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Mr. ATKINSOX. All our grandfathers and grandmothers were clothed with homespun woolen goods, made in their own houses, on single spindles and hand-looms.
Mr. ATKINSON. You do not certainly intend to give that as an example of mannfactures. Mr. ATKINSOx. I call that an infant manufacture. Mr. THOMPSON. A rude manufacture. Mr. ATKINSON. An infant manufacture.
Mr. THOMPSOX. You might as well instance the case of a dug-out as compared with a steamboat. That interest did not need protection, because it had no competition.
Mr. ATKINSON. But from each of these small beginnings comes, by evolution, the great undertaking.
Mr. THOMPSOX. Is there a single staple manufacture in this conntry which is a success to-day, and which has been and is now manufactured in older countries, that has grown up without protection in this country? Is there a single case of the kind-I mean partial protection at least friendly legislation? I do not know of any.
Mr. ATKINSON. You are speaking now as we customarily speak of manufactures, as if cotton, wool, iron, and steel constituted the manufactures of the country. They constitute an exceedingly small part of the manufactures of this country.
Mr. THOMPSOx. Have not all these been encouraged by friendly legislation in the line of protection.
Mr. ATKINSOx. It has been undoubtedly attempted so to encourage them.
Mr. THOMPSON. Is there any other manufacture that has made any considerable progress in this country that has not in like manner been partially protected ?
Mr. ATKINSON. I was about to say that these three branches-cotton, wool, and ironconstituted the employment of about 400,000 people out of 48,000,000. They constitute four out of two hundred and odd branches of manufacture which are listed under the head of manufactures in the last census of the United States. There is employment given to millions in other manufactures as compared to hundreds of thousands in these; the rest are mainly manufactures the production of which cannot under any circumstance be impeded, in which cotton, wool, iron, and steel are the raw materials; and these other maufactures have grown up irrespective of the tariff policy of the country, because they are natural and “to the manner born," and cannot be kept out.
The CHAIRMAN. Then the tariff on iron and steel has not prevented their growing Mr. ATKINSON. It has not, but has hindered them. I have come to the conclusion that the effect of tariffs has been exaggerated by us all. Mr. RICE. On both sides? Mr. ATKINSON. On both sides. Mr. THOMPSON. I think you are correct. Mr. ATKINSON. I hoped not to get into this discussion at this period.
The CHAIRMAN. We do not want to get into a tariff discussion; but there are some facts which are really desirable to have considered by men of intelligence who have studied the subject, and which have a bearing on the conclusions of the committee, and it is in respect to them that the question is asked.
Mr. ATKINSON. The question whether or not infant manufactures would have grown up in this country is a question of the past; it is merely a question of what might have been the facts under other conditions.
Mr. THOMPSON. Then take the converse of that; has any manufacture grown up in this country which came in competition with other manufactures in foreign countries that has not been protected to some extent here?
Mr. ATKINSON. I do not believe that there is any branch of manufacture in existence in this country on which there has not been an attempt made to put a duty; but whether that duty has been of any effect at all is an entirely different question. It can be alleged, with reference to the most infinitesimal things that men use, that there has been an attempt to stimulate their production by putting an excessive duty upon them. But that is a question of the past, which I think has gone by.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not know any staple production of this country which, if the duty upon it were absolutely removed, could not be laid down cheaper from England than we can produce it. Take, for instance, steel rails; steel rails were worth $160 a ton when the manufacture of them was first commenced in this country; they are now sold here at $46 a ton, and have been sold as low as $44 a ton. They are made in this country to the extent of 500,000 tons a year, and not a ton of steel rails is now imported. The price of the same rails in Liverpool to-day is $25.50 a ton, making $21 difference. Adding $5 a ton freight to the cost of the English rails and they can be laid down here now for $30 a ton, so that, if the duty on steel rails was repealed, every steel-rail mill in the United States would be closed in a month. That is one of the most striking of all the cases yet, because it is generally held that in the iron business we are independent of the tarift. I am not an advocate of a high tariff, but I am dealing with these facts, and I see that td-day not a steel-rail mill could be run in the United States if the duty was taken off. The duty on steel rails is enormous-827 a ton on an article the
price of which on the other side is only $25 a ton, so that there is a duty of over 100 per cent. to-day on steel rails.
