« AnteriorContinuar »
must have been those that occurred at camp meet. ings of Methodists. These assemblages are now said to be on the decline in Kentucky; and when meetings were held on a grand scale there, many disorders were committed by immoral persons, tending to the great scandal of religion, and occasioning the precautionary measures already noticed in this detail.
Circumstances that retard Manufacturing Industry, and Causes of its prosperity.
Jeffersonville, (Indiana,) Aug. 15, 1820.
IN my letter of the 26th of June last, I mentioned that mechanics were leaving the towns of the western country, and becoming cultivators in the back woods. In many cases, their former habits are such as are not well calculated to reconcile them with their new situations. It appears evident that such people, placed in the forests, cannot for some time raise a quantity of produce sufficient to procure in exchange such foreign luxuries as they formerly consumed, and such articles of imported dress as they have been accustomed to wear. The former may be easily dispensed with, but for the latter a substitute must be provided. Family manufacture is the obvious resource; but it must proceed slowly in cases where the females are not acquainted with this branch of industry, and
in the uncleared woods, which are not suitable pastures for sheep. It is to be regretted that manufacturing establishments are not erected, as these would not only furnish employment more congenial to the habits of artizans, and preserve to them their wonted accommodations, but would be of vast national importance under the present circumstances of America.
I trust that a brief exposition of a few of the principal causes which retard manufacturing industry, and of the means of promoting it, in this country, will not be unacceptable to you; especially as the policy of America, on that subject, affects at once the interests of both countries.
The primary obstacle that has hitherto prevented Americans from fabricating their own necessaries, from the products of their own country, is universally acknowledged to be an extensive intercourse with Great Britain, in exporting produce, and importing manufactured goods in return ;a correspondence that subjects American artisans to a competition with a country in which wages are low, labour subdivided, and in which the most stupendous mechanical apparatus is employed.
The indecision which has heretofore characterized the conduct of the United States, with regard to manufactures, seems to have originated in the diversity of interests represented in the government. The people of the southern States are, for several reasons, averse to making concessions for procuring home-made goods. They are comparatively little devoted to mechanical pursuits, and still less acquainted with the diversified operations of workshops. Their negroes are seldom trained to any thing but agricultural and menial services, and the
condition of these labourers is otherwise unfavourable to the acquisition of skill in new employments. This part of the country, besides, exports large quantities of cotton, tobacco, and rice, articles that do not excite the jealousy of the landed. interest in Britain; but, on the contrary, almost enjoy a monopoly of the British market. It is plain that the people who possess advantages of this kind, have it more in their power to continue traffic with England than their northern neighbours, whose produce is excluded by the corn laws of that country, which have been wisely enacted.
Traders who have capital vested in ships, and in the importation of manufactured goods, form a class that is more interested in opposing an independent system than any other. Though their influence in Congress appears to be declining, some time must elapse before their funds can be directed to other pursuits.
The import duties on foreign manufactures, high as in most cases they appear to be, have not the effect of protecting American artizans from competition with those of other countries, who work cheaper. This disadvantage has been produced by the profuse issues of a paper currency. Money of this sort not taking the market abroad, it remains in the country, where it operates against industry, by augmenting the nominal price of labour. Hence people are complaining of want of employment, while they depend on the labour of foreigners for almost every artificial modification of the materials raised on their own soil, or these lie unheeded under their feet. Import duties are not to be considered merely as enactments for promoting American manufactures, for they constitute the principal source of national revenue. It might be difficult to form a conception of a re
venue that could be collected at less expense, or of taxation raised in a more voluntary manner on the part of the people. But as moderating these duties must unquestionably, on every occasion, be injurious to home industry, and as augmenting them to the extent of the total prohibition of foreign goods would introduce smuggling, the two objects of the system are in some degree incompatible in the present state of money affairs.
The capital vested in uncultivated lands, is a mere dormant stock which cannot be applied to such active employments as the erection of workshops, machinery, and other outlays necessary for the establishment of manufactories, unless it is replaced by other funds. Neither is it so easy to procure money as formerly by mortgaging cultivated lands, now when the prices of produce are so low. The expedients resorted to, in keeping base money in circulation, are, with respect to manufacturing interests, as impolitic as they are, in fact, unjust. Bankers, who are virtually insolvent, are to be ranked amongst the opposers of manufactures, as it must be impossible for such men to contemplate the reduction of the quantity of money so essential to industry, without dreading the retribution that awaits them.
The present condition of the United States is well suited to convince the people of the expediency of making exertions for supplying their own wants. Europe is no longer to be relied on as a market for their produce, and Great Britain in particular has in effect excluded the grain and the timber of the United States from her markets, and prohibits Americans from trading with her West India colonies. Since these restrictions have taken place, great quantities of British manufactures have been imported into America, and the course
of exchange has shown, that a large money balance has arisen in favour of Britain. Some persons interested in the traffic, infer the prosperity of the United States from their being able to pay a balance of trade. Though general doctrines of this kind are sanctioned by several great economists, on the broad principle that an exportation of money indicates a corresponding importation of property, or in other words, an accumulation of wealth; before adopting an assumption of this kind in any particular case, it may be safe to inquire whether the imports consist of articles, which are permanently beneficial, or of luxuries either of the more perishable kinds, or of those more conducive to ornament than utility. With regard to the late imports of the Unit ed States, it is thought sufficient to notice that they have not furnished the ability to continue them in their usual amount.
Farther, nothing can be more plain than the necessity of abridging the quantity of paper money in circulation; and when this is done to a sufficient extent, foreigners will find it impossible to procure dollars here on terms so easy as formerly. Were money rendered so scarce, that it would command three or four times the quantity of the necessaries of life that it does now, foreign labour would be excluded, and the American labourer, with a third or a fourth part of his present nominal wages, would find the only changes in his condition to be a greater demand for his work, and an immediate enlargement of his resources. The farmer would eventually find the means of increasing his produce, and the advantage of a home market; and capitalists now engaged in foreign commerce, would find employment for their funds in manufactures. Fortunately the impolitic course latter