« AnteriorContinuar »
well known that money can be borrowed in England at four per cent. upon a pledge of United States Stock. If, then, capital can be advantageously employed in this country, it is certainly desirable that the greater part of our public debt should be transferred to England, upon such terms. We have in this neighbourhood a very extensive manufactory, -the one at Dover, so well described by the Editor of the Statesman last summer; and we have another just commenced at Somersworth, which will be of nearly equal importance. If the proprietors of these establishments should happen to be owners of public stock to the amount of one hundred thousand dollars, and should want to expend that sum in their manufactories, it would surely be better for them to borrow it in England, than to sell their stock here. It could not certainly be a very ruinous transaction for themselves or the country, if they enjoyed the use of the money, and received for interest two thousand dollars a year more than they paid.
The great fall in the price of exchange during the last fortnight illustrates very strongly the remarks upon exchange, which we offered a few weeks ago. But we have already exceeded our limits, and fear that we have trespassed too much upon the patience of our readers. At some future time, we shall resume the subject.
March 22, 1823.
"We confess ourselves to belong to that class of politicians who are favorable to the protection of Domestic Industry."
In quoting this passage from the New-Hampshire Patriot we cordially adopt the opinion it expresses. We too are favorable to the protection of domestic industry; and that, not in one branch merely, but in every way in which it can be exerted. But an opinion has been very extensively and zealously inculcated, that "domestic industry" is chiefly employed in manufactures; as if spools and spindles were the only instruments of labor and skill. We wish well to the manufactures of our country; and we therefore wish their true value to be understood.
The great object of industry is the acquisition of wealth, or of those various commodities which are necessary for the subsistence, comfort, or enjoyment of mankind. In comparing therefore the various modes in which industry may be exerted at any given time, profit is the only standard of value. That employment which makes the largest returns
-in the shortest time and upon the smallest capital,-in other words, that employment which produces the largest profit, is the most valuable to the nation. In the case of an individual, this principle is never questioned. No man entertains a doubt whether the business, in which his time and talents and money-which constitute his capital— are most profitably employed, be the best business for him, or not. He is only anxious to ascertain, with certainty, the precise employment in which this profit can be made. The question, when it regards a nation, is not materially different. National industry should be exerted in that path which leads to the greatest profit; and the sagacity of individuals is always sufficient to discover that path. No merchant, or manufacturer, needs an act of Congress to inform him whether his business be worth pursuing. In the establishment of a new manufactory, then, the only question, as well for the nation as the individual, is, Will it be profitable? Can the time, and skill, and money of the undertakers be so well applied in any other employment? If they cannot, then the nation is benefited by such an establishment. But if it be not profitable—or at least, if there be not a reasonable expectation of profit within a short timethe nation has suffered a loss of all the time, and skill, and money expended upon it. Among an intelligent people, therefore, manufactures will generally rise precisely at the time and place in which they are wanted.
It has often been urged in favor of manufacturing establishments, that they give employment to numerous laborers, and by using their capital at home, produce a greater
effect upon society, than commerce, which of necessity communicates a part of its benefits to a foreign country. But this distinction between the effects of manufacturing and commercial industry is certainly fallacious. Agriculture, commerce, and manufactures operate alike in producing value. The farmer expends his time and skill, which are his capital, upon his seed, which is his raw material; and by the aid of the soil, and rain, and sunshine, which are his machinery, creates a new product, which should be of sufficient value to reimburse his capital, replace his raw material, and pay for the use of his machinery.
The merchant employs an expensive machine and many laborers in converting one commodity into another, or in giving an additional value to the same commodity. In a voyage to Europe, he converts flour into cutlery, or potash into broadcloth. His outward cargo is his raw material; and provided his profits are as great, he has enriched his country as much as if, with the same labor, he had converted cotton into ginghams, or flax into cambric. He has employed American laborers, with American capital; and it makes no difference to the country whether the work has been done on the land or the ocean. All that is material in the case is the final profit of the enterprise.
It has recently been stated in the papers, that during the years 1821 and 1822 there were received in the ports of New-Bedford and Nantucket four million three hundred and sixty thousand gallons of oil, which were brought in about one hundred vessels. A whaler of three hundred tons usually carries twenty-four men, including officers, and
costs upon an average, including the outfits, from twenty thousand to twenty-five thousand dollars. But as some of these vessels were probably smaller than three hundred tons, it would be nearer the truth to estimate them, each at twenty thousand dollars and twenty men. Assuming forty cents as the average price of oil, which however is much lower than the fact, and that the ships on their return are worth five thousand dollars each, it appears that a capital of two millions of dollars has in two years made a return of two millions two hundred and forty-four thousand dollars; which has been divided among two thousand seamen, besides the countless number of farmers, teamsters, shipwrights, carpenters, blacksmiths, ropemakers, sailmakers, blockmakers, riggers, and merchants, that must have been employed in fitting out a hundred ships. Is there no industry in this? And is it not profitable industry too?
But it is said that "we are miserably dependant," because we do not manufacture every thing that we consume. And in the same sense, and for the same reason, every individual in society is "miserably dependant." The hatter, who has acquired a fondness for the luxury of a pair of shoes, is miserably dependant upon the shoemaker; and the shoemaker, who is so effeminate as to desire a coat of a decent make, is miserably dependant upon the tailor; and the lawyer who can make neither a shoe, a coat, nor a hat, is miserably dependant upon them all. The same reasons which prove that a nation should manufacture every thing it will prove that a town should purchase nothing of its neighbours; that a family should exercise every trade;