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the temper of the time in regard to such an expend. iture of public money. The following year Hamilton's Report on Manufactures was given to the country, finally establishing the position of the administration as to our economic policy. The general drift of legislation, although it was not systematized, followed the direction pointed out by the administration. But this did not satisfy Washington. In his speech to Congress, December 7, 1796, he said: “Congress has repeatedly, and not without success, directed their attention to the encouragement of manufactures. The object is of too much consequence not to insure a continuance of their efforts in every way which shall appear eligible.”" He then goes on to argue at some length that, although manufacturing on the public account is usually inexpedient, it should be established and carried on to supply all that was needed for the public force in time of war. This was his last address to Congress, and his last word on this matter was to approve the course of Congress in following the recommendation of his first speech. All his utterances and all his opinions on the subject were uniform. Washington had never been a student of public finance or political economy like Hamilton, and he lived before the days of the Manchester school and its new gospel of procuring heaven on earth by special methods of transacting the country's business. But Washington was a great man, a state-builder who fought wars and founded governments. He knew that nations were raised up and made great and efficient, and that civilization was advanced, not by laissez aller and laissez faire, but by much patient human striving. He had fought and conquered, and again he had fought and been defeated, and through all he had come to victory, and to certain conclusive results both in peace and war. He had not done this by sitting still and letting each man go his way, but by strong brain and strong will, and by much organization and compulsion. He had set his hand to the building of a nation. He had studied his country and understood it, and with calm, far-seeing eyes he had looked into the future of his people. Neither the study nor the outlooking were vain, and both told him that political independence was only part of the work, and that national sentiment, independent thinking, and industrial independence also must be reached. The first two, time alone could bring. The last, wise laws could help to produce; and so he favored protection by legislation to American industry and manufactures, threw all his potent influence into the scale, and gave his support to the protective policy set forth by his Secretary. Two matters connected with the treasury, I have said, deserved fuller consideration than a general review could give. The one just described, the policy of the Report on Manufactures, came, as has been seen, to no clear and immediate result. The other reached a very sharp and definite conclusion, not without great effect on the new govern.
* The italics are mine.
ment of the United States, both at the moment and in the future. When Hamilton “struck the rock of the national resources,” the stream of revenue which he sought at the outset was that flowing from duties on imports, for this, in his theory, was not only the first source, but the best. He would fain have had it the only one; but the situation drove him forward. The assumption of the state debts, a part of the legacy of the Revolution, and the continuing and at first increasing expenses of unavoidable Indian wars, made additional revenue absolutely essential. He turned therefore to the excise on domestic spirits to furnish what was needed. Washington approved assumption. It was a measure of honesty, it would raise the public credit, and above all, it was thoroughly national in its operation and results. The appropriations for Indian wars he of course approved, for their energetic prosecution was part of the vigorous policy toward our wild neighbors on which he was so determined. It followed, of course, that he did not shrink from imposing the taxes thus made necessary; and to raise the money from domestic spirits seemed to him, under the existing exigency, to be what it was, – thoroughly proper and reasonable both in form and subject. It would seem, however, that neither Washington nor Hamilton realized the unpopularity of this mode of getting revenue. The frontier settlers along the line of the Alleghanies in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and North Carolina, who distilled whiskey, were not very familiar, perhaps, with Johnson's dictionary, but they would have cordially accepted his definition of an excise. To them it was indeed a “hateful tax,” and nothing else. In fact, the word was one disliked throughout the States, for it brought up evil memories, and excited much jealous hostility and prejudice. The first excise law, therefore, when it went into force, was the signal for a general outburst of opposition and in the Alleghany region, as might have been expected, the resistance was immediate and most bitter. State legislatures passed resolutions, public meetings were held and more resolutions were passed, while in the wilder parts of the country threats of violence were freely uttered. All these murmurings and menaces came on the passage of the first bill in 1791. The administration, however, had no desire to precipitate an uncalled-for strife, and so the law was softened and amended in the following year, the tax being lowered and the most obnoxious features removed. The result was general acquiescence throughout most of the States, and renewed opposition in the western counties of Pennsylvania and North Carolina. In the former a meeting was held denouncing the law, pledging the people to “boycott’’ the officers, and hinting at forcible resistance. If the people engaged in this business had stopped to consider the men with whom they had to deal, they would have been saved a great deal of suffering and humiliation
The President and his Secretary of the Treasury were not men who could be frightened by opposition or violent speeches. But angry frontiersmen, stirred up by demagogues, are not given to much reflection, and they meant to have their own way. Washington was quite clear in his policy from the beginning. He was ready to make every proper concession, but when this was done he meant on his side to have his own way, which was the way of law and order and good government. He wrote to Hamilton in August, 1792: “If, after these regulations are in operation, opposition to the due exercise of the collection is still experienced, and peaceable procedure is no longer effectual, the public interests and my duty will make it necessary to enforce the laws respecting this matter; and however disagreeable this would be to me, it must nevertheless take place.” Meantime the disorders went on, and the officers were insulted and thwarted in the execution of their duty. Washington's next letter (September 7th) has a touch of anger. He hated disorder and riot anywhere, but he was disgusted when they came from the very people for whose defence the Indian war was pushed and the excise made necessary. He approved of Hamilton's sending out an officer to examine into the survey, and said: “If, notwithstanding, opposition is still given to the due execution of the law, I have no hesitation in declaring, if the evidence of it is clear and unequivocal, that I shall, however reluctantly I exercise them,