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their accumulated earnings swept away by courts of insolvency or openly repudiated by sovereign States. It is hard to conceive of any condition inore unfortunate than that of the men and women who, without any fault of their own, relying on the protection given by law to depositors in trust companies and savings banks, find that the laws are powerless to protect them from the losses inflicted upon them; of those who, with implicit confidence in the pledges of municipalities, find that they have no re dress upon default of payment; and of those who, relying upon the honor and integrity of sovereign States, upon the guarantees of legislatures, the signatures of governors and treasurer, discover nltimately that State honor is but a synonym for repudiation.
Mr. Rice. You are referring now to that class of people who have accumulated a little money.
Mr. COFFIN. Yes, sir; I am referring to those who have saved a little. The reason why I introduce it is that, while ope class complains of distress, there is another class which, it seems to me, are equally distressed, from whom I have not heard any complaint.
Mr. Rice. They make complaints also.
The CHAIRMAN. We have complaints from all quarters. But I think we have not bad brougbt before us in a tabulated form the evil caused by the enormous accumulation of corporation and State debts; that is to say, the exactions which such debts make upon incomes, especially fixed incomes, in order to meet the taxes levied thereon. I do not think that that has been brought out as it ought to have been
Mr. COFFIN (resuming). What is the result: Capital folds it arms and waits, while labor, with nothing to live upon, looks in vain for remunerative employment.
The CHAIRMAN. Your whole argument up to this point bas been to show that there has been more occupation and employment for labor latterly than ever before, has it not?
Mr. COFFIN. Yes, sir; not, of course, taking any one year, but a series of years or an average year. But capital does not go into new enterprises. It simply goes on in its old enterprises at a slow rate. I think you will find very few new enterprises starting.
The CHAIRMAN. You mean to say that there is an indisposition to invest in new directions. Mr. COFFIN. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. We admit that. Mr. COFFIN (resuming). Let me call your attention to the fact that repudiation by States and municipalities is a boomerang, which comes back to inflict a blow upon labor; and that nothing can be more detrimental to the interests of labor than to make capital insecure. Now, Mr. Chairman, what has been made manifest by this review?" It seems to me that the apparent results may be summed up under the following heads:
First. That the earnings of to-day are from 40 to 60 per cent. greater than they were in 1830, and 24 per cent. greater than in 1860.
Second. That the cost of living in 1878 is but 14 per cent. in excess of wbat it was in 1860.
Third. That tbe havings of to-day are immeasurably greater than the havings of 1830, and far greater than in 1860.
Fourth. That the mass of the people are better fed, clotbed, housed, and in possession of more of the comforts of life than at any other period of the world's history.
Fifth. That this change has been brought about by the development of the forces of nature through discovery, invention, the use of machinery, and the harinonions working of capital and labor.
Sixth. That capital and labor, instead of being antagonized, are naturally belpful to each other; and that any conflict between them is brought about by elements that are beyond the control of either acting separately.
Seventh. That there are four such elements: discovery, invention, fashion, destruction.
Eighth. That there must be an equalization between production, distribution, and consumption.
Ninth. That at present the facilities for production are far greater than our facilities for distribution.
The CHAIRMAN. What do you mean by “distribution"-the distribution of the commodities or the distribution of the proceeds of labor
Mr. COFFIN. I mean the distribution of commodities.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say that we cannot distribute our commodities as rapidly as we can produce them?
Mr. COFFIN. I mean that we cannot reach a large enough area; I mean that the depression of to-day, the stagnation of business, is for want of a market.
The CHAIRMAN. That is one thing, and whether the people have the ability to buy is another. But you allege a want of facilities of distribution, and I was going to ask you, Have we not railroads enough to-day; have we not an ocean and ships enough!
Mr. COFFIN. I do not think I have made clear the point that I wished to present. It was this, that there is a world outside of our own country which we have not reached yet, and that our facilities for distribution do not enable us to reach that.
