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He thought that it would be difficult to ascertain the legal value of cotton. He took a view of the different values attached to cotton, and of the professional constructions to which the clause concerning cotton would be subjected. In relation to iron, also, he thought that the difficulties in ascertaining the value would be such as to render the provision concerning that article inoperative. The duties on iron having hitherto been specific, no principle of valuation had been laid down. He considered that there was no legislative provision by. which the value on iron could be assessed. The same remarks were applicable to sugar; and he stated a case to show the difficulty which exists in reaching a proper and fixed value as a basis for duty. He supposed the answer would be, that if difficulties arise, the secretary must get through them as well as he can; and if he cannot, he must come to congress.
As a measure of finance, he had no idea that the bill would be an efficient measure. He had not heard the assertion that the bill would at all reduce the revenue. He denied that the reduction of duties on boots and shoes, and clothing, would reduce the revenue. The bill would, in these branches, reduce thousands of mechanics to ruin, and by this operation would increase the revenue. In this point the bill aims a deadly blow on the poor, the young, the enterprising; on the labour and ingenuity of the country. By the introduction of foreign alcohol, at a reduced rate
of duty, the revenue would be increased; but he thought gentlemen should pause before they sanctioned this change. The entire breaking up of the printing establishments for printing calicoes, would be one of the consequences of the passage of the bill; and in proof, he read some extracts from a memorial of the Lowell manufacturers. These institutions might survive the three first reductions, but the fourth would be fatal to them. On the spinning and weaving, the effect, if not so disastrous, would scarcely be less objectionable. The large capitalists in that branch would be able to make money, by breaking down all young and enterprising establishments. In reference to woollens-with a duty of 20 per cent. on woollens, and 20 per cent on wool, it is impossible that they can stand. The depreciation of property would be the first consequence, and the depreciation of credit the next; and, by the surrender of their interests, long before this beneficent home valuation can come to their relief, their eyes will be sealed in death. As to iron, English iron, or Wales, costs $26 a ton, and the supply is inexhaustible. Iron in Russia and Sweden costs $40 a ton. English iron has been taxed at $30, and Baltic iron $18 dollars a ton. The change from specific to ad valorem duty, will work an injurious change. He believed that this surrender once made, we could never return to the present state of things, without such a struggle as would shake
the country much more than any thing has yet shaken it.
He might be wrong. There might be no pledge, no constitutional objection; but if so, why this bill? The people will not expect the passage of this bill. There was no expectation, at the commencement of this short session, that such a bill would be passed. The senate had not had time to know the pleasure of their masters. No opportunity had been offered for obtaining a knowledge of either the course of public opinion, or the effect of this measure on the public interests. It was said the next congress would pass this bill, if it was not passed now. He did not fear the next congress; but if that body should choose to undo what was now done, it would have the power so to do.
If it was true, as the senator from Kentucky believed, that the intention of South Carolina was merely to enter into a law suit with the United States, then there was no necessity for this sacrifice of great interests. He believed that if this bill should become a law, there will be an action on the part of the people at the next session to overthrow it. It will not be all requium and lullaby when this bill shall be passed. On the contrary, he believed there would be discord and discontent. He had already expressed his views as to reduction in his resolutions. He believed there ought to be a reduction to the point of necessary revenue; and that, as soon as that point could be ascertained, any congress would be able to
make a tariff which would suit the country. The estimates of the secretary of the treasury as to the point of revenue, vary materially from those of others, but if the true point could be ascertained, he thought congress might at once proceed to an adjustment of the tariff with a prospect of success.
As he had commenced with doing justice to the motives of the gentleman on the other side, he asked that equal justice might be done to him in the opposition which he was compelled to make to a measure which had been ushered in with so much profession of peace and harmony. He would do as much to satisfy South Carolina as any man. He would take this tariff and cut it down to the bone: but he did not wish to rush into untried systems. He believed that his constituents would excuse him for surrendering their interests, but they would not forgive him for a violation of the constitution.
Mr. Clay replied to the senator from Massachusetts. He paid a high tribute to the patriotism and purity of that gentleman, and said that he felt a deep and lasting regret that he had now to differ with him. He was happy, however, to find himself connected with his friend from Maine, with whom he had acted in the final adjustment of the Missouri question. He suggested that if the senator from Massachusetts could not make some appeal to a future congress for forbearance, he must be opposed to all compromise. He
repudiated any share in bringing the existing evils on the country, and declared that when he saw the torch applied to a favourite system, he would rush to save it, and to restore security and peace. The honourable member had seen nothing within the last six months, calculated to show that the tariff was not in danger. Had that gentleman not witnessed the results of the recent elections? Had he not heard the message which had been received from the president? Did he not know that a majority of the friends of the administration were opposed to the tariff? He wished to put the system on a permanent foundation for nine or ten years, that the manufacturer may go to his pillow at night without a fear that the system would be overthrown before morning. If he should have been able to convert a set of politicians, who had heretofore been steadily opposed to the protective system, into high tariff men, he should rejoice that he had been so successful in making proselytes. He maintained that the act of 1824 resorted to the policy of making a tariff without regard to revenue. He (Mr. C.) wished to be clearly understood as to the points which he had relied on for the protection of the industry of the country. He had named, 1st prohibition-2dly, the imposition of high duties without regard to the amount of revenue-3dly, a limitation of the revenue affording protection as far as he could-and 4thly, by encouraging the manu
facturers by letting in articles free of duty. He might have added a 5th mode, by regulating sales by auction, an important object which the manufacturers had solicited congress to accomplish, but which had not yet been done.
