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

his seat and out of it, what past experience has proved to be true, that the hemp of Kentucky could not come in competition with that which was imported; that the mode of curing here was so different from that abroad, that the one could not take the place of the other; and he at the last session was in favor of a greater reduction than that which was made by the act of the 14th July. If, sir, hemp could be imported free of duty, as is actually the case in Great Britain, our ropewalks, now in a manner idle, might be profitably used in the manufacture of cordage for exportation, as well as for own vessels. But, under the operation of this bill, vessels will, as they have heretofore done, destined from this country for Europe, take as little cordage as they can be safely navigated with, and make up their deficiency on their arrival out; thus transferring American capital to a foreign land, and employing foreign labor instead of that of our own citizens. If this article could be imported duty free, or was subject to only a small impost, our own labor might supply the West Indies and South America with cordage; at any rate, we could divide the trade in this article with the English, give enployment to the mechanics of our own country, and give a stimulus to the navigation interest, and all the branches of national industry connected with or dependent upon it. But pass this bill, and they have nothing to hope for or expect. One would suppose that the committee had in view the destruction of another of our interests. The duty on rum is to be so far reduced, as I have already shown, I think, as to enable the foreign to supply the place of the domestic in all our markets, and consequently prostrate the whole of our distilleries. West India rum, I am told, will be brought for twentyeight cents a gallon, third proof, hogsheads and all, in this country for exportation, giving the vender the drawback. Such rum is 10 per cent. above first proof, which being deducted to ascertain the price of first proof, leaves it at only 25.20 cents per gallon, then deduct four cents for the value of the hogshead, brings the rum at twenty-one cents and eight mills, which is all the rum netts the seller in this country, reckoned first proof. The price of New England rum is now, without the hogshead, at the distil. lery, thirty-three cents, and can hardly be afforded for that; nor will it probably be much lower if the duty on molasses should continue at four or five cents. Then, sir, admit the importer receives twenty-two cents for first proof, and pays eighteen cents duty, it will only raise it to forty cents per gallon, seven cents above the price of do. mestic rum. There can be no doubt but the foreign rum would have a general preference in the market at twenty cents difference of price. Pass this bill, and domestic distilling must cease; the importation of molasses would be lessened; our navigation feel the effects of it; and with this decrease of importation, there would be a decrease of the exportation of many of those agricultural products as well as those things which are drawn from the ocean, given in exchange for this article. Sir, I lay out of the account the effect which the destruction of this one interest would have upon the mechanics and laborers to whom it directly and indirectly gives employment. I come now, Mr. Chairman, to the consideration of another article: that of molasses is as much, if not more, entitled to a reduction of duty than any other. Its present duty is frequently equal to its cost in the island of Cuba, if we except the price of the hogshead; and the duty proposed by this bill, of four cents a gallon, will be equal to an ad valorem duty of 75 or 80 per cent. If we view this article as a material for manufacturing, the reduction goes in aid of American industry, in which may also be included the employ of our vessels and seamen. If it is considered as an article of domestic consumption, it is one of the cheapest, and most nutritious, and best adapted to the use of the poor and laboring classes of any of the foreign productions.

[Here Mr. RoANE, of Virginia, in an under tone, observed to Mr. P. that Yankees use it in more ways than one.

so, said Mr. P., if our hasty puddings were not sometimes made to swim in this as well as milk, the bard of Connecticut could not have sung with such apparent inspiration the praises of such a common article of food in New England.

A reduction of the duty on molasses, or the introduction of it duty free, would not injure any one of the protected articles of the country. Such is the protection given to sugar in this bill, that the sugar interest of Louisiana would not suffer by such an introduction, and most of the molasses of that State does, and for a long time will, find a ready market in the West, and cannot be injured by any successful competition. Why, then, should the duty be retained?

