would be infatuated, not to provide themselves in like manner with employment; and profitable employment. As things are now situated, we could not live without it.

The prosperity of our manufactures, it is generally conceded, requires for a time, at least, the protection of the general government; and the power and right of the government, if it possesses

the ordinary attributes of sovereignty, to afford that protection, are incontestible. It is a measure of self-defense-an act of justice towards our own citizens against the interference of other nations, to doubt which, is to doubt, whether as a nation, we can attain the ends of the social campact. As Mr. Robbins remarks in the speech whose title we have placed at the head of this article,

"In a country without manufactures, what man in the present state of the world, would embark and hazard his fortune in the undertaking to begin them against the equal competition of other countries, possessing every advantage over him, and ready and willing, and interested to crush the attempt? It would be fully to think of it, for it would be inevitable ruin. In what instance in modern and recent times, I would ask, has any nation ever acquired manufacturing riches with out a protecting policy? Why the thing is impossible: in the nature of things it

cannot be."

While this is our own opinion in respect to governmental protection, it is not our province or wish to enlarge upon the topic. We leave that task to others to whom it belongs, and who are able to do it justice.

As to manufactures themselves, we are clear in the conviction, as before intimated, that they are demanded by the common welfare of the country--that with little qualification they may be said to be essential to national independence and security, and that they contribute to the wealth and comfort, and embellishment of the land, in a degree which must be sought in vain from any other pursuit in their room. This conviction is forced upon us by a consideration of the natural resources of the country-the amplitude of its domain, its fertility, its natural treasures, and its means of artificial power by water and by steam. It is forced upon us by a single glance at the capabilities for production, in our large and rapidly increasing population, at their enterprise, and the necessity of finding objects on which those capabilities and that enterprise may be expended. With this consideration, we connect also the aptitude of our countrymen for the mechanic arts-their ingenuity and skilland their success in the invention of labor-saving machinery. We shall not easily forget the deep and almost melancholy interest, which we personally witnessed in an English manufacturer, who came to this country not long since, for the purpose of inspecting our rising arts, when, upon examining certain specimens of mechanic invention introduced by the "clever yankees," into a department where his own exertions had been particularly bestowed, he declared that the American market was lost to him forever. We are confirmed also in the general conclusion which we have already drawn, by the expressed opinion of the same authority, that the extensive introduction of manufacturing industry into this country must be expected, as a matter of course, though his interest, and perhaps his judgment, led him to express his doubts, with

respect to any hastening or hot-bed process. We believe, however, that the trial of sixteen years, which have elapsed since the system of protection was more effectually adopted, may authorize us to infer, that the object has not been prosecuted, without a due regard to the growing capacity and taste of the people, for this branch of industry. We are further established in our impressions, by the example of all other civilized and enlightened nations, and by the necessity hence imposed upon us of manufacturing for ourselves, if we would preserve an equality with them in the refinements of life, and would not fall into a state of degrading and dangerous dependence.

Were it our present design to treat the subject chiefly as a political question, or one by which the pecuniary interest and temporal welfare of the nation are affected, we would dwell on such considerations as have been summarily presented above. But as this is not our design, we will add no more on the topic under this view of it, except to introduce a paragraph from the speech of Mr. Robbins, in which he urges the principle that the protecting policy, to whatever extent it may be necessary to introduce it, should be steadily pursued. This thought he has illustrated with singular felicity, and we are gratified to adorn the pages of the Christian Spectator with a passage, in which, among other glowing representations, he describes Athenian arts and literature, in the very spirit of Athenian eloquence.

No state, (he says,) ever became great by its policy, but by a steady and persevering pursuit of that policy; and wonderful is the efficacy of such steadiness and perseverance. I beg leave to refer to a few instances. Great Britain owes her astonishing opulence and power to this steadiness of pursuit. It is now about two hundred years, since she began in earnest the policy of securing to her own industry the monopoly of her own markets; and never for a moment has relaxed in the least from the pursuit of that policy. It involved her in one war; but no force without, no complaint, no clamors within, ever induced on her part, any, the least wavering, in the pursuit. The astonishing results I have just now given. Other nations have not profited by the policy, only because they have failed of equal steadiness in the pursuit. With them the policy has been fluctuating; sometimes pursued, and sometimes abandoned, and sometimes relaxed into a judicious tarif. It is hence that they have been thrown so much in the rear of Great Britain. But their eyes are now opened; the scales have fallen from them, they are wide awake to the importance of this policy; and Great Britain can no longer delude them with the fine theory of her Adam Smith, which she recommends to them, but repudiates for herself.

Again: ancient Rome was once an inconsiderable village, on the banks of the Tiber. That village reared itself into a vast empire, embracing the fairest portions of the habitable globe; extending on one line, (as the poet expresses it,)

A Gadibus usque
Auroram et Gangen :-


from Cadiz to Aurora and the Ganges; on the other from the burning desert of Lybia, to the Danube and the Rhine-an empire of which all present France was but a province, and Great Britain but an appendage of that province. In Europe,



in Asia, in Africa, she saw her eagles, like the delegates of her Jove, bear her thunders in triumph over their subjugated and trembling nations. How is this prodigy to be accounted for? Solely by steadiness of pursuit. That ambitious vil lage proposed to herself the acquisition of military power, and nothing else:

Hæ tibi erunt artes; pacisque imponere morem,
Parcere subjectis et debellare superbos :'

and the whole scheme of her policy had reference to, and was concentrated in, that leading object; and that policy was steadily, and unwaveringly pursued, for seven hundred years. The same policy that progressively reared up this gigantic power against the world, afterwards sustained it for another seven hundred years. The power and the policy fell together. Rome remained invincible, till cotruption, after having triumphed over every thing else, came at last to triumph over her military institutions-then Rome fell, and avenged the conquered world by her own suicidal hand.

