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America, yielding to an inordinate passion for the gold of the Indies, sought in their mines that wealth which might have been better created at home. Can the remarkable difference in the state of the prosperity of the two countries, be otherwise explained, than by the opposite systems which they pursued ? England, by a sedulous attention to her home industry, supplied the means of an advantageous commerce with her colonies. Spain, by an utter neglect of her domestic resources, confided altogether in those which she derived from her colonies, and presents an instance of the greatest adversity. Her colonies were infinitely more valuable than those of England; and if she had adopted a similar policy, is it unreasonable to suppose that, in wealth and power, she would have surpassed that of England ? I think the honorable gentleman from Virginia does great injustice to the Catholic religion, in specifying that as one of the leading causes of the decline of Spain. It is a religion entitled to great respect; and there is nothing in its character incompatible with the highest degree of national prosperity. Is not France, the most polished, in many other respects the most distinguished state of Christendom, Catholic ? Is not Flanders, the most populous part of Europe, also Catholic? Are the Catholic parts of Switzerland and of Germany less prosperous than those which are Protestant ?
Tenthly. The next objection of the honorable gentleman from Virginia, which I shall briefly notice, is, that the manufacturing system is adverse to the genius of our government, in its tendency to the accumulation of large capitals in a few hands; in the corruption of the public morals, which is alleged to be incident to it; and in the consequent danger to the public liberty. The first part of the objection would apply to every lucrative business, to commerce, to planting, and to the learned professions. Would the gentleman introduce the system of Lycurgus? If his principle be correct, it should be extended to any and every vocation which has a similar tendency. The enormous fortunes in our country—the nabobs of the land -have been chiefly made by the profitable pursuit of that foreign commerce, in more propitious times, which the honorable gentleman would so carefully cherish. Immense estates have also been made in the south. The dependants are, perhaps, not more numerous upon that wealth which is accumulated in manufactures, than they are upon that which is acquired by commerce and by agriculture. We may safely confide in the laws of distributions, and in the absence of the rule of primogeniture, for the dissipation, perhaps too rapid, of large fortunes. What has become of those which were held two or three generations back in Virginia? Many of the descendants of the ancient aristocracy, as it was called, of that state, are now in the most indigent condition. The best security against the demoralization of society, is the constant and profitable employment of its members. The greatest danger to public liberty is from idleness and vice. If manufactures form cities, so does commerce. And the disorders and violence which proceed from the contagion of the passions, are as frequent in one description of those communities as in the other. There is no doubt but that the yeomanry of a country is the safest depository of public liberty. In all time to come, and under any probable direction of the labor of our population, the agricultural class must be much the most numerous and powerful, and will ever retain, as it ought to retain, a preponderating influence in our councils. The extent and the fertility of our lands constitute an adequate security against an excess in manufactures, and also against oppression on the part of capitalists towards the laboring portions of the community.
Eleventh. The last objection, with a notice of which I shall trouble the committee, is, that the constitution does not authorize the passage of the bill. The gentleman from Virginia does not assert, indeed, that it is inconsistent with the express provisions of that instrument, but he thinks it incompatible with the spirit
of the constitution. If we attempt to provide for the internal improvement of the country, the constitution, according to some gentlemen, stands in our way. If we attempt to protect American industry against foreign policy and the rivalry of foreign industry, the constitution presents an insuperable obstacle. This constitution must be a most singular instrument ! It seems to be made for any other people than our own. Its action is altogether foreign. Congress has power to lay duties and imposts, under no other limitation whatever than that of their being uniform throughout the United States. But they can only be imposed, according to the honorable gentleman, for the sole purpose of revenue. This is a restriction which we do not find in the constitution. No doubt revenue was a principal object with the framers of the constitution in investing Congress with the power. But, in executing it, may not the duties and imposts be so laid as to secure domestic interests? Or is Congress denied all discretion as to the amount or the distribution of the duties and imposts ?