Mr. ATKINSON. The difficulty of the question as to what might have been the condition of things under other circumstances appears from that very statement. What would have been the condition of the rail business in England and here if we had not had this excessive protection in this country, and if our demand for steel rails from England had been continuous! The price of steel rails would have been higher there and might have been higher here; but what I mean to say is that I have ceased to consider the tariff question as of the paramount importance which I did consider it ten years ago. Neither free trade nor protection has saved any country froin disaster within these last five years, and the industrial forces which have caused this great change in the affairs of men are deeper than tariffs. They cannot be fended off by tariffs or fended off by the absence of tariffs, and I look upon an ill-adjusted tariff more as a retarding force now than as a great force, promoting one result or another. In other words, I would say that the time had come when the advocates both of free trade and of protection should cease to discuss what might have been the effect of a different policy in past times. There are no infant manufactures to-day. Whether there have been or not is another question.
Mr. THOMPSON. But we all concede, I suppose, that manufactures here are desirable. Mr, ATKINSON. I conceive that manufactures cannot be kept out of the countrythat they belong to the country-that the vast proportion of manufactures belong to the country anyhow.
Mr. THOMPSON. In the absence of protection, could there have existed a rollingmill of steel rails in any part of this country?
Mr. ATKINSON. I cannot answer that question.
Mr. ATKINSON. I believe myself that if there had never been a duty exceeding 10 per cent. in the United States from the beginning upon any article we would have had a more stable and larger development of cotton, wool, and iron and steel factories than we have to-day. That is my conviction.
The CHAIRMAN. According to that we would have had a larger development of iron business than could have been consumed in the country to-day. That is our present condition. We have a capacity to produce 100 per cent, more than we can consume.
Mr. ATKINSON. Why could we not export it I
Mr. THOMPSON. I do not think it is. It is more than a matter of judgment. Our rolling-mills to-day can hardly exist by the aid which they get from the government. How could they have existed at all in the absence of that aid ?
Mr. ATKINSON. The condition of the country makes the manufacture of iron in this country an absolute necessity. Mr. THOMPSON. How?
Mr. ATKINSON. On account of the proximity of iron and coal and the necessity of our having iron for use.
Mr. THOMPSON. But would not the people of this country and of every country buy iron where they would get it the cheapest, if they had the privilege to do 80 ?
Mr. ATKINSox. Then the simple answer to that is that if no iron-mine had been opened and no iron-mill worked except for a high tariff, the result would have been that there would have been more iron at less cost to the consumer, and then there would have been more people engaged in working up the iron than are now engaged in making iron, for it is only one person that is engaged in making iron to the ten who are engaged in using iron.
Mr. THOMPSON. But I assume in my question that all other manufactures of a similar character would be governed by similar rules, and that, therefore, persons engaged in other manufactures in this country would be engaged'in consuming the products made in other countries, and would have to find some other field of labor here.
Mr. ATKINSON. If they consume the goods made in another country, they must make something here by which to buy those goods. They must be engaged in some occupations, the productions of which other countries want. Mr. THOMPSON. And which they can only get here? Mr. ATKINSON. And which they can only get here. Mr. THOMPSON. That would be, for instance, cotton, oil, and grain. Mr. ATKINSON. Well.
Mr. THOMPSON. You would make us, therefore, a purely agricultural people, and would thereby crush manufactures.
Mr. ATKINSON. There you fall into the common error of limiting our manufactures, to cotton, wool, and iron.
Mr. THOMPSON. I do not. I said that in my question I embraced all manufactures, even of the most infinitesimal character, provided they come in competition with foreign manufactures.
