The Un-Civil War | Shattering the Historical Myths Leonard M. “Mike” Scruggs
Mike Scruggs is a real estate broker living in Hendersonville, N. C. Previously he was an investment executive with a major Wall Street firm. He holds a BS from the University of Georgia and an MBA from Stanford University.
A former USAF intelligence officer and navigator, he is a decorated combat veteran of the Vietnam War. His military awards include The Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart, and several Air Medals.
His previous books include The Un-Civil War: Truths Your Teacher Never Told You (2006) and Lessons From the Vietnam War: Truths the Media Never Told You (2009).
He writes weekly commentaries for the Asheville Tribune, Hendersonville Tribune in North Carolina and The Times Examiner in South Carolina.
He is recipient of the North Carolina Society of Historians prestigious D. T. Smithwick Award for Excellence.
The Un-Civil War | Shattering the Historical Myths
Chapter 4 The Morrill Tariff Understanding the Real Causes of the War
Most Americans believe the U. S. “Civil War” was over slavery. They have to an enormous degree been miseducated. The means and timing of handling the slavery question were at issue, although not in the overly simplified moral sense that lives in postwar and modern propaganda. But had there been no Morrill Tariff there might never have been a war. The conflict that cost the lives of 620,000 Union and Confederate soldiers and perhaps as many as 50,000 Southern civilians and impoverished many millions for generations might never have been.
A smoldering issue of unjust taxation that enriched Northern manufacturing states and exploited the agricultural South was fanned to a furious blaze in 1860. It was the Morrill Tariff that stirred the smoldering embers of regional mistrust and ignited the fires of Secession in the South. This precipitated a Northern reaction and call to arms that would engulf the nation in the flames of war for four years. Prior to the U. S. “Civil War” there was no U. S. income tax. In 1860, approximately 95% of U. S. government revenue was raised by a tariff on imported goods. A tariff is a tax on selected imports, most commonly finished or manufactured products. A high tariff is usually legislated not only to raise revenue, but also to protect domestic industry form foreign competition. By placing such a high protective tariff on imported goods
The Morrill Tariff 38
it makes them more expensive to buy than the same domestic goods. This allows domestic industries to charge higher prices and make more money on sales that might otherwise be lost to foreign competition because of cheaper prices (without the tariff) or better quality. This, of course, causes domestic consumers to pay higher prices and have a lower standard of living. Tariffs on some industrial products also hurt other domestic industries that must pay higher prices for goods they need to make their products. Because the nature and products of regional economies can vary widely, high tariffs are sometimes good for one section of the country, but damaging to another section of the country. High tariffs are particularly hard on exporters since they must cope with higher domestic costs and retaliatory foreign tariffs that put them at a pricing disadvantage. This has a depressing effect on both export volume and profit margins. High tariffs have been a frequent cause of economic disruption, strife, and war.
Prior to 1824 the average tariff level in the U. S. had been in the 15 to 20% range. This was thought sufficient to meet federal revenue needs and not excessively burdensome to any section of the country. The increase of the tariff to a 20% average in 1816 was ostensibly to help pay for the War of 1812. It also represented a 26% net profit increase to Northern manufacturers.
In 1824 Northern manufacturing states and the Whig Party under the leadership of Henry Clay began to push for high protective tariffs. These were strongly opposed by the South. The Southern economy was largely agricultural and geared to exporting a large portion of its cotton and tobacco crops to Europe. In the 1850’s the South accounted for anywhere from 72 to 82% of U. S. exports. They were largely dependent, however, on Europe or the North for the manufactured goods needed for both agricultural production and consumer goods. Northern states received about 20% of the South’s agricultural production. The vast majority of export volume went to Europe. A protective tariff was a substantial benefit to Northern manufacturing states, but meant considerable economic hardship for the agricultural South.
Northern political dominance enabled Clay and his allies in Congress to pass a tariff averaging 35% late in 1824. This was the cause of economic boom in the North, but economic hardship and political agitation in the South. South Carolina was especially hard hit, the State’s exports falling 25% over the next two years. In 1828 in a demonstration
The Morrill Tariff 39 of unabashed partisanship and unashamed greed the Northern dominated Congress raised the average tariff level to 50%.
Despite strong Southern agitation for lower tariffs the Tariff of 1832 only nominally reduced the effective tariff rate and brought no relief to the South. These last two tariffs are usually termed in history as the Tariffs of Abomination.
This led to the Nullification Crisis of 1832 when South Carolina called a state convention and “nullified” the 1828 and 1832 tariffs as unjust and unconstitutional. The resulting constitutional crisis came very near provoking armed conflict at that time. Through the efforts of former U. S. Vice President and U. S. Senator from South Carolina, John C. Calhoun, a compromise was effected in 1833 which over a few years reduced the tariff back to a normal level of about 15%. Henry Clay and the Whigs were not happy, however, to have been forced into a compromise by Calhoun and South Carolina’s Nullification threat. The tariff, however, remained at a level near 15% until 1860. A lesson in economics, regional sensitivities, and simple fairness should have been learned from this confrontation, but if it was learned, it was ignored by ambitious political and business factions and personalities that would come on the scene of American history in the late 1850’s.
High protective tariffs were always the policy of the old Whig Party and had become the policy of the new Republican Party that replaced it. A recession beginning around 1857 gave the cause of protectionism an additional political boost in the Northern industrial states.
In May of 1860 the U. S. Congress passed the Morrill Tariff Bill (named for Republican Congressman and steel manufacturer, Justin S. Morrill of Vermont) raising the average tariff from about 15% to 37% with increases to 47% within three years. Because more items were covered, tariff revenues were approximately tripled. Although this was remarkably reminiscent of the Tariffs of Abomination which had led in 1832 to a constitutional crisis and threats of secession and armed force, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Bill 105 to 64. Out of 40 Southern Congressmen only one Tennessee Congressman voted for it.
U. S. tariff revenues already fell disproportionately on the South, accounting for 87% of the total even before the Morrill Tariff. While the tariff protected Northern industrial interests, it raised the cost of living and commerce in the South substantially. It also reduced the trade value
The Morrill Tariff 40
of their agricultural exports to Europe. These combined to place a severe economic hardship on many Southern states. Even more galling was that 80% or more of these tax revenues were expended on Northern public works and industrial subsidies, thus further enriching the North at the expense of the South.
In the 1860 election, Lincoln, a former Whig and great admirer of Henry Clay, campaigned for the high protective tariff provisions of the Morrill Tariff, which had also been incorporated into the Republican Party Platform. Thaddeus Stevens, the most powerful Republican in Congress and one of the co-sponsors of the Morrill Tariff, told an audience in New York City on September 27, 1860, that the two most important issues of the Presidential campaign were preventing the extension of slavery to new states and an increase in the tariff, but that the most important of the two was increasing the tariff. Stevens, a Pennsylvania iron manufacturer, was also one of the most radical abolitionists in Congress. He told the New York audience that the tariff would enrich the northeastern states and impoverish the southern and western states, but that it was essential for advancing national greatness and the prosperity of industrial workers. Stevens, who would become virtually the “boss’ of America after the assassination of Lincoln, advised the crowd that if Southern leaders objected, they would be rounded up and hanged.
Two days before Lincoln’s election in November of 1860, an editorial in the Charleston Mercury summed up the feeling of South Carolina on the impending national crisis:
“The real causes of dissatisfaction in the South with the North, are in the unjust taxation and expenditure of the taxes by the Government of the United States, and in the revolution the North has effected in this government, from a confederated republic, to a national sectional despotism.”
With the election of Lincoln and strengthened Northern dominance in Congress, Southern leaders in South Carolina and the Gulf states began to call for secession. The U.S. Senate finally passed the Morrill Tariff on March 2, 1861, on an outrageously partisan vote. Not a single Southern Senator voted for it. It was immediately signed into law by President James Buchanan, a Pennsylvania Democrat. Lincoln endorsed the Tariff in his March 4 inaugural speech and promised to enforce it even on seceding Southern states. The South was filled with righteous indignation.