Of all the interests in this country, which will feel the direct and immediate effects of this bill, that of wool and woollers is the most extensive. How far and to what extent they may be injured, others are more competent than I am, said Mr. P., to judge. No man is better acquainted with their interests than the honorable gentleman from Massachusetts, [Mr. BATEs, who has just taken his seat. Neither, in his estimation, can live under the operations of this bill. Will gentlemen pause for a moment, and, before they proceed in the work of destruction, reflect upon the extent of these two interests? * The capital in wool and woollens is, at this time, $167,000,000. Annual produce, $40,000,000. Threefourths the produce of agriculture.

The sheep, at this time, are valued at $40,000,000, and the number might be quadrupled in three years. Are gentlemen prepared, at one blow, to deprive us of this great produce by the destruction of this immense capital? . I hope not. There is no pursuit which one would suppose from the course of our legislation was less regarded than agriculture: yet it has engaged in it more than five times the number of all the others combined. It is seldom the farmer calls your attention to his wants. He seldom makes any demands or prefers any claims; and, sir, what employment is there more honorable or as useful? By honest industry, by hard labor, by the sweat of his brow, he is able to sustain himself, and supply the wants of his country. Without this labor, where would be the comforts or necessaries of life?

Mr. Chairman, the soil which he cultivates with his labor is pledged for all the requirements of the Government. His fields are as lasting as the eternal hills, and when the tax gatherer calls, he is sure to find him. He cannot change his employment for any other. As his lot is cast, so it remains. His gains may be sure, but they are always small. Sir, what is at this time his great dependence? I speak, sir, of those in that part of the country with which I am best acquainted, my own home: it is wool. If he be the proprietor of the land he cultivates, he looks to this for his gains; if but the tenant, to this he looks to enable him to pay his rent, and for the maintenance of his family. Let it not be understood, because we have in Rhode Island a large manufacturing interest, we have not a great agricultural interest also. Sir, if we have but a little soil, we endeavor to supply the want of extensive fields by high cultivation, and placing upon the lands we have all the stock they can possibly sustain. To this interest I pray gentlemen to turn their attention before they vote for this bill in its present form. Think of our flocks, and you will have at least some misgivings before you strike the blow, some compunctious visitings. I am animated with hope, and cannot but take courage from what I have seen in the honorable gentleman from New York, [Mr. Root..] Anti-tariff as he may be supposed to be, he has offered us one prayer for the sheep upon the banks of the Delaware.

[ocr errors]

In regard to the agricultural interest, said Mr. P., I might have said more, but could not have contented myself with saying less. Early associations, an acquaintance with it in all its parts better than with any other interest, as it always has, so it always will engage me to stand by and sustain it. The laborer is worthy of his hire. Continue to the farmer the little pittance which he now receives. Let him not suffer by the direct, as he certainly will, to what extent I know not, by the indirect operations of this bill, if it should pass with the provisions it now contains. If the Hessian fly has destroyed his grain, let not our legislation blast his remaining prospect. A remark or two more generally in regard to the navigation of the country to be affected by the bill, and to give all the credit to the committee they are entitled to. In looking over a comparison of the duties of the act of last session with those proposed by this bill, I find that on chain cables the duty is to be reduced from 59 to 20 per cent. ad valorem, and, without stopping to inquire whether this reduction will be conducive to the interest of the ropemakers, the navigation of the country will give them credit for it. And as this interest was not entirely overlooked, and was recognised as an existing interest, and knowing as they did that it had to compete with the navigation of the world; that it has heretofore been sustained by the superior skill, industry, and enterprise of our navigators and seamen, without which it could not have been sustained at all; that shipbuilding is as much a manufacture as any other; that the mechanics of our country have also their rights, and are entitled to the protection of their country; that this navigation has been taxed with charges upon ship registers, Mediterranean passes, and, until lately, with tonnage duties, not to mention others, it is to be regretted that the heavy charges on iron, hemp, and duck, should have been altogether apparently unobserved by them. Sir, the chairman of the committee at the last session fought manfully to reduce the duty on sail duck. I was proud to fight with him, and am now willing to say that to his great exertions is the navigation of the country mainly indebted for the reduction of the duty on that article last session to 15 per cent. ad valorem. That gentleman will allow me to say, I have no doubt, that the reduction at that time effected was not so great as he wishcd or desired. His recorded votes show that it was not. 'Why then has this article been overlooked by him. in his bill reported for the express purpose of reducing the revenue six millions of dollars? Do not the same causes now exist which existed six months ago for its reduction? Have any new manufactures of it sprung up since the last session, requiring the aid or protection of the Government? We have had no petitions in favor of further protection from the manufacturers in this country. The committee may be able to solve what to me is a mystery. They have not yet done it. At the last session, Mr. Chairman, I presented memorials and remonstrances against the reduction of the duty on olive oil. I received them from that portion of my constituents who are engaged in the whale fishery. I presume, sir, that if it had been generally known what this bill proposed in relation to olive oil, we should have heard at this session from those whose interests may be material. ly asfected by the reduction upon it. The law of 1832 reduced the duty to twenty cents per gallon, and the bill of this session proposes a further reduction of ten cents. I did not have the pleasure, said Mr. P., to hear my honorable friend from Massachusetts, [Mr. REEn, when he addressed the committee a few days ago; but knowing the great interest his constituents have in the whale fishery, and his watchfulness in regard to all measures which can affect their interests, I doubt not he at that time called the attention of the committee to the operations of that part of the bill which I am now considering. I know not the interests which have called for this reduction, but I

