The Rights of an American Citizen: With a Commentary on State Rights, and on the Constitution and Policy of the United States by Benjamin Lynde Oliver published 1832
Continued from Rights of American Citizens: The policy which ought to be pursued by the federal government in relation to agriculture
PART III; OF THE POLICY WHICH OUGHT TO BE PURSUED BY THE GENERAL GOVERNMENT IN RELATION TO AGRICULTURE, MANUFACTURES, AND COMMERCE.
CHAPTER II; Manufactures.
In the progress of society, manufactures naturally follow agriculture. For, when society begins to advance from its rudest beginning, it is found that other things are desirable beside mere food, lodging and clothing, and, at the same time, that improvements are making in relation to these three subjects, it is discovered, that, as soon as provision is made for the necessities of nature, those of the imagination must also be provided for. A boundless field is therefore opened at once for the utmost exertion of human industry and ingenuity.
By the census of the United States, it appears that more than one fifth of the whole population is engaged in agriculture. As there is a considerable exportation of agricultural products capable of supporting human life, it is very probable that every person employed in agriculture, is able to support a considerable number of persons beside himself; it is not easy, however, nor is it necessary here to ascertain precisely how many.
If therefore a colony, consisting merely of persons whose usual occupation was to cultivate the soil, should settle in a new country, though they might have a great abundance of the immediate means of subsistence; yet they would be in want of numberless necessaries and conveniences. A blacksmith, house-Wright, mason, &c, would, therefore be an invaluable accession to their number, and, on account of the great demand for their services, such persons would have it in their power to extort almost any wages, which they thought fit to demand. It is obvious, therefore, that the business of any such mechanic, would be more profitable than that of a husbandman; because the same labor bestowed in such business, would earn many times as much agricultural produce, as it would raise, if employed in agriculture. Common sense would therefore immediately prompt the farmers to bind their sons, apprentices to such trades, until the colony contained a sufficient number of mechanics to supply all its wants.
Manufactures derive their origin from the mechanic arts. They first provide for the demands of necessity, then those of convenience, and terminate in luxury; and though it is not easy to draw the line where each begins and ends, all manufactures may be classed under these three heads.
Those manufactures, which are matters of necessity, are few, and may usually be obtained at a moderate expense, and in great abundance. But, as the demand for them is very great and uniform, the trades which produce them are deservedly great favorites with the people. Because, for the most part, they require but little skill, and every man having a healthy constitution, .and a moderate share of bodily strength, if he is industrious and temperate, is pretty sure of getting a good living by following one of them.
Those manufactures, which are matters of convenience, are more numerous. As society advances, they come to be regarded as absolutely necessary. They are greatly diversified, and the demand for them is constant; persons engaged in them easily obtain a good living, but usually, though they require more skill, they do not call for so much severe and unremitted labor as the first class. Those trades which supply such manufactures, are therefore more apt to be crowded; and the price of the product in consequence of competition, is frequently low, in comparison with the time bestowed in manufacturing it.
Manufactures for the supply of luxury, though they are the product of labor bestowed in particular trades, yet are almost infinite in variety. They are sometimes boundless in extravagance; frequently of very inconsiderable utility, or, all the real use may be supplied with articles of much less price; and sometimes are pernicious to the public, because hurtful to the health or estate of imprudent individuals. Great skill is sometimes required in the manufacture of them, and there is also a chance of failure. Their price in such cases, is very high, in comparison with the labor bestowed on them; because those which succeed must compensate, for the loss on those which fail. In some, their value and consequently their price depends upon novelty, having therefore but little intrinsic value, as soon as the fashion changes, they become worthies and cheap, though their real utility remains the same.
If a farmer should give two bushels of corn for a pair of shoes, he might be considered as acting under a species of moral necessity, because his health might be concerned in the purchase; if he should give a third of that value for a razor, he would consult his comfort or convenience; in either case, if the price was agreeable to the usual market valuation, he could not be blamed for imprudence. But, if he should give a hundred bushels of corn for a cashmere shawl, it would be useless extravagance, though the actual price in the market were twice what he gave for it. Or, if he gave a ton of carrots for a pair of ear-rings, or for any fashionable article, which in six months time would be out of fashion, and would not bring one half of the price which he gave, though its real value was not at all diminished, he would commit an act of expensive vanity.
If all the lands in any community were distributed among husbandmen, and cultivated by them to the highest degree, and all the necessaries and conveniences of life, beside what they raised by their own labor, were furnished them by mechanics and manufacturers, before the introduction of the inventions and discoveries of luxury, it is plain, that independently of foreign commerce, such community might attain to a great height in the number of its population, all of whom might be as comfortably situated, as the reasonable satisfaction of moderate wishes would require. For, as all the farmers would equally have occasion for the products and labor of manufacturers and mechanics, these classes would receive in exchange from the farmers, so much of their produce, as their own labor would have produced, if employed in agriculture. Because, agreeably to the general rule, the demand would regulate the supply; and the number of apprentices bound to a trade, would depend upon their prospect of earning a good living, when they should become master workmen.
But, as soon as society advanced one step further, it would be discovered, that agriculture could support within the country a greater number of persons, than could find employment within it, taking all the various occupations of agriculture and manufacturers together. For, not many more persons would engage in agriculture, than would be sufficient to supply the whole community with agricultural produce. And, as it would by no means take all the rest of the people, to supply the whole community with every species of necessary convenience, or even domestic luxury, that might be called for; it would immediately become necessary to find some means of employing the supernumeraries, so as to enable them to support themselves; since otherwise they would become a burden upon the rest of the community. And it would soon be perceived, that this could be done effectually, and perhaps without changing the nature of their usual employments, by finding another market for the products of their labor. As the home market would already be taken up, another market for the surplus of home production, must therefore be looked for, abroad. This would introduce foreign trade and navigation. For, the manufacturer by means of the merchant, and with the use of shipping, would send abroad all the surplus produce of his labor beyond what was called for to supply the market at home; and receiving his returns from abroad either in money or in some foreign article of luxury or variety, which he could not obtain at home, and exchanging it in whole or in part for the necessaries or conveniences of life, would thus be enabled to get as good a living as his neighbors. By the introduction of the various employments of commerce and navigation, the means of obtaining a good living, would also be furnished to another numerous class of people, who would be supported by and consequently would furnish a market for a large amount of agricultural produce. Thus the various classes of society would mutually assist, and at the same time, balance each other. The exigences of society however would introduce various other classes of persons, whose occupations and employments are of the highest necessity and utility, such as the makers, expounders, and ministers of the laws, the members of the various professions, teachers of youth, &c. &c., all of which, so far as political economy is concerned, must be considered in the inoffensive and strict sense of the term, as parasitical. For, these classes derive their existence merely from the use they are of to society, to prevent or remove evils, inconveniences and disadvantages, which otherwise it must necessarily suffer. This is obvious; because if the people were peaceable and just in all their dealings, there would be but little necessity for rulers, legislators, &c. &c. If they were always in health, there would be no occasion for physicians, surgeons and apothecaries. If knowledge were either intuitive, or were unnecessary, there would be no occasion for teachers of youth, &c.
