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Morrill, Justin Smith 1810-

Legislator; born in Strafford, Vt., April 14, 1810; received an academic education: engaged in mercantile business till 1848, then became interested in agriculture. He entered the national House of Representatives as a Republican in 1855, and served there till March 4, 1867, when he was transferred to the Senate, where he had the longest unbroken term in the history of that body. [277] For this reason he became popularly known as “the Father of the Senate.” He opposed the admission of Kansas as a slave State in 1855; introduced the tariff bill known by his name in 1861; and was a member of the Senate committee on finance from 1867 till his death in Washington, D. C., Dec. 28, 1898.

Justin Smith Morrill.

Taking an active part in all the debates relating to the tariff and to coinage, his most notable speech was that in which he opposed the remonetization of silver (see below) on Jan. 28, 1878.

The remonetization of silver.

Mr. President,—The bill now before the Senate provides for the resuscitation of the obsolete dollar of 412 1/2 grains of silver, which Congress entombed in 1834 by an act which diminished the weight of gold coins to the extent of 6 6/10 per cent., and thus bade a long farewell to silver. It is to be a dollar made of metal worth 53 5/3 pence per ounce, or 10 cents less in value than a gold dollar, and on Jan. 3, awkwardly enough, worth 8 3/4 cents less than a dollar in greenbacks, gold being only 1 1/4 per cent. premium, but, nevertheless, to be a legal tender for all debts, public or private, except where otherwise provided by contract. The words seem to be aptly chosen to override and annul whatever now may be otherwise provided by law. Beyond this, as the bill came from the House, the holders of silver bullion —not the government or the whole people —were to have all the profits of coinage and the government all of the expense. . . .

The bill, if it becomes a law, must at the very threshold arrest the resumption of specie payments, for, were the holders of the United States notes suddenly willing to exchange them for much less than their present value, payment even in silver is to be postponed indefinitely. For years United States notes have been slowly climbing upward, but now they are to have a sudden plunge downward, and in every incompleted contract, great and small, the robbery of Peter to pay Paul is to be foreordained. The whole measure looks to me like a fearful assault upon the public credit. The losses it will inflict upon the holders of paper money and many others will be large, and if the bill, without further radical amendments, obtains the approval of the Senate, it will give the death-blow to the cardinal policy of the country, which now seeks a large reduction of the rate of interest upon our national debt. Even that portion now held abroad will come back in a stampede to be exchanged for gold at any sacrifice. The ultimate result would be, when the supply for customs shall have been coined and the first effervescence has passed away, the emission of silver far below the standard of gold; and when the people become tired of it, disgusted or ruined by its stability, as they soon would be, a fresh clamor may be expected for the remonetization of gold, and another clipping or debasing of gold coins may follow to bring them again into circulation on the basis of silver equivalency. In this slippery descent there can be no stoppingplace. The consoling philosophy of the silver commission may then be repeated, that a fall in the value of either or both of the metals is a “benefaction to mankind.” If that were true, then copper, being more abundant and of lower value, should be used in preference to either gold or silver, The gravity of these questions will not be disputed. . . .

If any have silver to sell it is comparatively a small matter, and yet we [278] earnestly desire that they may obtain for it the highest, as well as the most stable, price; but not at the expense of corn, cotton, and wheat; and it is to be hoped, if any have debts to meet now or hereafter, that they may meet them with the least inconvenience consistent with plain, downright integrity; but, from being led astray Ly the loud declamations of those who earn nothing themselves and know no trade but spoliation of the earnings of others, let them heartily say, “Good Lord, deliver us.” . . .

A stupid charge, heretofore, in the front of debate has been made, and wickedly repeated in many places, that the Coinage Act of 1873 was secretly and clandestinely engineered through Congress without proper consideration or knowledge of its contents; but it is to be noted that this charge had its birth and growth years after the passage of the act, and not until after the fall of silver. Long ago it was declared by one of the old Greek dramatists that “No lie ever grows old.” This one is fresh and boneless now as at its birth, and, therefore, swallowed with avidity by those to whom such food is nutritious, or by those who have no appetite for searching the documents and records for facts. Whether the act itself was right or wrong does not depend upon the degradation of Congress implied in the original charge. Interested outsiders may glory in libelling Congress, but why should its own members? The act may be good and Congress bad, and yet it is to be hoped that the latter has not fallen to the level of its traducers. But there has been no fall of Congress: only a fall of silver. To present the abundant evidence showing that few laws were ever more openly proposed, year after year, and squarely understood than the Coinage Act of 1873, will require but a moment. It had been for years elaborately considered and reported upon by the deputy comptroller of the currency. The special attention of Congress was called to the bill and the report by the Secretary of the Treasury in his annual report for 1870. 1871, and 1872, where the “new features” of the bill, “discontinuing the coinage of the silver dollar,” were fully set forth. The extensive correspondence of the department had been printed in relation to the proposed bill, and widely circulated. The bill was separately printed eleven times, and twice in reports of the deputy comptroller of the currency—thirteen times in all—and so printed by order of Congress. A copy of the printed bill was many times on the table of every Senator, and I now have all of them here before me in large type. It was considered at much length by the appropriate committees of both Houses of Congress: and the debates at different times upon the bill in the Senate filed sixty-six columns of the Globe, and in the House seventy-eight columns of the Globe. No argus-eyed debater objected by ally amendment to the discontinuance of the silver dollar. In substance the bill twice passed each House, and was finally agreed upon and reported by a very able and trustworthy committee of conference, where Mr. Sherman, Mr. Scott, and Mr. Bayard appeared on the part of the Senate. . . .

