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Abridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives online

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Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 17 of 187)
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costing 61 cents, and one costing 100 cents, wUl
pay the same duty; a square yard of cloth
costing 101 cents, and one costing 250 cents,
wUl pay the same duty ; and a square yard of
cloth costing 251 cents, and one costing 400
cents, will pay the same duty ; and all inter-
mediate values in each case will pay. the same
duty with the highest extreme of the mini-
mum. ' AU values above 4 dollars the square
yard, are, by the bill, to pay an ad valorem,
duty of 45 per cent. The amendment of the
honorable Chairman, (Mr. Mailaet,) proposes
to make a square yard of cloth, costing in a for-
eign market 20 cents, and one costing 50 cents,
pay the same duty ; a square yard of cloth
costing 51 cents, and one costing 250 cents, pay
liie same duty ; a square yard of cloth costing
250 cents, and one costing 400 cents, pay the
same duty, and a square yard of cloth costing
401 cents, and one costing 600 cents, pay the
same duty ; and fixes upon the lower priced
cloths a somewhat higher rate of duty than
that proposed by the bill, but a rate of duty
not so high upon the fine cloths, it proposing
40, and the bill reported by the committee 45
per cent.

Another tabular calculation will show the
rates per cent, of the duties proposed by the
bill, and also by the amendment of the honor-
able Chairman, by which the direct increase of
the rates proposed, and also the increase pro-
duced by the adoption of the minimum princi-
ple, may be seen and compared. That this
comparison may be as perfect as practicable, I
have made the calculation at the extremes, and
at the mean of each minimum, and have also
given the medium increase of the present rates
of duty upon each minimum, both of the bill
and of the amendment. They are as follows :

i [ Here follows the table, the results of which are
afterwards summed up.]

Thus it will be found that the rates of duty
proposed by the committee, range from 32 to
99 pgr cent., omitting fractions entirely, which
are omitted in the table, and that the rates pro-
posed by the amendment vary from 44 to 215
per cent. In one single instance the duty pro-
posed by the committee diminishes the present
duty. That instance is at the very highest ex-
treme of the first, or 50 cent minimum. The
now rate of duty upon a square yard of cloth
costing 50 cents in a foreign market, as will be
seen by the table, is SBJ per cent., while the
rate proposed by the bill at that point, is but
32 per cent. ; or, to be better understood, as I
intend to argue this question with perfect can-
dor, j;he duty proposed by the committee upon

a yard of cloth invoiced at fifty cents, or at any
price under that sum, is 16 cents; while the
present duty upon a yard of cloth invoiced ex-
actly at 50 cents, would be 18J cents, making
a difference in favor of the present duty, con-
fined strictly to this point, as to cost, of 2%
cents. This, upon its face and unexplained,
would seem to be wrong, and contrary to the
principles which have governed the committee.
I will, therefore, ask the patience of the com-
mittee for one moment, while I examine this
minimum. It is conceded on all hands that the
cloths falling within this minimum, must be
either very coarse fulled cloths, or the lighter
fabrics, as baizes, flannels, &c. Now the first
diflSculty. presenting itself in the formation of
this biU, was to graduate a duty which should
afford protection to the manufacturer upon
these coarse fulled cloths, and at the same time
should not be entirely xmreasonable upon the
light fabrics just mentioned. The present law
had made a distinction in the duty below this
point, of 50 cents, and had imposed a duty of
only 25 per cent, upon all cloths costing 33^^
cents the square yard, while upon all costing
over that sum, a duty of Z%\ per cent, was im-
posed. To this distinction flannels and baizes
were made an exception, and the distinctibn
was declaredly introduced to favor a descrip-
tion of the coarse fulled cloths, extensively
used, and forming the heaviest item of wool-
lens consumed in one section of this Union.
I refer to the cloths commonly called negro
cloths. These were supposed mostly to come
under the distinction of cloths costing less than
33-J- cents the square yard, and therefore to pay
a duty of 25 per cent. If this was a correct
supposition of the former law, I ask, Mr.
Chairman, what duty will these cloths pay by
the proposed bill? A square yard of cloth
costing 33^ cents, by the present law pays a
duty of 9 16-100 cents, say 9 2-10 cents. By
the bill reported by the committee, the same
yard of cloth will pay a duty of 16 cents, mak-
ing an increase of the duty beyond what is
now imposed, of 6 8-10 upon every square
yard. Now, sir, suppose no single yard of
these cloths comes invoiced at a less price than
33J- cents, I ask, is not this a sufficient increase
of the duty ? It is 48 instead of 25 per cent.
But we have seen by the calculation and table
I have just given, that the average increase of
duty upon this minimum, even supposing 20
cents to be its lowest extreme, by the effect of
the mmimum principle, is 12 per cent, beyond
the duty now imposed ; and this is true, while
at the extreme point of 50 cents, the present
duty IS very triflingly reduced. This is the
only mmimum proposed in the bill where the
present rate of duty is not increased even at
the highest extreme of the graduated value.
Ihus, all cloths costing more than fifty cents,
and not more than one dollar, are to pay the
same duty, a duty of 40 cents upon every
square yard. The present duty upon a yard of
cloth costing 1 dollar, is 36 2-3 cents; thus



