Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. LI. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. LI. - 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. LI.
august 18, 1830.
Tendency of the protective policy to prevent emigration to the West. The doctrine that agriculture is overdone, denied. Contrast between the condition of a farmer, and that of an operator in a factory.
ONE of the greatest delusions which belongs to the American System, is that so widely entertained amongst the people of the Western country, that their interests are promoted by a policy, of which the tendency is to prevent emigration from the Atlantic states. The states of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, and the territories of Michigan and Arkansas, have within their limits more than a hundred millions of acres of uncultivated lands, which can only possess a value by an increase of population. Their true policy, therefore, undoubtedly is, to encourage emigration from the Eastern states, and it has only been within a few years that they have been blind to this palpable truth. In the ordinary course of things, the Western country would be the natural retreat for the surplus population of New England and the middle States; and of the million of souls who have taken up their abode in Ohio, within forty years, the great body are from those sections of country. It is this emigration which has caused her forests to disappear, her uncultivated wildernesses to be inhabited, and her whole surface to be covered with farms and thriving villages. What then should have induced her population to favour the adoption of a system, the tendency of which is evidently to check the streams of emigration? If manufactures are to be raised up, according to the theory of the American System philosophers, to prevent people from turning farmers, it is very manifest that the effect of such a measure will be to retain in the districts best adapted for manufactures, the population which would otherwise have emigrated. And where are those districts? Clearly in New England and the middle states, where the population is dense, and capital abundant, and where labourers can be more advantageously procured than they can possibly be in a new country, where land can be purchased in fee simple at one dollar and a quarter per acre, and where a very little start in the world will enable every man to be his own master and the owner of a farm.
Amongst the advocates of the American System along the seaboard, there is a perpetual cry that agriculture is overdone, that no more people can get their living by agriculture than those already engaged in it. Was ever such sheer nonsense heard in any country but this? What, are we to be told, that because a farmer who cultivates poor land in Philadelphia county cannot grow rich in a few years, that therefore one who emigrates to Ohio, buys eighty acres of land for one hundred dollars, and in one year’s time is as independent for his food, necessary clothing, fuel, and lodging, as the wealthiest nabob in the land, cannot get his living as well as one who is content to be cooped up in a cotton or woollen factory? Compare the situation of the two individuals. Look at the robust, hardy, yeoman of the West, seated on his farm of eighty acres, with his table groaning under the weight of the meat, bread, vegetables, and fruit, which his labour readily produces—with his family warmly clad with cloth woven out of yarn spun in his own house by his wife and daughters; seated before a fire sufficient to roast an ox, and sheltered from the winter’s cold by a cottage built by his own labour and that of his hospitable neighbours. See him, healthful and sprightly, go through his daily work, master of his own actions, accountable for the steady employment of his time to no earthly superior, and enjoying himself, after the fatigues of the day are over, with reading the news, or studying the politics in which he or his sons may become conspicuous actors. Then turn your eyes to the workshop, and behold the emaciated, slender form of the weaver, seated at his loom—accompany him home to his table, furnished with the most scanty fare, produced at the cost of his unremitting toil. Behold his family, slenderly clad, and perhaps occupied in the same or a similar prison with himself—breathing stagnant air, the fibres of cotton, and the exhalations of oil, and of dying drugs; and all huddling at night around a dark chunk or two, in a crowded upper room of a tenement of which he can with difficulty pay the rent. See him, heavy and sorrowful, followed by his young children, not one of them having a minute of time they can call their own, bending their course to the factory, where, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year, their eyes behold nothing but the whirling of spindles, the motion of shuttles, and the revolution of wheels—and where their ears hear nothing but the noise of machinery, or the reproving voice of a task-master, hired to see that not a second is lost by conversation or rest. See him, unacquainted with the news, or the politics of the day, and so dependent upon his employers for his daily bread that he cannot refuse to vote the ticket which they may put into his hand, without the slighest prospect that either he or his posterity can ever take a part in public affairs, or be other than spinners and weavers, living from hand to mouth. Compare the situations of these two individuals, we say, and then answer whether a system, which is calculated to turn into slaves those who might be freemen, to retain in ignorance and poverty those who might become enlightened and prosperous, to impair the morals and health of those who might remain chaste and healthful, is not as anti-republican as it is mischievous and wicked?
But it is not necessary that all who emigrate should become farmers. There are in the West, mechanic and manufacturing employments, which require no artificial aid from tariff laws to support them, sufficient to afford occupation for all the emigrants who can be spared from the over-populated districts. Carpenters, bricklayers, masons, plasterers, painters, glaziers, tinmen, coppersmiths, tailors, shoemakers, hatters, dyers, millers, boatmen, wagoners, welldiggers, joiners, blacksmiths, and numerous others, are wanted throughout the whole Western country, and will continue to be wanted so long as population increases. A field is open for millions of emigrants in the vast regions which are comprised within the valley of the Mississippi, and nothing is calculated to retard that emigration so much as the American System, which teaches, that it is better for people to bow the neck to masters in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland, or to waste their capitals in fruitless attempts to raise wool cheaper than it can be had abroad, than to become freemen in the West, with the certainty of maintenance from whatever pursuit a man may be engaged in. In the Western country nothing is heard of town meetings to lay contributions upon the citizens for the relief of the indigent. Every man, woman, and child, capable and willing to work, can find employment and subsistence. This we speak from personal observation made in course of two journeys through Ohio, during the years 1821 and 1828; and were it not for the temptations held out by the hopes that the tariff system—which has thus far wholly failed as a means of increasing employment for the poor—may still bring about the event, which, like an ignis fatuus, has avoided the grasp of its pursuers, emigration would be continued with redoubled vigor; and the philanthropist and true patriot, who desires only the happiness of the great American family, and feels no jealousy of the growing power of the West, would have the satisfaction to see his fellow citizens enjoying that abundance and independence which are so essential to the preservation of the prosperity and liberties of the people.