William Augustus Russell.

The Tariff; revenue for the government, and protection for all. Speech ... in the House ... April 16, 1884 online

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APRIL 16, 1884.







The House being in Committee of the Whole House on the state of the Union. .
and having under consideration the bill (H. R. 5893) to reduce import dutiesand
war-tariff taxes-
Mr. RUSSELL said:

Mr. CHAIRMAN: By the action of the Ways and Means Committee in
reporting to the House the Morrison bill, so called, and now by the ac-
tion of the House itself, we are again brought face to face with the tariff
issue, and the business interests of the country are again plunged into
uncertainty and distress. The appointment of a commission and the
consideration and revision of the tariff laws in the last Congress held
the business of the country in suspense for a full year. The work of
the commission and the action of the Forty-seventh Congress in the pas-
sage of the tariff act of March 3, 1883, restored confidence in the busi-
ness community, and the ax in the forests, the pick and shovel in the
mines, and the various industries everywhere resumed their usual ac-

It was not expected that this work so well though not perfectly
done, and these laws so important and so sensitive to the material inter-
ests of the country, were to be again, within a twelvemonth, reopened
and reagitated. But it has come, and why? Is there a call coming up
from the people for this ? Has any interest or any section of the country
asked for the reintroduction of this disturbing element? Is there any
appeal, by petition or otherwise, for the reopening and revision of our
tariff laws? There is but one response to this question, No !

I might except the Free Trade Club of New York, who did appear in
favor of the Morrison bill and argued for free trade generally.

We turn bur ear to the South and what do we hear? They say " we
want no change in the tariff as it relates to our great products, sugar,
rice, tobacco, iron ore, and the manufacture of cotton goods. ' ' We turn
our ears to the West and they say, ' ' Since we have found that we can
profitably manufacture sugar from sorghum and glucose from corn, we
wish you to make haste slowly in any change in the sugar duties, and
we want the same protection for our great staple, wool, and our iron
ore, copper, lead, and lumber, and the various manufactures into which
our people are now rapidly engaging. " We turn our ears to the North
and East and to the Middle States, 'the great manufacturing centers of
the country, and they, with but one voice, say, "Though the reduc-
tions made in 1883 tend to cripple and discourage some of our indus-
tries, we hope Congress will give the new law a full and fair trial."

The testimony before the committee, asked for and fully and intelli-
gently given by the representatives of the leading industries, as well as
by men representing the working classes of the country, should satisfy

every legislator that the interests of all classes of our people will be best
promoted by letting the tariff laws alone for the present. The varying
conditions of manufacture and trade may require, from time to time,
changes in our tariff laws, but no such sweeping changes as proposed by
the Morrison bill are demanded to-day.


Why and by whom, then, has the consideration of this question been
forced upon Congress and the people at this time ? Plainly by the lead-
ing members of the Democratic party, and to clothe them with a living
issue to present to the people in the coming Presidential contest. We,
the protectionist party, accept the challenge ; we stand by and are ready
to go to the people with our tariff policy the law so adjusted as to in-
sure revenue to the Government and protection to American industry
while you still adhere to your obscure and deceptive theories, " a tariff
for revenue only, ' ' and ' ' a tariff for revenue with incidental protection. ' '
Your platform declarations on this question are vague and misleading.
There is no such thing as "incidental" protection. There may be ac-
cidental protection, but not incidental.


To illustrate: A mill of a given capacity may be erected in England for
at most two-thirds the cost of one of the same capacity here. It can be
operated in England for less cost for labor, taxes, insurance, &c., than
here. Mr. Arnold B. Sanford, of Fall River, Mass. , the largest fine-yarn
spinner in this country, testified before the Ways and Means Commit-
tee that from his knowledge by personal investigation a cotton-mill
costing $450,000 here could be erected for $300,000 in England. He
also said that he paid on his mill at Fall River for local, county, and State
taxation $7,500 per annum, and that the taxes for a similar mill in
England would not exceed $1,400. The system of taxation in England
is adjusted to favor the manufacturing interest. And he says, "I pay
33J per cent, more for my labor than is paid in England."