He expressed his willingness to leave the effect of his bill to be decided by the opinions of the manufacturers themselves, a large number of whom are now assembled in Washington, and whose almost unanimous voice would be in favour of his bill. He referred to correspondence to prove that the bill before the house would be ruinous to their interests, while the bill before the senate would remove all fear of ruin. In reference to iron, he reminded the senator from Massachusetts, that, by a new process called coking, iron would soon be maufactured in this country at as low a rate as in England. His whole objection to the argument of the senator was, that he bounded forward to 1842, and undertook to prophecy what would be the state of things at that period. would as soon rely on the forecast of the senator from Massachusetts as on any member of the senate, or of the community; but he could not believe that the senator could see results which would be found to be dependent on so many contingencies. An American statesman will look abroad upon all the interests of the country, and would comprehend in one view all its condition. He was as insensible to fear as any one, and therefore the im
putation that this measure was introduced under the influence of a panic, could not affect him. But he could not be insensible to the change which had taken place in the situation of things, even since the commencement of the session. At that time South Carolina stood alone; but, since then, Virginia had sent a commissioner, or a minister, to South Carolina, to induce her to delay her operations of hostility. If South Carolina should accede to her request, will not Virginia go with her in her ulterior measures, in case her grievances should not be redressed? Civil war might be the result. He was not willing to apply the sword to reduce the south to obedience. Nor that circumstances might not arise, which would render it necessary to resort to force. But in reference to a foreign power, there was always a reluctance to engage in war, until every effort at negotiation had failed: and, if there was this unwillingness to engage in foreign war, how much more reluctance ought there to be to engage in a war at home, in a contest in which he who commands in chief might not be willing to stop until he should have placed himself on a throne. He did not fear any misconstruction of the pledge contained in the bill; and he hoped that the manufacturers would go on and prosper, confident that the abandonment of protection was never intended, and looking to more favourable times for a renewal of a more efficient tariff.
He saw no difficulty in put
ting an estimate on the value of cotton. Congress lays down the principle, and it will remain for the secretary of the treasury, under the direction of the president, to carry the law into effect. The rule is prescribed, and he could not anticipate any difficulty in acting upon it. He went somewhat at large into statements and arguments to sustain his position in reference to colton. In the worst form of construction which could be put on the law by the secretary of the treasury, the cotton interest would enjoy a sufficient protection until the year 1841. He showed what would be his own construction, which would leave that interest in a still better condition. It would be competent, however, for congress, who would again be in session before this law could go into effect, to correct any errors which might be made. In reference to the powers of the secretary to cause a proper appraisement to be made, he quoted from the act of 1832; but repeated, that any difficulty in this matter could be obviated by congress at its next session. He referred to the reductions which would be effected by this bill in the article of silks, and in other items. But even if the reductions should be down to the revenue point, there was a reservation to augment or diminish the revenue as circumstances might require. He stated that the last series of gradations in 1841 would leave the duties on woollens at 38 per cent. There were, he said, two classes of manufacturers, the political
and the business manufacturers. rests, and it was with this same The political manufacturers policy, that he had proposed were unwilling to give up any another great measure, which thing; but there was not a busi- had twice received the sanction ness manufacturer within his of a majority of the senate. He knowledge who was not satisfied would not acquiesce in the views with the present bill. He ex- of those who relied on reaction. plained his bill as going on the Similar was the expectation, at broad principle of looking to the the last session, but there had interests of all, and embracing been no beneficial result. He the safety and security of all, was for conciliating all interests, and the conciliation of the coun- let whomsoever might fail, and try. He asked if the senator whomsoever might succeed. from Massachusetts was not He regretted that the bill, in willing that opposite interests select committee, had been inshould unite for the purpose of jured by striking out the clause bringing about harmony and making cotton free, and stated good feeling. The south had that this was not done by his given up her constitutional ob- vote, or by that of his friend from jections, and had also yielded Delaware. Still it was a meathe home valuation, and it could sure calculated to promote the not be said, therefore, that there great object for which it was had been no sacrifice of her in- introduced. He was not disterests. There had been, there- posed to throw himself forward fore, no abandonment of princi- to 1842; but he did not think ple, but all parts of this great that there was any cause for family had come together pre- apprehension as to the provipared to make mutual conces- sions which look to that period. sions for the purpose of restoring harmony.
Mr. Clay then stated that the manufacturers of iron would more readily be satisfied by this bill than any other proposition which had been offered. There were some who had said, let the tariff go down, if the next congress chooses, there will be a re-action afterwards, but he thought that these gentlemen took counsel of passions above which it was the duty of statesmen to elevate themselves. He was for encountering no certain danger for the purpose of providing some uncertain good. He wished to compromise all inte
The opponents of the bill, would send out a flaming sword; the friends of the bill would send out a flaming sword, accompanied by the olive branch. The gentleman from Massachusetts had thought proper to say that he (Mr. Clay) would have voted for the revenue collection bill. It was true he would have voted for it, but he felt no new born zeal prompting him to make speeches on the subject.
He thought of the administration as he always had thought, and he had determined to leave it to the friends of the executive to bear themselves out in defence of the bill. He would have