Mr. ATKINSON. You never could have imported the articles that are made of wood; and there are more men engaged in working wood than are engageed in making iron. You never could have imported your carriages nor your wheelbarrows. You never could have imported your stoves as stoves. There are more men engaged in making stoves and other iron wares of all sorts than there are engaged in making iron-by ten to one. You never could have imported your clothing. There were at one time more people engaged in the manufacture of cloth into clothing in the city of Boston than were engaged in all the woolen-mills in Massachusetts in making wool into cloth.
Mr. Thompson. Do you mean to say that, in the absence of protection which encouraged woolen-mills here, and the making of woolen.goods, other countries could not have made the cloth there and sold the clothing to us?
Mr. ATKINSOX. It is impossible that they could have done so.
Mr. ATKINSON. The clothing trade of this country is a thing sui generis. It requires a consideration of the sizes and shapes of men of different nationalities and races and of different States. It is one of the most complex branches of industry in existence.
Mr. THOMPSON. Why could not that have been done for the whole country West and South in London as well as in Boston ?
Mr. ATKINSON. Because it is necessary to be done at home, and the trade is already being transferred from the East to the West.
Mr. THOMPSOX. But not for the causes that you speak of?
Mr. ATKINSON. I believe for the causes that I speak of. The Scandinavian people of the Northwest require a peculiar kind of fabric. They require a peculiar shape in their clothing. They require an adaptation of the thickness of the cloth to the size of the waist.
Mr. THOMPSOX. But was there not a time within a few years past when Boston fabricated clothing worn by the people of the South as well as by the people of the North and West?
Mr. Atkinsox. Yes; and Boston is now losing the trade, because, of necessity, it goes near to the consumer.
Mr. THOMPSON. That is the effect of the distribution of labor; but that does not remove the objection that you must go to the place where the article is to be worn in order to manufacture it.
Mr. Atkinson. The vaster portion of manufactures—the portion of strictly manufactures—the manufactures of the hand and not of the machine (according to the etymology of the word), must be made and conducted within a reasonable proximity to the place of consumption. These are the branches of manufacture which bring up the individual man. These are the branches of manufacture which built up the city of Worcester rather than the city of Lowell; which promote versatility; which bring up men who depend upon their brain and their skill in the ultimate and final working of those great crude products, pig-iron and the like. Now, we might not have had perhaps (although I do not admit it) so large a production within the limits of the country of the crude product of cloth, or of the crude product of iron, or of the crude product of steel, but if we had not, we should have had as large or a larger product of the kind of manufactures which involve the individnal skill and the individual action of men, and less of the machinery. We could not have come in the nature of things to be a strictly agricultural people.
Mr. THOMPSox. Then why, for the same cause, is the manufacture of gloves not distributed equally with the manufacture of clothing? There is certainly as much diversity in the form of the hands of different races as in the form of their bodies.
Mr. ATKINSOx. The manufacture of gloves is a peculiar art. It has localized itself in a certain section of Central New York.
Mr. Thompson. If the cause of a general distribution of manufactures to the point, of proximity in regard to clothing is in consequence of the peculiarities of the formation of individuals and races, why does not that same cause hold good in reference to the manufacture of gloves?
Mr. ATKINSON, Gloves are a very concentrated article, and can be easily distributed over large areas.
Mr. THOMPSON. But it is a question of adapting the article to the form of the wearer-to the Swede on the one side and to the negro on the other.
Mr. ATKINSON. I do not think with you that there is anything like the diversity in the shape of the hand that there is in the shape of the body. You can make gloves in quantity to fit the demand of nations, but it is an entirely different thing with clothing.
Mr. THOMPSOx. In other words, you mean that the hands of the men of different nations and of different localities are more nearly alike than their bodies are !
