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" In order to present the subject in a clear and intelligible manner, we
shall endeavor to show the origin of the copper used in the United
States, the nature of the trade by which the raw material is obtained,
the effect the proposed duty will have upon this trade, and its disastrous
consequences upon the manufacturing interests of the country."

Do you see, Sir, you tax the raw material, and let England
send in her manufactured article free? This presses on every
interest. If our people cannot manufacture raw copper, they
cannot import it. We lose the freight of it in that degree, and
of course the employment of our ships. This, accordingly,
affects the manufacturer of copper here, affects the exports, and
affects directly the employment of our ships. For what ? Sir,
for what purpose ? The petition goes on :

" The consumption of copper in the United States is about thirteen
millions of pounds annually. It is obtained,


From Chili, in pigs, 6,500,000

From England, in sheets, .... 3,500,000

From England, in cakes, 500,000

From mines in the United States, . . . 500,000

Old copper, from various sources, . . . 1,500,000

In all, 12,500,000

" It will be seen that nearly all the pig or raw copper imported is ob
tained from Chili (erroneously called Peruvian copper in this country),
and that England supplies us, in refined copper and copper sheathing,
with more than one fourth of all the copper consumed in the United

" The trade between the United States and the west coast of South
America, embracing Chili, Bolivia, and Peru, is of the annual value of
about one million five hundred thousand dollars. The principal arti
cles of export are domestic cottons. Of these, ten or twelve millions
of yards are sent annually, constituting more than half the entire value
of all our exports to those countries ; and as the value of the raw copper
obtained in return bears the same relative proportion to all our imports
thence, it may be truly said that we exchange, in our trade with Chili,


ten or twelve millions of yards of cottons for six or seven millions of
pounds of copper.

" One of the causes, perhaps the chief cause, enabling us to compete
with the English cotton manufacturers in that market has been, that we
have made our principal returns in copper, and they have made theirs
in the precious metals, usually the least profitable articles of commerce,
as is well known to all practical merchants. Without domestic cottons
for outward, and without copper for return cargoes, this trade must be
abandoned. In the bill referred to, it is proposed to levy a duty of five
per cent, on raw copper, and to admit copper sheathing free. Under the
present law, where both are free of duty, the American manufacturer
has to contend, unaided by government, against the low price of labor,
abundance of capital, and cheapness of fuel, enjoyed by the English
and Welsh manufacturer. The large imports of copper sheathing from
England show the competition against which we contend, and against
which we have hitherto sustained ourselves without any protective duty
on this important article. But if, in addition to the advantages already
enjoyed in England and Wales, the raw material may be taxed here,
and copper sheathing be admitted free, we are in effect called upon to
pay a bounty to the foreign manufacturer equivalent to the duty levied
on the raw material. England now supplies us with more than half the
copper sheathing we require ; but with this new advantage of five per
cent, she will furnish all.

" A large portion of the copper we import from England is made from
ores or pig copper obtained in Chili ; and if the proposed duty on raw
copper be exacted, nearly all that we now get from Chili will be sent to
England, and, being there manufactured into sheathing, will be sent to
the United States ; thus giving to English vessels the benefit of trans
porting, and to English manufacturers the profits of refining and rolling
the raw material, besides depriving us of our best market for the sale or
exchange of our domestic cottons.

" It is estimated that the capital now invested in copper manufactures
in the United States is about one million and a half of dollars, embra
cing five refining and rolling mills, and employing a large number of
workmen. Hitherto these establishments have struggled, unaided by
government, against the superior advantages of English and Welsh
manufacturers ; and we now only ask for them a continuance of the
same freedom of competition. We ask no privileges or special protec
tion. If the bill referred to become a law, these must be closed, or con
tinued under ruinous disadvantages.

"The navigating interests thank you for competition, but let it be a
state of competition. Do not proceed in carrying out duties in such


sort as to put down the whole American product, using none but the
manufactures of England for the sheathing of your vessels."

