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AMERICAN MANUFACTURES AND EMIGRATION.
While we are not the advocates of special legislation on the part of our Government for the purpose of planting among us particular branches of industry, especially such as are not well adapted to our country, or to the genius of our people, we cannot refrain from taking deep interest in the development of manufacturing enterprise. Perhaps there is no vacation or department of labor more essential to national greatness. We may cultivate the soil, and render it sufficiently productive to nourish the inhabitants of other countries. We may dig the precious ores in quantities ample to supply every nation ; we may produce the fibre for every spindle and loom ; but so long as we require from other countries the principal manufactured wares necessary to our comfort, we lack a necessary element of independence. Our commerce, which ought to be a reciprocal exchange of values created by industry, is rendered, to a large extent, an agency to place us under a form of vassalage; for the taking of the products of the soil and mine abroad for manufacture, is but an element of dependence which tends to enfeeble a nation. Such a country is liable, upon the sudden recurrence of a war, to find itself in a pitiable condition indeed, deprived as it is, to a great degree, of the means of defence.
So conscious of this have the governments been that have beld countries and colonies in subjection, that it was long the practice to discourage, and even to prohibit, the people of such colonies engaging in manufactures. When Porsena conquered Rome he forbade the working of iron in that State, compelling it to depend upon the forges and furnaces of Etruria. The Phillistines, when they overrun the country of the Israelites, permitted no smith to work among them. The European nations of modern times, so far as lay in their power, carried out a like policy. The Dutch Gorernment made manufacturing a penal offence in the colony of New Netherland; and the British Parliament enacted laws against slitting mills and other branches of industry in their American provinces. But it is unde. cessary to multiply instances. It is evident that a state of dependence is not one of power.
This subject is invested with new interest by the events of the present period. Up to this time England has been able to retain her manufacturing supremacy, and the products of her looms now fill the markets of the world. Hitherto, her mills have produced at so low a price as to preclude successful competition. It was more profitable for the planter to raise cot. ton, and the farmer wool and breadstuffs for the manufacturing towns of England than to erect factories at home to convert the raw fibre into cloths, muslins and other articles of prime necessity. Statesmen often sought to change this condition by special legislation, not being sufficiently far-sighted to perceive that they were attempting to set aside the omnipotent laws of trade. They have always failed, of course, to take away from England her supremacy. It was not legislation which could remedy the matter, but a law higher than man could devise.
Agencies are, however, now in operation, wbich are almost certain to modify this condition of things
, and to give our people greater importance among manufacturing nations. We place no dependence upon the re. markable declaration of Mr. Gladstone in regard to the exhaustion of the
VOL, LV.-NO, V.
coal beds of England. It is a contingency too remote to be taken into calculation, while science and commerce can both be pressed into service to obviate the difficulty. But there is another agency at work, more rapid in its influence and more sure to accomplish the result. We refer to the equalizing movement now going on in the emigration that is taking place at prodigious and constantly increasing rates.
The supremacy of England as a manufacturing country has been due to the cheap prices of labor. Her dense population has produced manufactured goods at rates low enough to enable the merchants to undersell Americans even in our own markets. As long as this condition could be maintained we were dependent upon that country for our supplies. But there has been a change taking place for several years. The wages of English operatives have been steadily iucreasing. With this improvement in their circumstances comes, naturally, the acquirement of more expensive habits. Better food has been obtained, better clothing worn; pot only has the importation of breadstuffs been continued as heretofore, but other articles, like beef and the products of the dairy, have been added to the requirements of the laboring population. The European supply of these products is annually falling shorter, and the demand is at the same time increasing rapidly. This necessarily tends not only to keep up the rates of wages, but to make it necessary to increase them, and is telling upon the manufacturing enterprise of the country. Thus, while the better classes of operatives--the more skillsul laborers--are swelling the multitude of emigrants that are coming weekly to the United States to better their condition, those who remain are demanding, and must receive, a large increase in their rates of wages.
