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DEBATE ON THE TARIFF.
speech OF . MR. McDUFFIE, OF S. CAROLINA On the bill proposing a reduction of the duties on imports. Delivered in the House of Representatives, May 28, 1832. -
Mr. McDury's rose, and said: I propose, sir, to submit some explanations, in addition to
those already presented, in a different form, of
the views and principles which induced the Committee of Ways and Means to report the
resent bill as an adjustment of the great subject of the tariff. I must, however, in the outset, candidly acknowledge that I have not the least glimmering of hope that any thing I may utter at this time, or which any human being can advance in this Hall, will induce the majority to adopt the measure now proposed, or any other measure founded on similar principles. Nay, sir, I am reluctantly, compelled to go still farther, although I have been disposed to hope even against hope, that some Providen
tial coincidence of circumstances might yet in
tervene to incline the hearts of the majority to justice, and lead their deliberations to some propitious result; yet the developements and the . of every day have rendered it more and more apparent that all such expectations are utterly vain and delusive. As to any adjustment of this great question, therefore, which shall give tranquility to the public mind, and restore the broken harmony of this Union, “my final hope is flat despair.” Under these circumstances, it may seem singular, but it is nevertheless true, that it is precisely because I do not hope to produce conviction upon the minds of this committee, and have no expectation that this great question will be adjusted here, that I am more particularly anxious to set forth, in the clearest and most distinct manner, the rinciples which will governme, and, as I be"lieve, those who are associated with me, as well as the States we in common represent, in all the vicissitudes of this great contest for our unalienable rights. Sir, it is vain, it is worse than vain, to attempt to put by, to evade, or to Palter with this question. It can no longer be disguised, that there does exist, under the un'Just and oppressive legislation of Congress, and without any agency of Providence to that ef. feet, a radical hostility of interests between the two great subdivisions of this confederacy. And is the power of the majority, and not their sense of Justice, is to decide the present controversy, * willbe impossible ever to reconcile these conflicting interests, such being the case, God only knows what is to be the end of this greatpo
litical drama. One thing is certain; an eventful political era is at hand, and whetherit shall . be signalized by the civil triumph, or by the catastrophe of constitutional liberty, history will record that triumph or that catastrophe, and posterity will pronounce judgmenton the authors of it. - That my views and principles may be understood and appreciated by that august tribunal, and that the record which history shall make . up, may present the true issue between the two great contending parties, the oppressors and the oppressed, I will attempt, before I take my seat, to demonstrate how grevious are the wrongs we have too patiently endured, and how vital and sacred are the rights for which we are contending. But, before I proceed to examine the in. equality and gross injustice of this combined system of taxation and protection, I shall ask the attention of the committee to a brief exposition of my views as to the amount of revenue which, under existing circumstances, I deem it expedient to provide for defraying the necessary and proper expenses of this Government. In deciding this question, there is no better criterion to which we can resort than the average expenditures of a former period, which all must acknowledge to furnish a proper basis for such a calculation. In 1821, our army was reduced from a war to a peace establishment. From the year following this reduction to the close of Mr. Monroe's administration in 1824, inclusive, I have made a calculation of the average expenses of this Government for all objects, both permanent and contingent, and the result is, that these expenses amounted, annually, to a less sum than ten millions of dollars. Many of those who hear me will bear me out when I say, that, when I first took my seat in this body I was regarded as very extravagant in my notions, in re to the public expenditure, because I justified the expenditures of that administration. Sir, Mr. Monroe's administration was denounced by a large party in this country for its extravagance. It was accused of preparing the way for a great and splendid Government, instead of regarding those principles of economy laid down by the fathers of our political church. I did not think so then, and I do not think so now; and I shall hail the day when the present or any future administration shall brin hack the expenses of the Government to to annual sum of ten millions, which I believe to be an ample provision for all the the exigencies of the country. But, sir, so far from wishing to dismantle our fortifications, suffer the navy to rot upon the docks, and leave the nation entirely defenceless, as has bern suggested in a
report recently offered to the House, I am for