The Morrill Tariff 41
At first Northern public opinion as reflected in Northern newspapers of both parties recognized the right of the Southern States to secede and favored peaceful separation. A November 21, 1860, editorial in the Cincinnati Daily Press said this:
“We believe that the right of any member of this Confederacy to dissolve its political relations with the others and assume an independent position is absolute.”
The New York Times on March 21, 1861, reflecting the great majority of editorial opinion in the North summarized in an editorial:
“There is a growing sentiment throughout the North in favor of letting the Gulf States go.”
Northern industrialists became nervous, however, when they realized a tariff dependent North would be competing against a free-trade South. They feared not only loss of tax revenue, but considerable loss of trade. Newspaper editorials began to reflect this nervousness. Events in April would engulf the nation in cataclysmic war.
Lincoln met secretly on April 4, 1861, with Colonel John Baldwin, a delegate to the Virginia Secession Convention. Baldwin, like a majority of that convention would have preferred to keep Virginia in the Union. But Baldwin learned at that meeting that Lincoln was already committed to taking some military action at Fort Sumter in South Carolina. He desperately tried to persuade Lincoln that military action against South Carolina would mean war and also result in Virginia’s secession. Baldwin tried to persuade Lincoln that if the Gulf States were allowed to secede peacefully, historical and economic ties would eventually persuade them to reunite with the North. Lincoln’s decisive response was,
“And open Charleston, etc. as ports of entry with their ten percent tariff? What then would become of my tariff?”
Despite Colonel Baldwin’s advice, on April 12, 1861, Lincoln manipulated the South into firing on the tariff collection facility of Fort Sumter in volatile South Carolina. This achieved an important Lincoln objective. Northern opinion was now enflamed against the South for “firing on the flag.” Three days later Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the Southern “rebellion”. This caused the Border States to secede along with the Gulf States. Lincoln undoubtedly calculated that the mere
The Morrill Tariff 42
threat of force backed by a now more unified Northern public opinion would quickly put down secession. His gambit, however, failed spectacularly and would erupt into a terrible and costly war for four years.
Shortly after Lincoln’s call to put down the “rebellion;” a prominent Northern politician wrote to Colonel Baldwin to enquire what Union men in Virginia would do now. His response was:
“There are now no Union men in Virginia. But those who were Union men will stand to their arms, and make a fight which shall go down in history as an illustration of what a brave people can do in defense of their liberties, after having exhausted every means of pacification.”
The Union Army’s lack of success early in the war, the need to keep anti-slavery England from coming into the war on the side of the South, and Lincoln’s need to appease the radical abolitionists in the North led to increased promotion of freeing the slaves as a noble cause to justify what was really a dispute over fair taxation and States Rights.
Writing in December of 1861 in a London weekly publication, the famous English author, Charles Dickens, who was a strong opponent of slavery, said these things about the war going on in America:
“The Northern onslaught upon slavery is no more than a piece of specious humbug disguised to conceal its desire for economic control of the United States.”
Karl Marx, like most European socialists of the time, favored the North. In an 1861 article published in England, he articulated very well what the major British newspapers, The Times, The Economist, and Saturday Review, had been saying:
“The war between the North and South is a tariff war. The war, is further, not for any principle, does not touch the question of slavery, and in fact turns on the Northern lust for power.”
The Tariff question and the States Rights question were therefore strongly linked. Both are linked to the broader issues of limited government and a strong Constitution. The Morrill Tariff dealt the South a flagrant political injustice and impending economic hardship and crisis. It therefore made Secession a very compelling alternative to an exploited and unequal union with the North.
The Morrill Tariff 43
How to handle the slavery question was an underlying tension between North and South, but only one of many tensions. It cannot be said to be the cause of the war. Fully understanding the slavery question and its relations to those tensions is beyond our scope here, but numerous historical facts demolish the propagandistic morality play that a virtuous North invaded the evil South to free the slaves. Five years after the end of the War, prominent Northern abolitionist, attorney and legal scholar, Lysander Spooner, put it this way:
“All these cries of having ‘abolished slavery,’ of having ‘saved the country,’ of having ‘preserved the Union,’ of establishing a ‘government of consent,’ and of ‘maintaining the national honor’ are all gross, shameless, transparent cheats—so transparent that they ought to deceive no one.”
Yet apparently many today are still deceived and even prefer to be deceived.
The Southern states had seen that continued union with the North would jeopardize their liberties and economic wellbeing. Through the proper constitutional means of state conventions and referendums they sought to withdraw from the Union and establish their independence just as the American Colonies had sought their independence from Great Britain in 1776 and for very similar reasons. The Northern industrialists, however, were not willing to give up their Southern Colonies.
In addition to the devastating loss of life and leadership during the War, the South suffered considerable damage to property, livestock, and crops. The policies of “Reconstruction” and “carpetbagger” state governments further exploited and robbed the South, considerably retarding economic recovery. Further, high tariffs and discriminatory railroad shipping taxes continued to favor Northern economic interests and impoverish the South for generations after the war. It is only in relatively recent history that the political and economic fortunes of the South have begun to rise.
Unjust taxation has been the cause of many tensions and much bloodshed throughout history. The Morrill Tariff was certainly a powerful factor predisposing the South to seek its independence and determine its own destiny. As outrageous and unjust as the Morrill Tariff was, its importance has been largely ignored and even purposely obscured. It does not fit the
The Morrill Tariff 44
politically correct images and myths of popular American history. Truth, however, is always the high ground. It will have the inevitable victory. Had it not been for the Morrill Tariff there would have been no rush to secession by Southern states and very probably no war. The Morrill Tariff of 1860, so unabashed and unashamed in its short-sighted, partisan greed, stands as an astonishing monument to the self-centered depravity of man and to its consequences. No wonder most Americans would like to see it forgotten and covered over with a more morally satisfying but largely false version of the causes of the Un-Civil War.
Charles Adams; For Good and Evil: The Impact of Taxes in the Course of Civilization, 1993.
Charles Adams; When in the Course of Human Events: Argueing the Case for Southern Secession, 2000.
Frank Conner; The South Under Siege 1830-2000; A History of the Relations Between North and South, 2002.
John G. Van Deusen; Economic Bases of Disunion in South Carolina, 1928. Reprinted by Crown Rights Book Company, 2003.
Thomas J. DiLorenzo; The Real Lincoln: A New Look at Abraham Lincoln, His Agenda, and an Unnecessary War, 2002.
Ludwell H. Johnson; North Against South: The American Iliad 1848-1977, 2002 printing.
Mark Thornton; Tariffs, Blockades and Inflation: The Economics of the Civil War, 2004.
Principal Reference and Recommended Listening
Dr. David Livingston; Rethinking Lincoln: Abe Lincoln and Slavery, Lectures at League of South Conference, 2000. Available on cassette or CD at Apologia Book Shoppe online. A valuable portion of this lecture concerns the Morrill Tariff.
I was going to post the entire text of the Morrill Tarriff act here but due to the length, some nine pages and thirty four sections, I will only post a link . To read the full bill go to ---http://www.nytimes.com/1861/02/28/news/the-new-tariff-bill-an-act.html?pagewanted=1
Note there is no section 4.
Edited Mon Apr 07 2014, 02:47PM
AMERICAN TOPICS IN ENGLAND.; WHAT IS SAID OF THE MORRILL TARIFF.
Published: March 23, 1861 From the London Times.