As the manufactures, which are necessary to supply the home market, employ a great many persons who consume a large proportion of agricultural produce, the interests of agriculture and manufactures are intimately connected; they are reciprocally advantageous; and whatever encourages or discourages either, for the most part affects the other in a similar manner.
So long as the necessaries of life raised by the husbandman, are exchanged for home manufactures, even though they should be merely articles of luxury, if not absolutely pernicious, there will hardly be any subject for legislative interference; because, those necessaries being consumed within the territory, the country will always sustain as great a population, as its actual production will enable it to do at the time. No check will therefore be offered to the increase of its population. And even although the consideration, which the husbandman should receive from the manufacturer, should be nothing more valuable than trinkets and baubles of his manufacture, the interests of the country will not be directly concerned in it. For, the whole amount of property in the community will remain the same as before, notwithstanding such exchange; there being no difference, except that the manufacturer has supplied his occasions with agricultural produce, and the husbandman has gratified his vanity with the possession of finery of little value. The tendency of such a barter, however, is very injurious. For, as soon as it is discovered, that more of the necessaries of life can be earned by a little easy labor, bestowed in manufacturing articles of such inconsiderable value, than by a great deal of hard labor employed in tilling the ground, there will be too many apprentices bound to learn the trade of manufacturing such articles, and agriculture will be less followed. The evil may, or may not, cure itself. Agricultural produce without doubt, would rise; and when the country was once deluged with such baubles, their price would probably fall, to conform to their real value; but invention is infinite, and for aught that appears, there might be new patterns and new fashions in perpetual succession forever, to the great impoverishment of the agricultural class and consumers generally.
But, as society is at present constituted, it seems impossible for the legislative power to interpose, without infringing what the citizens consider their reserved rights. For, they would hardly consent, that they should be deprived of the privilege of consulting their inclinations in the purchase of any articles, however useless, extravagant, or even pernicious, by the operation of sumptuary laws. Such matters, therefore, must be left to the discretion of each individual, being, matters of private economy.
But, it is quite clear, that, while the manufacture of articles of real utility, should meet with every encouragement that the legislative power of the country has a right to bestowj sound policy requires that any manufactures of the nature just referred to, should receive no encouragement, for the plain reason, that they consume the means of subsistence for a class of manufacturers of greater utility. But, when all the useful and necessary occupations in society are filled with tradesmen, artists and manufacturers, no objection ought to be made to the setting up of any such manufactures, or any of the various fine or ornamental arts. Because to check or prohibit these, is to stop the advance of society in civilization and refinement; and is to require, that wealth, which is the proper reward of skill and industry, should forego those innocent and proper indulgences, which furnish the strongest motive for its accumulation. And the fine arts, though they make no pretensions to be the foundations of society nor add any thing to its strength, still must be considered as contributing greatly to its felicity, and constituting the most brilliant gems that adorn its crown. Another principal reason, however, why encouragement should not be held out to them, in the first instance, is, that, out of the number of aspirants to distinction among them, a comparatively small number meet with any considerable success; for, as in them anything short of excellence, is but little regarded; and, as excellence is always comparative, a few only can be rewarded with a prize, which, though an ample one, is always bestowed at the expense of the unsuccessful competitors, who in consequence, frequently languish in indigence and obscurity.
Manufactures, which convert the necessaries of life into an article incapable of sustaining it, and, which being of but little use at best, in fact, sometimes, become the ruin of numberless people from the temptations to excess which they offer, should be wholly abolished. Because they check population, by wasting food capable of sustaining life; destroy health; lessen industry; and introduce directly or indirectly every species of vice.
As some of the United States possess great natural advantages for the establishment and carrying on of manufactures; but others are less favorably situated for this purpose, the following questions, being subjects of general interest, naturally present themselves for consideration.
1. Is it advantageous to the interests of any manufacturing state, that foreign goods, which come into competition with its manufactures, should be either partially or wholly, excluded from its market, by protecting or prohibitory duties?
2. Is it disadvantageous to the interests of any non-manufacturing state, that foreign manufactures usually consumed within it, and of a similar kind to goods manufactured in some of the other states, should be either partially or wholly excluded from its market, by protecting or prohibitory duties?
3. Is it, on the whole, a national advantage to the United States, that duties should be laid on foreign goods, of a similar kind with goods manufactured in some of the states, for the purpose of securing either a monopoly, or equal competition for the products of the industry of the manufacturing states, against those of foreign industry?
4. Has the congress of the United States any authority under the federal constitution, either to prohibit, or to impose duties upon the importation of foreign goods, for the sole purpose of securing the whole market of the United States, to the products of the industry of the manufacturing states, and, when there is no constitutional call for the expenditure of the money to be raised by the collection of those duties?
It may be remarked, that, though a state which has manufactures largely established within it, is here called a manufacturing state, it is by no means so called because those manufacturing interests are paramount to all the other interests in such state; for, it is believed, that there is hardly a state in the Union, in which there is not some interest within it, either of agriculture or commerce, paramount to that of manufactures. But this epithet is bestowed on it here, merely to distinguish such states, from those which have not introduced manufactures among them. It would be a great error in politics, therefore, to wish to introduce any regulations into a state for the encouragement of its manufactures, without previously considering how such regulations consist with the interests of the state at large, that is, the interests of the rest of the inhabitants. Laying this foundation, it may be answered,
1. With regard to the first question; the direct consequence of a prohibition of foreign manufactures, is to raise the price of domestic ones of the same kind and quality. This price will then depend upon the proportion between the demand and the supply. If the supply is not equal to the demand, the price will rise very high, and the manufacturers will realize a great profit, but the rest of society will be put to great expense and inconvenience in furnishing themselves with goods, which they will be compelled to do at such prices, as the manufacturers think fit to demand. The tendency of high prices will be to encourage smuggling. Affairs, however, will not remain long in this state. As soon as it is discovered, that manufacturers derive great profits from their business, so many will embark in it, that the market will be abundantly supplied with goods, which will therefore fall in price; and notwithstanding the goods of foreign manufacture are excluded, and the monopoly of the home market is secured to the domestic manufacturers, their competition with each other will soon render their prices as moderate, as they are in all other kinds of business; that is, as low as they can sell them and make a reasonable profit, in proportion to the profits of othef kinds of business. It is very clear, therefore, that the manufacturers, as individuals, will derive no permanent gain from a prohibition of foreign goods, which will give them an advantage over persons engaged in other occupations; though, if such prohibition should once be made, and any persons should enter largely into manufactures, under an opinion that it would be continued, they might very probably be ruined, if the prohibition should then be unexpectedly withdrawn.
