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borne out by the facts. The wrench of separation from familiar
surroundings is terrible to the uneducated workman, and not
very agreeable to any one. If it be made at all, generally a
more distant field offers a still better prospect, and the man emi-
grates. The transfer around the world is easier than from shire
to shire. Besides, the laws of many countries discourage the
latter transfer, and tend to reduce the laborer to the condition
of a serf, adscriptus glebse,.

§ 241. We sometimes hear it said in reply: " Skilled artisans
are as well off in England under Free Trade as in America
under Protection. Their week's wages will buy them more


broadcloth, Sevres china, fine cutlery, &c, than it would in
America." They ought to be much better off; a country that
possesses the vast capital that England has, and can carry the
organization of labor to the perfection it has there reached,
should pay her workmen at rates with which the rest of the
world could not compete. We ought to see a growing scarcity
of skilled labor in America, through the emigration of our
artisans thither. But, in fact, Ave find our workshops and
factories full of her workmen, and an immigration of them to
America since the restrictive policy was adopted, such as there
never was before.

But all this is beside the question. The question is not be-
tween free trade and protection, but between the varied industry
that England acquired by long persistence in protection, and
that she will retain under any system, and the want of it, from
which we can only be saved by following England's example
rather than her precepts.

§ 242. Furthermore, the creation of a diversified industry
introduces such a change into farming itself as enables the farmer
to employ a greater variety of labor. A home market takes the
place of the distant one, and crops are grown that require more
care aud attention, but repay it with larger profits. Farming
passes out of its wasteful extensive phase into the intensive stage,
in which its operations are more productive and profitable. And
this " mixed farming" which pays best all the world over, is as
varied in the sorts of labor it employs as in the products of the
labor. Women and children can now be employed, as physical
strength and endurance are no longer the sole requisites.

§ 243. Labor is benefited by the restrictive policy in that
the increase of its productiveness, and consequently of its re-
muneration, is thus made possible. We have already seen the
natural progress of the workman from wasteful, thriftless, me-
chanical, ill-paid work, to that which brings the whole man into
service, mind as well as muscle, and uses all his powers to the
best advantage. We have seen that while both capitalist and
laborer are benefited by the transition, the laborer receives the


larger share of the benefit, and the power of labor to command
the services of capital (of the accumulations of past labor, that
is) grows steadily with the growth of society. A country that
remains chiefly agricultural calls only for the lower, and lower-
priced, sorts of labor ; that which diversifies its industry creates a
demand for those sorts that rank higher in their demands upon
human capacity and in their rewards to industrial ability. It is
therefore the interest of the laboring classes, even more than
of their employers, to see to the naturalization of all the indus-
tries for which the country has any natural aptitude.

This argument has especial force as regards the people of the
United States. The natural drift and bent of the American
character towards the mechanic arts and the inventions that
facilitate them, which a morning in the U. S. Patent Office
would make clear to any one, would find little or no vent in the
absence, or the undue subordination of the manufacturing in-
dustries. The strongest side of the national intellect and the
brightest gifts of the people would be thrown into the shade.

A comparison of our manufacturing cities and districts with
the city of New York and its working classes, discloses the fact
that wealth is far more evenly distributed where industry is varied.
In Philadelphia and Pittsburg, or Cincinnati, for instance, there
are very few very rich men, and the process of accumulating
large fortunes is a slow one. But more of the people own
their own houses in Philadelphia than in any other city of the
world. The working men of those cities, many of whom are
foreigners, are generally well off and contented with their lot.
They, too, have a stake in the stability and security of society,
and taking the whole record, Philadelphia has had fewer strikes
and lock-outs than almost any other city.

Prof. Faweett, indeed, has amused us by informing the English people
that "the Manchester of America" has 119,000 paupers, or three times as
many in proportion to her population as England has. The professor,
unhappily for his country and his race, has lost his sight, and is therefore
dependent upon those who read to him. By an inadvertence of some of
these, the number of dollars expended in the relief of the poor of Phila-
delphia \v:i- transmuted into the number of poor who receive relief. Even


that sum is deceptive; as good salaries arc paid to officials and the pau-
pers are kept in such style that gout is a common disease at the alms-
house. Philadelphia has something over three thousand in-door and
about a thousand out-door paupers, nearly all unable to work.

As to being "the Manchester of America," Philadelphia may accept
the compliment with qualification. She ranks above Manchester and
next to London as a manufacturing city.

And these cities can claim no monopoly of prosperity. In
Massachusetts, for instance, the number who receive relief from
the state is reduced ten per cent, since 1S55. The Boston
Traveller says : "Fifteen years ago a visit to those districts in
any of the cities of the Commonwealth that are occupied as
homes by the working classes, revealed poverty and want in
marked contrast with their present position. Then, the child-
ren, with bare feet and half covered with ragged garments,
looked half-starved, as they really were. But to-day the visitor
to the same district will find them comfortably clothed and shod,
and having a cheerful look that gives the most unmistakable
evidence that hunger is a stranger to them. The decrease in
pauperism is therefore largely due to the better remuneration
received by the working classes."