At a moment when the destinies of the great American Union are trembling in the balance and the Republic is menaced with the worst catastrophes of civil war, its Legislature is engaged upon a measure which seems calculated at once to alienate foreign nations, to embitter domestic strife, and to provide an inexhaustible aliment for the antagonism unhappily subsisting between the two sections of the Confederacy. The Bill called the Morrill Tariff bill is an act for the establishment of protective duties on a most extravagant scale. If it were designed to condemn the very principles of Free Trade and to introduce those of Protection, as forming the only true theory cf international commerce, it could not be more strongly framed. The duties imposed by the bill are not only immoderately high, but they are levied upon imports of the first necessity. The articles taxed are not mere luxuries, or commodities entering into the consumption of the opulent alone. It is upon cotton goods, woollen goods, and hardware that the imposts will fall, and so enormous are the duties proposed that the result can be little short of absolute prohibition. Cutlery is to be taxed upwards of 50 per cent. in the lowest instance, in the highest nearly 250. In addition to this, the bill enacts so many complicated arrangements, and throws such interminable obstruction in the way of business, that commerce will be next to impossible under conditions so difficult. We need not enter into the particulars of the act, which is said to be scarcely intelligible even to Americans themselves, but we can convey a very good idea of its character and purpose by observing, that if it should be passed it will almost prohibit all imports into the United States from England, France and Germany. That, and no less, is the effect anticipated from the measures in New-York itself. Of our own position under such circumstances we shall presently speak; but, as the consequences of the measure would be felt most deeply by the Americans themselves, we may give them the precedence in our remarks upon the subject.
It has been asserted in some quarters, with considerable emphasis, that Europe has entirely misapprehended the controversy between the Northern and Southern States of the Union. We are assured that the question of Slavery does not constitute the essence of the quarrel; that it has been merely introduced as a blind, or as an instrument of provocation, and that the real point of contention lies in the national Tariff. We do not believe in this explanation. We are convinced that the contest for territory is the real contest between North and South, but at the same time it would be impossible to deny that the South has always conceived its interests in the matter of tariffs to be opposed to those of the North, and that its desires to regulate its Custom's duties for itself has had a strong influence in determining its recent movements. The Southern States are agricultural and exporting countries. Free Trade is their natural system, and visibly so. The cotton planters perfectly understand that the commerce between the manufacturing States of Europe and the exporting States of America cannot be too free. They have always consistently objected to the Tariffs and Navigation Laws of the North. They do not wish to protect Pennsylvanian ironmasters or favor the factories of Lowell. They comprehend the views of the North in these respects, but do not share them. They have only one object, which is to get the highest price for the greatest quantity of cotton, and they wish accordingly for cheap freights and free trade. A fortnight ago the President of the new Southern Confederacy addressed his constituents in an inaugural speech, and after touching upon the perils of the crisis, and the possible obligations of the seceders, he proceeded to declare that the separation just consummated was, in reality, a political necessity, arising from the natural discordance between Northern and Southern interests. He argued deliberately and dispassionately that there was not enough congruity of interest to keep North and South together, that an antagonism had been unavoidably created between them by the very nature of things, and that a dissolution of the Union was not only a necessary, but an advantageous, result. We shall not attempt any analysis of these arguments. It will be sufficient for our purpose to remark that they are, at any rate, founded to some extent on fact, and that they will receive an enormous accession of force from the Tariff bill now before Congress. That bill would be far more detrimental to the interests of America than to those of Europe. The blow would do little damage to this country, but such a proposal at such a moment will look like a new sacrifice of the Southern States to the exigencies of the Northern, and will intensify the quarrel between them by jealousies which will survive after the political tempest has rolled away.
It has now become perfectly known that Protection in these matters is only another word for suicide, and that when a State establishes a prohibitory Tariff it is itself the sufferer from its own ordinances. If the backwoodsmen of America are to be deprived of good axes, and settlers of cheap clothing, the penalty will be paid by them. At the same time, however, though we shall not think the worse of America for this measure, except as regards her financial wisdom, we must needs remark that, as amity follows free trade, so is estrangement or indifference likely to follow commercial seclusion. It is rather an extraordinary reflection that what we have just been endeavoring to do at some cost as regards France, America should be proposing to undo as regards us. If friendship follows in the wake of trade, it must needs be exposed to decay when trade is prohibited. The Americans are at present not only our nearest kinsfolk, but our best customers, and whenever there has been a difference between us we have always remembered with peculiar gratification that a community of commercial interests bound us indissolubly together. We should be very sorry to lose this bond. We do not suppose, indeed, but what we can be as good friends as before, but unless the principles accepted on this subject are altogether false, the connection between the two countries must be weakened, and the interchange of opinions, as well as commodities, be somewhat disturbed. That, in fact, is the most disagreeable aspect of the whole case. As to the loss of custom, we can soon make that up. Our trade has now attained to such prodigious dimensions that no single nation, however important, can materially affect it by tariffs or legislation. We had a striking illustration of the fact in last year's returns. Out of a national business of L130,000,000, upwards of L50,000,000 is transacted with three principal customers -- the United States, the East Indies and Australia. Now, in 1860, these customers all rather fell off together, insomuch that in place of L51,000,000, our deliveries to them represented only L16,000,000. For all this, however, when the balance came to be struck, it was found that the aggregate trade of the year had been better than that of its predecessor, and that our L130,000,000 had risen to L135,000,000. South America bought largely of us -- to the extent, in fact, of nearly L12,000,000; Italy increased her demands, as did Turkey also, and it is obvious enough that the first two, at any rate, of these, may advance rapidly in the path of progress and trade. We feel, therefore, that if the people of the United States should refuse to purchase in our markets what it is for their own interest to buy, and if they should decide upon manufacturing for themselves the articles which we could send them at a less price and of a better quality, they, and they only, will be the losers. We shall find customers elsewhere. So long as we offer the best bargains we shall maintain our trade, and the consequences of a mistaken policy will fall upon the Americans alone. They will show the world that a purely Democratic Government can repudiate principles confessedly identified with popular interests: they will increase the materials for that sectional conflict which has already almost destroyed them, and they will plunge deliberately into errors which experience has everywhere condemned, and from which the States of the Old World are gradually and successfully escaping.
From the Times' City Article.
