John A. (John Adams) Dix.

Speeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) online

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and when they do occur, the tendency of importation is de-
cidedly beneficial. Its influence is to check prices when
they reach the high point of extravagance.

Senators have expressed the apprehension that, if this bill
passes, we shall, under the construction they give to it, be
deluged with wheat from the Baltic. Let us see how much
ground there is for this apprehension. On the 1st of Feb-
ruary, wheat will pay but one shilling sterling a quarter in
Great Britain, — about three cents a bushel. She imports
from us: we ex])ort to her. The price of wheat there must,
therefore, always be as much higher than the price here,
when she has a deficiency and we a surplus, as the cost of
carrying wheat to her from the United States ; and this cost,
I am told, is about twenty cents the bushel. When it is a
dollar here, it must be $1.20 there. Now, let us see what
a vessel laden with wheat from the Baltic would be likely to
do in such a case. She must, to come here, sail directly by
the ports of Great Britain, where she can get a dollar and
twentv cents a bushel, deducting the three cents duty which
she must pay. She gets, then, a dollar and seventeen cents.
Suppose she continues her voyage to the United States, how
will the account stand'? Admitting, for the sake of the argu-


ment, that the wheat she hrings will come in free of duty
under our reciprocity treaties, she will get one dollar a
bushel ; but from this amount she must deduct twenty cents
for cost of transportation from Great Britain here. She
will get eighty cents here instead of one dollar and seventeen
cents in England, — thirty-seven cents a bushel less ; and this,
on a cargo of several thousand bushels, will amount to no
inconsiderable sum. The Northern Germans have the repu-
tation of being rather heavy, but they arg, so far as I have
had the opportunity of observing them, the Yankees of the
Continent in bargaining ; and I think they will be found
altogether too astute to engage in any such enterprises as
honorable Senators apprehend. They will carry on a severe
competition with us in supplying England with wheat ; but
they are just as unlikely to compete with us in our markets
as we are to compete with Newcastle in supplying London
with coal.

Under the construction, therefore, which Senators give to
the bill, I am satisfied its operation would be as beneficial to
us as to the states with which we have reciprocity treaties.
But I contend that these treaties will not be affected by this
arrangement. If I am mistaken, the privileges we confer
will also be acquired by us, and we cannot, in any event, be

Let me now turn to considerations which directly concern
the commercial intercourse of Canada and the United States.

In order to understand the subject in all its bearings, it
will be necessary to see what Canada is, and what she has
done for us in the removal of restrictions upon our com-
merce with her.

The population of Canada (I use a general term, as the
two provinces are now united) is 1^5'^'^!^ 5*^ souls, or, in
round numbers, a million and a half. With less variety and
fertility of soil than the United States, a more rigorous cli-
mate, and with colonial restrictions calculated, under the
most favorable view of the subject, to impede the develop-


ment of her resources, to shackle the operations of industry,
and to abridge the freedom of individual enterprise, which
is always the most powerful stimulus to exertion, it is not
to be expected that her progress will keep pace with our own
in population or in social and physical improvement. The
policy of Great Britain has, within a few years, undergone
some important changes, favorable to her in a commercial
and political view. Canada, it is true, has lost some exclu-
sive privileges by a relaxation of the colonial system of the
mother-country, but the latter has extended to her some new
facilities, by surrendering the control of the custom-house,
so far as respects the imposition of duties ; and she has also
conceded the principle of the responsibility of ministers
which exists at home, so that when the Governor is not sus-
tained in his policy by the Provincial Parliament, he is
bound to change his advisers, or, in other words, his Execu-
tive Council, which may be considered as the ministry of the
colony. The Canadian government is thus assimilated to
that of Great Britain in the essential feature of its responsi-
bility to the popular voice, — a concession which has been
gained after a long and patient struggle on the part of a few
able and patriotic men in Canada.