§ 244. Secondly, protection to industry is as much needed
by the farmer as by the manufacturer. The farmer, and in
general all the producers of the raw material of our industries
and of food, Deed direct protection. The excessive grain crop
of the West, as we have seen, finds no outlet for more than a
fraction of its amount in the European markets. What becomes
of the hulk of it? It is mostly consumed by the people of the
Eastern St;ites, which might, but do not, produce enough food
to feed themselves. Perhaps a great multitude of Western
farmers could have found better work on the unoccupied land in
the East ; but as things are, they are secured the Eastern market
for Western products by direct protection. If we had free trade
with Canada, the farmers of that region, who pay little for labor
and little for government, would be glad to sell their produce to
New York and New England at prices with which the West
could hardly compete. But a tariff on farm produce shuts them


out, or keeps up prices so far that the Western producer has a

So with other producers of raw materials. Our coal-mines
have to compete along the seaboard with the mines of Nova
Scotia; our salt-makers with the Liverpool exporters; our wool
growers with those of Canada and Europe ; our cotton planters
once sought protection against the West Indies and may yet seek
it again against those of Hindoostan ; our sugar planters are and
deserve to be protected. All these industries are carried on
under a weight of national taxation that would make interna-
tional free trade a bounty upon foreign importations. In every
case the great body of protectionists and all their leading thinkers
have urged generous consideration of the claims of this class of

A number of New England manufacturers have indeed taken another
course. For the sake of getting the raw materials of their manufacture
cheaply, they urge that we should admit free of duty whatever is " repro-
ductively consumed," and impose duties on what is not. See A Manual
of the Currency, by George A. Potter, New York, 1868.

§ 245. The benefits extended by national legislation to agri-
culture under the Nationalist policy does not stop at its pro-
tection. It is heavily subsidized by the nation. The Pro-
tectionists voted the Homestead Law, to enable the farmer to
begin his occupation of new lands under the most favorable con-
ditions. They also have always carried out the policy of subsidiz-
ing new roads and railroads, so as to give the farmer free access to
his market. " A tariff and internal improvements " have always
gone together in our political war-cries. The agricultural de-
partment of the government has been kept up for the benefit of
the farmer, that a knowledge of the best methods of work might
be disseminated, and new plants imported, acclimatized and
scattered over the land. All these proceedings are capable of
vindication only on the principle that it is wise and right for a
nation to make sacrifices to promote industry; on free trade
principles they are wrong.

§ 246. Just as the laborer's prosperity is measured by the
relation of his wages to current prices, and not by the latter

the farmer's market. 253

alone, so-the farmer's is measured by the relation of the prices
of raw and of manufactured goods — including food under the
former, — and not by the prices of either oue. Wherever the
manufacturer is found at work, the priees of the two converge;
wherever he is wanting, and the farmer stands alone, their prices
diverge. On the Schuylkill, for instance, the price of a pound
of rags and that of a pound of paper come very near to each
other. Suppose there were no paper-mills elsewhere in the
Uuiou ; then as one went west the prices of the two would
diverge with every mile. At the foot of the Rocky Mountains
rags would be as good as worthless, while paper would bring a
far higher price than in the east. Just such is the relation of
the price of raw materials of all sorts as compared with the
price of manufactured goods of all sorts. The points where the
lines of price almost converge are those at which the one is
transformed into the other by manufacture. Free trade would,
not completely, but in great measure, transfer those points to
the other side of the ocean. Would the producer of food and
of raw materials be benefited by the transfer ? He would have
to pay the heaviest tax upon industry, the cost of transportation
in each direction. He would spend two bushels of corn in get-
ting one to market, and then pay in equal measure for everything
that he needed to bring back for his own use.

§ 247. Protection to industry gives the farmer an abundant
and steady market for his bread-stuffs, and creates a market for
crops more remunerative than grain. The European market for
our wheat and cum is furnished by England, and is the most
unsteady that can be thought of. The amount that is needed
depends, first of all, upon the character of the English harvests,
which commonly furnishes from two-thirds to three-fourths of
what is needed. Then Mark's Lane turns to the wheat crops
of the Baltic and the Ukraine (and the corn crop of Turkey) to
supply the deficiency, as the English consumer prefers their round
hard grain to the American. If they cannot get enough there,
they send orders to the United States. The farmer ordinarily
runs the risk of a bad harvest; our farmers take the risk of


three. If two harvests abroad have been pretty bad, and that
at home has been not too good, he will make money. Otherwise
he may perhaps burn corn fur fuel, as was frequently done in
free trade times. One year England wili purchase of us seven-
twentieths of all the wheat that she needs; the very next year
(1865) only one-twentieth. Her demand of us fell in 1872 to
8* million bushels from 13 £ millions in the previous year. The
price varies, though not as much as the amount, and by no
means depends upon the quantity taken, but upon how far that
comes up to the supply. Thus in 1856 the quantity was nearly
six times as great as in 1869, and the price was twice as hi»h.
Worse still, the price that England must pay for the petty
quantity she takes, exercises a great influence upon that of the
entire crop, destroying the stability of our home market.