AMERICAN TOPICS IN ENGLAND.; WHAT IS SAID OF THE MORRILL TARIFF. Published: March 23, 1861
(Page 2 of 2)
The news from America to-day of the impending adoption of the Morrill Tariff Bill is far more fatal to the prospects of the United States than anything that could have been apprehended from the disunion movement. There are many who were disposed to believe that, freed from its harassing complications with the Slave States, the North would make more rapid strides than had yet been witnessed even on that Continent, and that the South, no longer irritated by the interference of Abolitionists, might, at the same time, gradually adopt those improvements in her institutions which would never be conceded to external influence. It was possible, therefore, to take even a sanguine view of the future in the midst of all existing embarrassments. But the new tariff bill is equal to a retrogression of half a century. Not only are its provisions with regard to a large number of the leading articles of importation absolutely prohibitory, but it is framed with such intricacy as to render trade almost impossible. On woolen and cotton goods and cutlery, especially the latter, it falls with unqualified force. On the various articles of steel, for instance, the increase on the present duty ranges between 54 and 241 per cent; yet there is no branch of manufacture of which a cheap supply is more essential to a young country. With respect to cottons, the mere mode of levying the duty would, it is said, be equivalent to a prohibition, and in woolens the same plan is to be enforced to an extent that "will render it impossible for a merchant to make out any invoice that would meet anything more than a single piece of goods." In some cases ad valorem duties only are imposed; in others, ad valorem and specific combined. The specific duties in several instances are to depend upon weight; in others they are to be levied upon the square yard. Every condition, in fact, has been framed with the avowed object of "preventing" importations. But although, if it be carried out, it will put almost a stop to several large branches of European exportation, the measure need cause little apprehension on this side. The population of the United States are already employed to their utmost. Indeed, labor is the great want of the country. Consequently they cannot enter upon the task of supplying themselves with those goods hitherto obtained from Europe without abandoning some other and more suitable kind of occupation. This abandonment will have to be made up by an increased cultivation in other countries of the articles neglected in America, and the countries thus benefited will take in return an increased quantity of the European comforts and luxuries which the Americans prefer to manufacture for themselves at double the expense. This, at least, would be the result, supposing the Americans could carry out their plans. But there never was a territory so favorable for the operations of the smuggler, and the probability is that, under such auspices, the country may receive a supply of foreign goods larger than at any previous time. A school of well organized law-breakers will most likely be found to flourish amid the complaints of Government at a failing revenue, and the cry of bankrupt manufacturers for some new remedies against an unseen competition. In estimating its effects here our people must also bear in mind that, although our exports to America amount to L20,000,000 per annum, a large portion of these are to the Slave States. The amount of the exportation, also, must not be confounded with the profits upon it, which probably may be taken at L2,000,000. If we do not supply the Americans with goods, the imported materials for such goods are either not wanted, or they are available for the manufacture of goods for other countries. Happily, the commercial operations of the world are now too large and varied for the mad introduction of a prohibitory system in any single nation, however important, to have much effect on the interests of European manufacturers. The New-York free-trade organs, in deploring the present backward step from civilization, point out that one of the direful consequences will be that if America takes no goods from Europe, Europe will not be able to take any goods from America. This argument however, is both needless and delusive. Whether America does or does not take our goods, we shall continue to take from her all such articles as she may be able to sell to us on terms lower than those of other countries. We have never diminished our purchases of silk from China, or of grain from Odessa, owing to the refusal of the Chinese or the Russians to take our manufactures in exchange. America need not apprehend any want of markets for her produce. That which she will have to fear is whether she will have much produce to send. Precisely to the extent that capital and labor are diverted from agriculture to manufactures will be the reduction in her productive power of exportation. The stimulus for agricultural competition against her by other countries will, on the other hand, be augmented. It will be well, also, for her to recollect that this stimulus will be increased indirectly by a very important circumstance. Freight constitutes a leading item in the cost of all produce, and if vessels going for produce to America are obliged to sail in ballast, that produce will be subject to double freight, and will in that manner be driven out of the market by cargoes from places where no such disadvantage exists. On the whole, looking at what is now contemplated by the North, together with the export duty on cotton said to have been proposed in the South, it would seem as if both sections of the country were occupied by one thought as to how they can best transfer their power and greatness to the hands of rival nations.
. The Morrill Tariff. Published: February 14, 1861
Congress, at the very instant the country is threatened with dismemberment, which may involve a recasting of all our foreign and domestic relations, and the adoption of an entirely new chart for the future, presents the singular spectacle of seeking to inaugurate a line of policy which cannot be changed or modified in any of its important features for many years, without most disastrous consequences. It is now proposed to reenact a highly protective tariff, both for revenue and protection. To the adoption at this crisis of such a measure, there are certainly very grave objections.
No act of the kind should become a law, unless it is to be the permanent policy of the country; for immediately upon its adoption capital will rush into manufactures, which would necessarily be sacrificed by its repeal. But are we in a position to cast the horoscope for the future, or determine the policy it may be our interest to adopt, under circumstances which we cannot by any means foresee? All admit the breaking up of the Confederacy to be possible. Suppose it to happen; is it not almost certain that we must adapt our import duties to our altered relations? Suppose the Cotton States to maintain even a form of government; they will certainly leave no stone unturned to draw off the Border States. One of the strongest arguments they could address to these would be furnished by a highly protective tariff on the part of our Government, toward which they cherish the deepest aversion, except, perhaps, Maryland and Kentucky. While efforts at reconciliation are still pending, both in and out of Congress, is it wise to divest ourselves of the power of offering similar arguments, and throw an additional firebrand among the present causes of difference?
Another reason for letting things remain as they are, is found in our foreign relations. The tendency of all leading commercial nations, is unmistakably toward free trade. If the Southern States go off, we shall immediately come in conflict with them in every court of Europe, if not on our own soil. They will, by appealing to the popular sentiment in all commercial circles, make every effort to secure favorable recognition and relations at our expense. We should be in a pretty fix, with free trade at every Southern port, and a prohibitory tariff at New-York, Philadelphia and Boston. Instead of settling down upon such a policy, we should hold ourselves in a position in which we can readily adjust ourselves to the contingencies that may arise, abroad as well as at home. If we are to have a foreign commerce, it must be a reciprocal one. We must have something to offer as a means of obtaining favorable terms from others. To tie our hands, when, if ever, they should be free, by adopting a policy which we cannot, without a great loss, abandon, is most unwise and unstatesmanlike.
A still stronger reason is drawn from the effect of the proposed measure upon our internal trade. In the present crisis we are striking for a trade which has been previously monopolized by the Gulf ports. The action of the seceding States will, to a very considerable extent, close these ports, on account of the dangers to which property in them is exposed. Enough has been seen to prove this. Already are all the highways leading to the Northeastern States crowded with freights that, but for secession, would be going down the Mississippi. Is it not for our interest to draw this trade to us by every means in our power? Once secured it will be retained, compensating in some degree the losses sustained by the present disturbances. With proper measures we can draw to our own harbor no small part of the cotton trade of the Southwestern States, adding the staple, which is the great figure in our foreign commerce, as one of our leading exports. Is it wise in the present emergency to meet this stream of trade by the passage of a law most odious to those turning it to us? Such a course would be commercial suicide.
The modification of the Tariff should not be attempted till we see more clearly the policy we may desire, or be compelled to adopt, especially as it is almost certain that the one proposed will diminish instead of increasing the revenue. Such is the opinion of every person who has any familiarity with the subject. The bill was apparently framed with such an object. It virtually sweeps away at a blow the warehouse system, which has recently done more to build up the trade of New-York, than almost any other agency. This was mainly copied from the English system, and is an essential feature in that of any great commercial people. United with our unrivaled means for distribution, this system renders the City of New-York the depot for the whole country. People come here to buy for the reason that they know that in the warehouse they can find the genuine foreign manufactured article, not adulterated or imitated by some cunning trickster. The value of a warehouse certificate is shown by the fact that with an empty cask of a particular brand, it will frequently sell for $20. The warehouse in effect, makes our City instead of Paris, London, or Liverpool, the depot for foreign merchandise. To abolish it, or to limit the time for retaining merchandise in it, would be to send abroad for their goods, merchants who now flock to us from every part of the United States. Its passage would be a blow to our trade quite as fatal and disastrous as secession: -- the two coming together would inflict upon us injuries which twenty years could not repair.
The Morrill Tariff. Published: February 14, 1861 (Page 2 of 2)
The proposed bill is most objectionable both in its principle and in its details, uniting the specific and ad valorem duties with such minuteness of subdivision and detail as to give rise to endless misunderstandings and disputes, and rendering necessary, with our present imports, a force at least treble that now employed. Unbleached cottons, for example, having not over one hundred threads to the square inch, warp and filling, and not exceeding five ounces in weight, pay one cent duty. Such as have one hundred and forty threads to the square inch, and weighing over five ounces, pay two cents; over one hundred and forty threads three cents. If the cottons are bleached the duty is increased in ratio to the number of threads per square inch, and weight. The duty on prints is levied in the same way with ten per cent, ad valorem added. The first thing appraisers will have to be fitted out with after the law goes into effect, will be magnifying glasses of great power, and scales of exquisite sensitiveness. For the appraisement of what STEWART daily sells, an army of office-holders would be required. In fact, the amount of business now daily transacted at the Customhouse would be impossible; and importations would be necessarily greatly curtailed, because the goods could not be got through the Customhouse. The duty upon manufactures of iron is framed upon a principle often as complicated as upon cottons, and is in most cases entirely prohibitory. On wooden screws, a specific duty, varying from five to eight cents, is laid, equaling 60 per cent, ad valorem, and is entirely prohibitory. Bar iron pays $15 per ton. Railway tires pay two cents per pound, and 15 per cent, ad valorem; rails, $12 per ton; pig iron, $6. The duty on table blade steel is 136 per cent.; on hoe and fork steel, 167 per cent.; on German machinery steel, 216 per cent.; on round machinery steel, 154 per cent.; on blistered steel, 211 per cent. In fact, the Morrill Tariff is nearly, if not quite, prohibitory upon all manufactures of iron. This is a sop thrown to Pennsylvania. Upon silks, that we can neither produce, nor to any considerable extent manufacture, a duty of 30 per cent, is imposed upon the greater part of the list.
