Copyright
Daniel Webster.

The works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) online

. (page 21 of 53)
Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 21 of 53)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


ufacture. There are proprietors in Pennsylvania who hold great
estates in iron mountains, which are called "royalties." They
sell the ore at so much a ton in the earth. This, as a raw ma
terial, is protected in the bill by a duty of thirty per cent, ad valo
rem. But the duty, being still the same thirty per cent, ad valo-
rem^ only rises on the article in different stages of its manufac
ture, as the value of the manufactured article progressively rises.
American labor, therefore, gets no protection over foreign labor.
As the manufacture of iron advances from one degree to another,
it calls, in each successive step, for a higher degree of labor.
But the bill makes no discrimination in favor of this labor.
English labor, in advancing the manufacture of its higher stages,
is as much regarded and protected as American labor. But as
labor is higher here than in England, (and long may it continue
so,) if there be not a discriminating protection, the work must
of course fall into foreign hands, and the loss fall on the Ameri
can laborers. The question, therefore, is one which touches the
interest of the American worker in iron to the quick ; and it will
be understood by the man who works at the furnace, at the
forge, at the mill, and in all the still more advanced and finer
operations.

But now let us look to the act of 1842, and see its careful
enumeration and specific assessment of duties on iron, and on
articles of iron manufacture. It reads thus.

Mr. Webster here read at length the first six paragraphs of the fourth
section of the act of the 30th of August, 1842, by which specific du
ties are laid upon imported iron, in every form of the unmanufactured
or manufactured article.

Here we see labor protected. The duties are specific, and
they are enhanced more and more as labor constitutes more and
more of the value of the article. This is the spirit of the act of
1842. No such spirit is manifested in this bill.

Let me now, Mr. President, after reading this long legal enact
ment, direct the attention of the Senate to the amount of capital
invested in the iron interests at this time in Pennsylvania.

VOL. v. 18



206



THE TARIFF.



Furnaces up to 1842,


( Charcoal,
I Anthracite,


206

7


Annual Product.
Tons.

173,369
16,487






^13


189,856


Furnaces since 1842, .


( Charcoal,
( Anthracite,


67
36


75,200
103,000


Increased product of old




"316


368,056
. 37,971


Product of new furnaces






178,200
















216,171



This prodigious increase of the business has, of course, called
for a large investment and employment of capital, which, after
much reflection, is estimated at forty-seven dollars per ton for
every ton of pig metal manufactured by charcoal, and twenty-
five dollars per ton for every ton manufactured by anthracite.
This would give, for seventy-five thousand two hundred tons of
the former, a capital of $ 3,534,400, and for one hundred and
three thousand tons of the latter, a capital of $ 2,575,000 ; mak
ing together the enormous sum of $ 6,109,400 invested in fur
naces alone since 1842. The aggregate capital, therefore, would
be calculated upon the same estimate :

Charcoal furnaces previous to 1842,
Anthracite furnaces previous to 1842,



New,



Tons.

173,369
16,487

75,200 )
103,000 5


Capital.

$ 8,148,343
412,175


8,560,518
6,109,400



368,056 $14,669,918



These 368,056 tons, at $30

per ton, would be worth $ 11,040,680
It is probable that one half of

this metal is converted into

bar, hoop, sheet, and boiler

iron, and nails, at a cost of at

least $ 50 per ton more, 9,201,400 Capital for conver-
The other half into castings sion at $20 per ton, 3,680,560

at $20 per ton, . . 3,680,560 Do. at $ 10, . 1,840,280



$23,922,640



$20,190,758



And where does this enormous sum of money go, and how is



THE TARIFF. 207

it expended ? All in labor and agricultural products. For of
what material is iron composed? Coal, limestone, iron ores,
sand, and fire-clay, almost worthless unless converted into iron.
The number of men employed in producing the above iron
would be, in the charcoal operations, one man to every twenty
tons, and in the anthracite, one man to every twenty-four tons
of pig metal. This includes all the miners of coal and lime
stone, wood-choppers, and laborers of every kind. Upon this
estimate there would be employed, in charcoal, twelve thousand
four hundred and twenty-eight; in anthracite, four thousand
nine hundred and seventy-eight; in all, seventeen thousand four
hundred and six. Allowing a wife and four children as sustained
by each laborer, we have a population of eighty-seven thousand
and thirty. To which if we add the labor employed in its con
version into bars, hoops, sheets, boiler-plate, nails, castings, rail
way iron, and so forth, which would more than double those
directly dependent, we should have one hundred and seventy-
four thousand and sixty men, women, and children. But when
we look still further, at the labor created by this business in rail
ways, canals, and so forth, both that of man and horse, who
can estimate it ?

