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gentleman from Virginia, which I shall briefly notice is, that the manufacturing system is adverse to the genius of our government in its tendency to the accumulation of large capitals in a few hands; in the corruption of the public morals, which is alleged to be incident to it; and in the consequent danger to the public liberty. The first part of the objection would apply to every lucrative business, to commerce, to planting, and to the learned professions. Would the gentleman introduce the system of Lycurgus? If his principle be correct it should be extended to any and every vocation which had a similar tendency. The enormous fortunes in our country—the nabobs of the land—have been chiefly made by the profitable pursuit of that foreign commerce, in more propitious times, which the honorable gentleman would so carefully cherish. Immense estates have also been made in the South. The dependents are, perhaps, not more numerous upon that wealth which is accumulated in manufactures than they are upon that which is acquired by commerce and by agriculture. We may safely confide in the laws of distribution, and in the absence of the rule of primogeniture, for the dissipation, perhaps, too rapid, of large fortunes. What has become of those which were held two or three generations back in Virginia? Many of the descendants of the ancient aristocracy, as it was called, of that State, are now in the most indigent condition. The best security against the demoralization of society is the constant and profitable employment of its members. The greatest danger to public liberty is from idleness and vice. If manufactures form cities, so does commerce. And the disorders and violence which proceed from the contagion of the passions, are as frequent in one description of those communities as in the other. There is no doubt but that the yeomanry of a country is the safest depository of public liberty. In all time to come, and under any probable direction of the labor of our population, the agricultural class must be much the most numerous and powerful, and will ever retain, as it ought to retain, a preponderating influence in our councils. The extent and the fertility of our lands constitute an adequate security against an excess in manufactures, and also against oppression, on the part of capitalists, toward the laboring portions of the community. eventh. The last objection, with a notice of which I shall trouble the committee, is, that the constitution does not authorize the passage of the bill. The gentleman from Virginia does not assert, indeed, that it is inconsistent with the express provisions of that instrument, but he thinks it incompatible with the spirit of the constitution. If we attempt to provide for the internal improvement of the country, the constitution, according to some gentlemen, stands in our way. If we attempt to protect American industry against foreign policy and the rivalry of foreign industry, the constitution presents an insuperable obstacle. This constitution
must be a most singular instrument! It seems to be made for any other people than our own. Its action is altogether foreign. Congress has power to lay duties and imposts, under no other limitation whatever than that of their being uniform throughout the United States. But they can only be imposed, according to the honorable gentleman, for the sole purpose of revenue. This is a restriction which we do not find in the constitution. No doubt revenue was a principal object with the framers of the constitution in investing Congress with the power. But, in executing it, may not the duties and imposts be so laid as to secure domestic interests? Or is Congress denied all discretion as to the amount or the distribution of the duties and imposts The gentleman from Virginia has, however, entirely mistaken the clause of the constitution on which we rely. It is that which gives to Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. The grant is plenary, without any limitation whatever, and includes the whole power of regulation, of which the subject to be regulated is susceptible. It is as full and complete a grant of the power as that is to declare war. What is a regulation of commerce? It implies the admission or exclusion of the object of it, and the terms. Under this power, some articles, by the existing laws, are admitted freely; others are subjected to duties so high as to amount to their prohibition, and various rates of duties are applied to others. Under this power, laws of total non-intercourse with some nations, embargoes, producing an entire cessation of commerce with all foreign countries, have been from time to time passed. These laws I have no doubt met with the entire approbation of the gentleman from Vir fini". [Mr. Barbour said that he was not in Congress.] Wherever the gentleman was, whether on his farm or in the pursuit of that professsion of which he is an ornament, I have no doubt that he gave his zealous support to the laws referred to. The principle of the system under consideration has the sanction of some of the best and wisest men, in all ages, in foreign countries as well as in our own—of the Edwards, of Henry the Great, of Elizabeth, of the Colberts, abroad; of our Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, at home. But it comes recommended to us by a higher authority than any of these, illustrious as they unquestionably are—by the masterspirit of the age—that extraordinary man, who has thrown the Alexanders and the Caesars infinitely further behind him than they stood in advance of the most eminent of their predecessors—that singular man who, whether he was seated on his imperial throne, deciding the fate of nations, and allotting kingdoms to the members of his