It must not be overlooked, that, if the price of labor, in any country from which the importation is prohibited, is so much lower than it is here, that the foreign manufacturer, if he could have a chance to introduce his goods into this country, would, notwithstanding freight, insurance, and other charges, be able to realize a profit by selling them at a price lower than our manufacturers could afford, the competition of domestic manufacturers, will never of itself compensate to the consumers in the home market, for the high prices which, it is obvious, they will be obliged to pay, when the prohibition is first made. The reason is, the home manufacturer cannot afford to sell his goods for less than they cost him. But^ as they cost the foreign manufacturer less than they cost our manufacturers, he can afford to sell them for less. The support of manufactures, therefore, under such circumstances, will always, in this respect, be a tax on the consumers of the goods in this country; which tax will amount precisely to the difference between the price of a home-made article, and that which a foreign one would cost here, if it were not prohibited.
There are several circumstances, however, which, though indirectly and circuitously, would overbalance this disadvantage to the state at large; ]. By prohibiting foreign manufactures, an opening would be made for a very extensive business, capable of affording as good a living as any Other in society. On the supposition that its market was confined to this country, still, it is obvious, that the supply of the home market must employ a considerable number of persons. The population of the state would therefore, sooner or later, be increased by the number of persons, who, in consequence of the prohibition, would engage themselves in manufactures. For, it is admitted in political economy, that the number of the people soon increases or decreases, so as to have a correspondence with the means of earning a subsistence.
2. The market for the supply of these manufacturers, would be secured to the producers in this country. This would increase the demand for agricultural produce; and, it is very probable, that the farmer, who, perhaps, before the prohibition, when the market for the sale of his own produce was dull, might purchase foreign goods at a cheap price; afterwards, when the prohibition was laid, and the market for the sale of his produce had become high, might better afford to give a considerably dearer price for domestic goods.
3. By purchasing foreign goods, our own country would contribute to support the manufacturers of that country from which they come. The number of manufacturers, who are supported abroad by the profits which they derive from the sale of their goods here, is the same that -we should support at home, if foreign goods were prohibited. But, if the manufacturers are supported here, they increase the number of our own population, and bear their proportion of the general burdens, and add to the effective force and respectability of the nation.
The effect of protecting duties, would, in some respects, be similar to that of a prohibition; because it would bring domestic manufactures into the home market, on the footing of competition, and would furnish a check to those of foreign fabric. It, of course, would be less advantageous to the interests of domestic manufactures, than a prohibition; because, the latter would secure to them the exclusive possession of the home market, which the former would be unable to do. The competition, however, would be more favorable to all oonsumers of foreign goods ; because they would have it in their power to purchase them at a cheaper rate, than they could do under the monopoly occasioned by a prohibition.
It would also be more advantageous in some respects to the government, to lay an impost, rather than a prohibition. Because, if the impost were adapted to the circumstances of the foreign manufacturer, he would be compelled to pay the whole of it. For, the market in this country would be profitable enough to him, to induce him to send his surplus, which otherwise would perish on his hands; but, in order to sell it, the price must be reduced so low, as to compensate to the consumer for the amount of the duty. So much of the revenue must, therefore, be paid by the foreign manufacturer, and he will find it for his interest to do it for that part of his produce, for which he can find no other market.
In illustration, let a case be supposed. If a farmer, when home-made shoes are worth two bushels of corn a pair, can buy a pair of foreign made shoes of equal quality for one bushel of corn, it is not to be doubted that he will buy the foreign shoes; and if all the other consumers in the state act on the same principle, the shoemakers, finding, that they cannot get enough for their labor at the same price, to enable them to live, will leave the business, or, it will be so bad that no more apprentices will be bound to it; so that finally it will be discontinued. The state will then support its shoemakers in a foreign country. And the means of subsistence being sent abroad, the state will not be able to support so many people, by that number. If the shoemakers discontinue their regular business, they will be distributed among the other classes in society. It is worthy of remark here, that, by carrying on any other business in any such case, they will be able by the wages of their labor, to purchase a greater number of shoes, than they could have manufactured at their regular business. For, when shoemakers, suppose they manufactured 10,000 pair of shoes, equal to 20,000 bushels of corn raised by an equnl number of farmers; then, becoming farmers, they produce 20,000 bushels of corn; 10,000 bushels of which will give them 10,000 pairs of shoes ; and then they will have 10,000 bushels of corn left. If then a shoemaker could buy a pair of shoes, supposing them equally good with what he produces by six hours labor in the field; would he be willing to work twelve hours equally hard in his shop, in order to make them?
Under these circumstances, if a duty should be laid of fifty per cent, it would tend to lessen the price, which the foreign manufacturer would expect to receive for his shoes; because it would lessen the demand for them, by introducing competition into the market. The domestic manufacturer would then be able to live; but all consumers would be compelled to pay a higher price for shoes, by the difference between the price of foreign shoes before the duty was laid, and the price afterwards.
But, it must be remarked, here, that if we have no manufactures among us, foreigners, knowing that we must have a supply from some quarter or other, will have it in their power to compel us to receive goods of whatever quality, and at whatever price, they please.
Suppose then our shoemakers have abandoned their business, and left the market to foreigners, what will the consequence be? Shoes of the worst quality will immediately be sent here, and if we are not compelled to pay a higher price for them, than we refused to pay our own shoemakers, we may think ourselves fortunate. In all such cases, therefore, we must choose between the two evils ; and, if we wish to have manufacturers among us, we must lay such a duty on foreign goods, as will enable our own, to meet them fairly in our own market. But, we must not take off such a duty on the vain supposition, that goods will remain permanently cheaper; for, as soon as we have broken up our own manufacturers, we shall, in this respect, immediately become at the mercy of foreigners. , .
2. Is it disadvantageous to the interests of any non-manufacturing state, that foreign manufactures usually consumed within it, and of a similar kind to goods manufactuied in some of the other states, should be either wholly or partially excluded from it, by the operation of protecting or prohibitory duties?
An absolute prohibition of foreign goods, would seem ‘to compel the non-manufacturing state to purchase such articles as it needed, even though inferior in quality to the foreign ones, at whatever price, the home manufacturer saw fit to demand. There would be two checks, however, to any exhorbitant increase of price. 1. The manufacturers having principally to depend upon the market of the United States, would be under as great a necessity to sell, as the consumers would be to purchase. 2. The competition among the manufacturers themselves, which, on account of their increase of numbers, would be continually growing greater, would keep the prices of their goods down, to an average with the products of other kinds of labor.
But there would remain two disadvantages. 1. As long as the price of labor and of subsistence, are so much lower in a foreign country than here, as to outweigh the freight, insurance, &c. for transporting foreign goods to this country, the foreign manufacturer will always be able to undersell ours in our own market, if not protected by a duty. Consequently, if the foreign goods should be excluded, no competition among the home manufacturers, will ever reduce their goods to as low a price, as those of foreign goods would be, if there were no duty.
2. If foreign goods are prohibited, the nonmanufacturing state will suffer a loss by the prohibition, precisely equal to the difference in price, between what the same goods could be bought for before the prohibition, and what must be given for them afterwards. The consequence of this loss, will be that the non-manufacturing state will not be able to sustain as great a population by so many persons, as that difference would support. For example, let it be supposed, that the non-manufacturing state before the prohibition paid $50,000 per annum for foreign goods, and afterwards paid for similar goods, to a manufacturing state $60,000; then it is plain, that so many persons as derive their subsistence from the difference, viz.; $ 10,000 per annum, are gained by the manufacturing state, and lost by the non-manufacturing state. This is evident, because, whatever tends to increase the consumption of a state, without tending also to increase the population, not only checks population, but diminishes the capability of the state, so long as the cause exists.
