網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版
[ocr errors][merged small]

of every American citizen. In a government of universal suffrage, every elector is in a measure responsible for its right administration. The theory of our government is, that every measure of public policy is the act of the peop' . It presumes that the representative acts in accordance w.th the known wishes and interests of his constituents, and that they have a sufficient knowledge of public affairs to direct him it. the discharge of his duties. Upon no question in political economy is unanimity of sentiment more important than upon that which is discussed in this work; yet there is perhaps none upon which opinions more discordant and conflicting have prevailed. The decision of no other, probably, more materially affects the public interest ; yet tariffs have been made and unmade by the representatives of electors, a majority of whom had never bestowed any considerable attention upon the question determined by their suffrages. Since the adoption of the existing policy, in 1846, there has been no general discussion of the protective system. A large portion of those who have since that time become invested with political power, ars incapable of acting intelligently in the settlement of this great question. Yet there are strong indications that it will soon, in some form, be again submitted to the people. In his last two annual messages to Congress, the President has recommended a revision of the tariff with a view to an increase of dutics. In compliance with these recommendations, the House of Representatives, at its late session, passed a bill for that purpose ; but it was not concurred in by the Senate. The insufficiency of the revenue, under the present low tariff, to meet the demands of the Treasury ; the languishing condition of several of the more important branches of domestic industry, from the want of adequate encouragement; and the belief that the financial crisis of 1857, from the effects of which the country has not yet fully recovered, was the natural result of a departure from the protective policy; render it probable that a new attempt will soon be made for its restoration. It will hardly be alleged that the mass of the people are duly prepared to meet the question. To assist in leading to correct conclusions any who may desire to investigate the subject, is the design of this volume. The object is not, however, to encourage the incorporation of the doctrine of protection into the platform of any political paty. A correct decision, it is believed, is more likely to be attained when the public mind is uninfluenced by considerations of party advantage. If, in determining this or any other question, the people shall be guided by an enlightened and impartial judgment, no bad results need be apprehended. Should they chance to err in their decision, their intelligence would enable them at once to discover the error and to apply the true remedy. This work prescribes no new course of legislation on this subject. It recommends no departure from the landmarks established by the founders of the government. It asserts no principle which has not received the sanction of Washingtou, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Adams, and Jackson, and their most distinguished cotemporaries. A laborious examination of this subject for many years, has the more fully confirmed the author's faith in the doctrines of the political fathers. A theory fundamentally correct, is unaffected by the lapse of time. A policy which has stood the test of successful experiment, it is unwise to abandon for an untried and a doubtful one—much more so, for one that has proved itself radically defective.

There has been no change in the condition: or policy of other commercial nations which seems to justify the great changes which have been made in our own. Changes have been made in some of them ; but they consist in the adoption of the industrial system recommended by our early statesmen, and furnish additional evidence of its utility.

This work is not an Essay, or a Treatise, consisting mainly of the author's individual opinions and reasonings. It is, as its title declares, a History. It begins with the colonial policy of Great Britain which led to the separation of the colonies from the parent country, and ultimately to the establishing of a national government with power to protect the people against the restrictive measures which secured to that country a monopoly of trade. It gives a faithful record of the action of our Government on this subject, from time to time, since its organization. The views of our own statesmen, as expressed in executive messages, official reports, and legislawyve debates, will, it is believed, be more acceptable to the mass of readers, than a disquisition on the subject of protec. tion by the ablest writer. The opinions of those men have been formed, not alone from what appeared theoretically correct, but also from the practical effects of the system. This entitles them to greater regard than is due to the speculations of any ordinary writer on this branch of political economy.

To the conviction that a work of this kind is needed, this compilation owes its existence. If it shall serve to awaken any considerable portion of the American people to a deeper in 18 rest in matters of public concern, and to aid them in the discharge of their political duties, it will have accomplished it) mission.

August, 1860,

« 上一頁繼續 »