family, with the same composure, if not with the same affection, as that with which a Virginia father divides his plantations among his children, or on the miserable rock of St. IIelena, to which he was condemned by the cruelty and the injustice of his unworthy victors, is equally an object of the most intense admiration. He appears to have comprehended with the rapidity of intuition, the true interests of a State, and to have been able, by the turn of a single expression, to develope the secret springs of the policy of cabinets. We find that Las Casas reports him to have said: “He opposed the principles of economists, which he said were correct in theory, though erroneous in their application. The political constitution of different States, continued he, must render these principles defective; local circumstances continually call for deviations from their uniformity. Duties, he said, which were so severely condemned by political economists, should not, it is true, be an object to the treasury; they should be the guaranty and protection of a nation, and should correspond with the nature and the objects of its trade. Holland, which is destitute of productions and manufactures, and which has a trade only of transit and commission, should be free of all fetters and barriers. France, on the contrary, which is rich in every sort of production and manufactures, should incessantly guard against the importations of a rival, who might still continue superior to her, and also against the cupidity, egotism, and indifference of mere brokers. “I have not fallen into the error of modern systematizers,” said the emperor, “who imagine that all the wisdom of nations is centred in themselves. Experience is the true wisdom of nations. And what does all the reasoning of economists amount to ? They incessantly extol the prosperity of England, and hold her up as our model; but the custom-house system is more burdensome and arbitrary in England than in any other country. They also condemn prohibitions; yet it was England set the example of prohibitions; and they are in fact necessary with regard to certain objects. Duties cannot adequately supply the place of prohibitions; there will always be found means to defeat the object of the legislator. In France we are still very far behind on these delicate points, which are still unperceived or ill understood by the mass of society. Yet what advancement have we now made; what correctness of ideas has been introduced by my gradual classification of agriculture, industry, and trade; objects so distinct in themselves, and which present so great and positive a graduation “First. Agriculture; the soul, the first basis of the empire. “Second. Industry; the comfort and happiness of the population. “Third. Foreign trade; the superabundance, the proper application, of the surplus of agriculture and industry. “Agriculture was continually improved during the whole course of the revolution. Foreigners thought it ruined in France. In 1814, however, the English were compelled to admit we had little or nothing to learn from
“Industry or manufactures, and internal trade, made immense progress during my reign. The application of chemistry to the manufactures, caused them to advance with giant strides. I gave an impulse, the effects of which extended throughout Europe. “Foreign trade, which, in its results, is infinitely inferior to agriculture, was an object of subordinate importance in my mind. Foreign trade is made for agriculture and home industry, and not the two latter for the former. The interests of these three fundamental cases are diverging and frequently conflicting. I always promoted them in their natural gradation, but I could not and ought not to have ranked them all on an equality. Time will unfold what I have done, the national resources which I created, and the emancipation from the English which I brought about. We have now the secret of the commercial treaty of 1783. France still exclaims against its author; but the English demanded it on pain of resuming the war. They wished to do the same after the treaty of Amiens, but I was then all-powerful; I was a hundred cubits high. I replied, that if they were in possession of the heights of Montmartre I would still refuse to sign the treaty. These words were echoed through Europe. “The English will now impose some such treaty on France, at least, if popular clamor and the opposition of the mass of the nation, do not force them to draw back. This thraldom would be an additional disgrace in the eyes of that nation, which is now beginning to acquire a just perception of her own interests. “When I came to the head of the government, the American ships, which were permitted to enter our ports on the score of their neutrality, brought us raw materials, and had the impudence to sail from France without freight, for the purpose of taking in cargoes of English goods in London. They, moreover, had the insolence to make their payments, when they had any to make, by giving bills on persons in London. Hence the vast profits reaped by the English manufacturers and brokers, entirely to our prejudice. I made a law that no American should import goods, to any amount, without immediately exporting their exact equivalent. A loud outcry was raised against this: it was said that I had ruined trade. But what was the consequence? Notwithstanding the closing of my ports and in spite of the English who ruled the seas, the Americans returned and submitted to my regulations. What might I not have done under more favorable circumstances? “Thus I naturalized in France the manufacture of cotton, which includes, “First, spun cotton. We did not previously spin it ourselves; the English supplied us with it, as a sort of favor. “Secondly, the web. We did not yet make it; it came