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other country less favored, and they are entitled to their full
share of all our advantages.

By the last census it is made to appear that of the 17,392,099
of our population engaged in all kinds of industries, 7,670,493
are employed in agriculture, 4,074,238 in professional and
personal service — 2,934,876 of whom are domestic servants and
laborers — while 1,810,256 are employed in trade and transpor-
tation, and 3,837,112 are classed as employed in manufacturing
and mining.

For present purposes, however, the last number given should
be considerably reduced. Without attempting to enumerate
all, it will be conceded that there should be deducted from
those whom it includes 375,143 carpenters and joiners, 285,401
milliners, dressmakers, and seamstresses, 172,726 blacksmiths,
133,756 tailors and tailoresses, 102,473 masons, 76,241 butchers,
41,309 bakers, 22,083 plasterers, and 4891 engaged in manu-
facturing agricultural implements, amounting in the aggregate
to 1,214,023, leaving 2,623,089 persons employed in such man-
ufacturing industries as are claimed to be benefited by a high
tariff.

To these the appeal is made to save their employment and
maintain their wages by resisting a change. There should be
no disposition to answer such suggestions by the allegation
that they are in a minority among those who labor, and there-
fore should forego an advantage, in the interest of low prices
for the majority ; their compensation, as it may be affected by
the operation of tariff laws, should at all times be scrupulously
kept in view ; and yet, with slight reflection, they will not over-
look the fact that they are consumers with the rest ; that they,
too, have their own wants and those of their families to supply
from their earnings, and that the price of the necessaries of
life, as well as the amount of their wages, will regulate the
measure of their welfare and comfort.

But the reduction of taxation demanded should be so



TAXATION AND REVENUE. 81

measured as not to necessitate or justify either the loss of em-
ployment by the workingman or the lessening of his wages ;
and the profits still remaining to the manufacturer, after a
necessary readjustment, should furnish no excuse for the sacri-
fice of the interests of his employees, either in their opportunity
to work, or in the diminution of their compensation. Nor can
the worker in manufactures fail to understand that while a
high tariff is claimed to be necessary to allow the payment of
remunerative wages, it certainly results in a very large increase
in the price of nearly all sorts of manufactures, which, in
almost countless forms, he needs for the use of himself and
his family. He receives at the desk of his employer his
wages, and, perhaps before he reaches his home, is obliged, in
a purchase for family use of an article which embraces his own
labor, to return, in the payment of the increase in price which
the tariff permits, the hard-earned compensation of many days
of toil.

The farmer and agriculturist, who manufactures nothing,
but who pays the increased price which the tariff imposes
upon every agricultural implement, upon all he wears and upon
all he uses and owns, except the increase of his flocks and
herds and such things as his husbandry produces from the
soil, is invited to aid in maintaining the present situation ; and
he is told that a high duty on imported wool is necessary for
the benefit of those who have sheep to shear, in order that the
price of their wool may be increased. They, of course, are not
reminded that the farmer who has no sheep is by this scheme
obliged, in his purchases of clothing and woolen goods, to pay
a tribute to his fellow-farmer as well as to the manufacturer
and merchant ; nor is any mention made of the fact that the
sheep-owners themselves and their households must wear
clothing and use other articles manufactured from the wool
they sell at tariff prices, and thus, as consumers, must return
their share of this increased price to the tradesman.

I think it may be fairly assumed that a large proportion of
the sheep owned by the farmers throughout the country are