The gentleman from Virginia has, however, entirely mistaken the clause of the constitution on which we rely. It is that which gives to Congress the power to regulate commerce with foreign nations. The grant is plenary, without any limitation whatever, and includes the whole power of regulation, of which the subject to be regulated is susceptible. It is as full and complete a grant of the power, as that is to declare war. What is a regulation of commerce? It implies the admission or exclusion of the objects of it, and the terms. Under this power some articles, by the existing laws, are admitted freely, others are subjected to duties so high as to amount to their prohibition, and various rates of duties are applied to others. Under this power, laws of total non-intercourse with some nations, and embargoes, producing an entire cessation of commerce with all foreign countries, have been, from time to time, passed. These laws, I have no doubt, met with the entire approbation of the gentle
man from Virginia. [Mr. Barbour said that he was not in Congress.] Wherever the gentleman was, whether on his farm or in the pursuit of that profession of which he is an ornament, I have no doubt that he gave his zealous support to the laws referred to.
The principle of the system under consideration has the sanction of some of the best and wisest men, in all ages, in foreign countries as well as in our own-of the Edwards, of Henry the Great, of Elizabeth, of the Colberts, abroad; of our Franklin, Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, at home. But it comes recommended to us by a higher authority than any of these, illustrious as they unquestionably are-by the master spirit of the age—that extraordinary man, who has thrown the Alexanders and the Casars infinitely further behind him than they stood in advance of the most eminent of their predecessors—that singular man, who, whether he was seated on his imperial throne, deciding the fate of nations and allotting kingdoms to the members of his family, with the same composure, if not with the same affection, as that with which a Virginia fa. ther divides his plantations among his children, or on the miserable rock of St. Helena, to which he was condemned by the cruelty and the injustice of his unworthy victors, is equally an object of the most intense admiration. He appears to have comprehended, with the rapidity of intuition, the true interests of a state, and to have been able, by the turn of a single expression, to develope the secret springs of the policy of cabinets.
[Mr. Clay here quoted, from Las Casas, an extract wliich proved that Napoleon considered the principal object of imposing duties on imports, to be to afford protection to domestic industry; and that to afford such protection, was the true policy of every nation with great natural resources. The extract also de. scribed the manner in which, by prohibiting the importation of foreign fabrics, Napoleon “ naturalized the manufacture of cotton in France." Mr. Clay also made the following quotation from Lowe.
os It is now
above forty years, since the United States of America were definitely separated from us, and since their situation has afforded a proof that the benefit of mercantile intercourse may be retained in all its extent without the care of governing, or the expense of defending these once regretted provinces.”]
Mr. Chairman, our confederacy comprehends, within its vast limits, great diversity of interests: agricultural, planting, farming, commercial, navigating, fishing, manufacturing. No one of these interests is felt in the same degree, and cherished with the same solicitude, throughout all parts of the union. Some of them are peculiar to particular sections of our common country. But all these great interests are confided to the protection of one government—to the fate of one ship; and a most gallant ship it is, with a noble crew. If we prosper, and are happy, protection must be extended to all; it is due to all. It is the great principle on which obedience is demanded from all. If our essential interests cannot find protection from our own government against the policy of foreign powers, where are they to get it? We did not unite for sacrifice, but for preservation. The inquiry should be, in reference to the great interests of every section of the union, (I speak not of minute subdivi. sions,) what would be done for those interests if that section stood alone and separated from the residue of the republic? If the promotion of those interests would not injuriously affect any other section, then every thing should be done for them, which would be done if it formed a distinct government. If they come into absolute collision with the interests of another section, a reconciliation, if possible, should be attempted, by mutual concession, so as to avoid a sacrifice of the prosperity of either to that of the other. In such a case, all should not be done for one which
would be done if it were separated and independent, but something; and, in devising the measure, the
good of each part and of the whole should be carefully consulted. This is the only mode by which we