The gold standard, it may confidently be asserted, is practically far cheaper than that of silver. I do not insist upon having the gold standard, but if we are to have but one, I think that the best. The expense of maintaining a metallic currency is, of course, greater than that of paper; but it must be borne in mind that a paper currency is only tolerable when convertible at the will of the holder into coin—and no one asks for more than that. A metallic currency is also subject to considerable loss by abrasion or the annual wear; and it is quite important to know which metal —gold or silver—can be most cheaply supported. A careful examination of the subject conclusively shows that the loss is nearly in proportion to the length of time coins have been in circulation, and to the amount of surface exposed, although small coins, being handled with less care, suffer most. The well-ascertained result is that it costs from fifteen to twenty-five times more to keep silver afloat than it does to maintain the same amount in gold. To sustain the silver standard would annually cost about 1 per cent, from abrasion: but that of gold would not exceed onetwentieth of 1 per cent. This is a troublesome charge, forever to bristle up in the pathway of a silver standard. It must also be borne in mind that the mint cost of coining silver is many times greater [279] than that of the same amount in gold. More than 16 tons of silver are required as the equivalent of 1 ton of gold. As a cold matter of fact, silver is neither the best nor the cheapest standard. It is far dearer to plant and forever dearer to maintain.

A double standard put forth by us on the terms now proposed by the commission or by the House bill would be so only in name. The perfect dual ideal of theorists, based upon an exact equilibrium of values, cannot be realized while the intrinsic value of either of the component parts is overrated or remains a debatable question and everywhere more or less open to suspicion. A standard of value linked to the changing fortunes of two metals instead of one, when combined with an existing disjointed and all-pervading confusion in the ratio of value, must necessarily be linked to the hazard of double perturbations and become an alternating standard in perpetual motion.

The bimetallic scheme, with silver predominant—largely everywhere else suspended, if not repudiated—is pressed upon us now with a ratio that will leave nothing in circulation but silver, as a profitable mode of providing a new and cheaper way of pinching and paying the national debt; but a mode which would leave even a possible cloud upon our national credit should find neither favor nor tolerance among a proud and independent people.

The proposition is openly and squarely made to pay the public debt at our option in whichever metal, gold or silver, happens to be cheaper, and chiefly for the reason that silver already happens to be at least 10 per cent. the cheapest. In 1873 to have paid the debt in silver would have cost 3 per cent. more than to have paid it in gold, and then there was no unwillingness on the part of the present non-contents to pay in gold. Silver was worth more then to sell than to pay debts. No one then pulled out the hair of his head to cure grief for the disappearance of the nominal silver option. Since that time it has been and would be now cheaper nominally to pay in silver if we had it, and, therefore, we are urged to repudiate our former action and to claim the power to resume an option already once supposed to have been profitably exercised, of which the world was called upon to take notice, and to pay in silver to-day or to let it alone to-morrow. I know that the detestable doctrine of Machiavelli was that “a prudent prince ought not to keep his word except when he can do it without injury to himself” ; but the Bible teaches a different doctrine, and honoreth him “who sweareth to his own hurt and changeth not.” If we would not multiply examples of individual financial turpitude, already painfully numerous, we must not trample out conscience and sound morality from the monetary affairs of the nation. The “option” about which we should be most solicitous was definitely expressed by Washington when he said: “There is an option left to the United States whether they will be respectable and prosperous or contemptible and miserable as a nation.” Our national self-respect will not be increased when Turkey, as a debtpaying nation, shall be held as our equal and Mexico as our superior. The credit of a great nation cannot even be discussed without some loss; it cannot even be tempted by the devious advantages of legal technicalities without bringing some sense of shame; but to live, it must go, like chastity, unchallenged and unsuspected. . . .

The argument relied upon in favor of a bimetallic standard as against a monometallic seems to be that a single-metal standard leaves out one-half of the world's resources; but the same thing must occur with the bimetallic standard unless the metals can be placed and kept in a state of exact equilibrium, or so that nothing can be gained by the exchange of one for the other. Hitherto this has been an unattainable perfection. A law fixing the ratio of sixteen or fifteen and one-half of silver to one of gold, as proposed by different members of the commission, would now be a gross over-valuation of silver and wholly exclude gold from circulation. It will hardly be disputed that the two metals cannot circulate together unless they are mutually convertible without profit or loss at the ratio fixed at the mint. But it is here proposed to start silver with a large legal-tender advantage above its market value, and with the probability, through further depreciation, of [280] increasing that advantage by which the monometallic standard of silver will be ordained and confirmed. The argument in behalf of a double standard is doubletongued, when in fact nothing is intended, or can be the outcome, but a simple silver standard. The argument would wed silver and gold, but the conditions which follow amount to a decree of perpetual divorcement. Enforce the measure by legislation, and gold would at once flee out of the country. Like liberty, gold never stays where it is undervalued.

No approach to a bimetallic currency of uniform and fixed value can be possible, as it appears to me, without the co-operation of the leading commercial nations. Even with that co-operation its accomplishment and permanence may not be absolutely certain, unless the late transcendent fickleness of the supply and demand subsides, or unless the ratio of value can be adjusted with more consummate accuracy than has hitherto been found by any single nation to be practicable. . . .

I have failed of my purpose if I have not shown that there has been so large an increase of the stock of silver as of itself to effect a positive reduction of its value: and that this result has been confirmed and made irreversible by the new and extensive European disuse of silver coinage. I have indicated the advisability of obtaining the co-operation of other leading nations, in fixing upon a common ratio of value between gold and silver, before embarking upon a course of independent action from which there could be no retreat. I have also attempted to show that, even in the lowest pecuniary sense of profit, the government of the United States could not be the gainer by proposing to pay either the public debt or the United States notes in silver; that such a payment would violate public pledges as to the whole, and violates existing statutes as to all that part of the debt contracted since 1870, and for which gold has been received; that the remonetization of silver means the banishment of gold and our degradation among nations to the second or third rank; that it would be a sweeping 10 per cent. reduction of all duties upon imports, requiring the imposition of new taxes to that extent; that it would prevent the further funding of the public debt at a lower rate of interest and give to the present holders of our 6-per-cent. bonds a great advantage; that, instead of aiding resumption, it would only inflate a currency already too long depreciated, and consign it to a still lower deep; that, instead of being a tonic to spur idle capital once more into activity, it would be its bane, destructive of all vitality; and that as a permanent silver standard it would not only be void of all stability, and the dearest in its introduction and maintenance, but that it would reduce wages to the full extent of the difference there might be between its purchasing power and that of gold.

