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Aristotle says it is) of leaving it to hazard to decide who shall be President of the United States, will soon be preferable to what is, at best, a merely nominal, illusory choice---0 choice determined by the worst motives. But if the ill-paid, and often prostituted offices of the government, excite so many unruly passions, and lead to such sacrifices of principle even now, when a chief magistrate is to be elected, what will it be if this “American System" (as it is arrogantly called) should become the fundamental policy of the government ? Such a prodigious increase of executive patronage, will create factions which no popular government can long withstand. Conceive a successful candidate coming into office, to distribute millions out of the public treasury—to give up, as far as in him lies, the interests of whole sections of country, as spoils to his remorseless partisans! This topic is one of immense importance. The great and good man who now adorns the Presidential chair, deserves all praise for having called public attention to it. We are sorry that his speculative opinions should seem to countenance principles, of which he has too much virtue not to abhor the demoralizing effects, and to which, it is the proudest triumph of his glorious life, to have given the first, and, we trust, a fatal blow, in practice.
With so many motives to moderation and forbearance in the councils of the nation, why, we would ask, has not the conduct of our affairs for some time past, been as much characterized by them as might fairly have been expected ? How comes it, that in this favoured land, with every thing in our situation to exempt us from temptation to do wrong, with every thing in our experience to animate us in doing right, and with the negative example of Europe before our eyes to confirm the effects of both, we are, with a very questionable constitutional authority, to say the least of it, rushing headlong into the same course of highhanded and extravagant legislation, which has every where been productive of so much evil? When we look back upon the progress we had made as a nation, from the adoption of the Federal Constitution to the year 1820, in all that constitutes the strength, the glory and the happiness of civilized life, we must be cold, indeed, if we be not filled with gratitude and rapture at the retrospect. What in the world is to be compared with it? Yet to what were we indebted for this overflowing and unparalleled prosperity? This glorious spectacle of peace, order and improvement-of a government of laws obeyed without coercion—a confederacy of republics more united in sympathy, hope and happiness, than by the bands of a political constitution-a young country pouring forth, on all sides, the fruits
of its exuberant fertility, and covered with the magnificent results of successful industry-was it to the boasted skill of statesmen that we owed it ? to that paltry, huckstering and meddlesome policy, whose wretched praise it is to give apparent prosperity to some unproductive branches of industry, by drying up the great fountains of national wealth ? By no means-just the contrary. That the laws were cheerfully obeyed—that the Union was a union in spirit and in truth-that the nation was prosperous beyond all former example, were effects of a single cause--freedom-.freedom of thought, speech and action at hoine--and a perfect freedom of commercial intercourse with every quarter of the globe. We are aware that the times were most favourable to us, and that this extraordinary success was, in some degree, owing to accidental and transient causes. We also admit, that much of the embarrassment and distress so universally complained of within the last eight or ten years, was merely incident to the return of things to their natural state, after a period of extraordinary excitement. The situation of Europe from the breaking out of the French Revolution, until the fall of Napoleon, was altogether unprecedented in its history, and the troubles which afflicted that most important portion of the earth, were so many means of aggrandizement to us. But after making every allowance for the operation of this important cause—which has been too much overlooked by heated contiovertists on both sides of this question—it is impossible to deny that the progress of the American people, in the short space of a single generation, from the poverty, disorders and imbecility of the old confederation, to a more enviable height of power and renown, than any free commonwealth of modern times has ever attained, and with hopes such as have never warmed the dieams of any other people, is a memorable exemplification of the blessed effects, moral, political, and economical of the free trade system. Let us suppose for a moment, that the unnatural policy now recommended to us as peculiarly American, had been adopted by the first Congress, with all its necessary accompaniments, of an inquisitorial police, a bloody penal code, and an offensive array of the public force-who will venture to say, that it would not have made a prodigious difference in the situation, the character and the destinies of this people!
We purpose devoting the remainder of this paper to a candid examination of the doctrines promulged by the Legislature of this State, touching the constitutionality of the “ American System.” We shall say nothing of the economical effects of the tariff, further than they are necessary to illustrate its political character. As, however, we should deem any thing in the way, either of a suggestio falsi, or a suppressio veri on so momentous a subject, at so dangerous a crisis, in the highest degree reprehensible, we beg leave distinctly to state, that we do not assent to the new doctrine, that the hurthen of ibe customs falls mainly upon production, and that this State alone, is indirectly taxed to ihe amount of upwards of 4,000,000 of dollars, for the benetit of the manufacturers. It is very true that, over and above our contributions as consumers to the support of a policy at war with all our opinions and interests, we do suffer to a certain extent as growers of raw produce. Every restriction upon trade, in every part of the world, by diminishing consumption, has a tendency to diininish to a greater or less degree the value of all articles of commerce. If all the odious barriers of monopoly in every trading country were removed, there is no doubt but a very considerable additional demand would be created for cotton and other staple commodities, and that demand would be accompanied for some time by an increase of prices, until the supply should, once more (as it infallibly would) overtake this increased demand. But we are perfectly satisfied that the amount of injury inflicted upon us, as producers, by the tariff, is prodigiously overrated, when it is affirmed that, added to the taxes on consumption, they make our burthens on the average, forty per cent. upon our whole revenue as planters. We see nothing in the general state of the country, or in any particular facts brought to light in the discussions of this subject, which goes to shew, that all the political economists in the would have been mistaken in representing taxes upon consumption, as ultimately falling on the consumers; and we are persuaded that our consumption of articles subject to high duties, is only proportioned to our wealth and populationsome, perhaps a considerable, deduction being made for the peculiar condition of a portion of the latter. Mr. MÓDuftie, we perceive, in his second speech on this subject, does not put the consumption (properly so called) of this State, at more than three or four imillions. As he bás furnished no data, and all calculations of this sort are extremely uncertain, we are unable to say how near an approximation to the truth, bis conjecture may be. Staling our consumption at that sum, and supposing all the articles consumed to come higher to us by nearly the amount of the duties paid upon them, our burthens, at forty per cent. amount to something more than a million and a half yearly.* To this must be added some diminution in the price of our raw produce. The amount of that diminution is a problem in political arithmetic, which we
confess ourselves, as yet, wholly unprepared to solve. From the great extension, however, of the cultivation of cotton, and the vast stock of it on hand in Europe, as well as from the fall of prices to their present reduced rate some years before the tariff of 1824, we incline to think that the loss we sustain, as producers, bears no sort of comparison to the tax we pay as consumers.
