John A. (John Adams) Dix.

Speeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) online

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remove duties on our products, which operate as a direct
discouragement to their exportation, while the removal of
the duties on the like articles of the production of Canada
cannot affect us, as those duties are chiefly on products
which will not come into competition with ours, and are
therefore not protective. In a word, I can fancy no meas-
ure more likely to be beneficial to our agriculture than this.
The highest species of protection to industry is that which
opens new markets for its products. In this point of view
this measure is eminently protective ; it is just, legitimate,
effective protection ; and if gentlemen desire (as I have no
doubt they do) to advance the agricultural interests of the
country, they ought to sustain it.

Let me now state a few further statistical facts to the Sen-
ate, for the purpose of showing how little influence any in-
creased interchange of products with Canada under this
bill is likely to have on our aggregate exchanges with
foreign countries.

The duties on merchandise collected in all the inland
frontier districts, commencing at Burlington, on Lake Cham-
plain, and terminating at Chicago, on Lake Michigan, are
as follows: For 184-5, $57,818.55; for 1846, $66,8*28.80;
for 184-7, $66,019.80; — making an average of $63,555.71
per annum for the three years.

Estimating the rate of duty at 33^ per cent., the whole
value of the articles imported from Canada into the United
States, and paying duty at the custom-houses, averages
$190,667.13 per annum. A portion of the duties was, in
all probability, refunded in 184-7, under the law allowing a
drawback on reexportation of the articles on which the
duties were paid. I learn that the amount of goods en-


tered at Buffalo and Oswego for the benefit of drawback
was greatly increased during the last year, as the returns,
when we receive them, will undoubtedly show ; but the amount
refunded will be proportionably increased, so that the treas-
ury will not be affected by the augmented collections from
this cause.

Our entire imports from the British North American
colonies in 184'5 were of the value of about two millions of
dollars. Of this amount more than nine hundred thousand
dollars consisted of gold and silver, and more than eleven
hundred thousand, including specie, were free of duty. The
remaining nine hundred thousand dollars are to be divided
between Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick; and
from the nature of the articles it is manifest that the quantity
received from Canada was but a small portion of the amount.
For instance, fish constituted nearly four hundred thousand
dollars of the nine hundred thousand ; and this came from the
Atlantic provinces. The year 184-7 gives nearly the same
aggregate result. Our entire imports from all the British
North American colonies constitute a very inconsiderable
part of oUr commercial transactions with foreign states ;
and no change we can make in our intercourse with Canada
can have any material influence upon them.

Notwithstanding this small import from the British North
American colonies, our commercial intercourse with them,
including Canada, is as beneficial for its extent as that with
any portion of the world. We sent into them, in 184-7, prod-
ucts of the value of nearly eight millions of dollars, —
about five million eight hundred thousand domestic, and
over two millions foreign. The foreign exports were proba-
bly, to a great extent, sent through the United States on
foreign account. Our imports directly from those colonies,
the same year, were of the value of about two millions and
a quarter. The remaining five millions and a half (deduct-
ing some hundred thousand on foreign account) must have
been paid by bills on England. A large portion of our



exports into Canada is probably paid for in this way. She
sends her lumber and flour to England, and with the pro-
ceeds pays us the excess of her imports from us over her
exports to us.

But it is only a small portion even of these exchanges
which this bill can affect. It is only that portion which em-
braces the enumerated articles. Now, I have ascertained
that in 184^7 vve did not import of those articles from all
the British North American colonies an amount equal in
value to one hundred thousand dollars. From Canada it
must have been quite inconsiderable. The intercourse this
bill is destined to affect is, therefore, not only limited in its
extent, but it is essentially local in its character. No appre-
hension is expressed in any quarter as to its practical opera-
tion, except as respects competition in the production of
wheat. I trust I have shown that even this apprehension is
without foundation. But if it were not so, the States on
the frontier are those most likely to feel the influence of the
competition. Ohio is the largest wheat-growing State in
the Union. She produces a little less than seventeen mill-
ions of bushels, — nearly four times as much as Canada.
Next in order is New York, with a product of fourteen
millions and a half of bushels, — more than three times as
much as Canada. Michigan, in ISV/, with a population
not one fourth of that of Canada, produced nearly twice as
many bushels of wheat. These are the States which should
object to the free exchange proposod by the bill, if objection
could reasonably be made in any quarter ; and yet they are
the very States in which the measure is most earnestly
desired. It is, in truth, a measure which exclusively con-
cerns the inhabitants of the frontier ; and I earnestly hope
Senators representing States which are far removed from it,
and which cannot be affected by the proposed measure, will
consent that the wishes of the parties immediately inter-
ested shall furnish the rule of their intercourse with each


