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On the surface there has appeared to be misgovernment, fraud, political disturbance, and want of stability-sometimes violence...
But, underlying this surface apparently so deeply agitated, great industrial forces have been quietly and surely working to the end.. indicated by the great crops of cotton ; the last ten crops marketed exceeded the ten ante-war crops of slavery by nearly six and a half million bales, while the crop now being marketed will be far the largest ever grown.
It may well be remembered that the constitutions of the Southern States were remodelled after the war on the best methods, and that the great industrial forces now working must soon control their legislation. Violence and anarchy cannot have been the rule in a section that has produced greater crops for sale and has at the same time been more self-sustaining than ever before in its history. The political ebullition is but froth upon the surface; the whole region. is provided with new opportuuities born of liberty, and the leaders of the future are those who are now working out the industrial problems of the present. Liberty protected by the ballot has in less than a single generation effaced one half the wrongs of more than two centuries of slavery. Another decade may be needed to prove these assertions to those who only see the froth upon the sur, face, and cannot observe the deep, strong currents underneath.
In all these great achievements in human progress-in the production or leading forth of the wealth of the mines, the forests, and the soil-it has been the railroad that has made all other inven. tions worth applying ; that has caused abundance to rule where, famine might have been, and that is now moulding the institutions of centuries to its imperative law.
This article will not be considered by English readers complete without some reference to the tariff system of the United States. The writer's position in respect to the theory of protection is sufficiently well known not to require a restatement. His explanation of the apparent anomalies in our system may, therefore be useful.
The present tariff was not passed as a protective measure, but as & war measure, and at a time when both tariff and excise taxes were considered almust wholly with a view tu obtaining the utmost revenue. Crude and unscientific as they may appear, they yet served their purpose well; and in the years 1866 and 1867 they yielded a revenue of $1,000,000,000.
After the war ended, an attempt was made to pass a yet higher tariff as a measure of greater protection, which was defeated ; but a lesser special bill upon wool and woollens was passed.
An attempt was made to make the question of free trade a political issue ; but this culminated in the fiasco at Cincinnati, in 1872 when Horace Greeley, the ablest and most honest advocate of pro', tection who ever attained great influence in the country, was pomi:
nated for President by a convention that had been promoted by the advocates of free trade.
It has since become evident to many who took part in that discussion and convention, that the issue was prematurely raised. The panic of 1873 and the disturbed condition of the Southern States made it evident that there were questions at issue in the presence of which the tariff questiou sunk into relative insignificance-such as the questions of good and bad money, and of peace, order, and reconstruction-involving the rights of the lately enfran. chised race, to whom the faith of the nation stood pledged. It will not be forgotten by English readers that we have no question con nected with the tariff in any degree approaching the importance of the corn laws of Great Britain, and the events of the last six years of depression and difficulty must have proved to every one that there are factors in social science more potent than any tariff can be, at least in this country.
In the mean time it may be said that a great intellectual change has occurred. The advocates of national isolation have disappeared with the death of Horace Greeley and Henry C. Carey. The interdependence of nations is recognized as fully by the honest and able advocates of wbat is called a tariff for revenue with incidental protection," as it is by the advocates of freer trade, who have in these later years been fighting with them for a sound cur. rency and for the equal rights of all men before the law.
This intellectual change is so great, that to many advocates of freer trade it has seemed best to avoid the discussion of the theory, lest the contentivn should retard rather than promote reform. The increase of our exports of manufactures and machinery, although they are yet small in amount as compared to the exports of Great Britain, bas yet been sufficient to prove to those who might else have doubted, that the argument for sustaining "infant manufactures" had ceased to apply. It has become apparent to a great many representatives of branches of industry that were formerly urgent for protection, that the extension of tbeir own markets would be greatly promoted by the removal of restrictions upon commerce.
On the other hand, there is a dread of legislative changes ; it is said that we are now prospering, and should not be subjected to the agitation of questions which are not urgent, and that, even if our system is not the best, it is better to realize the benefits that we are now enjoying from the restoration of specie payment, and not cause disturbauce by tariff changes that would for the moment create uncertainty, even if ultimately beneficial.
But the restoration of the specie standard itself, and our renewed prosperity, have brought into permanent view some of the provisions of our tariff that are obnoxious to moderate protection: ists, as well as to the advocates of freer trade ; and, on the whole, the modification of the present tariff may be considered as only a question of time. It is to be boped that it may be taken up and treated as thoroughly as the tariff of Great Britain was in 1840 by the committee appointed at the instance of Joseph Hume, whose report has become a historic document, and which served as the basis of the great series of measures begun uoder the leadership of Sir Robert Peel, and concluded by Mr. Gladstone ; but it is to be hoped that our changes may not take so many years.
It may therefore be said that there is in this matter no question of political science pending or needing discussion, but the question of tariff reform is one of time and method. It may come in detail or by a general measure carefully prepared to meet the necessity of the country.
