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ART. I.-WHERE SHALL WE FIND A MARKET FOR OUR SURPLUS GRAIN!
WHERE shall we find a market for our surplus grain? The individual who can answer this inquiry, and direct us where consumers and purchasers can te found, able to pay remunerating prices to the grower, will be quite as great a benefactor to the west-as he would be to mankind in general-could he teach them how to produce two blades of grass instead of one.
According to the estimates made by the Commissioner of Patents, it appears that, after feeding both man and beast, and making liberal deductions for all other purposes, there will still remain of the crop of 1847, a surplus of 224,384,502 bushels of grain, for exportation,
This aggregate is made up of the following articles: wheat, 40,581,750 bushels; Indian corn, 173,654,904 do.; rye, 5,296,913 do.; and buckwheat, 4,950,935 do.-amounting, in all, according to the prices at which these grains are valued by the Commissioner, to $124,078,522 55—a sum larger than the average annual exports of the entire country, including cotton, tobacco, rice, and manufactures of every description.
The Commissioner of Patents, in his report for 1847, says: "We have not been able to obtain the returns from other countries, (meaning other countries besides Great Britain,) for a series of years. But, from the best authorities which we have been able to consult, we have compiled the following table, exhibiting the quantity of wheat (exclusive of other grains,) required by the principal corn purchasing countries of the world :
Now it will be seen that, if we had no rival in these markets, our surplus of the growth of 1847 would supply all the wheat purchasing countries, and still leave 7,681,750 bushels on hand. But, according to the estimates of the Commissioner of Patents, Russia and other countries also produce a surplus of wheat, amounting to about 20,000,000 bushels; and, although we consider this a very low estimate, yet it is sufficient to prove beyond all controversy, that we can never find a remunerating market abroad for our surplus, except in years of scarcity. Yet, the Commissioner of Patents has undertaken to show the American wheat growers that they can compete successfully with those of any other country; and, after estimating the cost of growing, transporting to market, &c., he says: "We are, therefore, confirmed in the conclusion, that the American grain growers can deliver grain, or flour, at as low a price in England, as the grain growers of any other country, not excepting Russia, on the Black Sea; and that they have it in their power to command the great grain market of Great Britain, and of nearly all the corn importing countries of the world." Had the American people never made the experiment of growing grain for foreign markets, and being ignorant of the social condition of other countries, one should undertake to show, by figures, that they could drive the Russian and other European grain growers out of the English market, such a conclusion might not be regarded as altogether unreasonable; but, when all the facts connected with the subject are taken into consideration, we can scarcely conceive how an intelligent mind could arrive at the opinion so confidently expressed by the Commissioner of Patents.
We have met with no historical account, showing when the exportation of wheat and other grains commenced from this country, but the public documents show the amount exported annually since the year 1789. And, according to tables published in the Merchants' Magazine, for April, 1845, it appears that the average amount of wheat exported from the United States, to all countries, from the year 1790 to 1843, inclusive, was 4,838,381 bushels-estimating that shipped in the form of flour, at five bushels of wheat to the barrel.
Thus it will appear that the annual exports from this country have averaged about one-seventh part of the quantity required by foreign purchasers. We have not before us the amount of wheat exported in the years 1844 and 1845, and cannot, therefore, determine the precise period when the scarcity in Europe began to stimulate our exports; but, from a statement in the Merchants' Magazine for December, 1847, it appears that we exported during the fiscal year of 1845-6— wheat, 1,613,795, bushels, and 2,899,476 barrels of flour; which, being reduced to wheat, at the rate of five bushels to the barrel, makes the entire amount equal to 16,111,175 bushels.
According to the Report of the Treasurer of the United States, we exported during the year ending the 30th day of June, 1847-wheat, 4,399,951 bushels, and 4,382,496 barrels of flour; which, being reduced to grain, at the rate of five bushels to the barrel, is equal to 21,912,480 bushels-making the total export of
wheat for that year, 26,312,431 bushels. We are not in possession of facts that enable us to estimate, with any degree of accuracy, the quantity of wheat exported in the fiscal year ending on the 30th June, 1848; but, from a statement contained in the Delaware Republican of the 24th of August, it appears that the quantity of flour exported to Great Britain and Ireland, from the 1st of September, 1847, to the 15th of August, 1848, was only 178,782 barrels. If this statement be correct-and we have no reason to doubt of its truth-we conclude that the exports for the last twelve months have not exceeded the annual average of the last fifty years.
To show the progress that we have made towards securing the wheat market of the world, we have made an average of the exports from the United States to all countries, during the ten years ending with 1799; and also the ten years ending with 1839, and find the annual average for the first period to be 4,088,137. bushels, and that of the second period to be 4,410,556 bushels-being an increase of about 8 per cent. in forty years. But, if we take into consideration the increase of population in the wheat purchasing countries, it will appear evident that we supply them with a less proportion of their imports for consumption now, than we did during the ten years immediately preceding the present century. With these facts before us, and being totally ignorant of any change in our favor, which will enable us now, more than formerly, to compete successfully with. Russia, and other wheat growing countries of Europe, we never could have comprehended the process of reasoning by which the Commissioner of Patents arrived at his conclusion, but for his estimates of the cost of producing wheat in this and other countries.
If the wheat growers of the United States, enlightened by the calculations of the Commissioner, should realize the result which he so confidently predicts, he will be entitled to the profound gratitude of the nation; and this discovery of his may be considered as the most important of the age. For it would seem that, owing to their ignorance of the fact that they could deliver wheat in Great Britain cheaper than could the producers of any other country, the wheat growers of the United States have annually lost the sale of many millions of bushels of grain; and the dealers, also, have lost the most brilliant chances of speculation, which were ever offered to the lovers of enterprise.
