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of the Diplomatic Corps, accustomed to royal receptions, were loud
in her praises; no sovereign of Europe, they said, could surpass her
in all the requirements of her most difficult position. Fair, fresh,
genuine, in figure tall ami graceful, with soft, brown hair, and deep,
kindling eyes, she stood before all, the embodiment of all that is best,
loveliest, and sweetest in the womanhood of our nation. This be-
ginning was but a prelude to what was to follow. She charmed ev-
erybody, and for a time even cast the President into the shade. No
lady of the White House, not even Dolly Madison, was ever so popu-
lar. The country raved about her, and she was no mere bubble
blown by the popular breath, but deserved it all; walking like a queen
among the people, ruling all hearts by the supreme regality of her
exquisite nature. She accompanied the President to public assem-
blies, and on his many trips about the country, and, unmoved by the
increase of flattery and the fascination of universal homage, showed
herself one of the womanliest women in the United States a true
helpmeet to her great husband."

It is only fair to Mr. Lamont, who was the " master of ceremonies "
at the President's wedding, that his characteristics should be de-
picted by a pen friendly to Mr. Cleveland. " First among all coun-
sellors of the President-elect," wrote W. U. Hensel, one of these


friendly writers, " then and ever since, was and has been Colonel
Daniel S. Lamont, who was soon to be translated from the position
of private secretary to the Governor of New York to that of private
secretary to the President of the United States. A young man
trained in the best school of New York politics, experienced in journ-
alism, quick to perceive the value and character of men, discreet in
speech, and efficient in commanding the largest share of informa-
tion from any visitor, whether he has an ax to grind or comes merely
as an interested observer of the action and character of others, he
has shown himself the most intelligent, as he has become the best
known of all the men who, in the arduous and difficult post of private
secretary, have contributed to increase the interest and the pleasure,
or to lighten the labor of men in the public life of the United States."

The 50th Congress was like its immediate predecessors in political
composition and organization, except that John J. Ingalls, of Kansas,
had succeeded John Sherman, of Ohio, as President pro tern of the
Senate. The new Republican Senators were Francis B. Stockbridge,
of Michigan; Cushman K. Davis, of Minnesota; William E. Chandler,
of New Hampshire; Frank Hiscock, of New York, and Matthew S.
Quay, of Pennsylvania. The Democrats were David Turpie, of In-
diana; Rufus Blodgett, of New Jersey; William B. Bate, of Tennessee;
John H. Reagan, of Texas; John T. Daniel, of Virginia, and Charles
J. Faulkner, of W T est Virginia. The Senate stood 39 Republicans to
37 Democrats, and the House 169 Democrats to 152 Republicans.
There were 2 Labor and 2 Independent Representatives.

In his third annual message in December, 1887, President Cleveland
devoted himself almost wholly to the discussion of tariff revision.
This was what was called " sounding the battle-cry." As this mes-
sage was the keynote of the ensuing Presidential campaign it is
worthy of reproduction in its salient features in this place.

" Our scheme of taxation," the President said, after complaining of
a congested national treasury, " by means of which this needless sur-
plus is taken from the people and put into the public treasury, con-
sists of a tariff or duty levied upon importations from abroad, and
internal revenue taxes levied upon the consumption of tobacco and
spirituous and malt liquors. It must be conceded that none of the
things subjected to internal revenue taxation are, strictly speaking,
necessaries; there appears to be no just complaint of this taxation by
the consumers of these articles, and there seems to be nothing so well
able to bear the burden without hardship to any portion of the people.
But our present tariff laws, the vicious, inequitable, and illogical
source of unnecessary taxation, ought to be at once revised and
amended. These law r s, as their primary and plain effect, raise the