The CHAIRMAN. Let us see whether our facilities of distributiou do not enable us to reach it. Have we not an ocean? Mr. Corfin. Yes, sir. The CHAIRMAN. Is there any trouble in getting ships to go to foreign ports ? Mr. COFFIN. A good deal of trouble to reach some ports. The CHAIRMAN. What is it.
Mr. COFFin. It arises, in part, from the fact that steamships bave superseded sailingvessels, and we have no steam marine.
The CHAIRMAN. Do yon not know that our ports are open; that all the shipping required is in existence, and is to-day lying idle for the want of business? The ocean lines are anxiously looking for freight, but we cannot adeqnately supply them with business.
Mr. COFFIN. We can find steamships enough to ply between this country and England, but I will bring up in reply the argument which has been frequently made in advocacy of a steamship line to Brazil. English steamers will take a cargo of goods from Liverpool to Brazil, a cargo of coffee from Brazil to New Orleans, a cargo of cotton from that port to Liverpool, but on 110 account will they take a cargo of American products back to Brazil, even at higher rates than to Liverpool, for upon the whole it is not for their interest.
The CHAIRMAN. Your answer does not meet the point. The reason why a line has not been established is tbat there are not freights enough for it.
Mr. RICE. Assuming that the freight at this end would be sufficient to meet probable requirements, the question would be what profitable disposition could be made of the freight when it reached the other end.
The CHAIRMAN. There was no market there for our goods, for the reason that our own were undersold in the market there by British goods; and the reason was perfectly obvious in the fact that we taxed our raw material and then carried the product to Brazil to compete there with a nation which did not impose a tax on raw materials. If, therefore, you refer to the abolition of our shipping as one evidence of a lack of facilities of distribution, you are in error. When you say it is because of the want of a market, I agree with you. If you will point me to any agency of distribution that is defective, I will be glad to agree with you as to that.
Mr. COFFIN. The question of tariff and free trade is so wide, that you can hardly expect me to enter upon it in this connection; but the fact remains that, from some cause, we do not have a foreign market for our products. What I wish to say is that the American manufacturer has not such facilities for distribution as his competitor across the Atlantic. The British Government, by its system of ocean postal service, reaches every country with its steamers, giving constant facilities to the merchant and mannfacturer. The American manufacturer has no such facilities for distribution, and I do not see how he can find a market. England aids her manufacturers through her postal service. Our government does nothing of the sort. But I think that is not the only, perhaps not the greatest, difficulty. To go no further, there are consumers unsupplied in every house in Mexico and South America. The manufacturers of this country are capable of producing enough to supply them. So far as cost of manufacture is concerned no one can do it more cheaply. Mechanical skill bas furnished and is ready to furnish every physical appliance for communication and transportation. It is the business of the merchant to place that product at that consumer's house, and he does not do it. Whether it is because he lacks skill and enterprise or because the laws are unfavorable to trade I will not discuss. It is enongh to say that the fault does not rest with the manufacturer or the machine builder. It is the same with regard to internal commerce. The cost of manufacture is, in general, very small as compared with the increase of price that comes in between the factory and the consumer. We must find some way of improving this wasteful and, therefore, in perfect method of distribution.
Tenth. I state, as the tenth in order of the series of results shown, that the laws of progress will ever require a readjustment of labor; that discovery, invention, and fashion will ever force men to abandon their old and seek new occupations.
Eleventh. That every advance in inventions will demand a higher degree of intelligence, requiring a higher education.
Twelfth. That men must accommodate themselves to the laws of progress or be crushed by them. Let me not be misunderstood on this point. The laws which underlie progress are physical. No legislative enactment can alter, amend, or stop their working, and any attempt to accomplish such an end by any such means would be as futile as would be that of attempting to protect from injury a man who happens to stand in the way of the thunderbolt. I assert with emphasis, that under these laws labor will ever be compelled to seek new employment and that capital will ever see itself annihilated.
