United States. Congress.

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 43 of 199)
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While we contend that the revenue shall be
levied in this manner, the free traders insist
that nothing shall be free, and that the duty on
all shall be alike. The revenue, say they, is too
abundant, and must be reduced. The bill be-
fore us, as reported by the Committee of Ways
and Means, is for that purpose. What a happy
mode of reducing the revenue, to diminish the
duty on hats, shoes, boots, leather, axes, &c.,
from 30 per cent, and more, to 20 per cent.,
when the articles are so entirely produced here,
under the present protection, that none are im-
ported, and no revenue is realized. Is not the
direct and obvious effect of such a reduction an
experiment, to see if the foreign articles cannot
be introduced, and the revenue increased in-
stead of diminished ? It is a still more singular
mode of reducing revenue to restore the duties
on articles which are free. Sir, the farmers,
the mechanics, the manufacturers, cannot be
blind to such an insidious scheme. They will
not fail to discover that the reductions of duty
on a vast variety of articles produced wholly
in this country are made under a false pretence
of reducing the revenue ; and that the restora-
tion of duties to free articles is also made under
the delusive pretence of making taxes more
equal. It will not escape their observation that
this crafty plan of reducing revenue is apparent-
ly devised for the purpose of overstocking the
treasury, and creating a surplus from year to
year, so as to call for further and further reduc-
tions, till you come, as the politicians of South
Carolina declare you shall, to twelve and a half
per cent. Is it not plain that an equalization gives
the least protection which industry can possibly
have, unless you make the duties on articles
which we do not produce, higher than you rate
them on such as we do produce ? When you
have arrived at twenty per cent., if there is a
surplus, you have, I believe, the right to dis-
criminate below that : but of what value is such
a right? Twenty per cent, ad valorem upon
the foreign cost ; what is that ? Go to the offi-
cers of tlie custom-house in New York, who
witness the daily frauds and impositions of im-
porters. Go to the head of that establishment,



who, it is said, declared openly in this city, it
was a railroad for legalized smuggling, and ia-
quire what a twenty per cent, ad valorem duty,
or any other ad valorem duty, is. And if they
teU you the truth, it will be, that it is what-
ever the importer chooses to have it.

This bUl, after we have made our descent,
/acilis descensus Averni, carries us into the free
trade system, which may be summed up under
three heads :

1. All specific duties are abolished, and aU
duties are to be ad valorem ; all free traders,
and especially the Yorkshire men and Lanca-
shire men of England, have always earnestly
contended for this. For what reason, it is diffi-
cult to imagine, unless it is because frauds ate
perpetrated with greater facility.

2. All duties are to be equal, and to be as-
sessed upon all imports, except a few articles of
little importance, and consequently the discrim-
inating principle is abandoned.

3. The gradual reduction which is professedly
made to reduce revenue, is applied to all arti-
cles, as well those on which no revenue is
raised, as those which produce revenue ; thua
tending, by every reduction, to bring the Amer-
ican producer into greater peril at every step.
If this be not a total, unqualified abandonment
of the protective policy, unless twenty per
cent, is protective, then I know not what is an
abandonment. The bill, it is true, provides
that after we come to the twenty per cent, ad
valorem, the duty is to be assessed on the val-
uation in the home market. About the mean-
ing of this, however, there is already a dispute.
The South say it means the price of the goods
by the duties and charges; that is, it means
the foreign cost; and a distinguished gentle-
man declared in debate distinctly, that he sup-
ported the bill upon that exposition of its
meaning. If this be a true interpretation, the
provision is worth nothing. That valuation is
to be regulated by law, according to the terms
of the bill, and what that regulation will prove
to be, no one can foresee.

Sir, I regret that discontent and signs of vio-
lence have manifested themselves in this coun-
try ; but I am not disposed to meet it with a
faint heart, or to falter for a moment in support
of the Union and constitution. I would face
these disturbers of the public tranquillity on
their own ground, and accede to the general
proposition that the revenue shall be reduced
to the demands of the Government ; but the
amount of expenditure shall be fixed by Con-
gress, and not by South Carolina ; and the rev-
enue should be raised in such a manner as to
give the most efficient protection to Americaa
labor. For one, sir, while I would do South
Carolina justice, ample justice, I would not de-
stroy the Union by attempting to save it. I
would not bring the power of Congress and the
constitution into contempt, by establishing a
precedent, that a little knot of uneasy, discon-
tented politicians can, by threatening to dis-
solve the Union, make the Government itself



DEBATES OF CONGRESS.