to us from abroad. “Thirdly, the printing. This was the only part of the manufacture that we performed ourselves. I wished to naturalize the two first branches; and I proposed to the Council of State, that their importation should be prohibited. This excited great alarm. I sent for Oberkamp, and I conversed with him a long time. I learned from him, that this prohibition would doubtless produce a shock, but that, after a year or two of perseverance, it would prove a triumph, whence we should derive immense advantages. Then I issued my decree in spite of all; this was a true piece of statesmanship. “I at first confined myself merely to prohibiting the web; then I extended the prohibition to spun cotton; and we now possess, within ourselves, the three branches of the cotton manufacture, to the great benefit of our po", and the injury and regret of the nglish ; which proves that, in civil government, as well as in war, decision of character is often indispensable to success.” I will trouble the committee with only one other quotation, which I shall make from Lowe; and from hearing which, the committee must share with me in the mortification which I felt on perusing it. That author says, “It is now above forty years since the United States of America were definitely separated from us, and since, their situation has afforded a proof that the benefit of mercantile intercourse may be retained, in all its extent, without the care of governing, or the expense of defending, these once regretted provinces.” Is there not too much truth in this observation? By adhering to the foreign policy which I have been discussing, do we not remain essentially British, in every thing but the form of our government? Are not our interests, our industry, our commerce, so modified as to swell British pride, and to increase British power? Mr. Chairman, our confederacy comprehends, within its vast limits, great diversity of interests; agricultural, planting, farming, commercial, navigating, fishing, manufacturing. No one of these interests is felt in the same degree, and cherished with the same solicitude, throughout all parts of the Union. Some of them are peculiar to particular sections of our common country. But all these great interests are confided to the protection of one government—to the fate of one ship—and a most gallant ship it is, with a noble crew. If we prosper, and are happy, protection must be extended to all; it is due to all. It is the great principle on which obedience is demanded from all. our essential interests cannot find protection from our own government against the policy of foreign powers, where are they to get it? We did not unite for sacrifice, but for preservation. The inquiry should be, in reference to the great interests of every section of the Union (I speak not of minute subdivisions), what would be done for those interests if that section stood alone and separated from the residue of the republic? If the promotion of those interests would not injuriously affect any other section,
then every thing should be done for them, which would be done if it formed a distinct government. If they come into absolute collision with the interests of another section, a reconciliation, if possible, should be attempted, by mutual concession, so as to avoid a sacrifice of the prosperity of either to that of the other. In such a case, all should not be done for one which would be done, if it were separated and independent, but something; and, in devising the measure, the good of each part and of the whole, should be carefully consulted. This is the only mode by which we can preserve, in full vigor, the harmony of the whole Union. The South entertains one opinion, and imagines that a modification of the existing policy of the country, for the protection of American industry, involves the ruin of the South. The North, the East, the West, hold the opposite opinion, and feel and contemplate in a longer adherence to the foreign policy, as it now exists, their utter destruction. Is it true, that the interests of these great sections of our country are irreconcilable with each other ? Are we reduced to the sad and afflicting dilemma of determining which shall fall a victim to the prosperity of the other? Happily, I think, there is no such distressing alternative. If the North, the West, and the East, formed an independent state, unassociated with the South, can there be a doubt that the restrictive system would be carried to the point of prohibition of every foreign fabric of which they produce the raw material, and which they could manufacture? Such would be their policy, if they stood alone; but they are fortunately connected with the South, which believes its interests to require a free admission of foreign manufactures. Here then is a case for mutual concession, for fair compromise. The bill under consideration presents this compromise. It is a medium between the absolute exclusion and the unrestricted admission of the produce of foreign industry. It sacrifices the interest of neither section to that of the other; neither, it is true, gets all that it wants, nor is subject to all that it fears. But it has been said that the South obtains nothing in this compromise. Does it lose any thing 2 is the first question. I have endeavored to prove that it does not, by showing that a mere transfer is effected in the source of the supply of its consumption from Europe to America; and that the loss, whatever it may be, of the sale of its great staple in Europe, is compensated by the new market created in America. But does the South really gain nothing in this compromise 2 The consumption of the other sections, though somewhat restricted, is still left open by this bill, to foreign fabrics purchased by southern staples. So far its operation is