Page images
PDF
EPUB

skill; with sufficient inducement it remains, and when fixed and disciplined, it then becomes profitable, and then competition brings down the price of goods ; but with an unstable policy, no matter what may seem to be the inducement, capital will not be attracted: for five per cent. certain, is better than ten per cent uncertain. A specific duty is certain, but an ad valorem is uncertain, the latter being as variant as the conscience of importers. The time will come, at some future day, when the political philosopher, looking back, and seeing that America produced three fourths of all the cotton of all the world, and nearly all that is good, that she had food at her doors, which she shipped abroad to feed the manufacturers of this cotton, when the same mouths could have been brought to the cotton and the food, to consume both, by a wise policy, saving two freights across the ocean, and commission and profits indefinite, this philosopher will ask, how was this, what kind of men could have governed America, to have suffered such a state of things? But the men who did it, will not be there to answer; or else perhaps unable to bear the shame of so apparent a folly, they might feel inclined to adopt Lord Castlereagh's plan, when the simple view by Bonapart, of the folly of his administration, made it so manife:t, that from remorse and mortification he cut his throat.

We have the materials, and the labor, to make every thing we want. Making all we want, we must be always in a prosperous condition, cheerful and happy. Our gold would remain among us. Our cotton crop and tobacco, to the amount of seventy millions, would be adding to our wealth, instead of to the wealth of England. We would have a coasting trade and home commerce, greater in extent infinitely, than all our foreign commerce. Rail roads and improvements of all kinds, would go rapidly forward; our lands would rise in value, and our produce would all find a ready and rich market at home. But this would not cut off our foreign commerce. Other countries must, and will have our cotton and tobacco; but, if we favor home industry, and give it the preference over the foreign, instead of our picking the crumbs from foreign tables, they must be satisfied with the crumbs from ours. We ask of our government only reasonable protection, but let that be specific, specific, specific. And then no country on earth can vie with us. If we want evidence of the beneficial effects of protection, look to the result of the tariffs of 1832 and 1842. A prosperity immediately followed, as manifest and palpable as that change which is produced by a rich coat of manure upon a worn out farm.

To the farmer, we would say:

In what manner have your interests been advanced by the Free Trade policy? By it Mr. Walker told you, and he is the great Free trade apostle, that your exports would be rapidly increased annually, until in 1850, they would reach $488,000,000. Has

acproduced by could say: wests been a

such been the fact? Most certainly it has not. On the contrary, in proportion to population, from 1848 inclusive, to the present time, our exports have been diminishing. Last year, instead of $88,000,000, they amounted to only a little over $134,000,000. You have then gained nothing by reducing the tariff in 1846.

The cotton planter we would ask: what have you gained ?

You have, by shutting up numerous manufactories, turned at least 200,000 manufacturers and their dependents, into agriculturists, and thereby thrown more competition against yourselves, lowering thereby the price of your cotton in consequence of over-production.

To the common laborer, we would say: What have you gained ? By stopping the factories, iron furnaces and other establishments, you are thrown out of employment, and the bread taken from your families.

Of our country, we would ask: What has been gained by repealing the tariff of '42, and establishing that of 46? We would answer: You have gained a loss" of sixty millions of dollars per annum. You have been feeding foreigners with the bread, which of right ought to belong to our own countrymen.

As before said, and it cannot be too often repeated, we have given up a certain home market, created by our manufacturers, with the calculation that we would thereby create a greater foreign market for our agricultural products. But in the latter we have been deceived. Our foreign demand has not increased. We have. taken foreign manufactures to an immense amount, calculating that to a corresponding amount would be the demand for our products. But in this we have been deceived; for foreigners have supplied the manufacturers with food, who have taken our home. market for manufactures. While this home market has been forfeited, we have thrown more producers into competition with the farmer and planter, and by a double process been guilty of a suicidal policy.

The Public Lands and Western Improvements.

We desire to make some remarks on the relation of the Public Lands to our leading enterprises of internal improvements, and the dependence to a certain extent of the one upon the other, but it is with discouragement and reluctance, that we approach a subject whose popularity is so hacknied and barren, and whose interest is so conceded and general, as to have become all but destitute of any salient points, from which to command the public sympathy.

The subject interests us in Missouri, first as a local question.

The state of Missouri (and the same may be said of the states of Arkansas and Iowa,) has been made, we trust, temporarily, a sufferer by the late action of Congress in the application of public lands to state improvements.

