Abbildungen der Seite

we failed to accept, or the “old policies abandoned by other nations” that we foolishly relied upon ? He excites the wonder of his readers, in place of giving particulars. He means to say, probably, that we chose not to follow Great Britain in her legislation put in force, 1850, stripping off protection from shipbuilding, and from the coasting and inland carrying-trades. Why should we? We then built the best vessels in the world-SO good that the British often chartered them. As for carrying,by 1850 we had lost, comparing with 1826, in proportionate carriage, of imports, 17.2; of exports, 24.1 per cent. But freetraders don't mind little things like these. They have liberality. That we should preserve shipbuilding, and reserve any carrying at all, is a standing affront to their progressive science. We now see our Government scurrying around Europe trying to outstrip Spain in the purchase of vessels for the war, how much more would we have been in want, if three-fourths of our coasting trade was now done by foreign vessels, and we had practically quit shipbuilding ? and were almost without shops, yards, and docks, and mechanics and seamen? We have now a few vessels of our own to help ourselves with, and a few shipyards in which to build new ones, but if Protection had been continued to our foreign carrying-trade, or given to it within the last twenty-five years, with an adequate Navy for its protection, we would have needed no purchases of the worn-out or slop-built vessels of any country. We would have been independent of all, our own people having all the vessels to sell that Government needed, and all the mechanics and seamen wanted, with dry docks and yards to repair in. If we had followed Great Britain, foreign flags would have long since overrun our coasts, our rivers and lakes. This is just as certain as that we haye been run off the ocean, be

a free trade." The damage from the war was real, but was partly paid for. Recovery would have been easy, under a policy as protective as the primal. Our shipping interest soon recovered from the war damages of 1812. The ships sold to foreigners had become foreign vessels; being owned by foreign owners after honest pur

cause of "


chases, there was no disposition, as there was no law, to place them again under our flag. There were, however, a few fraudulent sales, and these could have been taken back by passing a special act. Such an act, however, would have been a disgrace to any country. The shipping of a nation is a part of its defence. It is the same unpatriotic dereliction to make a false sale abroad of a ship, to escape the service of the country, as to absent yourself by crossing the frontier. Shipowners so selfish and mean as to sell off their vessels, out of the reach of their Government if wanted, are too base and inglorious to merit the honor of owning American ships.

As for internal development, it is only a false and vicious reasoning that can conclude that rail-road building "involved a decline in shipping." From the time that railroading begun, it has been carried on by a special class of capitalists, contractors, and laborers, disconnected entirely from the class concerned in shipping. A few individuals, here and there, from every occupation, have turned attention to “internal development," but there has been no call upon any class of people to give up established industries and take it up. None of the people engaged in our maritime commerce ever left their pursuits to engage in landed industries until unfairly driven out for the want of such governmental protection as callings ashore freely commanded. Necessity, not choice; bad government, not the prospect of gain, caused our once flourishing shipping interest to quit the sea.

Finally, there is one and the same answer for each of the specious, shallow and extravagant reasons for decline set up in this last long-winded contention. Proiection given to carrying, as of old, and the same as to other kinds of business, sufficient for the purpose and continued, would have broken all hindrances, overcome all difficulties, and surmounted all obstacles in the way of success. It is only when we have resolved not to protect an industry, but to let it go to the dogs, that we can find so many things to bring up to account for its decline. The want of protection, just and discreet, is the one true and prime reason for the ruin of our marine in the foreign trade. All other causation, real or counterfeit, may be classed as secondary, unimportant, trifling, or trumped up;


and it ill becomes a government officer to frame unfair and fictitious arguments for the holding of our shipping interest in chancery, to the profit of foreign nations. It is a fact known of all men well informed,-denied by none,-that nearly every nation of Europe protects its shipping in one way or another; having found “a free trade” an unequal one, in some cases a ruinous delusion, and in nearly all, that “maritime reciprocity” is a snare and a cheat. The question now is, shall we go on in declension, letting the nations of the world increase in maritime power while we make no advancement, or shall we go to school to our own experience, and re-apply discrimination to foreign shipping in a way to “produce a due equality,” that our people may have a chance once more to put our flag upon the sea, to float again in the breeze where it belongs ?

The question has been long before the country. Parties have divided upon it since 1872, when the Republican set it forth as the “duty" of the Government to encourage navigation. In 1876 the Democratic party responded with a specific proposition, that of "Free Ships"-no protection to shipbuilding or to shipowning. The Republican Platform in 1888 declared positively for the “rehabilitation" of our foreign-trade marine. Failing to pass a bounty bill in aid of this object in 1891, the platform of the present administration contained this plank : “We favor restoring the early American policy of discriminating duties for the upbuilding of our merchant marine and the protection of our shipping in the foreign-trade, etc."

President McKinley approved this plank in his letter, saying of its doctrines: "The policy of discriminating duties which

• prevailed in the early years of our history should again be promptly adopted by Congress and vigorously supported until our prestige and supremacy on the seas are fully attained.” But the adverse Commissioner of Navigation holds the fort. The foreign shipping interest stands solid at his back. The Dingley tariff bill provided some shipping protection in section 22, but the President was persuaded to have it construed away. Congress assents, and thus the factors of foreign countries oil the rails on which our wheels of progress slip---for want of sand.

« ZurückWeiter »