To counterbalance these disadvantages, there are some circumstances which deserve consideration. 1. The increase of population in the manufacturing state, will increase the home trade between the two states, not only in relation to the sale and purchase of the particular goods of the manufacturing state, but, in all articles which may be received in barter for them; in this way, it is not unlikely, that the manufacturing state may be the customer of the non-manufacturing state, to an amount equal to the price of the manufactures.
This compensation would be much more complete and direct, if the raw material used by the manufacturing state were the -growth of the other, and was bartered for the manufactured goods. But, on the other hand, if the non-manufacturing state were compelled by the prohibition to purchase goods of a manufacturing state, which either could not or would not purchase the raw material in return, it would operate very injuriously to its interests. Because, 1. The non-manufacturing state would more or less lose its market for its raw material with the foreign manufacturer, in consequence of not buying of him;
2. Would be compelled to pay to the manufacturing state a higher price in money, for whatever goods it purchased.
3. Its raw material would fall in price on account of the difficulty of rinding a market for it. Under these circumstances, a prohibition would be entirely to the advantage of the manufacturing state, and to the disadvantage of the other.
The effect, which duties imposed on articles of foreign manufacture, for the purpose of protecting the manufacture of similar goods in a manufacturing state, would have on the interests of a non-manufacturing state, must be analogous to a prohibition. Some consequences, however, would be more favorable in the latter. 1. Though the protecting duty would naturally tend to raise the price of the manufactures to the consumer; yet, it would by no means have so great an effect, in this respect, as a prohibition. The rise probably would not be so great as the whole amount of the duty. For, by encouraging the domestic manufactures of another state, though by the supposition, it would not wholly expel the foreign manufacture, yet a competitor would be introduced into the market, who would lessen the sales of the foreign article. The diminution of the sale, would, for a time, at least be accompanied with an accumulation of the foreign goods. It is very possible, that this might become so great, as to compel a sacrifice at a price below the usual one before the duty was laid. The duty of course would cease to be a protection for a season. For, large sales of foreign goods, would bring down the price of the manufactures intended to be protected, so low, that they could not be manufactured and sold in their own state and, with greater reason, could not pay for freight &c. to the non-manufacturing state, with any reasonable expectation of profit. This effect, however, would be only temporary. The foreign manufacturer, or merchant, after so great a sacrifice, would send fewer goods; and fewer would be ordered from this country. It is very possible, however, that any person, not knowing the nature of the cause of the disturbance of the market, might suppose it to be permanent, and conclude that the various manufacturing establishments would be ruined, unless heavier duties were imposed.
2. During this struggle for the market, the consumers in the non-manufacturing state, would enjoy the advantage of purchasing goods at extremely low prices. The public revenue also would he levying a heavy contribution, which would fall either on the merchant, in whose hands they happened to be at the time of the pressure, or else on the foreign manufacturer, but not on the consumer, as some imagine. It is true, when foreign goods, subject to duty, are imported in the regular course of trade, the duty is added to the cost of production and the freight, &c, and the whole constitutes the price, all of which in ordinary cases is paid by the consumer, and the duty goes to the government. But, where the duty is laid to protect a domestic manufacture, the foreign manufacturer is obliged to reduce his price, to the importer, as much as possible; otherwise the protecting duty will drive him from the market as effectually as a prohibition would do. This reduction of price goes to pay the duty, and, in case of a glut of the market arising in the manner before suggested, may amount to more than the whole duty. The cheapness of the price in this case, notwithstanding the duty, clearly shows that the duty is in effect paid by the foreign manufacturer. But, as the foreign manufacturer, in consequence of his loss, or the low price of his goods, arising from the accumulation of them, would afterwards receive orders for fewer goods ; the price of such articles, whether manufactured abroad or at home, would soon rise again in the market of the non-manufacturing state, until they settled at that price, at which the home manufacturer could afford to sell them and make an average profit with other kinds of business. To this price the foreign manufacturer must cofnorm, or otherwise his goods must leave the market. Whether such a protecting duty would or would not be a disadvantage on the whole to a non-manufacturing state, no infallible criterion appears, applicable to all cases. It must depend in every case upon the balance of the various advantages and disadvantages necessarily involved in it. In some cases, there can be no doubt. For instance, if the effect of a protecting duty is to create a permanent rise in the price of the manufactured articles, in comparison with the products of the non-manufacturing state, which either directly or indirectly must pay for them, it would be a disadvantage equal to the difference of price; because it would be a proportionate check to an increase of population. But, though the price in money should be raised, it does not follow, from, this circumstance alone, that the protecting duty must necessarily be disadvantageous to the non-manufacturing state; beeause the produce of such state may also have risen in price, in proportion.
So, if the non-manufacturing state, in consequence of the protecting duty, should be placed in a dilemma, where it either must lose the market for its raw material, with the foreign manufacturer, by purchasing of the manufacturing state which does not purchase the raw material in return; or, otherwise must pay an increased price for the foreign articles, in order to sell its raw material to the foreign manufacturer, the protecting duty will be proportionally injurious to the non-manufacturing state.
3. Is it, on the whole a national advantage to the United States, that duties should be laid on foreign goods of a similar kind with goods manufactured in some of the states, for the purpose of securing either a monopoly, or equal competition for the products of the industry of the manufacturing states, against those of foreign industry?
A few remarks have already been made, to show that the encouragement of manufactures by a protecting duty, is advantageous not only to the manufacturers themselves, but, independently of their particular interest, to the whole of a manufacturing state; it has also been shown that, in some cases, the imposition of such a duty is injurious to a non-manufacturing state; that where it is not so, it is because incidental circumstances sometimes afford an indirect compensation; the disadvantage however, where it exists, is direct and obvious j but the effect of the compensating circumstances, can seldom be clearly shown.
It is apparent here, that the determination of the present question, must depend upon a comparison of the advantages, which the encouragement of manufactures affords the manufacturing states, and the disadvantages which they will suffer, if protection is withheld, with the injurious effects that the imposition of protecting duties, &c. will have on the non-manufacturing states, and the advantages which they will derive from a free trade in these respects, if the duties are taken off. The difficult task, however, of striking a balance between present and actual advantages and disadvantages, and those which are future and contingent, will not be attempted here; because, it is believed a proper answer to the next question, will render a further consideration of the present one, wholly unnecessary. It is an ancient saying, that, consilium non est eorum qua fieri nequeunt, which, for the present purpose, may be rendered, that it is useless to consider the expediency of measures, which we have no right to adopt; , it is hoped, that the government of the United States will always consider the want of right as the same with the want of power, in relation to this and every other subject.