I will read another paragraph from the petition :

" We have thus shown what will be the effects of the proposed duty ;
the impolicy of the principle involved is not less obvious. Without en
tering into the hackneyed question of free trade and protective duties,
we may freely aver that it is not the intention of Congress to tax the
citizens of the United States for the benefit of foreigners ; and yet such
is the operation of this duty. We tax a raw material, which we want
for manufacturing purposes, and we charge our manufacturers with that
tax, if at the same time we allow foreigners to manufacture that mate
rial and send it to us free of duty. This is a bounty to foreigners, and
a tax upon ourselves. What would be said of the policy of England,
were she to tax raw cotton and admit cotton manufactures free of
duty ? "

There is another article, white-lead, with respect to which the
same policy is observed; and on that subject I have received the
following statements from a very intelligent and respectable
quarter in New York:

" The capital invested in the manufacture of white-lead in the United
States amounts to upwards of two million three hundred and fifty thou
sand dollars. About one thousand men as laborers are employed in the
business, and forty-two million pounds, or six hundred thousand pigs, of
lead, all of which is the produce of the Missouri and Illinois mines, in
the fabric. The present duty is four cents per pound, the proposed duty
is twenty per cent., which will be equal to one cent, or at most to one
cent and one fifth, per pound. The white-lead manufactured in the
United States is not inferior to that of any other country, and has
attained its present goodness within the last three years, owing princi
pally to the encouragement given by the tariff of 1842, which has in
duced the investment of large additional capital in the manufacture
of the article, thereby creating great competition amongst the manu

" The price of pure lead in oil in 1820, at which time there were
but two factories in the country, was fourteen cents per pound. Since
that time it has been gradually declining in price, and is now worth only
six and a half cents.

" Perhaps there is no article imported into this country in favor of
which there is so strong a prejudice as that of English white-lead ; for,
notwithstanding the duty of four cents, considerable quantities are yearly


imported and sold at a profit to the English manufacturer. If, with the
present duty, the American manufacturer can merely sustain himself
against the prejudice existing in favor of the foreign article, should the
duty be reduced to one cent per pound, what but total ruin must to him
be the consequence ?

" We think the foregoing facts could not have been known to the fram-
ers of the bill now before the Senate, and that the Senate will see the
justice of transferring it to the schedule of articles under the forty, or
at least the thirty per cent, duty."

Mr. President, there is one manufacture just beginning amongst
us, of such an interesting character to the labor of the country,
and the agricultural interests, that I beg to call the particular
attention of the Senate to it. It is that article which they call
mousseline de laine^ a woollen fabric just commenced in this
country, and whose early life is to be crushed by this bill. It has
been a matter of immense import for some years past. Now I
wish to state the facts connected with one of the establishments
just set up for the manufacture of this article. There was no
manufacture of this article before the tariff of 1842. After the
tariff of 1842 was enacted, it began in several of the Middle and
Eastern States. Among the rest, within a few months, or at
least within the year, a manufactory of this kind has been at
tempted to be established at Manchester, New Hampshire, near
the residence of my honorable friend from that State, on my
right* It proceeds on the basis of a large capital. Those con
cerned ask for no new protection. They can maintain them
selves under the tariff of 1842. But what will be the conse
quence, if this mischievous measure is to prevail? I have a
statement from the agent conducting that establishment, an in
telligent and respectable gentleman, every way worthy of credit
and reliance ; and I beg leave to refer to it, for the especial
consideration of the gentlemen from Ohio and Pennsylvania.
He says that, before there was any expectation that this bill
would pass, they had sent agents into Ohio and the western
part of Pennsylvania to buy wool; that they proposed to buy
annually from three hundred thousand to five hundred thousand
dollars worth of wool in those States, and perhaps in the western
part of New York. I suppose that is of some importance to the

* Mr. Cilley.


wool-growers of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. When
the news reached New Hampshire that this bill, as it now stands
here, had passed the House of Representatives, these agents
were directed not to buy another pound ; and they never will buy
another pound until they know that this bill cannot pass. This
is an eminent instance in which home manufactures aid agricul
ture. It well deserves the attention of all wool-growers. When
will the Western farmers sell as much wheat annually to Eng
land, as shall equal their loss, by this bill, in the article of wool
alone ?