beneficial to the South, and prejudicial to the industry of the other sections, and that is the point of mutual concession. The South will also gain by the extended consumption of its great staple, produced by an increased capacity to consume it in consequence of the establishment of the home market. But the South cannot exert its industry and enterprise in the business of manufactures! Why not? The difficulties, if not exaggerated, are artificial, and may, therefore, be surmounted. but can the other sections embark in the planting occupations of the South” The obstructions which forbid them are natural, created by the immutable laws of God, and, therefore, unconquerable. Other and animating considerations invite us to adopt the policy of this system. Its importance, in connection with the general defence in time of war, cannot fail to be duly estimated. Need I recall to our painful recollection the sufferings, for the want of an adequate supply of absolute necessaries, to which the defenders of their country's rights and our entire population, were subjected during the late war? Or to remind the committee of the great advantage of a steady and unfailing source of supply, unaffected alike in war and in peace? Its importance, in reference to the stability of our Union, that paramount and greatest of all our interests, cannnot fail warmly to recommend it, or at least to conciliate the forbearance of every patriot bosom. Now our people present the spectacle of a vast assemblage of jealous rivals, all eagerly rushing to the sea-board, jostling each other in their way, to hurry off to glutted foreign markets the perishable produce of their labor. The tendency of that policy, in conformity to which this bill is prepared, is to transform these competitors into friends and mutual customers; and, by the reciprocal exchanges of their respective productions, to place the confederacy upon the most solid of all foundations, the basis of common interest. And is not government called upon, by every stimulating motive, to adapt its policy to the actual condition and extended growth of our great republic? At the commencement of our constitution, almost the whole population of the United States was confined between the Alleghany mountains and the Atlantic ocean. Since that epoch, the western part of New York, of Pennsylvania, of Virginia, all the western States and Territories, have been rincipally peopled. Prior to that period we }. scarcely any interior. An interior has sprung up, as it were by enchantment, and along with it new interests and new relations, requiring the parental protection of government. Our policy should be modified accordingly, so as to comprehend all, and sacrifice none. And are we not encouraged by the success of past experience, in respect to the only article which has been adequately protected ? Already have the predictions and the friends of the American system, in even a shorter time than their most sanguine hopes could have anticipated, been completely realized in regard to that article; and consumption is now better and more cheaply supplied with coarse cottons, than it was under the prevalence of the foreign system. Even if the benefits of the policy were limited to certain sections of our country, would it not of ctory to behold American industry,
wherever situated, active, animated, and thrifty, rather than persevere in a course which renders us subservient to foreign industry? But these benefits are twofold, direct, and collateral, and, in the one shape or the other, they will diffuse themselves throughout the Union. All parts of the Union will participate, more or less, in both. As to the direct benefit, it is probable that the North and the East will enjoy the largest share. But the West and the South will also participate in them. Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Richmond, will divide with the northern capitals the business of manufacturing. The latter city unites more advantages for its successful prosecution than any other place I know, Zanesville, in Ohio, only excepted. And where the direct benefit does not accrue, that will be enjoyed of supplying the raw material and provisions for the consumption of artisans. Is it not most desirable to put at rest and prevent the annual recurrence of this unpleasant subject, so well fitted, by the various interests to which it appeals, to excite irritation and to produce discontent? Can that be effected by its rejection? Behold the mass of petitions which lie on our table, earnestly and anxiously entreating the protection interposition of Congress against the ruinous policy which we are pursuing. Will these petitioners, comprehending all orders of society, entire States and communities, public companies and private individuals, spontaneously assembling, cease in their humble prayers by your lending a deaf ear? Can you expect that these petitioners and others, in countless numbers, that will, if you delay the passage of this bill, supplicate your mercy, should contemplate their substance gradually withdraw to foreign countries, their ruin slow, but certain and as inevitable as death itself, without one expiring effort? You think the measure injurious to you; we believe our preservation depends upon its adoption. Our convictions, mutually honest, are equally strong. What is to be done? I invoke that saving spirit of mutual concession under which our blessed constitution was formed, and under which alone it can be happily administered. I appeal to the South—to the high-minded, generous, and patriotic South —with which I have so often co-operated, in attempting to sustain the honor and to vindicate the rights of our country. Should it not offer, upon the altar of the public good, some sacrifice of its peculiar opinions? Of what does