« FöregåendeFortsätt »
ground. He asked no protection for the great interests of navigation, in which his constituents were so vitally interested, and, he would add, the whole Union. All he wanted was fair play. Take off your protection on iron, on hemp, and salt beef and pork, and other oppressive duties, which bear down our navigation, and you may take off your bounties—was his manly language to the mover of this resolution ; and he clearly showed that the great interests which he defended, would be a gainer by the change. Mr. C. said, I will uphold him in a proposition so reasonable and just ; and, for one, will not consent that the bounties shall be repealed, whatever my opinions, in the abstract, as to their propriety,– till the burden is removed. The same principle by which he was impelled to resist oppression, impelled him, with equal force, to uphold what is just and reasonable ; and we had here a striking illustration of the great impropriety of acting on the tariff, by separate and detached items, as is proposed on this occasion. It is an almost inevitable consequence of such a course, that, while one interest is benefited, another is oppressed. On this account, he was averse to touching the subject until the whole system of duties was brought regularly under review,-as it must be at the next, or succeeding session, under the Compromise Act. In the mean time, he considered the great navigating interests of the country, which were so essential to the prosperity and defence of all others, among the most depressed at present. He was startled, in looking over an able document from the Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, of the other House, just laid on our tables, at the rapid encroachment of foreign navigation on our own. In 1826, the domestic stood to the foreign tonnage, as 942,206 to 105,654; and in 1837 (the short space of ten or eleven years), it stood as 1,299,720 to 765,703. At this rate, the foreign will soon exceed our own tonnage in our own ports. This relative falling off claimed immediate and serious investigation, and the application of
effective remedy. Without pretending to any particular knowledge of the subject, he did not doubt that one of the most powerful causes, in producing this unfavorable result, was the expanded,—no, that was not strong enough,—the bloated state of our currency; which, by raising prices far beyond what they ought to be, was weighing so heavily on the prostrate energies of the country,—and especially on all those branches of industry which, like navigation, had to compete abroad with nations having a less expanded and a sounder currency. This, he believed to be the main cause ; and, next to it, he placed the oppressive protective duties,now fortunately going off under the Compromise Act,—which so greatly enhanced the costs of ship building, the rigging and supplying vessels, as well as the wages of seamen. Against this oppressive load our foreign navigation had no compensating advantage. It had to meet the competition of other nations on the broad ocean, weighed down with the enormous duties on iron, hemp, cordage, and almost every other article that entered into the construction, the rigging and supply of vessels,—without a particle of protection to lighten the burden,-just as our great staple interests—cotton, rice and tobacco-had to meet the competition of all the world, in foreign markets, with the like burden, without protection, or the probability of protection. And for what was this oppressive load laid on these, the great sources of national opulence and prosperity ? To protect certain branches of industry—which were dignified with the name of home industry—against foreign competition,—not on the broad ocean, not abroad in foreign markets, but at home, at their own doors. We who had to go abroad and contend with all the world, were weighed down with an oppressive load, that other branches should have a monopoly at home! And yet there are those,—if we may judge from what we have heard during this discussion,—who not only denounce the act under the operations of which this load is going off, but are ready
to renew the protective system with all its injustice and oppression.
But, against the voice of such, he (Mr. C.) was happy to hear that of the Senator from Pennsylvania furthest from him (Mr. Buchanan). He took high and correct ground. He opposed this motion because it violated the compromise. The Senator has done no more than justice to that measure. It terminated, honestly and fairly, without the sacrifice of any interest, one of the most dangerous controversies that ever disturbed the Union, or endangered its existence ;--not the danger of dismemberment,-as, we learn from the Senator, was anticipated abroad. No: the danger lay in a different direction. Dismemberment is not the only mode in which our Union may be destroyed. It is a Federal Union—an Union of Sovereign States ; and can be as effectually and much more easily destroyed by consolidation than by dismemberment. He who knows any thing of the history of our race, and the workings of the human breast, best understands the great and almost insuperable difficulties in the way of dissolution. There is scarcely an instance on record of any people, speaking the same language, and having the same government and laws, that have ever dissolved their political connections through internal causes or struggles. He excluded, of course, colonies throwing off the control of the parent country, or a partition of kingdoms by monarchs. The constant struggle is to enlarge, and not to divide ; and there neither is, nor ever has been, the least danger that our Union would terminate in dissolution. But the danger on the opposite side is imminent, as was foreseen, from the first, by our wisest statesmen and most ardent patriots; and never was this danger more menacing than when the gallant and patriotic State he represented, gave the blow that led to the compromise. That blow was not to destroy, but to save the Union ;—not for disunion, but against consolidation ;-and most effectual did it prove. It brought the protective system
to the ground, never to rise again ;—that system which has brought such innumerable disasters on the country, and which had well-nigh terminated our Union in consolidation, and, with this, the establishment of despotic power. At its very basis lay the assumption of a power, which, if it had been established, would have made this a government of unlimited power, and, of course, a consolidated government. It assumed that duties and taxes might be laid, not only for revenue,--for which purpose only the power was granted,-but that they might be perverted to the purpose of encouraging one pursuit, and discouraging another ; that is, that the revenue power might be converted into a penal and stipendiary power--the power of rewarding one branch of industry, and of punishing another. Who does not see that the possession of such a power, on the part of this Government, would give it unlimited control over all the pursuits and business of life, and the entire industry and property of the country?
Acting on this false and dangerous assumption, the protective system had been introduced, and pushed to the most extravagant extent, under the act of 1828. By its baneful influence, the great staple interest of the South, and that of the navigation of the East, were paralyzed, while certain others were made to flourish. To effect this, millions and millions were taken from the people and poured into the treasury--where it constituted a vast sum for extravagance and unconstitutional expenditures—corrupting the community, and extending the patronage and power of the Government beyond the limits consistent with our free institutions. This vast patronage, concentrated in the hands of the Executive, had rendered that department all-powerful ; and was thereby rapidly leading the way to the consolidation, not only of the powers of the Legislative, but the whole powers of the entire Government, in that department. against such a system, producing such effects, that the blow
was struck-bravely and magnanimously struck—that led to the Compromise Act, which this motion is intended to disturb. It was successful. It was directed at the root of the evil. It has stopped the excessive flow into the treasury ; and, followed up by the Deposit Act of 1836, it has emptied it of its corrupting mass. He saw clearly, that reform, with an overflowing treasury, was impossible, especially when that overflow consisted of bank-notes. It was impossible to arrest, waste, or limit patronage, until the means which sustained them was exhausted. This great object is now effected ; and retrenchment, economy, and reform must follow, or woe to those in power! And when these shall gain the ascendency, then will the blow, which was dealt against consolidation, and for the Union and our free institutions, have effected the great and patriotic purpose intended by those who directed it, and of whom I shall ever be proud of having been one.
The protective system, which has been the cause of all the mischief, has fallen prostrate before it in the dust. He who undertakes to revive its putrid carcass, will perish in the attempt.
He (Mr. C.) was happy to hear the Senator from Pennsylvania (Mr. Buchanan) avow his intention to carry out the Compromise Act, to its full extent; and that he was prepared, on a readjustment of the duties under its provisions, to restrict them to revenue simply, as is provided by the act, limiting manufactures to such incidental protection as was consistent with revenue ; but in no case exceeding twenty per cent., to which the highest duties would be reduced in 1842. This was going back to the original principle which governed in the first imposition of duties on imports; and he was most happy to hear the avowal, coming from the quarter it did, and in which, he trusted, the Senator uttered the voice of the powerful State he represented. There were but two principles on which their readjustment could take place, unless the Government should have the madness to go back to