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nay, that every man should do every thing for himself. Portsmouth "is miserably dependant" upon Durham for wood and ship-timber; upon Dover for nails and cotton cloth; and will soon be as "miserably dependant" upon Somersworth for broadcloth. Yet such is the force of habit, that instead of struggling against these chains which our neighbours are continually fastening upon us, we perversely rejoice in their increase.
It is our earnest wish that manufactories should be established among us, as fast as they can be profitably employed; but no faster. Every attempt to force them, by giving them an unnatural profit, tends ultimately to destroy them. Among a free people, profit is necessarily fluctuating. It never continues long with any particular class of laborers. Let manufacturers have all the encouragement which they appear to wish, and, in two years, the whole commercial capital of the country would be vested in manufactories. The Nantucket whalemen would expend their two millions of dollars in stocking-looms and spinning-jennies, and instead of being the purchasers of cotton and broadcloth they would be the sellers. Competition would lower the price, and in the end, manufacturers would be ruined by the increased number of their laborers. Nor would this be the only evil. That large and valuable class of manufacturers who are employed in the building and equipment of ships, would be thrown out of employment, without any equivalent advantage to themselves or the country.
We wish all possible success to manufactures; but we
are not willing that spinning and weaving should engross the name of NATIONAL INDUSTRY.
May 3, 1823.
"It should be the policy of the government, to let our manufactures regulate the price of foreign ones, and not suffer foreign ones to regulate the price of our's in our own market."
Salem Observer, Aug. 16.
We have seen with regret, that the editor of the Salem Observer, in several elaborate essays on the encouragement of manufactures, has advanced and attempted to support what appears to us to be very erroneous principles in political economy. We have not leisure at present to discuss the whole subject; but the sentence we have quoted above, is at once so plausible and so fallacious, that we cannot suffer it to pass without remark.
It means that the American government should in all cases, impose such duties on foreign manufactures as would raise the price to the fair cost and profit of similar articles manufactured in the United States. This is the explanation which the author himself gives us; for he adds, "If duties are laid on English manufactures, so high as to render it impossible for them to undersell American manufactures without making a sacrifice, then it is plain that our manufactures, though comparatively of small amount, will regulate the price of theirs. Since, if they cannot undersell
us, they must either quit the market or sell at the price of
This looks very patriotic; but let us see its effect upon the community.
Professor Raffinesque has shown that the tea-plant can be cultivated with success in the valley of the Mississippi. But in consequence of the high price of labor in the United States, it is supposed that hyson tea could not be raised and prepared for use under two dollars a pound. Good hyson tea can be imported from China and sold free of duty, for about sixty cents a pound, and after paying the duty, for about a dollar. The annual consumption in the United States is about five hundred thousand pounds. Suppose, then, that a few enterprising gentlemen in the West were to commence the preparation of domestic hyson tea; -would it be the policy of the United States at once to impose an additional duty of one dollar per pound on foreign tea, that the price might be regulated "in our own market," by the price of "our manufactures, though comparatively of small amount?" That is, that we should be obliged to give two dollars a pound for tea, instead of one? In other words, that the consumers of tea in the United States should be annually taxed half a million of dollars, for the encouragement of the manufactures in the West?
Take a domestic example. Before the introduction of the improved machinery in our New England factories, good cotton cloth, fit for a farmer's shirt, could not be made for less than from thirty-three to thirty-seven cents a yard. The cotton was spun on a large wheel, and woven in a
hand loom, and necessarily required much time and labor to be wrought into cloth. Cloth of a similar quality can now be obtained for nineteen or twenty cents. A farmer in this neighbourhood, a disciple of the same school with the editor of the Observer, has lately determined to encourage domestic manufactures in his own family to the extent of his power. He has summoned his two elder daughters from the dairy, where they were earning large profits by preparing butter and cheese for market, and has persuaded them to resume the spinning-wheel and loom, for the purpose of weaving cloth for their brothers' shirts. He is ́aware that every yard of cloth they make will cost them thirty-seven cents; but to encourage them he has promised that the boys shall give them that price; and he has prohibited his sons from purchasing any factory cloth, under a penalty of paying a fine to him of seventeen cents a yard. On the other hand, he has taken his second son from the plough, and has set him to work to make shoes for his sisters. It is true the boy is but a sorry shoemaker, and has already spent three days in making a pair, of which a cobler would be ashamed. But his father, to encourage him, has ordered the sister to give him fifteen shillings for them; equal to what he might have earned by three days' ploughing. The mother has abandoned the care of a large flock of turkeys, she was fattening for market, to enable her to purchase a little tea and sugar, and is busily engaged in boiling beets into sugar and in drying carrots for coffee. What will be the situation of the family at the end of the year, the editor of the Observer will probably be able to inform us.
The truth is, it is for the interest of a nation, as well as of an individual, to purchase commodities at the lowest price for which they can be obtained; and it is perfectly immaterial whether they are procured by manufacturing or commercial industry. If a tax be laid on foreign cloths to encourage the manufacture of domestic ones, the consumer pays the tax, whether he wear a foreign cloth or a domestic one. For example: if an American broadcloth of a particlar quality cannot be made under six dollars a yard, and a foreign one of the same quality may be imported for four dollars, then the price of the American cloth must be reduced to four dollars, or no one will buy it. But if, to save the domestic manufacturer, a duty of two dollars be imposed upon the foreign cloth, then it is made to cost six dollars, and every man who wears a coat of that quality, whether foreign or domestic, is compelled to give six dollars a yard instead of four. Here then, the general interest of the nation is sacrificed to the private interest of the manufacturer. A most desirable result!
An individual—and it is equally true of a nation-should employ himself in that kind of labor in which he most excels, and the products of which, he is able to dispose of to the most advantage. Let him be constantly employed, and sell the products of his own labor high, and purchase the products of the labor of others cheap, and it must be indifferent to him whether he deals with persons in this street, or the next; in America, or in Europe.
Sept. 6, 1823.