Free-trade or protection.

In 1890 Senator Morrill made the following contribution to the Gladstone-Blaine controversy concerning free-trade and protection:

Any extended argument of the Right Honorable W. E. Gladstone must always afford ample evidence of great ability, as well as wealth of learning, and it would have been presumption on my part to reply to his argument in support of free-trade, if it were not that protection was the easy side of the question. It was a further encouragement when I found, upon examining in detail Mr. Gladstone's free-trade argumentation, that I could sincerely reciprocate some of his own words, and say, While we listen to a melody presented to us as new, the idea gradually arises in the mind, “I have heard this before,” and it has been heard by me so often from our Democratic revenue-reform friends that the refrain, if not a bore, excites neither delight nor alarm.

Remembering, as I do, the masterly speech of Mr. Gladstone when, as chancellor of the exchequer, he opened the debate on the budget of 1853, and also his later eloquent series of remarkable speeches for three days in the Midlothian campaign, I can have no feeling but that of the highest respect for one who must be regarded as the foremost living statesman of our mother-country. For this discussion he appears to have formulated a rule, after the manner of the Marquis of Queensberry, which I cannot refuse to accept, that “in the arena of discussion” [281] one must take his chance as “a common combatant, entitled to free speech and to fair treatment, but to nothing more.”

It is my purpose to controvert some share of the free-trade assertions directly, but for the most part by the general scope of my reply, as to copy at length all of the statements to be refuted, and to follow each with a special reply, would cover too much space. Happily, Mr. Gladstone does not sweeten freetrade by another name and conceal it by what, in America, has been styled its “varioloid,” revenue reform.

Mr. Gladstone appears to have had the subject of “Free-trade or protection” on the anvil ever since he was challenged to its discussion by Mr. McKay, pending the Presidential election of 1888. He admits the victory of protection in that election, but strives to convince Americans of their folly. His great ability as an instructor may be admitted, and his teachings in Great Britain, where he has bad experience, are deservedly of the highest authority; but in America, where we all regret that he has never set his foot, they are as unworthy of practical application and as much out of place as British laws for the regulation of the government of India would be if applied to the Dominion of Canada.

It will be claimed by me that the logic of facts and results is more worthy of acceptance than any theory, however plausible it may seem to be, and that by this test American protection has long been triumphant; not arguing that an excess of protection would be beneficial, but in favor of such moderate and healthful discrimination as will protect American industries, from their birth to maturity, against destruction by foreign competition.

Protectionists deny that there is any possible scientific system of tariff upon foreign imports which merits and requires universal application. It is a question of practical experience alone as to what may be best at the time for each and every independent nation, to be most intelligently determined by its own legislative authority.

Mr. Gladstone assumes, in substance, as free-traders generally assume, that freetrade, or the let-alone revenue system, which was started in 1846 with the repeal of the Corn Laws, and practically adopted by Great Britain less than thirty years ago, is based on scientific truth, natural law, and moral virtue, applicable to all nations and to all times alike, and that any other system is not only false, but wasteful and unchristian. This overlauded economical discovery appears to have been unknown to Bacon and Locke, Newton and Paley, unregarded by a great majority of enlightened Christian nations, and especially unregarded by the British colonies. And yet it seems almost a personal grief to Mr. Gladstone that the United States should be unwilling to accept the beatitudes of free-trade, although British interests, as he claims, have prospered, and will prosper, in spite of American adherence to protection. Why not, then, let us alone?

If the whole world were one vast Utopia of communistic brethren, and swords were to be beaten into ploughshares and spears into pruning-hooks, free-trade might be the accepted gospel of all international intercourse, and the glories of patriotism shunned as a reproach; but the world is a conglomerate of different races of men. having discordant ambitions, higher and lower conditions of civilization and wealth, many religious creeds, unequal physical and mental vigor, and aptitudes and habits as diverse as color and climate. The idea that there is any economical principle, whether of science, nature, or morals, which should be left to its own course, and that nothing should be done by any people through legislation to change or to elevate and increase their industrial power, is the fetich of British free-traders. As well might all social virtues be left unprotected and without legislation. As well leave all individuals without the help of education as to leave the nation without such help. It is nothing less than the old fallacy, “Shoot without taking aim, and you will be sure to hit the mark.” Can any friend of Ireland, for instance, after years of close contact with a great free-trade kingdom, and with two-thirds of its productive area abandoned to permanent pasture, believe that the free-trade policy has been best for Ireland? The sublime virtue of having no prejudices in favor of their own country does not seem [282] to have taken root in that part of the United Kingdom.

Mr. Gladstone claims that other nations, and above all others the United States, have derived immense benefits through British free-trade legislation. If this should be admitted, as it need not be, why, then, should the United States wish to revolutionize and change its position by a change of its revenue policy? But he says, “We (Great Britain) have not on this ground any merits or any claims whatever. We legislated for our own benefit and are satisfied with the benefits we have received.” Other nations are also satisfied that have legislated for their own benefit, though adversely to freetrade, as, with the exception of the Britannic Isle, the whole of Europe and America now adheres to the doctrine of protection. The people of every nation must be allowed to comprehend best what will be for their own benefit, notwithstanding the gracious efforts of British statesmen to promulgate their precepts and expound their virtuous example. Few outside of Great Britain will care to dispute that free-trade may now be her wisest policy, and perhaps a paramount necessity; nor will any one doubt, were it otherwise, that the policy of free-trade, in spite of the moral sublimity now claimed for it, would be swiftly changed, whether the Tory or the Liberal party were in power. British wealth, however, was founded upon the most stubborn measures of protection that the world has ever known, which were only discontinued after they had accomplished their chief and greatest work—the general perfection and supremacy of their manufactures—as protection, with an enterprising people, is designed to accomplish. Protection was no longer needed, but cheap bread and cheap wages were the British problem to be solved by free-trade.