[blocks in formation]

have heard it somewhere said, not here, that the woollen manufacturers, require it. Sir, they have not, to my knowledge, asked for it. Pass this bill, and my word for it, something more than olive oil will be found necessary to keep their wheels in motion. This proposed reduction will be but a poor compensation for the losses they will sustain by the operation of the bill generally. Let me then call the attention of the committee to the extent and advantages to the country of a pursuit which this reduction may severely affect and eventually destroy. The statement which I read shows the number of ships in 1831, and men engaged in this business, the quantity of provisions consumed, the amount of foreign articles used, and the quantity of sperm oil obtained from 1815 to 1831. For the last two years the number of ships has greatly increased, and the number of men now employed is more than seven thousand. The Wha LE TRAI, E.--It is estimated that the number of whale ships in the United States, in 1831, was 300; the number of men employed in them was about 6,500, who consumed annually 36,00 barrels flour, 30,000 barrels beef and pork, 18,000 bolts of duck, 6,000,000 staves, 2,000 tons of cordage, and 700,000 pounds of copper and copper nails. The quantity of sperm oil obtained from 1815 to 1831 is stated to be as follows:

1815 3,944 brls. 1821 48,000 brls. 1827 93,180 bris. 1816 7,539 1822 42,900 1828 73,077 1817 32,760 1823 87,230 1829 79,840 1818 18,625 1824 92,380 1830 106,829 1819 21,323 1825 62,240 1831 110,000 1820 34,708 1826 32,840

The whale oil brought in 1830 was 118,000 barrels, and in 1831, 188,000 barrels; 100 barrels sperm oil will produce 27,000 pounds spermaceti. The common whale ships average about 1,000 barrels of oil. Sir, let us view the origin, progress, and fluctuations of this business as far as we have the means of examination. It had its beginning in 1701: at the commencement of the revolutionary war it brought into the province of Massachusetts, through the island of Nantucket alone, 167,000 pounds sterling annually. It then employed 150 sail of vessels, with about 2,000 men, but at the opening of the peace this number was reduced to nineteen sail only. Our late war suspended this business altogether. The statement I have submitted shows that, since the conclusion of the war, the success of this business has increas. ed almost in a geometrical ratio, and this, too, by the mere force of American genius, skill, and enterprise, unaided by bounties or any direct encouragement on the part of the Government of the United States whatsoever, and against all the encouragement, direct and indirect, given by other countries, England, France, and Holland, to this species of fishery. Edmund Burke might have been an enthusiast--he was surely a prophet, although even more has been realized than his ardent imagination led him to predict when he pronounced the following eulogium upon the enterprise of the New England colonists: “As to the wealth, Mr. Speaker, which the colonies have drawn from the sea by their fisheries, you had all that matter fully opened at your bat. You surely thought those acquisitions of value, for they seemed even to excite your envy; and yet, the spirit by which that enterprising employment has been exercised, ought rather, in my opinion, to have raised your esteem and admiration. And pray, sir, what in the world is equal to it? . Pass by the other parts, and look at the manner in which the people of New England have of late carried on the whale fishery. “Whilst we follow them among the tumbling mountains of ice, and behold them penetrating into the deepest srozen recesses of 11udson's Bay and Davis's Straits; whilst we are looking for them beneath the arctic circle, we hear