Maboh, 1828.]

Tariff Bill — Wool and Woollens.

[H. OF E.

leaving an increase at tlie very extreme of this
minimum, of the difference between 86 2-3 and
40 cents, or Si on the yard of cloth, while at
the lowest extreme of this minimum, the differ-
ence between the present and the proposed
duty is, a fraction more than 21 cents upon
each yard of cloth, in favor of the latter. The
average increase upon cloths falling within this
minimum, is, as we have just seen, 20 per cent,
beyond the present rate of duty.

I win not trouble the committee with a fur-
ther recapitulation of this table, than to re-
mark, that an examination of the calculation
will show that the medium increase of duty
upon cloths falling within the third minimum,
is 23 per cent, beyond the present duty, and
within the fourth, a fraction more than 20 per
cent, increase ; whOe the extremes will be
found equally to increase the present rates of
duty upon the same cloths. After this point, I
presume the bill will not be objected against
by the friends of the amendment, as its pro-
posed rates of duty are even higher than those
proposed by the amendment. The medium in-
crease beyond the present rate of duty, by the
respective minimums, in the proposed amend-
ment, will be found by this table to be, upon
the first, 29 per cent. ; upon the second, 40 per
cent. ; upon the third, 20 per cent. ; and upon
the fourth, 19 per cent., rejecting fractions, and
the extremes of increase are from 10 to 182 per

Thus, having seen what the present duty is,
what the duties proposed by the bill and
amendment are, and what increase beyond the
present rate and amount, is proposed by each,
it remains for me to examine whether the du-
ties proposed by the bill, as reported by the
committee, are sufiioient to give to the manu-
facturer of woollen cloths that protection which
he actually requires. And here let me ask, Mr.
Chairman, what protection does the manufac-
turer really need ? Have we the means of an-
swering this inquiry? I think, sir, we have,
and that, too, with considerable certainty. I
have already shown, or attempted to show,
that the cost of wool, and the cost of manufac-
turing it into cloth, at the present prices of
wool in this country, are equal ; that any given
parcel of wool can be manufactured into cloth
as cheap in the United States as it can in Eng-
land ; or, in other words, that the difference in
the cost of woollen cloths in the two countries,
is the difference in the cost of the wool of
which they are made, the expense of manufac-
turing being the same in both ; and that the
cost of wool in the United States is greater
than the cost of the same wool in England, by
from 60 to 80 per cent, upon the English" cost.
These propositions I consider to be fuUy proved
by the testimony to which I have referred;
and taking them to be true, I think we arrive
necessarily at the conclusion, that the protec-
tion which the manufacturer of woollen goods
in this country requires, is eqaal to the differ-
ence between the cost of the wool he uses in

England and in this country. The cost of his
fabric is the cost of the wool and the cost of
the manufacturing it into the fabric ; and, as it
is established that the English and the Ameri-
can manufacturer can do the manufacturing at
the same expense, the difference at which each
can furnish the fabric at cost, must be the dif-
ference which each has to pay for the wool of
which it is made. But it is also established
that, as a general rule, the cost of the wool is
one-half of the cost of the fabric when pre-
pared for the market, and that the cost of wool
in this country is greater than the cost of the
same, or an equal quality of wool in England,
by from 50 to 80, the medium 65 per cent,
upon the English cost. Therefore, the protec-
tion required by our manufacturers, is equal to
65 per cent, upon the cost in England of the
wool they use.

