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[29]

The Cotton culture introduced under protection.

But the history of the great Southern staple is most curious and instructive. His Majesty “King Cotton,” on his throne, does not seem to be aware of the in-fluences which surrounded his cradle. The culture of cotton, on any considerable scale, is well known to be of recent date in America. The household manufacture of cotton was coeval with the settlement of the country. A century before the piano-forte or the harp was seen on this continent, the music of the spinning-wheel was heard at every fire-side in town and country. The raw materials were wool, flax, and cotton, the last imported from the West Indies. The colonial system of Great Britain before the Revolution forbade the establishment of any other than household manufactures. Soon after the Revolution, cotton mills were erected in Rhode Island and Massachusetts, and the infant manufacture was encouraged by State duties on the imported fabric. The raw material was still derived exclusively from the West Indies. Its culture in this country was so extremely limited and so little known, that a small parcel sent from the United States to Liverpool in 1784 was seized at the custom-house there, as an illicit importation of British colonial produce. Even as late as 1794, and by persons so intelligent as the negotiators of Jay's treaty, it was not known that cotton was an article of growth and export from the United States. In the twelfth article of that treaty, as laid before the Senate, Cotton was included with Molasses, Sugar, Coffee, and Cocoa, as articles which American vessels should not be permitted to carry from the islands or from the United States to any foreign country.

In the Revenue law of 1789, as it passed through the House of Representatives, cotton, with other raw materials, was placed on the free list. When the bill reached the Senate a duty of 3 cents per pound was laid upon cotton, not to encourage, not to protect, but to create the domestic culture. On the discussion of this amendment in the House, a member from South Carolina declared that “Cotton was in contemplation” in South Carolina and Georgia, “and if good seed could be procured he hoped it might succeed.” On this hope the amendment of the Senate was concurred in, and the duty of three cents per pound was laid on cotton. In 1791, Hamilton, in his report on the manufactures, recommended the repeal of this duty, on the ground that it was “a very serious impediment to the manufacture of cotton,” but his recommendation was disregarded.

Thus, in the infancy of the cotton manufacture of the North, at the moment when they were deprived of the protection extended to them before the Constitution by State laws, and while they were struggling against English competition under the rapidly improving machinery of Arkwright, which it was highly penal to export to foreign countries, a heavy burden was laid upon them by this protecting duty, to enable the planters of South Carolina and Georgia to explore the tropics for a variety of cotton seed adapted to their climate. For seven years at least, and probably more, this duty was in every sense of the word a protecting duty. There was not a pound of cotton spun, no not for candle-wicks to light the humble industry of the cottages of the North, which did not pay this tribute to the Southern planter. The growth of the native article, as we have seen, had not in 1794 reached a point to be known to Chief Justice Jay as one of actual or probable export. As late as 1796, the manufacturers of Brandywine in Delaware petitioned

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