John A. (John Adams) Dix.

Speeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) online

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land, twenty-three in Scotland, and eighteen in Ireland, — in
all, 109. In most of the large ports, goods in general may
be warehoused ; in the smaller ports, particular goods only.
London in the southeast, Bristol in the southwest, and Liv-


erpool in the northwest, are privileged for all goods which
may be legally imported ; and Hull, in the northeast, for the
same, with a single class of exceptions. These ports are
admirably situated for distributing the products deposited
with them to all portions of the kingdom. Stand at Leices-
ter, which lies in the very centre of England, and draw a
circle around you which shall pass through one of these
ports, and it will touch or graze all the others. There is not
a single point in England distant in an air line more than one
hundred and fifty miles from some of these ports, excepting
the Land's End in Cornwall, which may be two hundred
from Bristol. The Senator from Connecticut, if I did not
misunderstand him, represented these four ports as the only
ones to which a liberal scale of privilege in respect to ware-
housing had been applied. Sir, my honorable friend is be-
hind the age. He is about up to the era of George IV., or
possibly the fourth William. I say it in no offensive sense.
He will properly appreciate this disclaimer when I frankly
acknowledge that a few days ago I was in the same predica-
ment with him. I have fortunately fallen upon more recent
information, and I am happy not only to have advanced my-
self, but to be able to bring him up with me to the point at
which things now stand. Falmouth, in Cornwall, has been
made a warehousing port for all goods, with the single
exception of silks. Southampton, about midway from the
Land's End to the Straits of Dover, is largely privileged.
Manchester has recently been made, by act of Parliament,
a warehousing town for consumption only. It is an inland
place, as we all know, and therefore not fit for warehousing
for exportation. I find in the list of warehousing ports
twelve privileged for " all goods," with certain specified ex-
ceptions. In short, the system, as to ports, has been and is
in a constant course of extension.

Let us now see, sir, what goods may be warehoused. On
this point I regret to be at variance with the Senator from
Connecticut. In looking into the British statutes, I find


the number of absolute prohibitions extremely small. They
are as follows, and may be seen by reference to S and i
William IV. c. 52 : —

1. Goods prohibited on account of the package in which
they are contained, or the tonnage of the vessels in which
they are laden ; as cigars in packages of less than one
hundred pounds, or in vessels of less than one hundred and
twenty tons burden.

2. Gunpowder, arms, ammunition, or utensils of war.

3. Infected hides, skins, horns, hoofs, or any part of any
cattle or beast.

4. Foreign playing-cards, without the name of the maker,

5. Counterfeit coins or tokens.

6. Books first composed, or written, or printed, and pub-
lished in the United Kingdom, and reprinted in any other

7- Copies of prints engraved, etched, drawn, or designed
in the United Kingdom.

8. Copies of casts of sculptures, or models, first made
in the United King^dom.

9. Clocks or watches prohibited to be imported for home

'■ All other articles prohibited for home use may be im-
ported and warehoused for exportation, and in foreign ves-
sels, except from British possessions.

The list of prohibitions has been diminished since the
statute above referred to was enacted. A few years ago
all goods from China were prohibited to be warehoused,
unless imported in British ships. The China trade, since
1834-, has been thrown open to individuals, excepting in
the single article of tea. Now, it would appear that teas
may be warehoused for exportation, though imported m
foreign vessels and brought from any place.^

1 See Customs, Revenue Laws, and Regulations, by Lowe, Sherlock, & Richards,
p. 118.


We differ also as to the extent of the authority conferred
on the commissioners of the treasury. The Senator said
they liad power to designate any article which they con-
siderered as interfering with their domestic manufactures,
and exclude it from the benefit of the warehouse system;
and that the power was frequently exercised. He stated
this on the authority of individuals whom he did not name.
Now, I desire to ask him whether it is not due to this
body, in the discussion of great questions of public policy,
to state facts on grounds more definite, and better entitled
to consideration, than the authority of individuals not even
named ; especially when these facts are matters of legal
regulation, and may be ascertained by a reference to the
statutes in which they are contained 1 Sir, I believe his
informant to be entirely mistaken. The powers of the
commissioners, in respect to the matter in issue, are con-
tained in the following section of the act of 3 and 4
Will. IV. c. 57: —

