Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. LXXVI. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. LXXVI. - 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. LXXVI.
december 29, 1830.
A Copper mine discovered. Extent of taxation imposed by the American System.
THE following piece of intelligence we have copied from another paper:
“Another Copper Mine.—The Norristown (Pa.) Herald, of Tuesday, says: “The Perkiomen Copper-Mining Company have lately discovered another copper-mine, in Frederick township, on a tract of land a few miles above their old mine, which, from the abundance of red, green, and blue copper ore, taken out but a few feet below the surface, promises to be of vast importance. Experienced miners, who have examined the mine and ore, say, that it far exceeds any of the kind they have ever seen in Europe or America. The company have purchased the tract of land, containing one hundred acres, where the copper has been discovered, and also the tract adjoining, containing one hundred and fifty acres, by which they will gain water-power sufficient, not only to work all the pumps required, but also for any machinery or mill works which may be necessary. The superintendant will be at the mine on Thursday next, when those who wish to see it are invited to attend. A few shares of stock, we understand, are for sale.”
The concluding sentence of the foregoing article looks amazingly as if this copper-mine was got up for a speculation. Be this, however, as it may, we venture to predict, that, before another Congress goes round, we shall see this concern sending in their petition for a protecting duty upon copper. They will probably set forth, that the wealth of a country consists in its mineral treasures; that the mines of Perkiomen are too barren to be worked, unless pig copper can be made to bring 40 or 50 cents a pound, as in the good old war times; that it is now selling at 18 cents; that it is an outrageous shame that there should be no duty on an article so essential for the building of ships, as sheathing copper, and so small a one as four cents a pound on bolts; and that a commodity so necessary for the distillers of whiskey and rum, as copper bottoms, should be admitted at 15 per cent. If this petition be listened to, it will probably induce a hundred others, who happen to have land upon which symptoms of copper ore have appeared, also to fall to mining, and, as the first duty cannot answer their purposes, they will apply for an increase of it; and it is not unlikely, if the present mania for conferring legislative monopolies be not arrested, we shall have another blow aimed at the ship-building interest, which will take out of the pockets of the merchants, ten thousand dollars, for the sake of putting one into the pockets of the Perkiomen Mining Company, who, it seems, are wealthy people, able to afford to give a good price for two hundred and fifty acres of land. Our prediction on this head, is not, at this day, more foreign to probability, than would have been, two years ago, one anticipating that an attempt would be made to get a duty on foreign hides, in order to put money into the pockets of the graziers; and yet we have seen such an attempt made. The truth is, that the desire of growing rich, at other people’s expense, has become so general, that every body seems to be planning some scheme by which he can have a monopoly against every body else. The only remedy we can devise, in the case, is this, and we do most earnestly recommend it to our friends in Congress, for adoption. Whenever the substance of a petition is announced by a member, which, for the benefit of those who are not initiated in legislative mysteries, we will state, is the only mode in which nine out of ten petitions are served up—let some one ask him how much cash will satisfy the petitioners. As soon as this is ascertained, let provision be made for raising the money by direct taxes from the people, and let the applicants be bought off at once. Depend upon it, that an annual tax of ten millions of dollars, to pay gratuities, would occasion an immense saving to the country, which, in our humble estimation, does not maintain its present system of revenue and protection together, at a less cost then five dollars a head upon the whole population, that is, sixty millions of dollars per annum. If any man doubts this, let him put these questions to himself, and he will soon be convinced:
How much more do I pay for the foreign goods consumed by my family, than they could be bought for, if there was no duty?
How much more do I pay for goods of domestic production, than I would have to pay, if there was no duty to shut out the foreign competition?
How much do I pay for every thing I use, foreign and domestic, in consequence of every body of whom I purchase being obliged, as I am, to pay dearer for the articles above-mentioned?
A little acquaintance with the iniquitous character of the American System, which reverses the rule of taxation that belongs to other governments, and compels people to pay high rates in proportion to their poverty, and not in proportion to their wealth, would soon convince any one that the estimate we have assumed is quite within bounds. There is nothing that we eat, or drink, or wear, that is not taxed, one way or another. Our coffee, tea, chocolate, and sugar, are taxed. Our milk and bread are taxed, because we must pay the milkman and baker more for those articles than they would sell them for if they were not taxed like ourselves. We are taxed in our meat, and poultry, and fish, in the same way. We are taxed in our wine, brandy, and whiskey. The table is taxed, the table-cloth is taxed, the plates, and knives, and forks, and the glasses, are all taxed. The pepper, and salt, the oil, and vinegar, are taxed. Our hats, coats, vests, pantaloons, boots, shoes, linen, cravats, flannel, pocket handkerchiefs, suspenders, are all taxed. The hats, and gowns, and cloaks, and every other article of apparel for females and children are taxed. We write on taxed paper, with a taxed pen, made with a taxed penknife, and seal a letter with a taxed wafer or wax. We walk with a taxed cane, shoot game with a taxed gun, taxed powder, and taxed shot, or kill a buck with a taxed rifle. We ride in a taxed stagecoach, we take a trip in a taxed steamboat, or drive a taxed wagon, over a taxed road. In fine, in whatever direction we turn our heads, taxation stares us in the face—and, if we only had candour enough to confess the truth, we would all acknowledge that a more tax-ridden people, than we boasters of light taxes and economical government are, is not to be found on the face of the earth.
And cui bono? More than half of it, for the benefit of a mere handful of monopolists, whom it would be infinitely better to maintain directly out of the public treasury, than to allow to put their fingers into the people’s pockets, in the manner they now do.