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

that they have pierced into the opposite region of polar <old, that they are at the antipodes, and engaged under the frozen serpent of the south; Falkland island, which seemed too remote and romantic an object for the grasp of national ambition, is but a stage and resting place in the progress of their victorious industry. “Nor is the equinoctial heat more discouraging to them than the accumulated winter of both the poles. We know that whilst some of them draw the line and strike the harpoon on the coast of Africa, others run the lon. gitude, and pursue their gigantic game along the coast of Brazil. No sea but what is vexed by their fisheries. No climate that is not witness to their toils. Neither the perseverance of Holland, nor the activity of France, nor the dexterous and firm sagacity of the English enterprise, ever carried this most perilous mode of hardy industry to the extent to which it has been pushed by this recent people; a people who are still, as it were, but in the gristle, and not yet hardened into the bone of manhood. - “When I contemplate these things; when I know that the colonies in general owe little or nothing to any one of ours, and that they are not squeezed into this happy form by the constraints of a watchful and suspicious Government, but that, through a wise and salutary neglect, a generous nature has been suffered to take her own way to perfection; when I reflect upon these effects, when I see how profitable they have been to us, I feel all the pride of power sink, and all presumption in the wisdom of human contrivances melt and die away within me. My rigor relents. I pardon something to the spirit of liberty.” A single port in one of the Eastern States sends annually into the Pacific Ocean more tonnage than at the commencement of the revolutionary war was owned in the whole thirteen colonies. The port to which I allude (New Bedford) employs almost exclusively in this fishery, which is increasing every year, and I might almost say every month, 50,000 tons of shipping. This business, Mr. Chairman, will be seriously injured, perhaps destroyed, by this bill in two ways. A duty of ten cents a gallon on olive oil will cause that article to take the place, to a very great extent, of whale oil in our own markets, and a reduction of duty on cottons from seven cents a square yard to one and a quarter cents, destroying that interest, as I shall soon attempt to show, will take from it the great and extensive demand which the cotton manufacturers have for it. And where, sir, can a market be found for it? Not in England, who knows her own interest and the importance of this business too well to suffer it to enter her ports. Pass this bill, and your whale fishery must be abandoned. A moment’s reflection upon the consequences of its abandonment, not to the labor, wealth, and commerce of the country, but to the national arm, and I quit the subject. In the event of a war, seven thousand seamen will be withdrawn from this pursuit for the national defence; men who have periled life and defied danger in contending with the leviathan of the deep; men who will court danger in fighting upon the ocean the battles of their country. Sir, a recurrence to the events of the late war fully shows, that, without the nursery for seamen created by our fisheries, this country would not have been, as it is now acknowledged to be, the bravest and most successful in naval warfare of any on the face of the globe. When the Guerriere struck her proud flag to the consti. tution, from what nursery were seamen of the latter drawn? From our fisheries. A great proportion of her crew were from Marblehead, Nantucket, and New Bedford. Turn to all the naval battles in which we were successful, and it will be found that the valiant sons of the ocean who mainly contributed to our victories were nurtured, reared