" It shall be lawful for the commissioners of his Majesty's treasury,
by their warrant, from time to time to appoint the ports in the United
Kingdom which shall be warehousing ports for the purposes of this
act ; and it sliall be lawful for the commissioners of customs, subject
to the authority and direction of the commissioners of his Majesty's
treasury, by their order, from time to time, to appoint in what ware-
houses or places of special security, or of ordinary security, as the case
may require, in such ports, and in what different parts or divisions of
such warehouses or places, and in what manner any goods, and what
sorts of goods, may and may only be warehoused and kept and secured,
without payment of any duty upon the first entry thereof, or for expor-
tation only, in ca«es wherein the !-ame may be prohibited to be imported
for home use ; and also in such order to direct in what cases (if any)
security by bond, in manner hereinafter provided, shall be required in
respect of any warehouse so appointed by them."

Many of the articles to be warehoused are fixed by
law, as will be seen by reference to the schedules annexed
to the statutes regulating the warehouse system. Over
these I infer, though I may be in error, that the commis-
sioners exercise no control. I find some of the ports


selected by statute, — Manchester, for instance. Can the
commissioners, by their order, close any port so selected
against warehousing, or exclude from the warehouses in
such port any article the law allows to be deposited in them 1
I cannot believe it. This would be to exercise a power
beyond the law and subversive of it. But if it exists, I
cannot find that it has been exercised. The true authority
of the commissioners of the treasury, I apprehend, is to
regulate, arrange, and control, within the legal limitations.
They may enlarge the system by designating new ports ;
the commissioners of the customs, under their authority
and direction, may carry out the details of these extended
arrangements ; and all such orders may be revoked. But
it is only necessary to look into the history of the system,
and compare different periods, to see that it has been in
a course of regular extension, both as to ports and mer-
chandise. On this point I will not further enlarge.

It has been stated, on the other side, that foreign man-
ufactures intended for home consumption in Great Britain
cannot be warehoused. I believe this to be a total misap-
prehension. It is admitted on all hands that foreign man-
ufactures may be warehoused for exportation, and yet I
can find no special authority to deposit them for that pur-
pose. If they may be in the warehouses for exportation,
they may be for consumption, unless there is a restriction.

I prove foreign manufactures to be in British warehouses,
1st, by the following regulation : — ■

" It shall be lawful for the commissioners of customs to permit any
stuifs or fabrics of silks, linen, cotton, or wool, or of any mixture of
them with any other material, to be taken out of the wai'ehouse to
be cleaned, refreshed, dyed, stained, or calendered, or to be bleached
or printed, without payment of duty of customs, under security, never-
theless, by bond to their satisfaction, that such goods shall be returned
to the warehouse within the time that they shall appoint." — (3 and 4
Will. IV. c. 57, s. 35.)

This regulation obviously applies to foreign manufactures,


as a reference is made to the payment of " duty of cus-

2. On an application to the lords of the treasury, stating
some objections to the existing mode of ascertaining the
exact number of yards of " foreign woollen cloth ware-
housed in this country," the application was granted, so
far as regards " such bales of woollen cloths as may be
warehoused for exportation only." ^

This order, which bears date in November, 1820, shows
that foreign woollen cloths are warehoused ; that some are
warehoused for exportation only ; and, as a necessary infer-
ence, some for home consumption.