Almost contemporaneous with this fundamental change in
the political administration of the affairs of Canada was an-
other of equal importance in respect to her commercial inde-
pendence. In 1846, an act of Parliament was passed giv-
ing the legislative authority of the British colonies the right
to regulate their own duties of customs in respect to British
as well as foreign products. At that time there were no
duties imposed by British acts on British goods imported
into Canada, although there were duties imposed by such
acts on foreign ffoods : but there were acts of the Canadian
legislature, made for revenue, imposing additional or cumu-
lative duties on foreign goods, and a duty of five per cent,
on British goods. There was also an act of Parliament
declaring that no goods should, " upon importation into any


of the British possessions in America, be deemed to be of
the growth, production, or manufacture of the United King-
dom, unless imported from the United Kingdom."

The effect of this condition of the law was to prevent the
importation of British goods into Canada through the United
States, and to impose on the productions of the United
States and other countries duties which were protective as
to those of Great Britain and Canada.

As early as 184'3 the duty on the importation of wheat
and flour, of the growth of the United States, going through
Canada to the United Kingdom, was reduced to three shil-
lings provincial duty, the quarter of eight bushels, and one
shilling British duty, without reference to the sliding-scale,
by which the importation of breadstuffs from other countries
was regulated. The consequence was, a large importation
of wheat and flour from the United States into England
through Canada.

The corn-laws being repealed, Canada loses this advantage,
— the adv^antage of being a carrier for us, — and it is now
as beneficial to export Canadian wheat to England through
the United States (the expense being equal) as direct from
Canada. In other words, the wheat of Canada and the
United States has equal advantages in the British market.

In 184^7, the Parliament of Canada, acting under the
authority granted by the imperial government, repealed the
differential duties, and the new table or tariff of duties then
enacted applies equally to goods of all kinds, whether com-
ino- from Enerland or the United States. We are, in this re-
spect, placed on the footing of the mother-country.

This equality was effected by a double operation of law :
first, by reducing the rate of duty on goods of the United
States ; and, secondly, by increasing the rate on British
goods, thus bringing both to the same standard or scale.
There can be no better evidence of the liberality of the Ca-
nadians, and of their earnest desire to put their commercial
intercourse with us on the most friendly footing.


The consequence of this change of the law has been to
create a considerable importation of British and foreign
goods into Canada through the United States, and also to
cause a large importation of the productions of the United
States into Canada for consumption. The cotton fabrics of
Lowell are received on the same terms as those of Manches-
ter. The same remark is true of many other products of
our industry, of which we carry large quantities into Canada
for consumption. The value of our productions annually
introduced into Canada, under these new provisions of law,
is stated, on high authority, to amount to more than two
millions of dollars. It is natural that the Canadians should
desire to send their produce to New York and Boston, to
meet the trade which has thus been opened to us, — that
they, having put this trade upon the most liberal footing in
respect to us, should wish to export, on equal terms, such
means of payment as they possess in the products of their
own labor.

Will the terms of exchange — perfect equality — pro-
posed by the bill be disadvantageous to us 1 I propose to
consider this question somewhat in detail, although it would
seem but fair that the liberality which has been manifested
by Canada toward us — a liberality by which we have
greatly profited, a liberality voluntarily extended to us, with-
out equivalent — should be reciprocated, without stopping
to weigh, with over - scrupulous exactness, the precise bal-
ance of advantages and benefits.

In the first place, I believe it will be apparent, by look-
ing at the list of enumerated articles which are proposed to
be mutually received free of duty, that ashes, flour, and lum-
ber are the only ones ever likely to be brought into the
markets of the United States in considerable quantities.
Ashes we want, and at the cheapest price. In respect to
lumber, there is nothing to be apprehended. We shall un-
questionably receive some lumber in New York, but I be-
lieve our timber districts do not fear the competition. Be-


sides, it will come to us cliiefly in the form of saw-logs for
manufacture. New York is almost the only State this
competition can affect ; and if there is any risk, we are will-
ing to take it, in consideration of the general advantage and
convenience the measure promises to confer. It was appre-
hended by our friends in Maine, that their interests might
be injuriously affected in this respect. But the bill is
so shaped as to avoid all interference with them. It ap-
plies only to the direct trade with Canada. Articles com-
ing through New Brunswick or the other British provinces
will continue on the old footing. The lumber interest in
Maine, therefore, will not be touched by the bill ; and in all
other respects that State -will in all probability be as nmch
benefited by it as any other. When the railway between
Portland and Montreal is completed, the free commerce
secured by the bill must be of the greatest advantage.