173



February, 1833.]



The Tariff — Compromise Bill,



[H. OF R.



bow down, humble itself in the dust, abandon
its policy, and promise in future to give no of-
fence. If these are the terms on which the
Union exists; if this Government holds and ex-
ercises its powers upon such contingencies as
these, I was about to say, the sooner the Union
is at an end the better, for the rude breath of
treason will dissolve it at any moment. But,
sir, whether South Carolina is well or ill
pleased, whether she declares herself in or out
of the TJnion, I am not prepared, on any com-
promise, to give up the protective policy ; and
I do contend that an equalization of duties as
low, or lower, than twenty per cent, protection,
is incompatible. Yes, when you surrender the
right to discriminate, you surrender all.

This is a bill to tranquillize feeling, to har-
monize jarring opinions ; it is oil poured into
inflamed wounds ; it is to definitively settle the
matters of complaint. "What assurance have
we of that ? Have those who threatened the
Union accepted it ? Has any one here risen in
his place, and announced his satisfaction and
his determination to abide by it ? Not a word
has been uttered, nor any sign or assurance of
satisfaction given. Suppose they should vote
for the bill ; what then ? They voted for the
bill of July last, and that was a bill passed ex-
pressly to save the Union ; but did they not
flout at it ? Did they not spurn it with con-
tempt? And did not South Carolina, in de-
rision of that compromise, nullify the law?
This is a practical illustration of the exercise of
a philanthropic spirit of condescension to save
the Union. Your folly and your Imbecility
was treated as a jest. It has already been said
that this law will be no more binding than any
other, and may be altered and modified at
pleasure by any subsequent Legislature. In
what sense then is it a compromise? Does
not a compromise imply an adjustment on
terms of agreement ? Suppose, then, that
South Carolina should abide by the compro-
mise while she supposes it beneficial to the
tariff States and injurious to her; and when
that period shall close, the friends of protection
shall then propose to re-establish the system.
"What honorable man, who votes for this bill,
could sustain such a measure? Would not
South Carolina say, you have no right to
change this law, it was founded on compro-
mise ; you have had the benefit of your side
of the bargain, and now I demand mine.
"Who could answer such a declaration? If,
under such circumstances, you were to proceed
to abolish the law, would not South Carolina
have much more just cause of complaint and
disaffection than she now has ?

It has been said, we ought to legislate now,
because the next Congress wiU be hostile to the
tariff'. I am aware that such a sentiment has
been industriously circulated, and we have been
exhorted to escape from the hands of that body,
as from a lion. But, sir, who knows the senti-
ments of that body on this question ? Do you,
or does any one, possess any information which



justifies him in asserting that it is more un-
friendly than this House? There is, in my
opinion, little known about this matter. But
suppose the members shall prove as ferocious
towards the tariff" as those who profess to know
their opinions represent, will the passage of
this bill stop their action ? Can you tie their
hands? Give what pledges you please, make
what bargains you may, and that body will act
its pleasure without respecting them. If you
fall short of their wishes in warring upon the'
tariff, they will not stay their hand ; but all at-
tempts to limit their power by abiding compro-
mises, will be considered by them as a stim-
ulus to act upon the subject, that they may
manifest their disapprobation. It seems to me,
therefore, that if the next Congress is to be
feared, we are pursuing the right course to
arouse their jealousy, and excite them to action.

Mr. Speaker, I rose to express my views on
this very important question, I regret to say,
without the slightest preparation, as it is drawn
before us at a very unexpected moment. But,
as some things in this bill are at variance with
the principles of public policy which I have
uniformly maintained, I could not suffer it to
pass into a law without stating such objections
as have hastily occurred to me.

