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rate of duty which can be laid for the bona / whole. The President's parade of argufide purpose of collecting money for the sup-ment, therefore, is either for the purpose port of government. To raise the duties higher of nroving a truism which nobody denies than that point, and thereby diminish the amount collected, is to levy them for protection merely,
or an absurdity which no sensible man and not for revenue. As long, then, as Con
. gress may gradually increase the rate of duty There is a well established principle of on a given article, and the revenue is increased political economy, which neither the Presiby such increase of duty, they are within the dent, nor the Secretary of the Treasury, revenue standard. When they go beyond that
nor indeed any of their sect of political point, and as they increase the duties, the rey
economists, seem ever to have learned ; enue is diminished or destroyed, the act ceases
| which shows, if not the absurdity, at least to have for its object the raising of money to support government, but is for protection mere
the futility of their idea of a revenue ly."
standard of duties on different articles of
import. The object of the above reasoning, if we The exports of a nation always do, and are able to comprehend it, is to prove that always should, control the imports, witha certain low tariff of, say, fifteen or twen- out regard to the rate of the duties. No ty per centum, will produce more revenue nation should ever import more than the than a high tariff of forty or fifty per net proceeds of its exports. If this rule centum—that the precise rate of duty is violated, disaster immediately follows, which will produce the most revenue may as our own experience abundantly proves. be ascertained by actual experiment, and A government, therefore, which encourthat rate, whatever it shall be found to be, ages its citizens to import more than the is the revenue standard. Now this is all net proceeds of their exports, violates a mere hypothesis and delusion, without a fundamental principle of political econosingle fact to support it. There is no such my. The imports of a nation, however, revenue standard, nor is it true that a low always do, and always must, exceed by tariff will produce as much revenue as a ) seven or eight per centum, the nominal higher one, except where the low tariff exports. This excess of imports is caused prevents smuggling; and we are much by the profits, or net proceeds, of the exmistaken if the President's own figures do | ports above the valuation. Every mernot prove this. The President and his chant who exports a cargo of goods exSecretary appear to have adopted, as the pects to realize, not only their original basis of their system of finance, Dean cost, but a profit on them. He expects Swift's celebrated paradox, that in political to exchange his goods for others of more arithmetic two and two do not make four. | value to him, or for money; and these
If the President means to say, that must be imported or there is an end to a low tariff of five or ten per centum on commerce. When a nation has got its coarse cotton fabrics, will produce more proportion of the precious metals adrevenue from those fabrics than a high justed to its amount of property, there tariff of fifty or one hundred per centum can be no profit on the importation of spewould do, then he asserts a fact which cie, because it is worth more abroad than nobody ever denied or disputed; for at home, and there will be a profit on the the high tariff would be equivalent to importation of goods and exportation of a prohibition of the import of the arti-money. Now, unless a high tariff on imcle, and would therefore produce no reve- ports will prevent the export and sale of nue at all. If this was what the Presi- our surplus products, to those who are dent meant, it was a mere truism, and re- willing to give a good price for them, the quired no argument to sustain it. But if | rate of duty on the proceeds will not prehis meaning was, that an average tariff of vent them from being imported. So long, twenty per centum on the whole impor- | then, as our exports amount to a hundred tation, will produce more revenue than an millions of dollars a year, under a tariff average tariff of forty per centum on the that shall average fifty, or even one hunwhole importation, then he asserts a pal- dred per centum, our imports will equal pable and plain absurdity, equivalent to or exceed that amount. It is true that asserting that the half is greater than the a horizontal tariff of one hundred per
centum upon all importations, would en- enact a tariff which should be equivalent tirely exclude a large portion of our pres- to an average duty of fifty per centum ent imports—all those that are produced, upon the whole import of the country, it or could be conveniently produced, in the would afford a revenue of fifty millions of country; but other articles would be sub-dollars, so long as our exports equalled a stituted in their place, so as to equal the hundred millions of dollars ; and if our exfull amount of our exports. The only ports should equal one hundred and fifty effect, therefore, of a high duty on a given millions of dollars, the duties on imports article, such as coarse cotton fabrics, would would equal seventy-five millions of dolbe to exclude that article and substitute lars. The revenue has always been found some other in its place to an equal amount to rise or fall in amount in proportion as and value.
