Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. XXXVIII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. XXXVIII. - 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. XXXVIII.
may 8, 1830.
Reasons why the price of home-grown wool is cheaper in England than in the United States. Prices of fresh meat in England. Price of sheep in the United States.
ONE of the reasons why the British can raise wool cheaper than we can in this country, is, that the British people are great mutton eaters, as well as beef eaters. This fact is proved by the price which mutton bears throughout that whole country, and it is very clear, that if the English raisers of sheep can sell the carcasses alone of the animal, for a very considerable price, they have an advantage over those of a country where mutton is not a favourite food of the people, and is consequently cheap.
It has been a common notion in this country, that we could raise wool cheaper than the British, upon the ground that land is cheaper in the United States than in England; and this advantage of superior cheapness of land has been considered as more than sufficient to counteract the disadvantages to which we are subject from the rapacity of wolves and dogs, severity of climate, and a want of acquaintance with the different modes of treatment, which long experience alone can furnish. There may be some truth in this supposition; but if it can be shewn that a sheep in England is worth, after he is raised, two or three times as much as one can be sold for in the United States, it is very clear that a greater expense could be afforded in the former country than in this, without enhancing the price of wool.
In looking over “Evans & Ruffy’s Farmers Journal and Agricultural Advertizer,” published at London some time last year, we had the curiosity to examine the prices current of fresh meat in the English markets, and as these may furnish data for other calculations than the one we are about to make, we shall transcribe them for the benefit of our readers. The prices mentioned are for the stone of 8 lbs. sinking offal.
“Smithfield, Monday August 24. On Friday the demand for beef was rather dull, and last Monday’s prices were hardly supported. Mutton and lamb were in pretty good request. This morning the beef trade is tolerable; very choice things realise 4s. 4d.—but for the general trade we go no higher than 4s. 2d.; and that price is maintained with difficulty. There is a fair request for mutton; good old Downs make about 4s. 4d. Lamb is rather heavy in disposal, but at much about the same prices as last Monday. Beef, 3s. 0d. to 4s. 2d.—Veal 4s. 2d. to 5s. 2d.—Mutton 3s. 4d. to 4s. 2d.—Pork, 4s. 0d. to 4s. 10.—Lamb, 4s. 2d. to 5s. 0d.
Newgate. Beef, 3s. 0d. to 3s. 6d.—Mutton, 3s. 4d. to 3s. 10d.—Veal, 3s. 4d. to 4s. 8d.—Pork, 3s. 4d. to 4s. 8d.—Lamb, 4s. 0d. to 4s. 8d.
Ledenhall. Beef, 2s. 8d. to 3s. 6d.—Mutton, 3s. 0d. to 4s. 0d.—Veal, 3s. 4d. to 4s. 10d.—Pork, 3s. 6d. to 4s. 10d.—Lamb, 4s. 4d. to 5s. 2d.
Southall cattle market, August 19. Beef, 3s. 2d. to 4s. 2d.—Mutton, 3s. 6d. to 4s. 4d.—Veal, 4s. 6d. to 5s. 2d.—Pork, 3s. 10d. to 4s. 6d.—Lamb, 4s. 6d. to 5s. 0d.
Reading cattle market, August 17. Beef, 3s. 4d. to 4s. 8d.—Mutton, 3s. 4d. to 4s. 8d.—Lamb, 4s. 0d. to 4s. 10d.—Veal, 3s. 8d. to 4s. 6d.
The following prices are per pound.
Birmingham, Smithfield, August 20. Beef, 5¼d. to 6¼d.—Mutton, 5½d. to 6½d.—Veal 5½d. to 7½d.
Bristol, August 20. Beef, 5d. to 6d.—Mutton, 5d. to 6½d.—Pork 4½d. to 5d.
Kirkdale, Liverpool, August 17. Beef, 5d. to 5¾d.—Mutton, 5¼d. to 5¾d.—Lamb 5½d. to 6d.
Manchester Smithfield. Beef, 3½d. to 5¾d.—Mutton, 3½d. to 6½d.—Veal, 5d. to 7d.—Pork, 3d. to 4d.—Lamb, 4d. to 6d.
Norwich, August 22. Beef, 6d. to 8d.—Veal, 5. to 7½d.—Mutton, 5d. to 7d.—Lamb, 6d. to 7d.—Pork, 5d. to 7½d.”
From the foregoing statement the following facts appear; first, that mutton in England sells for as much as beef, and in many places for more; and secondly, that the average price, which we have ascertained from summing up the various rates and taking the medium, is 5½d. and a fraction, which, reducing British currency into ours, at the rate of exchange current for some years past, is 11 cents per pound. Thus it will be seen, that in almost any part of England, the carcass of a sheep, weighing 50 lbs. will sell as meat for $5.50, leaving the skin and wool as an incidental product.
Now what is the state of the case in this country? Hundreds of thousands of sheep can be purchased in the interior districts, carcasses, skin, wool and all, for one single dollar per head. The price of mutton in the Philadelphia market, and we believe in the markets of all our Atlantic cities, is never more than 6¼ cents per pound, generally 5 cents, and we have often known it as low as 4. In the country villages, in the Western country, it is even less, and it does not admit of a doubt, that there is, with a great portion of our country inhabitants, a prejudice against mutton. The same prejudice exists amongst the blacks, and with some religious sects, and it is in reality in the cities alone, where the American System finds any considerable aid from the consumption of mutton. In order therefore to compete with the British, in the raising of wool, we must become a nation of mutton eaters; and we are clearly of opinion, that those who wish to see wool in this country produced as cheap as it is in England, should set the example of having nothing but sheep served up at political barbecues, at the tables of the woollen spinners and weavers, and at the festivals of the American Institute. They should always keep in mind, that the cod-fishery of New England was, in a great degree, established by the patriotic resolution of our Eastern fellow-citizens, to have a cod-fish dinner once a week. This being a legitimate protection to the wool growing interest, with which no one would have a right to find fault, it would stand upon a different footing from a tariff law, which taxes a man against his will; and if, in the progress of time, the American people shall be willing to pay more for mutton than for beef, some hopes may be indulged, that the awful butchery of sheep, which we understand is now going on to a great extent, will not be repeated.
We are not, however, of opinion, that such a change in the public taste will soon be brought about. The interests of the graziers of cattle and the growers of hogs in the Western country, in New York and New England, are decidedly opposed to it, and it is quite probable that so long as beef and pork can be brought to market from a distance of from 5 to 800 miles, as it is now, in a living state, and sold at reasonable prices, so long will they be preferred.