I have endeavored to show, Mr. President, that the Cana-
dian government has acted with great HberaHty towards us ;
and that by reciprocally removing the duties on the agri-
cultural productions of both countries, enumerated in this
bill, we do no injury to any interest, but create a mutual

I was very much surprised to hear the Senator from
Maryland ^ say that there was no reciprocity in the proposed
arrangement ; that " the bill is delusive. If it pass, not a
dollar's worth of any of these products will be exported
from the United States to Canada." The Senator could
not have examined this subject with his accustomed care.
Let me convince him that he has not done so. In 184<7
we exported to Canada 83,983 barrels of flour, and 562,538
bushels of wheat, with a duty of about seven and a half
cents a bushel on the importation ; we also sent her 64,378
bushels of other grains.

Mr. Pearce. I will thank the Senator to state whence he derives
his information. I do not find it in the j^ublic documents.

I have obtained the information from the custom-house
statistics of Canada, to which I have referred, furnished at
my request by the officers of the Canadian government.

We also sent into Canada 94-3,280 pounds of tallow,
with a duty of one per cent, (the very large export prob-
ably resulting from the very low duty) ; 28,000 pounds of
butter, with a duty of $1.50 per cwt.; 1458 oxen, with a
duty of $7 a head; 14,701 bushels of potatoes, with a duty
of ten per cent.; 49,099 bushels of apples, with a duty of
ten cents per bushel ; 16,809 barrels of salted meats, chiefly
pork, with a duty of $1.20 the cwt.

The duty on sheep is nearly prohibitory. It is, at ordi-
nary prices, forty per cent. Nearly the same may be said
of the duty on most other animals. Now, I do not hesitate
to say, that the export of most of the enumerated products

^ Mr. Pearce.


may be very greatly increased by the removal of the duties
upon them ; and I am satisfied that the Senator from Mary-
land will find, on a more careful examination of the subject,
that he has entirely misapprehended the operation of the bill
upon the agricultural interest of the country.

And now I wish to notice, in the briefest manner, the
amendment proposed by the Senator from Vermont.^ The
effect of the amendment, if adopted, must be to defeat the
measure. It cannot be accepted by Canada. The articles
the amendment proposes to make reciprocally free are hats,
boots, shoes, and other manufactures of leather ; cotton and
woollen fabrics. These are all manufactured articles. The
bill contemplates a free exchange of certain agricultural prod-
ucts. The amendment changes the whole character of the
bill. It extends to a class of imports on which Canada must
rely for revenue. It would be just as unreasonable in her
to ask us to receive her furs free of duty.

But the duties on these articles, though revenue duties,
are exceedingly moderate. They come within the range of
those proposed by General Hamilton in his celebrated re-
port on manufactures, made shortly after the organization
of the Federal government. The duty on hats is 7^ P^r
cent. ; on boots, shoes, and manufactures of leather of all
kinds, an average duty, I think, not exceeding 10 per cent. ;
and on manufactures of cotton and wool, 7| per cent. These
duties are not only moderate, but low ; and without refer-
ence to the departure of the amendment from the general
policy of the bill, it is unreasonable to ask their abolition.

Besides, the same duties are imposed on like products of
British manufacture. The mother-country has no advantage
over us in this respect in Canada, and we ought not to ask
an advantage over her.