Under the new civilization there bas been a higher plane of living. We are not content now with what satisfied us in fornier days. There has been also a development of humanitarian sentiment. Man is more than an animal; he must do more tban simply exist. I am glad that it is so. I am glad that men in the lower strata of society are not satistied with things as they are, bnt are reaching out after something higher and better. The idea that men must have more than bare existence has so permeated society that penal, reformatory, and charitable institutions now have comforts that were unheard of a half century ago. Mr. Bonamy Price* states that it has been officially announced that the present cost of maintaining one tbousand paupers in London is five times greater than it was in 1815. The British blue-book shows the advance made since 1863. In the table already given we saw that the total number of persons relieved in England in 1863 was 1,142,624, at a cost of £6,527,036. That was at the rate of $28.50 per individual, reckoning $5 to the pound; whereas in 1878 the number relieved was 742,703, at a cost of £7,400,966, at the rate of $49.50. In Scotland the number relieved in 1863 was 120,284, at a cost of $30.55 per person; while in 1876 the number was 96,404, at a cost of $44.60 per person. In Ireland in 1863 the number relieved was 66,228, at a cost of $52.90 per person; while in 1876 the number relieved was 85,330. at a cost of $65.11 per individual.
It is evident that the differences do not arise from any corresponding increase in the price of provisions; and I think it is equally clear that they do arise from the increase of articles now regarded as necessary to human comfort.
We have seen the bank circulation increased from $5.77 per individual in 1830 to $18.14 in 1874. With increase of production there was increase of consumption. We issued promises to pay, and purchased our carriages and piados and pictures, and went on till prudence became improvidence. We took it for granted that things were to go on just as they were going. We became extravagant in everytbing; rich and poor alike lived up to and beyond their means. To-day we are compelled to study economy, to deny ourselves things that we formerly enjoyed, and hence the widespread restlessness and discontent, and hence the appeal to Congress to give employment to the unemployed.
I need not enter upon the question of the power of Congress in the premises. I have only this to say in connection, that any restriction of the hours of labor; the removal of the poor of the cities to farms; the construction of public works that are not needed will not give any permanent relief. If the government has works that need to be carried on, very well, let them go on; but it is just as wise to employ men to remain idle as it is to employ them to do that which we do not need. In any case the taxpayers inust foot the bill.
The CHAIRMAN. Suppose that in a community there are many families who do not want to be idle and would be glad to work on the Western farms, who can find no em. ployment here at their own business, and want to go to the West-do you not think it would be advantageous to the nation if those people could be transferied from the place in wbich there is no work to a place where there is work?
Mr. Corfix. I do, but I do not think it is the province of the goveroment to do that.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you mean to say that the government should not do it because the question is a difficult one, or that we should not do it on politico-economic grounds! Mr. COFFIN. I think it is a question of political economy.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know that there have been and are at this time governmental colonization schemes, such as this one, in operation 1
Mr. Coffin. Other nations have put the principle in operation, but, in so doing, they have assumed to be paternal. Our own government is founded upon a principle the reverse of that idea ; this is a government of the people.
The CHAIRMAN referred, by way of illustration, to the Canadian policy in offering inducements for immigration, the effect of which was apparent to-day in taking from Great Britain her surplus population. He knew of no moral principle which would prevent a nation encumbered with too many bees in a hive from assisting, ont of the accumulated property which all had gathered together, those of its people who were willing and desirous to cultivate new lands and make new homes within its borders. The question of constitutional power in the case of our own government was quite another consideration, but, with reference alone to the abstract principle involved, he failed to see why the people of a nation could not be assisted in this way when, otherwise, they would be compelled to stay at home unable to produce an equivalent for that which they consumed.
Mr. COFFIN. I think that any such scheme, if carried out, should be through that humane sentiment of the community, which manifests itself in voluntary contributions and diffuses among men a spirit of brotherhood.
The CHAIRMAN. I understand you to say that it would be better to have it left to individual action rather than to the government, because in the hands of the latter it would not be an economical or wise mode of doing it.
*Political Economy, page 237.
Mr. COFFIN. I think it would not be a wise mode of doing it. The CHAIRMAN. But you do not object to its being done? Mr. COFFIN. Not at all. Under a monarchical form of government it might commend itself most forcibly.