price to consumers of all articles imported and subject to duty, by
precisely the sum paid for such duties. Thus the amount of the duty
measures the tax paid by those who purchase for use imported ar-
ticles. Many of these things, however, are raised or manufactured in
our own country, and the duties now levied upon foreign goods and
products are called protection to these home manufactures, because
they render it possible for those of our people who are manufac-
turers to make these taxed articles and sell them for a price equal to
that demanded for the imported goods that have paid customs duty.
So it happens that while comparatively a few use the imported ar-
ticles, millions of our people, who never use and never saw any of the
foreign products, purchase and use things of the same kind made in
this country, and pay therefor nearly or quite the same enhanced
price which the duty adds to the imported articles. Those who buy
imports pay the duty charged thereon into the public treasury; but the
great majority of our citizens, who buy domestic articles of the same
class, pay a sum at least approximately equal to the duty to the
home manufacturer. This reference to the operation of our tariff
laws is not made by way of instruction, but in order that we may be
constantly reminded of the manner in which they impose a burden
upon those who consume domestic products, as well as those who con-
sume imported articles, and thus create a tax upon all our people.
It is not proposed to entirely relieve the country of this taxation. It
must be extensively continued as the source of the Government's in-
come; and in a readjustment of our tariff the interests of American
labor engaged in manufacture should be carefully considered, as well
as the preservation of our manufactures. It may be called protection,
or by any other name; but relief from the hardships and dangers of
our present tariff laws should be devised with especial precaution
against imperiling the existence of our manufacturing interests. But
this existence should not mean a condition which, without regard to
the public welfare or a national e'xigency, must always insure the
realization of immense profits, instead of moderately profitable re-
turns. As the volume and diversity of our national activities in-
crease, new recruits are added to those w r ho desire a continuation of
the advantages which they conceive the present system of tariff taxa-
tion directly affords them. So stubbornly have all efforts to reform
the present condition been resisted by those of our fellow citizens
thus engaged, that they can hardly complain of the suspicion, enter-
tained to a certain extent, that there exists an organized combination
all along the line to maintain their advantage.

" We are in the midst of centennial celebrations, and with becom-
ing pride we rejoice in American skill and ingenuity, in American


energy and enterprise, and in the wonderful natural advantages and
resources developed by a century's national growth. Yet when an at-
tempt is made to justify a scheme which permits a tax to be laid
upon every consumer in the land for the benefit of our manufactures,
quite beyond a reasonable demand for governmental regard, it suits
the purpose of advocacy to call our manufactures infant industries,
still needing the highest and greatest degree of favor and fostering
care that can be wrung from Federal legislation. It is also said that
the increase in the price of domestic manufactures resulting from the
present Tariff is necessary in order that higher wages may be paid to
our workingmen employed in manufactories than are paid for what
is called the pauper labor of Europe. All will acknowledge the force
of an argument which involves the welfare and liberal compensation
of our laboring people. Our labor is honorable in the eyes of every
American citizen, and as it lies at the foundation of our development
and progress, it is entitled, without affectation or hypocrisy, to the
utmost regard. The standard of our laborers' life should not be
measured by that of any other country less favored, and they are en-
titled to their full 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 serv-
ice (2,934,876 of whom are domestic servants and laborers), while
1,810,256 are employed in trade and transportation, and 3,837,112 are
classed as employed in manufacturing and mining. For present pur-
poses, however, the last number given should be considerably re-
duced. Without attempting to enumerate all, it will be conceded
that there should be deducted from those which it includes 375,143
carpenters and joiners, 285,401 milliners, dressmakers, and seam-
stresses, 172,726 blacksmiths, 133,756 tailors and tailoresses, 102,473
masons, 76,241 butchers, 41,309 bakers, 22,083 plasterers, and 4,891 en-
gaged in manufacturing agricultural implements, amounting in the
aggregate to 1,214,023, leaving 2,623,089 persons employed in such
manufacturing 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 dis-
position to answer such suggestions by the allegation that they are
in a minority among those who labor, and therefore 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 overlook the fact that they are consumers
with the rest; and 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 taxa-
tion demanded should be so measured as not to necessitate or justify
either the loss of employment by the working man or the lessening
of his wages; and the profits still remaining to the manufacturer,
after a necessary readjustment, should furnish no excuse for the
sacrifice of the interests of his employees, either in their opportunity
to work, or in the diminution of their compensation. Nor can the
worker in manufactories 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 form, he needs for
the use of himself and his family. He receives at the desk of his em-
ployer 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 the agriculturist, who manufacture nothing, but who
pay the increased price which the tariff imposes upon every agricul-
tural 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 hus-
bandry produces from the soil, is invited to aid in maintaining the
present situation; and he is told that a high duty on imported w r ool is
necessary for the bjenefit of those who have sheep to shear, in order
that the price of wool may be increased. They, of course, are not re-
minded that the farmer who has no sheep is by this scheme obliged,
in his purchase 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 man-
ufactured from the wool they sell at tariff prices, and thus, as con-
sumers, must return their share of this increased price to the trades-
man. I think it may be fairly assumed that a large proportion of
the sheep owned by the farmers throughout the country are 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 per 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 al-
lowed 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 man-
ufactured into cloth 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 ma-
terial 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 manufac-
tured form, but that he must add a considerable sum thereto to meet
a further increase 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 compared with all the farmers in the country, and the small
proportion they bear to our population is considered; when it is made
apparent that, in the case of a large part of those who 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 the unemployed, the sick and the well,
and the young and old, and that it constitutes a tax which, with re-
lentless grasp, is fastened upon the clothing of every man, woman,
and child in the land, reasons are suggested why the removal or re-
duction of 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 duty. But
it is notorious that this competition is too often strangled by combina-
tions quite prevalent at this time, and frequently called trusts, which
have for their object the regulation of the supply and price of com-
modities made and 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 dutiable ar-
ticle of home production below the liinit which it might otherwise
reach under our tariff laws, and if, with such reduced price, its man-
ufacture continues to thrive, it is entirely evident that one tiring has

