Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. LXXXIV. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. LXXXIV. - 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. LXXXIV.
february 23, 1831.
The Cotton manufacture. Tax imposed thereby upon consumers. Imports and exports of foreign cottons for five years.
THE tariff people say, that it is not true that the consumers of cotton goods in the United States pay an increased price for the domestic article, equal to the whole duty to which a similar foreign one is liable; and, because they can prove this, by showing that the lower qualities of domestics can be bought at 7 or 8 cents a yard, whilst the duty is 8¾ cents, they endeavour to make the public believe that no additional price whatever is paid by the consumer. To do this, however, they are obliged to assert that cotton goods can be made as cheap in this country as in Europe—a position which is wholly refuted by their adherenceto the prohibitory duty, which they are not willing to abandon in the slightest degree. Can any one believe for a single moment, that such a duty as the one now existing would be adhered to with such pertinacity, were it not from a full knowledge that its removal would bring the foreign article into competition with the domestic? Undoubtedly not. What the precise amount of the tax, which the present duty puts into the pockets of the manufacturers, is, nobody but themselves can tell; but we think we can prove, from testimony furnished by themselves, that the amount is a most enormous one, and such as no free people on earth, but the dupes of the American System would submit to.
It is insisted by some of the manufacturers, that the quantity of cotton manufactured in the United States is 200,000 bales. The writer who furnished the article in the “Encyclopœdia Americana,” under the head of “The Cotton Manufacture,” in a communication to us, published in this journal of 26th January, estimates it at 50,000,000 pounds. According to the same writer, each pound of cotton will make 4 yards of cloth—which is less than other statements have made it, and, consequently, there are manufactured, in the United States, 200,000,000 yards.
Now, if the duty upon foreign cotton cloth has the effect of increasing the price of the domestic article only one cent per yard, the tax amounts to two millions of dollars.
If it increases it two cents it amounts to four millions of dollars—and,
If it increases it three cents it amounts to six millions of dollars.
If, instead of taking the estimates of the writer referred to, which are the most moderate we recollect to have seen, and assume, 200,000 bales, of 300 lbs., as the quantity consumed, and 5 yards as the quantity of cloth manufactured out of each pound, according to a Rhode Island statement published some time ago, we should have 300,000,000 yards, which, at 3 cents increased price, would be a tax upon the nation of nine millions of dollars.
We shall not, however, at present, lay the tax at more than six millions of dollars, besides what goes into the public treasury, and which amounts to at least three millions of dollars more, as will appear from the following.
The quantity of cotton piece goods imported into the United States—white, printed, and coloured—with the quantities exported, was as follows:
Now, deducting the exports from the imports, we have an aggregate of $33,637,867, the amount of foreign cotton goods consumed in the United States in five years, being, upon an average, $6,727,573 per annum. What proportion of these goods were low priced, we have no means of ascertaining. Upon none of them, however, was the duty less than 25 per centum, and, if there were any which cost as low as 8¾ cents per square yard, the duty was 100 per centum. That there was a great proportion of them which cost as low as 12 cents, we have the evidence of an intelligent merchant, familiar with the English trade, for asserting; and the duty, therefore, we think, will not be overrated, if placed, upon the whole, at 50 per cent. on an average, or say $3,000,000.
Leaving out of the question the amount which goes into the treasury, let us now see how the bounty of six millions, paid to the manufacturers, operates. By the improved machinery now in existence, it is possible for one person to spin, in a day, as much cotton as will make fifty yards of cloth, and it is possible for another person to weave fifty yards of cloth in a day. At this rate, each twenty-five yards of cloth calls for the labour of one person, and, consequently, one person, in a year, or three hundred working days, can make 7,500 yards. At this rate, it would require 26,667 operatives to make 200,000,000 yards. But we have no objection to fixing the number at 50,000, which is nearly double, and we presume that no one will say that we have here underrated the operatives required to spin and weave all the cotton cloth manufactured in the United States. Now, if this number be assumed, it will follow, that, if the duty on cotton goods increases their price one cent a yard, it operates as a bounty of forty dollars a head, per annum, upon every man, woman, and child, employed throughout the United States, in the cotton manufacture, which is precisely equal to the pension which the State of Pennsylvania thinks it enough to allow to the old revolutionary soldiers, who fought and bled for the emancipation of the country from the very sort of tyranny now practised by a majority of Congress. If the duty, however, operate as a tax of two cents per yard, it will be equal to a bounty of eighty dollars per head, and if of three cents, it will be equal to a bounty of one hundred, and twenty dollars a head, for every operative, young and old, male and female. This bounty, it will be recollected, is paid to the master manufacturers, over and above the fair price of the cloth—that is, the price which the consumer would have to pay for it if there were no duty. In other words, it is paid as a gratuity, and, as this latter sum is much more than the whole labour of all these persons is worth, keeping them employed in the cotton manufacture adds no more to the wealth of the community, than if they were all kept turning grind stones, without any thing to be ground.
Let the restrictionists say what they please, their system, in all its parts, comes to this, and, if any one of them is inclined to attempt to refute this reasoning, our columns are open to his communications. We have examined this subject attentively. The facts we assume as the basis of our reasoning are such as any man can ascertain to be true, and the conclusions are necessary results from those facts. We now declare, and we defy contradiction, that it would be advantageous for the consumers of cotton goods in this country, rather than adhere to the present system, to raise a fund, similar to the fund we have recommended for the sugar planters, and to pay out of it a sinecure of five thousand dollars a year, to every proprietor of a cotton factory in the United States, supposing them to amount to two hundred, and a salary of one hundred dollars a year to every man, woman, and child, employed in the manufacture of cotton, as a consideration for standing idle, with their hands hanging down by their sides, and letting the consumers of cotton goods buy them where they can get them cheapest. Against such a proposition no objection could lie, upon the ground that it would be depriving the operatives of their living, for this plan would furnish them with the means of living better, without work, than they now possess, with work.