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complish the task we have assumed. Though surrounded by manufacturers and their agents, all anxious (doubtless for the good of the nation) to promote its passage-generously willing, out of their abundant stores of knowledge and experience, to supply all our deficiencies; have we not found it impossible to penetrate the veil, thrown around the pursuits in which they are engaged? I will appeal with confidence, to the senate, and ask, whether the most notorious facts have not been denied or perverted, and the most contradictory statements submitted; and whether we are not, at this moment, left in profound ignorance, not only of the actual rate of profits, but of the true condition of every branch of manufacturing industry? We do not, we cannot know, therefore, either the degree of protection wanted, or the best means of extending it. Are not the provisions of the bill exactly conformable to this state of our information? I will venture to assert, that no bill was ever introduced into any legislative body in this, or any other country, composed of such heterogeneous provisions, and contradictory principles. Here is said to be a “flourishing manufacture," and therefore, it is to be encouraged by excluding the foreign article; here is “ a languishing establishment," and it must be sustained, while such as have no existence, are to be created; some, because they require much skill and large capitals, and others, because they require neither skill nor capital. Some branches of industry are to be encouraged because others are 4 overdone”—but these must also be protected “ against foreign competition threatening to destroy them.” There are duties on the manufactured articles, and duties on the raw material; and, in short, the whole bill is such a tissue of inconsistencies, that the intelligent Chairman of the committee, does not pretend to know, and has certainly not attempted to explain, either the amount of duties, which it will impose, or the degree of protection which it will extend to any branch of industry. In attempting to gratify the wishes of interested individuals, we are legislating
in the dark, and by wholesale ; distributing the national funds by a species of state lottery; scattering abroad bounties and premiums, of unknown amount; and all this, without the rational prospect of producing any effect, except that of sowing the seeds of dissension among the people, and thereby introducing mischiefs, which may last_to the remotest generations. are literally, Mr. President, opening a Pandora's box, of political evils, which, when they have gone abroad, will not leave even hope at the bottom.
This system of regulating, by law, the private pursuits of men or,—what amounts to the same thingpassing laws for increasing the profits of certain employments, and lessening the profits of others, there. by, driving men from the pursuits of their choice to those which the government is pleased to favor, has, it is true, been sanctioned by the practice of other nations, and comes down to us, from the remotest ages. But I consider it, sir, only, as a part of that system of tyranny and arbitrary rule, to which men have been subjected in every age. If it has become venerable, it is only from time—and, like monarchy, has no claims to our respect, but its antiquity. I admit, that in England, the industry of individuals has always been thus regulated. We know, that in that country, emigration is in many cases prohibited—that the wages of labor, and employment of capital, and even the price of commodities, are, in various ways, directed and controlled. In other parts of Europe, the doctrine of regulation, is carried still further, and a man's religious and political opinions, as well as his pursuits, are taken “ in the holy keeping” of those, whose only qualification for the task, consists in their anxious desire to keep down the aspirations of the immortal mind, and make mere machines of beings, who have been endowed by their Creator with the noblest faculties, and for the noblest purposes.