We see thus what the iron interest of Pennsylvania is. The
inquiry now is, Can this interest survive, and hope to enjoy
moderate prosperity, under the provisions of this bill? The
people of the State of Pennsylvania ask the government to sus
pend execution of the sentence pronounced against them till the
question shall be fairly considered.

Notwithstanding the acknowledged richness of the Pennsyl
vania mines, and notwithstanding the great improvements
which have been made in the State in the means of transporta
tion for heavy articles, there are yet disadvantages of a serious
nature to be overcome. Her mountains abound with the best
of iron ore, but then they are in the interior. They are remote
from tide-water. The largest regions of iron production are a
hundred and fifty miles from the navigable arms of the sea.
The case is far different in Wales and Scotland, the furnaces in
those countries being almost immediately contiguous to naviga
tion. Hence their products are sent all over the world at less
cost. English and Scotch iron may be brought to New York
and Boston at one half the cost of bringing iron from the prin
cipal iron-works in Pennsylvania to the same markets.



208 THE TARIFF.

Freight on iron from Wales and Scotland to New York and
Boston may be stated, on an average, at from one dollar and fifty
cents to two dollars and fifty cents per ton. But the average
cost of transportation from the principal establishments in Penn
sylvania to the same market is from three dollars to five dollars
and a half per ton. When the tariff of 1842 went into opera
tion, the English iron was uncommonly low, say 4 105. per
ton. With an ad valorem duty of thirty per cent, as proposed
by this act, and the usual freights, the article could have been
offered here at thirty-two or thirty-three dollars. Could Penn
sylvania have stood this competition ? It is plain that she
could not, and that her iron-works must have stopped but for
the helping hand of that act. I observe in the English Mining
Journal of January last the following statement :

" It will be remembered that in 1842 the amount of pig metal export
ed from Glasgow alone was seventy thousand tons ; and it is a painful
fact, that since 1842 the exportation of pig iron has all but ceased.
Under these circumstances, we are at a loss to conceive how our sur
plus iron is to be disposed of."

On this English statement, an intelligent friend of mine re
marks thus :

" What will be the effect of this over-trading and surplus stock if it
can be exported here under a thirty per cent, ad valorem duty ? which
is no duty whatever, for at the time it is most needed it is lowest. Spe
cific duties are the only check which we have upon fraud and perjury ?
Abandon them, and you have effectually prostrated the trade, and
placed us entirely in the hands of unscrupulous foreigners. But let us
see how this ad valorem duty will work. In June, 1824, bar iron in
England was 7 per ton, and in January, 1825, the price was 14 per
ton, and it fell the same year to 10. In 1826 and 1827 the highest
quotation was ,9, while in 1832 it fell to 4 15s. In June, 1844, the
price was 6 ; in April, 9 15s. ; in July, 1 15s. ; in October, =8
15s. ; and in December, 10. Thus it will be seen that in 1832 thirty
per cent, duty would have produced $ 6.84 per ton, while in December,
1844, it would have been $ 14.40, and in January, 1825, 820.16."

Sir, in my opinion, we have before us at this moment the
general question, Shall we give efficient protection to the
American production of iron ? If we say we will, then it is
clear this bill ought not to pass. If it should pass, leaving iron,



THE TARIFF. 209

with all its manufactures and ramifications, at thirty per cent
ad valorem, they might just as well be put at five per cent. The
trade would as soon have it so, as I understand. The manufac
ture declined under the old " Compromise Act." It rose in
1842, and the labor of persons employed rose in proportion.
That law was certainly hailed in Pennsylvania as being con
formable to all her views and opinions. Now, Sir, let us come
to a conclusion. Let us decide, once for all. I am for pro
tecting the domestic iron interests of the United States. Are
you? If you are, reject this bill. If you are not, say so, and
pass the bill ; and let every man along the branches and up to
the sources of the Susquehanna and the Schuylkill, and every
man beyond the Alleghanies, in Pennsylvania, and every man in
Maryland, Tennessee, Virginia, and every other State in which
iron is produced, understand you. Let us have no more fight
ing under false colors. Enough of that. If you favor the do
mestic manufacture of iron, reject the bill. If you wish to de
stroy that domestic manufacture, pass the bill.