The cheapness of labor has enabled England to control the enterprise of other countries. She could import cotton, wool, and other raw material for her factories, and breadstuffs for the operatives, and, by reason of the low price of work, could keep the price of manufactured goods lower than they could be afforded where Jabor was better remunerated. But this is impossible when a considerable increase of wages sball have taken place. Of course, we predict no immediate violent change. The influence of this movement, however, wbich is even now being felt, will gradually work out the result indicated, enabling our manufacturers to successfully compete in foreign markets. In all particulars, except the one of labor, our advantages have ever been greatly superior. We produce the raw material for most classes of manufacture, not only cotton and wool, but the most important metals; our country is an immense coal field; almost every State in the Union abounds with water power enough for all the mills and forges of the world, and generally running waste; we produce all the food required for laborers. With the enormous influx, then, of population, we will have the last impediment removed to successful competition with every other country.
This does not involve the necessity of reducing the price of labor 85 low as the rates in Europe. To be sure whenever values shall become properly adjusted, there will be important modifications in that particular. But another element in computation will exist of which our laborers will have the principal benefit. While the operatives in England require that both material and food sball be shipped to them at enormous waste of capital for transportation, our workmen will have all these supplied at
their hand from our own fields. The importance of this fact can readily be perceived.
Another important consideration is the fact that a few years will give to the United States the control of the commerce of China and the other countries of the East Indies. The Pacific Railroad when finished will, with its collateral routes, make a speedy transit from ocean to ocean; all Asia will thus be brought into communication with the United States in a period of time many days shorter than can be effected with any commercial town of Europe. We thus not only gain this eastern trade, but have the facility for easily, distributing our products aud manufactures in the East, giving us a transit to an extensive market, cheaper because nearer, than any other country possesses. Hence we see that emigration —this equalizing movement-must in the end necessarily work out a change which will be hastened and rendered more certain and complete by other agencies now or soon to be at work.
PRICES OF BREADSTUFFS.
The prevailing high prices for flour and grain naturally excite considerable interest, not only in commercial circles, but among all classes. In most branches of trade there is a stubborn dullness of business, which is interpreted as foreshadowing a reaction from the general high range of values; and, at such a period, it is a matter of no little consequence that the prices of breadstuffs—which have a direct bearing upon the price of labor, and therefore upon the cost of products generally-should have suddenly advanced to the present extraordinary quotations. If there be substantial grounds for the current high rates for flour and corn, there is undoubtedly reason for moderating the prevailing anticipations of a general fall in prices. It is, therefore, of the first practical consequence to the industrial interests of the country that correct views should prevail upon the question of the real value of breadstuffs.
In no previous year has the price of cereals ranged so high during the fall months as at present, not even excepting the autumn of 1864, when gold was 82@100 points above its present premium. For the purpose of illustrating the comparative prices of flour we present the following quotations at New York for the several qualities, at the close of October for seven years : Superfine State.
$10 25 $7 25 $9 75 $5 75 $5 90 95 60 $5 25
8 00 8 25 8 80 9 25 10 00 14 00
5 45 5 75 5 75 6 25 5 76 6 25
8 00 6 80 8 00 180
It will thus be seen that the quotations for flour range from 45 to 50 per cent. above those of one year ago on all except the Southern qualities, which are 20 to 30 per cent. higher. Compared with the same date of 1863, when gold was at about the same point as now, present prices are 60 to 125 per cent. higher, “ extra State” showing an advance of 95 per cent., and “ Round Hoop Ohio" 73 per cent. Reducing the currency quotations to gold, the following would represent the gold value of the latter grade of flour on 31st of October, for the past seven years : 1866 $8 56 1862...
$5 38 1865. 6 03 1861
6 00 1864. 4 89 1860...
5 75 1863...
It will be seen, from this comparison, that this particular brand of flour is now 42 per cent. higher than at the same period of any of the six last years, and 75 per cent. above the price of two years ago.