Sir, it would afford matter for curious speculation, if the various regulations, by which men have been controlled in their pursuits. could be presented in one view
to our consideration. In England, we find, that, in the reign of Henry IV. the crown was authorized by an act of parliament, to order 6 one rood of flax or hemp to be planted for every sixty acres cultivated in other grains," and this was done for the purpose, (as it is quaintly expressed,) “ of making of nets and eschewing of idleness.” It is, in the east, however, that we find the system, advocated by the gentlemen on the other side, carried to the greatest perfection: we know that, in some parts of that country, the people are divided into casts, and every man is compelled to pursue the trade of his father. Not only the occupation of the people, but their food, their language, and even their names are prescribed; and we are told, that in China, “ the power of the emperor, is exercised even on the dead, on whom he confers titles of honor, or according to their language, makes them naked spirits.” Without dwelling, however, on this topic, I will concede all the gentlemen can ask; I will admit, that governments have everywhere, and in every age, presumed to regulate man in all his pursuits. Every thing, connected with his existence from the cradle to the grave, nay, beyond the grave; the language he shall speak—the name he shall bear-the food he shall eat the trade he shall follow-what he shall sow, and what he shall reap-his hours of labor and of rest—the place in which he shall dwell—the opinions he shall cherish or express—the books he shall read, and the God he shall worship; every thing, in short, which belongs to him as a created being, is the subject of arbitrary regulation, and man is made a creature without heart, or soul, or mind, a mere machine, obedient to the will of the human artist, who puts it into operation. But, sir, we were taught to believe, that the establishment of our government, formed a new era in the history of the world, and that the practical operation of our constitution, was destined to exhibit a splendid example of the perfection to which man would attain, when freed from the shackles which had been imposed on him in other countries. We were taught to expect that a
government, instituted by the people, and administered for their benefit alone-where the human mind would be left without restraint to pursue its own happiness, in its own way-must, by its good fruits, recommend a free system to all nations. I can well recollect, sir, that among the first lessons instilled into my mind, that which made the deepest and most lasting impression, was to consider the Republican Institutions of my country, like the air which we breathe, as bestowing life, and health, and happiness, without our being conscious of the means, by which these inestimable gifts are conferred; like the Providence of God, unfelt and unseen, yet dispensing the richest blessings to all the children of men.
But, these, we are told, are the illusions of the imagination. Man cannot be safely left to mark out his own course to happiness; but here, as elsewhere, the various employments of industry, and capital, must be so artificially arranged and balanced, as to produce results to be prescribed by law. We have been further told, sir, that our beloved country is in a state of such unparalleled suffering, that desperate remedies have become necessary to save the people, I presume, from “ their worst enemies, themselves.": One honorable gentleman, attributes our calamities to over importation—the balance of trade—the drain of specie, and so forth—and told us, " that in three years, every dollar in the country would be exported, and in three more the fee simple of our soil, would be held by the agents of the British merchants.”. This gloomy picture of our condition, would certainly excite the most melancholy sensations, if its extravagance did not provoke a smile.
To understand the true remedy for existing evils, we must ascertain their nature and extent, and know the causes which produced them. I beg the indulgence of the senate, whilst I prosecute these inquiries. That the country is in a state of depression, I will freely admit; but, I insist that the pictures of the great distress and acute sufferings of the people are exaggerated. This will be perceived at once, by a bare
recurrence to some of the blessings which we are acknowledged to possess. All classes of our people are supplied with food-not, as in many parts of Europe, of a single kind, and of insufficient quantity, but in great variety and in vast abundance; they have convenient dwellings, sufficient fuel, and warm and comfortable clothing, and these blessings are possessed to an extent which leaves no room for complaint in any part of the country; we possess, too, the means of educating our children-colleges have advanced with a rapidity heretofore unexampled, and common schools are daily springing up, even in the wilderness; a religion, pure and undefiled, sheds its blessings on our heads; and, to crown the whole, the spirit of liberty walks abroad in our land, crushing the oppressor, inculcating the lessons of wisdom and of virtue, giving protection to the weak and security to all. Now, Mr. President, if any monarch in Europe could, by pursuing a wise and liberal policy, bring the mass of his subjects into this condition, (which we are told is so “ wretched,”) he would be followed by the blessings of his people, and would command the admiration of the world. It was an object of the ambition, (if I mistake not,) of the great Frederick, to make his subjects so prosperous, " that every family should enjoy the luxury, on the Sabbath day, of a meat dinner," but he died without attaining it. In our country, however, where is the individual so poor, or so humble, as not to ** laugh to scorn" a proposition to secure him such a luxury every day in the week?
When I admit, therefore, that the country is in a state of depression, I must not be understood as conceding, that there is any want of the necessaries or conveniences of life; no, sir, that depression consists entirely in diminished prices for the produce of our labor, and is not confined, as gentlemen have supposed, to certain places, or to particular employments, but embraces the whole country, and is almost equally felt by all classes in society. It is also lamentably true, that men in the middle and higher ranks of life are