Let me, however, before sitting down, be
understood on one point. I do not object to a
reasonable adjustment of the controversies
which exist. I have said repeatedly on this
floor, that I would go for a gradual reduc-
tion on protected articles ; but it must' be
very gradual, so that no violence shalMje
done to business ; for all reduction is neces-
sarily full of hazard. My objections to this biU
are not so much against the first seven years,
for I would take the consequences of that ex-
periment, if the provisions beyond that were
not of that fatal character which will at once
stop all enterprise. But I do object to a com-
promise which destines the East for the altar.
No victim, in my judgment, is required, none
is necessary ; and yet you propose to bind us,
hand and foot, to pour out our blood upon the
altar, and sacrifice us as a burnt-offering, to ap-
pease the unnatural and unfounded discontent
of the South ; a discontent, I fear, having deeper
root than the tariff, and will continue when that
is forgotten. I am far from meaning to use the
language of menace, when I say such a com-
promise cannot endure, nor can any adjustment
endure, which disregards the interests and
sports with the rights of a large portion of the
people of the United States. It has been said
that we shall never reach the lowest point of
reduction, before the country will become sat-
isfied of the folly of the experiment, and will
restore the protective policy ; and it seems to
me a large number in this body act under the
influence of that opinion. But I cannot vote
down my principles, on the ground that some
one may come after me who will vote tbem up.
Mr. Speaker, I have done my duty, in an im-
perfect manner, I confess ; but I perceive it is



174



ABRIDGMENT OF THE



H. OF K.]



The Tariff — Compromise Bill.



[Febeuakv, ]



in vain to discuss the matter, and I will detain
the House no longer.

Mr. H. EvEEETT asked the attention of the
House for a few minutes. He said he was un-
willing that his dissent should be given by a
mere silent vote. The gentleman from Ken-
tucky (Mr. Letohee) had said the House had
had ample time to examine the, bill, and he pre-
sumed the minds of the members were made
up. It was true that the Senate bill had been
laid on their tables some days ago : the amend-
ments which had since been made in the Senate
were adopted in the bill now before the House ;
these, he admitted, had improved the bill, but
still had not rendered it satisfactory to him.
For one, Mr. E. said, he did not complain of
want of time ; he had formed an opinion, and
that opinion he now rose to express. He con-
sidered the bill, as originally reported in the
Senate, as a total, an absolute abandonment of
the protective system after 1842 — at best, it
was but a lease to the manufacturers for seven
or eight years, or, perhaps, more properly
speaking, a notice to wind up their concerns
within that time : their destruction was slow,
but sure. The existing protection was to go
down, down, from year to year, until the end
of the term, when the existing- establishments
were to be abandoned by the Government : he
said the existing establishments, for new ones
could not be expected. Prudent capitalists
would not adventure in a sinking concern.
About the same time was given that was al-
lowed the bank to wind up ; and were theirs a
mere money business, they would have less
reason to complain; but, unfortunately, their
capital was fixed, and must be sacrificed. Fac-
tories and machinery were of no value unless
in operation. The owners of flocks were not
in a much less hopeless condition. He repeated
that the bill, as originally laid on their tables,
abandoned, totally abandoned, the protective
policy. It reduced all duties to the same level,
twenty per cent. Even the principle of dis-
criminating duties was abandoned. In its
present form, he admitted that principle was
faintly perceptible. " Congress were not to be
prevented from altering the rates of duties on
articles which are now subject. to a less duty
than twenty per cent, in such manner as not to
exceed that rate ; " that is, they may raise or
lower the rates of duties, on the unprotected
articles, but may not raise the duties on the pro-
tected articles above twenty per cent. This is the
only discriminating principle now in the bill ;
and this, poor as it was, he should show was
wholly illusory ; that the wants of the Govern-
ment would require the full duty of twenty per
cent, on the unprotected articles. The change
of the foreign for the home valuation, he ad-
mitted, was a valuable improvement, though its
principal value must, in a very considerable de-
gree, if not wholly, depend on the regulations
which "may be hereafter, established by law."
The gentleman from Kentucky, had echoed the
cry of alarm which had been heard from