Mr. ATKINSON. The demand of the hand is more nearly alike than the demand of the body in regard to fabric and in regard to the construction of the thing itself. ! should say so, although I have never happened to think of the subject before. But what I mean to say is, that the vast proportion of manufactures are those which are
* to the manner born," and which you cannot remove to great distances. Take agricultural implements, for instance, and see how the trade in them has transferred itself from the East to the West from the very necessity of the case. The duty on the product has had nothing to do with the building of agricultural implements in this country. Yet I rather suspect that the making of tools and the making of agricultural implements employs a vastly greater number of persons than the mannfacture of iron up to the bar-vastly greater-persons to whom the iron is the raw material on which they in part work. Now, wherever they get their iron, whether from abroad or from this side, they, as a branch of manufacturers (and a very numerous one), must of necessity exist in proximity to the former; the same is true of the wheelwright, the carriage-maker, the car-builder, and the stove-maker. Take the census list of manufacturers and see how many of these things you could, under one condition of things, transfer to another country, and you will find that you could not transfer 10 per cent. of them. I mean not 10 per cent. of the manufactures of the country could be worked elsewhere.
The CHAIRMAN. Given a state of things in which the article is produced with the same expenditure of human labor, and at no greater cost, in two different countries (in the normal condition of affairs); and if, in one country, there comes a collapse due to errors of judgment or any other cause, by which the market for such article is broken down, can the other nation, which has not committed the act of folly, be justified in making provision by its legislation against a sudden attack from the outside, cansed, not by its own error, but by the error of other people?
Mr. ATKINSON. I think that that might very fairly be considered in the framing of a tariff for revenue purposes. But I also think that that protection from the sudden irruption of an excess of goods abroad would happen if the consideration of the tariff had been confined exactly to the revenue question. And, therefore, I think that the time has come when the discussion between us on these past ideas should cease.
The CHAIRMAN. I cannot see the force of your statement-for this reason: Take the iron business. We have got it into the condition in which we are importing into this country no iron or steel products. That is due to the fact that there is a duty, which stands as a barrier. This is a period of extreme depression in the iron and steel business. Iron and steel were never sold at as low prices as they are sold to-day. That barrier does not produce one penny of revenue to the government; but if you remove the barrier, our American iron and steel mills would be closed up and our people thrown out of employment. Now, we are here as a labor committee to consider whether we are to expose our labor to take the consequence of such an irruption.
Mr. ATKINSON. These being the facts, the existence of extreme depression on the other side at this moment makes it an inexpedient time to make great and sweeping changes.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose, however, that we had freo trade, and that this state of things occurred, and that our mills were closed up owing to an abnormal and unnatural state of things on the other side. Would we be justified in recommending the imposition of a duty so as to guard against the evil consequences of that error of judgment on the other side if there had been no duty imposed before ?
Mr. ATKINSON. I think we would not be justified in it.
The CHAIRMAN. That puts the case exactly as I want it put. In other words, you think that Congress would not be justified in legislating at all for the protection of the labor of this country from the evil consequences of an error of judgment in other countries?
Mr. ATKINSON, I think that Congress should not attempt it, because I think it would be found impossible. Suppose it to be exactly as you say, that there was an enormous glut and an enormous excess of steel rails on the other side, and that those steel rails would come here at such low price as to stop the steel-rail mills of this country for the time being, there would be a compensation for that in the fact of our getting an enormous quantity of steel rails for the permanent use of this country at less than their cost of production.
The CHAIRMAN. But how would it be with the 200,000 workmen that are engaged in this country in mining ore, mining coal, making pig-iron, and converting pig-iron into steel rails, and who would be all suddenly thrown out of employment by this operation? These people have no accumulated capital; they have no place to go; and they are suddenly reduced to destitution by this means. What compensation would they find in the fact that the country at large was getting some indirect benefit which might be felt hereafter?
Mr. ATKINSON. You seem to be assuming positions which seem to me impossible. A statement was made to me a few years ago by Mr. Carnegie, of Pittsburgh, that he had a contract for fuel delivered in his yard at 27 cents a ton. Now there is no fuel so cheap as that anywhere else in the world.
The CHAIRMAN. I do not believe, as a matter of fact, that there is any bank of coal anywhere in this country, or in any other country, from which coal can be actually dug out and delivered at 27 cents a ton.
Mr. THOMPSON. You could not get it dug out for twice that amount.