The CHAIRMAN remarked that if the necessities of the government were such as to require a prompt decision, he inclined to the opinion that he would not be influenced by any consideration as to whether the government was that of a monarchy or a government of the people; that if iudividnal action proved itself inadequate to meet the case, he would have the government assume the responsibility, and would deal with the evil without hesitation, just as a surgeon would with a disease which required to be wholly eradicated.
Mr. COFFIN. I have only a few suggestions to make. I wish to say that I have no fears for the future of American industry. I entertain a profound conviction that America is about to enter upon a career of unparalleled prosperity.
The CHAIRMAN. I wish you would make that point clear, because I have been criticised rather freely for expressing a similar opinion in New York a few months ago.
Mr. Coffin. I'will endeavor to do so briefly. In the first place, America possesses all the primal conditions to this end in a degree not enjoyed by any other nation. We have a continent to ourselves, whereas Great Britain has a less area than the States of Illinois and lowa. We have every variety of soil and climate, with capacity to produce breadstuffs far beyond our own wants. We have unparalleled resources in the forces and materials of nature, in our rivers, and exhanstless beds of coal and iron. Uuder the fostering care of our fathers we have encouragement to make iron and steel, steam and water do the work of human hands far beyond encouragements given by any other government for this country stimnlates invention by its pate
o the patentee the exclusive right to his invention for a term of years on pavment of $30. whereas in England it used to cost nearly $1,000 to secure a patent. What is the result? In this conntry the number of patents taken ont aggregates about thirteen thousand per annum against about four thousand in England. We have an army of inventors. The result was seen at Paris last summer, where the United States stood at the head in useful inventions
Throngh the superiority of our inventions we are beginning to secure an esport trade, which, though at present is not very largo, is continually increasing and promises to have a very great development. It is not confined to one department of industry, but applies to all.
The CHAIRMAx. What is to prevent the prompt introduction of improved machinery into the other countries who are the rivals of this country? They have heretofore been slow to take advantage of their opportunities in that respect, I admit, but the indications are that they are now doing so very rapidly.
Mr. COFFIN. I will answer that by narrating a fact within my knowledge. Year before last, one of the largest boot and shoe manufacturers in Switzerland, after visiting the Centennial Exhibition and seeing our boot and shoe machinery, obtained a full set of the inachinery and took it to Switzerland. He found when he got the machines over there that his own workmen could not make use of them, and he was forced to send over to America to procure American workmen.
The CHAIRMAN. But how long is that condition of things likely to continue? It is only a question of a generation, I take it, as to when the people there shall have acquired the facility of managing American machinery. The Swiss make watches of the finest and most intricate patterns, and they certainly can learn to make a shoe.
Mr. COFFIN. We can go ahead faster than they can follow. The copyist cannot surpass the thing copied. Iinprovements that do not form part of a progress of indigenous origin, improvements adopted from abroad and not continually fed from home invention inay make a nation second, but cannot make it first. An art may be brought from abroad, and that is the theory on which protective tariffs rest, but it cannot flourish until it has so become part of our life as to get its growth from within.
The CHAIRMAN. But, as I have said, the question is only one as to the length of time necessary to acquaint them with the processes which at first are necessarily novel and difficult to them. Take, for instance, the thonsand little inventions, such as “ Yankee notions," that are produced out of steel. What is to prevent the English, for instance, from doing just what we have been doing?
Mr. COFFIN. There is nothing to prevent them, but there are conditions which give this country the pre-eminence: First, there are our physical conditions. For instance, in the matter of coal, we find it in this country widely distributed, and by that means we are enabled to start manufactories all over the continent. It lies convenient of access for that purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. Are we any more fortunately situated in that respect as compared with England ?
Mr. COFFIN, Yes, sir. We do not have to raise it from so low a level; we can produce our coal cheaper.
The CHAIRMAN. That depends upon where you go to procure your coal.
Mr. Corfin. From some mines we can procure it cheaper; in the mines around Chattanooga, for instance.