the general average has been raised or Although an increase of duty, therefore, lowered. The President's own figures on cotton goods, may decrease the revenue | will show this. on that article, yet it does not follow, as ! In his message to Congress in Dethe President seems to suppose, that the cember, 1845, he states the exports of general revenue will be diminished, al- | domestic products for the fiscal year endthough such might be the case. If, for ing the 30th June, 1845, to have been example, the duty on cotton and woollen of the value of ninety-nine and threegoods should be increased to such a point tenths millions of dollars. (We omit fracas to exclude ten millions of them from tions less than tenths.) The imports for our market, and articles paying no duty at consumption for the same year, were of all should be substituted in their place, the the value of one hundred and one millions general amount of revenue would be di- of dollars, and the receipts into the Treasminished ; but he would be but a shallow | ury on the above amount of imports, was politician who could not prevent such a twenty-seven and five-tenths millions of result.
| dollars, equal, within a small fraction, to The truth of this theory is proved by twenty-seven per centum upon the whole the history of every commercial nation in import of that year. This was under the the world. Our imports have exceeded tariff of 1842. our exports every year since the govern- In his message to Congress, (December, ment was established, with the exception, 1846,) the President says: “The value perhaps, of a single year. The same is of the exports for the fiscal year ending true of England, and all other nations, the 30th June, 1846, amounted to one without any regard to the rate of their | hundred and two and one-tenth milltariffs. If the advocates of low tariffs will ions of dollars. The imports for consumpshow a single exception to this rule, wetion for the same year, were of the value will give up the argument.
of one hundred and ten and three-tenths There is a class of goods, however, upon millions of dollars. The duties paid into which high duties will produce less reve- the Treasury upon the above amount of nue than low duties, although the high imports, was twenty-six and seven-tenths duties may not diminish the amount of im- millions of dollars,” equal to twenty-four ports. These are goods of small bulk and and a fraction per centum upon the whole great value, such as jewelry, expensive importation for that year. This was also laces, &c. A high duty on such goods under the tariff of 1842. Although the would cause them to be smuggled to a tariff is the same in different years, yet the great extent, and thus defeat the revenue. average of duties will vary one or two per But the idea that an average high duty oncentum in different years, in consequence the staple articles of consumption will pre- of larger proportions of free goods, or vent them from being imported through goods paying a low duty, being imported the custom-house, is utterly absurd. If one year than another. it were otherwise, a tariff of two or three In his late message the President states hundred per cent. on the transportation the exports of domestic products for the of oysters from Baltimore to Cincinnati fiscal year ending the 30th of June last, would prevent them from being consumed at one hundred and fifty and six-tenths in Cincinnati. If our government were to millions of dollars. The imports for domestic consumption, including specie for! “ The net revenue from customs in the year the same year, were one hundred and sixty | ending on the 1st of December, 1846, being the and seven-tenths millions of dollars in value. I last year under the operation of the tariff act of
1842, was $22,971,403 10; and the net revExcluding specie, the imports amounted
| enue from custoins during the year ending Dec. to one hundred and thirty-eight and five- | 1st, 1847, being the first year under the operatenths millions of dollars, the duties upon tion of the tariff act of 1846, was about which were twenty-three and seven-tenths $31,500,000; being an increase of revenue millions of dollars, equal to fourteen and for the first year, under the tariff act of 1846, a fraction per centum upon the whole im- / of more than $8,500,000 over that of the last portation, including specie. Excluding / year of the tariff of 1842." specie, which paid no duty, the per centum of duty was seventeen and a fraction. But facts are stubborn things, and figures During five months of this fiscal year, will not lie, even to accommodate the Presithe tariff of 1842 was in operation, dent. The above paragraph could have and in that time seven and eight-tenths been put into the President's message for millions of dollars were collected, leaving no other purpose but to deceive. The obbut fifteen and nine-tenths millions to be lject was to make the people believe that collected under the tariff of 1846. The the tariff of '46 was more productive of actual average tariff of 1846 is, therefore, revenue than the tariff of '42, else why a good deal less than seventeen per centum; not give the exports and imports for the but as our cause does not require us to same period of time? Had these been given stand for trifles, we will allow that the it would have appeared that twenty-two average duty under the tariff of 1846 was and nine-tenths millions of revenue were seventeen per centum. This makes the collected on less than one hundred millions tariff of 1846 about nine or ten per cent. / of imports, while only thirty-one and fivelower than the tariff of 1842, and the du: tenths millions of revenue were collected ties paid into the treasury from twelve to on nearly or quite two hundred millions of fifteen millions of dollars less than they imports, and nearly the same amount of would have been under the tariff of 1842. exports. This is too paltry, if not for the
