Erastus B. (Erastus Brigham) Bigelow.

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globe surpasses ours ? An immense area of rich and varied
soil, lying under a wide range of climate, enables us to raise
in abundance and with certainty all the most valued products
of the temperate zones. Besides the wealth of our vast and
well-timbered forests, and all the teeming acres which are
now under cultivation, we have yet in reserve a breadth of
virgin soil sufficient to give employment and sustenance to
many-fold our present population. Nor are our riches all on
the surface. In mines and placers of gold, only one nation
can compete with us. Of silver, copper, lead, zinc, and
mercury, we have large supplies ; while iron (more valuable
than all the rest) is widely diffused, and inexhaustible in
quantity. But it is in the almost incredible richness of our
coal deposits that mineral which has become so essential
to individual comfort, to manufacturing success, to swift loco-
motion on land or water, to prosperity in peace, to efficiency
in war, and, indeed, to all true national wealth and power
that we leave behind at an immeasurable distance every other
nation. We have done much to use these gifts of Nature, and
much, also, in preparation for their future utilization. We
have deepened and protected the entrances to OUT harbors,
and made our rivers more navigable. In number and length
of railways, no country vies with ours. Mountain ranges of
formidable height, and vast plains which once seemed of
interminable length, are now traversed easily and quickly on
the iron track. More quickly still, the telegraphic wire con-
veys over every part of our great republic the orders of gov-
ernment and the messages of business ; so that parts of the
country once widely separated in thought as well as space are
now, for all purposes of intercourse, placed, as it were, side
by side.


In manufacturing, we have made a fair start. Much of the
raw material which we extract from the earth, or raise on its
surface, material which may be increased to any extent,
is converted, by skilful hands arid labor-saving machinery,
into forms and fabrics of utility and beauty. In the inven-
tion, the construction, and the use of mechanism, the Ameri-
cans are allowed to show an aptness equal, at least, to that of
other nations. Nowhere else is this faculty turned to more
general or to more profitable account. Not only in manu-
facturing, but in agriculture and in almost every kind of
industrial art, the employment of labor-saving machines and
implements multiplies our numerical force, and vastly aug-
ments our productive power. The result is seen in the im-
mense value of the annual productions of the United States,
which now exceeds six thousand millions of dollars. That our
industrial achievements and our present large producing
power are in a great measure due to the varied industries
which our tariff policy, vacillating as it has been, has ren-
dered possible, no one, I think, who is familiar with the
essential conditions of industrial progress will deny. The
tariff acts of the United States have been numerous ; and,
while revenue has been their primary object, they have also,
for half a century, been framed with more or less regard to
the protection of American industry. Their tariff policy,
therefore, may be regarded, in the main, as a protective
policy. As yet, however, we have failed to establish, in this
important department of national economy, any policy of
action so settled and uniform as to furnish our manufacturers
with a safe basis of faith and practical dependence.

When our customs tariff again undergoes revision, it is to
be hoped that Congress will adjust its provisions, not in con-
formity with the precepts of theorists, to whatever school of
economists they may belong, but in conformity with our own
needs and requirements. The aim should be to establish a
national tariff policy, which shall be regarded as permanent,
and so to frame its provisions as to promote the use and
development of our vast national resources ; and to secure, so



far as it depends on legislation, the highest attainable pros-
perity to all sections of the country. Obvious as this patri-
otic duty is, there are many among us, who, in disregard of
national interests and requirements, would have us adopt
England's tariff as our model ; and, illogical as it may seem,
reproduce the same arguments for its adoption here that were
used in England for its adoption there, under widely different
circumstances. That we can learn much from her long and
varied experience is no doubt true ; but to follow her exam-
ple, except in so far as the conditions of the two countries are
similar, would be unwise. Rightly to understand the relation
which our tariff sustains to that of England, we must take
into view the statistical facts contained in the folio wing series
of comparative tables :

Table E shows the value of the import trade of the two
countries, respectively, in the year 1875 ; the articles being
classed in the manner adopted in the Expository Statement
before mentioned.



Great Britain *

United States 2

Articles in a Raw State to be
used in Manufacture
Articles partially manufactured
Articles wholly manufactured .
Articles for Food, including con-
diments and stimulants . .
Articles not properly belonging
to any of the foregoing heads






1 869 697 885

547 050 117

1 See Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of her Majesty's Customs,
p. 29.

2 The figures in this column were compiled from the Report of the Chief of
the Bureau of Statistics on Commerce and Navigation, for 1875. 1 desire here
to express my thanks to Dr. Edward Young, for his courtesy in sending me
that Report, and other official documents which I have used in the preparation
of this work.



The amount of revenue which each country respectively
derived from customs duties, and from internal taxes, in the
year 1875, is given in



Great Britain.

United States.

