Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. VIII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. VIII. - 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. VIII.
january 30, 1830.
Ironical petition of the owners of gold mines for protection.
To the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives.
THE petition of the subscribers respectfully represents: That your petitioners are of that class of political economists who believe that the wealth of a country consists in gold and silver, and having heard that gold mines had been recently discovered in the states of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, they had been induced to abandon their agricultural, commercial and manufacturing pursuits, with the patriotic design of enriching the nation, by adding to the mass of the precious metals; which, unfortunately, owing to the balance of trade being against the country, are constantly exported. That your petitioners had not been long engaged in their new occupation, before they discovered that “all is not gold that glistens;” for, although a few individuals, who had the good fortune to strike upon fertile spots, have been successful in their enterprises, yet by far the greatest portion of those who were tempted to embark their capitals and industry in the mining business, have found, to their cost, that hunting for gold is not a more profitable business than ploughing for corn: Indeed it is thought by some, that, taking into consideration the loss of labour in unfruitful attempts to find the precious article, the discovery of these mines has thus far been rather a disadvantage than a benefit to the public.
It is easy, however, to account for the failure of these laudable experiments. Gold and silver are, as is well known to your honourable bodies, commodities produced by human labour, and it is wholly owing to the importation, free of duty, of foreign gold, which can be produced cheaper in Spanish and Portuguese America than in this country, that the home producers find their business unprofitable. Believing, as we do, that the American System is a grand panacea, in comparison with which Mr. Swaim’s is mere quackery, and that its application to the protection of gold-finders is as appropriate as to the manufacturers of cotton, wool, and iron, and especially of the last named, which is a kindred commodity, your petitioners respectfully solicit the attention of Congress to the reasoning which they use in favour of their claims.
One of the great objects of all governments is, to afford employment to the labouring classes, for labour being the only source of wealth, it follows that the more there is of it employed, the greater will be the mass of wealth created. Who cannot see, even if the great Chesapeake and Ohio canal should never be finished, that it will have been of incalculable benefit to the community, by giving employment to so many thousand labourers? Just so would it be with the gold mines of the Southern states. If properly protected by law, by the imposition of a duty of from forty-five to two hundred and twenty-five per cent. ad valorem upon foreign gold, they would set in motion an infinite quantity of American Industry, and would place the nation in the desirable situation of not being dependent upon foreign nations for gold.
The argument, it appears to your petitioners, is equally strong in their favour, as it was when urged in favour of the iron masters, and we can see no reason why a protection granted to them, should be withheld from us.
Your petitioners, therefore, relying upon the wisdom and justice of your honourable bodies, and believing that you possess the power by the constitution, to do any thing which is calculated to promote “the general welfare,” they earnestly beg that their petition may be granted. And, as in duty bound, they will ever pray.*
[* ] In June, 1834, Congress reduced the weight of pure gold contained in an eagle, from 247 1-2 to 232 grains, retaining its equivalency to ten silver dollars.