4. Has the congress of the United States any authority under the Federal Constitution, either to prohibit, or, to impose duties upon the importation of foreign goods, for»the sole purpose of securing the. whole market of the United States, to the products of the industry of the manufacturing states, when there is no constitutional call for the expenditure of the money, to be raised by the collection of those duties?
Some observations on this subject have already been made, in commenting on the constitutional powers of congress. See ante, p. 99 to 109. But, as the committee of congress on manufactures, have expressed a decided opinion, that the power in question is bestowed on congress by the constitution, a few further remarks are here submitted to the discerning reader, for the purpose of noticing the grounds on which such opinion is placed.
The chairman of the committee, in his letter to the speaker of the house of representatives, says that Mr. Madison entertains the opinion, ‘that the power of congress to protect domestic, by taxation upon foreign industry, is implied in the power to regulate commerce,’ and expresses his assent to the doctrine. He adds, that it is also contained in the grant of power of taxing ‘ to provide for the common defence and general welfare.” But, in the opinion of the supreme court of the United States, the power to regulate commerce, does not comprehend the power to lay duties or imposts on exports or imports. See 9 Wheat. 209. Yet, it is in this connexion, that one would naturally have expected to find such power expressed, if it had been granted in direct terms in the constitution; and, if not contained here, it would very naturally be supposed, that it was not intended to grant it at all. It may be remarked, that though the chairman agrees with Mr. Madison, in thinking the power is implied in that of regulating commerce; yet, it by no means appears, that Mr. Madison agrees with the chairman, in believing that such protecting power is contained in the power to tax, ‘ to provide for the common defence and general welfare.’ The circumstance, that this power may equally be inferred from two several grants, made in different places in the constitution, of very different powers, shows clearly, that there is no necessary inference of any such power in either grant.
The importance of this power in the hands of congress, to the interests of the manufacturing states, and perhaps also to the interests of the United States, considered as one great nation, would naturally create a wish in the minds of statesmen, that the states had agreed to confer it on congress, by the national compact; in others, the necessity for it seems to have furnished the only ground for a belief, that it is actually granted; in others, there seems to exist a pre-determination to find such power granted in the constitution, and the only question with such, is, under what clause or article it is contained, or under what general expression, will it be best to consider it comprehended. Any such previous bias, or predetermination, however, is not at all favorable to an impartial examination of the question, whether it really is contained in the constitution or not.
The power in question, it is pretty clear, if it exists at all, is an implied one. But, if valid as an implied power; then according to the general rule, it must be absolutely necessary to the exercise of some power expressly given. If it is thus necessary to any express power, what is that express power?
If it should be answered, that it is necessary to the exercise of the express power of providing for the common defence and general welfare; the reply is, lhat a power to provide for the common defence and general welfare, is not given to congress in express terms in any part of the constitution. If such power had been given in express terms, there would have been no necessity of enumerating particularly in the constitution, the Various powers intended to be bestowed on congress; for, congress might then have done whatever they considered for the general welfare, provided they did no act which is expressly prohibited in the constitution. A power to provide for the general welfare, which would comp;ehend, with ?. few exceptions, an unlimited grant of power, is not granted in it at all, in express terms; but, to provide for the general welfare, is the pvrpose for which, and for which alone all the powers were granted. It is not a power of itself, however, a’nd consequently does not alone authorize any act, which does not result from the exercise of some other power, either given in express terms, or necessary to the exercise of some power, which is given in express terms. Instead of being an independent, unlimited power of itself, it is rather a restraint upon all the express and implied powers contained in the constitution; since it would be unconstitutional to exercise any of those powers for any purpose, that does not in some way contribute to the general welfare.
If it should be said, that this protecting power is contained in, or is part of the express power to impose duties for the purpose of providing for the general welfare; the reply is, that no one can well entertain this opinion, who considers it an implied power. There is an apparent incongruity in supposing an implied power to be either contained in, or to be part of an express power; agreeably to the maxim, expressum facit cessare taciturn; the purport of which is, that where the intention is express, there is no room for implication. That it is not an express power, and is not granted in effect, is apparent from what must then be the necessary consequences. 1. For, congress would then have a right to impose a tax for any purp ose which they think will conduce to the general welfare, provided such purpose is not expressly forbidden in the constitution; which would enable congress to do what they pleased, if not thus expressly prohibited. For, we cannot suppose, that congress have a constitutional power to impose a tax for the purpose of doing an act, to do which would be an infringement of the constitution.
Can it be said, that under the power, ‘to impose taxes in order to provide for the common defence and general welfare,’ congress has a power to impose duties, in order to promote the sale of domestic manufactures by the partial exclusion of foreign ones, because such encouragement to domestic manufactures is one of the means of providing for the common defence and general welfare? It is true, the chairman puts it on the ground, that defence in the constitution, means ‘ defence against every danger, and every foe;—defence against all hostility and from every evil which may bear on the whole community and menace the general welfare,’ &c. But dangers and foes, which are so merely in a figurative sense, it is supposed, are not intended by the constitution; otherwise an inconvenient and ludicrous latitude of interpretation must follow. In fact, at the time of framing the constitution, the nation had just emerged from the dangers and troubles of a long and cruel war, in which the national existence was at hazard, from the greatness of the invading force of the enemy,—their fleets and armies. The articles of confederation had been found inadequate to the various emergencies which had taken place, among other respects, because it did not bestow a power of direct taxation. In forming the constitution, the states therefore agreed that congress might impose taxes for the purpose of providing ‘for the common defence;’ i. e. by expending the money during hostilities, in fortifications, in ships, in armies, &c. &c. But it is not believed, that in using the expression, common defence it ever occurred to the states, that they were bestowing on congress the power of taxing foreign goods, for the purpose of encouraging home manufactures. For, what is the common defence in this case? It is nothing more than compelling our own citizens to buy home-made articles, by raising the price of foreign ones in our market. And, who are the enemies, against whom we are to defend ourselves in a time of profound peace? Our own merchants, who, in consequence of the rise of foreign goods, will be less inclined to order them. And how is the common defence to be provided for, and the general welfare to be consulted? By making the rest of the people, who are twenty to one of the manufacturers, pay a greater price for their goods, in order to encourage these last in their business. For, no one will pretend, that the exclusion of foreign goods, is for any other purpose than to encourage home manufactures. It is very figurative language indeed, to call this, common defence and general welfare; but, if it be proper to use it on popular occasions, it by no means follows, that it may be assumed as the basis of legislative measures and proceedings.
But, if the states intended, by these expressions in the constitution, to grant this power to congress, then section 8 of the first article, which specifies many powers of the highest importance to the public defence and general welfare, is wholly useless and superfluous. The power to coin money, to establish post offices, to fix the standard of weights and measures, &c. are given in direct terms; so, the power to raise armies; to maintain a navy; to provide for calling forth the militia, &c. are all expressly given to congress. Are not these necessary to the common defence and general welfare? Now, is this power of taxation for the sake of giving the monopoly of the home market to our own manufactures, of so much more necessity than these powers, that it shall be considered as granted, though not named, and though it was thought necessary to name these?