Mr. President, here is another petition, or a paper in the form
of a petition, respecting another raw material. It furnishes an
other small, but striking exemplification of the nature of the bill.
Hear what the persons concerned in this manufacture say :

" New York, July 13, 1846.

"DEAR SIR, The subscribers, manufacturers of brimstone, respect
fully ask the liberty to call your attention to the following facts.

" About four years ago, they commenced the manufacture or refining
of brimstone. Previous to that time, all the brimstone used in making
gunpowder, and for other purposes, in this country, was imported from
Europe, chiefly from France and England, and the price was about sev
enty-five dollars a ton.

" Since the introduction of the manufacture as above mentioned, the
price has been very much reduced, and is now, and has been for more
than a year past, .a fraction less than forty dollars a ton.

"The tariff of 1842 admits crude brimstone free of duty, and levies
a duty of twenty-five per cent, upon refined. Mr. McKay s bill lays a
duty of fifteen per cent, on crude, and only twenty per cent, upon re
fined brimstone.

" The quantity of crude imported into the country is not large, and
the amount of revenue which can be raised from it will be more than
counterbalanced by the increased price which government will be
obliged to pay for its annual purchases of brimstone for the Ordnance
and Navy Departments.

" Should McKay s bill become a law without amendment, the manu
facture in this country must be abandoned, because the advantage in
low rate of wages, interest, and so forth, enjoyed by the European
manufacturer, will enable him to undersell the American in his own

" In view of the national importance of the manufacture of this indis
pensable munition of war, the undersigned respectfully and earnestly


solicit you to use your influence to have the article of crude brimstone
taken from schedule E, and placed on schedule H, of the proposed
tariff, so as to be admitted, as at present, free of duty.

" Very respectfully, your obedient servants,


Thus we see a reduction in the price of this article of thirty-
five dollars a ton, in consequence of the tariff of 1842, and the
manufacture of which will now be totally destroyed by this

I shall read another letter, relating to an article connected
with that topic, which was alluded to, and very handsomely dis
cussed, yesterday, by my friend from Rhode Island.* It is a very
curious specimen of legislation with reference to an article of
some importance, sulphuric acid :

" Boston, July 9, 1846.

" SIR, I have works in Newton for the manufacture of sulphuric
acid, or oil of vitriol, the most extensive works of the kind in the coun
try, and knowing you would wish to be put in possession of the bearing
of the proposed tariff of Mr. McKay upon the different interests it af
fects, I take the liberty of showing the operation of it upon the article
that I manufacture, and the obvious design of some one to strike a blow
at this business. By this tariff, acids of various kinds, such as muriatic,
nitric, and others, used for chemical or medicinal purposes, or for man
ufacturing, or in the fine arts, are charged with a duty of twenty per
cent., unless otherwise provided for.

" As an exception to other acids, sulphuric acid, or oil of vitriol,
is particularly specified, and is charged with a duty of ten per cent.,
and the material from which this is made, sulphur, which has been
heretofore free, is charged with a duty of fifteen per cent. I have been
at a loss to know the reason for singling out this acid in the way it has
been, for it is evident that it has been particularly dwelt upon in con
structing this tariff; and for the want of any information in the matter,
I cannot avoid the suspicion that it has been arranged by the repre
sentation of those specially interested to crush the manufacture in this

" During the past year the supply of bleaching powders has been very
short, so much so as to drive some of the bleachers into making a sub
stitute, called bleaching liquor ; and I am informed that the substitute is

* Mr. Simmons.


preferred by those who have used it, on account of its doing the work
fully as well, and being much cheaper than the ponders.