/ / o

been discovered which should be carefully scrutinized in an effort to
reduce taxation. The necessity of combination to maintain the price
of any commodity to the tariff point furnishes proof that some one 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 touching our tariff
laws are intended only to enforce an earnest recommendation that the
surplus revenues of the Government be prevented by the reduction
of ourcustoms 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 taxa-
tion in quarters 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 unfriendliness toward our man-
ufacturing interests, or any lack of appreciation of their value and
importance. These interests constitute a leading and most substan-
tial 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 pub-
lic good, and to avert disaster, their patriotism, as well as a grateful
recognition of advantages already afforded, should lead them to will-
ing co-operation. No demand is made that they shall forego all the
benefits of governmental regard; but they can not fail to be admon-
ished 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 reform 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 dis-
regard of such local and selfish claims as are unreasonable and reck-
less of the welfare of the entire country. Under our present laws


more than four thousand articles are subject to duty. Many of these
do not in any way compete with our own manufactures, and many are
hardly worth attention as subjects of revenue. A considerable re-
duction 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 price of these neces-
saries; it would not only relieve them from the increased cost caused
by the tariff on such material, but the manufactured product being
thus cheapened, the 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 im-
portation, would serve besides to largely reduce the revenue. It is not
apparent how such a change could 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 w y ares 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, interrup-
tion in business, and loss caused by a glutted domestic market, and
affording their employees more certain and steady labor, with its re-
sulting quiet and contentment.

" The question thus imperatively presented for solution should be
approached in a spirit higher than partisanship, and considered in
the light of that regard for patriotic duty which should characterize
the action of those intrusted w r ith the weal of a confiding people. But
the obligation to declare party policy and principle is not wanting to
urge prompt and effective action. Both of the great political parties
now represented in the Government have, by repeated and authori-
tative declarations, condemned the condition of our laws, which per-
mit the collection 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 mood to condone the
deliberate violation of these pledges. Our progress toward a wise
conclusion will not be improved by dwelling upon the theories of pro-
tection 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 ad-
vantages should not be contemplated. The question of free trade is


absolutely irrelevant; and the persistent claim made in certain quar-
ters 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 consideration for the public good. The simple
and plain duty which we o\ve the people is to reduce taxation to the
necessary expense 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 pow r ers.
These things can and should be done with safety to all our industries,
without 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 effect of Mr. Cleveland's deliverance was immediate. Tariff
revision at once became a question of absorbing political interest.
Although the older leaders in the Democratic party shook their heads
ominously at the boldness and audacity with which the President
forced the issue upon the country, the young politicians welcomed it
with avidity. To the Southern Democrats, especially, it was welcome
as a return to the doctrine of Free Trade and the principles of the
Tariff of 1846. As the South controlled the Committee on Ways and
Means, it was believed it would be easy to prepare a Tariff bill in line
with the message. What became known as the Mills Tariff bill was
reported from the committee, March 1, 1888, and was not finally dis-
posed of by the House of representatives until July 21. The
debate was opened by Roger Q. Mills, of Texas, the Chairman of the
Ways and Means. The other Democratic members of the committee,
William L. Scott, of Pennsylvania; Clifton R. Breckenridge, of Arkan-
sas; William L. Wilson, of West Virginia, and William D. Bynum, of
Indiana, followed with elaborate arguments. Among the Democrat's
who were most prominent in support of the measure were the Speaker,
Mr. Carlisle; S. S. Cox, of New York; John E. Russell, of Massa-
chusetts, and Charles R. Buckalew, of Pennsylvania. The principal
Republican opponents of the bill were William D. Kelley, of Pennsyl-
vania; William McKinley, of Ohio; Thomas B. Reed, and Charles A.
Boutelle, of Maine, and Henry G. Burleigh, of New York. Two Rep-
resentatives elected as Republicans, Ashbel P. Fitch, of New York,
and Knute Nelson, of Minnesota, favored the principle of the bill, and

Online LibraryGeorge Oberkirsh SeilhamerHistory of the Republican party (Volume 1) → online text (page 49 of 61)