Such are some of the features of this illtimed, ill-advised, and if carried into effect, disastrous measure. It ties our hands when they should be free. It will destroy our commerce at the very instant our whole care should be directed toward its cultivation and development. It alienates extensive sections of the country we seek to retain. It will tend directly to destroy our credit, by showing to the world that the great source from which we have derived our revenues, is no longer available. It is unjust to the manufacturer, because it cannot be maintained. Under these circumstances, we ask Congress to act in view of the circumstances by which it is surrounded, not by the light of tradition, or party affiliations. Otherwise they will deal a deadly blow at the trade and commerce of the country, at the measures now in progress to heal our political differences, and particularly at the party now about to assume the reins of Government, which, by the measures now proposed, will find itself greatly weakened, if not defeated and destroyed.
GENERAL WASHINGTON NEWS; THE MORRILL TARIFF NOT SO BAD FINANCE OF THE CONFEDERATE STATES. SWAGGERING NAVAL OFFICERS. GUARD DUTY BY THE CLERKS. AFFAIRS IN NEW-GRANADA. UNABATED RUSH FOR OFFICE. CALIFORNIA APPOINTMENTS. Published: April 13, 1861
The alleged imperfections and imprudences of the Morrill Tariff, upon which an extra session has been defended, are found to be largely exaggerated, if not entirely unfounded. Mr. BARNEY assures me that he will find no difficulty in executing the law with his present force, and that its provisions are quite as explicit as such laws are usually made, and that the changes from the previous system are not so violent and general as is supposed. A gentleman from Maryland told me today that the new tariff was doing much to keep that State loyal. He represents the iron and coal interests of the State, and he thinks the same beneficial influences will be felt in Virginia and North Carolina, in both of which States the mining interests are fast becoming paramount.
The financial embarrassments of the "Confederate States" are betraying themselves at every turn. Yesterday's TIMES exposed some of the evidences of the pecuniary troubles of secession by calling public attention to the fact that the $5,000,000 of the $15,000,000 loan of the Confederate States are being "apportioned among" (that is, forced upon) the Banks of New-Orleans, Mobile, &c. Have you noticed, also, that the very first of the $1,000,000 Treasury Notes, issued by the Provisional Government of the seceded States, were taken "by the Secretaries of War and the Treasury in payment of their quarter's salaries." The significance of this fact is apparent when it is remembered that the test of financial soundness in any Government consists of its ability to pay all Government dues in gold.
An old Clerk of the Treasury Department, who was South last week on private business, met there Ex-Secretary HOWELL COBB, with whom he had some conversation relative to the financial condition of the Government of the United States. Mr. COBB'S experience in the Southern Confederacy does not seem to have improved his judgment at all in the matter of financial estimates, for he continues to come as wide of the mark as ever. In the conversation referred to, he expressed the opinion that the revenues of the Treasury would be only about $1,000,000 per month; that, under this state of facts, the funds would be speedily exhausted, and that, as there is authority to borrow only $27,000,000, which, with the $1,000,000 per month for the ensuing year, would foot up only $39,000,000, while the expenses of the Government must be about $65,000,000. the Treasury must be bankrupted inevitably.
The figures in the Department show, in fact, an increase of revenue over last year, and the revenue is coming in at the rate of $3,000,000 per month, instead of $1,000,000, which Mr. COBB graciously allows. During the two weeks ending April 9, 1860, the receipts is the Treasury were $1,471,241 48. The receipts during the corresponding fortnight of 1861 were $1,500,667 34; increase in 1861 $20,425 81.
It should be remembered, too, that these results are attained at a time when the new Tariff is operating unfavorably towards the Treasury, because goods are withdrawing from bond for consumption in cases where the duty is less under the old Tariff than under the new, while merchandise which can be taken out of bond at reduced duties under the new Tariff are allowed to remain. Unless a war shall occur, Government is likely to have abundant means during the coming year. SUMPTER AND PICKENS CANNOT STAND BOMBARDMENT.
Gentlemen skilled as engineers, and whose judgment is usually sound, express the opinion that neither Pickens nor Sumpter can withstand bombardment, if their assailants are not operated against by land forces. The forts in question were not constructed to sustain a siege, but to defend harbors against hostile fleets. For the latter purpose they are admirably adapted; no "wooden walls" could withstand the fire from their batteries or do themselves harm; but a well-sustained fire from different points on the adjacent shores, it is maintained, will reduce them both in time, -- unless they have men enough and guns enough to promptly demolish the assailing, forts.
An agent of the Navy Department might be profitably employed in an occasional stroll through the hotel lobbies at. Washington, to notice the language and deportment of some who wear the naval buttons, and yet constantly and publicly swagger about the folly of the Government undertaking to bring the "Southern Confederacy" to terms. It is not often that a naval officer thus dishonors the button, -- but when he does, if he has not the manliness to resign, it would be advisable to ship him to sea somewhere where he could do no harm if he should take the notion to turn traitor.
THE NEW TARIFF.; The Tariffs of 1846-57 and Mr. Morrill's New Tariff Bill of 1860. Published: March 28, 1860 WASHINGTON, Friday, March 2, 1860.
A close examination of the bill offered in the Committee of Ways and Means, as reported to the House by Mr. MORRILL of Vermont, exhibits not so much increase in the amount of duties levied on imports as a charge in the manner of appraising them.
Two-thirds of all articles levied upon come under the head of specifics in this bill, whereas, in the laws of 1846 and 1857 they were taxed upon the ad valorem basis. The bill has many excellent features and some bad ones, which we shall allude to after enumerating briefly its characteristic points.
SEC. 5. Relates to sugars, syrups, confectionery, &c., specifics averaging about one cent and a half per pound, and four cents per gallon. Taking all the grades upon this basis, the amount of duties is but slightly increased. The law of 1846 was 30 per cent., that of 1857 24 percent. ad valorem on these articles. This provision is regarded as not so unfavorable to manufacturers and importers as to consumers.
SEC. 6. Relates to liquors. There is not much increase upon this class, but upon wines enumerated in the second class, and upon first proof liquors there is a heavy per cent. added. This will fall most heavily upon importers, who in order to make up for it must follow the illustrious example of the Massachusetts State Liquor agent, and make specific additions to the quantity before retailing it. Dealers here are unanimously of opinion that the higher the duty upon this class of imports the more liquors will be adulterated, because consumers will not consent to pay more than they now do for these articles. They can hardly be classed as necessaries, because, however adverse it may be to the appetite, they can be to a great extent dispensed with. Here there is a great fault with Mr. MORRILL's bill. While he is endeavoring to decrease direct taxation, and discharge the national debt by increased duties upon certain articles, he adopts the most speedy method of increasing adulterated and obnoxious articles of consumption. This comment will apply to some extent to other articles under the head of "miscellaneous." Cigars and tobacco are of the same class, and certain articles of preserves and fruits are treated in the same manner.