Without a duty imposed upon the product of such a mill the Ameri-
can mill can not run in competition with the English. To insure the
operation of our own works a duty is imposed upon the manufactured
article at a point which counterbalances the difference between the exces-
sive cost of the plant here and the greater amount paid for labor, insur-
ance, taxes, &c., and those in England. The duty thus imposed in-
sures its manufacture here, stops importation, and the tariff thus
becomes protective. The free- traders then say it affords no revenue, as
it has checked and even stopped the importation of the foreign article;
the tariff rate, therefore, must be reduced to afford a revenue with in-
cidental protection. But when thus reduced to permit importation our
own works will cease to manufacture, the English goods will be im-
ported, and the tariff upon the article has become under such circum-
stances a revenue tariff without protection.

I repeat, there is no such thing as incidental protection, but there
may be between the beginning and the full establishment of our man-
ufactures to supply our home demand a time when the tariff will afford
both a revenue and protection; but this would be accidental, not inci-
dental, for it would be temporary and not continuous.


There are articles consumed largely by the rich, not absolutely essen-
tial to comfort and support, upon which to impose duties' for revenue.

A list of a few of such articles I give below, the table showing -alne of
goods imported and revenue derived last year under present rates of duty:




Beer ale and porter

$1 146 796 74

$511 462 51

Diamonds, &c

7 603 752 61

761 886 41

Fancy articles (alabaster &c )

1 665 680 71

641 467 71

Fancy feathers and artificial flowers

4 399 294 46

1 378 3fi9 63

Musical instruments

1 486 251 15

446 OW 79

Paintings and statuary

3 088 673 34

313 .V4 75

Silk, piece goods and manufactured

33 307 112 37

19 677 i/99 53

Spirits and wines

2 2% 734 37

3 358 463 12

Champagnes and wines

4 603 7 9 3 61

2 219 672 18

Other spirits, &c., and still-wines

5 679 969 10

3 152 267 85

Tobacco and cigars

10 515 806 00

7 700 458 34

Braids, laces, &c., for ornamenting hats
Laces, cords, braids, gimps . .. .

2, 297, 962 00
6 392 257 90

704,890 66
2 237 348 06

Chinaware, decorated ..

2 587 545 03

1 29-1 337 06

Cotton embroideries

4 928 775 37

1 725 607 78

Meerschaum pipes

38 305 74

32 671 11


265 023 97

281 148 08

Fruits and nuts

18 157 686 79

4 609 883 38

Fine cut-glass ware

1 017 677 84

407 075 04


1 336 327 8

4G7 738 75


112 815 356 28

51 9 %) 2 431 74

The increased importation of this class of goods has.been lor the past
two years at the rate of $10,000,000 per annum. Higher lates of duty
might be imposed and larger revenues derived there from.


The time has come when the true position of the two great political
parties on this question of the tariff should be fully and plainly under-
stood. Both parties should clearly and boldly assert their positions.
Let the people no longer be deceived by meaningless and deceptive plat-
forms. Let now the protective features of the tariff be submitted to the
people in the next national election. If after a fair and full discussion
they desire to eliminate from the tariff laws the element of protection
for protection, let them assume the responsibility, choose between the
two systems and parties, and accept the consequences.


Grounds for maintaining tariff laws which shall have a purpose both
for revenue and protection are manifold, and have been presented in
many forms before. There are no new reasons. Old ones can there-
fore only be reclothed and presented in new language.

In treating of this question in its very earliest history our fore-
fathers recognized the importance of the protective as well as the rev-
enue features of the tariff, and the policy of protection has been recog-
nized ever since it was instituted as forming a part of the issues of the
various political parties. With the Whig party it was its leading issue,
and it has been one of the leading tenets of the Republican party since
its formation.

As people live and learn so do nations, and we as a new people, com-
ing after, have the experiences of older nations to follow or reject as our
wisdom may dictate.

To be sure we have never experienced the results of absolute free
trade, but the experience of others and our own attempts to approach
it have been severe enough to warn us of its danger.