§ 248. The policy which increases the number of those who
are not engaged in farming, but must live on its products and
pay for them, is that which secures to the farmer the best and
steadiest remuneration. The average consumption of wheat in
America is more than five bushels per head; on an average of
years a native of the British islands consumes about a peck of
wheat grown on our soil. It will, surely, be the wisest way to
refuse to buy British goods, and thus draw her workmen across
the ocean to manufacture the same articles here. It will pay
better to feed them here than at home, and thus save the cost
of transporting both their food and their manufactures, besides
selling to each of them twenty times as much of the former.
And besides, it will be wiser to attract a multitude of our
own home population to manufactures, and thus create a steady
home market for food. Free traders urge the farmer to secure
the choice of two markets to make his purchases in, the home
and the foreign. The American artisan has no such choice of
two markets ; he must buy his food at home. Even if he lives
along the Canadian border he finds himself shut out from that
market by protective duties on American produce.

§ 249. This fact, that the interest of the farmer and the
manufacturer are identical, attracted the attention of Franklin.


He wrote home from London in 1771: " Every manufacturer
encouraged in a country makes part of a. market for provisions
within ourselves, and saves so much money to the country, as
must otherwise be exported to pay for the manufactures he
supplies. Here in England it is well known and understood
that wherever a manufacture is established which employs a
number of hands, it raises the value of land in the neighboring
country all around it. It seems, therefore, the interest of our
farmers and owners of laud to encourage our young manu-
facturers in preference to foreign ones."

General Jackson, in a famous letter to Dr. Coleman, puts the
case very forcibly : " The American farmer has neither a foreign
nor a home market, except for cotton. Hoes not this clearly
prove that there is too much labor employed in agriculture ? and
that the channels of labor should be multiplied. Common sense
points out at once the remedy. Draw from agriculture the
superabundant labor, and employ it in mechanism and manu-
factures, thereby creating a home market for your breadstuffs,
and distributing labor to a most profitable account, and benefits
to the country will result. Take from agriculture in the United
States 600.000 men, women and children, and you at once give
a home market for more breadstuffs than all England now fur-

§ 250. The creation of a varied industry enables the farmer
t:> enrich himself without impoverishing the soil. It does so by
bringing the farmer and the artisan into neighborhood, and giv-
ing the former facilities for making returns to the soil that he
would not otherwise possess. It does so by creating a demand
fur less exhaustive crops than the great staples that are needed
in the foreign market. It does so by promoting the cattle-
farming that has turned large areas of Belgian peat and sand
into the richest firms in the world. It docs so by making it
worth while to farm more carefully, through the certainty of a
permanent local market, rather than to get out of the soil as
fast as possible all the easily accessible elements, and then move
on westward to take up new land. What has been the history


of American agriculture thus far ? It has mostly been the rob-
bing the soil of its most valuable qualities to export its wealth
across the ocean. " In my opinion it would be improper to
estimate the total aunual waste of the country at less than equal
to the mineral constituents of fifteen hundred million bushels of
corn. To suppose this can continue is simply ridiculous. As
yet we have much virgin soil, and it will be long ere we reap
the full fruits of our improvidence ; but it is merely a question of
time. With our earth-butchery and prodigality we are each year
losing the intrinsic essence of our vitality" (Geo. E. Waring). In
some parts of the country it is no longer a question of time.
Districts like the region around Albany will now yield but a
third the amount of wheat that the first settlers got from them.
The New Englanders have been the most wasteful of our farmers.
Wherever they have settled, as in western New York, the soil
has been blighted under their feet. On the other hand, the
grain farmers of eastern Pennsylvania, by their steady care to
keep up the fertility of the soil, have made their lands more
valuable with every year. Not that their methods are first-ra-tc;
any one who has seen a European farm knows how much they
have to learn, especially on the utilization of manures. But by
sowing clover, a plant whose roots thrust themselves down to the
subsoil and take mineral sustenance from that, and by ploughing
down the clover with lime, the land has been kept up to a fair
degree of fertility. The possession of a home market, however,
and the command of the refuse of our towns and factories, and
the opportunity to keep large numbers of cattle and to alternate
other crops with grain, have been the chief cause of their pros-
perity. The farmer who has his market at hand, unless he be
unusually thriftless and wasteful, can go on year after year im-
proving the instrument by which he makes his living ; he who
depends on a distant market has no choice, as he must go on,
year after year, destroying it.