SEC. 7 is devoted to the peculiar interests of Pennsylvania, iron and coal. It is the most elaborate portion of the bill, and although Mr. MORRILL bears the palm of its authorship, its conception required the continuous sitting for days of several leading gentlemen of Pennsylvania, in and out of Congress. Of course it suits them. Would it be fair to say that this portion of the bill is drawn as a special appeal to the people of that State in behalf of the nominee of the Chicago Convention? It is certainly true. This class comes under the rule of specifics, excepting steel and some kinds of iron but little in demand. The increase -- average -- over the duties of 1846 and 1857 is very great, quite as large as the Pennsylvania gentlemen chose to make it. Under the laws of 1846 these articles were 30 and 20 per cent.; that of 1857, 24 and 15 per cent. ad valorem. Mr. MORRILL's specific bill will bring it up to 30 per cent. again.
SEC. 8 relates to minerals of finer nature, generally considered here advantageous to the development of our native deposits.
SEC. 9 contains the same class, with no material change in the average duty. The basis of 1846 and 1857 ad valorem, is changed for the most part to specifics.'
SEC. 10 continues the same, and includes agricultural products, which seems to be generally acceptable to the representatives from all sections. The change of basis is also made upon this class.
SEC. 11 enumerates various foreign fruits, seeds and nuts, upon which there is no general interest manifest, except at the Agricultural Bureau of the Patent Office, which has engrossed this section according to its own peculiar views, which are often so erratic that it will be impossible to tell the effect of this measure upon this class of articles.
SEC. 12 takes up the great wool question, and calls back vividly to our mind recollections of the tariff of 1857, its travails, pains and tribulations; of LAWRENCE, STONE & Co., and their $90,000 bribery fund; of THURLOW WEED, FARMER ABEL, the Albany, Massachusetts and Ohio loboy, and the Forty Congressional Thieves. Shall we have these things brought home again practically, with the advent of this new tariff bill? The prospect of such a state of things is very promising just now.
Sections 12, 13, 14, 15 provide for duties, mostly specific, upon wool, flax, cotton and all such coarser materials raw and manufactured. Upon some of these the increase is so great as to raise the duties to the average ratio of the ad valorum rule of 1846, which was so effectually reduced by the lo[???]by in 1857. This is certainly unkind of the Pennsylvanians, when they have obtained in this bill all they want for their own peculiar interests to attempt a reduction of their taxes by levying black-mail upon their New-England, Western and Southern b[???]thera. Several Massachusetts, Ohio and New-York people have been on here, but Mr. MORRILL and the Pennsylvania used were inexpiable. They would not favor wool, flax nor cotton more than they had already done -- by increasing the tariff 50 per cent -- add advised them to go home so as not to kill the bill by their presence.
THE NEW TARIFF.; The Tariffs of 1846-57 and Mr. Morrill's New Tariff Bill of 1860. Published: March 28, 1860 (Page 2 of 2)
SEC. 16 relates to the finer and more costly materials and fabrics, all, for some reason not yet explained, admitted to the old rule of ad valorem. These articles were levied ad valorem, under the law of 1846, at 30, 25, 20 and 15 per cent.; under the law of 1857 at 24, 19, 15 and 12 per cent; under the new bill at 30, 25, 20 and 10 per cent. Raw material is thus decreased two per cent. Have any silk manufacturers been here recently looking after this section of the bill? Possibly, else why this departure from the general rule of increase? We hope not, however.
SEC. 17 provides for earthen wares. Tae coarser articles come under the rule of specifics, and the finer under ad valorem. There is no material change here, except that certain articles, most common, are taken from the old free list, and lightly taxed.
SEC. 18 includes only books and paper. Specific duties 10 and 8 cents per pound, which were for the most part free under the laws of 1846 and 1857, 8 per cent. ad valorem being the highest duty on printed matter, under these laws.
SECS. 10, 20, 21, include a long list of miscellaneous articles, not classified, all under the rule of ad valorem, and for the most part increased from the rates of 1857; some of them even in advance of the rates of 1846.
SEC. 22 defines the free list. This list is somewhat increased from the laws of 1846 and 1857, but the change has been made by exempting articles very little in use and unnecessarries, and placing duties upon those articles heretofore free but most called for. There was an effort on the part of some native artists to have duty placed upon foreign productions, but the general good sense of artists here has prevailed the other way, and such productions are exempt.
SEC. 23 provides that all articles not provided for in this act shall be assessed by the ad valorem standard. The peculiarity of this bill is, that ad valorem is made the exception, while under the laws of 1846 and 1857, specifics were the exception, and ad valorem the standard rule.
SECS. 24, 25, 26, 27, 28 and 29 prescribe certain rules for the assessment and collection of duties which are materiality changed from the old laws, and if possible more stringent. These changes seem to be popular.
SEC. 30 is an innovation, relating to drawbacks on hemp manufactured into cordage in the Untied States, which has been published heretofore. This is a new feature in tariff regulations.
SEC. 31 provides for the repeal of all existing laws not in consonance with this bill.
I have thus compared the provisions of this bill with the old laws, and sketched its peculiar features, not so much on account of its probable passage as to exhibit the radical changes which are taking place in the minds of the commercial people and politicians. It can hardly be supposed that the bill will pass the Senate, although after some radical changes it may pass the House.
There is one feature of this whole move for a new tariff which should be particularly noticed. A great evil has grown up in our system of legislation -- the practice of putting through doubtful or obnoxious measures, by tacking them to matters of political or absolute necessity. The first provision in this bill is for the issue of Treasury notes to the amount of $21 000,000. The loan cannot [???] without the tariff, because certain, gentlemen declare the latter must go with it, and they fear to let the tariff stand upon its own merits. We have a national debt which must be paid and Pennsylvania politicians take advantage of this fact to enrich themselves and make political capital for the party they represent. This is the worst feature of the bill. This practices of "Omnibus" legislation has grown to be an enormous evil. It should be suppressed here at the very fountain head
Edited Fri Apr 11 2014, 02:28PM
.MICHEL CHEVALIER AND THE MORRILL TARIFF. Published: September 4, 1861 In an address before the Social Science meeting at Dublin, M. CHEVALIER reviewed the recent progress of the world in economical studies, and in the demolition of commercial restrictions. In reference to the United States he said:
"By the side of the treaty of commerce between France and England your glance is arrested with pain by the Morrill Tariff, which the Northern United States have recently adopted. But the Morrill Tariff is born of the war. It is the child of discord. It will not live. The atmosphere of the nineteenth century will stifle it, for the atmosphere of the nineteenth century only suits products of another nature, of a more regular character, more conformable to the laws of harmony and to the unconquerable want which the nations feel to disburden themselves of the fruits of their labor. One of the finest sciences that man has formed, Geology, teaches and proves to us that, in proportion as during the series of the ages of the earth the atmosphere purified itself and was tempered, there was seen to appear more perfect creatures. The animals of the first times, those monstrous and hideous beings, of which forms, recovered and described by learned men, astonish and terrify us, gave place to animals less strange and more beautiful, of an organization more elegant and more refined. The Morrill tariff is like one of those ugly beasts, such as the Anoplotherium or the Plesiosaurus, which one should attempt to rear upon the earth such as it is to-day. Vain attempt! Powerless effort! The Morrill tariff is destined soon to perish in the midst of the confusion of its authors."
Edited Fri Apr 11 2014, 02:35PM
AMERICAN QUESTIONS ABROAD.; THE MORRILL TARIFF. From the London Times, March 12.