It is quite manifest that the amendment must defeat the
bill; and I entreat Senators not to give it their support.
If the bill is not acceptable to them, I trust they will, at

1 Mr. Phelps.


least, consent to manifest their opposition to it by a direct

I now come to an objection to the bill which I consider it
proper to notice, though I regret to be muler the necessity
of making any reference to it. The Senator from Virginia^
terms this bill a measure " of quasi annexation, because the
advantages which are urged as arising from it seem to relate
to some such project in the future." Mr. President, if this
measure had any such object, and there were no other ground
of objection, we might reasonably count upon the support
of the Senator from Virginia. It is but four years since
every Democratic vote in this body from the Northern, North-
eastern, and Northwestern States was cast for the annexation
of Texas. If Canada should desire to unite herself to us,
are we not to expect the same unanimity among our Dem-
ocratic friends in another quarter I or are we to understand
that annexation is only to be countenanced when it can be
made at one extremity of the Union, and to be opposed at
the other '? — that even freedom of intercourse is to be dis-
couraged and repelled, because it may by possibility lead to
such a result in the future ? I hope the intimation of the
Senator from Virginia is not to be so understood. If it is,
it is well that we know now in what manner our cooperation
in the annexation of Texas and the acquisition of Florida is
likely to be reciprocated.

Ml*. Hunter. The gentleman from New York is mistaken if he
supposes I urged this view of the bill as an objection to it. I stated
the fact without comment on it, or intimating either an approval or
condemnation of it. I said that such must be its purpose, for that the
best arguments urged in its favor seemed to be based upon some such
prospect in the future.

I am aware that the Senator did not comment upon the
intimation he made, though I understood him to make it by
way of objection to the bill. But I am happy that he does
not wish it to be so received. While on this subject, I

1 Mr. Hunter.


desire to say, that, so far as I am concerned, so far as con-
cerns those with whom this measure originated, no such
design was even imagined until it was suggested by those
to whom it seems to be unacceptable. I believe (though
I am not sure) this proposition came originally from Can-
ada, — from the liberal party in Canada, — though it was
cordially acquiesced in on our side by those who supposed
they had a direct interest in it. Among the first by whom
it was publicly suggested, if I remember right, was the
Secretary of the Treasury. He has twice recommended
it ; and undoubtedly because he regarded it as a commercial
arrangement which would be beneficial to both parties.

I know personally many of the prominent men in Canada.
I know they are strongly opposed to a separation from the
mother-country. They desire union with England first,
independence next, annexation to the United States last of
all. They desire a free exchange of products with us, be-
cause they believe the existing restrictions upon our commerce
are prejudicial to both countries ; and they desire nothing
more. What the feeling is with the great body of the peo-
ple in Canada, I have no means of knowing. That they
desire free intercourse with us, there is no doubt. Beyond
that, I know nothing of their opinions or wishes.

For myself, I have heretofore spoken freely on this sub-
ject. I would neither be forward in courting the annex-
ation of adjacent states, nor backward in acceding to it. I
would neither make overtures nor repel them, without good
cause. I believe we are large enough for all the purposes
of security and strength; but I do not fear further extension,
nor would I decline it when circumstances render it con-
venient to ourselves or others.

Mr. President, this consideration has been urged, and
urged directly, as an objection to commercial freedom be-
tween the United States and Canada. I have recently
heard it from the anti-liberal party in Canada, who are for
new restrictions on our commerce. They are in favor of



existing restrictions, as well as new ones, upon the ground
that free intercourse may lead to a political union between
Canada and the United States. The Board of Trade in
Montreal, in a petition to the Queen, on the 18th December
last, prayed for a renewal of the discriminating duty on
American grain in favor of colonial grain ; and one of the
reasons assigned was, that the recent changes in the commer-
cial relations of Canada had led to " a growing commercial
intercourse with the United States, giving rise to an opinion,
which is daily gaining ground on both sides of the boundary
line, that the interests of the two countries, under the
changed policy of the Imperial government, are germane
to each other, and under that system must sooner or later
be politically interwoven."