another quarter, that the protective system
was in danger ; that the next Cougress-'would
prostrate it. Such alarms tended to create the
peril they announced. That system, in his
opinion, had no greater peril to encounter than
the one of which St. Paul complained as the
chief of perils.- .He was willing to trust it to
the next Congress : they, he trusted, wonld
protect the great interests of the country.
This projet had come upon the manufacturers
from an unexpected source : the blow had not
been anticipated from that quarter. If there
should be a majority in the next Oougresa
against the protective policy, the manufac-
turers, the fanners would submit with what
grace they may. If the system should then
fall, it would fall under the superior force of
the enemy. But, said Mr. E., the occasion had
excited feeling — better, perhaps, suppressed
than uttered. He had hea,rd it said, out of the
House, that we were only bending to the blast;
that we should right when it had passed over
us. But was such a forecast just ? Should not
they who present, and they who accept this
bill as a measure of conciliation, do it in good
faith, without mental reservations? For one,
he did not join in the offer, nor wonld he
pledge himself or his constituents to abide by
it. He would ask the gentleman from Ken-
tucky what would be the financial operation
of the bill ? What would be the amount of rev-
enue accruing under it, particularly in 1841 and
1842 — the period when it was to settle down
as the revenue system of the Government!
These were the periods to which the manufac-
turers would look (he would not say they had
been encouraged to look) for the restoration of
the protective system. Taking the excessive
importations of 1831 as the basis of calculation,
the amount of the proposed reduction of duties
on the protected articles (paying over twenty
per cent.) would be nearly twelve millions,
($11,924,000;) the whole amount of the cus-
toms, in 1841, would be between ten and eleven
millions, ($10,846,000;) and after the final re-
duction in 1842, about seven millions, ($7,268,-
000.) How would the deficiency of revenue
be supplied ? The last section proposes it
should be supplied by raising the duties on the
dutiable, unprotected articles up to twenty per
cent. This would give short of eight millions,
($7,679,000 ;) making the whole revenue from
the customs less than fifteen millions, ($14,947,-
000.) "What then becomes of the discriminat-
ing principle of protection ? If additional rev-
enues are to be raised, in what manner could it
be done ? It must be , done either by raising
the duties on the protected articles, or by lay-
ing duties on the articles now free.

Should this bill pass, said Mr. E., he should
be almost prepared to concur in the opinion he
had heard expressed in the House this morning,
that it would do away the necessity of passing
the enforcing bill. The duties were eventually
to come down to the same rate on all dutiable
articles—to twenty per cent., the South Car-



DEBATES OP CONGRESS.



175



FEBEDAKr, 1833.]



The Tariff^Compromlse Bill.



[H. Off K.



olina standard. With her it was only a ques-
tion, of time, unless she should still insist that
there should be no articles imported free of
duty. This was one of her unalterable resolu-
tions. Mr. E. said he did not wish to prolong
the debate. He had risen to state the light in
which he had viewed the bill, and in which he
thought it would be viewed by the country — as
the ultimate abandonment of the protecting
policy.

Mr. Dickson also opposed the bill, and moved
its postponement till to-morrow. Negatived.

Mr. Letchee spoke in reply, and in defence
of the bill ; when the question was put on en-
grossing the bill for a third reading, and car-
ried :

Yeas. — Messrs. Alexander, Chilton Allan, Kobert
Allen, Anderson, Angel, Archer, John S. Barbour,
Barringer, James Bates, Bell, Bergen, Bethuiie,
James Blair, John Blair, Boon, Bouck, Bouldin,
Branch, Bullard, Cambreleng, Carr, Chinn, Clai-
borne, Clay, Clayton, Coke, Connor, Corwin, Coul-
ter, Craig, Creighton, Daniel, Davenport, Warren
R. Davis, Doubleday, Draper, Felder, Findlay, Fitz-
gerald, Gaither, Gilmore, Gordon, Thomas H. Hall,
William Hall, Harper, Hawes, Hawkins, Hoffman,
Holland, Horn, Howard, Hubbard, Irvin, Isacks,
Jarvis, Jenifer, Eichard M. Johnson, Cave Johnson,
Joseph Johnson, Kavanagh, Kerr, Lamar, Lansing,
Lecompte, Letcher, Lewis, Lyon, Mardis, Mason,
Marshall, Maxwell, Mclntyre, McKay, Newton,
Nuckolls, Fatten, Plummer, Polk, Rencher, Roane,
Root, Sewall, William B. Shepard, Augustine H.
Shepperd, Smith, Southard, Speight, Sponce, Stan-
berry, Standifer, Francis Thomas, Wiley Thompson,
John Thomson, Tompkins,, Tracy, Vance, Verplanck,
Ward, Washington, Wayne, Weeks, Elisha Whit-
tlesey, Campbell P. White, Wickliffe, Worthington
—105.