But, unfortunately for American wheat growers, the Commissioner's figures do not embrace the entire subject; for, in working out this problem, it is necessary to consult other branches of science besides arithmetic. A knowledge of geogra phy, history, and political economy, is also necessary; and we must especially take into account the nature of the political and social institutions of different countries, before we can determine which can afford to sell the products of their labor at the lowest price, in a foreign market:
In a community where a small number of individuals receive the profits accruing from the labor of the great mass of operatives, they can always afford to
undersell the inhabitants of a country where every one enjoys the privilege of disposing of his own time, and of appropriatiug to his own use the products of his labor.
The existence of slavery in civilized countries, depends mainly upon the profits which accrue from agricultural labor; and, if there was no market for the products of slave labor, the relation of master and slave would cease to exist. For few individuals would subject themselves to the cares and responsibilities incident to this relation, were it totally unproductive of profit.
To render slave labor profitable, it must be employed in the production of commodities for exportation; for slave holders in the same country are not consumers of the products of each other. And hence the necessity of directing the labor of slaves to some one, or to a few, staples, that will bear transportation to distant markets; and, as long as these staples will pay any profit, no matter how small it may be, the master will continue to produce them. For, in these profits consists the value of his slaves; and, could he find no market for his staples, he would abandon his slaves as useless.
We have an illustration of this principle in the history of cotton growing in the United States. We remember when intelligent cotton growers believed that they could not afford to grow cotton at ten cents per pound. It has since sold for less than five cents, and still they continue to produce it; and, should it fall to two cents, it would not materially affect the quantity now produced, though it might prevent its increase. We base this opinion upon our knowledge of the fact that, in much the larger part of the cotton growing district, no other staple, at present known, can be produced, that would prove more profitable; and such is the predicament, especially of Russia, in regard to wheat growing. It may startle some of our philanthropists, when they are told that there are more slaves in Russia, than in, perhaps, all the world besides. To show the number and condition of the slaves in Russia, we extract the following account from McCulloch's Geographical Dictionary, a work of acknowledged authority. Having noticed the nobles, clergy, and merchants, he says: "Unhappily, however, the far largest portion of the people of Russia are slaves; belonging either to the crown, or to individuals; about twenty-one millions being the property of the former, and twenty-three millions of the latter. Count Cheremetief is proprietor of above 110,000 slaves; and the numbers of those belonging to some of the other great landholders, are but little inferior. The nobles are obliged to pay a tax to government, (at the rate, generally, of about four roubles per male,) and to furnish recruits for the army, according to the slave population of their estates. The time and labor of the slaves belonging to private individuals, are absolutely at the disposal of their masters, who may seize whatever property they may happen to acquire. The most common practice is, for the latter to impose on their peasants an abrock, or capitation tax, which may amount, of an average, for those resident in the country, to from thirty-five to forty-five roubles per male, young and old;
but those who have received licences to reside in towns, or who have learned any profession, or have been successful, are charged far greater sums; sometimes even as much as a thousand roubles a year or upwards! Others, instead of an abrock, perform task work; others, again, deliver a certain portion of their produce; and from some, all these are demanded. Runaway slaves are punished by imprisonment and hard labor.
Besides having power to dispose of his time and labor, the master may inflict corporeal punishment on his slaves; but he is forbidden by law(which, however, is often evaded,) from treating him with any great cruelty; and he is guilty of a capital offence, if death arise from his chastisement within twenty-four hours. When one class may exercise such power over another, very great abuses cannot fail to exist. The insecurity, too, under which the peasants are placed, is recessarily fatal to their industry. Oppression and ill-treatment are now, however, a good deal less common than formerly; and it is certainly true that the condition of the boors is, by no means, so bad as might, a priori, be concluded; and that, as respects their command over the necessaries of life, they are in a much better situation than the peasantry of Ireland.
"Those on the estates of humane and enlightened landlords, are in decidedly comfortable circumstances; while they mostly all have sufficient supplies of the articles they consider necessary to existence. Some licensed slaves have accumulated very large fortunes. One of this class of persons is mentioned as having 4,000 laborers in his employment; and another planned and built the finest church in Petersburg.
"The peasants are of a souud constitution, stout and firmly built, and generally of a middle stature. They live in wooden cottages, formed of whole trees piled upon each other, and built together in villages, the gables to the road. Sometimes they consist of two stories, but more frequently only of one. They are heated by stoves, and though dirty, are not uncomfortable, nor ill-suited to the climate. Their furniture consists, generally, of wooden articles, with a pan or two. Beds are little used; the family generally sleeping on the ground, on benches, or on the stoves.
"The dress of the peasant consists of a long coarse drugget coat, fastened by a belt around the waist; but, in winter they wear a sheep-skin, with the wooly side inwards. Their trousers are of coarse linen; instead of stockings, woolen or flannel cloth is wrapped round the legs, and boots or shoes of matted linden bark are frequently substituted for those of leather. The neck, even in winter, is bare, and the head is covered by a peaked round hat or cap."
In this account of the relation which exists between the Russian peasant and the land holder, we find enumerated all the badges that denote slavery of the most absolute character, with the slight exception that the owner may not immediately take the life of his slave, with impunity; but, if he survives the punishment inflicted by the master for the space of twenty-four hours, it would seem