Derived from Customs Duties .







Table G shows the classes of articles from which the two
countries, respectively, derived their customs revenue ; the
articles being classed as in Table E.



Great Britain. 1

United States.*

Derived from Articles in a Raw
State, to be used in Manf 'ure



Articles partially manufactured


Articles wholly manufactured


Articles for Food, including con-
diments and stimulants
Articles not properly belonging
to any of the foregoing heads




100 027,165


The sources from which each country derived its internal
revenue is shown in Table H.

1 See Twentieth Report of the Commissioners of her Majesty's Customs,
p. 98.

2 The figures in this column were compiled from the Report of the Chief of
the Bureau of Statistics on Commerce and Navigation, for 1875.




Great Britain. 1

United States.'

Derived from Spirits ....
Malt and Fermented Liquors .




52 738 615



17 498 780

l^niiks and Bankers ....




Total .



We have now before us the value of the imports of Great
Britain and of the United States, in 1875, classified according
to their bearing on the questions of free-trade and protection ;
the amount of revenue which each country raised by customs
duties and by internal taxes ; and the articles and sources
from which each branch of revenue was respectively derived.
In the light of these and other facts already adduced, I will
endeavor to show wherein we can, and wherein we cannot,
wisely conform our tariff to that of England.

p. 21, it appears that, in 1875, Great Britain imported mer-
chandise to the value of one thousand eight hundred and sixty-
nine million dollars ; and the United States, to the value of
only five hundred and forty-seven million dollars.

The greater value of the foreign trade of Great Britain is
thought by many to place her in a position of relative advan-
tage. On the contrary, it is the result of a position of rela-^^.^
tive disadvantage. Nations are independent and prosperous T/
in proportion as they have within themselves the means of I .
subsistence. In this view, Great Britain is the most depend-/
ent, and the United States the most independent, of all the
great nations of the earth. For us, foreign trade is certainly

1 See Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom, 23cl number, p. 9.

2 See Report of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, 1870, p. 163.


desirable, so far as it results from national growth arid devel-
opment ; but, for Great Britain, it is an absolute necessity. To
subsist her population, she must annually import articles for
food to the value of over eight hundred million dollars ; and,
to pay for these articles, she must also import raw materials
to be used in manufacture to the value of nearly seven hun-
dred million dollars, and annually sell her manufactured pro-
ductions in foreign markets to the value of twelve hundred
million dollars. Does any American covet a foreign trade
resting on a basis of such international dependence ? To
maintain that commercial regulations, which are suited to the
needs of dependent Britain, are alike applicable to independ-
ent America, is the height of absurdity.

shows that the amount of revenue which Great Britain
derived in 1875 from customs duties and internal taxes was
two hundred and eighty-nine million dollars, and that the
amount which the United States derived from those branches
was two hundred and sixty-five millions of dollars ; and that,
while our customs revenue was fifty-four millions of dollars
more than that of Great Britain, our internal revenue was
seventy-eight millions of dollars less. But, from both branches
together, she raised twenty-four millions of dollars more than
we did.

By an examination of Tables G and H, p. 22, 23, consider-
able disparity will be seen to exist in the articles and sources
from which the two countries respectively derive their customs
and their internal revenue. In all that has been said in advo-
cacy of our adopting England's customs tariff, her internal
tax laws are rarely mentioned. There is no more reason why
we should unqualifiedly adopt the one than the other.

To show more fully the relation which our tariff sustains to
that of England, I will now present the subject in conformity
with the classification of imports in the expository statement
before explained ; beginning, for convenience, with

fact, that the whole of the revenue which Great Britain


derives from customs, and sixty per cent of that which she
derives from excise, is a tax on articles for food. As to
the bearing which such a tax has on the people, the Com-
missioners of her Majesty's Customs, in their Twentieth Re-
port, say, " It has always been held by the best authorities
on questions relating to the incidence of taxation, that the
bulk of the revenue from customs, of which almost the whole
is derived from tobacco, spirits, tea, dried fruit, coffee, and
cocoa, is paid by that class of the population which is depend-
ent upon weekly wages, comprising, as it does, the great
majority ; for wine, consumed principally by a richer class,
contributes less than nine per cent of the whole." What the
commissioners say in regard to the effect on the people of
customs duties on articles for food, is also true in regard to
excise duties on these articles. Therefore, of the taxes, nine-
tenths of which are paid by that class of the population which
is dependent upon weekly wages, Great Britain raises two hun-
dred and thirteen million dollars, and the United States only one
hundred and fifty-five million dollars ; that is to say, she raises
fifty-eight million dollars more than we do. So far, then, as it
relates to articles for food, the English revenue system con-
tains nothing which suggests any improvement in our own.