" The manufacture of bleaching powders has also been carried on in
this country during the last ten years to a considerable extent, with a
duty of one cent per pound on the imported, which is more than twenty
per cent. And therefore I do not believe the article has yet been made
to be profitable to manufacturers ; yet the manufacture in this country of
the powders, and more particularly of the liquor, is a cause of alarm to
the foreign manufacturers.

" Sulphuric acid enters largely into the cost of making bleaching
powders and bleaching liquor ; and it is evident that the foreign maker
of bleaching powders could not better attain his end than by raising the
cost of making sulphuric acid in this country, at the same time that he
gets a reduction of duty on his powder.

" As I have formed this opinion, I have thought proper to communi
cate it.

" I am, Sir, with high respect, your obedient servant,


Here, then, on the one hand, the foreign agent prays for and
urges the passage of Mr. McKay s bill ; and, on the other, the
American manufacturer implores us to stick to the tariff of 1842,
reject Mr. McKay s bill, and suffer him to go on and get an
honest living, as heretofore. They have a directly opposite in
terest; and as it is no matter of revenue of any considerable
amount, how are we to interpret the fact, that the former is so
obviously protected at the expense of the latter ? How is it that,
in this contest, the foreign manufacturer obtains the preference?
Are the suspicions of this gentleman, whom I know to be a
highly respectable man of business, entirely unreasonable ? He
says there must have been some one at work, having an interest
foreign and hostile to the interest of the American producer of
this article, and similar articles ; and judge you, whether that
be not the case. It is plain and manifest that it is an English
provision, favorable to English labor, and prejudicial to Amer
ican labor.

I am admonished that it is high time to leave these various
articles ; I will not call them minor articles, because they are all
important. There are many more to which I might have di
rected the attention of the Senate. There are the articles of
skins and pelts, of which nothing is said here, but which affect


a great many hundred persons employed. The same thing takes
place in regard to them. The raw material is taxed higher than
the manufactured articles. Now, I want somebody to show if
the result of this bill be not to benefit the foreign manufacturer
and laborer, at the sacrifice of our own manufacturer and labor
er. I wish somebody to show where there is one case in which
discrimination has been resorted to, and in which it has been in
favor of the American laborer or the American manufacturer.
Everywhere it is the other way.

Sir, the honorable member from Connecticut* spoke, the other
day, of a "petty Congress" of subordinate persons, brought
together from about the custom-houses and the great marts of
importation, and of the evident proofs that this bill was prepared
in that " petty Congress." Mr. President, I know nothing of
that ; but I say, not willingly, but from a sense of duty, that the
long series of provisions contained in this bill, in which discrim
ination is obviously made against the American manufacturer,
and in favor of the foreign manufacturer, gives rise to very awk
ward suspicions. If there has been, in truth, such a " petty
Congress" as has been mentioned, for whose benefit were its
deliberations carried on ? What interest, whose interest, was its
" petty Senate," and its " petty House of Representatives," as
siduously seeking to promote ?

But I now go from these interests to articles of more promi
nence, arid perhaps greater importance ; and I wish to say, that
in discussing the effects of this tariff upon the industrial labor
of the country, with the single exception which I have named
in regard to the new manufacture of mousseline de laine, I make
no particular comment on this bill, in regard to the great inter
ests of that part of the country with which I am connected. I
leave that to the consideration of others. I will not permit my
self to be supposed to be influenced, on these topics, by the inter
ests of manufacturers around me, and amongst whom I live,
and for whose prosperity and happiness I never can feel uncon
cerned. Driven from her original and chosen pursuit, to which
she had been enthusiastically addicted, commerce, and compelled
to enter upon the field of manufactures, twenty-two years ago,
if it be now the pleasure of this government, if it be the sense

* Mr. Niles.