We may put an imaginary case, indeed, in which a tax upon consumption would be nearly equivalent, to a tax upon production. Nations produce only to exchange the surplus produce of their land and labour, and if a people consumed in luxuries or necessaries, the whole amount of their revenue, and every exchange without exception were burthened with a duty, the conclusion would follow, that whether the impost were laid on the outward or the return cargo, were very immaterial. But this is not actually the case with South-Carolina, nor indeed, with any other commercial country. To do any thing like justice, however, to so important a subject, would require a separate article, dealing very much in statistical details. We shall therefore, content ourselves with barely stating our opinion-by way of protestation against the inference that we overrate the grievances of our people.
But whatever differences of opinion may exist as to the extent of the mischiefs produced by the tariff in the South, it is in the last degree paradoxical and absurd to affirm that it produces none at all-or none that are peculiar to our situation. It is not candid to pretend, that for the great mass of the articles subjected to heavy duties, those who consume them are not obliged to pay a higher price than they otherwise would. Some indeed, perhaps many, of those articles are as cheap as they would be without this nominal protection. For example, the duty upon cotton-wool, about which so much has been lately said, does not and we believe never did, produce any effect upon the price of that article. But if discriminating duties were not rendered necessary by the comparative cheapness of the foreign fabric, why impose them at all where they are not wanted for revenue? Accordingly, the great father of this system, who was too able a man to resort to a deceptive defence of his measures, comes out boldly with the whole truth. In his report on inanufactures, General Hamilton avows that duties are taxes. He says they "evidently amount to a virtual bounty on the domestic fabrics, since by enhancing the charges on foreign articles, they enable the national manufacturers to undersell all their foreign competitors.”* His whole argument proceeds upon
- Hamiltou's Official Reports, p. 124. Philadelphia, 1822. VOL. VI.-10. 11.
this assumption. And then the question comes to this, whether the government of the United States has the constitutional power to impose taxes upon the whole people, for the purpose of raising a bounty for a particular class or denomination? We repeat it: if the government have a right to impose duties upon foreign fabrics for the protection of manufacturers at home, it has a right to impose a tax as such for that purpose, and it is no answer to the question thus propounded in the abstract, to say that some of these taxes, are in fact merely nominal burthens.
Taking it for granted that we have put the case fairly, let us proceed to examine it with the cadour and seriousness befitting the discussion of a great national interest.
We admit, in limine, that the subject thus presented in the abstract is not without difficulty, and a great deal of difficulty. It may be safely predicated of an enormous and unequal tariff, for reasons already assigned, that it is inconsistent alike with the theory of the government, and with that equity and good faith which are essential to the perfect validity, in foro conscientiæ, of every execution of a power, whether for public or for private purposes. We regard the present tariff as an instance of such a violation of the federal compact in spirit and effect. But it does not follow because the excessive and fraudulent exercise of a power, is void, that the power does not exist at all; and we are to shew that no tariff, of which the only object, or so far forth as its only object, is the protection of domestic industry, was contemplated by the founders of the government. We have bestowed upon this subject the most mature, and if consciousness does not deceive us, the most dispassionate and impartial consideration, and the result is the conviction that this is one of those powers, which nothing but the clearest authority, could justify any government in exercising, and that, so far from its being clear that the Federal Constitution conveys such a power, the better opinion seems to be decidedly the other way.
All the grounds upon which it is our purpose to enlarge, being set forth in a condensed form, in the Protest of this State, transmitted to the Senate of the United States, by the Legislature at the session of 1828, we shall quote that paper at length.
“December 19, 1828. “ The Senate and House of Representatives of South-Carolina, now met and sitting in General Assembly-through the Honourable William Smith, and the Honourable Robert Y. Hayne, their representatives in the Senate of the United States, do, in the name and on behalf of the good people of the said Commonwealth solemnly protest against the system of protecting duties lately adopted by the Federal Government, for the following reasons :