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No one, I am persuaded, ever thought of converting the ploughshare and the sickle into the spindle and the shuttle. And yet this is the delusive and erroneous view too often taken of the subject The opponents of the manufacturing system transport themselves to the establishments of Manchester and Birmingham, and, dwelling on the indigence, vice, and wretchedness prevailing there, by pushing it to an extreme, argue that its introduction into this country will necessarily be attended by the same mischievous and dreadful consequences. But what is the fact? That England is the manufacturer of a great part of the world; and that, even there, the numbers thus employed bear an inconsiderable proportion to the whole mass of population. Were we to become the manufacturers of other nations, effects of the same kind might result. But if we limit our efforts, by our own wants, the evils apprehended would be found to be chimerical. The invention and improvement of machinery, for which the present age is so remarkable, dispensing in a great degree with manual labor; and the employment of those persons, who, if we were engaged in the pursuit of agriculture alone, would be either unproductive, or exposed to indolence and immorality; will enable us to supply our wants without withdrawing our attention from agriculture that first and greatest source of national wealth and happiness. A judicious American farmer, in the household way, manufactures whatever is requisite for his family. He squanders but little in the gewgaws of Europe. He presents in epitome, what the nation ought to be in extenso. Their manufactories should bear the same proportion, and effect the same object in relation to the whole community, wbich the part of his household employed in domestic manufacturing, bears to the whole family. It is certainly desirable, that the exports of the country should continue to be the surplus production of tillage, and not become those of manufacturing establishments. But it is important to diminish our imports; to furnish ourselves with clothing, made by our own industry; and to cease to be dependent, for the very coats we wear, upon a foreign and perhaps inimical country. The nation that imports its clothing from abroad is but little less dependent than if it imported its bread.
The fallacious course of reasoning urged against domestic manufactures, namely, the distress and servitude produced by those of England, would equally indicate the propriety of abandoning agriculture itself. Were you to cast your eyes upon the miserable peasantry of Poland, and revert to the days of feudal vassalage, you might thence draw numerous arguments, of the kind now under consideration, against the pursuits of the husbandman! What would become of commerce, the favorite theme of some gentlemen, if assailed with this sort of weapon? The fraud, perjury, cupidity, and corruption, with which it is unhappily too often attended, would at once produce its overthrow.
In short, For many
sir, take the black side of the picture, and every human occupation will be found pregnant with fatal objections.
The opposition to manufacturing institutions recalls to my recollection the case of a gentleman, of whom I have heard. He had been in the habit of supplying his table from a neighboring cook, and confectioner's shop, and proposed to his wife a reform, in this particular. She revolted at the idea. The sight of a scullion was dreadful, and her delicate nerves could not bear the clattering of kitchen furniture. The gentleman persisted in his design; his table was thenceforth cheaper and better supplied, and his neighbor, the confectioner, lost one of his best customers. In like manner dame Commerce will oppose domestic manufactures. She is a flirting, flippant, noisy jade, and if we are governed by her fantasies, we shall never put off the muslins of India and the cloths of Europe. But I trust that the yeomanry of the country, the true and genuine landlords of this tenement, called the United States, disregarding her freaks, will persevere in reform, until the whole national family is furnished by itself with the clothing necessary for its own use.
It is a subject no less of curiosity than of interest, to trace the prejudices in favor of foreign fabrics. In our colonial condition, we were in a complete state of dependence on the parent country, as it respected manufactures, as well as commerce. years after the war, such was the partiality for her productions, in this country, that a gentleman's head could not withstand the influence of solar heat, unless covered with a London hat; his feet could not bear the pebbles, or frost, unless protected by London shoes; and the comfort or ornament of his person was only consulted when his coat was cut out by the shears of a tailor just from London.' At length, however, the wonderful discovery has been made, that it is not absolutely beyond the reach of American skill and ingenuity, to provide these articles, combining with equal elegance greater durability. And I entertain no doubt, that
, in a short time, the no less important fact will be developed, that the domestic manufactories of the United States, fostered by government, and aided by household exertions, are fully competent to supply us with at least every necessary article of clothing. I therefore, sir, for one (to use the fashionable cant of the day), am in favor of encouraging them, not to the extent to which they are carried in England, but to such an extent as will redeem us entirely from all dependence on foreign countries. There is a pleasure a pride (if I may be allowed the expression, and I pity those who cannot feel the sentiment) — in being clad in the productions of our own families. Others may prefer the cloths of Leeds and of London, but give me those of Humphreysville. Aid
may be given to native institutions in the form of bounties and of protecting duties. But against bounties it is urged, that you tax the whole for the benefit of a part only, of the community; and in opposition to duties it is alleged, that you make the interest of one part, the consumer, bend to the interest of another part, the manufacturer. The sutliciency of the answer is not always admitted, that the sacrifice is merely temporary, being ultimately compensated by the greater abundance and superiority of the article produced by the stimulus. But, of all practicable forms of encouragement, it might have been expected, that the one under consideration would escape opposition, if every thing proposed in congress were not doomed to experience it. What is it? The bill contains two provisions - one prospective, anticipating the appropriation for clothing for the army, and the amendment proposes extending it to naval supplies, for the year 1811 — and the other, directing a preference to be given to home manufactures, and productions, whenever it can be done without material detriment to the public service. The object of the first is, to authorize contracts to be made beforehand, with manufacturers, and by making advances to them, under proper security, to enable them to supply the articles wanted, in sufficient quantity. When it is recollected that they are frequently men of limited capitals, it will be acknowledged that this kind of assistance, bestowed with prudence, will be productive of the best results. It is, in fact, only pursuing a principle long acted upon, of advancing to contractors with government, on account of the magnitude of their engagements. The appropriation contemplated to be made for the year 1811, may be restricted to such a sum as, whether we have peace or war, we must necessarily expend. The discretion is proposed to be vested in officers of high confidence, who will be responsible for its abuse, and who are enjoined to see that the public service receives no material detriment. It is stated, that hemp is now very high, and that contracts, made under existing circumstances, will be injurious to government. But the amendment creates no obligation upon the secretary of the navy, to go into market at this precise moment. In fact, by enlarging his sphere of action, it admits of his taking advantage of a favorable fluctuation, and getting a supply below the accustomed price, if such a fall should occur prior to the usual annual appropriation.