in the American fisheries. But not in our national ships Vol. IX.-95

alone was the enemy made to feel the force, discipline, and education of these men. Our private armed vessels, manned with these men, scoured the ocean, and caused it to blaze with the fires they set to the vessels of the enemy, entered his harbors, and, in some instances, laid his cities under contribution. Sir, our enemy was made more sensibly to feel the effects of the war by the dauntless bravery and matchless skill of these men, thus reared, than by all our other means of annoyance combined. Ought we, by any act of legislation, to be cut off from this source of national defence, or deprived of the means of successful and vigorous naval warfare? Paralyze this arm of our national power, and in the event of another war you will not find a sufficient number of American seamen to man the ships of the line which now constitute in part the navy of the United States. To a consideration of the cottons of the country, and the undoubted effect of this bill upon them, I must now call the attention of the committee. I regret, said Mr. P., that upon other topics so much of your time has been consumed by me. There are in Rhode Island more cotton manufactories than in any other State, and perhaps as much capital invested in the cotton manufacture as in any one in the Union. The value, extent, and importance of this business, the effect of this bill upon it, and a history of its rise and progress in the United States, must claim our attention. In 1789, the first cotton mill was erected and put into operation by an enterprising and industrious foreigner, in one of the then small vi lages in Rhode Island. For along period of time the business was pursued rather as an experiment than otherwise. I lived more than half my days, said Mr. P., within a short distance of cotton manufactories, without ever having seen one. They were visited by most of our citizens from motives of curiosity until within the last fifteen or twenty years. I am authorized to say, by a gentleman who may now be within these walls, that, until 1806–7, the whole number of spindles in Rhode Island (and there were but few, if any, at that time in any other State) would not exceed 10,000, owned by citizens residing in and about the town of Providence. If, sir, the number has so far increased as to require for manufacture 250,000 bales of cotton, and the increase has been the result of the protection given by the Government to our manufactures, can that protection in good faith be withdrawn, if, by withdrawing it, the manufacturing establishments will be destroyed? Will they be destroyed if this bill becomes a law? ithink they will. No institutions reared or sustained by a protection of six and a half and seven cents per square yard, when the same is suddenly reduced to one and a quarter and one cent two mills a square yard, can possibly stand. Sir, the mere apprehension of the passage of this bill has led one individual with whom I have of late conversed, to say that he would to-day sell all his interest in one of the manufactories of Rhode Island at a discount of fifty per cent. upon its costs, and that factory one of the best conducted, and most profitable concerns of the kind in that State. Mr. Chairman, indulge me while I callyour attention to the history of our legislation, and its operation upon the cottons of this country, the inevitable effect of this bill upon them, and the consequences which would follow the destruction of this branch of national industry. The tariff of 1816 laying a duty of 25 per cent., with a minimum of 25 cents F. square yard, or, properly speaking, a specific duty of six and a quarter cents per square yard, was levelled expressly at the India cottons, which cost in India nine cents per yard on the average, and was designed, as it proved to be, prohibitory. Cotton yarns were also valued at 60 cents per pound, and paid 25 per cent. duty. Our manufacturers now make an article two or three times as valuable, and sell it at 25 per cent. less than the cost of those cottons in India. They also, very

