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railroads, and the railroads pointing to Nashville and Memphis, depend all for their support mainly on the commerce and travei of the Mississippi and Ohio valleys: and this commerce is founded on a basis which is inherent in the natural resources of soils, minerals and climates of the states of those valleys. It is not in any sense fortuitous like that of the Eastern states, the manufacturing capital of which may at some future day change its location with the development of the country; nor has it in extent of resources, any rival on this continent that we are aware of. There is no other valley similar in extent and general fertility to the basin of the Mississippi. Corn, hemp, tobacco and cotton are its agricultural staples, and it abounds in iron, copper, lead, and the fuels and fluxes necessary to the reduction and application of these. Its variety of climate admits of the successful prosecution of those very manufactures which have so enriched the Eastern states. It affords a field for all the leading interests, the shipping interest excepted, which are at present referred to different sections of the country, and admits of all of these being hereafter represented within the limits of its great basin. This cannot be said of any other geographical division of the country, and this blending of different interests and pursuits, together with its capacity for the sustenance of a dense population, must render it at some future day the heart of the American Republic, to which the other states shall be as a girdle of various interests, contributing to the wealth of the centre and dependant largely upon that centre for their own support.
The growth of the commerce of this valley will in all probability, exceed the expectations of reasonable men. The railroads making and to be made, open its back lands to the emigrant, and nowhere on this side of the mountains, can he find such a variety of climate and soil, from which to choose his future home. The disturbed state of Europe, and the contrast, daily becoming better known, between its abundance of restrictions on personal and commercial freedom, and the absence of these here, must maintain and increase continually the number of emigrants who covet a settlement here. The young men of the Atlantic states find here an unoccupied field for the application of their peculiar energies, which they cannot now find at home. The Western states offer to enterprise and industry of all degrees such opportunities, as are leading to their being rapidly filled up. Every year not merely increases the population, but increases the opportunities of the population to
operate with effect. We may well have the good will of the Eastern and Middle states, considering the greatness of our destiny, and a prudent interpretation of that destiny might well induce them to secure in return our good-will, independant of any temporary benefit, which a contrary course might seem to insure now, but which a more liberal action on their part, in connection with an industrious discussion of the causes, which have determined their present position, would be quite as likely to command.
As it is the interest of the Atlantic states to connect themselves with the Mississippi basin, and accomodate its trade, so it is unquestionably their interest to have the trade of that valley increase, to contribute all in their power to the rapid development of its resources, to countenance and assist in the extension or improvement of its means of inter-communication, because every thing which tends to increase the produce of that valley, increases proportionally its commerce with the sea-bord; every new line of railroad which brings new lands into cultivation, furnishes increased shipments of corn, hemp and tobacco, and leads to increased demands for all classes of manufactured goods. As a question of interest, our advancement is their advancement, and our opportunities are eminently their opportunities.
It has been well said, that very few, if any important measures of policy have become law, which have not been more or less the result of compromise; and where a variety of interests have to concur in the acceptance of any measure, this shaping or misshaping of it, is a necessity which it is as useless to deny as to avoid, and it is a necessity which may involve no injustice, but only a certain amount of forbearance, a suppression of some pride of opinion, or a certain amount of generous good-will, which, as in the case of questions, relating to the tariff or to taxes may involve a present sacrifice of income per individual of trifling amount.
If this sacrifice is to result in a greater benefit, or if it is willingly met for the sake of other advantages believed to accompany it, it involves no wrong either in principle or policy, and is an experiment as the majority of legislature enactments are, not incapable of correction at some future time.
But it is important to look at this part of the question more closely, and to understand what alterations in the present tariff are sought by those who require that concession of the West, before they will consent to aid by grants of public land the many new communications which the position of the West obliges it to undertake. What reasons are given to justify any alterations in the present tariff, and in what manner the Western interests are likely to be affected by them?
We cannot undertake to answer these questions in great detail, but will give our understanding of the most important points inYolved in them.
The increase asked for at the last session of Congress in the existing tariff of duties, referred to the articles of iron, hemp, wool, refined sugar, window-glass, and linseed oil. On iron 373 per cent ad valorem was asked for, instead of the present 30 per cent duty; on hemp, wool, and sugar an increase of ten per cent was sought.
On the article of iron an increase of duty was sought for reasons which deserve a candid consideration. The other articles mentioned are of less moment, and will not now be considered.
Any statistics given here in regard to the condition of the irontrade of the United States, will have reference only to the state of Pennsylvania, but that state is considered to represent half of the iron interests in the United States, and the effect on the remaining states may be inferred accordingly.