Closely connected with the iron interest is that of coal ; and
therefore it is necessary to see how that great interest is likely
to fare.

Pennsylvania produces of anthracite coal alone two million
five hundred thousand tons annually. The capital invested in
these anthracite mines, and the several railroads connected with
them, in all the coal-fields, is near forty million dollars. In the
Schuylkill region alone, including the cost of the Reading Rail
road and Schuylkill Canal, the investment amounts to twenty-
six million eight hundred thousand dollars. The increase of
product of the Schuylkill region, under the Compromise Act,
from 1837 to 1842, was only thirty-two thousand tons. In the
succeeding three years, that is to say, from 1842 to 1845, that
increase amounted to no less than five hundred and sixty thou
sand. The price of labor, of course, became greatly advanced ;
but the price of coal fell from 5.50 per ton to $ 3.37. A pretty
good proof this that prices may fall in consequence of pro
tection.

And here, Sir, I wish to advert to a general fact, worthy to
be recollected in all our political economy. The increase in the
investments of capital in great works of this kind tends to re
duce the profits on that capital. That is a necessary result.
18*



210 THE TARIFF.

But then it has exactly the reverse action upon laoor ; for the
more that capital is invested in these great operations, the greater
is the call for labor, and therefore the ratio is here the other
way, and the rates of labor increase as the profits of capital are
diminished. Well, is there any thing undemocratic and unpop
ular in such a system as that ? a system that causes a diminu
tion of profits to the capitalist and an increase of remuneration
to the hand of labor.

But the serious inquiry now is, whether Pennsylvania coal,
with the degree of protection which this bill proposes, can main
tain competition with the coal of Nova Scotia and New Bruns
wick ? That is a matter of commercial calculation and of fig
ures. The present duty on coal is $1.75 per ton. This bill puts
the duty at thirty per cent, ad valorem, which is equal to forty-
two cents per ton at present prices ; that is to say, it is now
proposed to reduce the duty on coal by the difference of $ 1.33
in every ton ; a sum almost equal to the price of coal in Nova
Scotia.

Nova Scotia coal, on board the vessel in the harbors of that
Province, costs $1.50 per ton. If to this we add the duty at
thirty per cent., the aggregate will be $1.95. Coal, therefore,
on board vessels in Nova Scotia, costing $1.95 per ton, is free
to proceed to any part of the United States. The freight of
coal from Nova Scotia to Boston, I am informed, is now $ 2.25
per ton. So that the cost of a ton of Nova Scotia coal at Bos
ton, duties included, will be $ 4.20.

The cost of coal on board the vessel at Philadelphia is said
to be $ 3.50 ; $ 2.00 being the price at the mines, and $ 1.50
the cost of land transportation. Adding freight from Philadel
phia to Boston, at $1.75 per ton, the Pennsylvania coal will
cost in Boston $ 5.25. The Nova Scotia coal is cheaper, there
fore, by the difference between $ 4.20 and $ 5.25. This differ
ence of twenty per cent, is of course a serious matter, and is likely
to be entirely fatal to the home article. One cannot say how
soon it may come about, but there would seem to be no doubt,
that, in the end, the coal from the Provinces must take the
place of that from Pennsylvania under such a tariff as this. It
will be seen, if this statement of costs and prices be accurate,
that the rate of duty proposed by this bill is no protection what
ever. The foreign article might as well come in free. The coal



THE TARIFF. 211

of Pennsylvania, like her iron, is far in the interior, and although
it is brought to navigable waters by one of the noblest of works
for land transportation, yet the charge is heavy. As will be
seen by the statements which I have already made, the freight
of coal from Pottsville to tide-water is equal to the cost of the
article on board the vessel at Nova Scotia. Land transporta
tion of heavy articles over long distances is necessarily expen
sive, notwithstanding the means of conveyance may be highly
improved. The cheaper transport by sea is seen in many strik
ing instances.

New England is not a limestone country. There is very little
of her surface that can be called limestone land east of the
Green Mountains. On the other hand, great portions of the
Middle States and some portions of the Southern States have
lime in abundance. Yet lime from Maine finds its way to the
cities along the Southern coast, and sometimes, I believe, even
to New Orleans. This is because, although Maine is not what
can be called a limestone country, she yet happens to have one
vast quarry upon the very edge of salt water.