If, then, the cost of the wool, and the cost of
manufacturing it in this country, are equal ; if
the cost of manufacturing is as cheap here as
it is in England ; if the cost of wool in this
country is greater than it is in England by 65
per cent., as an average, upon the English cost ;
and if I have shown that the bill, as reported
by the Committee on Manufactures, covers this
difference in the price of wool, and even goes
beyond it, I have shown enough for my pur-

The American inanufacturer has, by the bill
as reported, all th^ protection which he swears
that he needs.

Here I should remark, that these tables are
oast upon the assumption that 65 per cent, is
the true difference between the cost of wool in
England and in the United States, although I
have before noticed that there are strong rea-
sons to believe that this per centage is greater
than the difference which, in fact, exists, or
that a less advance (say 50 per cent.) would
pay the present duty, costs, and charges, and
enable the importer to bring in foreign wooL
My calculations have also been made upon the
present prices of wool in this country, and the
only possible manner of shaking them, or dis-
proving their correctness, is by the assumption
that the duty proposed by the bill, upon raw
wool, is to enhance the price of that article, to
the extent of the duty. The soundness of this
argument, as well as the propriety of its use,
by the friends of the protecting system, I shall,
by and by, have occasion to notice. But as a
partial answer to it, supposing that the pro-
posed duty upon wool may have some effect to
enhance the price of it, I present the excess of
duty over the protection required at the pres-
ent prices of wool in this country ._ At all
points of each minimum, that excess is consid-
erable, but at the highest extreme of the first
minimum, 50 cents, the only point in the whole
bill where the present duty upon cloths is not
increased, that excess amounts to more than 7
per cent, upon the value of the cloth, or 14 per
cent, upon the value of the wool. At the
highest extreme of the next minimum, |1 00,



H. OF E.]

Case of M. W. Meade.

[Maeph, 1828.

the excess is 15 per cent, upon the cloth, or SO
per cent, upon the 'wool, and this again is the
least excess to he found in the hm, with the
exception of that at 50 cents. Will it then be
contended, by the friends of protection, that
wool is to rise in price, by the operation of
protecting laws, beyond either of these rates of
increase ? If not, then the duties proposed by
the bill wiU still be a sufficient protection to
the manufacturer. It now then remains for me
to answer a very few of the arguments used by
the honorable chairman, (Mr. Mallabt,) and
as I suppose, intended to apply to the amend-
ment he has offered, although he did not offer
the amendment rmtil after he closed his re-

As to the frauds alleged to be committed in
the importation of those coarse wools, the
honorable chairman has given all the answer
which he could have given ; that, if these
wools are imported in a foul state to disguise
their quality, they wUl necessarily lose in
cleansing, and that loss must operate to in-
crease the duty upon the cleansed wool. This
is true, practically, to a certain extent, but not
to the extent which the gentleman seems to
suppose. But, sir, suppose it to have been true
up to this time, what effect has it upon the
subject now before the committee? "We are
now to reason, not upon the existing law, but
upon the effect of the law which we are abCut
to pass. Let us then see what wiU be the in-
ducements to these frauds, if the amendment
proposed by the honorable chairman (Mr.
Mallaet) is adopted. One pound of wool,
worth in a foreign market 16 cents, wUl, by
that amendmeiit, pay 20 cents duty. Mix with
that pound of wool 1 pound of dirt, making
two pounds in weight, and worth 8 cents per
pound, and what duty wUl it then pay ? The
two pounds will stUl be worth oiily 16 cents,
and will by that same amendment only be
charged with a duty of 15 per cent, ad' valo-
rem, equal upon the 2 pounds of wool and dirt,
to 2 64-100 cents. Here, then, you wiU have
the same pound of wool imported, and conse-
quently conflicting with a pound of equal qual-
ity of our own wool, while, by this simple
fraud, 17 36-100 cents are saved upon the duty
it should pay — an amount greater than the cost
of the pound of wool itself in the foreign mar-
ket, and the same wool would pay a duty of
2 64-100, instead of 20 cents. Does, then, the
bin as reported by the committee, fm-nish an
effectual check to these frauds ? That bUl pro-
poses a duty of 7 cents, specifically, upon every
pound of wool imported, and a further duty
upon all wool of 40 per cent, ad valorem. The
duty at that rate, upon one pound of wool
worth 16 cents in the foreign market, would
be about 14 cents ; and any attempt to disguise
its quality, by means which should add to its
weight, would only increase the duty by 7
cents upon every pound weight added. This
view of the case must certainly convince even
the honorable chah-man himself, that this pro-

vision of the bill is to be preferred, and that
his amendment only proclaims a bounty upon
frauds in the importation of coarse wools.