In 1845 twenty-seven millions of rey- | man, at least for the officer who wrote it. enue were collected on one hundred and During the first year of the operation of two millions of imports. In 1846 twenty- | the tariff of 1846, the treasury has lost six millions of revenue were collected on from twelve to fifteen millions of dollars, one hundred and ten millions of imports, which would have been raised under the and in 1847 but twenty-four millions of tariff of 1842. But the President and the revenue (we give the benefit of the frac- free trade sect of politicians will, no doubt, tion) were collected on one hundred and tell us, that whatever the treasury may thirty-eight and five-tenths millions of im- | have lost by a low rate of duty, the people ports, exclusive of twenty-two millions of have gained ; that if the people have specie. This enormous amount of exports more taxes to pay in consequence of the and consequent imports, was caused by the low rate of duties, they have more to pay bountiful harvest in this country and the with; all of which is as false as their dearth in Europe, and not in any degree theory. by our tariff; and yet the President and Among political economists of the old his Secretary have the hardihood, not to school, with Adam Smith at their head, it say audacity, to argue before the Ameri- / was held as a maxim, that whatever taxes can people the superiority of the tariff of were collected upon an article of consump1846 over the tariff of 1842 as a revenue tion, whether it was by an excise or an measure. These high functionaries have impost, must be ultimately paid by the not only attempted to maintain the supe consumer ; so that if twenty-five per cent. riority of that miserable delusion, which of duties were collected on an article imthey have christened a revenue tariff, but ported for consumption, the consumer they have garbled and perverted the rec-would have to pay twenty-five per cent. ords of the Treasury Department to make more for it than if no duty had been colthem speak favorably of their bantling. lected on it. This was a plausible but Thus the President tells us that
| superficial theory, and it was received and acted on for a long time; but its falsity is ! It is perfectly right and just to lay an susceptible of invincible demonstration. impost on tea and coffee. Indeed, the
An impost is not strictly speaking a true policy of this country, and of every tax. Taxes are levied upon citizens and country, is to let no article of commerce property within the jurisdiction of the gov- | be imported without paying a small duty. ernment laying the tax. An impost is a The nation incurs a heavy expense, annubonus which the owner of property is re-ally, for the accommodation and protecquired to pay for the privilege of bringing tion of the commerce of the country; and it within the territorial limits of another every person, whether citizen or alien, who government for sale or use. The owner participates in the benefit of that comof the property upon which a tax is laid, merce, ought to pay a portion of that has no option whether he will pay the expense, for the same reason, that every tax or not; but the owner of property upon person who transports his property on which an impost is laid, has his election, railroads and canals ought to pay toll. No whether he will bring his property within foreign goods, therefore, ought to be adthe jurisdiction of the government and mitted into the country without paying pay the impost, or keep it out of that a duty of at least five or ten per cent. jurisdiction and save the impost. If he It would, therefore, be good policy to chooses to pay the impost and bring lay a specific duty of at least two cents it into the country, he will then sell a pound on coffee, and five and ten cents it for the most he can get, without any a pound on tea. Notwithstanding what regard to the impost he has paid on the President and his Secretary may say it. Should he attempt to regulate the to the contrary, yet the experience of all price by the impost he had paid, he would commercial nations proves, that specific be laughed at for his folly. Between duties, where they can be laid, are preferabuyer and seller the duty paid on an arti- ble to ad valorem duties. But as their cle is never inquired after or thought of; theory of finance is built upon paradoxes, the market price is their standard. A large it was to be expected that they would reportion of the foreign goods sold in our ject experience. market, and which have paid a duty of The policy of reducing the price of the twenty-five or thirty per cent., are sold at public lands for the purpose of increasing auction, and do not bring a cent more than the amount of revenue from them, is about they would, if they had been imported free as wise as reducing the rates of duty for of duty. Up to about twenty-five or thirty the purpose of increasing the amount of per cent., there is no doubt whatever, but revenue. The following quotation from what the foreign producer, and not the the late Report of the Secretary of the consumer, pays, in some cases, three- | Treasury, exhibits his policy in regard to fourths, in others, seven-eighths, and in the public lands, and his reasons for it. many cases the whole amount of the duties Although rather long, yet it is such a collected on the goods. It is not, there | beautiful specimen of the Secretary's reafore, true that the people have gained what soning powers, that we have not the heart the treasury may have lost, under the to mutilate it:operation of the tariff of 1846. During | the first year of that absurd measure, the
“The recommendations in my first as well country has lost from ten to twelve millions
as second annual Report of the reduction of of dollars, and will continue to lose that
the price of the public lands in favor of settlers
and cultivators, together with the removal of much per annum as long as it shall be per
onerous restrictions upon the pre-emption laws, mitted to remain on the statute book. This
are again respectfully presented to the considerhas caused large deficits, and will continue ation of Congress. Sales at the reduced price, to cause still larger deficits, in the treasury, | it is thought, should be confined to settlers and which the President and his Secretary cultivators, in limited quantities, sufficient for propose to supply by a tax on tea and to supply by Atay on ten and farms and plantations, and the pre-emption
privilege extended to every bona fide settler, and coffee, now admitted free of duty, by a
| embrace all lands, whether surveyed or unsurreduction in the price of the public lands, veyed, to which the Indian title may be extinand by a loan, the present year, of guished. The lands remaining subject to entry $18,500,000.