At any rate for the present, the great American Union is effectually divided into two rival Confederacies -- the Southern tainted with the blight of Slavery, stained with past and by no means free from the imputation of future filibustering expeditions, and called into existence, it would seem, by a course of deliberate and deep-laid treason on the part of the high officers of the Government of Washington. In the Northern Confederacy, on the contrary, Slavery, if not wholly extinguished, assumes a temporary and provisional character. No treachery has been at work to produce the disruption, and the principles avowed are such as to command the sympathies of every free and enlightened people. Such are the widely different auspices under which the two rival Republics start into existence. But mankind will not ultimately judge these things by sympathies and antipathies; they will be greatly swayed by their own interest, and the two Republics must be weighed, not by their professions or their previous history, but by the conduct they pursue and the position they maintain among the Powers of the earth. Their internal institutions are their own affair; their financial and political arrangements are emphatically ours. Brazil is a Slave-holding Empire, but by its good faith and good conduct it has contrived to establish for itself a place in the hierarchy of nations far superior to that of many Powers which are free from this domestic contamination. If the Northern Confederacy of America evinces a determination to act in a narrow, exclusive, and unsocial spirit, while its Southern competitor extends the hand of good fellowship to all mankind, with the exception of its own bondsmen, we must not be suprised to see the North, in spite of the goodness of its cause and the great negative merit of the absence of Slavery, sink into a secondary position, and lose the sympathy and regard of mankind.
We may be said to be already in possession of the first fruits of the American disruption. The secession of so many men of the two Houses of Congress has conferred upon the North an undisputed majority for the first time. They have not been slow to avail themselves to the utmost of this advantage. They have, indeed, done nothing appreciable towards healing the wounds of their distracted country. They have taken no decided measure either of conciliation or coercion. The South has been allowed to mature its preparations, to seize the Federal arsenals and forts, and to organize a new Government, without even an intelligent protest from the Legislature at Washington. There was much excuse for this. The period between the election of the new President and the surrender of office by the old, is a sort of interregnum, in which it may be said all legislative and executive activity is paralyzed. But, though unable to do anything for the cause of the Union, the Senate and the Congress have employed the interregnum to strike a second blow at the commerce, the finance, and the general prosperity of the country, infinitely more fatal than any abstraction of territory or diminution of population. They employed the last weeks of probably the last session of the last Congress of the United States of America in undoing all the progress that has been made in the direction of Free-trade, and in manacling their country once more in the fetters of a protection amounting to prohibition. We fear that the bill has already received the assent of the President, and that at the present moment the twenty millions of exports which England sent last year to the United States have, as far as laws and regulations can effect it, been virtually excluded. If Americans wish to know with what feelings this measure has been regarded in England, they have only to turn to the Trade Reports of the Times, and their curiosity will be gratified. Thus, we find from Birmingham that a hardware and cutlery trade off 3,800,000 is looked upon as worthless. South Staffordshire is in dismay. "The conduct of Congress on the Tariff bill has much changed the tone of public feeling with reference to the Secessionists, and none here, even those whose sympathies are with the Northern States, attempt to justify the course which the Protectionists in Congress have pursued." In Manchester the proposed increase of duties on cotton goods in the United States is causing great attention. In Newcastle it is considered that it will be impossible to do business with the United States on the terms set out in the tariff, while the business with the Southern States is described as satisfactory. In Sheffield considerable apprehension is felt as to the effect of the new tariff on the steel trade. In Wolverhampton the anticipation that the tariff has become law darkens the already gloomy prospects of the iron trade. When it is remembered that all this ill-will and disruption of international ties and sympathies, which were becoming closer every day, and which America never needed more than now, is to be effected for no better object than that of protracting the sickly existence of an artificial manufacturing system, raised and natured at the expense of the shipping and trade of the country, and by levying an odious tribute from all classes not concerned in manufactures, we cannot but wonder at the madness of democracy and its utter inability to apprehend and retain the most obvious principles of economical science. Protection was quite as much a cause of the disruption of the Union as Slavery. In that respect it has done its worst, but it is destined, if we mistake not, to be the fruitful mother of other disruptions. What interest have the great agricultural Western States, for instance, in being made tributaries to the ironmasters of Pennsylvania or the cotton-spinners of Lowell? They will desire, as the South have desired, a direct trade with England, and the peculiar position of Canada, with its facilities of communication by lake, river and railway, will show them the readiest means of obtaining a direct trade by a fresh separation -- possibly by an amalgamation with our own colonies.
AMERICAN QUESTIONS ABROAD.; THE MORRILL TARIFF. Published: March 29, 1861 (Page 2 of 3)
These topics are so obvious that we forbear to insist upon them, but we beg to point out, for the comfort of our own countrymen and the warning of the Government of the United States, that in attempting to exclude at one blow twenty millions of exports from their territory, they have undertaken a task quite beyond their power. They may, indeed, destroy their own Customs' revenue; they may give additional strength to those vested interests which claim a prescriptive light to live on the vitals of the community; they may ruin the shipping and cripple the commerce of the towns on the Atlantic seaboard, but they cannot prevent English manufactures from permeating the United States from one end to the other. A glance at the map is sufficient to show this. The Southern Confederacy will, of course, desire no better than to make Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, and New-Orleans, depots of English manufactures, to be smuggled across the long and imperceptible frontier which separates them from the United States. Nay, it is quite possible that the great City of New-York may prefer to declare itself a free port, and to become the depot of an enormous illicit traffic, rather than see its wharfs rotting, its streets deserted, and its harbor empty, because a suicidal folly has driven commerce to the inferior harbors of the South. The indented coasts of the Northern States give ample opportunity for smuggling, and, what is still more important, the frontier between Canada and the Union is virtually traced by the stream of the St. Lawrence and the centre of the great Lakes Ontario, Erie and Huron. It is a region which might have been created for the express purpose of punishing the presumptuous folly of seeking to meet the barrier of Prohibition between nations which have long enjoyed the mutual benefits of commercial intercourse. The smuggler will redress the errors of the statesman, as he has so often done before. The change may occasion delay, loss and inconvenience; but the stream is too mighty to be choked, and no sooner will the old channel have been stopped than a new one will be forced.
From the London Shipping Gazette.
We have thus glanced at the leading features of a measure which we believe to be wholly uncalled for, since not only are the people of the United States in a condition of great prosperity, but even what are called the "exigencies" of the State do not really require so vast an experiment as this -- for experiment we must call it -- to secure an adequate revenue to meet certain outgoings. It may be all very well for the Legislature of the States to pass laws to suit particular interests; but it remains to be seen how the people -- the tax-paying community -- will receive a measure which imposes upon them heavy additional duties -- viz., from 10 to 20 and even 30 per cent.; it remains to be seen whether they will purchase, or be in a condition to purchase, their usual supplies of foreign produce and manufactures, and whether consumption generally will not fall off to a most serious extent. On the latter point we have no doubt whatever, because it is but reasonable to suppose that high prices must compel the usual dealers to operate with extreme caution, to the great discouragement of trade. Another feature is evident -- viz, that the large importing and all other houses will be compelled to increase their capital, in the event of their having large stocks on hand, in order to meet the claims of the Custom-house authorities. Again, if consumption should rapidly fall off -- and no doubt it will -- at least two-thirds of the importers at New-York will, we apprehend, abandon their business altogether, and the result will be that the great American inward trade will decline to that of a third-rate Power, at least so far as the North is concerned. The secession movement, however, may, to some extent, counteract the evil effects of this ill-advised bill. Of course, in the present unsettled state of affairs in the Union, it would be impossible to predict with anything like accuracy in what position the South may hereafter find itself; but, composed as it is chiefly of the free-trade class, it is fair to presume that, if left to itself, the South will pass a liberal Tariff, and that our great falling off in the shipments to the North may, in some measure, be made good by increased exports to other quarters. Nevertheless, view this measure in any light we please, it is obvious that a serious and most unnecessary blow has been aimed at England's commerce. For many years the States have done an enormous and very profitable trade with this country. In periods of scarcity, like the present, they have supplied us with immense quantities of many kinds of food, and for which there has almost invariably, been found a good and profitable market. We have, of course, equally profited by the system of a free interchage of commodities; but shall we continue to do so except at periods of scarcity? America must understaud that, if she should succeed in crippling the trade of any country, by means of high duties, the demand for foreign produce is sure to decline in an equal ratio; hence, it follows that the commercial operations of both countries will suffer. This measure, however, will not only affect English interests materially, but it threatens to destroy the export trade in silk and numerous articles from France, between which and the States a most important business has sprung up of late years. At the present time, literally nothing is doing in France on account of American houses, and we do not see how so wretched a state of things is to be improved, under a law which is both anti-national and subversive of the best interests of commerce. Even Germany will suffer nearly in an equal ratio with France. Her trade has gone on prospering; but here we had it almost annihilated by the bill in question. The wise legislators of the United States, prior to giving their vote in favor of these restrictive duties, should have borne in mind that the American people have, for many years past, been living in what are termed "cheap times" -- in other words, that they have enjoyed the full benefit of comparative freedom of action. The astonishing results of a liberalized Tariff in the States, the rapidity with which the original public debt was nearly cleared off, and the great increase in the inward and outward trade, induced, we have no hesitation in saying, our legislators to agree to measures imposing low duties upon many imported articles, and the total abandonment of some upon raw produce, to the great benefit of our internal and external trade. We have, with great liberality, opened our ports to America; we have continued to take from the States a large, very large, portion of their surplus produce; and yet the Legislature treats our liberality on a basis which is a disgrace to the age we live in.