The liberal appropriation of lands in aid of the construction of the Illinois Central Railroad, has made certain the completion of a leading railroad through the centre of Illinois, from her extreme Southern boundary at Cairo, to Galena on her northern boundary, with an important branch to Chicago, connecting the entire state by railroad with the commerce of Lake Michigan, and of the Upper and Lower Mississippi respectively; and this great leading road will be the parent of numerous branches, comprehending as well all the available riches of the country away from its immediate yicinity.

The effect of this gift will enhance immensely the advantages of the state of Illinois to emigrants as a place of settlement, will increase proportionally her resources, and will extend proportionally her influence. The advantageous position which Illinois is destined to occupy so much sooner in consequence of this assistance, and which is already so distinctly felt in the West, may convert those who have doubted the propriety of such an application of the public lands. Until Missouri is placed in a similar position, her citizens may complain justly of the effect of such one-sided legislation on the progress of individual states, and the city of St. Louis may complain, and will have reason until then to complain, of the construction through Government assistance, of roads, whose completion will interfere most materially with her present commerce with the Upper Mississippi, will change to a great extent its direction and character, and will force her to apply immediately her resources in

an undue proportion, to the construction of roads Westerly, whose traffic shall compensate for the trade which the Central Illinois railroad, and its connections with the Mississippi must withdraw from her.

The natural changes of trade consequent on the opening of new channels of communication by private or by state efforts, must be met, when they act disadvantageously, by compensating efforts to connect with, and attract previously unavailable sources of business. When the Government accelerates those changes by its aid in one state, and leaves them to private effort in another, it interferes with the relative wealth and position of the two states so situated. The one is enabled now, and by extraneous assistance, to connect her vast resources easily and speedily with the markets of the world, and with the more important produce markets of the West and South: the other is left straining to procure means, and expending an excess of money, (which would under the same measure of assistance, have been applied to the developement of her native wealth,) in the prosecution of communications, which will place her in an equally commanding station, and maintain intact her relative political and social position.

The discouraging effect of such favouritism on the neglected state is about equal to its happy effect on the other. We do not argue against the land assistance to Illinois, but should always have warmly advocated it. We but contend for similar aid to the state of Missouri, and the other Western states, which shall place them on a footing in that respect with their fortunate neighbour, and enable them also to render practically valuable the enormous resources which now lie useless upon the surface of the prairies, or in the veins and strata of the geological formations of this region.

Setting aside, for the present, considerations that may be deemed local merely, in regard to the application of the public lands to purposes of internal improvement, we propose to take a brief view of the question in its most general aspect.

The right of Congress to apply any portion of the public lands, in aid of leading canals or railroads, is questioned by some, and the principle involved in any such right has neither been definitely admitted nor denied, but to this moment remains so far undetermined as to make every new grant an act of special favor of Congress, obtained through a concurrence of accidental and favorable circumstances, and under a kind of protest from a certain fraction of the national legislature.

Now it is admitted by all, that it is the interest of the Government to have the lands occupied as speedily as possible; and yet it is denied in the same breath, that the steps necessary to be taken to secure the occupation of these lands within a reasonable time, are competent to be taken by the government. It is admitted and contended on all hands, that the land should, if possible, be disposed of only to actual occupiers, men who would settle upon it, and improve it; and yet it is denied by some, that the only steps which would render that occupation in the casc of all lands away from the rivers,) desirable to that class of men, viz., ease of access to a market, should be facilitated and endorsed by Congress.

What are those steps but the opening up of the interior lands by means of great leading lines of communication, enabling those resident on them, to send their produce with profit to the local markets. As the lands are situated now, they fall by the very inaction of Congress into the hands of the speculators. The farmer or the miner, who seeks a field for constitutional activity of disposition, or for the application of a healthy industry, has no inducement to settle on these back lands, however rich they may be. He cannot find a market on the spot, and there are no mechanical facilities of transportation within his reach to neutralise the distance of his position from the market cities of his section of country. This is the case with all the lands of the Western states away from the rivers, except on the few belts where canals or railroads are being established. If by accident, such a man settles in such a position, he lives along in the hope of something being done for his section of country, until his early activity of disposition is unsettled by the absence of compensation for his labors. He fills up his leisure time by hunting, loses his regular habits, and discouraged and dissapointed, ends by doing the little that he has to do to sustain his family, in a slovenly and imperfect manner. The result is, that these back lands are entered very slowly; that the speculator with some capital to back him, acquires and holds large parts of them, in the faith that the gradual progress of population, which time will assure, or some lucky chance, will ultimately enable him to dispose of them to advantage. A large extent of public land is held in this way, which but for the absence of competition consequent on its inaccessible position, would never have fallen into

« PreviousContinue »