I consider the amendment, under consideration, of the first importance, in point of principle. It is evident, that whatever doubt may be entertained, as to ihe general policy of the manufacturing system, none can exist, as to the propriety of our being able to furnish ourselves with articles of the first necessity, in time of
Our maritime operations ought not, in such a state, to depend upon the casualties of foreign supply. It is not necessary that they should. With very little encouragement from governinent, I believe we shall not want a pound of Russia hemp. The increase of the article in Kentucky has been rapidly great. Ten years ago there were but two rope manufactories in the state. Now
there are about twenty, and between ten and fifteen of cotton bagging; and the erection of new ones keeps pace with the annual augmentation of the quantity of hemp. Indeed, the western country, alone, is not only adequate to the supply of whatever of this article is requisite for our own consumption, but is capable of affording a surplus for foreign markets. The amendment proposed possesses the double recommendation of encouraging, at the same time, both the manufacture and the growth of hemp. For by increasing the demand for the wrought article, you also increase the demand for the raw material, and consequently present new incentives to its cultivator.
The three great subjects that claim the attention of the national legislature, are the interests of agriculture, commerce, and manufactures. We have had before us, a proposition to afford a manly protection to the rights of commerce, and how has it been treated? Rejected! You have been solicited to promote agriculture, by increasing the facilities of internal communication, through the means of canals and roads, and what has been done? Postponed! We are now called upon to give a trifling support to our domestic manufactures, and shall we close the circle of congressional inefficiency, by adding this also to the catalogue ?
ON THE LINE OF THE PERDIDO.
IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES, DECEMBER 25, 1810.
[The Perdido is the name of a river and bay, which form the boundary line between the present state of Alabama and Florida. It will be recollected, that Florida was a Spanish colony, previous to its cession to the United States by Spain, in 1819. It was discovered by Juan Ponce de Leon, a Spanish navigator, in 1512, and by him it was called Florida. The French made an attempt to colonize the territory in 1562, but their settlement was broken up by the Spaniards, who founded, in 1565, the city of St. Augustine, in East Florida. Pensacola, in West Florida, was founded in 1699. Though often invaded by the French and English, Florida remained part of Spanish America until 1763, when it was ceded to Great Britain; but, by the definitive treaty of 1783, it was receded by Great Britain to Spain. When Florida was a colony of Spain, and Louisiana of France, or from 1699 to 1763, the Perdido river was a common boundary, but, by the treaty of 1763, Louisiana having been ceded by France to Spain, the Spaniards in 1769, for their own convenience, incorporated that part of Louisiana, between the Mississippi and Perdido rivers, with Florida. This act caused a controversy between Spain and the United States; the latter having purchased Louisiana of France, in 1803, to which power it had been ceded by Spain, in 1500. President Madison, in 1810, took possession of the territory in dispute, for which act he was assailed by the opposition members in the senate, particularly by Mr. Horsey, of Delaware; to whom Mr. Clay replied, in defence of the administration, as follows.]
It would have gratified me if some other gentleman had undertaken to reply to the ingenious argument, which you have just heard. (Speech of Mr. Horsey.) But not perceiving any one disposed to do so, a sense of duty obliges me, though very unwell, to claim your indulgence, whilst I offer my sentiments on this subject, so interesting to the union at large, but especially to the western portion of it. Allow me, sir, to express my admiration at the more than Aristidean justice, which, in a question of territorial title between the United States and a foreign nation, induces certain gentlemen to espouse the pretensions of the foreign nation. Doubtless, in any future negotiations, she will have too much magnanimity to avail herself of these spontaneous concessions in her favor, made on the floor of the senate of the United States.
It was to have been expected, that, in a question like the present, gentlemen, even on the same side, would have different views, and although arriving at a common conclusion, would do so by various