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

early after 1816, commenced manufacturing other descrip-
tions of cotton goods, with which we had heretofore been
supplied from England, and thus commenced the compe-
tition with her, which has continued ever since, and been
gradually extended to finer and more valuable kinds of
goods, in which they have been aided by the act of 1818,
repealing the clause in the act of 1816, which reduced
the duty to 20 per cent., to commence in 1819; by the
act of 1824, raising the minimum to 30 cents on plain cot-
tons, and 35 cents on colored and prints, and to 75 cents
per pound on colored yarn; and by that of 1828, which
added five cents more to each minimum on cloth; that of
1832 takes off the addition made in 1828. These duties
are prohibitory on all goods of the description of those
formerly imported from India, and on some more valuable
descriptions, and, of course, a less duty would answer for
the manufacture of these, and still be prohibitory. There
is such a very great variety of cotton manufactures, dif-
fering in appearance and value by such slight shades, it
would not be possible to levy different rates of duties on
each, without leading to gross frauds, and thus defeating
the protection intended to be given. Besides, the great
fluctuations in the market, the alternate gluts and scarci-
ties, are such as to require the duties to be much higher
than would otherwise be required. Should the specific
duty be abandoned, and give place to that provided in the
bill, the manufacturers would at once lose their market
for all but the coarsest descriptions of cotton goods, and
in these would meet with foreign competition to a con-
siderable extent. A coarse and cheap article would be
made of Surat and Bengal cotton, which costs but half as
much in Liverpool as the Carolina and Georgia cotton, of
which our manufacturers make such goods, and our mar-
ket would be filled with them, as it is well known such
goods are made in England of India cotton. Besides,
those of our manufacturers who are now making the finer
description of goods would have to stop entirely, (of this
there is no question,) or turn upon the coarse article, and
it is easy to see that a business which, at this moment,
does not pay but a limited profit, as I will soon fully show,
(and it is believed, I have certainly been so told, many
mills have run the past year without making six per cent.
on their capital,) would at once be ruined by such acces-
sions to the supply both at home and from abroad; con-
sequently, the whole cotton manufacture of the country
would be absolutely ruined by the proposed bill, and the
50 to 60,000,000 dollars invested in it be sunk, and a large
proportion of the owners of this capital would become
bankrupts. It would fall particularly heavy on many en-
terprising men of the laboring and mechanical classes,
who have invested all the hard earnings of their whole
lives in the fixtures necessary to carry on the business;
next would come the laboring classes who still work in
the cotton mills for the owners. Thus would 125,000
persons, and as many more connected with, and dependent
upon them, be turned out of employment; next in the se-
ries of victims would be the farmers in the vicinity of the
mills, who would lose their market for their productions.
The mechanics, tradesmen, merchants, clerks, &c. &c.
would follow in the train; in fact, all who are interested
in the trade, and all connected with them, and almost all
classes in the manufacturing States, thus connected, would
be ruined.
The duty under the bill cannot be considered otherwise
than twenty per cent. ad valofem; consequently, the range
of duties would be, instead of seven and a half cents per
square yard, as under the law of 1832, from three-fourths
of one cent to two cents per yard. We manufacture but
few goods, the like of which would be imported at over
two cents duty. The average, as far as there would be
any average, would be from one to two cents, which is no
protection at all. This is the solemn conviction of the
vast majority of cotton manufacturers. Machinery itself

is built twenty-five to fifty per cent. cheaper in England than in this country, owing to the price of iron, coal, and labor. Besides, the labor on many kinds of cotton goods is much greater than on woollens, and the price of labor cannot be reduced so low in this country as to enable us to compete with England in this manufacture, except of the very coarsest kinds, without more decided commercial regulations than are contained in this bill.

Another important feature in this bill, and to our manufacturers a very odious one, is, the reduction of the duty on cotton yarn from fifteen cents per pound on unbleached or uncolored, and eighteen and three-fourths cents on colored or bleached, to ten per cent. ad valorem. This reduction would, if possible, more emphatically ruin this business than any other. A pound of No. 20 cotton yarn, I am told, would pay about one and a half cents duty. This would make three and a half yards of cloth, and the duty would be less than half a cent per yard. Under such a duty yarns would be imported on the beam, ready prepared for weaving by power looms, if, indeed, the owner of the looms should be able to weave it, against his Manchester competitor. An intelligent constituent, after reading this bill, in his indignation exclaimed—“the devil was behind the curtain when this bill was draughted, and the manufacturers of Manchester must have been present when it was done, or the duty on yarn would never have been reduced to ten per cent. ad valorem.” Many of the cotton mills which manufacture yarn exclusively, are owned by men of small property, mostly mechanics and farmers, who have a small stream of water on their farms, and who have thus been induced to invest all their money in these mills, and to give their principal attention to them. Many of these mills are located in the Middle States, and many more in New England. But at Paterson, in New Jersey, most of the large and valuable mills are employed in making yarns, but all, wherever situated, will shut down their gates on the day this bill passes, and the owners of many, very many, of these become bankrupts; suffering and starvation soon overtake the men, women, and children, employed in them.