Further; if, under the power to impose taxes to provide for the common defence and general welfare, congress have not a power to do every act not expressly prohibited in the constitution, which they may think necessary to the common defence, &c., then, for the same reason, they have no right to impose a duty on foreign manufactures, for the sole purpose of encouraging domestic manufactures. There can be no mediurn, and the chairman expressly disclaims any such indefinite grant of power. See his letter to the Speaker of the House of Representatives. His conclusion, therefore does not follow. For, how can a power to impose a duty for such a purpose, be contained in, or inferred from a power to impose taxes for the common defence, &c., unless congress have a power to lay taxes for all purposes, which they judge necessary, to the common defence, &c. and which are not expressly forbidden in the constitution?
In the report of the committee on manufactures, it is further urged, that the first act of the first congress organized under the constitution, was to pass a law, containing the following preamble; ‘Whereas it is necessary for the support of government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid on goods, wares and merchandizes imported;’ and the argument is, that it is impossible to deny the power of congress to levy duties for the protection of domestic manufactures, without pronouncing this act to be unconstitutional. But the conclusion does not follow; for, allowing this act to have all the authority of a precedent, though American manufactures at that time were of comparatively small account, and it does not appear, that the present subject was considered at all, at that time; two circumstances which wholly take away its authority as a precedent; still, it can have no authority, except when the country is under similar circumstances. This act was passed, while the United States were laboring under a heavy public debt, which could be discharged in no other way but by a tax on the people, to be levied in some mode or other. This constitutional ground, for the imposition of the tax, together with that of the necessary support of government was therefore laid in the first part of the preamble; and, in what follows, it appears congress was governed by considerations of sound policy, to lay the duties on imported goods; because such duties, whether similar articles were then manufactured in the country or not, would offer a proportionate inducement or encouragement, to enterprising persons to undertake, or to carry on manufactures; and it is very possible, that the words in italic were introduced, in order to lessen the unpopularity, which invariably attends an act laying a tax, by holding out to the people the hope of deriving some advantage from a source, whence they expected only to feel a burthen. For, in any other view, the words in italic are wholly superfluous; since the law is constitutional without them.
But, this supposition is by no means necessary, as the public debt contains a sufficient ground for the tax; and political expediency is the reason for imposing it on foreign goods imported. The precedent therefore loses its authority for the purpose, for which it is adduced. For, it does not follow, because congress, when the United States are in debt, has authority to lay a duty, which, for the encouragement of domestic manufactures, is imposed on foreign manufactures, that congress has authority to impose a duty on foreign goods, when the United States are not in debt, for the mere purpose of encouraging domestic manufactures. Besides, it ought to appear, that congress would never have inserted the words in italic, unless they had believed, that they had authority to impose taxes for the sole purpose of encouraging domestic manufactures. Less than this will not answer, because it will be irrelevant to the present inquiry; and this does not appear at all.
Further; why did not congress in this act, make use of the language of the constitution, to express the ground of the exercise of their constitutional authority, if they did not think the payment of the public debt sufficient? If the encouragement of domestic manufactures is a sufficient ground, and is couched under the words, ‘to provide for the common defence and general welfare,’ why was not this constitutional language used? But it was not used; it is plain, therefore, that the payment of the public debt, &c. was considered sufficient without it, and the encouragement of manufactures, was inserted as a matter of policy.
Lastly ; if congress, under the power to provide for the general welfare, have the power thus to impose duties on foreign manufactures, still there will be no room for the exercise of it, unless the object is of a general nature. If the object, instead of consulting the general welfare, is absolutely injurious to the interests of one or more of the states, though highly advantageous to the rest, it will afford no pretext for the exercise of such power. By the general welfare, here, is not meant the interest of a majority merely of the states, to which they may sacrifice the interests of the rest; but, it should embrace the interests of a majority of each of the states. For, twenty-three of the states may possibly think it would contribute to their general welfare, to partition the twenty-fourth among them. But this is not such a general interest, as is intended in the constitution, which, though it may extend so far as to authorize a law which being favorable to all, is more so to some than to others, could never have been intended by the framers, to justify a sacrifice of one, for the advantage of the rest.
The inference seems to be, that so long as the country is in debt, it is both constitutional, and good policy,, to tax foreign manufactures; but, as soon as the country is free of debt, and there is no constitutional call for the expenditure of the money, to be raised by an impost on foreign goods, such impost cannot be laid for the sole purpose of protecting or encouraging domestic manufactures, without overstepping the limits of the constitutional authority of congress.
Note. A few desultory remarks, which could not well be interwoven in the text without interrupting the train of reasoning, are here subjoined; and, in order to place two different views of the same subject, in stronger contrast, they are introduced in the form of a conference between a manufacturing and a non-manufacturing state.
Manufacturing State. Why do you oppose the tariff?
Non-Manufacturing State. Because I can never assent to a law, which compels me to pay a higher price for goods imported, when the revenue, arising from the duty imposed by it, is not wanted for any constitutional purpose.
Man. State. Why then will you not buy your goods of roe?
Non-Man. State. Because, if I should buy of you, importation will cease. You will then have the monopoly of my market, and I must be more or less at your mercy as to the price of your goods. But, I ask in return, why do you wish to have the duties continued?
Man. State. Because of the great benefit I derive from the law, and the immense advantage, it is or will be, to the prosperity of the United States, in the protection of American industry.
Non-Man. State. Call it, if you please, the protection of a particular portion of American industry, for which protection, the other, and I believe much the largest portion of American industry, is compelled to pay, in the shape of higher prices for the goods they want. The number of persons in the United States, engaged in manufactures, probably does not exceed a half million, out of twelve or thirteen millions, the rest of whom probably are as industrious as the manufacturers. Our state is engaged in agriculture and commerce, and the inhabitants are as industrious as they choose to be, and follow whatever calling they please, which, I take it, is all that any one has to do with the subject. But, waiving that; the tariff occasions a loss to me, equal to the additional price, which I am obliged to give for goods subject to the duty. This tariff was imposed at your request, and you derive all the benefit of it, while I suffer all the loss. Why then, if you wish it to be continued, and are actuated by motives of justice, will you not allow me, out of the great profits you derive from the tariff, the amount of duties, collected in the ports of our state, on the foreign goods subject to them?
Man. State. It is impossible you can be serious; all the profits, which I derive from the sale of a quantity of goods equal to those which pay duties in your state, I presume would pay but a small part of those duties. If this was required, all my manufacturers would be ruined. But you mistake the matter greatly. Look at the price of our stock; it is not so very much better, than other stock in general. We sell our goods as cheap as we can afford.