From the London Daily News.
AMERICAN QUESTIONS ABROAD.; THE MORRILL TARIFF. Published: March 29, 1861 (Page 3 of 3)
Some of us have been precipitate in our judgment of what we called "the North," that is, the nation quitted by the Secessionists. We have only to bear in mind that since the election in November (a promising act in itself) the nation generally has been inevitably mute and passive. Its representatives in Congress were chosen before the occasion arose, and are no representatives of a people so circumstanced. The whole course of the Tariff question shows how inadequate the assemblage at Washington is to the time. No one will undertake to say that the constituencies will show themselves wise and well grounded in liberty. We must wait to see. The present fact is that the movers and speakers on all sides since the election of Mr. LINCOLN have not been the people, nor in the interest of the people at large. They have been faction leaders, traitors, alarmists, agitators, self-made dictators, or negotiators for compromise -- anything rather than citizens appointed by public confidence to work regeneration out of revolution. The American people must not be judged by these, but by their own bearing when the scene opens for action. We must see what there is to recognize in the South, before we talk of recognition; and we must learn what the national purpose is before we judge the yet unexpressed mind of the people at large.
From the London Star.
We earnestly hope that the good sense of the majority of the American people will triumph over the misguided few whose selfishness has made them either blind or indifferent to the general interests of the nation. At this moment the inauguration of an augmented tariff by the Northern States would be an error productive of peculiarly disastrous consequences. The new Southern Confederacy will unquestionably make free trade the basis of its commercial policy; in fact, the injury which the Southern States have sustained from the high tariff upheld by the North has had no small share in bringing about their secession. Let the North lower its duties on foreign manufactures, and it may still retain a large share of the transport of European goods to Southern markets; but if it adopts a contrary line of action an important proportion of the carrying trade will inevitably pass into other hands. In either case the ultimate result will be the same; the downfall of protection may be deferred, but it must come at last. But our warm interest in the welfare of our Transatlantic brethren would induce us to rejoice sincerely at the prevention of the evils which will inevitably spring from its further maintenance; and meanwhile, it is curious to watch a struggle which is so precise a reproduction of that which took place in our own land within the memory of the present generation.
The New Tariff from The Hudson North Star, April 10, 1861
Elsewhere in this week’s paper can be seen a table of a few of the numerous articles specified in the new Tariff act, passed by the last Congress, and which went into operation on the 1st inst., also a list of the same articles and the percent thereon under the Tariff of the Confederate States.
It will be perceived at once that the Tariff of the South has a decided advantage over the Tariff by which we in Wisconsin are to be governed. The commodities enumerated in the table are in common use, and the heavy impost2 tax which is imposed upon them affects nearly every member of [the] community. It is manifestly unjust to the great bulk of the people, and the comparatively poor classes of the country will be obliged to pay more for the support of the Federal government, than will those who have more means to pay it with, and more property to pay it on. When the two systems, that which may be called the Tariff system of the North, and the Tariff system of the South, comes in conflict, as they certainly will, the result will be disastrous to the commerce, to the commercial cities, and the people of the Northern States.
How any person can think that an impost tax, levied upon the importation of commodities from foreign countries, is so much loss to the importer or manufacturer and so much gain to the purchaser or consumer, we cannot conceive. The facts are, just so much more is paid by those who use and consume such imported commodities as the tax or tariff amounts to.
In Monarchical governments, high tariffs are resorted to for the purpose of raising Revenue. But in a country like this, where the people do, or should rule, in our opinion there should be no such resort. When a boy we honestly thought that a high tariff, for the protection of home industry was the “end all, and be all” of political economy. We think so no longer.
In a government like ours, we firmly believe that the most equitable and economical means for defraying the expenses of the general government is the same as is done for State, County and Municipal purposes—by a direct tax. The result of this would be, it seems to us, economy in expenditure, and a diminution in the amount now used in nearly every branch of the Federal Government, to keep the same in running order, and to put many commodities, really necessary, within the reach of the poorer classes of Society.
One thing is certain under the new Tariffs; importers will ship their goods to the ports of the Confederate States and buyers and consumers of the same will purchase as far as possible there, to the very great detriment of the trading and commercial interests North.
An extra session of Congress we believe will be called, and an effort made to repeal the Morrill Tariff act, we trust with success. In fine, we believe with Long John Wentworth,3 that secession could be squelched by throwing the Northern ports open to the free commerce and trade of the whole world, by abolishing the impost tax entirely, by closing up the Custom Houses,2 and dismissing the Custom House officers. Then reduce the expenses of the government and levy a direct tax to meet the expenditures , and the Nation would soon right itself.
But we are satisfied that New England and Pennsylvania will protest against a change in the Tariff act, and equally well satisfied that the states of the West and Northwest will not submit in the end to the exactions of the present unjust tariff. Which section will seceed is yet hidden in the womb of time. An “irrepressible conflict” has begun among ourselves, the difficulties increase day by day, and God only knows whither they country is tending.
The New Tariff from The Prescott Transcript, April 17, 1861
In the financial and commercial article of the New York Herald of the 16th ult., the following language is used in reference to the new Republican tariff just enacted by Congress, and called the Morrill tariff:
“Public indignation against the new tariff increases as it becomes more widely understood. It seems incredible that with their eyes open, and at such a crisis, men not suspected of lunacy, should have enacted so infamous, rediculous [sic] and fatal a measure. The three Southern Commissioners who, it is said, is [sic] about to be dispatched to France and England as representatives of the Southern Confederacy, need no other weapon than this tariff to carry their point, for, notwithstanding the hostility of the people of Europe to slavery, it cannot be expeced that they will carry their antipathy so far as to neglect commercial and material considerations altogether. And when they are forced to chose between a nation which shut out their goods and a nation which not only admits them at a nominal duty, but which enjoys a monopoly of the raw material on which foreign manufactures depend, it will need very heroic adherance indeed to the anti-slavery princple to prevent both France and England at once taking the Southern side in our dispute. Whatever sympathy the North enjoyed in Europe at the commencement of the quarrel, this tariff will probably destroy.—Whatever dislike the secessionists had aroused in Europe by their pro-slavery sentiments, their sagacious and liberal commercial policy will now efface. This state of things is the fruit of the narrow, grasping, avaricious policy of Senator Camaron [sic]4 and Simmons,5 and the rump of the old protectionist party. The letter of Senator Cameron, in which he boasts that the last act of his Senatorial career was to vote for taxing the people of the country at large, in order to build up factories in Pennsylvania, the successful efforts of Senator Simmons to compel every consumer of wood screws to purchase exclusively of the American Wood Screw Company of Providence, R.I.,6 are fair instances of the wisdom, statesmanship, and patriotism which have now prostrated the North, at the very time, above all others, when most strength was needed.”