Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. VI. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. VI. - Condy Raguet, The Principles of Free Trade 
The Principles of Free Trade illustrated in a series of short and familiar Essays originally published in the Banner of the Constitution, 2nd ed. (Philadelphia, 1840).
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ESSAY No. VI.
january 20, 1830.
Progress of Free Trade principles in the United States. North American Review. Boston Report. Southern Review. South Carolina Exposition. Dew’s Lectures on the Restrictive System. Doctor Cooper. Professor Mc Vickar.
IT is a source of great satisfaction to the advocates of a liberal intercourse with foreign nations, to observe the progress which the science of political economy is making in this country. Within the last two years the restrictive system has been more closely examined, as to its essential character, than at any former period, and materials have been collected, which are now at the service of any one who is disposed to understand the subject to the bottom, that will render hereafter the investigation of its doctrines comparatively easy. The old mercantile theory of Great Britain, brought over to the United States, and palmed upon the American people as a new discovery, had made great strides towards a general reception in the Northern and middle states. The immediate, direct and positive interest which those embarked in the cotton and woollen manufacture possessed in the establishment of a policy which should exclude foreign competition, had a most powerful operation. Writers and editors were also found, who, having no capacity to think upon abstract subjects, were easily induced to lend their aid in the dissemination of principles which were as adverse to the true interests of the community, as they were to the dictates of common sense; and, for a series of years preceding the passage of the last tariff law, the press overflowed with productions in praise of the American System, of which the inevitable tendency is, to depress agriculture and commerce, and promote the interests of comparatively few individuals. In vain was the voice of wisdom and warning resounded through the halls of Congress, by the numerous statesmen who have borne public testimony against the restrictive policy. In vain was the language of cogent and irrefutable reasoning poured out through the columns of the North American Review, presenting the subject in such various and intelligible aspects, that none could doubt who would read.* All, all was in vain. A delusion seized upon the public mind, and, like an epidemic disease, spread such havoc throughout the community, that the few who remained uncontaminated, were silenced by superiority of numbers, or thought it useless to attempt to oppose the torrent.
To the author of the “Boston Report” belongs the distinction of having first laid before the public, in the form of a volume, ample materials for arresting the progress of the delusion. In November 1827, a document, comprising near two hundred pages of the soundest reasoning, supported by the most satisfactory proofs, made its appearance as a “Report of a Committee of the citizens of Boston and vicinity, opposed to a further increase of duties on importations.”† To this work succeeded an able article on the tariff, in the Southern Review, and the “Exposition of South Carolina,” against the injustice and impolicy of the protective system, than which a more powerful appeal to the patriotism and common sense of the public has not often been seen.* That these works effected the commencement of a counter current in the public mind, is manifest to all who have felt interest enough in the question to watch its progress. We pronounce it, and we do so upon the evidence both of foes and friends, that the public faith in the American System has been shaken by the efforts of the last two years to enlighten the public mind, and we predict that the time is not very distant, when thousands, who have now scales on their eyes, will look back with amazement at the fallacies and delusion of which they have suffered themselves to be the dupes.
But the publications above referred to are not the sole evidence of the advance of the important truths to which they relate. The college of William and Mary, in Virginia, has lately, through one of her professors, Thomas R. Dew, Esq., as we have already mentioned, put forth a volume which does great credit to that institution, as well as to the gentleman named. His course of “Lectures on the Restrictive System, delivered to the senior political class” of that college, and published at Richmond in October last, may be regarded as a work of the highest merit. It comprises ten lectures, occupying near two hundred pages octavo, and enters so minutely and so intelligibly into an examination of the several fallacies of the restrictive system, that the writer has not left a single point untouched, and, as far as our humble judgment extends, we think he has not left a single point which has not been entirely refuted. As far as our recollection serves, we believe that this is the first course of lectures against the restrictive system pronounced in a seminary of learning in the United States, which has been published; although we are not ignorant of the fact, that Dr. Cooper, President of the South Carolina College, and professor McVicar, of Columbia College, New York, have both enriched the science of political economy by sound and erudite publications. Professor Dew’s lectures we warmly recommend to our readers, and if the trustees of our universities and colleges were generally to adopt a course of lectures upon political philosophy, as a branch of liberal education, the youth who are now at school, but who are hereafter to make laws for the country, would enter the public service with the acquirements requisite for statesmen, and not with the smattering of knowledge in politics that qualifies them solely for the functions of statistical collectors.
[* ] The North American Review took the restrictive side of the question in January, 1830, the month in which this article was written.
[† ] The author of this Report was Henry Lee. Esq., the gentleman who received the vote of South Carolina, for the Vice Presidency of the United States, in 1832.
[* ] The author of this Exposition was Mr. Calhoun, late Vice President of the United States.