82 TAXATION AND REVENUE.

found in small flocks numbering from twenty-five to fifty.
The duty on the grade of imported wool which these sheep
yield is ten cents each pound, if of the value of thirty cents or
less, and twelve cents if of the value of more than thirty cents.
If the liberal estimate of six pounds be allowed for each fleece,
the duty thereon would be sixty or seventy-two cents, and
this may be taken as the utmost enhancement of its price to
the farmer by reason of this duty. Eighteen dollars would
thus represent the increased price of the wool from twenty-five
sheep and thirty-six dollars that from the wool of fifty sheep ;
and, at present values, this addition would amount to about
one-third of its price. If, upon its sale, the farmer receives
this or a less tariff profit, the wool leaves his hands charged
with precisely that sum, which, in all its changes, will adhere to
it until it reaches the consumer. When manufactured into
( loth and other goods and material for use, its cost is not only
increased to the extent of the farmer's tariff profit, but a
further sum has been added for the benefit of the manufacturer
under the operation of other tariff laws. In the meantime the
day arrives when the farmer finds it necessary to purchase
woolen goods and material to clothe himself and family for the
winter. When he faces the tradesman for that purpose he
discovers that he is obliged not only to return, in the way of
increased prices, his tariff profit on the wool he sold, and which
then perhaps lies before him in manufactured form, but that
he must add a considerable sum thereto to meet a further in-
crease in cost caused by a tariff duty on the manufacture.
Thus, in the end, he is aroused to the fact that he has paid upon
a moderate purchase, as a result of the tariff scheme, which,
when he sold his wool, seemed so profitable, an increase in
price more than sufficient to sweep away all the tariff profit he
received upon the wool he produced and sold.

When the number of farmers engaged in wool-raising is com-
pared with all the farmers in the country, and the small pro-
portion they bear to our population is considered ; when it is
made apparent, that, in the case of a large part of those who



TAXATION AND REVENUE. 83

own sheep, the benefit of the present tariff on wool is illusory ;
and above all, when it must be conceded that the increase of
the cost of living caused by such tariff becomes a burden upon
those with moderate means and the poor, the employed and
unemployed, the sick and well, and the young and old, and
that it constitutes a tax which, with relentless grasp, is fast-
ened upon the clothing of every man, woman, and child in the
land, reasons are suggested why the removal or reduction oi
this duty should be included in a revision of our tariff laws.

In speaking of the increased cost to the consumer of our
home manufactures, resulting from a duty laid upon imported
articles of the same description, the fact is not overlooked
that competition among our domestic producers sometimes
has the effect of keeping the price of their products below the
highest limit allowed by such duly. But it is notorious that
this competition is too often strangled by combinations quite
prevalent at this time, and frequently called trusts, which have
for their object the regulation of the supply and price of com-
modities madeand sold by members of the combination. The
people can hardly hope for any consideration in the operation
of these selfish schemes.

If, however, in the absence of such combination, a healthy
and free competition reduces the price of any particular duti-
able article of home production below the limit which it might
otherwise reach under our tariff laws, and if, with such reduced
price, its manufacture continues to thrive, it is entirely evident
that one thing has been discovered which should be carefully
scrutinized in an effort to reduce taxation.

The necessity of combination to maintain the [nice of any
commodity to the tariff point furnishes proof that someone is
willing to accept lower prices for such commodity, and that
such prices are remunerative ; and lower prices produced by
competition prove the same thing. Thus, where either of
these conditions exists, a case would seem to be presented for
an easy reduction of taxation.

The considerations which have been presented tou< hing



S4 TAXATION AND REVENUE.

our tariff laws are intended only to enforce an earnest recom-
mendation that the surplus revenues of the government be
prevented by the reduction of our customs duties; and, at the
same time, to emphasize a suggestion that, in accomplishing
this purpose, we may discharge a double duty to our people
by granting to them a measure of relief from tariff taxation in
quarters where it is most needed and from sources where it
can be most fairly and justly accorded.

Nor can the presentation made of such considerations be,
with any degree of fairness, regarded as evidence of unfriend-
liness toward our manufacturing interests, or of any lack of
appreciation of their value and importance.