It is said that there are mines at Wilkesbarre, from which
coal may be placed on board of boats in the rivers at the Nova
Scotia price ; that is to say $1.50 per ton, or even lower, say
1.00; and in these boats it may reach tide-water by inland
navigation. Yet the distance is great, and the expense so large,
that the article only holds competition with the Pottsville coal.
Distance is comparatively of little moment in conveyance by
sea. I think I have heard it stated that manufactures of iron,
such as nails, may be brought from Massachusetts into Market
Street, Philadelphia, for less cost of transport than the same
articles can be brought to the city from works ten miles off.

For all practical purposes, therefore, we must consider the iron
mines of Wales and Scotland, and the coal mines of Nova Sco
tia, as being close by us. And if we mean to be supplied by
our own products, we must act accordingly.

Sir, there is another view of this subject not uninteresting,
and very fit to be taken. What is coal ? A coarse and raw
natural product. What is it which has created its value at the
moment it comes to be consumed ? Clearly, labor. It is the
product of human labor ; and that labor, while giving value to
coal, has called for contributions from many other branches and



212 THE TARIFF.

varieties of human labor. Coal undug, and still in the mines, at
Potts ville, is worth twenty cents per ton. At the place of con
sumption, at New York or Boston, it is worth $ 5.25 per ton.
The difference is the value added to the original material by the
hand of man ; and to the creation of this value, farmers, mer
chants, tradesmen, mechanics, ship-builders, sailors, and those
employed in the land transportation, have all contributed. To
these, therefore, it has given employment. The population of
Pottsville is said to consume a million of dollars annually of ag
ricultural products ; and another million, probably, in manufac
tured articles. Thus the miners, the farmers, and the mechan
ics stand side by side in this great interest. Shall they be pro
tected against injurious foreign competition, or shall they not?

Sir, the calculations which I have submitted have been made
from data or materials furnished from authentic sources, and I
believe they may be relied on.

Mr. Johnson of Maryland here rose and said, that it was now late in
the day, and, if the Senator from Massachusetts would yield the floor,
he would move that the Senate adjourn.

This motion prevailed, and the Senate here adjourned.

On Monday, the 27th of July, Mr. Webster resumed his argument
as follows :

It is a circumstance a good deal characteristic, Mr. President,
of the state of things in which w r e find ourselves placed, and
strongly indicative of that absorbing interest which belongs to
the question before us, that I have not the honor, to-day, to ad
dress a full Senate. Since the commencement of my observa
tions on Saturday morning, an honorable member from one of
the Southern States * has vacated his seat in this body. We
perhaps may soon hear from him the reasons which led him to
leave the situation which he had occupied with so much useful
ness and reputation. I am no otherwise acquainted with those
reasons, than as I gather them from a very extraordinary article
in the government paper of this morning, or rather of Saturday
evening. From that I infer that the honorable member left his
seat here from an inability to support the measure of the admin
istration now before us, and from a great unwillingness, on the
other hand, to disoblige his party friends and connections by

* Mr. Hay wood of North Carolina.



THE TARIFF. 213

voting against it. Sir, as he has gone, I may speak of him as a
man of character and standing, here and at home ; a man of
learning and attainments, of great courtesy, and of unsurpassed
industry and attention in the discharge of his public duties;
and, as we all know, as far as we can judge of his course in the
Senate, an intelligent and constant friend of the present adminis
tration.

Now, Sir, I confess that I am ashamed of my country when I
see a gentleman of such character, on his retiring from this place
from such a motive, hunted, abused, defamed, according to the
degree of abuse and defamation which some writer for the gov
ernment, in the paper of the government, sees fit to pour out
against him. It is a disgrace to the civilization of the age. It
is a disgrace to American civilization. It is a disgrace to this
government. It is a disgrace to the American press.