England has experimented with both protection and free trade. Ow-
ing to her peculiar situation and limited territory she has for a time
prospered under the latter, but has reached that period in her history
when it has become a present and serious question whether she can
maintain her social, if she can her financial, position with the now more
progressive nations of the world.

I have some excellent English authority showing the unrest there ex-
ists to-day in England on this question of free trade. At a public meet-
ing in Birmingham, March 5 last, Earl Dunraven said:

It Is claimed that England has benefited greatly by free trade. The great
strides she made after the abolition of the corn laws are all attributed to the
change in our fiscal system. There were, however, many other causes at work
besides free trade. Free trade was of great profit to us at one time for the sim-
ple reason that we had the monopoly of the world's markets. Other nations
had no means of supplying themselves with goods. They had to buy from us,
and, consequently, as our market was assured and there was no difficulty in
selling, it was an immense benefit to us to be able to buy everything as cheaply
as possible. Since then things have materially altered. Foreign nations have
learned to supply themselves and are beginning to supply us. The whole of
the circumstances have changed, and to say that the system which benefited us
under these circumstances must be equally beneficial in altered circumstances
is absurd.

It is as absurd as to say that the clothing and food most suited to persons near
the North Pole must consequently be the best food and clothing for people who
live in the tropics. But there is another thing to be considered. It is true that
England made great strides under free trade ; it is equally true that other nations
made greater strides under protection. The United States increased 165,000,000
in accumulated wealth; France, 75,000,000; and Great Britain, 65,000,000. In
percentage oftradelthe increase of Great Britain was 21 per cent., and that of the
United States was 67 per cent. In fact, England was the last of the great nations
instead of the first.

The number of pronounced anti-free-traders in England now is, I should think,
at least a hundred times what it was in 1879, and whether that means anything
I leave to others to determine. There may not be enough yet to alter the policy
of the country, but there are enough to do a good deal of leavening among the


At present our industrial interests are in an abnormal condition,
brought about through fear as to the action this Congress may take in
relation to the tariff law. If you remove this disturbing element and
let the country resume its normal condition we shall continue to pre-
sent to the wo rid r as an object lesson the best, most prosperous, and
most happy nation on the face of the globe.

It is said that the material growth and prosperity of a country can
be measured by its consumption of iron and steel. Measured by this
standard we excel all nations of the world in greatness and prosperity,
for we consume more iron and steel per capita than any other people.
Our economic system, which thus affords such opportunities for material
gains, also leads up to intellectual growth and culture, and if we meas-
ure the intellectual standard of our people as compared with others by
a well-recognized rule the consumption of paper we shall find that
we stand at the head of all nations.

Great Britain, with a population of 35,000,000, manufactured and
consumed in 1881 about 374,000,000 pounds of paper; France in the
same year, with a population of 37, 000, 000, manufactured and consumed
325,000,000 pounds; Germany, with a population of 45,000,000, con-
sumed 396,000,000 pounds, while the United States, with a population
of about 50, 000, 000, consumed in the census year 865,000,000 pounds,
or nearly twice as much per capita as either of the three countries above

It is not wholly our climate which has made us so prosperous; it is

not wholly our race, for we are varied; it is not wholly our natural re-
sources, though they all help to make our success possible, but the un-
derlying basis of it all is in the wise laws which force such a diversity
of interests and at the fullest possible compensation for labor.


The standard of reward for labor, from the poorest paid to the high-
est talent, is enlarged and fixed by the tariff laws of the country. So
few deny that labor is better paid by at least 50 per cent, in this coun-
try than elsewhere that it would seem unnecessary to offer proof on this
point, though I insert tables for comparison.

Weekly wages in the Amoskeag Mills, Manchester, N. JET., and in England.

banning Clapp, esq., treasurer Amoskeag Mam
pany. English wages from consular reports.]