Great Britain formerly not only exacted heavy protective duties from merchandise imported into her home territories, but she pitilessly monopolized both the export and import trade of her numerous colonies—drawing sustenance from the bosoms of her own daughters, from which the fortunes and titles of many great families were created and the mercantile power of the kingdom established. These colonies are now far more prosperous under their own protective policy, but the mother-country continues to be largely their creditor, and still profits by a large share of their trade.

After nearly 400 years of the most unexampled protection, Great Britain acquired the command of capital, machinery, steam-power, and of long-trained labor, including even that of children, by which to compete successfully in the chief markets for the trade of the world. Her labor during the long season of protection, though never sinking to the level of the Continent, had long been underpaid, by direct act of Parliament until 1813, and underpaid to this day by class domination. It may be true that the wages of British workmen have advanced in the progress of the age even under the system of freetrade, not post hoc, ergo propter hoc, but because their best workmen have had a whip in their own hands, and for $20 have had the power in one week to transplant themselves to America, where they could be better fed, better clothed, better educated, and better housed, or where, with fewer hours of labor, they could add from 50 to 100 per cent. to their wages. American competition has thus compelled an increase of free-trade wages, which must be conceded, or their best men would desert the manufacturers, and the latter, it should be confessed, do not seem to be grateful to the American promoters of such good works.

It follows that the British workmen have derived and still derive an immense benefit from the system of American protection. We claim no merit for this, because we also “have legislated for our own benefit and are satisfied with the benefits we have received.” The number of British immigrants to the United States, for the year ending Dec. 31, 1888, was 171,141, more being from England than from any other part of the kingdom, and a large proportion being mechanics and skilled workmen. This does not include the many thousands arriving through the back door of Canada, of whom no account is made. This ceaseless flow of British immigrants supplies a multitude of potential reasons why wages in England “have become both generally and absolutely higher, and greatly [283] higher, under free-trade.” Mr. McKay may not have been entirely accurate as to the wages paid in Wigan, though there is unlimited proof on the general subject of the great disparity of British wages when compared with American; but the living testimony of these thousands of British immigrants is an incontestable support of the American contention of protection against all theories.

Workmen in Great Britain, when out of employment, are said to have no resource but the workhouse, but American workmen generally own their own houses, take their own newspapers, and have money in savings-banks. The increase in wages under protection enormously increases the power of consumption by wage-earners and by their families, while free-trade only increases the luxuries of the rich, and the common people find them beyond their reach.

Slavery in America, not caring for the wages of labor, long wedded many Southern States to free-trade, but, having parted from slavery, they are now fast finding reasons for a divorce from free-trade.

Free-trade does not even profess regard for the wages of artisans, and is based wholly on the idea of supplying the demands of the consumer at the lowest cost. How the armies which delve in mines and work in mills and factories are fed and housed, educated and paid, does not concern the “dismal science” of free-trade. —if only they can be cheaply paid. They start in the race by challenging the competition of the lowest-paid laborers of all the world. That wages under freetrade, in such a race, can be equal to wages under protection is glaringly preposterous.

Mr. Gladstone asserts that “in your protected trades profits are hard pressed by wages.” The fair inference is—reversing the proposition—that profits of capital are not hard pressed by wages under free-trade. In other words, wages must be hard pressed by free-trade, and this is painfully exhibited by the present abounding strikes of British workmen.

Mr. Gladstone gives Mr. Griffen as authority on British wages, and claims that from 1833 to 1883 the wages paid on exportable manufactures of Bradford and Huddersfield have advanced 20 and 30 per cent. Why go back so far when the cornplete enjoyment of free-trade is only claimed for less than thirty years? It would possibly be more fair to assume that much of the advance claimed may have occurred long before the era of free-trade. In America we go back further than 1860 to claim an advance of more than double the amount specified in the wages of laborers, both in factories and on farms. But, as Mr. Gladstone does not insist that wages are not higher in America under protection than in Great Britain under free-trade, it would seem superfluous to offer statistical proofs of the wide difference known to exist, and with which the public on both sides of the Atlantic are not altogether unfamiliar. One fresh illustration of the difference, however, may not be inopportune. The late great wage-strike of the London dockmen was made to obtain an increase of one penny per hour—6d. (12 cents), instead of 5d. (10 cents), per hour—and the increase of one penny per hour has been reckoned as a crowning victory. But the longshoremen, employed in the same kind of work on the docks of New York, are paid 30 cents an hour for day, and 40 cents an hour for night, work. Twelve cents an hour was stoutly resisted in freetrade London, while 250 per cent. higher wages still prevail under protection in New York.

Protectionists claim, as Bismarck claims, that protection puts the chief burden upon the foreigner, who is compelled to pay the duty or give an equivalent by reducing the price of his products. They also claim that, in the long run, the consumers supply their wants at less cost than would be possible without protested home competition. For example, years ago moquette carpets brought $5 to $6 per yard, but under protection, and owing to a loom invented by an American, they are now sold at $1.50 per yard and sometimes for less. Bessemer steel rails in 1867 brought $166 per ton, but with a protective duty the price in 1885 was only $28.50 per ton, and $27.50 in 1888. From 1867 to 1888 there were made in the United States 15,803,011 tons of steel rails, and 1,256,857 tons were imported. This new industry gives employment to many [284] thousands of people, and presents only a single example of many showing the creation, as well as the increase, of the wage fund by protection. American railroads unquestionably obtained their steel rails in the aggregate at far less cost than would have been possible even with free rails and dependence upon foreign supply and foreign prices. When the American demand in 1872 exceeded the home supply, the British price at once was advanced from 230s. per ton to 350s., and again in 1880 the British price was for the same reason advanced from 170s. per ton to 200s. This shows how merciless would be the greed of foreigners were our manufactures suspended for lack of protection.