These interests constitute a leading and most substantial
element of our national greatness, and furnish the proud proof
of our country's progress. But if, in the emergency that
presses upon us, our manufacturers are asked to surrender
something for the public good and to avert disaster, their pa-
triotism, as well as a grateful recognition of advantages already
afforded, should lead them to willing co-operation. No de-
mand is made that they shall forego all the benefits of govern-
mental regard ; but they cannot fail to be admonished of their
duty, as well as their enlightened self-interest and safety, when
they are reminded of the fact that financial panic and collapse,
to which the present condition tends, afford no greater shelter
or protection to our manufactures than to our other important
enterprises. Opportunity for safe, careful, and deliberate re-
form is now offered, and none of us should be unmindful of
a time when an abused and irritated people, heedless of those
who have resisted timely and reasonable relief, may insist upon
a radical and sweeping rectification of their wrongs.

The difficulty attending a wise and fair revision of our tariff
laws is not underestimated. It will require on the part of the
Congress great labor and care, and especially a broad and
national contemplation of the subject, and a patriotic disregard
of such local and selfish claims as" are unreasonable and reck-
less of the welfare of the entire country.



TAXA TION AND REVENUE. 85

Under our present laws more than four thousand articles
are subject to duty. Many of these do not in any way com-
pete with our own manufactures and many are hardly worth
attention as subjects of revenue. A considerable reduction can
be made in the aggregate by adding them to the free list.
The taxation of luxuries presents no features of hardship ; but
the necessaries of life, used and consumed by all the people,
the duty upon which adds to the cost of living in every home,
should be greatly cheapened.

'The radical reduction of the duties imposed upon raw
material used in manufactures, or its free importation, is, of
course, an important factor in any effort to reduce the prices
of these necessaries ; it would not only relieve them from the
increased cost caused by the tariff on such material, but the
manufactured product being thus cheapened, that part of the
tariff now laid upon such product, as a compensation to our
manufacturers for the present price of raw material, could be
accordingly modified. Such reduction, or free importation,
would serve besides largely to reduce the revenue. It is not
apparent how such a change can have any injurious effect upon
our manufacturers. On the contrary, it would appear to give
them a better chance in foreign markets with the manufacturers
of other countries, who cheapen their wares by free material.
Thus our people might have the opportunity of extending their
sales beyond the limits of home consumption — saving them
from the depression, interruption in business, and loss
caused by a glutted domestic market, and affording their em-
ployees more certain and steady labor, with its resulting quiet
and contentment.

The question thus imperatively presented for solution should
be approached in a spirit higher than partisanship, and con-
sidered in the light of that regard for patriotic duty which
should characterize the action of those intrusted with the weal
of a confiding people, lint the obligation to declared party
policy and principle is not wanting to urge prompt and effective
action. Both of the great political parties now represented in the



86 TAXATION AND REVENUE.

government have, by repeated and authoritative declarations,
condemned the condition of our laws which permits the collec-
tion from the people of unnecessary revenue, and have in the
most solemn manner promised its correction ; and neither as
citizens nor partisans are our countrymen in a moot! to con-
done the deliberate violation of these pledges.

Our progress toward a wise conclusion will not be improved
by dwelling upon the theories of protection and free trade.
This savors too much of bandying epithets. It is a condition
which confronts us — not a theory. Relief from this condition
may involve a slight reduction of the advantages which we
award our home productions, but the entire withdrawal of such
advantages should not be contemplated. The question of
free trade is absolutely irrelevant ; and the persistent claim
made in certain quarters that all efforts to relieve the people
from unjust and unnecessary taxation are schemes of so-called
free-traders is mischievous, and far removed from any con-
sideration for the public good.

The simple and plain duty which we owe the people is to
reduce the taxation to the necessary expenses of an economical
operation of the government, and to restore to the business
of the country the money which we hold in the treasury
through the perversion of governmental powers. These things
can and should be done with safety to all our industries, with-
out danger to the opportunity for remunerative labor which
our workingmen need, and with benefit to them and all our
people, by cheapening their means of subsistence and
increasing the measure of their comforts.

