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drawn up so as to make false impressions, they will be seen and pointed out; but if not, it will have its due weight. With these views, I care not to look at its contents before giving
But if any gentleman desires time to examine it, before he votes, as far as I am concerned, it shall not be withheld from him.
[Here Mr. Clay rose, and expressed himself gratified to hear, from the Senator from South Carolina, the admission that the administration had been extravagant. Coming fronı him, it was very important. He then proceeded to controvert the position that the protective system had caused the surplus, and that the surplus had led to extravagance. He was followed by Mr. Buchanan, who defended the administration against the charge of extravagance. After the conclusion of his remarks, Mr. Calhoun again rose, and said =]
My object, when I first addressed the Senate on this subject, was neither to accuse nor defend the administration. It was much higher-to state facts, point out causes, and trace consequences. In affirming that there had been a period of extravagance, I made no particular reference to the present administration ; but on the contrary, asserted at the time that the period of economy had commenced. But as the Senator from Kentucky had thought proper to refer what I had said to the existing administration, I feel myself called on, as an act of justice, to state my impression how far they are, or are not responsible, in reference to the subject of discussion.
There certainly remains much to be done to complete the work of retrenchment and economy; but, as far as I can judge, it would be doing great injustice to deny that, in the ranks of the administration, there exists a strong desire to reform the expenditures, and that a good deal has been done already, under circumstances of no small difficulty. So strong has been this spirit at the present session, that thus far few bills have passed, involving expenditures, to which I
could not cheerfully give my assent. But I attribute the reformation to the exhausted state of the treasury. I know well, from past experience, if the treasury had been full, the money would be spent. It would not have been in the power of this, or of any other administration, to prevent it; and I take the occasion to repeat, that I rely on an empty treasury as the only certain remedy against extravagance. The most that can be done by the administration, is to bring down the expenditures with the diminishing means of the treasury. This is no easy task, and necessarily requires time. I ask the distinguished Senator from Kentucky, in all candor, whether it would be possible for the administration to reduce the expenditures to the proper standard, all at once ? Take the pension lists. There are about forty-four thousand remaining on it, at a cost of upwards of three millions annually. Can that be got clear of at once ? What can be done under this vast head of expenditure, but to arrest the further progress, and leave it to time to retrench ? I appeal to all, whether there has not been great vigilance for the last two years, to prevent the increase of the lists, or whether more could well be done in that particular than has been ? Again, take the Seminole war, for which the present administration is not certainly responsible ; they found it existing, and how could they prevent the heavy expenditures from that source, while it continues to exist ?
I have had, Sir, some experience on the subject of re trenchment and economy. It was my fortune to administer the Department of War under Mr. Monroe. The department was in a state of great disorder, and the expenditures extravagant. I went in with the determination to use my best efforts to economize and retrench, to which I devoted myself ; but I found the task a work of three years of incessant labor, before it could be accomplished, with any thing like satisfaction to myself.
The Senator has asserted, on this, as well as other occasions, that the tariff was not the cause of the surplus revenue, but that it was caused by the public lands. A very few remarks will, I trust, satisfy the Senator himself that he is in error. The tariff of 1828 raised the duties, on an average, of all the imports so high, that nearly one-half in value of all the goods imported was paid to the custom-house ; that is, out of an import of about sixty millions of dollars, the Government collected about thirty millions. That was about the amount of the imports when the Compromise Act passed. Since then, our domestic exports have risen to nearly one hundred millions, which, adding the profits of trade, and the whalefishery, with other resources, would give an import of not less than one hundred and twenty or thirty millions,--and which, if the tariff of 1828 had not been reduced, would have given an income from the customs of sixty or seventy millions. Could so large an amount have been collected without a heavy surplus ? It may, indeed, be said, that if the tariff had not been reduced the exports would not have been increased ; but that would place its oppressive character in a stronger light. The object of reducing the tariff was in part to get clear of the excess of revenue ; but, notwithstanding the reduction, which had to be gradual to prevent the destruction of the manufacturer, the duties were sufficient to swell the income from that source to an amount greatly beyond the expenditures of the Government. The surplus, after the payment of the public debt, and the removal of the deposits, was placed in State banks; and afforded the means of bank accommodation, on so large a scale as to raise prices, and to give an unbounded impulse to speculation in the public lands; and hence the revenue from that source, to which the Senator attributed the surplus. It, indeed, greatly increased it; but, properly considered, it was itself but one of the effects of the surplus already accumulated in the treasury from the tariff.
still there was no necessity that the surplus should be spent,
-no necessity for spending a revenue of forty or fifty millions of bank-paper, passing into the treasury annually. Could such a tide of paper be permitted to flow into the treasury from year to year, without flowing out through some other channel ? I put the question to the Senator, Would not its first effect have been to transfer a large portion of the property of the country to the banks, and their favorites; and finally, on the reflux of the tide, to leave them in the embarrassed and prostrated condition in which we now find them ? Is not, in fact, the present condition of the country proof conclusive of the truth of what I have asserted ?
[Mr. Clay. The accumulation might have been prevented by the distribution of the surplus.
MR. CALHOUN. Yes, it might, and I accordingly made the qualification ; yet it must be spent, or got clear of some other way ; but the Senator knows my objections to the scheme of raising a revenue for distribution. It may be expedient to get clear of an accidental surplus to avoid a greater evil, by a deposit with the States, as was the case in 1836 ; but of all measures, I regard a permanent distribution of the revenue as the most fatal effect that could grow out of a surplus revenue. As bad as an extravagant expenditure is, it is still worse. We have had the two combined, and they, in the short space of a few years, have well-nigh proved fatal to the country.
The Senator, in conclusion, declared against a high tariff, but asserted, if I understood him correctly, that he was for protection, and was in favor of a system of countervailing or retaliatory duties.
[Mr. Clay explained—that he was in favor of maintaining the Compromise Act, and of affording protection within the limits to which it would reduce the duties.
MR. CALHOUN. I certainly understood the Senator to say that he was prepared to meet prohibition with prohibition. Did I understand him correctly ?
[Mr. Clay assented.]
MR. CALHOUN. I do not intend to go into the important question involved ; but I take the occasion of raising a warning voice against the whole system of retaliatory duties. It would prove worse in the end than the protective system. Go into it when you may, it will be almost impossible to get out of it. Begin the war of duties against duties, and prohibition against prohibition, and you will find no stopping place. It will go on. The passions will be aroused on both sides. Pride will be enlisted. If you raise the duty on one article in order to force a reduction on another, instead of reduction, additional duties will be laid to countervail yours. If you prohibit on one article, to force the removal of prohibition on another, it will, in like manner, be met by prohibition on some third article. In every instance there will be less resistance to increased duties on one side than to the reduction of the duties on the opposite, and to adding to the list of prohibited articles on one side than diminishing the list on the other.
It is easy to see the end. We should have the protective tariff in the worst possible form, still more oppressive and more difficult to throw off. I proclaim the danger in advance, and I call on those interested to be on their guard.
In guarding against the danger of the retaliatory system, I am not insensible to the unequal and oppressive duties under which some of our great staples, and especially tobacco, labor in
of the countries with which we have commercial relations, to the great injury of both them and us. I hope the folly of such a policy will yield to the growing intelligence of the age ; and I do trust that those who may be charged with the Executive Department of the Govern