S. Manufactures of silk, being the manufactures of
Europe, may be imported into certain ports and warehoused
generally, viz : London, Dublin, Dover, and Southampton.
The same manufactures may be imported into other ports
for exportation only. I refer to a work on the " Customs,
Revenue Laws, and Regulations," published at Liverpool
by Lowe, Sherlock, & Richards, officers of her Majesty's
customs. The reference will be found at page 115, of the
edition of 1842, under the head of " Notes on Lnporta-
tions," where an order of the commissioners of the treas-
ury is cited. This reference shows that European silks
may be warehoused both for exportation and consumption,
though under certain restrictions as to ports, doubtless for
the purpose of guarding against frauds on the revenue.
No such restrictions are found in respect to cottons, wool-
lens, linens, or iron. The inference is, that these articles
come under the general regulation, and may be freely im-
ported and deposited in store, either for exportation or con-
sumption, at the option of the importer.

4. By referring to Ellis's " Laws and Regulations of the
Customs," edition of 1843, vol. 3, page 299, table F, it
will be seen that " all goods manufactured of silk," &c., are
among the articles allowed to be warehoused. I find the

1 Yearly Journal of Trade, 1845, p. 97.



same articles in the edition of 1842, and I infer that not
only silks, but all other manufactured goods not specially
excluded may be freely deposited either for consumption or

5. The same inference may be drawn from the statistical
returns of the British empire. I give some details for the
year 1836, excepting those relating to silks, which are for
the year 1841 : —



Retained for

Cotton manufactures










Wool manufactures

Silk manufactures of Europe
Silk manufactures of India •




It is not perceived how these returns can be fully made
out without reference to the warehouse operations of the
kingdom. They show that foreign manufactures are not
excluded, but that they actually enter into the consumption
of the country. The duties, indeed, on most articles are
quite low, as may be seen by reference to the British tariff.
If they are imported in small quantities, it is because they
are excluded by the domestic competition in her own fab-

It has been stated, also, that on depositing goods in the
British warehouses the owner is required to declare whether
he deposits them for consumption or exportation, and that
the goods are governed by this declaration. Sir, my inves-
tigations have led me to an entirely different conclusion. I
find no such restriction, except in a special case, which con-
firms my inference as to the general rule. I proceed to
state the result of my examinations. No declaration is
required when" merchandise is warehoused, whether it is for
exportation or home consumption, unless it is merchandise


which cannot be imported for home use. In this case, the
importer must declare that he enters it for exportation, and
the package is marked " exportation," This seems to be
the only case in which a declaration is required on ware-
housing merchandise. The proof is as follows : —

1. The law requires a declaration to be made in this
special case. It requires none in any other case. The
omission in general to require a declaration, and the exac-
tion of one in the special case, are conclusive proof that
none is required except in the special case.

2. The form of the bond, when a bond is required, seems
to prove it. The condition of the bond is for the payment
of the full duties of importation, or for the due exportation
of the merchandise.^

3. It appears (see commissioner's order of lS34f) that
it is the practice in London, " where a part of the original
importation has been exported, and a portion entered for
home consumption," to charge the duty on a proportionate
part, &c. This seems to show that when goods have been
warehoused, a part may be exported and a part entered for
home consumption. Though not conclusive, it raises the
strongest possible presumption that no declaration is required
on warehousing.^

4. No goods which have been warehoused can be taken
out, " except upon due entry" "for exportation, or upon due
entry and payment of the full duties payable thereon for
home use." This shows that the election is made on with-
drawing the goods from warehouse, and not on warehous-
ing them.^

Sir, it is extremely unpleasant, to say nothing of the
labor, to be compelled to go into this extended examination
to show the erroneousness of statements made by gentlemen
whose great respectability is vouched by the Senator from
Connecticut, — statements made, according to their own rep-
resentations, after careful inquiry. I will not assert that

1 Yearli/ Journal of Trade, 1845, p. 259. ^ m^^ p. 251. a m^^^


they are wrong. I do not deal in assertions. I give only
the result of my researches into the regulations of the sys-
tem, citing my authorities and leaving to the better judg-
ment of the Senate to correct my conclusions, if they are
erroneous. I state the result thus : —

1. All goods of all descriptions, which may be legally
imported into the kingdom, may be warehoused, except the
enumerated articles before mentioned.