Home manufactures planted in every State alongside of the farmer largely. save in distribution the heavy cost and waste of long transportation. Foreign merchandise landed at some seaport must be distributed at great expense across the whole country, and exports of grain must be freighted from the remotest interior States to seaports and then across the Atlantic. Both of these outlays are either wholly avoided or greatly reduced by the presence of home manufactures, which are sold (their value being well known) by the wholesale, as well as the retail, dealer for a much smaller commission than are foreign goods, of the cost and merit of which the public are ignorant.

The immediate proximity to farmers of manufactures is an advantage so great that the holdings of farmers, in every locality of America where such proximity exists, can readily be sold for more than 50 per cent. above the price of land where manufactures have not been established, and annually yield a much larger income.

Americans prefer to make a home market for all of their agricultural products, and not to depend upon uncertain and elusive foreign markets. Every ship-load of wheat or corn exported not only impoverishes the fertility of the land whence it was taken, but tends to reduce both the price abroad and at home. Free-trade in America would cripple, perhaps ruin, both agriculture and manufactures, and protection is accorded to both; for here it is applied to both, and tends not only to shield them from harm, but has operated to increase the wages of agricultural labor equally with the wages of employes in manufactories, which shows that any pretence about unprotected labor is wholly false and intended by American free-traders only to deceive.

We have no class legislation, and protection protects one-half of the population no more than the other; wool as well as cloth. All of our people are now free to labor where they choose, where they can earn the most and receive the highest reward; and the man who to-day works on the farm may to-morrow, if he pleases, find employment in the mine, mill, or factory, and obtain the customary wages awarded to like skill and service.

Protection turns out not merely good work, but the best. Local competition always pushes the best to the front. American locomotives are received in Australia, New Zealand, South America, and elsewhere, as equal to any in the world, and as cheap. Some British manufacturers and traders stamp their cotton goods with American trade-marks, because similar American goods, wherever known, fetch the highest price. Housefurnishing and saddlery, hardware, locks, joiners' tools, watches, silverware, jewelry, paper of all kinds, and many other articles of American manufacture are often both superior to and cheaper than similar articles produced abroad. Our agricultural implements are recognized everywhere as the best inventions of the age. American sewing-machines and carriages easily take the lead of foreign fashions and foreign makes. When Mr. Gladstone presented to his forester an axe, he did not seek for one of English make, but found the best and presented one of American make.

Mr. Gladstone declares that under high duties they had the “worst corks in Europe.” This was deplorable, but if they had only adopted the American remedy of the Maine law, they would not even have had “To stop for one bad cork the butler's pay,”
as the demand for corks would suddenly have been estopped. On our part, it is remembered that, prior to the development of home manufactures, America was forced to accept such sorry foreign goods as were [285] offered, and here was the great dumpingplace for inferior and Brummagem articles, which, like Pindar's razors, were “made only to sell.” Protection has brought relief from such opposition.

Mr. Gladstone would be humorous, and endeavors to plunge the advocates of protection into the mire of a reductio ad absurdum by saying:

If the proper object for the legislator is to keep and employ in his country the greatest possible amount of capital, then the British Parliament (exempli gratia) ought to protect not only wheat, but pineapples.

This tropical illustration, though dimmed by age and long service, shows that freetraders claim not only a monopoly of trade, but of common-sense. The pineapple argument may be dismissed as too farfetched.

But Mr. Gladstone appears fond of extremes, and pursues the subject by adding the following:

If protection be, as its champions (or victims) hold, in itself an economical good, then it holds in the sphere of production the same place as belongs to truth in the sphere of philosophy, or to virtue in the sphere of morals. In this case, you cannot have too much of it: so that, while mere protection is economical good in embryo, such good finds its full development only in the prohibition of foreign trade.

It may be observed, “in the sphere of philosophy,” that in the case of fire, water, and air, though all are useful servants, no one would say of either, “You cannot have too much of it.” The supporters of American protection, on their guard against all suicidal extremes, propose to reduce, as they have reduced, protective legislation, wherever and whenever the prosperity of their countrymen requires it, and are in no danger of being burned or drowned by protection, though they cannot escape an occasional gust of free-trade from the trade-winds across the Atlantic.

Evidently Mr. Gladstone would enforce the reverse of his proposition, or that “you cannot have too much of” free-trade; doubtless feeling that other nations cannot have too much of it to suit Great Britain. If free-trade is one of the moral virtues, however, as seems to be claimed, is it not rather reckless, “in the sphere of morals,” to disregard the wisdom of classic ages handed down by the axiom. In medio tutissimus ibis? In their hardpressed corn, iron, cotton, and silk industries, are there not many Englishmen ready to say of free-trade, “Good Lord, deliver us” ?

Certainly Mr. Gladstone has a fondness for the logic of extreme cases, and he asks, in relation to the greater profit in keeping labor and capital at home, this question:

But if this really is so, if there be this inborn fertility in the principle itself, why are the several States of the Union precluded from applying it within their own respective borders?

If this were asked with the expectation of serious consideration, it might be answered that local tariffs between the States would not only be inexpedient, but impossible to enforce, and they are properly superseded by the far better protection afforded by the general government. As a nation, we are one great family, or, as he calls us, “a world, and not a very little world,” where each one of the members contributes to the general welfare, where free-trade has a special and exceptional domain for its proper development, and where its results are beneficent. As dependencies of Great Britain, we were annually robbed and had no protection, and therefore declared our independence. It was a great point through the union then established to escape local State tariffs, and national protection was secured in our very earliest legislative acts.

