Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. XIII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. XIII. - 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. XIII.
february 10, 1830.
The British Corn laws: Influence of, upon the commerce of the United States.
BY the late advices from England, to January 4th, some very useful information is to be collected, as to the operation of the corn laws upon the interests of this country, and as that is one of the most important subjects which can occupy the attention of our public men, we have thought it worth while to draw their attention to it.
In an article under the London head of January 2d, remarking upon the grain market, the following facts are furnished:
That the average price of wheat in England, during the last three years, was as follows:
1827—55s. per quarter of 560 lbs.
1828—59s. 6d. quarter of 560 lbs.
1829—66s. 7d. quarter of 560 lbs.
These prices, reduced into Winchester bushels of 60lbs., and estimating exchange on London at 10 per cent. advance, would be equal to 144 cents for 1827—156 cents for 1828, and 175 cents for 1829.
The year 1829, it will be recollected, was a year of very great scarcity, owing to the deficient harvest of 1828, and yet the highest price for wheat, during that year, according to the same statement, was only upon an average for the first quarter of the year, 72s. 5d.—for the second quarter, 70s.—for the third quarter, 66s. 6d.—and, for the fourth, ending on 1st of December, 57s. 6d.
It is a notion widely entertained in this country, that the British corn laws exclude from the British markets an almost incalculable quantity of American grain, and it is this erroneous idea that does more to strengthen the American System, than any other single consideration. Now, if in seasons of ordinary abundance in England, the price of grain, as is shewn above, does not exceed one hundred and fifty cents per bushel of sixty pounds, it must be very clear, that a very moderate duty, say such an one as we ourselves impose on foreign wheat, twenty-five cents per bushel, would, in ordinary years, exclude our grain; for as freight cannot be estimated at less than twenty cents per bushel, and insurance, commissions and other charges, at less than ten cents more, and as the price of grain in our seaports cannot upon an average be estimated below one dollar per bushel, nothing could be gained by its shipment. Indeed the proof of this fact is so clear to any man who knows how to reduce sterling money into currency, and who will take the trouble of reading the first English price current he meets with, that none can any longer believe this fallacy, who is not determined to remain in ignorance.
But even if this were not as we have described it, there is another reason, which would completely put at rest the idea, that we should greatly profit by the abolition of the corn laws of England. It is, that other countries can supply her much cheaper than we can. Mr. Jacobs, in his “Report on the trade in corn, ordered by the House of Commons to be printed 14th March, 1826,” calculates that wheat can be imported into England, free of duty, from the maritime provinces of Russia at forty-three shillings per quarter, from Cracow at forty-five shillings and sixpence, and from Warsaw at forty-eight shillings. Since the opening of trade to the Black Sea, we have seen the price of wheat at Odessa, quoted we think below twenty-five shillings the quarter. These are facts which are within the reach of any person who wishes to understand the true state of the case, and as they are facts which have a most intimate connection with our legislation upon foreign interests, we think that the raising of a Committee in Congress, for the purpose of embodying in a report all the information which could be collected on the subject of the foreign grain markets, would be of incalculable advantage to the nation. To a public document, there is attached a weight and influence which does not belong to a private composition, and besides this there is given to it a circulation through the gazettes which no other publication could possibly have.
That other nations can supply Great Britain with grain cheaper than we can, has been we think most clearly demonstrated by the experience of the past year. From the statement above referred to, we learn that the quantity of foreign wheat entered for consumption in the United Kingdom, during the year, was about a million and a half of quarters, equal to fourteen millions of Winchester bushels. And what proportion of this was supplied by the United States? The statement before us does not inform us, but from enquiries made personally of merchants whose business it was to be acquainted with the fact, we think we are far within the truth, when we say, that the quantity of flour exported from the United States to Great Britain, between September, 1828, when the news of the failure of the crop first reached the United States, and September, 1829, did not exceed one hundred and fifty thousand barrels, equal to seven hundred and fifty thousand bushels of wheat. And why did we not export a larger quantity?—Simply because we had it not to spare, and this fact of itself is sufficient to put down, at once, the doctrine so constantly harped upon by certain political arithmeticians, that agriculture is so overdone that the farmer knows not what to do with his produce.*
[* ] By the annual Commercial Statement of the year ending on the 30th September, 1829, subsequently published, it appears that the quantity of flour exported to England, Ireland and Scotland was 221,176 barrels, equal to 1,105,680 bushels, besides 4001 bushels of wheat. 251,564 bushels of corn, and 130 barrels of Indian meal—being less than the one-tenth of what was imported.