Pennsylvania and the Tariff

While many states were discussing the issue of slavery, Pennsylvania was concerned with business and tariff . An indication of that concern is expressed in one of the leading newspapers of the time.

Franklin Repository and Transcript, February 22, 1860, p. 4, c.1
Need of a Tariff

It seems like a work of supererogation to attempt to urge upon Congress the necessity for a good, wise, protective tariff. The first principle of nature -self-preservation- should furnish the one great, powerful argument in favor of remodeling the present nominal impost laws -amounting almost to Free Trade. The fact that every branch of productive industry is completely paralyzed; that all classes of society are suffering from the effects of the ruinous policy of Federalist locofocoism -which produced the terrible panic in the financial world during the Fall of 1857, as a necessary result of destroying the manufactories of our own, to build up those of foreign countries -should open the eyes of the blindest, and shine in upon the most obtuse intellect in the lower House; as these facts set forth, unmistakably, the imperative demand for action, by that body, on this all important topic.

If, however, any further incentive were needed; any greater light required to clear away the mistiness which beclouds the brains of locofoco, Federalist politicians; if any stronger reasons are necessary to convince all men everywhere, throughout our country, of the necessity, the absolute, immediate, requirement for a thorough readjustment of the revenue laws, so as to discriminate in favor of and protect American made goods from the ruinous competition of the productions of pauper labor on the other side of the Atlantic, we think the following will suffice. If is clipped from a late number of the London Times:

“The importation of cotton into this country has, since the import duty was abolished, increased sixteen fold. Having been 63,000,000 lbs., it is now 1,000,000,000 lbs. This is one of those giant facts which stands head and shoulders higher than the crowd -so high and so broad that we can neither overlook it nor affect not to see it. It proves the existence of a thousand smaller facts that must stand under its shadow. It tells of sixteen times as many mills, sixteen times as many English families living by working those mills, sixteen times as much profit derived from sixteen times as much capital engaged in this manufacture. It carries after it sequences of increased quantity of freights and insurances, and necessities for sixteen time the amount of customers to consume, to our profit, the immense amount of produce we are turning out. There are not many such facts as these, arising in the quiet routine of industrial history. It is so large and so steady that we can steer our national policy by it; it is so important to us that we should be reduced to embarrassment if it were suddenly to disappear. It teaches us to persevere in a policy which has produced so wonderful a result; its beneficent operation makes it essential to us to deal carefully with it now that we have got it.”

What a commentary on the blindness and folly of the wise-acres of locofoco federalism? England’s leading organ boasts of the free importation of cotton into British ports as resulting in the increase of industry throughout Great Britain sixteen fold. The greater part of this raw material was grown upon American soil.–Its manufacture at home would have given constant employment to sixteen workmen at home, and perhaps more, for one now employed without that raw material to work up. English journalists proclaim to the world the secret of British prosperity; showing that industry promoted is the chief source of their success, and yet other nations, whose people are equally as dependent upon the labor of their country, see these statements, believe in their truthfulness, and foolishly refuse to apply the proper remedy, although suffering unheard of privations in consequence of Governmental neglect.

The policy of Great Britain, controlled as the Times says by the effects produced upon the masses of her people, is to abolish duties or increase Tariffs in proportion to the benefit thereof upon English manufactured wares seeking a market upon British soil, the law-makers lost no time in placing upon the statute Books of her majesty’s realm such laws as the people demanded. Here, however, where the people are, or profess to be, the real sovereigns, the loud earnest demands and supplicating appeals of the masses to their servants, the Representatives in both branches of Congress, do not seem to weigh a feather with these dignitaries, elevated for a brief period by the votes of the thousands whom they heartlessly refuse to relieve.

We are well aware that there are noble, honorable exceptions to this rule; that there are a large number of the present Congress who are anxious to arrest the madness of the system of transporting all our raw material to foreign work shops to be made up, as is now the case, and who will vote for any fair, honest Tariff laws; bur our surprise is that any American citizen; any lover of his country, can be found so blind as not to see the necessity of prompt action in the present crisis.

The disgraceful notice of the departure of a vessel for England, with a certain number of passengers, and upwards of an hundred thousand dollars in gold and silver, which meets the indignant eye of the constant reader of daily papers, almost every few weeks, will be forever disposed of if Congress makes the necessary arrangements for keeping the precious metals at home; by passing laws for the protection of home labor -which will keep the money at home also.

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