But the most interesting instance of the efficacy of this steadiness of pursuit, was given by the city of Athens; the most interesting, because the object was most so. From the earliest times, Athens aspired to literature and the elegant arts. They were made, as Montesquieu remarks, a direct and leading object with the government; singular in this respect, and differing from every other. By a steady pursuit of the policy, adopted with a view to this end, the city of Athens because such a monument of the arts, that even her imperfect and dilapidated remains are at this day the wonder of the world. What splendors, then, must she have emitted in the day of her splendor! When, in her freshness, she met the morning sun, and reflected back a rival glory! When she was full of the master pieces of genius in every art-creations that were said to have exalted in the human mind the ideas of the divinities themselves! The fervid eloquence of Demosthenes failed, unequal to the task to do justice to those immortal splendors, when em. ployed, as occasionally it was, for that purpose, in his addresses to the Athenian people. It was by the steady pursuit of the same policy, that their literary works of every kind, (and in every kind they were extremely numerous,) came to be equally the master pieces of human genius, and being more diffused, and less inpaired by the injuries of time, than the other monuments of the arts, they were, and still are, more the wonders of the world. They were carried to such a height of perfection, that, after it, the Athenians themselves could never surpass them, while others have never been equal to them. Now, what has been the effect? Literature and the arts have gathered round that city a charm that was and is felt by all mankind; which no distance, no time can dispel. No scholar of any age or clime but has made (in fancy at least) a pilgrimage to its shore; there to call around him the shades of their mighty dead, whose minds still live, and delight and astonish in their immortal works. It is emphatically the city of the heart-where the affections delight to dwell; the green spot of the earthwhere the fancy loves to linger. How poor is brute force-even the most magnificent, even the Roman-compared to the empire of mind, to which all other minds pay their voluntary homage. Her literature and her arts acquired to Athens this empire, which her remains still preserve, and always will preserve. In contemplating the phenomenon of her literary achievements, a great and profound writer could not forbear saying, that it seemed a providential event in honor of human nature, to show to what perfection the species might ascend.' Call it providential, if you please--as every event is, in some sense, providential -but it was the effect of artificial causes; as much so as the military power of the Romans; it was the effect of a policy, early adopted, and always afterwards steadily pursued. I know the opinion that ascribes all this to a peculiar felicity of nature. Horace, I know, says:—


'Graiis ingenium; Graiis dedit ore rotundo
Musa loqui; præter laudem nullius avaris.'

But what gave them that absorbing avarice of fame? It was infused into them by their institutions; it was that one universal sentiment generated by those insti

tutions, and what he calls the gifts of genius, bestowed by the muses, was the common mind, exalted and refined by the operation and force of the same institutions. It was these which had refined an Athenian mob, as the Athenian people are sometimes called, into an audience of critical taste. The Attic eloquence, called so by way of pre-eminence, was but conformity to the requirements of that taste. Such is the wonderful efficacy of steadiness of pursuit, (as we have seen displayed in those instances,) by a nation pursuing national objects by adequate


Turning from these considerations, which are highly interesting to the political economist, we shall direct the attention of our readers to a question of infinitely greater moment in the view of every christian, we mean, the probable moral influence of manufactures in this country. We need not say, that many fears have been entertained on this subject. It has generally been supposed that masses of people brought together, as they are in great establishments, from various places, of different sexes, and all ages, -occupied as they are in manual drudgery, with perhaps few opportunities for mental improvement-and exposed to numerous temptations, as large bodies of persons are apt to be, would be highly injurious to the order of society among us-that they would bring in upon us a population dangerous to the peaceful and virtuous habits in which our citizens have been generally educated -that they would be nurseries of ignorance, crime, and brutality of manners, and diffuse a pernicious influence around them. These apprehensions have arisen from the acknowledged character of many of these establishments in foreign countries, particularly in Great Britain. The moral debasement of this class of operatives, their poverty, ignorance, and squalid appearance, connected in idea also with their frequent terrible riots and “turn outs," were certainly not calculated to make our good citizens greatly in favor of a system, whose effects, there, were so pernicious, in regard to the most important of human interests. We ourselves formerly partook of the common apprehension, especially in consequence of detailed accounts that were given us, in a correspondence from one of the most celebrated of the English manufacturing places, respecting the moral character and habits, of the class of people in question. They were represented to us as being generally without any of the characteristics of good citizens-so ignorant, as to be unable in some instances, to tell the amount of the money which is paid them for their work-so thriftless, as never to gather any property, even in cases where it could be easily done so dependent, as readily to become the fit tools of any disorganizer, who would wish to excite them to violenceso debased, as to spend the greater part of their scanty earnings in procuring the means of intoxication, or in barbarous amusements-so devoid of principle, as to be prepared to commit, when

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