Whether this view be just or not, I do not believe the
result is to be defeated in either of the modes proposed, —
by a continuation of existing restrictions, or by the impo-
sition of new ones. I believe the tendency of such measures
will be to hasten and to consummate the very end they are
intended to defeat. Let us see if it be not so. A man at
Champlain, New York, or Swanton, Vermont, wishes to sell
an ox to his neighbor in Canada, living in sight of him, and
take wheat in exchange. On making his entry at the Cana-
dian custom-house, he is taxed seven dollars on the impor-
tation of his ox. He brings back thirty-five bushels of
wheat, at one dollar a bushel, and, on entering them at our
custom-house, he is taxed twenty per cent, ad valorem^
(seven more,) — fourteen dollars tax to the two governments
for the privilege of exchanging his commodity with his
neighbor, separated from him in one case by a narrow sheet
of water, and in the other by an astronomical line. Now,
I venture to assert that these impositions will not long be
submitted to on either side ; and if they are not removed by
the two governments, the inhabitants of both countries will
look to annexation as the only practicable measure of relief.
Sir, a liberal policy is always the most wise, as well as the


most just; and I say again, that the people of the two coun-
tries will not submit to such a system as I have described,
— a system executed by an army of custom-house officers
on each side of the boundary line, placed there to enforce
exactions which absolutely prohibit commercial intercourse,
or to fill their bags of plunder out of the hard earnnigs of
the frontier inhabitants. And I cannot believe that those
who advocate the doctrines of free trade will sustain a state
of things so utterly at variance with their own principles ;
that they will be found acting in unison with the anti-liberal
party in Canada, upholding commercial restrictions, which
do no good, against commercial freedom, which works no
injury ; throwing impediments in the paths of those who are
marked out by the great features of the districts they inhabit
for friendly intercourse, and creating these embarrassments
for the avowed purpose of making them alien to each other.
Notwithstanding the opinion of the Senator from Mary-
land, there is another consideration in favor of this bill, which
I consider of vital importance to us. We have earnestly
desired, since the American Revolution, the free navigation
of the St. Lawrence. In 18(26 it became the subject of
diplomatic correspondence between the two countries. The
discussion exhibits the high value we have attached to this
privilege. Indeed we claimed it as a right ; and it was
asserted as such by Mr. Clay in a letter of great power and
eloquence. The right was not admitted by Great Britain,
and the matter was dropped. But there has been no period
when we would not have been willing to grant an equivalent
for a privilege in which, according to Mr. Clay, nine States
have an interest. Canada is now desirous of granting it
without equivalent. She stands ready to pass a bill opening
the free navigation of the St. Lawrence to our vessels. Her
Parliament is in session. The liberal party, which is now in
power, is about to bring the measure forw^ard ; and I am
happy to say that Lord Elgin, the Governor, — a gentleman
distinguished for an enlightened and liberal statesmanship, —


is in favor of the measure. Its success is certain, if we
do not decline the reciprocity asked for by this bill.

When the Senator from Maryland said that the naviga-
tion of the St. Lawrence was useless to us, he could hardly
have been aware that ship - canals have been constructed
around the falls of Niagara, and other points below, to con-
nect the great lakes with the Atlantic Ocean by way of the
St. Lawrence, and that vessels of three hundred and fifty
tons pass freely through these internal channels of commu-
nication. During the last summer, two of our revenue ves-
sels passed from Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, through the
St. Lawrence, to the Atlantic. When our ships can go to
Quebec by sea and meet vessels from our northwestern
States, there can be no doubt that large quantities of the
products of those States will be carried, in summer, spring,
and autumn, in this direction, by our own vessels, to Europe.
If this bill becomes a law, I have no hesitation in predict-
ing that vessels at no distant day will be laden with wheat
in Chicago, Green Bay, Detroit, and Cleveland, and unlade
in Liverpool. Ship-owners, producers, all will be greatly
benefited by this free commerce, which will have an advan-
tage in avoiding transshipment between the point of embar-
kation and the sea, or the foreign market. If the result
is to affect in any way producers in the Middle States, as
Kentucky in the West, and Maryland and Virginia on the
Atlantic, it will be to relieve them from competition in our
own markets with the wheat-growers of Ohio, Illinois,
Michigan, and Wisconsin ; and I greatly err if gentlemen
from the wheat-growing States do not find themselves acting
in direct contravention of the interests of their constituents
in opposing this measure. In any point of view under
which the subject can be considered, the opening of the St.
Lawrence will be of incalculable benefit. It is, indeed, the
only outlet of the Northwest to tlie sea for vessels of any
magnitude, — the only outlet of this kind they can ever
have; for, with all the facilities for internal communication