Non-Man. State. It is pretty clear, then, that though my loss by the tariff is great, yet your gain by it is small. For, if you get ten or even five per cent, more by manufacturing, than you could do in other business, you consider yourself as doing well. Now, on all goods, the price of which is raised by the tariff, my loss is the rise in price. For, if the goods are raised thirty per cent, then I can get no more goods for 130 bales of cotton, than I could for 100, if there were no tariff. Then I must lose thirty per cent, on my exports, in order that you may get five or ten per cent, more on your labor and capital, than you can do in other business. For, I presume you would not carry on manufactures unless you made some profit. Why then is your interest so much to be preferred to mine, that I must bear this heavy loss, in order that you may realize this comparatively inconsiderable gain 1
Man. State. You mistake again. This duty is not imposed to favor manufacturers, as a class; but, to encourage manufactures, as an employment. It is not thought good policy, for the United States to depend on foreigners for their manufactures; but the people of the United States cannot afford to manufacture, unless they have the advantage of a protective duty. This duty being imposed, many persons have engaged very largely in this business, whose establishments will be ruined, if the protection is withdrawn. But, why do you not set up manufactures in your state 1
Non-Man. State. And commit a similar act of imprudence! How could they so rashly embark so much capital on the faith of a law, which they ought to have foreseen, must inevitably be repealed, as soon as the Constitutional ground of it should be removed, unless the government of the United States should see fit to violate the constitution, or we should always remain in ignorance of the interests of our state? But, in answer to your question; we cannot manufacture, because we cannot hire laborers whom we can trust, without giving higher wages than you do. Besides, I believe you have many local advantages over us in this respect, so that you would always undersell us. Further; we rather prefer to import goods than waste labor in manufacturing what we can purchase with the earnings of part of that labor, employed in some other way. I protest, however, against any such right as your question implies, of compelling us to turn manufacturers in order to free ourselves from paying this duty.
Man. State. No offence was intended. But, as the encouragement of manufactures is admitted to be of the highest importance to every nation; and, as the United States derive, or soon will derive, the greatest benefit from them, I suggested, that you might have the same benefit that we have from setting up manufactures in our state.
Non-Man. State. I have stated the reasons why we cannot do it, to any advantage. If therefore we are compelled to pay this duty, we are made a sacrifice.
Man. State. Not for our interest alone, however. This tariff is imposed out of regard to the greater good of the whole, which requires that manufactures should be established within the United States.
Non-Man. State. If so; consider, either the advantage to the United States is greater than the loss which I must suffer by it, or it is not. If it be not, it is hardly worth while, that I should be compelled to make a great sacrifice, in order that the United States should derive a less advantage. This would be impolitic as well as ungenerous. If it is more advantageous to the United States, than it is injurious to me, let compensation be made to me, by directing the custom houses in our state, to pay over to the state treasury the amount of all protecting duties collected at them, and I will undertake to satisfy my citizens.
Man. State. It cannot be done; for, if compensation is made to you, it must also be made to all the non-manufacturing states; this would devour all the revenue arising from the protecting duties.
Non-Man. State. And so it ought, if it is not wanted for any constitutional purpose, and the duty is consequently imposed for the benefit of home manufactures solely, while we sustain all the loss.
Man. State. But it is impracticable; because, if the duty operates as a prohibition, no collection will ever take place, because no goods will be imported. If it is merely protective, and the United States permit you to draw back the duty into the state treasury, the law will be inoperative in effect, and importations will remain as before.
Non-Man. State. It is unjust in itself, without any compensation, to make my interest a sacrifice for the advantage either of any particular class of people, or of any particular state or states, or of all the rest of the United States. Even in time of war, the government of the United States cannot, without violating the constitution, deprive an individual of his property for public uses, in cases of the utmost extremity, without full compensation. Why then is the interest of our state to be thus sacrificed in time of peace? How can it be done without violating the constitution?
Man. State. Though your interest, at first sight, may appear to. be Sacrificed, yet, I doubt whether it be so in fact, on account of the advantages, which the United States will derive from the encouragement of manufactures, in which, it is believed your state will participate, either directly or indirectly, in a greater or less. degree, whether you undertake to manufacture or not. But, however this may be, suffer me to remind you, that when the constitution of the United States was formed, the several states made a mutual compromise of their respective interests, and entrusted congress with a power, to lay taxes to provide for the general welfare. Under this power, congress has authority to make an inconsiderable state interest give place to the greater interest of the Union. The exercise of this power must depend upon the discretion of congress, who, coming equally from all the states, can have no interest to sacrifice any particular state for the advantage of the rest. But, where a public measure is of the greatest possible importance to the public welfare, congress ought not to neglect it, merely because it may interfere, in some inferior respect, with the interest of some particular state. Without a compromise of this nature, the constitution never could have been agreed to, because, it is obvious, that no general measure can ever be adopted under it, which will not be more favorable in its operation to some states than to others. The constitution is not a subject for a strictly literal construction; if it were, I should admit that no such power as we contend for, is contained in it; and Mr. Madison, to whom the country is under so great obligations for the part which he took in framing and procuring the adoption of that instrument, is of opinion, that congress possesses the power of imposing duties, under the power to regulate commerce.
Non-Man. State. The greatest deference, without doubt, is due to the opinion of the eminent statesman whom you name; but, in political affairs, there can be no authority but truth, justice, and the stronger argument. Under a power to regulate commerce, it cannot be doubted, that congress has a power to impose such petty exactions, as may be found necessary to effect this constitutional purpose. But, a power to impose duties for the sole purpose of encouraging manufactures, cannot be brought within this power, by any logical deduction, and the power to impose duties, according to the opinion of the supreme court, is part of the taxing power. The powers, which the states have conceded to the general government, it would be very dangerous to extend by construction, or to interpret by opinion. By straining the bands of power, they will break; the states disgusted at the attempt to usurp authority, will consider themselves no longer bound by them; and there is danger that the Union may be dissolved. It would be better, therefore, for congress never to attempt to exercise powers, of the constitutionality of which, there remains a doubt. Instead of strengthening the arm of the general government, such attempts palsy it by the mistrust, disaffection and rancor, which they occasion in all who find themselves aggrieved. There can be no other way to ascertain the meaning of the parties to the constitution, than to apply its language to the situation and circumstances of the country, when it was adopted; for, the constitution, I apprehend, is to be construed according to the real intention of the parties at the time of its adoption ; and, if a certain construction will lead to a conclusion, which the states could never have intended, such construction must be abandoned, even though it may seem not inconsistent with the literal meaning of some general expressions contained in it. It is impossible to suppose, that any state adopted the constitution for the sake of accommodating the interests of the other states, without consulting its own. It is conclusive, therefore, that no state ever contemplated making an agreement, by virtue of which its own interest should be gratuitously sacrificed either for the welfare of the rest, or of any particular state. How then can it be consistent with the true intent of the constitution to enact laws, laying a duty upon foreign goods imported into a non-manufacturing state, merely in order to encourage manufactures in other states?
Man. State. The constitutionality of a law, you will recollect, is to be decided by the supreme court of the United States, and is not a subject for the decision of any other judicial tribunal. Your opinions, though I do not agree with them, may be sound, but, if the supreme court should decide otherwise, they will be unavailing. It is true, however, the case has never been decided by them, and nothing more than an obiter dictum, by which no one will legally be bound, can be had from that tribunal, until the case occurs. But, if it should be decided against you, there is no appeal to any earthly tribunal, except one, which I should be the last to allude to, if we were not continually reminded of it by certain of your citizens.