maintaining all the institutions of the country on a respectable footing, and am willing, and have ever been willing, to raise whatever amount of revenue may be necessary for that purpose, though I am aware that the burthen * be very unequally distributed, even by this 111. - - The essential institutions of the country are the army, the navy, and the civil establisment. These I regard as indispensable; I hold them to be necessary at all times, in peace and in war; for I fully recognize the truth of the maxim, that the best way to preserve peace, is to be prepared for war. Now, sir, during the last three years of Mr. Munroe's administration, it was denounced, as I have said, for its extravance; and yet the total annual expenditure or the army, the navy, and the civil list, amounted, during those years, to less than seven millions of dollars. 1 repeat it, sir, emphatically, that, when our army was more efficient, its ranks better filled, and its officers as numerous and competent as they now are, the annual expenses of the Government for thos: three objects was less than seven millions of dollars. when you add to this the expenditure of the Indian department, and for other objects of a miscellaneous kind, each amounting to a little upwards of half a million, it will be found, that, exclusive of pensions, the whole average expenditure of the United States, during those years, amounted to but little more than $8,000,000. - Assuming this as a basis, and I am satisfied that the amount will be more than sufficient, especially as our fortifications are nearly comleted, (and I hope never hereafter to see more than $500,000 annually expended upon them;) and as the improvement of our navy yards also are nearly completed; I affirm that more than eight millions of dollars will not be annually required for objects of a permanent nature: Then, as to pensions, I shall confine my views, in the first place, to the laws as they now stand, and not as it has been proposed to extend them. During the three years I have mentioned, the pension list was very large; since then, however, the number of pensioners has been rapidly diminished by eath. So that, whereas, in 1822, the sum expended on this object was nearly two millions, it is now less than one million, notwithstanding the great number of pensioners since put upon the roll, by special acts of Congress, and the relaxed rules of the War Department. o it may fairly be presumed, calculating upon the probable mortality among men; none of them less than seventy years of age, that in the course of some five years, this branch of expenditure * be o to a very considerabie sum. is to be remarked, that, after payi the public debt, there will . a. o §§ not less than eight or ten millions, of the i. :* o: year 1833, because the income of whicNo. be o derived from duties the oi*ś the present year, under reduction of the à Moreover, as the proposed - uties will be gradual—and 1
UNITED STATES. WEEKLY TELEGRAPH.
am willing to make it still more so, by extend. ing the period of final reduction to three yeo —it is obvious that the surplus revenue must be considerable during all these years, and that the sufficiency of a revenue derived from average duties of 12% per cent will not be brought to the testin less than four of five years. Even if we suppose that the pension bill, now end- o ing, should become a law, it is not probable -that the whole pension establishment, four or five years hence, will require an expenditure of more than two millions. But be that as it may, eight millions will be amply sufficient.
for the permanent institutions and ordinary eo; penses, and all the revenue over that on will be applicable to pensions and other objects.
The next inquiry in order, is, whatamount of revenue a duty of 123 percent upon on allim: ports will bring into the Treasury'. If wo sume, as the basis of our estimate, the average amount of the merchandise imported for to: sumption during the last seven years, we shall have something less than sixty-nine million** that average. The revenue from this amo of imports, at 123 per cent duty, would be something less than nine millio: of dol. lars, but we are inquiring what will be the amount of the revenue, four or five yearsheno after all the surpluses shall be exhausted; and 1 think it may be very safely estimated to amount of the datable imports, under this hill, will not be less than eighty millions. There will be at leastfifteen millions now annually applied to the payment of the existing dutio that will be disengaged from that object, and willobe applicable to other purposes to sonable supposition that this no least, will be applied to the purchase of too ports, in addition to the sum now thus applied According to this view of the subjeomo all proper allowances, it follows that the amount of the imports for consumption will bono than eighty millions the very first year the 12 per cent duty goes into operation; and, from the nativeal progress of population and wealth that amount must increase considerably evo year afterwards. -we shall have, then, an income often mislions from the imposts; and even if we estino the income from the public lands at one-halfitspresent amount, that and the bank dividends will yield two millions more. Having shown that only 8 millions will be required for the ordinary and permenon expen. ses of the Government, it follows that, with a revenue of twelve millions, there will be an an: nual surplus of four millions applicable to pen. sions and other objects of a contingent nature.