New York possesses, a ship-canal through her territory is
opposed by physical obstacles too serious to be overcome.

I believe the adoption of this great measure — the free
navigation of the St. Lawrence — depends on the passage
of this bill. If the reciprocity it provides for is refused, we
cannot expect that Canada will grant us what she considers as
a boon, what we claim as a right, and what all must concede
to be a privilege of inestimable value. On the contrary, if
the liberal course she has pursued is met by an illiberal
spirit in us, I fear she will be compelled, in self-defence, to
resort to her old system of differential duties, and to con-
tinue the restriction on navigation. There is a strong party
in Canada in favor of this course. I have already alluded
to the anti-liberal party. I have quoted their recent petition
to the Queen, in favor of discriminating duties on our prod-
ucts. And, sir, I greatly fear, if this bill is defeated, that
we shall put a weapon into their hands to be wielded to our
serious annoyance and injury. To withhold, therefore, a just
measure of reciprocity mutually advantageous, as I verily be-
lieve, to both parties, would not only be exceedingly narrow
in policy on our part, but, like all selfishness, it would defeat
itself, and result in a loss of benefits we already enjoy.
These benefits, as I have already shown, are : first, equal
duties in Canada on American and British goods ; and,
second, a market for at least three millions of dollars in
value of the products of our industry.

Mr. Dayton. Will the Senator allow me to interrupt him ? The
statement of facts he makes is important; and I desire to know on
what authority he says that our manufactured articles are received in
Canada on the same terms as those of Great Britain.

I State it on the authority of the Canadian tariff", which I
shall be happy to show the Senator from New Jersey ;
and I will add, that large quantities of our manufactures
are carried into Canada for consumption, — iron castings,
coarse cottons, and a variety of articles sent from the New-
England States, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania. To these


States the increased intercourse proposed by this bill will be
of great importance. The prospective benefit which we
should reject by a narrow policy is the free navigation of
the St. Lawrence, — one of the highest prizes offered to the
commercial enterprise of the country for many years. It
will also carry with it the application, which we have always
contended for, of a principle of the greatest value in inter-
national intercourse, — a principle generally conceded in Eu-
rope since the report of Baron Von Humboldt, — the right
of riparian states to an outlet to the sea by the water-courses
on which they border. These seem to me to be advantages
which far outweigh in importance any considerations of pe-
cuniary profit to be drawn from a close computation of the
number of bushels of wheat which may be reciprocally re-
ceived and exported ; though, even on this narrow ground,
I trust I have shown that we are not likely to be losers by
the competition.

There is another view of the subject, which, I confess,
weighs greatly with me. The liberal party in Canada has
been struggling for years to obtain the measure of political
and commercial freedom to which they believe every commu-
nity of men to be fairly entitled. Commercial freedom they
have secured, — not fully, but so far as to give them the
regulation of the impost ; political freedom, so far as to
give the popular voice a control over all cardinal subjects
of internal administration and external intercourse. The
first use they have made of this partial independence of the
mother-country is to tender to us the most liberal terms of
commercial exchange. They have extended to us these ben-
efits without equivalent. We have enjoyed them for nearly
two years with great advantage. They now ask equality
in exchanging a few agricultural productions common to
both countries. Sir, I should deeply regret that the United
States, powerful and populous as they are, should withhold
from a comparatively weak and dependent neighbor a privi-
lege claimed on grounds so fair in themselves, and so en-

Online LibraryJohn A. (John Adams) DixSpeeches and occasional addresses (Volume 1) → online text (page 36 of 40)