[Compiled by Channing Clapp, esq., treasurer Amoskeag Manufacturing Com-



Carding Males



Spinning Males j

Females |

Dressing Males j None

Weaving Males


Mechanics Males

Laborers and firemen

$5 22
3 45
3 77
5 95
3 45

5 50
5 50
7 54
5 00

$7 50
4 80

6 66
4 80
9 78


7 50
11 40

8 52

Weekly wages in calico print works in England and the United States.
[Compiled by Charles H. Dalton, esq. English wages from consular reports.]


United States.

Machine printers

$11 00 to $15 00

$17 00 to $28 00

Machine back tenders
Bleach-house Men

4 50 to 5 00
4 25 to 5 25

5 70 to 7 00
6 00 to 7 50


2 (X) to 3 00

3 00 to 4 00


10 00 to 14 00
12 00 to 15 00

23 00 to 30 00
24 00 to 26 00

8 00 to 11 25

20 00 to 24 00

8 75 to 10 50

24 00 to 25 00

Machine engravers ... . .

8 75 to 11 25

20 00 to 26 00

2 50 to 8 00

4 32 to 11 00


5 25 to 6 00

6 00 to 8 00

In England, 54 to 56 hours per week. In the United States, 60 hours per week.

The great controversy, therefore, between those who believe in pro-
tection and those who believe in free trade is based mainly on the
question of the purchasing power of the higher wages paid in this coun-
try. To this the very patent fact that no American-born laborer ever
finds occasion to leave his country to improve his condition, while on
the other hand so many from every country on the face of the globe
leave their own and seek refuge and a home among us, ought to be a suf-
ficient answer, but I insert a statement from Mulhall's (English) Dic-
tionary of Statistics (London, 1884), Wages, page 462, showing the


comparative wages paid in some industries in Great Britain and New
York; also a comparative statement as to cost of living.

Per week.




$8 00

$13 50=


8 00

13 50


8 25

15 50


6 25

14 00

Shoemakers .

7 75

15 00

8 25

11 00


8 75

14 00

Smiths . . ..

7 75

12 50

7 00

12 50 1

Average wages
per week.



Great Britain


$3 50

$4 25

United States

I 9 . 00

4 00

8 00

Though our system of government offers better opportunities for ad-
vancement in social life than the homes of the emigrants, you will find
by personal conversation with them that it is the material advantages
we offer that attract them here.

The proposition of the gentleman from New York [Mr. Cox] in his
recent speech in this House, that he could sit down with any intelligent
mechanic and figure out to him that he would be as well off with less
wages under free trade here as he is to-day, will probablv not induce a
single person to leave this country and seek protection uiroer a different
system, or deter a single individual from joining the great army who are
annually moving to better their estate under our system, which he con-
demns. And the gentleman further says, arguing as to the financial
condition of the immigrants:

The terrible pauper laborer of Europe not infrequently seems to be able to
save enough money to transport himself and his family across ocean and land
four or five or six thousand miles to homestead or pre-empt the soil that our
protected skilled labor is unable to reach.

While it is true that some of the emigrants come here with small
means the great body of them are helped here through the money earned
by those that have preceded them.

The distinguished gentleman from Illinois [Mr. MOREISON], chair-
man of the Ways and Means Committee, in his speech on this floor yes-
terday says:

Estimates based on the census statistics show that as many as 18,000,000 of our
people do some work or are occupied in some business ; that the average earn-
ings of at least 16,000,000 of these do not much exceed $300 per year, and are
wholly consumed in means of daily subsistence. These, too, are the millions
who in shop and field strike the blows of all production. All the accumulations
of and boasted additions to our national and individual wealth go to one-tenth
of those who earn it.

The gentleman has no authority for this statement; it can not be
borne out by statistics; there is plenty of data to show the fallacy of
this position.