it complain? A possible temporary enhancement in the objects of consumption. Of what do we complain : A total incapacity, produced by the foreign policy, to purchase, at any price, necessary foreign objects of consumption. In such an alternative, inconvenient only to it, ruinous to us, can we expect too much from Southern magnanimity? The just and contident expectation of the passage of this bill has flooded the country with recent importations of foreign fabrics. If it should not pass, they will complete the work of destruction of our domestic industry. If it should pass, they will prevent any considerable rise in the price of foreign commodities, until our own industry shall be able to supply competent substitutes. To the friends of the tariff I would also anxiously appeal. Every arrangement of its provisions does not suit each of you; you desire some further alterations; you would make it perfect. You want what you will never get. Nothing human is perfect. And I have seen, with great surprise, a piece signed by a member of Congress, published in the “National Intelligencer,” stating that this bill must be rejected, and a judicious tariff brought in as its substitute. A judicious tariff! No member of Congress could have signed that piece; or, if he did, the public ought not to be deceived. If this bill do not pass, unquestionably no other can pass at this session, or probably during this Congress. And who will go home and say, that he rejected all the benefits of this bill, because molasses has been subjected to the enormous additional duty of five cents per gallon ? I call, therefore, upon the friends of the American policy, to yield somewhat of their own peculiar wishes, and not to reject the practicable in the idle pursuit after the unattainable. Let us imitate the illustrious example of the framers of the Constitution, and always remembering that whatever springs from man partakes of his imperfections, depend upon
experience to suggest, in future, the necessary amendments. We have had great difficulties to encounter. First, the splendid talents which are arrayed in this House against us. Second, we are opposed by the rich and the powerful in the land. Third, the executive government, if any, affords us but a cold and equivocal support. Fourth, the importing and navigating interest, I verily believe from misconception, are adverse to us. Fifth, the British factors and the British influence are inimical to our success. Sixth, long-established habits and prejudices oppose us. Seventh, the reviewers and literary speculators, foreign and domestic. And, lastly, the leading presses of the country, including the influence of that which is established in this city, and sustained by the public purse. From some of these, or other causes, the bill may be postponed, thwarted, defeated. But the cause is the cause of the country, and it must and will prevail. It is founded in the interests and affections of the people. It is as native as the granite deeply imbosomed in our mountains. And, in conclusion, I would pray God, in his infinite mercy, to avert from our country the evils which are impending over it, and, by enlightening our councils, to conduct us into that path which leads to riches, to great
ness, to glory.
This address was delivered by Mr. Clay, on the occasion of the presentation of General Lafayette to the House of Representatives of the United States, on the tenth of December, 1824.
GENERAL: The House of Representatives of the United States, impelled alike by its own feelings, and by those of the whole American people, could not have assigned to me a more gratifying duty than that of presenting to you cordial congratulations upon the occasion of your recent arrival in the United States, in compliance with the wishes of Congress, and to assure you of the very high satisfaction which your presence affords on this early theatre of your glory and renown. Although but few of the members who compose this body shared with you in the war of our Revolution, all have, from impartial history, or from faithful tradition, a knowledge of the perils, the sufferings, and the sacrifices, which you voluntarily encountered, and the signal services, in America and in Europe, which you performed for an infant, a distant, and an alien people; and all feel and own the very great extent of the obligations under which you have placed our country. But the relations in which you have ever stood to the United States, interesting and important as
they have been, do not constitute the only motive of the respect and admiration which the House of Representatives entertain for you. Your consistency of character, your uniform devotion to regulated liberty, in all the vicissitudes of a long and arduous life, also commands its admiration. During all the recent convulsions of Europe, amid, as after the dispersion of, every political storm, the people of the United States have beheld you, true to your old principles, firm and erect, cheering and animating with your well-known voice, the votaries of liberty, its faithful and fearless champion, ready to shed the last drop of that blood which here you so freely and nobly spilled, in the same holy cause. The vain wish has been sometimes indulged, that Providence would allow the patriot, after death, to return to his country, and to contemplate the intermediate changes which had taken place; to view the forests felled, the cities built, the mountains levelled, the canals cut, the highways constructed, the progress of the arts, the advancement of learning, and the increase of population. General, your present visit to the United States is a realization of the consoling object of that wish. You are in the midst of posterity. Every where, you must have been struck with the great changes, physical and