Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. LXXXVI. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. LXXXVI. - 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. LXXXVI.
march 9, 1831.
Adjournment of Congress. Prospects of the Free Trade cause. Upon its success depends the continuance of the Union.
CONGRESS having now adjourned, the city of Washington, for the ensuing nine months, will be no longer the point to which the public eye will be turned to discover the indications of the policy by which this government is to be hereafter guided. Those who are anxious on the subject, who believe with us, that the approaching contest will be terminated by the establishment of a government of unlimited powers, or the overthrow of the American System, who regard the question now at issue as destined to settle the fate of the Republic, will very naturally look to the press for such light on the subject, as may enable them to judge whether any probability exists that the returning good sense of those who have, for a time, favoured the destructive policy which is now shaking this Union to its centre, is, or is not, likely to restore the country to that peace and harmony which all good men must so earnestly desire. Indeed, if some strong indications of a return to the true principles upon which this government was founded, should not be manifested before the next meeting of Congress, that body will assemble under circumstances of the most painful character. Those who have lulled themselves into the belief that the excited state of the South is either partial or evanescent, and that it will subside without the redress of the grievances complained of, have paid little attention to the course of public opinion for seven years, and have profited little by the experience of the last half century in reference to every contest for liberty. Pending the discontents of the colonies which now form this Confederation of States, prior to 1776, the British Government fancied that harsh language and strong measures would silence the complaints of those who were murmuring at unlawful taxation. At a subsequent period, France thought that the kidnapping of Touissaint L’Ouverture, and the letting loose of some kennels of bloodhounds, would quiet the discontents of St. Domingo. When the Spanish king was told that Venezuela, Buenos Ayres, Montivedeo, Chili, Peru, Guatimala, and Mexico were in a state of excitement which would lead to their dismemberment from the Castilian empire, he ascribed such communications to the unfounded fears of those about him, who did not understand human nature as well as himself. Don John of Portugal, exhibited the same incredulity, and, in 1822, when he was told that Brazil would separate from the mother country, he and the Cortes laughed at the silly suggestion.
It is, perhaps, in the nature of things, that those who are in the possession of power should never have a full sense of the danger of overstepping the bounds of moderation in its exercise. Sometimes, however, we see discretion interpose to ward off impending convulsions. Mr. Jefferson gave up the embargo because he saw that the New England States protested against it as an unconstitutional measure, and because he thought that a longer perseverance in it would drive them to a separation. In later times, the British ministry yielded to the Catholics, upon the ground that indications of an approaching civil war were too manifest to remain unnoticed. But instances of infatuation kept up to the last moment, are, perhaps, most frequent. The expulsion of Charles the Tenth from France, of the House of Orange from Belgium, of Constantine from Poland, were all of them events no more likely to happen eight months ago, than the expulsion of King Philip from France, or of King William from Great Britain is at this day. A very small portion of the dissatisfaction which really exists any where, under oppression, is allowed to show itself in outward acts, and it is only when a storm is raised, that the elements of opposition are truly displayed. Who would have pronounced on the 25th day of last July, that there was in Paris a feeling which, if once aroused by a potent cause, would change the form of the government, and drive headlong from his throne, in the short space of three days, the man who knew not how to respect the charter under which he exercised his power? When liberty is at stake, men care little about consequences, and whether the liberty which has been violated by rulers be that of speech, or of the press, or of the hand, by taking from the mouth of labour the bread it has earned, it matters but little. Redress will be sought in precisely the same way, and with as complete a recklessness of the consequences. Does it not, then, behoove those who have an interest in the perpetuation of this Union, and our republican institutions, to weigh well the mighty results that may flow from a longer refusal to listen to the arguments of those who say they are wronged by the mode in which this Government has been lately administered? Is it becoming a wise and patriotic people to look upon the voice of the Southern states as entitled to no respect, because they do not send to Congress a majority of its members? Have minorities no rights under a government designed to be one of limited powers, and powers expressly limited for the purpose of protecting minorities? What those States complain of, and what they have a right to complain of, is, that the people of the North will not listen to their appeals for justice. They deny the right of any man to pronounce a judgment upon the merits of their cause, without hearing what they have to say. They complain that the northern press is closed to their remonstrances, and that rational, legal, and constitutional arguments are met by denunciations and contumely. Indeed, so coarse a domination, so contemptuous an indifference, and so stubborn a disregard of a decent respect for sovereign States have been displayed, that we do not see how any patriotic mind can behold them with composure.
North of the Potomac this Journal is the only one mainly devoted to the discussion of questions of free trade and constitutional liberty. To its columns, therefore, have its patrons a right to look for such intelligence as may throw light upon the actual state of the contest. Just in proportion as reason and argument appear to be likely to produce the change in public policy, which can alone save the Republic, will forbearance and long-suffering operate on the minds of those who almost now despair of redress, except from a resort to measures which they, as well as all others, would deeply deplore. With the design, therefore, of bringing the matter as it really stands into the view of our readers, we shall extract more copiously than we have heretofore done, from the different papers in the North and West, with which we exchange, such articles as may be calculated to show whether or no the anticipations which we have always entertained, that the American System would be overthrown, are likely to be realized.
Already have there appeared some articles favourable to our principles, in quarters where, three months ago, not a breath would have been uttered on the subject, and these may be considered as indications of a latent disposition to come out by degrees in proportion as the public mind is prepared for the truth. The party press will no doubt become more and more enlisted in the contest than it has heretofore been, and many who have not ventured to denounce the restrictive policy, as the American System, will do it as Mr. Clay’s System. We shall also copy from our southern and southwestern papers, sufficient matter to enable our readers in other quarters to see what impressions have been produced upon the public mind in those regions, by the closing of the session of Congress without the adoption of a single measure calculated to inspire them with the belief that a relaxation of the restrictive shackels is soon likely to take place.
Before closing these remarks, we take the liberty of soliciting from our various friends throughout the Union, during the season when they make their remittances, communications as to the state of public opinion in their respective neighbourhoods. It is possible for them to make this journal the instrument of great good to the cause which they have so much at heart. The concentration of the evidence which could be furnished by several hundreds of our subscribers, could not fail to afford mutual aid and support, and, as public opinion acquires a body and strength, in proportion as each individual knows how others think and feel, in the same manner that the right wing of an army in an engagement fights better when it knows that the battle is well maintained on the extreme left, much is to be gained by having one common depository of intelligence. The circulation of this paper throws it into the view of near a hundred editors, located in nearly all of the States. It reaches, besides, most of the Departments and Bureaus of the Federal Government, some fifty or sixty members of Congress, who patronize it throughout the year, the Governors of several States, a number of members of State Legislatures, a considerable body of lawyers who travel the circuits, of planters, farmers, and scientific political economists, near a hundred physicians who have patients to visit, four or five Colleges, reading Rooms in several of our cities, and the counting houses of some of the most intelligent merchants. With these chances of circulation, as far as they extend, it may be seen that this paper has access to the most efficient channels for embodying public opinion, which the country affords, and if its future usefulness shall not be equal to its capabilities, it will not be the fault of the Editor.