War speculations the probable cause of Ruin to Southern manufactures.
--The course-which speculations are taking at the South
in leading articles of trade is curious and to some extent inexplicable.
That the prices of those articles of consumption which are not produced in the South
, and for which we are dependent on outside markets, should rise, is natural and not at all singular.
But a great many articles of consumption for which the South
is not dependent upon other regions, and which she herself manufactures in abundance, are rising as rapidly in price as those just alluded to. The fact of such a rise in the prices of articles of Southern production, may be due, and doubtless is due, in many cases to the want of transportation.
The coast wise trade is broken up, and products which were interchanged between Southern ports by water navigation, have now to be transported wholly by railway.
The extraordinary among of transportation required by Government pre-occupying the railroads, of course the increased transportation required for other goods cannot be accommodated except after much delay, and this circumstance doubtless creates a scarcity of particular products at particular points, enhancing price and placing consumers at the mercy of speculators.
But this cause of high prices in many Southern products does not exist as to other products, and fails to account for the rise of their prices.
Take, for instance, the price of white paper used for newspapers.
The factories procure rags which used to be sent in large quantities to the North
, at about half the price they had to give before the war. They may have to pay a little more now than then for some of the few simple chemicals they employ in the manufactures of paper; but the enhanced cost of these does not at all equal the saving made in the diminished price of rage used.
Yet paper, which therefore was purchased at ten cents cannot now be had at less than fifteen cent.
There can be no good reason, founded of bound principles of business, for such an addition to the price of this article, and the increased charge can only be accounted for by the propensity of human nature to lighten prevailing pressure, and to make hard time-harder.
If the ports were open, and white paper could be procured from the North
, the competition of the Northern
article would keep down the price of the Southern
; but the Southern
manufacturers of this, as well as of many other articles, copying the error of the fool in the fable who killed the goose for the golden egg, are forfeiting in advance all chance of a favorable system of permanent legislation in the future for their benefit, by making the very name of Southern manufacturers the synonym of extortion.
Another striving instance of a needless and causeless advance in the price of a leading article of Southern manufacture is that of cut nails.
Everybody knows that at least the Virginia
market, if not the greater portion of the Southern
market, for this article, was supplied by Southern manufacturers.
Yet, the price of nails has gone up in Richmond
, the chief seat of the manufacture, from four and a half to seven and a half cents; and strong speculations are now organizing to raise the price to ten dollars. There is no sound reason for this rise.
There need be no scarcity of iron in Virginia
, and we have every factory in operation now that we had, before the war; yet the price of nails will more than double.
It will not be front an increase of demand, for building is generally suspended by the war. It cannot be front the deficiency of transportation, for that won't tend to glut the Richmond
market; and it is here that the price advances first and most rapidly.
It is not from deficient supply; for that is the same precisely as before the war. The cause is two-fold; first, the speculation that have been set on foot in the article, by which fortunes have already been made; and second, the absence of competition from the North
, which has tempted manufacturers to put up their prices.
The effect of the course of the manufacturers, first in consenting to sell to speculators at all, and then in putting up their own prices in consequence of the success of speculators in running up theirs, must be plain to every one.
The Southern public will be so disgusted at the extortion that is practiced upon them, that, when peace ensues, the ports are thrown open, and manufacturers petition for protection from foreign competition, including that of the Yankees
, the country will be disposed indignantly to reject their prayer.
The instances we have cited are but examples of a general rule.
The case is worse with woollen and cotton manufactures.--Speculation is rife in every department of trade.
Southern manufacturers, instead of discouraging it, are yielding to, and taking advantage of, the state of things.--Southern manufactures of all sorts are held for double prices, and the seeds of popular indignation against them are sowing all through the Southern
We would sound a friendly warning to Southern manufacturers on this important subject.
The tendency of the Southern
mind strongly in favor of free trade.
Free trade with Europe
will bring in goods after the war so cheap, and so superior to the Northern
fabrics which they have heretofore been accustomed to, that, once trying it, the Southern
people will never consent to give it up again.
Protection, even the most moderate, will be infinitively more unpopular in the South
than it was ever in the old Union.
The thought of it will only be tolerated so far as to place us in a state of self-dependence and self protection in time of war; and yet the present course of Southern manufacturers may render them so unpopular that the Southern
people will prefer to do without their help altogether, as a mean of escaping their extortion.