It may not be impertinent now to offer a Roland for an Oliver, and to inquire, if there he inborn fertility in the principle of free-trade, why it is not beneficently applied to the several large and populous colonies of Great Britain by the omnipotence of the British Parliament. Surely a measure of this transcendent importance, which keeps her legislators constantly awake looking with anxious pity after the fiscal and moral interests of the United States, should not permit them to sleep when it equally concerns (to borrow Mr. Gladstone's phrases) the waste, robbery, and imposition that are so rampant in British colonies and dependencies—embracing one-seventh of the land surface of the globe and nearly one-fourth of its population. “Why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but [286] considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?” Is it possible that Mr. Gladstone should have been unmindful of these great possessions—virgin fields for the planting of unadulterated free-trade—when he penned the following eloquent sentence?

“There opens before the thinking mind when this supreme question is propounded a vista so transcending all ordinary limitations as requires an almost preterhuman force and expansion of the mental eye in order to embrace it.”

America won the battle for the colonists in 1776, when they were not suffered by Great Britain to work in the more refined manufactures even for their own consumption. The erection of steel-furnaces and slit-mills in any of her American plantations was prohibited. The exportation from one province to another by water, or even the carriage by land upon horseback or in a cart, of hats, wool, and woollen goods of the produce of America was also wholly prohibited. We have changed all that.

Mr. Gladstone is pleased to say

“That in international transactions the British nation for the present enjoys a commercial primacy; that no country in the world shows any capacity to wrest it from us, except it be America; that, if America shall frankly adopt and steadily maintain a system of free-trade, she will by degrees, perhaps not slow degrees, outstrip us in the race, and will probably take the place which at present belongs to us; but that she will not injure us by the operation.”

When all the great markets of the world are drying up as to imports of manufactures, and are being supplied by their own home products, how is it possible that the United States would not, as a rival, injure British trade by coming to the front and taking the place and primacy which at present belong to Great Britain? Their government is making ambitious efforts in every quarter of the globe to obtain an increase of its foreign trade, and, if that is now diminishing, or insufficient for one, how can it be enough for two, or for both England and America?

Of course Mr. Gladstone is sincere. He is among the first, if not the foremost, of loyal Englishmen, and could not be induced to advocate any measure that would not benefit his own country. He sees that free-trade with America would offer a prodigious market for British manufactures, and that absorbing advantage hides everything beyond. But it will not be forgotten that the leaders of Great Britain, he proudly eminent among them, not very long since were quite willing that such primacy as we then alone enjoyed on the American continent should be nullified and overthrown, and for their unlawful aid in that direction made an atonement of $15,000,000.

But Mr. Gladstone plainly and bluntly builds all of his castles in the air relating to our primacy upon our producing more wheat, corn, cotton, and mineral oils for foreign export, and says that we should not invest “in mills or factories to produce yarn or cloth which we could obtain more cheaply from abroad.” It follows that he would have the primacy wholly restricted to agricultural exports, and is oblivious of the fact—while his own country furnishes a very limited and about the only foreign market—that our present exports of these products operate adversely upon our agricultural interests, and that the policy of American protection is vigorously maintained in order to create a larger body of consumers at home and to give to agriculture higher rewards. Why should not America have its own home markets? Surely nature is not against it, morality is not against it, and, if free-trade science is against it, so much the worse for the science. We must make the market we do not and cannot elsewhere find. We have found that often less has been obtained for a very large export of cotton than for a medium or smaller one, showing that an excessive crop pays the least profit. Some of our Western States have also found the largest crop of corn most valuable as their cheapest fuel, and the wheat crop in some of our Territories, like that of the apple elsewhere, when very large, pays little more than for the harvesting.

Beyond this, Russia, Egypt, India, and other countries leave us to supply only a pitiful share of any deficiency of European food crops, and that at the minimum prices. South America, and our great American desert, improved by irrigation, may also soon prove the marvels of the age in the production of food crops. [287] An increase of the supply from any quarter would instantly depress foreign prices, leaving for American exports losses instead of profits; and our farming interests, with increased crops and without an increase of consumers, would sink to the level of those now so greatly depressed in Great Britain. Again, if, as suggested, we were no longer to protect and support home manufactures, or investments in “mills and factories,” but put our home market of 95 per cent. in limbo, or the paradise of fools, in order to increase the 5 per cent. (not including cotton) which we occasionally have of such exports, how long would it be before the prices of the products of foreign “mills and factories” would mount far above the present current rates in America? Our manufactures, outside of household industries, amounted in 1880 to $5,369,579,191, and it is estimated will reach $7,000,000,000 in 1890. Were we to surrender this unmatched field to free-trade, the immense capital invested must be largely sacrificed, and thousands of laborers turned adrift, “the world all before them where to choose.” Europeans, with their

Made glorious summer,

would rush to fill the void with their products, upon their own terms, and for them a new world would have been discovered by free-trade.

Purchasers of home products are sure to retain capital for the wage fund of laborers in their own country and keep it in circulation; but when purchases are made abroad the capital goes to a bourn whence it never returns.

The increment of capital employed in British manufactures is apparently becoming unsatisfactory and doubtful. If this were not so, why are there so many millions of British capital at the present moment fleeing from their free-trade home and running to and fro in America as supplicants for any random employment? Evidently the wage fund for English workmen would appear to be unstable and on the wing.