It may be hoped that the latter course will be pursued. One of the great evils of such an excessive tariff as that with which we are now burdened is, that it so alters the direction and the condi. tions of great branches of industry as to make any change difficult ; and no man who is not a mere doctrinaire, however devoted be may be to the principles of free trade, would hesitate to admit the claim on the part of those whose capital and labor had been directed into a given channel under the working of a war tariff, that all changes should be fairly considered and gradually made.
Great changes in the legislation of every country must be framed to meet its own condition ; and however sound the principles of free trade may be (and no one could be more convinced on that point than the writer), their adoption must depend in time and method upon the peculiar circumstances of each country and of tach period if the opposite policy has long prevailed.
It should be remembered by those who are impatient, that the great reforms in Great Britain were not fairly begun until the disaster to which the protective system had brought all the agricultural, manufacturing, and commercial interests, culmipated in the period that preceded the first great reforma measures of 1842. Even after that, it needed the Irish famine to force the repeal of the coru laws; and the last of the series of changes begun in 1842 was not completed until 1856, when the registry duty on corn was, I believe, finally removed.
A very erroneous idea prevails to some extent in the United States as to the motive of these reforms ; and it is often asserted that they were begun when great prosperity had been achieved by the system of tariff taxativn that preceded them. How utterly at variance with the facts this view is has been overlooked even by many in England. The true state of the case has been recorded in these words :
"". It is impossible to convey, by mere statistics of our exports, auy adequate picture of the condition of the nation when Sir Robert Peel took office in 1841. Every interest in the country was alike depressed in the manufacturing districts mills and workshops were closed, and property daily depreciated in value ; in the seaports shipping was laid up useless in harbor ; agricultural laborers were eking out a miserable existence upon starvation wages and parochial relief ; the revenue was insufficient to meet the national expenditure ; the country, was brought to the verge of national and universal bankruptcy.
“The protective system, which was supported with the view of rendering the country independent of foreign sources of supply, and thus, it was hoped, fostering the growth of a home trade, had most effectually destroyed that trade by reducing the entire popu. lation to beggary, destitution, and want. The masses of the pop ulation were unable to procure food, and bad consequently nothing to spend on British manufactures." —Noble's “ Fiscal Legislation of Great Britain.
In conclusion, it may well be considered that the capital of the richest pation in the world never exceeds one, two, or at the utmost three years' productiun.
In respect to that portion of the active capital which exists in the form of food, the world is always within less than one year of star. vation. Yet, on the other hand, there is always enough. Modern invention and modern appliances assure ample production. In quantity there may never be a failure ; but where is it?
The only problem that now greatly affects the material welfare of humanity is the problem of distribution. Had oue been asked only ten years since, Can one hundred and fifty million bushels of grain be moved from the prairies of the West five thousand miles in a single season, to feed the suffering millions of Europe, ind prevent almost a famine among the nations ?'' he who had answered, Yes; it is only necessary to apply the inventions already made to accomplish that,” would have been deemed a visionary.
It has been accomplished.
Had Sir Henry Bessemer refused the title which he pow bears, upon the ground that he himself had done more than any living man to break down the social system of which his title marks one of the orders, who would have admitted that his reason was well grounded ?
Has he not accomplished this?
When Mr. Vanderbilt planned the consolidation of the corporations that now constitute the New York Central Railroad system, and instituted the measures by which the cost of moving a barrel of flour from Chicago to New York has been reduced from one dollar and a half to half a dollar, and by such measures laid the foundation of the largest fortune ever gained by rightful niethods in 8 single lifetime, what would have been the estimation in which he would have been held, had he then said, “I am laying plans to save England from great distress, from riots and bloodshed, perhaps from violent revolution''? Have not he and others accomplished all this, and more?
In presenting this subject I have endeavored to give the various aspects. In this world we can make nothing. All we can do is to move something : we cannot create, but we can direct forces. Prosperity depends upon rapid distribution and ample consumption. Capital is worthless even to its owner unless it is worked to these ends ; and in the widest distribution of the products of labor is to be found the highest material welfare, buth for laborers and for capitalists.
Only when the legislation of a nation complies with this universal law can that nation reach its greatest prosperity ; and no legislation can have any permanent existence that is not brought into harmony with it. The true test of modern statesmanship lies in the removal of all obstructive statutes, aud the adjustment of legislation to this higher law.
Slavery constituted the widest and also the rudest divergence from the true law of production and distribution. Its passive war culminated in active war ; with its removal the chief obstruction to material wealth and welfare that legislators could create has been removed from this nation.
More subtle but not more dangerous problems are still before both branches of the English-speaking people. In Great Britain the land and church questions, and the influence of " militarism,' must be met. In the United States the currency, the tariff, and the right government of great cities, will give us little rest during the present century.
When the time shall come for the history of the last half of the nineteenth century to be written, it will be no true record if it umits from among the chief factors, more potent than almost all beside, the American railroad and the English steamship; and, from among the greatest names, the names of those who organized and developed them.
EDWARD ATKINSON, in the Fortnightly Reviers.
THE AUSTRIAN POWER.
In some of the many speeches which went before the late general election, words like these were often heard : “ Austrian nation. ality,' Austrian national feeling,' " Austrian national interests, " Austrian national honor, Austrian national independence,