at private sale on the first of this month were 152,101,001 acres, and the unsurveyed lands to the revenue from them would be increased which the Indian title has been extinguished one and a half millions of dollars per annum; 71,048,214 acres, (per table Z.) The adoption and, according to the same reasoning, if of these two measures, for the reasons stated
they were reduced to twenty-five cents per in my previous reports, would augment the revenue a million and a half of dollars per annum,
acre, the revenue from them would be still erating as they would on 223,149,215 acres. greater, for the same reason that an averIt would, at the same time, increase the wages age duty of twenty-five per cent. on imof labor, by enabling a much larger number of ports, will produce more revenue than fifty the working classes to purchase farms at the percent. would do. But whether there low price, whilst it would, at the same time,
be a revenue standard of the public lands, augment the wealth and power of the whole
or what that standard is, if there be one, country.
* When the public lands have been offered a | we are not informed. long time for a price they will not bring, the Now it strikes us that the reason more failure to reduce the price is equivalent in its lands are not sold, is because more are not effects to an enactment by Congress that these wanted for settlement and cultivation, and lands shall not be sold and settled for an un
not because of their high price. To those limited period. The case is still stronger as to the unsurveyed lands: there being an act of Congress forbidding their sale or settlement,
cheap at a dollar and a quarter per acre; and denouncing as criminals, and as trespass
to those who do not want them, they ers, the American pioneers who would desire to would be dear at twenty-five cents an acre. enter in advance into the wilderness, cover it | A certain portion of the population of the with farms and towns, with the church and the
old States desire annually to emigrate and school-house, extend over it the blessings of settle on the public lands. In other words. our free institutions, and enlarge by the axe and
there is a market for a given number of the plough, the cultivated area of the American Union.
acres of the public lands every year. The “ Should the system proposed be now adopted, | quantity wanted increases as our popu the surveyed as well as the unsurveyed lands tion increases, nor can it be essentially inopened to pre-emptors, and the Indian title ex- | creased by reducing the price of the lands. tinguished within the coming year, or that If the public lands were reduced to a dime which succeeds it, in addition to Iowa and Wis
an acre, the great mass of the population consin, we should soon have two new States,
in the old States would not buy them. Winesota and Itasca, in the great valley of the West, adjoining Wisconsin and Iowa. In
The Secretary's project, therefore, for instead of draining the old States of their popula- | creasing the revenue, by a reduction in the tion, the graduation and pre-emption system price of the public lands, would be very will, in a series of years, increase their pros- likely to result as his project for increasperity by giving them customers in the west ing the revenue from imports, by reducing who will carry to them their products and re
the rate of duty, has resulted.
the rate of ceive their imports or fabrics in exchange, in
By reducing the price of those lands creasing the transportation upon our railroads and canals, and augmenting our foreign as well
which have been a long time in the market, as coastwise tonnage. The distribution of the he would probably divert a part of the proceeds of the sales of these lands is prevented current of emigration to those lands, and for at least twenty years by the act of 28th thereby prevent the sale of those of higher January, 1847, setting apart and pledging their price, which would still farther diminish proceeds to the extinguishment of the public
the revenue. The million and a half of debt. So far also as distribution may have been advocated with a view to favor a protective tariff,
revenue, therefore, anticipated from this it is now proved that a tariff for revenue not | project, is not likely to be realized, and only yields a larger income than the protective that sum will also have to be supplied by system, but also advances more rapidly, in a loan. series of years, the prosperity of the manufac All the Secretary's estimates are based turers themselves, by the augmentation of their upon the exports, and consequent imports, foreign and domestic markets."
of 1847, and can, therefore, never be realThe present price of the public lands is lized except in years of famine in Europe ; one dollar and a quarter per acre, and the and yet, according to these estimates, he Secretary thinks, if their price was re- will want a loan of $18,500,000, to carry duced to seventy-five or fifty cents per on the government the present year. Add acre, (although he does not say how much,) | to this the million and a half which he ex
vol. I. NO. IV. NEW SERIES. 26