Monday, March 24.
Case of B. W. Meade.

The House proceeded to the orders of the day,
which was the unfinished business of Saturday;
consisting of the biU and amendment for the re-
lief of E, W. Meade.

The question recurring on ordering the bill
to its third reading,

Mr. Wales withdrew his call for the pre-
vious question.

Mr. Polk then took the floor in opposition
to the hUl, and was replied to, at considerable
length, by Mr. Eveeett in its favor.

Mr. Eandolph then made a series of remarks
on the unfitness of the House to be a tribunal
for the decision of private claims, on the ad-
vanced stage of the session, the necessity of
coming to some conclusion as to the tariff, and
concluded by moving to lay the biU upon the

The motion was negativedr— ayes 61, noes 90.
_ Mr. BtroHANAN said : I voted gainst the mo-
tion of the gentleman from Virginia, (Mr.
Randolph,) to lay this bill upon the table ; be-
cause I believed, that in a few minutes its fate
would have been finally decided, by a direct
vote of the House, upon its engrossment.

I shall not suffer myself to be drawn into
the debate, upon the general questions involved
in this bin, neither shall I express any opinibn
in regard to the validity of Mr. Meade's claim.
The suggestion made by the gentleman from
Virginia (Mr. Aeohbe) has no application to
me ; because I have read and carefully exam-
ined all the documents, connected with this
claim, which have been published ; and still I
am not informed as to its nature. I ought not
therefore to have formed any opinion upon the

It has been admitted by the chairman of the
committee who reported this bill, (Mr. Ev-
eeett,) that the royal certificate ought to have
no effect upon our decision ; and that it must
be sustained by other documents, before this
claim can be allowed. It is certain, that upon
this certificate alone, the United States ought
not to be made answerable to Mr. Meade.
Why then are not the documents necessary to
sustain this claim, now produced ? Where are
they ? In the possession of Mr. Meade ? I be-
lieve not. We are then about to provide a tri-
bunal for the examination of documents which
may be ih Spain, or may be, the Lord knows
where. We are asked to call into existence a
Board of Commissioners, but whether they
shall ever act or not, will depend upon the con-
tingency, whether Mr. Meade will ever be able
to procure his vouchers. Let these vouchers
be first procured ; let Mr. Meade present them
to the House, anu let them be submitted to one



Mabch, 1828.]

Case of B. W. Meade.

[H. OF E.

of our committees, ; and if they should be too
vohiminons for its examinatipn, then, and not
till then, shall I vote to establish a Board. It
is the first time I have ever heard of a claim
sent by Congress to be audited, whilst the
vouchers upon which it rested were not in the
possession, and for any thing we know, might
never be in the power of the claimant. Against
this claima!nt I entertain no prejudice ; on the
contrary, my feelings are all of an opposite
character ; but I am not willing to establish a
special comniission to investigate his claim, be-
fore he has submitted to us any vouchers upon
which it can be sustained.

[Mr. EvEKETT here explained. He said he
was informed that Mr. Meade had a lai-ge
mass of documents in his possession ready to

Mr. B. proceeded. Sir, said he, this makes
the case stronger against him, than I had ever
supposed. If he had the documents upon
which his claim is founded, or any part of
them in his possession, why did he not submit
them to the committee? And why did that
committee rest their report upon the royal cer-
tificate alone, which is now admitted to be in-
sufficient to establish the claim ?

It has been said, that the passage of this bUl,
in its present form, will not commit the House
upon this claim. I am far from being of that
opinion. The bill proposes to appoint three
commissioners, to examine and liquidate this
claim, and report such items of it as they think
ought to be allowed, together with the evi-
dence. And am I to be told, that if we shall
establish a tribunal to examine and to decide
this question, that after they shall have report-
ed their decision to this House, we shall be as
free to act, as if there had been no such pro-
ceedings under our authority? Will this be
the case, after we shall have asked and ob-
tained the opinions of the Attorney-General
and two of the Auditors of the Treasury ? It
is true, we may reverse their decision if we
think proper ; but it is equally certain, that the
judgment of a judicial tribunal established by
our own authority, must necessarily have an
influence upon our decision. It will be prima
fade evidence of the justice of the claim, and
wiU. relieve the claimant from the burthen of
proof, and cast it upon the United States.