I will now say a few words in reply to the allegations frequently made here, that the profits of cotton manufactories are such as would well warrant the Government in withdrawing the protection which has been, ever since 1816, extended to them. I fortunately, said Mr. P., have documents in my hands emanating from the Treasury Department, by which these allegations are disproved; documents for which I am at this time indebted to the courtesy of the public printer. As they have not yet been published and laid upon our desks, before I call the attention of the committee to this testimony, permit me to state a fact furnished by a friend now in this city, the truth of which is susceptible of the clearest proof– that, since the year 1816, the proprietors of twenty-eight of the thirty-six cotton mills on one of the streams of water in Rhode Island have become bankrupts, and the owners of the residue have realized less than five per cent. per annum upon their investments. With this fact before us, who can say that this pursuit has been so profitable as to warrant us in adopting that part of this bill which will withdraw from it the protection it now has, and with which it has too often been found a losing concern? I will now send to the Chair, to be read by the Clerk of the House, the answer of an intelligent and practical man, himself a manufacturer, and well acquainted with all that pertains to the business, and whose statements will be respected wherever, and by all to whom he is known.

[blocks in formation]
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

the Congress of the United States, of the 19th of Janua

ry, 1832.

#. the five first questions, I answer, that Ephraim Talbot and myself are the present owners of the Hope mill, in Scituate, in the county of Providence. The fabric manufactured is cotton cloths, and the power is water. It was built in 1806, by a joint stock company, and during the years 1806, ’7, and ’8, 2,000 spindles were put into operation, and $85,000, in cash, expended. No dividends, or receipts of any kind, were realized until 1821, when the establishment was sold to Mr. Talbot and myself for $21,000; and the outstanding debts of the company being paid, there remained $8,000 to be divided. Simple interest upon the $85,000 will amount to over $70,000. Deduct the $8,000 received, and the balance of loss is $144,000. -

Since our ownership, over 50,000 dollars has been expended, and 3,400 spindles set in motion; and if it is admitted that since 1821 there has been a profit of five per cent, as stated by Mr. Talbot, still the question propounded being “the annual rate of profits on the capital invested since the establishment of the manufactory,” it will be seen that there has been an almost entire loss of one capital of $85,000, and fourteen years' interest; and what loss or what gain the present owners may realize, depends upon the present value of the establishment, which value is itself, in a great measure, dependent upon the future measures of Government.

Upon this subject of profits, prejudices of an extremely injurious character prevail, to a limited extent, in the Northern and Middle, and, very generally, in the Southern States. The cotton and woollen manufacturers are represented as greedy monopolists, who are not satisfied with fortunes already accumulated, under favor of the Government, and at the expense of other interests, but are still urging additional protection. These representations, made by persons hostile to the American system, are founded partly on vague and general rumor, and partly on the injudicious, and, as I conceive, extravagant statements of some of the manufacturers themselves. In the spring of 1829, a manufacturer of cotton cloths had convinced himself, and endeavored to convince me, that 25 per cent. annual profit had been, and would continue to be, the usual result of that employment. He is a judicious and intelligent man, and of considerable experience in the business; and yet in the succeeding summer he failed, and paid but forty or fifty cents on the dollar. Larger stories even than this had come up to us from Boston, for several years previous to 1829. Actual dividends, it was said, of from 20 to 30 per cent. had been made from year to year, and capital-flowed into the cotton business, excited by these and similar statements, to an unprecedented amount. In the summer and fall of 1829, however, it was ascertained, as I am informed and believe, that an actual loss of at least nine millions of dollars was sustained by the city of Boston alone. The experience of past years is wholly disregarded, and again we hear of new millions advanced, and the old stories of 20 per cent. profit sounded larger than ever, and even by some of the manufacturers themselves. I am even told that something like this has been stated by a worthy and intelligent manufacturer, on the floor of Congress.