As to the charge of waste in practical protection, it would be equally just to charge the blessings of the falling rain and the heat of the summer sun with undue waste. It will be sufficient for an American to point to the fact that the United States since 1860, notwithstanding the boundless losses of both North and South in the late war, has much more than doubled its wealth and population, and since 1865 has reduced its public debt by the large sum of $1,693,426,676, so that our yearly interest charge per capita was in 1888 only 63 cents, while that of Great Britain was $3.75 per capita, or nearly six times as much. When any equal prosperity shall be visible among the people of Great Britain, it may be proper to meditate on the felicities of freetrade. In this debt-paying race for the primacy, the British are just now only in sight, and Americans are not hard pressed by any rivals.

Free-trade miserably fails to offer remunerative employment or any vitality to the forces of the great mass of the people, and the waste of latent power is enormous. The division of the British population according to occupation, as set forth in their own statistical publications. of 1889, was:

Agricultural and industrial10,818,206
Indefinite, unoccupied, and non-productive19,703,745

Is not free-trade responsible for this extraordinary excess of the non-productive population? These plethoric millions of mere drones surely cannot all be justly charged to the aristocracy.

It will be proper to inquire, What is the practical system of British free-trade, which Americans are so urgently pressed by British statesmen, and by others who are not statesmen, to adopt? It may have worked well or ill for Great Britain; but what is there about it that should lead Americans to renounce the legislative precedents and the wisdom of their fathers, and to abandon the highway of their past and present matchless prosperity in order to follow a later-born experiment of our foremost rival in commerce and manufactures? “I fear the Greeks even when they bring gifts.”

To answer the question, we are limited to a survey of the solitary British example, for no other nation treats free-trade as anything better than a delusion and a snare. Free-trade opens in Great Britain by levying a tariff duty on imported [288] manufactured tobacco of 84 cents to 92 cents per lb.; on unmanufactured tobacco, 104 to 116 cents per lb.; on cigars, $1.32 per lb.; on tea, 12 cents per lb.; on coffee, 3 cents per lb.—if ground or prepared, 4 cents per lb.; on cocoa, raw, 2 cents per lb.—if manufactured, 4 cents per lb. Among other items subject to duty are currants, figs, raisins, plums, prunes, soap, pickles, varnish, wine, gin, and all other spirits. These duties, it will be observed, bear heavily upon laboring people, who consume not less than 90 per cent. of the articles from which the largest part of British tariff revenue is obtained. The so-called revenue duty on tobacco, supplied from America, amounts to at least 1,500 per cent. The duty on tea and coffee is the same upon the lowest grade as upon the highest and choicest varieties. The free-trade idea is to place duties on articles not produced at home, instead of on such as are or ought to be produced there, and is the reverse of the American idea.

But this model free-trade tariff failed to yield (in 1888) more than $98,150,000 of revenue, being only a little more than onequarter part of the sum ($378,300,000) required for the ordinary support of the British government, and our British friends are compelled annually to exhaust all the resources of extreme taxation to cover the enormous deficiency of thrice as much more.

This dismal but inexorable sequence of the free-trade system has been in America studiously kept out of sight, where it forever should be, except in the emergency of a great war, and it will be enough now to catalogue its many sore titles. Supplemental to British free-trade. and inseparable from it, will be found the following: A land and house tax, paid by occupiers as well as by owners; a tax on legacies and successions; a stamp tax on bills of exchange, receipts, and patents; a tax on carriages, horses, man-servants, guns, and dogs; an excise on gin and all other spirits; and a tax on incomes. The woes of our rebellion gave us all the experience in this sad line of taxation we shall ever covet. Only a nation struggling to preserve its existence, or to protect its people from famine and sudden death, would be willing to tolerate so many Briarean arms clutching at the pockets of the people.

This onerous system of taxation is made necessary by free-trade, and by the ponderous British public debt. The public debt of the United States, less cash in the treasury, is $1,063,004,894, while in 1888 the debt of Great Britain, with about half as much population, was £ 705,575,073, or $3,527,875,365—almost three and a half times that of the United States.

Revenue for the support of government must be had, but the British system presents its Revolutionary odium, and Americans have lost nothing of their ancient repugnance for stamp and excise taxes. The United States, however, is paying off its public debt upon the canter, and raises its revenue by duties on imports, scarcely felt by taxpayers, but which are a great encouragement to home industries, and so levied that the foreign producer must pay for his entrance to our market. Peddlers are made to pay a license to sell their “truck” by each and every State; and why should not the foreigner, exempt from all local taxes, who seeks to sell his products not merely in one State, but throughout the whole Union, be required to pay for the privilege?

Great Britain has an annual deficiency of food products, and it seems necessary to obtain a foreign supply for more than one-half of her people. Without the command of the sea for transportation this supply might be cut off; and, to obtain means of purchasing it, it is also necessary to export manufactures and undersell all competitors in foreign markets, or her people must go without their daily food.

Free-trade appeared to flourish until it encountered too many protective tariffs of other nations, now universal, and unlikely to be abolished. They are Gibraltars that everywhere frown upon those who are plotting to supersede and destroy the home industries of other people. British free-traders have found it hard to kick against such pricks, and now beg the help of America.

“No other country,” Mr. Gladstone says of America, “has the same free choice of industrial pursuits, the same option to lay hold not on the good merely, [289] but on the best.” And yet this free choice, which gives to our people the control of all their natural forces, he would now limit, and give no option of mills and factories. America does not thrust its industrial theories upon Great Britain, and will be happy whether protection or free-trade shall prevail there. The large subsidies that are paid to British ships for carrying foreign mails far transcend what that service might be obtained for if free-trade were allowed with foreign competitors, and the annual sums also paid to large and fast-going steamers, to be utilized first for trade and second for war purposes when needed, furnish examples in the highest fields of protection; and we only lament and criticise our own short-comings in the same service.