of the American people, if the South, and the Middle, and the
West say so, New England can go back, and still live. You can
distress her, you can cripple her, you can cramp her, but you
cannot annihilate her industry, her self-respect, her capacity to
take care of herself. A country of workingmen who are able, if
necessity calls for it, to work fourteen hours a day, may bid defi
ance to all tariffs, and all miserable, false, partial legislation.
They stand upon the strength of their own character, resolution,
and capacity ; and by this strength and that capacity they will
maintain themselves, do what you please. Not, Sir, that there is
one house in New England, at this moment, in which the proceed
ings of this day are not looked for with intensest interest. No
man rises in the morning but to see the newspaper. No woman
retires at night without inquiring of her husband the progress
of this great measure in Washington. They ask about it in the
streets. They ask about it in the schools. They ask about it
in the ^hoemakers shops, the machine-shops, the tailors shops,
the saddlers shops, and, in short, in the shops of all artisans and
handicrafts. They ask about it everywhere. And they will take
whatever answer comes as men should take it ; and they will
feel as men should feel when they hear it. I therefore leave,
Sir, to the Senate, all these considerations. I will not suffer
myself to be subjected to the temptation of being led away
by causes which might be supposed to influence me, and turn
ing from them, therefore, I proceed to the consideration of
other subjects, in which, so far as New England is concerned,
if she have any interest at all, it is in favor of this bill, and
against protected interests. Does she mean the less to exer
cise her power, little or great, or whatever it may be, in favor
of those whose interests are menaced by this bill? No, Sir;

I am now about to speak of the iron interest and the coal
interest ; great interests, in which several of the States are con
cerned, but which, by way of eminence, men are accustomed to
call the great Pennsylvania n interests ; and so they are. Mas
sachusetts is a purchaser of Pennsylvania coal, and she is a pur
chaser of Pennsylvania iron. She is one of the best purchasers
of these articles from her Pennsylvania friends. She will, to the
extent of her power, maintain a just system for the preservation
of these great interests, precisely as if they were her own. And,


Sir, I do not fear that I am running any hazard at all when I
say, that this feeling of Massachusetts towards Pennsylvania is
entirely reciprocated by Pennsylvania towards Massachusetts.
I hear it whispered about these halls, that there might come
some specific for the case of Pennsylvania : that there might
be an amendment moved to soothe her on the subject of iron
and coal, leaving all the rest of the country to the desolation of
this bill. But, Sir, no such thing can take place. Pennsylvania
would not degrade herself by accepting such a boon. Penn
sylvania stands, and her representatives here stand, pledged and
instructed to the tariff of 1842. But I take this occasion to
say for myself, that I am now arguing against this bill, this par
ticular bill, and I have not said, and I shall not say now, what
other provisions it might be advisable for the houses of Congress
to adopt. But I have not the least fear in the world, Sir, that
Pennsylvania is going to bend her proud neck, to take a boon
from those who are inflicting this severe measure of discomfort
and distress upon the country; that she will just take a sop to
herself and turn her back upon her friends. There is not a
Pennsylvania:! who would consent to such a degrading, debas
ing, discreditable act of selfishness. Now let us proceed to
consider these important subjects of the iron trade and coal trade
of Pennsylvania.

It is well known that Pennsylvania is very rich in mineral
wealth. Next to England, Pennsylvania, considering her con
nection east with the Atlantic and west with the Mississippi, and
then considering her soil and mineral productions, is perhaps the
richest spot on the face of the globe. She has greater means of
supporting population than any country I know of in the world,
except it be the south end of the island of Great Britain. For
thirty years, the making of iron in Pennsylvania has been a con
siderable business. The present duty on iron, by the law of
1842, is 25 per ton for plain bar-iron. The proposed duty is
thirty per cent, ad valorem on the imported article. Now, the
price of iron at Liverpool at this moment is 8, or $40, per ton.
The amount of duty, therefore, proposed by the bill, that is to
say, a duty of thirty per cent, ad valorem, would be $ 12.50, or
one half the present duty.

I will read the clause of the bill with respect to iron, for it is
worthy of being read :


" Iron, in bars, blooms, bolts, loops, pigs, rods, slabs, or other form,
not otherwise provided for, thirty per cent."

Here \ve see, then, that the same ad valorem duty is assessed
on iron as a raw material, and on all its successive stages of man

Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 20 of 53)