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into the account the differences of seasons which neutralize each other. If, therefore, we are to rely
upon the foreign market exclusively, foreign consump|tion ought to be shown to be increasing in the same
ratio of four per cent. per annum, if it be an adequate vent for our surplus produce. But, as I have supposed the measure of our increasing production to be furnished by that of our increasing population; so the measure of their power of consumption must be deter-mined by that of the increase of their population. Now the total foreign population who consume our surplus produce, upon an average, do not double their aggregate number in a shorter term than that of about one hundred years. Our powers of production increase then in a ratio four times greater than their powers of consumption. And hence their utter inability to receive from us our surplus produce.
But, secondly, if they could, they will not. The policy of all Europe is adverse to the reception of our agricultural produce, so far as it comes into collision with its own; and under that limitation we are absolutely forbid to enter their ports, except under circumstances which deprive them of all value as a steady market. The policy of all Europe rejects those great staples of our country, which consist of objects of human subsistence. The policy of all Europe refuses to receive from us any thing but those raw materials of smaller value, essential to their manufactures, to which they can give a higher value, with the exception of tobacco and rice, which they cannot produce. Even Great Britain, to which we are its best customer, and from which we receive nearly one half in value of our whole imports, will not take from us articles of subsistence produced in our country cheaper than can be produced in Great Britain. In adopting this exclusive policy, the states of Europe do not inquire what is best for us, but what suits themselves respectively; they do not take jurisdiction of the question of our interests, but limit the object of their legislation to that of the conservation of their own peculiar inter
ests, leaving us free to prosecute ours as we please. They do not guide themselves by that romantic philanthropy, which we see displayed here, and which invokes us to continue to purchase the produce of foreign industry, without regard to the state or prosperity of our own, that foreigners may be pleased to purchase the few remaining articles of ours which their restricted policy has not yet absolutely excluded from their consumption. What sort of a figure would a member of the British parliament have made; what sort of a reception would his opposition have obtained, if he had remonstrated against the passage of the corn law, by which British consumption is limited to the bread-stuffs of British production, to the entire exclusion of American, and stated that America could not and would not buy British manufactures, if Britain did not buy American flour ?
Both the inability and the policy of foreign powers, then, forbid us to rely upon the foreign market as being an adequate vent for the surplus produce of American labor. Now let us see if this general reasoning is not fortified and confirmed by the actual experience of this country. If the foreign market may be safely relied upon, as furnishing an adequate demand for our surplus produce, then the official documents will show a progressive increase, from year to year, in the exports of our native produce, in a proportion equal to that which I have suggested. If, on the contrary, we shall find from them that for a long term of past years some of our most valuable staples have retrograded, some remained stationary, and others advanced but little, if any, in amount, with the exception of cotton, the deductions of reason and the lessons of experience will alike command us to withdraw our confidence in the competency of the foreign market.
[Mr. Clay here gave a detail of facts, relative to our exports of domestic produce for a series of years, from which it appeared that in most articles, the increase of the export had, by no means, kept pace with the increase of our population; that the article of
cotton alone, had proportionably advanced, but that its value had recently very much diminished. He observed, that the articles of cotton, rice and tobacco, constituted in value, more than one half of all the exports of domestic produce in 1823, and that the portion of our population, engaged in the culture of these articles, was less than one fifth of the whole population of the United States.]
Is this foreign market, so incompetent at present, and which, limited as its demands are, operates so unequally upon the productive labor of our country, likely to improve in future? If I am correct in the views which I have presented to the committee, it must become worse and worse. What can improve it? Europe will not abandon her own agriculture to foster ours. We may even anticipate that she will more and more enter into competition with us in the supply of the West India market. That of South America, for articles of subsistence, will probably soon vanish. The value of our exports, for the future, may remain at about what it was last year. But, if we do not create some new market ; if we persevere in the existing pursuits of agriculture, the inevitable consequence must be, to augment greatly the quantity of our produce, and to lessen its value in the foreign market.
Can there be a doubt on this point ? Take the article of cotton, for example, which is almost the only article that now remunerates labor and capital. A certain description of labor is powerfully attracted towards the cotton-growing country. The cultivation will be greatly extended, the aggregate amount, annually produced, will be vastly augmented. The price will fall. The more unfavorable soils will then be gradually abandoned: and I have no doubt that, in a few years, it will cease to be profitably produced, any. where north of the 34th degree of latitude. But, in the mean time, large numbers of the cotton-growers will suffer the greatest distress. And whilst this distress is brought upon our own country, foreign industry will be stimulated by the very cause which occasions
our distress. For, by surcharging the markets abroad, the price of the raw material being reduced, the manufacturer will be able to supply cotton fabrics cheaper; and the consumption in his own country, and in foreign nations, other than ours, (where the value of the import must be limited to the value of the export, which I have supposed to remain the same,) being proportionally extended, there will be consequently an increased demand for the produce of his industry.
Our agricultural is our greatest interest. It ought ever to be predominant. All others should bend to it. And in considering what is for its advantage, we should contemplate it in all its varieties, of planting, farming and grazing. Can we do nothing to invigorate it; nothing to correct the errors of the past, and to brighten the still more unpromising prospects which lie before us? We have seen, I think, the causes of the distresses of the country. We have seen, that an exclusive dependence upon the foreign market must lead to still severer distress, to impoverishment, to ruin. We must then change somewhat our course. We must give a new direction to some portion of our industry. We must speedily adopt a genuine American policy. Still cherishing the foreign market, let us create also a home market, to give further scope to the consumption of the produce of American industry. Let us counteract the policy of foreigners, and withdraw the support which we now give to their industry, and stimulate that of our own country. It should be a prominent object with wise legislators, to multiply the vocations and extend the business of society, as far as it can be done, by the protection of our interests at home, against the injurious effects of foreign legislation. Suppose we were a nation of fishermen, or of skippers, to the exclusion of every other occupation, and the legislature had the power to introduce the pursuits of agriculture and manufactures, would not our happiness be promoted by an exertion of its authority?". All the existing employments of society—the learned professions-commerce-agri
culture, are now overflowing. We stand in each other's way. Hence the want of employment. Hence the eager pursuit after public stations, which I have before glanced at. I have been again and again shocked, during this session, by instances of solicitation for places, before the vacancies existed. The pulse of incumbents, who happen to be taken ill, is not marked with more anxiety by the attending physicians, than by those who desire to succeed them, though with very opposite feelings. Our old friend, the faithful sentinel, who has stood so long at our door, and the gallantry of whose patriotism deserves to be noticed, because it was displayed when that virtue was most rare and most wanted, on a memorable occasion, in this unfortunate city, became indisposed some weeks ago. The first intelligence, which I had of his dangerous illness, , was by an application for his unvacated place. I hastened to assure myself of the extent of his danger, and was happy to find that the eagerness of succession outstripped the progress of disease. By creating a new and extensive business, then, we should not only give employment to those who want it, and
augment the sum of national wealth, by all that this new business would create, but we should meliorate the condition of those who are now engaged in existing employments. In Europe, particularly in Great Britain, their large standing armies, large navies, large even on their peace arrangement, their established church, afford to their population employments, which, in that respect, the happier constitution of our goyernment does not tolerate but in a very limited degree. The peace establishments of our army and our navy, are extremely small, and I hope ever will be. We have no established church, and I trust never shall have. In proportion as the enterprize of our citizens, in public employments, is circumscribed, should we excite and invigorate it in private pursuits.
The creation of a home market is not only necessary to procure for our agriculture a just reward of its labors, but it is indispensable to obtain a supply of our