The CHAIRMAN. There you get the bituminous coal at a low price: but that is very far in the interior; and, in point of convenience of access to the seaboard, I do pot see what advantage it has over the Welsh coals, which are produced as cheaply as any coal in America.
Mr. COFFIN. Then we have exhaustless quantities of iron; but I will not enter into that matter. I will take cotton as better illustrating the point. To-day, I suppose, about 2 per cent. of the cotton lands of the country are under cultivation. By the report of the commission of Parliament, made, I think, in 1873 (and which is found in the Parliamentary reports), the statement is made, in regard to the cotton supply, that at least 60 per cent. of the raw material of Great Britain must ever come from the United States. Last year the amount was 67 per cent., and the yearly aggregate has been constantly increasing. It has been shown by our manufacturers that it costs about five dollars to take a bale of cotton from a cotton-field in the South and place it in England. I look forward to the time when, in the South as well as in New England, there will be a large development of cotton manufactures, especially of the coarser qualities of the goods and cotton-yarn. Of those who buy cotton cloths, the average in the market of the world to-day is about tweuty yards for an individual.
The CHAIRMAN. For the whole world? Mr. COFFIN. That is the average among those who purchase ; about twenty yards per apnum would be required for each individual. It is stated that not more than five hundred million of the people on the globe are now using machine-made cotton. Those engaged in manufacturing confidently expect that the time is not far distant when at least one thousand millions will use cotton cloth in some form. There is no other fiber that can compare with it in cheapness. The consumption increases both in civilized and uncivilized lands. England now has nearly all the foreign trade in her hands. The exports of cotton manufactures in 1876 were as follows:
Value. Yarns and twist................................................. Pounds.. 232, 254, 627 £12, 781, 733 Piece goods..........
... Yards.. 2, 667, 423, 176 157, 271, 400 Printed goods..
.......... Yards.. 990, 147, 273 92, 972 310 Cotton thread....
.... Pounds.. 9, 635, 363 1,763, 52 Cotton stockings .....
364, 054 Mixed goods, chiefly cotton.........
.... ........ Yards.. 11, 833, 900 429, 405 In contrast, our own export was equivalent to only about 76,000,000 yards.
It is a well-known fact that American cotton goods are superior in their make to the English; that English manufacturers are using American trade-marks ; that English manufacturers have carried “sizing," to an extent which has become prejudicial ; tbat their excuse is that they cannot compete with American manufacturers in the making of substantial goods. It seems to me morally certain that we shall take a portion of the present trade of England from her hands, and that we shall secure our fair share of the increase.
On the other side of the globe, in China and the other countries, there is a popnlation variously estimated at from two bundred and fifty to four, hundred and fifty millions. Before the war in 1860, for instance, our exports to China were about four million yards. England sent out to China in the same year about thirty-three thonsand pieces of goorls (the number of yards bas not been stated), and our export was larger than that of England. The war swept that trade entirely away. Last year we sent out to China eleven millions of yards and England sent out three hundred and seventy-eight millions of yards. That is the beginving of a volume of consumption which has yet to develop itself in China. That is a trade which it is possible for the American manufacturer to obtain wholly.
The CHAIRMAN. Do you know the rate of wages for workingmen in China ! Mr. COFFIN. I have not the data, but I know it is very low. I know from personal observation that a very large number of people procure but a bare existence.
The CHAIRMAN was understood to remark that on the plains in China the rate (meas. ured by the money of the United States) was a little over two cents a day. [To Mr. Coffin.] Do you know anything about the facility with which the Chinese workmen learn to do anything that our people do? Mr. COFFIN. Yes, sir. They are exceedingly imitative.
The CHAIRMAN. Do yon not foresee that when the demand of the Chinese for cotton goods has been largely increased they will utilize their facilities for the manufacture of cotton ? Mr. COFFIN. I do not. The CHAIRMAN. Why not? Mr. COFFIN. Becanse tbey have not the land for the purpose.
The CHAIRMAN. What would be the cost of freight to China on a bale of cotton goods 1