DUTIES ON RAW MATERIALS. Again recurring to Table
E, p. 21, it will be seen that, in 1875, Great Britain imported
raw materials to be used in manufacture to the value of six
hundred and ninety-five million dollars, and the United States
to the value of only sixty-eight million dollars ; the excess in
favor of Great Britain being six hundred and twenty-seven
million dollars. As already shown, the English tariff admits
this class of articles free of duty. Although our tariff has
a large free list, larger, I think, than is generally sup-
posed, it imposes on certain raw materials duties, which,
in 1875, amounted in the aggregate to six million four hun-
dred and seventy-eight thousand dollars.

The expediency of a nation imposing customs duties on
raw materials depends largely on the sources of its prosperity.
For England, whose indigenous resources are limited, and


whose prosperity is largely dependent on manufacturing from
imported raw materials, to impose customs duties on those
raw materials would be an act of folly. With the United
States, the case is quite different. Their indigenous re-
sources are almost boundless, and their highest prosperity is
to be derived from the utilization of these resources. In ac-
complishing this result, if customs duties are necessary to
enable their producers of raw materials to compete success-
fully with similar producers in other countries, it is wise
policy to impose them.

The framers of our present tariff seem to have acted on
that principle. Such raw materials as do not compete with
home industry are admitted free of duty ; and on such as do
so compete, and are of national importance, duties are im-
posed. Feeble but persevering efforts are made by some
writers to spread the idea, that our manufacturers are op-
pressed by duties on their raw materials.

I have just shown that the total amount of duties we col-
lected in 1875, on all our imports of raw materials to be used
in manufacture, was, in round numbers, only six million four
hundred and seventy-eight thousand dollars. Of this sum, three
million seven hundred and ninety thousand dollars came from
duties on wool, leaving but two million six hundred and eighty-
eight thousand dollars bearing on other manufactures. As
the total annual value of our manufactures of wool, includ-
ing worsteds and carpets, exceeds one hundred and ninety-nine
million of dollars, it will be seen that the duties on the wool
used amount to scarcely two per cent on the value of the
manufactured product. The duties on other raw materials
than wool bear a still less average percentage to the aggregate
value of the various manufactures to which they directly or
indirectly relate.

Our present tariff on wool and manufactures of wool
places the wool manufacturer, so far as his relation to foreign
competitors is concerned, on the same footing as though he
received his wool free of duty. On manufactures of. wool it
imposes a specific duty, equivalent to the amount of the duty
on the wool entering into such manufactures. It then adds


a duty for revenue and protection the same as is imposed on
manufactures of cotton and of iron, on the raw material of
which no duty is needed or imposed. It cannot be justly
said, therefore, that the duty on wool oppresses the wool
manufacturer. This system of adjusting the duties on
manufactures of wool relatively to the duties on wool is a
marked feature of the present tariff. It allows of equal pro-
tection being given to the wool grower and the wool manu-
facturer ; and under its operation the wool industry of the
country, in all its branches, has been largely developed.

The duties on wool are justified by considerations of public
policy. Sheep husbandry is essential to industrial as well as
national independence. Every civilized and semi-civilized
nation has its flocks. The whole number of sheep in the world
is estimated &tfour hundred and eighty-four million. Of this
number, Great Britain has thirty-four million, and the United
States about the same number. Sheep husbandry benefits a
nation by fertilizing its soil, by furnishing a necessary fibre for
clothing its people, and, above all, by contributing to its supply
of animal food. In populous regions, the mutton of a sheep is
much more valuable than its wool. The value of the prod-
uce of sheep husbandry in Great Britain is stated, on good
authority, to amount annually to one hundred and fifty-nine
millions of dollars ; over one hundred million dollars of this
sum being derived from the mutton. The value of the prod-
uce of sheep husbandry in the United States, I have not seen
stated. It is known, however, that our domestic fleeces sup-
ply ninety per cent of the wool used in our extensive woollen
goods manufacture ; the value of which, in 1870, exceeded
one hundred and fifty-five million dollars. There are ways in
which the United States are or may be peculiarly benefited
by sheep husbandry. But, as I have not the space to present
them, I will refer my readers to a very able discussion of the
subject by Mr. John L. Hayes, in an article entitled " The
Part of the Wool Industry in our National Economy." l