But, sir, I do not like to send a claim of this
magnitude to be decided by persons whom I do
not know. The President may, in his discre-
tion, appoint any two of the five Auditors of
the Treasury. These Auditors are all equal in
the eye of the law ; but yet, there are some of
them upon whose decision I should rely with
much more confidence than upon that of otfe-
ers. I do not suppose that the Attorney-Gen-
eral would leave the duties of his station to
audit this claim. The business will, therefore,
be chiefly transacted by the two Auditors who
may be appointed.

I cannot perceive what the friends of the
claim expect from the establishment of this tri-

bunal, unless they suppose that its decision will
have an influence upon our judgment. In
what manner can it expedite the final determi-
nation of the claim ? The bill does not pro-
pose that it shall be paid, until after Congress,
at their next session, shall have acted upon the
report of the Board. Why then should we not
wait until the next session, when the vouchers,
if they exist, can be produced to us ; and, if
then, the Committee on Foreign Relations shall
not be able to examine and decide upon them,
we can refer them to a Board of Commission-
ers. It is not even pretended that the vouch-
ers are all here yet. We have seen none of
them, and in the course of this long debate, I
have never heard until this day, that any of
them were in the possession of Mr. Meade.

Mr. S. Wood next rose, and said, that he
wished briefly to assign the reasons of the vote
he should give without entering at large into
the subject.

Sir, said he, every Government is bound by
the principles of the social contract, to protect
its citizens in the lawful exercise of their rights,
and those whose property has been taken from
them by violence on the ocean or in the ports
and harbors of neutral and friendly powers, are
entitled to call on Government to aid them in
seeking redress.

Yet, even in case Government should be un-
able to obtain redress by peaceable means, it is
not bound to go to war to avenge or redress
individual injuries, if inconsistent with the
general welfare.

The case is very different with regard to
debts, or demands arising from contracts wHh
foreign Governments, by citizens resident th«>re.
A citizen who takes up his residence in a
foreign country, and entrusts his property with
the citizens or subjects of that country, does it
at his own risk ; and whatever difiSculties he
may encounter in recovering his debts, he has
no reason to complain, while the tribunals of
justice are open to him in common with oth-
ers. If he becomes a creditor of the Govern-
ment, he relies upon the ability and good faith
of the Government to discharge its engage-
ments, and must share the fate of other public
creditors. Nothing less than an open and fla-
grant denial of right can entitle hiin to claim
the interposition of his own Government in
the prosecution of his demand. A different
doctrine would make the Government the in-
surer of every mercantile adventurer, who
should choose to become a public creditor,
would subject the Government to unpleasant
altercation with other Governments in relation
to their private contracrts with individuals, and
would lead to consequences that would be in-

There is no pretence that this was the case
with regard to the petitioner. The embar-
rassed state of the Spanish finances rendered
the debts of that Government in a great meas-
ure desperate, and, at his pressing solicitation,
the claims of the common creditors of Spain



H. OF R.]

Disbursing and Accounting Officers.

[March, 1828.

were inoliided in the treaty, with the claims of
those for whom the Government was hound to

The insertion of these claims in the treaty,
was, .therefore, purely gratuitous ; and it was a
favor to the applicant to be placed on an equal-
ity with those whose property had been taken
from them by force, and had a right to call on
the Government for redress. His claim was
admitted, subject to the same restrictions, as to
the mode of adjustment and liquidation, as those
claims were ; and, if Government has extended
the same justice to him as to others, it has dis-
charged its obligations to him.

The stipulations in the treaty constituted the
measure of its obligation. The United States,
in consideration of the cession made by Spain,
agreed to appropriate five millions of dollars
towards the payment of such claims against
Spain as should be allowed under the treaty ;
to institute a Board of Commissioners, to con-
tinue in commission three years, to ascertain
the amount and validity of all the claims that
should be brought before them, and to demand

Online LibraryUnited States. CongressAbridgment of the Debates of Congress, from 1789 to 1856. From Gales and Seatons' Annals of Congress; from their Register of debates; and from the official reported debates, by John C. Rives → online text (page 17 of 187)