The principal conceivable conditions warranting such extraordinary prices are, either a deficient barvest, a bad condition of the wheat crop, a short supply of some other food product, or an extraordinary foreign demand. It would be difficult to show, however, that any one of these conditions has any actual influence in the present case.
It is fair to conclude, not only from the general tenor of Western reports, but also from the statistics furnished in the last report of the Commissioner of Agriculture, tbat the wheat crop of the country is fully up to the average in amount, and beyond the average in condition. The corn crop is universally acknowledged to be unprecedentedly large; the report of Commissioner Newton placing it at the remarkable figure of one thousand million busbels, or 65 per cent. in excess of the liberal crop of 1860. This fact is of importance in estimating the value of wheat; inasmuch as any deficiency in the latter crop is readily compersated by a substitution of corn. The large volume of grain and flour moved to market since the barvest is also against the supposition of a deficient supply. The imports of flour and grain into Buffalo by Lake and Grand Trunk Railroad, for the month of October, compare with those of the same month of the five preceding years as follows:
Grain, Grain, ircluding bush.
flour, bosh. 270,414 7,879,424 9,231,494
291,963 7,885,690 9,345,505 1864..
229,048 4,731,044 5,876,284 1863...
454,041 7,121,913 9,392,118 1862....
390,710 9.777,654 11,731,504
In the receipts of flour at Buffalo, there is a falling off to the extent of about 22} per cent. compared with an average of the same nionth for the four last years. This, bowever, is to some extent to be accounted for by the limitation of the receipts via the Grand Trunk Road, consequent upos the abrogation of the Reciprocity Treaty. The imports of grain tor the month are equal to an average of the last four years. The receipts at Chicago for the expired portion of the year show a very large gain upon those for the same period of last year, as will appear from the following comarison :
Flour, bbls. Wheat, bush, Corn, bash Fron January 1 to October 20, 1866
1,378,040 8,924.219 29 293,887 1865.
The following will show the comparative receipts of flour and grain at the ports of Milwaukee, Chicago, Toledo, Detroit and Cleveland, from Jan. 1st to Nov. 3, for 1865 and 1866 : Flour, bbls.....
23,363,637 23,216,278 Corn, bush
36,496,858 26,240,226 Oats, bush..
11,863,419 11,894,151 Barley, bush...
1,578,130 1,457,776 Rye, bush.
1,933,048 1,203,523 Totals grain.
75,234,092 64,011,954 Increase flour, bbls...
468,780 Increase grain, bush.
11,222,138 It would certainly be difficult to discover in the foregoing statistics any evidence of a short supply of wheat or corn.
Nor can the current prices of breadstuffs be sustained upon the pretence of an unsound condition of the crops, or a failure in some other food products, calling for an increased consumption of flour. For the stormy weather in August and September which, it was feared, would injure the growing crops, was found to leave them unscathed; while the root crops are generally ample in yield and exempt from disease.
The export movement has not yet proved large enough to justify any material advance in prices. The shipments of flour to Great Britain, our chief foreign market, have been somewhat larger than last year, but the increase has been nearly compensated by a largely diminished export to the continent of Europe. We annex a statement of the exports of flour, wheat and corn, from all ports to Great Britain and the Continent, from September 1st to the dates next to the close of October:
Corn, To Great Britain...
21,147 716,419 2,089,832 The Continent,
21,347 716,419 2,089,904 Total 1865...
14,395 305,759 1,545,797 do 1864..
31,951 1,046,496 56,938 do 1863.
278,997 3,256,528 239,459 Thus, the exports of flour and wheat for the last two months are seen to be less than the average for the same period of the last two years, and are quite nominal as compared with those of 1863. There is, therefore, nothing whatever in the export demand to account for the prevailing high prices. Nor does there appear to be anything in the condition of the foreign markets to justify the supposition that the demand from that source will be such as io warrant extraordinarily high prices for American breadstuffs. From the latest accounts, it appears that the deficiency of the British wheat crop is not very considerable, and the probability is that the importation into the United Kingdom will not range materially above the average. The importations, however, cannot be drawn from France to the important