1 See Bulletin of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, vol. vi.
pp. 221-253.


The question is sometimes asked, why sjieep husbandry in
the United States, with low-priced land, requires a duty on
wool to sustain it ; when, in England, with relatively high-
priced land, it prospers without a duty. To this ques-
tion there are several answers. I have space to mention
only one or two of them. The sheep which are now
mostly grown in England are the "mutton sheep;" such as
the Southdowns, the Cotswold, and the Leicester. These
breeds of sheep not only yield a large amount of animal food,
but produce a long-stapled wool, which is of special value in
the manufacture of worsted goods. In the textile industry
of England, the worsted manufacture is second only to that of
cotton. It has grown up with English sheep husbandry in
such relations of reciprocal dependence, that the raising of
worsted wools and the manufacture of them have acted and
reacted on each other, and developed a distinctive national
industry. Such worsted wools as England produces are in
limited supply the world over. British farmers and writers
declare that " the sheep is literally the basis of English
husbandry ; that they have become an indispensable necessity,
as there is no other means of keeping up the land." 1 Now,
if we take into view its benefit to her agriculture, the value
of its mutton, and the fact that only a comparatively small
amount of competing wools are grown elsewhere, we
readily see how England's sheep husbandry can prosper
without the encouragement of law. In the United States,
the conditions relating to sheep husbandry are quite different
from those in England.

Notwithstanding that the raising of long-wool sheep has
made considerable progress here under our present tariff, the
sheep mostly grown in this country are of the merino type.
The wools they produce, having a wide range of uses, have
to compete with the wools of Australia, the Argentine Re-
public, and other wool-producing countries. As our merino
sheep, in greater part, are raised in large flocks, in sparsely

1 Bulletin of the National Association of Wool Manufacturers, vol. vi.
p. 163.


populated parts of the country, the mutton which, in
England, is the most valuable part of sheep husbandry
cannot, generally speaking, be turned to very much account.
Much more might be said in answer to the above interrogatory,
but the facts already stated are enough to show that the
question of duties or no duties on wool is a very different one
in the United States from what it is in England. Again, it
may be asked, why our farmers have not raised more of the
long-wool sheep. Prominent among the causes which have
retarded the extension of this important branch of sheep hus-
bandry, is bad tariff legislation. The tariff of 1846, which
put a horizontal duty on wool and manufactures of wool,
was hostile both to wool growing and wool manufacturing ;
and the consequence was that the wool manufacture was
prostrated, and sheep husbandry languished for the want of a
market for its wool. Under such a tariff, the worsted manu-
facture could get no foothold here. It was not until after
the adoption of the system of wool duties before explained,
that it took root. Under that system, the worsted manu-
facture has made rapid strides, and now annually exceeds in
value twenty millions of dollars. Consequent upon the de-
mand for worsted wool created by the development of the
worsted manufacture, the raising of the long-wool, mutton
sheep has been nationalized, and is being extended.

England, in 1875, as shown by Table E, p. 21, imported
articles partially manufactured to the value of one hundred
and forty-two million dollars, and the United States to the
value of only thirty-five million dollars. On our imports of
this class of articles we impose an average duty of about four-
teen per cent, amounting in the aggregate to four million eight
hundred and nineteen thousand dollars. In England, they
are admitted duty free. The reasons for our imposing duties
on articles partially manufactured are substantially the same
as those which justify duties on raw materials ; and, as those
reasons have already been stated, they need not be repeated





1875, as shown by the table just referred to, England im-
ported articles wholly manufactured, to the value of one
hundred and ninety-seven million dollars ; and the United
States, to about the same value. From their imports of this
class of articles, the United States derived eighty-ttvo million
dollars of customs revenue, and England derived none.

I have already shown how largely England depended on
the protection of law to develop her resources and to estab-
lish her manufactures. I have also pointed out the exigencies
which compelled her to reverse her tariff policy. That her
tariff measures in the main have been well suited to her needs,
I do not deny. But, however expedient the repeal of her
duties on manufactures may have seemed at the time it was
done, it is now a question whether it has not proved detri-
mental to her. 1 It is true that, for some time after the repeal
of these duties her imports of manufactures (excepting those
of siJk) did not much increase ; but, in later years, manu-
facture has made such rapid progress in other countries that
England now encounters a strong foreign competition.

In 1875, one hundred and ninety -seven million dollars' worth
of articles wholly manufactured, and one hundred and forty-
two million dollars' worth of articles partially manufactured,
were thrown upon her home market. The admission of
raw materials free, and of corn (breadstuff's) at a nominal
duty, was the only feature of her free-trade measures that

1 A cry which seemed to be dead has therefore suddenly revived, the cry
for protection, although it is at present but faintly heard. There are some-
times little " news paragraphs " in the daily journals which are better worth
attention than the leading articles ; and perhaps some of our readers noticed
a few days ago a few lines setting forth that a deputation of English silk manu-
facturers had waited upon Lord Derby requesting him to get a reduction of
French duties on our silk, or else to lay heavy duties on French silks brought
over here. Protection seemed as extinct as the Wars of the Roses, but here
it is again ; and, what is more, we venture to predict that we shall see a good

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Online LibraryErastus B. (Erastus Brigham) BigelowThe tariff policy of England and of the United States contrasted → online text (page 2 of 5)