While such statements proceed from such sources, we ought not to be surprised that some, even of the friends of the tariff, should propose a reduction of duties; nor ought we to complain, should it be ascertained that the twenty-ninth query proposed to the Rhode Island manufacturers embodied the real opinions of some of the advocates of the American system. That query contemplates a reduction of the duties to 12% per cent. ad valorem, and asks us “if we should be obliged to abandon our business, or should we continue to manufacture at reduced

prices?” It presupposes very large profits at present

rates, and our ability to live under a very great reduction of them. That and other similar queries probably arose, directly or indirectly, from what I deem the mere vaporing of injudicious and inexperienced men. Inasmuch, however, as such opinions do prevail to a considerable extent, no counter opinion, unless confirmed by proof of its correctness, can be expected to be listened to. I will therefore first state my opinion of past, and the probable future profits, and the facts on which I rely for its confirmation; and as all such opinions, and even statements of facts, are liable to material errors, I shall make them public previous to forwarding them to the proper department, in order that my misstatements (if any) may be corrected by those in this section of the country who are opposed to us as to the expediency of protective laws, and who, living here, have equal or better means of information. If by profit is meant the nett gain to the capitalists, all expenses, including interest of money, being deducted, I have no hesitation in saying that, in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, the residence of the owners of more than half the number of the cotton spindles in the country, there has been no profit, but a loss. I feel well assured that four per cent. per annum upon all the capital invested in those two States, added to the original investments, would much exceed all the profits added to the present value of the establishments. I also feel a great confidence in the opinion that the manufacture of cotton is not a business upon which any average rate of interest or profit can be predicated; that the capital invested in it can with no propriety be termed “stock,” but that a mill and its appendages approach nearer to a set of tools, their productiveness depending on the skill with which they are used, more than on any thing inherent in the tools themselves. w The Hope mill, in this State, and the Pomfret mill, in Connecticut, (owned in this State,) were erected in the year 1806. The former with a capital of $85,000, and 2,000 spindles; the latter with a capital of $60,000, and 1,000 spindles. They have both been in operation for twenty-six years, manufacturing similar fabrics, and encountering the same markets. The former during most of the time was unskilfully managed, and the latter with as much prudence and forecast as ever mingled in any business. Nearly $150,000 has been lost by the one, and about $300,000 made by the other. This latter mill, as I was assured by an active owner a few days since, has realized an actual profit of ten per cent. per annum, from 1806 down to the present time. It is the general opinion here, that the success of this mill is as much above the other mills in the State, as that of the Hope is below it. I feel very confident that there is no mill in Rhode Island or Massachusetts, the profits of which, for a series of years, will bear any comparison to it. These are extreme cases; but there are a great number of others, in which the variations in the results are so great as to justify the opinion that tools, and not stock, is the appropriate term for a cotton mill; and that we can calculate with the same propriety upon the average rate of interest upon the capital .# a grocer or a tailor, without a knowledge of the men, as upon a cotton spinner. The general result of six and twenty years' business justifies this view of the subject. Prudent, cautious, and vigorous men, who have been their own agents, and paid interest for but a small part of their capital, have succeeded; and, to my knowledge, no others have. Even this class of men have if their operations mingled the character of the merchant so largely with that of the manufacturer, that it would be difficult to separate the results. I believe that all those who thought they were making considerable profits, and who operated upon borrowed capitals, have failed; and that the number of those who, since 1806, have either wholly failed, or retired from the

« 上一頁繼續 »