Notwithstanding our ancient family difficulties, Great Britain must be credited with more chapters of glory than of shame, and America is now more firmly and tenderly attached to her people than to those of any other nation, and should be claimed as their best and most powerful friend, more especially since Great Britain seems to be step by step Americanized by the extension of the right of suffrage. Still we are now asked, in substance, to plod contentedly with hand-labor, to raise corn and pasture herds, to dismiss our artisans, and forego machinery and all the forces of steam-engines, without which no nation, either in peace or war, can hope to be great or even independent. The selfishness of those who merely seek an extension of British trade may ask for this, but not those who more prize American power and American fraternity. In Europe, Great Britain, if not misrepresented, has no allies, and, among all first-class powers, not one earnest friend. Would it not be a blunder for even British freetraders to promote our acceptance of a policy that would be sure to reduce the United States to the rank of a second-rate power?

Mr. Gladstone bestows lofty praise upon the unrivalled strength of our country by an eloquent recital of the American advantages over all nations, of our immense territory where there is nothing that the soil would refuse to yield, the rare excellence of the climate, the vast extent of coal and other mineral resources, the inventive faculty of the people surpassing all the world, and sums up as follows:

I suppose there is no other country of the whole earth in which, if we combine together the surface and that which is below the surface, Nature has been so bountiful to man. The mineral resources of our Britannic Isle have, without question, principally contributed to its commercial pre-eminence. But when we match them with those of America, it is Lilliput against Brobdingnag.

Yet in the face of all this, with a continent instead of an island, with twice the population of Great Britain, and with more of the natural aptitudes for the widest fields of manufactures than can be claimed even for the people from whom we sprang, Mr. Gladstone would place “the most inventive nation in the world” in subservience to British free-trade, and confine the American people to the production of cotton, corn, meats, and mineral oils, and have them abandon more millions of manufactures than are annually produced by Great Britain herself, and sink all ambitions for the protection of any products “we could obtain more cheaply from abroad.” The anti-climax of the argument is rather conspicuous, and the American people will be in no mood to trail with a “broken wing” their ambition in the dust, and will surrender neither their manhood nor the bountiful gifts of nature.

After all the economical arguments against protection appear to have been concluded, but not without some misgivings as to their efficiency, Mr. Gladstone summons to his aid for the final assault all the terrors of denunciation. He cannot finish what he calls his “indictment against protection” until he has anathematized it as “morally as well as economically bad” —not that all protectionists are bad, but that the system tends to harden all “into positive selfishness.” This is an indictment with which all nations are graciously covered except the British, and the British may stand up and thank God that they “are not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.” The world, however, will be slow to believe that free-trade was adopted, or is now upheld, for any other reason than its supposed advantages, not to moral, but to British material and trading, interests. If any [290] nation has exhibited more of purely financial selfishness than embroiders the history of some British administrations, it has not been recorded. This part of the indictment against protection is as gratuitous as it would be to say that not all free-traders are liars, but the system tends to harden all into positive falsification. Though we might highly appreciate the good opinion of Mr. Gladstone, he leaves us in no doubt that it cannot be won unless we “frankly adopt and steadily maintain a system of free-trade.” We must, however, frankly and steadily maintain that the terms are too exorbitant.

In his pathetic exhortation to Americans on the selfishness and moral aspects of the question, urging protectionists to be good as well as great, Mr. Gladstone forgets he and his countrymen are not entirely without sin, and may not, therefore, cast the first stone across the Atlantic even to hit Americans. But others have not forgotten that free-trade was begotten by greed for the trade of the world, that it was the British war power which forced, and continues to force, the opium trade upon China, by which the Indian government obtains an annual income of nearly $40,000,000; that the religion of Great Britain, politically established, may have something too much of perfunctory support through the union of Church and State; that its laws of primogeniture were ordained to make the first-born rich and all the rest of the family poor; and that the soil of the United Kingdom is in fewer hands than that of any other country in Europe.

To refute the charge against protection of a tendency to selfishness and lack of morality, American protectionists may, with more pleasure than is afforded by showing that free-traders occupy a glass house, turn the light on all their past history, and offer the evidence of the equality of their laws and citizenship, the uprooting of the inherited laws of primogeniture, the universal education through common schools, the liberal and spontaneous support of Christian churches, the extinction of human slavery originally planted by the mother-country, the free homesteads to the landless, the disbandment of our vast armies at the close of the late war, and their prompt return to the peaceful pursuits of life, the national magnanimity exhibited after victory over rebellion, the payment of our public debt even before it is due, the liberal pensions to those who have suffered in patriotic service (perhaps annually exceeding for like services all British appropriations for the last century), the higher dignity and respect accorded to women, the paternal care of the poor, as well as of the insane, the blind, and deaf-mutes, and the general absence of all beggars.

We appeal finally from Mr. Gladstone to Mr. James Bryce, the author of The American commonwealth, whose work has already placed him in the rank of Gibbon, Motley, and De Tocqueville. Unlike Mr. Gladstone—except that he is also a member of the British Parliament—he is not a partisan, and has devoted years to the study of the United States and its people, visiting every State of the Union for the sole purpose of impartiality and historic veracity. That Mr. Bryce is competent authority on questions of the morals and selfishness of Americans, none will dispute. Setting forth American characteristics, he says:

They are a moral and well-conducted people.

“The average of temperance, chastity, truthfulness, and general probity is somewhat higher than in any of the great nations of Europe.”

“Nowhere are so many philanthropic and reformatory agencies at work.” (Vol. II., pages 247 and 248.)

“In works of active beneficence no country has surpassed, perhaps none has equalled, the United States.” (Page 579.)

Mr. Bryce concludes his great work in the following pregnant words:

America has still a long vista of years stretching before her in which she will enjoy conditions more auspicious than England can count upon. And that America marks the highest level, not only of material wellbeing, but of intelligence and happiness, which the race has yet attained, will be the judgment of those who look not at the favored few for whose benefit the world seems hitherto to have framed its institutions, but at the whole body of the people.

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