Another article of common intelligence is not unworthy of
notice, before I proceed to the remaining observations which I
intend to submit to the Senate. If we may believe the current
reports of the day, the administration of the government is now
in possession of official and authentic information that an extra
ordinary and vigorous effort is making throughout the whole
republic of Mexico to sustain herself in the war now carried on
against her by the United States. I suppose the government is
now informed that Bravo is appointed President of Mexico ad
interim, and that Paredes, with such forces as he can coUect, is
marching to the north ; and that there is a spirit of united re
sistance, united action, and of general contribution toward the
defence of the country, such as was never manifested before ;
that the clergy contribute, that the provinces contribute, that in
dividuals contribute, in a manner altogether unknown in Mexico
since the time of her revolution. I suppose that the govern
ment is at this moment in possession of intelligence to this
effect ; how well founded the information is they are to judge ;
but that they have such information, from official sources, I en
tertain no doubt at all. I refer to it only as affording a new
reason why we should do nothing to disturb the just expectations
of revenue, or to diminish the necessary income of the treasury.

Now, Sir, as connected with that subject, I will read to the
Senate a paper which I had not strength to read on Saturday,
and I will make no comment on it, except so far as to describe



214 THE TARIFF.

the character of the gentleman who wrote it, and the character
of the gentleman to whom it was addressed. The writer is
Edward H. Nichol, Esq., of the city of New York, a merchant
of very high character in that city; a gentleman every way
friendly to the present administration of the government and to
the party now in power ; a gentleman who was an administra
tion candidate, very recently, for a seat in the other house of
Congress. The letter respects the effect of this bill on six ar
ticles of importation, viz. spirits, pepper, pimento, cassia, cloves,
and sugar and molasses. It is addressed to Isaac Townsend,
Esq., another highly respectable merchant, and of the same
political associations. And I will venture to say, that, if the
gentlemen connected with the administration of the government
had sought amongst all its friends of the mercantile class,
throughout the whole country, for the most intelligent and com
petent gentlemen to give them their opinions and advice on the
subject of this tariff bill, they would have found nobody of su
perior qualifications for that office to Mr. Edward H. Nichol.
Having said so much, I will read this letter, and submit it to
the Senate without further remark.

" ISAAC TOWNSEND, ESQ. :

" Dear Sir, In answer to your note under date of the 13th instant,
propounding certain questions as regards the present tariff , and the one
now proposed and under discussion in the Senate, I answer in the fol
lowing manner, viz. :

Spirits. The duty accruing on spirits of all kinds, under the present
tariff, at 85 to 90 cents per gallon, may be estimated at $1,400,000

to 81,500,000

The average cost at the different places of production may
be estimated at 42 to 45 cents per gallon, on which the
ad valorem duty, as now proposed, would be 100 per cent.,
and, estimating the annual importation to be equal to that
of the last three or four years, viz. 1,000,000 to 1,500,000
gallons, would yield about ... . 720,000

Difference, $780,000

Pepper. The annual consumption of pepper may be estimated at
3,500,000 pounds, present duty 5 cents per pound, yielding $ 175,000
The average cost at the place of production is 2J to 3 cents
per pound, and proposed duty of 30 per cent ad valorem
would yield 34,500

Difference, . $ 140,500



THE TARIFF.



215



Pimento. The annual consumption of pimento may be estimated at
1,500,000 pounds, and, with the present duty of 5 cents per pound,
would yield $75,000

The average cost at the place of production, 3| to 4 cents
per pound, on which the proposed duty of 40 per cent, ad
valorem would be about ...... 18,000

Difference, $57,000

Cassia. The annual consumption of cassia is about 1,000,000 pounds ;
and, at the present duty of 5 cents per pound, would yield $ 50,000

The average cost at the place of production is 7 cents per
pound, and the proposed duty of 30 per cent, ad valorem
would yield . 20,000

Difference, $30,000

Cloves. The annual consumption of cloves is about 160,000 pounds ;

at 8 cents per pound the present duty would yield . . $ 12,800
The cost at the place of production is 13 to 14 cents per

pound ; at 30 per cent, ad valorem, .... 6,400

Difference, $6,400

Sugar and Molasses. The annual duty accruing under the present
tariff of 85 to 90 per cent, ad valorem may be estimated at from

$3,000,000 to $3,500,000

Whereas the proposed duty, 30 per cent, ad valorem, would

yield 1,400,000

Say, difference, $2,100,000



Recapitulation.


Present.


Proposed.


Difference.


Spirits,
Pepper,
Pimento,
Cassia,
Cloves,
Sugar and Molasses,


$ 1,500,000
175,000
75,000
50,000
12,800
3,500,000


$ 720,000
34,500
18,000
20,000
6,400
1,400,000


$ 780,000
140,500
57,000



Online LibraryDaniel WebsterThe works of Daniel Webster (Volume 05) → online text (page 21 of 53)