Flour, in fact, is the only Canadian product likely to come
into competition with our own. Of all the others — ani-
mals, hides, cheese, meats, &c. — we shall export more
largely into Canada than she will export into the United
States. The same remark is applicable to corn, and indeed
to most if not all the breadstuffs, except wheat.

It is possible that in certain years — years of scanty
production in the United States, provided they are years of
abundance in Canada — we may receive some wheat from
her. But I do not believe that the amount will even in
those years (which are very unlikely to occur) be sufficient
to influence prices in the United States in a perceptible de-
gree. If the importation, however, shall in such extraordi-
nary cases prevent the price of grain from becoming extrava-
gantly high, it will be a public benefit, by relieving the poor
from the necessity of eating dear bread. In years of ordi-
nary abundance I do not believe prices in the United States
will be at all affected by the importation of wheat from Canada.
The production of wheat in the United States yields a sur-
plus. Whenever prices abroad are sufficient to sustain ex-


portation, our wheat finds its way to foreign markets ; and
in these cases it is the price in those markets which fixes
the price at home. I believe it may be stated as a principle
that the price of a product, which is exported in any con-
siderable quantity, is regulated in the markets of the
exporting country by the price in the markets of the coun-
try to which the export is made. Our own experience
proves the truth of this proposition. In 184<7, when we
were exporting breadstuff's, the price of flour in New York,
the chief port of exportation, rose and fell with the fluc-
tuations of price in the British markets with as much certain-
ty as the mercurial column in the thermometer rises and
falls with the variations of external temperature. This fact
should relieve us from all apjjrehension as to the influence of
this bill on competition with Canada in the production of
wheat. She may send her flour to foreign markets now,
either by the St. Lawrence, or through the United States, in
bond, under the act of 1846, allowing a drawback of duties
in certain cases. It euters into competition with ours in
those markets now. The bill gives no new facility or advan-
tage in this respect, except to relieve her from custom-house
formalities. I hold, then, that the wheat of Canada can only
have an influence on the price in the United States in very
extraordinary years, not likely to occur, and in years of
exportation, by competition with us in the foreign market,
and that, in the latter respect, this influence is as sensibly felt
now as it would be under the provisions of this bill. These
considerations become the more significant, if it be true, as
I suppose, that wheat is henceforth to be one of our regular

What, then, are the advantages to be expected from the
proposed free interchange of products'? The first is, to
relieve the inhabitants of both countries, and especially those
on the frontier, from the inconvenience of the custom-house
in respect to necessaries of common production and daily
use. The next is, to enable the Canadians to export their


produce through the United States to foreign markets with-
out paying duty at the frontier, and with a deduction of two
and a half per cent, on the drawback at the place of expor-
tation. The custom-house formalities seem to have been a
great obstacle to the use of our canals and internal channels
of communication by the Canadians. From December 1,
184-6, to July 1, 184<7, we received from all the British
North American Provinces 9^9 bushels of grain of all kinds,
and no flour, while we sent them more than two millions of
bushels of wheat during the year. During the previous five
months we received from all the rest of the world 309 bushels
of wheat and 54 cwt. of flour, — equal to 27 barrels. The
last year the Canadians have used our canals more exten-
sively. The returns are not yet printed, but I understand
that at least 7^,000 barrels of flour have been exported
through the United States. Whether the experiment will
succeed remains to be seen.

Mr. Clarke. Will the Senator from New York state where he
obtained this information ?