I had occasion in the discussion of the tariff question in the last Con-
gress to look up the financial condition of the workingmen, or such as
he classes with those who work in the shops and mills, and I beg the
indulgence of the House to again refer to the statement. I ascertained
that in the cities of Lowell and Lawrence, where there is a population

of 100,000 people employed by and maintained upon the wages paid in
the various mills of these two cities, there was deposited in the savings-
banks about $17,000,000. I also found that nearly seven-eighths of
these deposits belonged to the wage laborers of these two cities. I
made a comparison with Manchester, England, where I thought the
population was more nearly engaged in like pursuits than any other
city, and found that in Manchester, with 350,000 population, three and
one-half times as great as that of Lowell and Lawrence, they had less
than one-half as much money in the savings-banks.
I subjoin the statement:

Lowell is about twenty-five miles from the seacoast, with an area of about
7,000 acres. It has a population of 60,000, the largest in the State or in the United
States wholly engaged in the manufacture of textile fabrics, and therefore well
illustrates the condition of the industrial classes in our New England inanufactr
uring centers.

Of the 60,000 inhabitants 22,559 are employed in the various corporations and
mills. There are seven banks of discount, with a capital of 82,500,000. There are
six savings-banks, with a total deposit of $11,646,212 to the credit of 33,408 depos-
itors. Of this number 1,735 are depositors of amounts above 8300, and 31 ,673 de-
positors of $300 and under, showing how general the habit of saving has become
among our people, and what a large proportion of the funds in the savings-
banks are the earnings of the wage laborers. I have it from authority that about
seven-eighths of the deposits in these savirigs-bariksare the laid-by earnings of
the wage laborers.

In Lawrence, with a population of 40,000, grown up wholly out of manufact-
uring and now supported by it. we find a like result. There are 13,000 operat-
ives, three savings-banks with 5,000,000 deposits and 13,728 depositors.

Manchester, England, corresponds with these two cities in its occupations
more nearly than any other. Let us contrast the condition of Its people : Man-
chester, with a population of 341,508, has in its various savings-banks 1,434,140,
or $6,883,872 ; a city three and a half times as large as Lowell and Lawrence, and
less than one-half the amount of deposits in its saving institutions. I commend
these facts to the other side of this House, who claim that the wage laborers in
this country are no better off with our wages and cost of living than those of

This is not exceptional. It is a fair representative picture of New
England and other manufacturing towns and cities, and like results
will follow manufacturing as it maybe established in different sections
of the country, if cared for and protected as under our present*system.
I find that in the fourteen States that have made returns to the Comptrol-
ler of the Currency, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts,
Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Mary-
land, District of Columbia, Ohio, Indiana, and California (there is no
data for any other), there is in the savings banks over one thousand
million dollars ($1,024,856,787) to the credit of 2, 876, 433 depositors, an
average of $356.29 to each depositor. This small average shows that
the money, to a great extent, is not the property of capitalists, but the
result of small savings. This is the report for 1883 and shows an increase
over 1882 of more than fifty-eight million dollars ($58,059,706), in which
each of the States named has shared. We have thus disposed of 2,732,-
595 of this 16, 000, 000 persons who the gentleman states consumes their
whole earnings in subsistence.

Mr. HERBERT. Does the gentleman mean to be imderstood as say-
ing that all of the money deposited in the savings-banks in the cities
he refers to is the property of the laborers ?

Mr. RUSSELL. I stated that seven-eighths of the deposits in the
savings-banks was the property of the wage laborers of these cities.

Mr. HERBERT. How do you get at that fact? From the census
figures ? I should like to be informed.

Mr. RUSSELL. I learned of that fact through the treasurers of the
savings institutions, who made that estimate. There is other evidence
that goes to confirm this statement; that is, that in Lowell, where


there were 33,408 depositors, 31,673 were depositors of amounts of $300
and under. This information I get from the official bank reports.

Now, Mr. Chairman, coming to that very numerous class of our pop-
ulation, those engaged in farming, whose rights and interests the gen-
tleman from Illinois so ably and zealously guards, and a part of the
16,000,000 whom he says receive and consume annually in subsistence
their whole earnings, 7,670,493 in number, I find that of the taxable
real estate of the country, $13,036,766,925, they possess, in farms and

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Online LibraryWilliam Augustus RussellThe Tariff; revenue for the government, and protection for all. Speech ... in the House ... April 16, 1884 → online text (page 1 of 4)