The Constitution provides that the President " shall, from
time to time, give to the Congress information of the state of the
Union." It has been the custom of the Executive, incom-
pliance with this provision, to exhibit annually to the Congress,
at the opening of its session, the general condition of the
country, and to detail, with some particularity, the operations
of the different Executive Departments. It would be especially



TAXATION AND REVENUE. §7

agreeable to follow this course at the present time, and to call
attention to the valuable accomplishments of these Depart-
ments during the last fiscal year. But I am so much im-
pressed with the paramount importance of the subject to which
this communication has thus far been devoted that I shall
forego the addition of any other topic, and shall only urge
upon your immediate consideration the " state of the Union," as
shown in the present condition of our treasury and our gen-
eral fiscal situation, upon which every element of our safety
and prosperity depends.

The reports of the heads of Departments, which will be
submitted, contain full and explicit information touching the
transaction of the business intrusted to them, and such rec-
ommendations relating to legislation in the public interest as they
deem advisable. I ask for these reports and recommendations
the deliberate examination and action of the legislative branch
of the government.

There are other subjects not embraced in the departmental
reports demanding legislative consideration ami which I should
be glad to submit. Some of them, however, have been ear-
nestly presented in previous messages ; and as to them, I beg
leave to repeat prior recommendations.

As the law makes no provision for any report from the
Department of State, a brief history of the transactions of
that important Department, together with other matters which
it may hereafter be deemed essential to commend to the
attention of the Congress, may furnish the occasion for a
future communication.

Grover Cleveland.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, December 6, 18S7.



88 TAXATION AND REVENUE.

VII.

^Letter to Tammany Hall Celebration.

Executive Mansion,
Washington, June 29, 1888.
To James A. Flack, Grand Sachem:

Dear Sir : I regret that I am obliged to decline the cour-
teous invitation which I have received to attend the celebration
by the Tammany Society of the birthday of our republic on
the 4th day of July next. The zeal and enthusiasm with
which your society celebrates this day afford proof of its stead-
fast patriotism as well as its care for all that pertains to the
advantage and prosperity of the people.

I cannot doubt that the renewal of a " love and devotion to
a pure Jeffersonian Democratic form of government," which
you contemplate, will suggest the inquiry whether the people
are receiving all the benefits which are due them under such a
form of government. These benefits are not fully enjoyed
when our citizens are unnecessarily burdened, and their earn-
ings and incomes are uselessly diminished under the pretext
of governmental support.

Our government belongs to the people. They have decreed
its purpose ; and it is their clear right to demand that its cost
shall be limited by frugality, and that its burden of expense
shall be carefully limited by its actual needs. And yet a use-
less and dangerous surplus in the national treasury tells no
other tale but extortion on the part of the government, and a
perversion of the people's intention. In the midst of our im-
petuous enterprise and blind confidence in our destiny, it is
time to pause and study our condition. It is no sooner appre-
ciated than the conviction must follow that the tribute exacted
from the people should be diminished.

The theories which cloud the subject, misleading honest
men, and the appeals to selfish interests which deceive the un-
derstanding, make the reform, which should be easy, a difficult
task. Although those who propose a remedy for present evils



TAXATION AND UBVENUE. 89

have always been the friends of American labor, and though
they declare their purpose to further its interests in all their
efforts, yet those who oppose reform attempt to disturb our
workingmen by the cry that their wages and their employment
are threatened.

They advocate a system which benefits certain classes of
our citizens at the expense of every householder in the land
a system which breeds discontent, because it permits tin; du-
plication of wealth without corresponding additional recom-
pense to labor, which prevents the opportunity to work by
stifling production and limiting the area of our markets, and
which enhances the cost of living beyond the laborer's hard-
earned wages.

The attempt is made to divert the attention of the people
from the evils of such a scheme of taxation, by branding those
who seek to correct these evils as free-traders, and enemies of
our workingmen and our industrial enterprises. This is so far
from the truth that there should be no chance for such decep-
tion to succeed.

It behooves the American people, while they rejoice in the
anniversary of the day when their free government was de-
clared, also to reason together and determine that, they will
not be deprived of the blessings and the benefits which their
government should afford.

Yours very truly,

Grover Cleveland.