2. Goods prohibited to be imported for home use may
be imported, even in foreign vessels, and warehoused for

3. All other goods, excepting those comprehended in the
two foregoing classes, may be imported and warehoused,
either for home consumption or exportation, without any
declaration, at the time of the entry, whether they are in-
tended for one or the other.

4. The goods which may be so warehoused without a
declaration include foreign manufactures.

Such I understand to be the British warehouse system.
I have stated the facts above presented on no authority of
individuals. I do not regard such testimony as legitimate
in the decision of questions of legal enactment or regulation.
I have sought for my authority in the laws and statistics
of the British empire. If I have misunderstood them, it
has been from putting an erroneous construction on the
data from which my conclusions are drawn, — data of the
highest authenticity.^

The history of the warehouse system of Great Britain
affords an instructive lesson of the power of prejudice, kept
alive by the misrepresentations of interested classes, to defeat
and delay the adoption of social improvements and reforms.
In 1733, Sir Robert Walpole, a minister of great energy
and intellectual power, undertook to introduce the system in

1 These conclusions were drawn from year 1815 ; but no material alterations

the statute of the 3 and 4 William IV. were made in them, — nothing to rcn-

It appears that the laws in relation to der necessary any modification of the

warehousing were consolidated in the views herein contained.


London on a very limited scale, and I believe in respect to
a single article of importation, — tobacco. He was met by
the furious opposition of the moneyed capitalists of England,
who monopolized that branch of trade through tiieir ability
to command the means of paying the duties on the entry.
They inflamed the populace by the grossest misrepresenta-
tions ; the Parliament House was surrounded by mobs, the
life of the minister was threatened, and he was compelled to
submit to the humiliation of rising on the floor of Parlia-
ment and moving such a postponement as was equivalent to
a defeat of the measure. It is curious to look back into the
history of that period and see with what violence the scheme
was denounced, and what baneful effiects were predicted as
certain to flow from it. I will read to the Senate a few ex-
tracts from Smollett's continuation of " Hume's History of
England," to show to what extent the unscrupulousness of
self-interest can go, and how successful it may be in carrying
popular prejudice along with it. It was contended that it
would be —

" Destructive to trade, and dangerous to the liberties of the sub-
ject ; " " that it would produce an additional swarm of excise officers
and warehouse-keepers, appointed and paid by the treasury, so as to
multiply the dependents on the Crown, and enable it still further to
influence the freedom of elections ; that the traders would become
slaves to excisemen and warehouse-keepers, as they would be debarred
all access to their commodities, except at certain hours, when attended
by those officei-s ; that the merchant, for eveiy quantity of tobacco he
should sell, would be obliged to make a journey, or send a messenger
to the office for a permit, which could not be obtained without trouble,
expense, and delay ; and that, should a law be enacted in consec[uence
of this motion, it would, in all probability, be, some time or other, used
as a precedent for introducing excise laws into every branch of the
revenue; in which case the liberty of Great Britain would be no
more."' — (Vol. V." p. 647.)

These representations prevailed, and the historian adds : —

" The miscarriage of the bill was celebrated with public rejoicings in
London and Westminster ; and the minister was burned in effigy by
the populace."


Such was the fate of this measure in 1733 ; and it was
not until 1 803 — seventy years afterwards — that a suc-
cessful effort was made to establish it. It has now become
the most important branch of the revenue system of Great
Britain, facilitating and extending vastly the operations of
her commerce. It has made her mercantile interest the
most prosperous in the world ; and yet it was through the
blind and mistaken opposition of the merchants that its
adoption was so long delayed.