Mr. THOMPSON. I know that the Pittsburgh miners get more than two cents a bushel (which is 50 cents a ton) for simply digging the coal.
The CHAIRMAN. But there is this countervailing element. Mr. Carnegie has to send to Lake Superior for his ore.
Mr. Thompson. There isn't a ton of coal delivered in Pittsburgh at six times that cost.
Mr. ATKINSOx. You know the facts about that a great deal better than I do; but I had assumed, from information derived from Mr. Carnegie, that he could make steel rails at Pittsburgh at a price at which they could not be landed at Pittsburgh.
The CHAIRMAX. To be sure, when you get very far west, you gain by the freight from the seaboard; but he is mistaken even in that point, because steel rails can be laid down at Pittsburgh from England at pot exceeding $35 a ton.
Mr. ATKINSOX. You put a problem as to whether the government would be justified in trying to fend off and shut out that great excess of foreign production ; and you assume certain conditions which make a very strong case. I can only answer it by supposing another case, such as is likely to happen in any branch of industry. Suppose that, instead of there being a great glut of the same commodity abroad, a sudden mode of invention came into this country, which, being in the hands of one or two concerns, should enable them to shut up every other concern in the country; then what would you do? Would you want the government to interfere to check the benefit of that invention ?
The CHAIRMAX. If you ask me that question, I would not. The effects of inventions are permanent. Inventions are a continuous condition of society. Whereas the case that I put is the case of a temporary glut on the other side, produced by errors of judg. ment, which correct themselves in a little while,
Mr. ATKINSON. My answer would be that I do not think that any Congress is wise enough, or that any committee of Congress is wise enough, to provide by legislation against that contingency; and that the attempt to provide against such extreme cases is more likely to do a permanent mischief than a temporary benefit.
The CHAIRMAN. Wise or ignorant, it is exactly what Congress did do in the case of steel rails. It put on steel rails a duty of $27 a ton, which has had the effect absolutely of keeping our steel-rail mills going in this country, which otherwise would have stopped still.
Mr. ATKINSON. That may be owing to the general condition of the country in other matters; but I cannot assume that what has happened in the last fifteen years serves any purpose in the establishment of any permanent principle.
Mr. Thompson. But has it not been happening continually for the last 75 years in greater or less degree?
Mr. Atkinsox. There is where we differ in judgment; my jndgment being that the manufactures of this country, as a whole, would have developed faster without the artificial stimulus of legislation than with it.
Mr. Thompson. That brings up the practical question, is that opinion of yours fortified by a single example.
Mr. ATKINSON. I have tried to bring up the example of the manufactures of wood, the manufactures of agricultural implements, and other manufactures.
Mr. THOMPSON. My question guards against that. You might as well say that the production of oil in this country has grown up without protection because it needs no protection.
Mr. ATKINSOX. Exactly; and 90 per cent. of the manufactures of this country need no protection-manufactures like wooden ware, like agricultural implements, like paper, like common boots and shoes, and all of the variety of articles that are manufactured in the city of Worcester; the little concerns that do not affect the imagination, but that employ vast numbers of people. Ninety per cent. of the manufactures of the country have grown up not only without the stimulus of protection, but exposed to the tariff tax on the raw material.
Mr. THOMPSON. Is not that the idea which you have illustrated as repression and protection !
Mr. ATKIxsOX. I do not see it so. By the tax on the raw material, cloth, the manufacturer of clothing in this country pays a higher price for his cloth.
The CHAIRMAX. The point of the question put to Mr. Atkinson is this: Take the industry going on in natural conditions all over the world without any tariffs anywhere, all on the free-trade principle, letting that grow up which will grow up, and letting that pass away which cannot exist. But you have got certain kinds of industry that have grown up. All nations are liable to calamities and to errors of judgment. In Germany they adopt a false principle of policy, which brings about a collapse, and there is a fall in the German market. Therefore, in order to get relief, they send their surplus over here and undersell us. Now, the question is, are we justified in guarding ourselves against such a state of things which has occurred, and which will occur