I have ascertained the fact from some statistical state-
ments published in a newspaper at Oswego, containing the
transactions at the collector's office. This information is
given in an official form in the annual report on commerce
and navigation received yesterday ; but I have not been able
to examine it. From the source I have before referred to,
I learn that 50,000 barrels of flour were received at Os-
wego. At Buffalo the amount was probably less.

The bill will undoubtedly lead to a free interchange of
products among the frontier inhabitants. If, in the course
of these exchanges, we receive any Canada wheat for con-
sumption, it must be in the few individual cases in which the
sellers of our products to the Canadians are able to con-
sume it more freely. To a very limited extent it niay pos-
sibly reach a new class of consumers, who will become ex-
porters on a small scale, under this bill. For instance, one
of our frontier inhabitants who, under the proposed arrange-


ment, can carry half a dozen sheep into Canada without
paying tlie duty of forty cents a head now exacted hy the
Canadian tariff, and bring hack as many bushels of wheat
without paying the twenty per cent, duty imposed by our
tariff, will save between three and four dollars in an exchange
of products of the value of twelve or thirteen dollars, —
a monstrous tax! — and he may thus be enabled to eat
wheat bread for a while, instead of living exclusively on
the coarser breadstuffs. This must be the only effect in
ordinary years, when we produce more wheat than we re-
quire for our own consumption. We can take none from
other countries, unless we consume it more freely ; and our
increased consumption under this bill must not only be ex-
tremely limited, but of such a nature as not to interfere with
our own production. But these are very small matters,
hardly worthy to be taken into the account in an estimate
of large transactions.

Let me now test the truth of my position — that we
have nothing to fear from competition with Canada in
wheat-growing — by a resort to arithmetical demonstrations.
The population of Canada is about half the population of
New York. That part of the province which was once
politically known as Upper Canada, and which, for distinc-
tion, I shall still call so, is the wheat-growing region. The
Lower portion does not produce enough for its own consump-
tion. It always draws largely upon the Upper. The least
failure of the crops in the Lower would be sure to absorb
the whole surplus of the Upper. If there were any just
ground of apprehension in respect to our wheat-growing dis-
tricts, looking to general considerations, it would be removed
by the custom-house statistics of Canada for the year
1847, — the great year of exportation for American bread-
stuffs, by reason of the famine in Europe. I take for illus-
tration the most unfavorable year for my purpose, — the
year in which, from unusual causes, the export of wheat by
Canada was greatest. I do so that those from whom I dif-


fer may have every advantage they can ask in the argument.
The quantity of flour imported in that year into Canada
M'as about 84,000 barrels, and tlie quantity exported about
676,000 ; the quantity of wheat imported 562,000 bushels,
and tbe quantity exported 668,000 bushels. The imports,
of course, were from the United States. The excess of
exports over imports was 59'2,000 barrels of flour, and
106,000 bushels of wheat. This entire export was probably
to Great Britain, her American islands, and her Atlantic
provinces, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. Notwithstand-
ing this export of flour from Canada, New^ Brunswick re-
ceived from us, in the same year, over 100,000 barrels
of flour, and Nova Scotia nearly as much more.

The result of my inquiries is, that in ordinary years the
upper portion of Canada produces a surplus of about 2,000,-
000 bushels of wheat, and that a considerable part of this
surplus is consumed by the lower portion, including Quebec
and Montreal, and the demands for their shipping. In 1847
Canada produced 4,o60,967 bushels of wheat, and imported
982,468 bushels, (including flour, and estimating one barrel
of flour to be equal to five bushels of wheat,) making an
aggregate of 5,543,435 bushels produced and imported. In
the same year she exported 4,047,366 bushels, making a
balance of 1,496,069 bushels consumed at home. This is less
than a bushel for each inhabitant, — probably not more than
half her consumption in ordinary years. But the price of
wheat being extravagantly high, the consumption must have
been greatly diminished, for the purpose of exportation, by
resorting to the coarser grains for domestic use. The statis-
tical tables of earlier years prove the export of 1847 to have
been extraordinarily large. From 1838 to 1843 the annual
export varied from 50,000 to 350,000 barrels ; but in this last
amount was included a large import from the United States.
It is not probable that her export is essentially different
when there are no unusual causes to stimulate exportation.
Taking one year with another, and deducting from the entire


