Clement Laird Vallandigham, July 10, 1861, Speech, House of Representatives. Partial Address.
...And thus it was, sir, that the necessities of a party in the pangs of dissolution, in the very hour and article of death, demanding vigorous measures, which could result in nothing but civil war, renewed secession, and absolute and eternal disunion, were preferred and hearkened to before the peace and harmony and prosperity of the whole country.
But there was another and yet stronger impelling cause, without which this horrid calamity of civil war might have been postponed, and, perhaps, finally averted. One of the last and worst acts of a Congress which, born in bitterness and nurtured in convulsion, literally did those things which it ought not to have done, and left undone those things which it ought to have done, was the passage of an obscure, ill-considered, ill-digested, and unstatesmanlike high protective tariff act, commonly known as "THE MORRILL TARIFF." Just about the same time, too, the Confederate Congress, at Montgomery, adopted our old tariff of 1857, which we had rejected to make way for the Morrill act, fixing their rate of duties at five, fifteen, and twenty per cent, lower than ours. The result was as inevitable as the laws of trade are inexorable. Trade and commerce—and especially the trade and commerce of the West—began to look to the South. Turned out of their natural course, years ago, by the canals and railroads of Pennsylvania and New York, and diverted eastward at a heavy cost to the West, they threatened now to resume their ancient and accustomed channels—the watercourses—the Ohio and the Mississippi. And political association and union, it was well known, must soon follow the direction of trade and interest. The city of New York, the great commercial emporium of the Union, and the North-west, the chief granary of the Union—began to clamor now, loudly, for a repeal of the pernicious and ruinous tariff. Threatened thus with the loss of both political power and wealth, or the repeal of the tariff, and, at last, of both, New England—and Pennsylvania, too, the land of Penn, cradled in peace—demanded, now, coercion and civil war, with all its horrors, as the price of preserving either from destruction...
"coercion and civil war, with all its horrors, as the price of preserving [New England and Pennsylvania] from destruction [from Southern trade and union with the West]."
Congressional Globe, 36th Congress, 1st session, April 30, 1860. Beginning of the Speech of Hon. S. Moore, of Alabama, In The House of Representatives.
Mr. Chairman: Regarding the tariff bill now under consideration as the most important measure, so far as the interests of my constituents are concerned, of any which has been introduced into Congress since I have had the honor of a seat on this floor. I cannot in silence permit it to become a law. A dozen or more speeches have already been made in its support, while no voice has, as yet, been raised against it. I regret that some one of the many older and abler champions of free trade who are around me had not taken up the glove so defiantly thrown at our feet by the advocates of protection. As none, however, have done so, I feel impelled by a sense of duty to enter my most emphatic and indignant protest against the passage of this bill, and my dissent from the principles which have been avowed by its friends. If I do no more, I shall at least, to that extent, have discharged the duty I owe to those whom I represent. From the examination I have been able to give this bill, I consider it highly objectionable; and if unfortunately, it should become law, my opinion is that it will prove scarcely less oppressive than did the memorable tariff act of 1828, known throughout the South as the bill of abominations….
Tariff Legislation 1859-1862, Frank Williams Prescott
1860- Debates on the Morrill Bill in the House of Representatives.
The first speech in opposition was by Moore of Alabama, on April 30. He claimed that manufacturers of iron and wool were getting a bounty on their goods and the people were paying the tax. A large portion of his constituency shouldered burdens foisted upon them by the North -- there was no need of revision. Urging economy, he charged the Republicans with extravagance (a favorite congressional diversion.) However, he did not acquit the administration of improvident expenditures with their "marble front post offices, etc." He asserted that sectional interests were paramount, Pennsylvania iron masters and manufacturers were attempting to cram their bill down Southern throats. He had little to say of the existing tariff, but lauded the Act of 1846 as a "revenue measure." This bill would amount to prohibition, he thought, and although the South would refuse to be bled for the manufacturing North, she was willing to pay her just share for themaintenance of the government.
Houston of Alabama, declared that the increase of revenue was a pretext. He defended the Secretary of the Treasury's statistics and asked for a decrease of extravagance. The law of 1857 had net been permitted a fair trial on account of unusual business conditions; indications were prevalent that customs revenue was gradually increasing with the approach of better times. The new bill proposed a tax on the people. The prohibitive rates on the other hand, would lessen the government's revenue. Duties were largely on necessities. Manufacturers were prospering as well as any other class at the time -- the bill would let in articles now paying duty. He gave an extensive tabulation of imports for the previous year; the revenue and a comparison with provisions of the new bill based on the amount of imports for the same year. At the close of his argument he submitted a substitute for the bill.
New York Times, April-May, 1860
Mr. HOUSTON, of Alabama, (Dem.,) argued that the existing law had not been fairly and properly tested, and, therefore, was unwilling to supersede it by another act of legislation. Its friends calculated it would yield fifty millions annually, but this year the receipts would reach six millions more, and next year, according to the estimates of the Secretary of the Treasury, sixty millions. Then why should they assess a higher tax simply to collect a higher amount of revenue? His view was that we should leave commerce unshackled and should collect money only to defray the expenses and pay the debts of the Government.
(Submitted By David Upton)
Edited Thu Dec 22 2011, 05:26PM
Here's part of Sydenham Moore's speech on the Morrill tariff bill. Sounds like he's ready to go to war over it- "...Mr. Chairman, the honorable gentleman from Vermont, [Mr. Morrill] and all who have thus spoken in favor of this bill, openly advocate protection for the sake of protection...I can only account for it from the fact, admitted by the honorable gentleman from Pennsylvania the other day, that the tariff question was no longer a financial, but a sectional question. The gentleman well knows that while the chief burdens will fall on the South, his constituents will be benefitted by a high protective tariff..."
"...Go on, then, gentlemen; pass this odious protective tariff bill; legalize the robbery of the South. We are in a small minority here, and therefore powerless to protect our constituents. What they may do hereafter I know not...."
Sydenham Moore, House of Representatives, April 30, 1860