Under the tariff of 1812, which lasted until 1846, the iron interests prospered exceedingly, and the capital invested in iron works, forges, and rolling mills, reached in 1816—7, in Pennsylvania about twenty millions of dollars.
In 1816—7, the tariff of 1842 was revised, and very much reduced, and the existing tariff came into operation. The effect of this change on the iron trade may be gathered in part from the following figures :
In 1847, 389,350 tons of iron were made in Pennsylvania; in 1850 there were but 199,000 tons made; a reduction in the make of iron of 49 per cent in three years.
In 1850, of the 289 furnaces in operation in 1847, 167 were out of blast, shewing a reduction of 56 per cent since 1847.
The discouragement and loss suffered by the iron interests throughout the country, correspond with these facts, and it seems hardly credible that men of any party should be able to contemplate it with indifference.
The exceedingly depressed condition of the trade throughout the land is so well understood, that it would be idle to dwell on it, or on the suffering which its condition has entailed on the communities dependant upon it. If this distress were likely to be temporary, an interference with it might be questionable, but it has now lasted more or less through three years, and during the past year has not improved, and there are reasons which preclude the hope, that any sufficient improvement in the price of foreign iron is likely to occur soon; the iron interests are at present obviously dependant for an improvement of their condition on a considerable rise in the price of foreign iron.
The tariff of 1846 was established by the party which has always been opposed to any but the most moderate scale of protection. The rate of duty on iron established then, was conceded to be necessary to the encouragement and sustenanco of the iron manufactures of the United States. The spirit of this concession, not the letter, is all that is asked for now; the protection which by that law was intended, and which at the time of its passage was given, is all that we understand to be sought. The governing circumstances, as they existed then and now, are very different; had the present low prices prevailed then, the duty of 1812 would not in all probability have been interfered with.
The protection given now to iron, is dependant on the price of English iron, and varies with it. We say English iron, because the mass of that iron which enters our market, exceeds so much that of other countries, as to rule the market.
The same article of English wrought iron, (British bar) which was quoted in the first quarter of 1847 at ten pounds sterling, ($48.80) is now quoted (25th of Oct. 1851) at five pounds seven shillings sterling ( $25.80).
The same article of Pig iron, (Clyde No. 1) which was quoted in London in the first quarter of 1847 at three pounds fifteen shillings sterling ($18.30), is now quoted at two pounds one shilling sterling ($10.00).
These prices are fair samples of the change in the price of iron in foreign markets, and of the consequent modification in the value of American iron in our own markets.
The amount of protection to pig iron is reduced over two fifths by the depressed state of the English iron market. The amount of protection to wrought iron is reduced somewhat more, but it cannot be definitely stated, in consequence
of the mixture of foreign pig, which enters into its manufacture.
Now, is there anything unreasonable in the demand of the iron masters, for such an increase in the amount of protection, as will place them approximately in the position given them in 1847 by the bill of 1846. The fall of prices which has since occurred, has been entirely unexpected, otherwise some provision would have been made in that bill to meet it. And we cannot believe but that, if those members of Congress who were instrumental in passing the tariff of 1846, would give to the different complexion of affairs now that just consideration, which in common fairness they would apply to any similar transaction in private life, they would correct with some good-will the accidental distress, which the bill has created, and was not intended to create, by modifying it proportionally, and in such a manner as to meet future exigencies of a similar description.
There are good reasons for believing, that the depression in the price of foreign iron is not likely to be corrected soon.
In 1846—7, when the present tariff was adopted, the iron imported from England to the continent of Europe, amounted to rather more than one half of her entire exports of that article.
The present disturbed state of the continent of Europe has reduced most materially the amount of her exports to that continent, including that of iron, and to all appearance, must continue to do 80 for a long time. Deprived of a ready sale in Europe, the iron manufacturers find their ability to supply, to be greatly in excess of the demand, and hence the reductions, which have been going on in the prices of English iron during the last three years, until they have attained their present very low rates. In Austria, in Germany, and in France the probabilities of further disturbance and civil commotion are greater now, than of continued tranquillity. The present situation of continental Europe does not warrant for a long time to come, any expectation of that political rest, which will renew commercial activity there. There is therefore but little probability of the English iron market improving materially in prices, for a long time to come. But in the present position of the tariff the protection to American iron is measured by this foreign market. In other words, our iron masters have protection, when English prices are high, and no protection when English prices are low. The protection which is dependant on causes Bo entirely beyond our reach, demands a remedy, if it admits of one. The remedy is in the power of the same influence which established