VIII.

From the Fourth Annual Message to Congress, December, 1888.

As you assemble for the discharge of the duties you have
assumed as the representatives of a free and generous people,
your meeting is marked by an interesting and impressive inci-
dent. With the expiration of the present session of the Con-



9° TAXATION AND REVENUE.

gress the first century of our constitutional existence as a na-
tion will be completed.

Our survival for one hundred years is not sufficient to as-
sure us that we no longer have dangers to fear in the main-
tenance, with all its promised blessings, of a government
founded upon the freedom of the people. The time rather
admonishes us soberly to inquire whether in the past we have
always closely kept in the course of safety, and whether we
have before us a way, plain and clear, which leads to happiness
and perpetuity.

When the experiment of our government was undertaken,
the chart adopted for our guidance was the Constitution.
Departure from the lines there laid down is failure. It is only
by a strict adherence to the directions they indicate, and by re-
straint within the limitations they fix, that we can furnish
proof to the world of the fitness of the American people for
self-government.

The equal and exact justice of which we boast, as the under-
lying principle of our institutions, should not be confined to the
relations of our citizens to each other. The government
itself is under bond to the American people that, in the exer-
cise of its functions and powers, it will deal with the body of
our citizens in a manner scrupulously honest and fair, and ab-
solutely just. It has agreed that American citizenship shall be
the only credential necessary to justify the claim of equality
before the law, and that no condition in life shall give rise to
discrimination in the treatment of the people by their govern-
ment.

The citizen of our republic in its early days rigidly insisted
upon full compliance with the letter of this bond, and saw
stretching out before him a clear field for individual endeavor.
His tribute to the support of his government was measured
by the cost of its economical maintenance, and he was secure
in the enjoyment of the remaining recompense of his steady
and contented toil. In those days the frugality of the people
was stamped upon their government, and was enforced by the



TAXAT10A AND REVENUE. 91

free, thoughtful, and intelligent suffrage of the citizen. Com-
binations, monopolies, and aggregations of capital were either
avoided or sternly regulated and restrained. The pomp and
glitter of governments less free offered no temptation and
presented no delusion to the plain people, who, side by side, in
friendly competition, wrought for the ennoblement and dignity
of man, for the solution of the problem of free government,
and for the achievement of the grand destiny awaiting the land
which (iod had given them.

A century has passed. Our cities are the abiding-places of
wealth and luxury ; our manufactories yield fortunes never
dreamed of by the fathers of the republic ; our business men
are madly striving in the race for riches, and immense aggre-
gations of capital outrun the imagination in the magnitude of
their undertakings.

We view with pride and satisfaction this bright picture of
our country's growth and prosperity, while only a closer scru-
tiny develops a somber shading. Upon more careful inspection
we find the wealth ami luxury of our cities mingled with
poverty and wretchedness and unremunerative toil. Acrowded
and constantly increasing urban population suggests the im-
poverishment of rural sections, and discontent with agricultural
pursuits. The farmer's ^son, not satisfied with his father's
simple and laborious life, joins the eager chase for easily
acquired wealth.

We discover that the fortunes realized by our manufacturers
are no longer solely the reward of sturdy industry and en-
lightened foresight, but that they result from the discrimi-
nating favor of the government, and are largely built upon
undue exactions from the masses of our people. The gulf
between employers and the employed is constantly widening,
and classes are rapidly forming, one comprising the very rich
and powerful, while in another are found the toiling poor.

As we view the achievements of aggregated capital, we dis-
cover the existence of trusts, combinations, and monopolies,
while the citizen is struggling far in the rear, or is trampled to



02 TAXATION AND REVENUE.

death beneath an iron heel. Corporations, which should be
carefully restrained creatures of the law and the servants of
the people, are fast becoming the people's masters.

Still, congratulating ourselves upon the wealth and prosperity



Online LibraryGrover ClevelandThe writings and speeches of Grover Cleveland; (Volume 1) → online text (page 9 of 48)