export of wheat from Canada an amount equal to that which
we send to her, to Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, and
I doubt whether there will be much of a balance left. In
1847, which was an extraordinary year, while Canada only
exported 3,064,898 bushels of w^ieat over her imports, we
carried into the British North American Provinces alone, in
the same year, 2,279,068 bushels. While Canada produces
less than three bushels of wheat for each inhabitant, we pro-
duce more than five and a half bushels for each inhabitant ;
while she consumed in 184<7 less than one bushel of wheat
for each inhabitant, we consumed nearly four bushels and
a half for each inhabitant, notwithstanding the temptation of
high prices to export and to consume cheaper breadstuff's ;
while her entire product of wheat in 1847 ^^'^s four mill-
ions and a half of bushels, ours was over one hundred
and fourteen millions of bushels.

Against an export of less than six hundred thousand
barrels of flour from Canada in 1847, (her excess over
imports,) we exported nearly four and a half millions of
barrels; and against an export of one hundred thousand
bushels of wheat from Canada, (excess over imports,) we
exported nearly four millions four hundred thousand bushels.
In the same year we exported twenty million bushels of
Indian corn and meal, while she exported none. The idea
that a million and a half of people, about half the population
of New York, with a soil far less favorable to the growth
of wheat than our own, can successfully compete with us
either in the foreign or the domestic market, and injuriously
affect production with us, with twenty millions of people,
seems to me a very idle apprehension. It has been stated,
on high authority, that the entire trade of the British North
American colonies, with three millions of people, does not
equal that of Connecticut, with only three hundred thousand
inhabitants. The more numerous, active, and enterprising
must always have the advantage in exchanging on equal
terms. The very fact that we send into New Brunswick


every year at least one. hundred thousand barrels of flour,
and probably as large an amount into Nova Scotia, seems
to indicate that we mig-ht enter into successful competition
with Upper in supplying Lower Canada, if all duties were
to be removed. At least our surpluses will, to some extent,
meet there.

Looking to the wheat culture alone, therefore, I should
have no fears. But if we consider the subject in connection
with the export of cattle, corn, salted meats, and other
articles, there can be no reasonable ground to apprehend
that we shall be losers. We must be gainers. Large
quantities of cattle and corn are now exported to Canada,
with a specific duty, equal to about twenty per cent, against
them. We sent into Canada in 1844^ thirteen thousand bar-
rels of pork, and in 184<7 about the same quantity, with a
specific duty of one dollar and twenty cents the cwt. against
us. The removal of these duties cannot but have a most
decided influence in increasing the tratfic of the northwestern
States with Canada.

It has been suggested that the proposed measure, by re-
moving the duties on the enumerated products, will destroy
the protection which those duties secure to our agricultural
industry. The answer to this suggestion is, that the pro-
posed arrangement is founded upon a mutual abolition of
duties, and that the protection extended to like articles of
the production of Canada will also be removed. There
can be no necessity of protecting our products against
Canada, when she ceases to protect her products against us.
But the measure will, in truth, be of infinite advantage to
our agriculture. Canada sends few products to us ; we
send many to her. We produce corn, which she needs, and
which she cannot raise in sufficient quantity for her own con-
sumption. Her winters are longer than ours ; and, as the
expense of keeping cattle from autumn to spring is greater, she
will always rely on us for her supplies, both for the slaughter-
house and for farming purposes. There is now a duty of


^4.40 a head on cows, and seven dollars a head on oxen,
on importation into Canada. The removal of these duties
will be a great advantage to us. In short, under all its
aspects, this measure will, on examination, be admitted to be
of infinite benefit to our agriculture. It will, in most cases,

Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 35 of 40)