I repeat, the history of this measure affords an instructive
lesson. It is thus that interested classes — or, what is prac-
tically the same, classes fancying themselves interested — are
sure to be found arrayed against the introduction of salutary
reforms ; successfully for a time, but overborne at last by
the power of truth ; never listening to reason and argument,
always waiting to be vanquished ; planting themselves before
the car of improvement until they are in danger of being
run over and crushed, and then hanging on behind in impo-
tent attempts to stay its progress.

I now proceed to examine some objections raised by the
Senator to the general policy of the measure. I understood
him to say that the system of warehousing proposed by the
bill would be maintained at the expense of the American
importer, and for the benefit of the foreign importer or his
consignee. I do not undertake to give his precise language.
I state the proposition in general terms. In other words, it
is contended that the privilege of storing goods in our sea-
ports for domestic consumption or exportation, at the option
of the importer, will have the effect of accumulating in
those ports immense masses of foreign merchandise, which
will be thrown into the market to the great injury of the
domestic producer. But it seems to me that there is a
ready and satisfactory answer to the objection. Whether
goods are stored in the countries where they are produced,
or in our own cities, is of no consequence so far as the ques-
tion of competition with our domestic products is concerned,


unless it can be shown that in the latter case (storing- in our
own cities) they will be brought into the domestic Uiarket at
a cost materially less. This, it is believed, cannot be readily
shown. Whether stored at home or abroad, the expense
of brineinof merchandise into the domestic market must be
nearly the same. In either case, it has the same processes
to perform. It must be transported from the factories or
workshops where it is produced to the sea; it must be
shipped, carried across the ocean, brought into our ports,
and, before it can enter into the domestic market to be sold,
the impost or duty must be paid. The charges and exac-
tions are the same in both cases. If it is placed in store
here and allowed to remain for a limited period without pay-
ing duty, it is in no better condition, so far as cost is con-
cerned, than it would have been if it had been kept in store
in the country where it was produced, unless storage here is
cheaper, and this is questionable. Whether it will come
into the domestic market at all depends on its cost, and
the influence of cost on the demand for consumption. As
has been seen, the cost will be the same whether it is stored
abroad and kept there until it is required for exportation, or
whether it is stored here until it is absorbed by the demand
for home use. It is undoubtedly true that the proposed
remission of the interest now exacted on the duties from
the date of the entry until the goods go into the importer's
possession will save to the importer or owner the amount
of the interest ; and I believe it to be difficult to show that
there will be any other difference in cost between goods on
which the duties are paid on the entry and those which are
stored for a limited period without exacting the payment of
the duties until they enter into the consumption of the coun-
try. There may be, however, another difference, though
inconsiderable, if, as I suppose, the privilege of storing-
goods shall have the effect of enlarging the circle of compe-
tition in the business of importation ; for, to the extent that
the regular dealers purchase abroad, they will save the



cliarges on foreign agencies here. To the present exaction
of interest on the duties, I am totally opposed. It is but
a means of adding indirectly to the amount of the duties ;
and I believe it ought, on every just principle, to be abol-
ished, without regard to any plan of storing goods. Still,
though I consider the exaction wrong in principle, I do not
admit that it adds so materially to the cost of imported mer-
chandise as to give any appreciable advantage to domestic
products of a like character in the home market. Nor have
I been able to satisfy myself that the measure proposed by
the bill under consideration would add much to the public
revenue. The Secretary of the Treasury estimates the in-
crease of revenue at one million dollars ; and his opinion
is entitled to great respect. From his official position, he
has within his reach means of information not always acces-
sible to others. It strikes me, however, as a large estimate.
At least it is conjectural. But if it shall prove to be accurate,
it does not follow that the imported merchandise, on which
this increased revenue is charged, will be altogether of those
descriptions which come into competition with our own man-
ufactures ; and it will, at all events, find a market for an
equal amount of our own products. Merchandise will be
stored, unquestionably, in very large quantities, for exporta-
tion. So far as the importation and reexportation of this
merchandise extends the carrying trade, it will aid the treas-

Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 13 of 40)