In presenting this briefview of the future in." come and expenditure of the Government, I will take occasion to remark, that if I should *** return to this body, I intend to propose * general system of retrenchment and economy, *śystem not founded on an indiscriminate ho tility to our existing establishment, but on o oo::ction that these establishments on
* maintained in purity and vigor only by the
observance of a strict but judicious and liberal
either the army or the navy, and without in
juriously curtailing the salaries of any of the
officers of Government, a saving may be effect-
that under any system of duties,while therevenue
is derived almost exclusively from imports,
their proportion of the burthens imposed by fed
eral taxation, will be much greater than it ought
tion emphatically, and desire that it may be
fairly met and fully answered, is there a manufacturing State, or a manufacturing county ill
the Union, that will be compelled to pay a
UNITED STATES WEEKLY TELEGRAPH. - o
then, but as a bounty. He would be apt to ex- claim, “What an extraordinary people the Americans must be! In Europe, governments are shaken by the complaints of the people who pay the taxes. Here, the Union seems likely to be shaken to its very foundations, by the clamors of those who receive them. In Europe, the people cry out that the taxes are too high; here, they seem to be regarded as a great blessing, and the cry is, that they are about to be reduced too low.” o Sir, in the spirit of peace and harmony, and, I will add, in the spirit of magnanimity, the people of the south now say to you “We know that it is very unequal and oppressive upon us, that the productions of our industry should pay even 123 percent to support the Government, while the very same productions of your industry pay no contributionatall; but receive on the contrary, a beneficial bounty from the tax levied upon our productions. But if you will limit the burthen to the necessary expenses of the Government, we are willing to submit to it as a revenue measure, unequal as it obviously is, and will cheerfully consider the pecuniary loss we shall sustain as a peace offering at the shrine of the Union.” And what do the people of the north say to this generous and libe. ral overture?
“We will not accede to your terms. We have calculated the value of this tax upon your productions; and we have ascertained that a tribute of 12 1-2 percent is not enough to keep ud our establishments in the high state of profit and prosperity which we desire. We cannot let you off with a less tribute than 45 per cent,
and it follows that you will have to pay it.” Sir, language cannot oonvey, nor imagina
their protection, and have to pay their quota of
tion conceive anything that would exhibit the horrible enormity of this system more clearly than this simple statement of the real condition of the interests involved, and the true point of tribute, the controversy. Now, sir, I will put this. It must be obvious, or, that vital as are the matter to a very plain test. If my views are pecuniary interests involved in this controve: not correct, the whole tariff question can belsy, they are quite secondary when compared soon settled between the gentleman immedi- with the principles involved in it. ately on my right, (Mr. Aristos) who, as I. Its true character and importance canno understand, is one of the largest manufactur- seen until we considerit, not only as a question ers in the United States, and myself. I turn to of interest, §o of right and justice. this gentleman, then, and I say to him, , “Sir, it is justice and not interest that coI will now make a bargain with you for thead-the struggles of men and of nations to will justment of this difficulty: You admit that one not do, therefore, to show me, howo clearhalf of this bill is perfectly just and equal; thatly, that the passage of this bill will destroy I mean, which levies halfot the federal revenue your interests and desolateyour counto the from wines, silks, and other unprotected arti-existing system has destroyed and desolated cles. The entire burthen of your complaintis mine; I am not now considering Yoo directed against the other half of the bill; thatlests, but your rights; I am not ongo this which levies the remaining half of the revenuelquestion by the barbarian test of power * from protected articles. Now, sir, intenderläumbers, but by the principles of etero consideration of the oppressive operation of And if this sacre' forum, out hoo this part of the tax bill upon the manufactur-tions to every manufacturer in the ol ing States, I will agree to strike it out altogethelwhat injusticewo inflict upo ** raise the remaining half of the revenue, whatrightof yours will it violate who by doling the duties on unprotected articles, cle of your property woo contso ol" o #so taxes. Is it a bargain, sir?” “Not whom will it unlawfully or wrongfully on to * Hoo" replies the gentieman, “that would belit? I beg, sir, that these questions to o - infinitely worse than the bill as it now stands; evaded by empty and unmeanin genero.