§ 251. Protection diminishes the risk of farming by giving
variety to its products. The farmer who depends upon exporta-
tion puts all his eggs into one basket. Excessive rains or ex-


ccssive droughts, insects and blights, wage war upon the few
staple articles that he can find a market for. If he had the
consumers at hand, he could sell them a great variety of crops;
if one failed, the others would ordinarily — not always — escape.
Green crops flourish under the rainfall that ruins wheat ; the
blight that spreads ruin among the grain is powerless over the
hay. The soil that yields a poor and a risky return for one
article is just the thing for another.

§ 252. Thirdly, the people of a nation reap a benefit from
the restrictive policy, in that it applies the law of parsimony to
the number of the commercial class, and to their profits.

A country is wealthy in proportion to the amount of its labor
for which it can find productive employment, in directing either
the organic or the formal changes of matter that fit it for man's
use. But the trader and those whom he directly employs produce
nothing; he only contributes to the productiveness of labor by
saving the time that the producer might otherwise waste in
seeking a purchaser. The more the service of the trader is
needed, the less is the net benefit derived from him, because the
greater in that case is the amount of the tax he imposes upon
the article on its way from the producer to the consumer. This
tax is ordinarily greatest when the distance between the pro-
ducer and the consumer is greatest, and, as we have seen, is in
that case not limited to the cost of transportation and a fair
] in iiit fir his services. By practices and methods, of which arti-
ficial scarcities are but extreme instances, the price of the goods
thai he transmits is lowered or raised at pleasure, either to
destiny competition in the market where he sells, or to reap the
large profits that far nmre than repay him for that and other
sacrifices. That these profits are ordinarily excessive in the
absence of home competition is evident from the fact that he
can afford to pay a considerable share of the protective duties
designed to create home competition.

The restrictive policy brings the producer and the consumer
into neighborhood, and thus diminishes their need of the trader.
and weakens his power over them. The heavy tax of trans-


portation is saved ; men are set free from that most laborious
and unproductive of occupations to engage in others which are
productive, and which this very policy has called into existence.
The buyers of an article are no longer dependent upon the
trader as to the price they will pay ; if it be exorbitant, they
can go direct to the producer. The market can no longer be
forestalled, because the great and necessary commodities are no
longer concentrated in a few hands, but pass in much smaller
parcels, and through much fewer hands, from those who produce
them to those who need them.

§ 253. Not that this policy destroys international commerce;
it only transforms it and makes it more equitable. From an
exchange of raw materials for manufactured goods, it raises it
to an exchange of manufactured goods on each side. Even if
the value of international exchanges is not reduced — and pro-
tection often increases them — their bulk and the cost of their
transportation are reduced, and that very decidedly. Men have,
thereby, more power to command the use of ships, and less need
to use them. It gives men at once more power over ships, and
ships less power over men — which is the law of progress
in regard to the instruments of wealth. It restores the equili-
brium of foreign exchange, and puts an end to the export
of specie from the poorer to the wealthier countries, retaining it
where it is most needed by increasing its utility and purchasing

A country that continually develops native wealth and in-
dustry by a consistent Nationalist policy grows in power to pur-
chase those articles that its own manufactures do not yet supply,
or that can only be produced in another climate than its own.
The country that has the most diversified industry is best able
to patronize the finer industries of other countries. The servant
girls of the Northern States before the war bought more English
silks than did the slaveholding aristocracy of the South. Every
country that carries on an unrestricted trade with another much
richer than itself, purchases a less and less valuable class and
amount of goods with every generation, till at last its demand


counts for nothing in the markets of the other. In so far as a
richer country persuades the poorer ones to follow this policy, she
herself becomes less of a workshop and more of a mart; their
raw products pass through her ports and factories with ever less
of elaboration and an ever greater diminution in their amount.
From carrying on commerce with the world she sinks to the
position of a nation of shopkeepers and traders which carries on
commerce for the world.

The relations of Ireland, Portugal and Turkey to England illustrate
what we mean. See next chapter. England's very best customers are
the Protectionist nations.

§ 254. The numbers and the prosperity of our own trading
class that are engaged in foreign commerce show that the pro-
tective policy has not extinguished that occupation. They show
likewise that the profits of manufacture under protection are not
so great as to cause an excessive diversion of capital in that

If we were to listen, indeed, to the complaints of some of this
class, we would infer in them either a great want of common sense,
or a sublime disregard of their own interests. They complain,
without courting any comparison of their ledgers, that the
profits of the manufacturing class are inordinately great, — that
two or three hundred per cent, per annum are reached in this or

Online LibraryRobert Ellis ThompsonSocial science and national economy → online text (page 23 of 38)