Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. XXII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. XXII. - 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. XXII.
march 3, 1830.
Design of Rail roads and canals. Their advantages. The protective policy incompatible with Internal Improvements.
THE great object of rail roads and canals, is to cheapen the transportation of commodities, especially of the kinds which comprise little value in a large bulk. Hence they may be immensely important to cities and populous towns, in reducing the prices of wood, lumber, coal, lime, hay, corn, flour, and numerous other articles produced from the land. They are also important to the country, by enabling distant farmers to transport to market, produce, which before was unsaleable, on account of the heavy expense of land carriage, and to receive from the seaports, iron, salt, groceries, crockery, hardware, and numerous other articles of foreign production. It is therefore chiefly for the transportation of such objects that rail roads and canals are adapted. In reference to commodities which comprise great value in small bulk, they are of so little advantage as hardly to be worth naming. The actual expense of transporting merchandise from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh, a distance of three hundred miles, all the way by a turnpike road, has not for some years, upon an average, exceeded three cents per pound, and therefore, one cent per pound for one hundred miles, may be considered as an estimate sufficiently exact for any ordinary calculation. Supposing canals and rail roads, therefore, to reduce this expense to one-fifth, or even much less, the diminution of expense would not be very sensibly felt upon those valuable commodities which constitute so great a proportion of the supplies sent from the East to the West; upon teas, fine woollen cotton and silk goods, linens, and many other articles, it would not be perceptible, whilst upon hundreds of other objects it would not amount to a difference greater than is sometimes to be found between the prices of two stores in the same town. Even upon the coarsest species of cotton shirting manufactured in this country, weighing about one third of a pound to a square yard, the difference would be such a trifle as to be scarcely visible to the consumer.
Now, if these facts be admitted, it is very clear that rail roads and canals, in order to be profitable to their proprietors, require the existence of that state of things which produces the most numerous exchanges of bulkly articles. And what is that state of things? Clearly, foreign commerce, which, by creating a demand for foreign productions, carries with it a demand, as inseparable as cause and effect, for our agricultural productions. It is all folly to cry out that foreign nations will not buy of us. The reason they do not buy more than they do, is because we refuse to buy of them, and the more we refuse to buy of them, the more do we put it out of their power to buy of us. It is our own fault that the exports of our agricultural products are not one hundred millions of dollars annually, instead of fifty.
It is no answer to this proposition to say, that the home trade calls for rail roads and canals; for if we understand the views of the authors of the “American System,” their project is, to let every state and county and village have a portion of its blessings. In some of the reveries of these philosophers, they have imagined the “American System” to be plastered all over the country, studding the surface of each state with manufacturing villages, and bringing the consumer along side of the producer. Indeed the work is already advancing. In Pennsylvania and Kentucky, meetings of manufacturers have already been held, adopting the system, in particular villages and counties, upon the professed ground that it is injurious to the public interests to import from another state or town, articles which can be made on the spot, and which, by the by, never would be imported unless they could be had cheaper or better. Now, we humbly ask any intelligent man, who is capable of thinking on the subject, whether the “American System” is not adverse to the Internal Improvement policy, and whether it is not a capital error, to suppose that canals and rail roads are called for by that state of things which places the manufacturer along side of the farmer? Even supposing that manufactories should generally be located in New England, canals and rail roads would not be needed to convey to that section of country the cotton and wool and flour of the Southern and middle states. The ocean and the rivers afford already ample means of a cheap communication. We therefore think that the advocates of internal improvement have made a great mistake in connecting their policy with that of the tariff party, who, if their plan should succeed to its full extent, would require no artificial roads and canals to carry on their concerns.