Nats. — Messrs. Adams, Heman Allen, Allison,
Appleton, Arnold, Babcock, Banks, Noyes Barber,
Barstow, Isaac C. Bates, Beardsley, Briggs, John
Brodhead, John C. Brodhead, Bucher, Burd, Ga-
boon, Chandler, Bates Cooke, Cooper, Crane, Craw-
ford, John Davis, Dayan, Dearborn, Denny, Dewart,
Dickson, Ellsworth, George Evans, Joshua Evans,
Edward Everett, Horace Everett, Grennell, Hiland
Hall, Heister, Hughes, Huntington, Ihrie, Ingersoll,
Kendall, Kennon, Adam King, Henry King, Lea-
vitt, Mann, McCarty, Robert McCoy, McKennan,
Milligan, Muhlenberg, Nelson, Pearce, Pendleton,
Pierson, Potts, Randolph, John Reed, Edward C.
Reed, Slade, Soule, Storrs, Sutherland, Taylor,
Vinton, Wardwell, Watmough, Wheeler, Frederick
Whittlesey, Edward D. White, Young — 71.



Tdesdat, February 26.
The Tariff — Compromise Bill.

The engrossed bill to reduce the tariff (as
amended by the adoption of Mr. Clay's bill of
the Senate) was read a third time, and the ques-
tion stated to be on its passage.

Mr. BuKGES, of Rhode Island, said: I have
not risen, at this time, to enter into any extended
discussion of the bill just now read to the
House : it is my purpose to do no more than
to pronounce an humble protestation against



the provisions of this measure ; to state a sol-
emn denunciation of the purposes intended to
be effected by its enactment; and, in a few
words, to express my utter abhorrence of the
causes which, as I think, must have brought
such a scheme before Congress.

I protest against this measure, because, like
that which has been stricken out of the bill, to
make room for its insertion, it proposes to pro-
vide for the wants of Government, but does
not propose to make any provision for the
wants of the nation. It calls on the people for
money to feed that Government, and at the
same time takes away that protection of their
labors, by which the people have hitherto been
enabled to feed themselves. Not less than one
million seven hundred and fifteen thousand free
white working men are annually employed in
the agricultural, mechanic, and manufacturing
labor of the Eastern, Northern, and Western
States of this Union. That part of these men
thus employed in mechanic and manufacturing
labor, depend on that part of them employed in
agricultusal labor, in the same and other States,
for a ^arket for their fabrics ; and a supply
in return of food ; of corn, wheat, flour, beef,
pork, and other provisions, amounting annually
to more than $27,000,000. They also look
to them, and to other producers in many of
the States, for a further -market for like fab-
rics ; and expect, in exchange, the products of
their lands- and rdines, equal to $15,000,000 in
amount annually. Those employed in the
farming and mineral labors of these States,
look to such as are engaged in these mechanic
and manufacturing labors, for this market for
their products, and therein for their supply, by
this exchange of those various manufactured
fabrics annually to this great amount.

By the destruction of this mechanic and
manufacturing labor, men employed in agricul-
ture, whether on their own lands, or farming
the lands of others, must lose that market ; and
not only lose their annual supply of those fab-
rics heretofore purchased in it, but their annual
production left on their hands for want of a
market, must, to this amount, annually be ut-
terly lost to them. For in no other. market of
the world could they sell their breadstuffs and
provisions, their wool, their lead, their iron and
steel.

This loss will take from those thus engaged
in the labors of farming and the mines, not
only the ability to obtain manufactured fabrics,
but also the power to purchase and consume an-
nually, as they do now, four or five millions in
amount.of sugar, produced in Southern Georgia
and Louisiana ; and thereby leave this produc-
tion, to that amount, on the hands of the plant-
ers of those States. There it must perish, un-
less they can find a market for it in Europe,
where such a market for United States sugar
has not, I believe, ever been found to the
amount of ten hogsheads in any one year.

I pass over the rice and tobacco, drawn from
the South by the owners of manufacturing cap-



176



ABRIDGMENT OF THE



H. OF K.]



The Tariff— Compromise Bill.



[Februaby, 1833.



ital in the North ; nor mention the cotton, on
which their great fabrics now so much depend ;
in all amounting probably to $10,000,000 an-
nually. This omission is made because the great,
rich, and independent manufacturing capitalists
of the North can and will stand their ground,
though they will stand that ground alone, under
the provisions of this bill. When those pro-
visions shall be carried out into perfect opera-
tion, as they will be at the end of ten years,
the great, independent, manufacturing capitalist
will then not depend on the South for the raw
materials which he can then bring from any
country at a mere revenue duty of twenty per
cent. ; a tax of no importance to him, because
it must be paid finally by the domestic con-
sumer of his fabric. Nor will the Southern
planter then depend, for he does not now de-
pend, on the domestic market, for the sale of



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 43 of 199)