Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. LII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. LII. - 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. LII.
september 1, 1830.
Two modes of producing cloth—the process called manufacture, and the process called commerce. High duties are taxes upon those who produce cloth by the latter process. Mr. McDuffie’s speech.
IN that part of Mr. McDuffie’s speech which was published in our last paper, a view of the tariff question was presented, which could not fail to have arrested the attention of the reader, and convinced him more and more of the injustice of the restrictive system, as to its operation on the interests of the cotton, rice, and tobacco growing states. The view referred to we shall notice after a few prefatory remarks.
There are two modes of producing cotton and woollen fabrics: one is, by the process called manufacture, and the other is, by the process called agriculture and commerce. The former mode is resorted to when goods are made near at hand, and the latter, when they are made at a distance. Each mode, however, requires equally the employment of American industry, although this industry is employed in different ways. When the fabric is produced by the process of manufacture, the labourers are employed in workshops. When it is produced by the process of agriculture and commerce, the labourers are employed in fields and in ships. Now, we apprehend that no one would assert, that the labour of agriculturists and sailors was less important to the country than that of operatives in a factory, and that it should be less entitled to the respect and consideration of the community. They must therefore be considered as standing on the same footing, and consequently that system which sets in motion the industry of the planters, farmers, merchants, seamen, ship-carpenters, ropemakers, sailmakers, riggers, pilots, stevidores, painters, plumbers, ships’ smiths, and caulkers, with the dozen other occupations connected with agriculture, navigation, and commerce, is just as much entitled to legislative regard, as that which sets in motion the industry of spinners and weavers.
But as this is a very important matter to be settled, we shall elucidate these positions.
Paul and Peter are two neighbours, living in the country, with large families, for the clothing of which they each require, annually, five hundred yards of woollen cloth. It is therefore of great consequence to them, that they should get their supplies at the least possible cost of labour, or, what is the same thing, of money—for labour, worth one dollar cash, is just of as much value as the dollar which is paid for it. Paul is an American System man, who has taken up the notion that it is for his interest to make his own cloth, and he accordingly employs a part of his family, say five persons, in carrying on the process of manufacture. Peter, on the contrary, is a free trade man, who thinks it for his interest to buy his cloth from somebody else, for he has made a calculation that, with the labour of three of his family, two in the field and one in a ship, he can raise as much cotton, rice, tobacco, wheat, beef, pork, or something else, as will, if sent abroad, purchase his 500 yards of cloth. It is true, that under his system, he has only three of his family employed in producing him 500 yards of cloth, whereas Paul has five employed, but he sees, at the same time, that he is a clear gainer of the value of the labour of two hands, which he can employ in producing something that Paul will have to do without; and, at all events, he perceives that he would be quite as well off as Paul, even if these two extra hands were, for the sake of keeping them employed, set to turning grindstones all day.
Now we should like to know whether the agricultural and commercial process of producing cloth, is not just as much American industry as the manufacturing process? To deny such a plain proposition would not be less absurd than to deny that two and two are four, and we cannot believe it possible that any one can be found so blind as not to see it.
We now come to Mr. McDuffie’s theory. If it be true, that the agricultural and commercial process of making cloth, is as much American industry as the manufacturing process, is there any reason why any distinction should be made by law, which should favour one more than the other? We certainly can see none. Suppose a hatter should discover a process by which he could make a good hat for two dollars, of a quality that his neighbours could not sell for less than four, would it be just to prohibit by law this man from making hats, for fear it would injure the others? Suppose a farmer, by the discovery of some new compost or mode of tillage, could produce double the quantity of wheat on an acre that the neighbouring farmers could produce, would it be right to prohibit him from raising wheat, because he could undersell his neighbours? Suppose an iron master should, by the process of rolling pig iron into bars, be able to sell bar iron at twenty dollars a ton less than others who pursued the hammering process, would it be right to prevent him from enjoying the benefit of his discovery for fear of injuring the interests of the others? No one will pretend to answer in the affirmative to any of these questions. And now, let us ask, if one portion of our citizens, by applying their industry to the agricultural and commercial process of making cloth, can afford to sell it for half the price that others can who make it by the manufacturing process, is it right that they should be prohibited from enjoying the benefit, which, according to the rules of natural and political justice, is their birthright? We can see none. And yet what is the fact? Why, that such prohibition is now actually enforced by a system of taxation, as iniquitous and unjust as it is oppressive and unconstitutional. Protecting duties, as they are insidiously called, in favour of those who produce cloth by the manufacturing process, are nothing in the world but taxes upon the industry of those American citizens, who produce cloth by the agricultural and commercial process. Can a free people be so blind to their interests, or so deaf to the calls of justice, as to suffer such fraud and injustice longer to exist?