DEBATE ON THE TARIFF-MR. McDUFFIE. 485
distinctly answered. I admit, sir, that this bill, should it pass, will do very great damage to the
phraseology, damage without injury, unless they will show that some legal or moral right will be violated. Let us now inquire whether there is a shadow of ground for alleging that such is the fact; and, to give the inquiry a practical form, I will first ask, ni what mode, and by what process, will the northern manufacturers be injured by the passage of this bill? They are ready to inform us, in reply, as we have heard it a thousand times echoed and re-echoed from every source, in every form and in every quarter of the Union, that they are waging a great national contest in favor of domestic industry and against foreign industry, and it is gravely contended that every patriot is bound, upon his allegiance, to take sides with the domestic against the foreign belligerant. Now, sir, as this idea of a contest between domestic and foreign industry is the lurking fallacy which lies at the very foundation of the American system, I solicit the calm and dispassionate attention of the committee to a plain and practical analysis, by which I think it will be clearly demonstrated, that, in this as in other instances, men and nations have been carried away by mere names, and have permit. ted the solver dictates of common sense to be overwhelmed by one of the most arrant impostures and delusions that has ever existed in the civilized world since the darkest days of popery. It is a delusion, sir, as anti-social, and I will add, as anti-christian, as that which induced an eminentjurist of England to express the opinion, that every subject who held certain religious opinions, not conformable to the eatablished faith, should be regarded in law as an alien enemy Let us look, then, into the modus operandi by which this great public enemy, foreign industry, is to invade our peaceful shoress by }. in a flood and torrent of foreign manuactures, that will sweep away, with irresistible force, all our domestic establishments, leaving the land desolate, without a vestage or memorial of its present prosperity Lethis ascertain the true springs of action—let us trace out the operation into its details, and see what are the means by which this scourging flood of foreign manufactures will get into our happy country. And now, sir, mark by “how plain a tale” this fondly cherished delusion will be made to vanish. I affirm, then, and will hazard the whole contest upon the truth of the proposition, that foreign manufactures never can come into the United States, and be brought into competition with domestic Inanufactures, until they have ceased to be the productions of foreign industry, and have become the productions of American industry. It is in the very nature of things, morally, comj." and politically impossible that they
According to my poor powers of analysis,
manufactures can be brought into this country for consumption. The first is, by gratuit
manufacturing States, but it will be, in legal loss donation; the second, by robbery and plun
der; and the third, by purchase. The wit of man can scarcely devise any other mode. Now, sir, as to voluntary and gratuitous donations from foreign Governments or foreign manufacturers, I admit that this would be the most fatal of all the modes of acquisition to the interest of the domestic manufacturers. . It would absolutely destroy the entire value of all their investments in building and machinery, and they would doubtless preach us most eloquent and moving sermons to prove that it would be utterly ruinous to the wealth of the country to obtain manufactures for nothing. But the manufacturers are perfectly secure from any danger on this score. The time will never arrive when missionary zeal will be transferred from religion to commerce, and when the folly or the philanthropy of foreign manufacturers will induce them to deluge our land with their goods by this process. Then, sir, as I have too much confidence in the prudence, to say nothing of the honor and integrity of this Government, to suppose that its powers can ever be prostituted to rapine and plunder, the only mode of acquiring foreign manufactures, which deserves to be gravely considered, is that by purchase. Here, then, we come to the real point of the controversy. When foreign manufactures are purchased and brought into the United States for consumption, they must be so purchased with the productions of the domestic industry of the United States. It is obvious, therefore, . that there can be no possible conflict between foreign and domestic industry in our own markets, however it may be in foreign markets; but that the real contest is between one branch of domestic industry and another. In the case we are considering, it is a contest between the domestic producer of the article which is exchanged for the foreign manufacture, and the domestic manufacturer. If, for example, the cotton planter of the south send his cotton to Liverpool, exchange it for manufactures, and bring these into the United States, I beg to know whether they would not be, to all intents and purposes, as truly and exclusively the productions of domestic industry, as they would be sacredly and exclusively the property of the planter? If he had a lawful title to his cotton, he must have the very same title to the manufactures he has obtained for it. If the former was exclusively the production" of his industry, so, also, must the latter be, precisely in the same sense and to the same extent. It results, self-evidently, from the reciprocity of commerce, being an exchange of equivalents, that each nation receives as much encouragement to its own industry as it gives to the industry of any other. When a planter exchanges his cotton for foreign manufactures, these manufactures become the productions of domestic industry by the same act which makes them his property, and the cotton, in like manner, becomes the pro
ere are but three modes in which foreign