Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. XIX. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. XIX. - 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. XIX.
february 21, 1830.
Absurdity of restrictions upon industry, and the employment of capital, shewn in an ironical petition from the cultivators of grapes.
To the Honourable the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States.
The petition of the subscribers respectfully represents:
THAT your petitioners are about to enter largely into the cultivation of the grape, with the laudable and patriotic design of assisting to render this country independent of foreign countries, for its supply of wine; but that your petitioners find obstructions in the way of their enterprise, which nothing but the fostering and protecting hand of Congress can enable them to surmount: These obstructions your petitioners will take the liberty briefly to enumerate:
In the first place, the soil and climate of this country are not well adapted for the grape, and consequently the product of a vineyard must be comparatively small, when compared with that of one of similar extent in France, Spain, Portugal, Teneriffe, or Madeira.
In the second place, labour in the United States is comparatively higher than it is in the wine producing countries of Europe, owing to the facility which exists here of procuring land of first rate quality, adapted to the growing of wheat and corn, and almost every other species of agricultural product, at one dollar and a quarter per acre, which operates decidedly to the disadvantage of the home producer of wine, and, in conjunction with the cause first named, enables the foreigner to undersell him in the home market.
Your petitioners have carefully studied the writings of Messrs. Niles and Carey, and the speeches of Messrs. Clay, Burgess, Lockwood, and others, in favour of the “American System,” and have been clearly convinced, that nothing is so well calculated to increase the wealth of a nation, as imposing restrictions upon the industry of the people. It appears to your petitioners, as has been clearly shewn in some of the writings and speeches referred to, that the great end and object of this government is to organize the whole labor of the people, and to put into activity as much American industry as possible. Your petitioners could demonstrate, to the satisfaction of your honourable bodies, that, to produce a pipe of wine in this country, would require the labour of five times as many people as would be required to produce a similar quantity in France, and hence the nation would be greatly benefited by affording the protection which your petitioners solicit, which is merely to prohibit the importation of claret, port, Madeira and other wines, which can enter into competition with the home producer, who will thereby be put into possession of the home market, which is his natural and unalienable right.
Your petitioners are aware, that there exists in the community a class of persons, who are operated upon by the most inveterate prejudices, and who persist in declaring, that the wine produced in this country is not as good as that which is imported from France, Portugal, Spain, and Madeira. This your petitioners conceive as a prejudice, founded in a predilection for foreign luxuries, and we can consider no man as entitled to the appellation of patriot, who does not consider the products of his own country to be better than those of foreign growth. The case is the same in reference to whiskey and French brandy. Whilst the former can be had in oceans, at twenty-five cents per gallon, there are persons, so destitute of the love of country, that they basely consent to give a dollar and a half a gallon for liquor which is not half so good. Your petitioners are clearly of opinion, that laws should be made to regulate the public taste, and that those who will not conform, in their fancies and appetites, to the consumption of those articles which can be produced at home, even at double the expense at which rival articles can be imported, should be made to do without either.
In regard to the ability of your petitioners to supply the home demand, there exists amongst them not a shadow of doubt. All that is wanted is full and ample protection, for it can readily be seen that a resort to hot houses can easily be had for those species of grapes to which our climate is not congenial. As to an increase of price, which would be apprehended from an act of prohibition, your petitioners regard it as a bug-bear. Have we not seen that high duties bring down prices instead of raising them? Look at cotton and woollen goods, and see the blessings which the nation enjoys from the tariff. But even if a similar effect should not follow a prohibition of foreign wines, your petitioners consider that a rise in price would be highly advantageous to the country. By doubling the price of wine, you double the wealth of the community, as relates to that particular article, and it is now becoming universally received as a sound principle in political economy, that the dearer an article is, the better it is for the consumer.
With these views, which will, we trust, be found to be in perfect harmony with the orthodox tenets of the “American System,” we submit the matter to the wisdom of the legislature; and if a provision could be inserted in the law, to prevent all others from raising grapes, it might perhaps obviate the necessity of our applying at a future day for a bounty to enable us to carry on our labours. And your petitioners, as in duty bound, will ever pray.