Non-Man. State. And upon whom must rest the responsibility? If the government of the United States, in violation of the constitution should enact laws, by which we shall feel ourselves oppressed, should we not resist?
Man. State. I think not. For, if the supreme court should decide the laws to be unconstitutional, they become void from that moment. On the other hand, if they decide the laws to be constitutional, you are bound to submit. Will you not submit to the decision of the tribunal, which you have agreed, with the other states, to establish, for the very purpose of settling differences, arising among the states, which can be determined in no other way? If the decision should be in your favor, even contrary to your opinion, I have not so much charity, as to believe, that you will find fault with the decision on that account, or, that you will not think the other states are bound to submit to the decision. If the decision is against you, and you should believe it to be incorrect, will you resist this decision, because you did not find the tribunal, you agreed to establish, infallible? But, though the judges of the supreme court should even be infallible, unless you are so too, which I presume you do not arrogate to yourself, there is no certainty that your opinion will agree with theirs. Is it not better then, that a doubt should be settled by a decision, even though incorrect, than remain a perpetual source of disagreement and ill will?
Non-Man. State. Admitting what you say to be just; the decision of the supreme court will be binding no further, than to settle the legal question; but will by no means determine the political one: that is to say; after the decision of the supreme court against me, I must acknowledge, that I shall have no right whatever, to deny the constitutionality of the law for the purpose of opposing the execution of it; but, if I am fully persuaded, that the decision is contrary to the true intention of the parties to the constitution, and so repugnant to our interests, that the objects which we had in view in adopting it, cannot be obtained, I shall think myself justified in requesting permission of the other states, to withdraw from the Union, peaceably and on equitable terms. For this purpose, if it should ever become necessary, I would not hesitate to call a state convention. I will proceed no further.
Man. State. Permit me then to begin where you leave off. Suppose you call a state convention for the purpose of deliberating on this question; how can you obviate the difficulties, that will meet you at every turn? Suppose a majority of your citizens should be in favor of an application to congress, to obtain the consent of the other states to your secession from the union. Has congress any constitutional authority to act on this subject? Ought not the application to be made to the other states? Yet the state legislatures have no authority on this subject. But, if congress should consider themselves authorized to act on this subject, can you suppose that they will abandon the minority in your state, who wish to abide with the Union? To act on this subject, how can any authority be derived from the people, without resolving society into its original elements? For, as respects all powers not delegated either to the state governments, or to that of the United States, the people are independent of each other. Whence then can the majority derive any right to govern the minority in cases, not provided for either in the constitutions of the states, or in that of the United States? Is it not clear then that those citizens of your state, who wish to remain under the authority of the United States, have a perfect right to do so, and cannot be controlled in this respect, by any act or resolution of a majority of a convention of your citizens? If, therefore, the United States should be perfectly willing that you should withdraw from the union, they will still be bound to protect the dissentients. Will you then partition your state? Certainly not; even the majority, who might be desirous to secede from the Union, if all were unanimous, will be averse to do so, if they find a respectable minority opposed to the measure. In such an extreme case, can you suppose, that you may safely rely on the wisdom, fortitude, perseverance, and disinterested generosity of state heroes who appear so desirous of opposing the execution of the laws of the United States; orators, who, in order to magnify themselves in the eyes of those who are so simple as to be their dupes, make’ the dissolution of the Union, notwithstanding the awful consequences that may result from it, a theme for gasconade and bravado in the irregular assemblies of the people; turbulent champions, who, for greater personal security, carry concealed weapons in time of peace, and bluster in patriotic bombast, at public dinners? Such as these never yet did any thing deserving praise or honor. They know better how to keep their own persons out of danger, than how to secure the welfare of the public. The part of Decius or Leonidas, though often mentioned in holiday orations, and the exercises of the academies, is never performed in our days, except upon the stage. And modern orators, for the most part are proved by experience to be but shallow statesmen ; since their influence over the people, gained by their persuasive but superficial accomplishments, is seldom productive of any effect of general utility; and, while deluding themselves, as well as others with their own eloquence and sophistry, are too ingenious in apology ever to be martyrs; and, being rather inclined to discourse than to act, are totally unfit either for generals or soldiers.
Excuse me;—but, it is to be hoped, that you will not suffer yourself to be under the influence of any such counsels, which, at best can result from nothing better than the vaporing effervescence of patriotic, but mistaken zeal for state interests.
Non. Man. State. I readily accept your apology; but thevolley, which you have just discharged, really excites my admiration. I should have thought, that you had just risen from the perusal of the never-ending, grave and pompous speeches of your own delegation. But, I know it is much easier to praise, than to read those elaborate disquisitions.
But, to return to the subject of discussion, which, in its result, may be of the most unhappy consequence to me, though certainly, if I am wronged by a violation of the constitution, the injury will be felt by all. You are aware of the embarrassment of our situation: The uncertainty whether we shall not, by attempting to obtain redress, put ourselves in a worse condition, than we now are, only aggravates the evil. What are we to dot
Man. State. I do not admit that you suffer any wrong Whatever. But, on the supposition, that the policy of the general government is none of the best; yet have patience, and they will eventually come to the same correct views, which you suppose yourself to entertain, and the injurious laws will then be repealed. Or, if they are right, and their measures are really promotive of your true interests, though they subject you to some temporary disadvantage, be not envious, if these measures appear to you calculated to enrich our state, by enabling us to make the most of those advantages, which nature, in your opinion has afforded us. While a mere majority is sufficient to enact a law, our institutions will never rival those of the Medes and Persians. The redoubled efforts of a large and energetic minority, always has a tendency to keep those public measures, which are of a revocable nature, in a state of oscillancy and equilibration, very favorable to the views of those who think they suffer by them.
But, if the Union should be dissolved, shall we then be safe from each other’s injustice, when we complain while we are united? Can each of us alone resist the attacks of a foreign power? Must we again become provinces?—If we dissolve the Union, such must be our fate, unless we form a new Union. Let us then adhere to the present one. At any rate, let us not be rash; the national debt is not yet paid; and until it is, there is no constitutional ground for controversy in relation to this subject.
Continued in Part III, Chapter III: Of The Policy Which Ought To Be Pursued By The General Government In Relation To Commerce.See the other parts of this series: RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division One RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; Division Two RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: General Rights; The Social Compact RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Powers delegated to the General Government in the Federal Constitution RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Powers delegated to the State Governments RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Independence of the States RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The rights reserved to the people of the United States RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the right of suffrage and of elections RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Liberty of Speech and of the Press RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Power of Courts to punish for Contempts RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Law of Libel in relation to Public Officers RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Rights of Juries RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The Rights of Witnesses RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: Of the mode of obtaining redress for any infringement of civil or political rights, committed either by the officers of the General Government, or of any of the State Governments. RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The policy which ought to be pursued by the federal government in relation to agriculture RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The policy which ought to be pursued by the federal government in relation to manufactures RIGHTS OF AMERICAN CITIZENS: The policy which ought to be pursued by the federal government in relation to commerce