Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. CXII. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. CXII. - 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. CXII.
june 22, 1831.
A Camel’s hair Shawl shewn to be the product of domestic industry, although manufactured in India.
“WHO would give a thousand dollars for a shawl,” asked a lady of our acquaintance, the other day, who had been shown one at a shop, at that price, “when so many poor people could be relieved from distress with such a sum?” The remark was very natural, and one which is very often excited when people give extravagant prices for articles of dress or luxury. But are we sure that the rich man, who can afford to spend large sums in costly apparel, does not, by so doing, render as great a service to the poor as if he gave his money in alms? Let us examine the history of this shawl, and see how many people will have been benefited by its sale, and thus have been prevented from the necessity of asking alms—which is a far better mode of serving the poor, than giving them alms after they are in want; for in one case they produce something in exchange for the money they receive, and in the other case they do not.
The shawl was a rich green, with a splendid border, of what is called real camel’s hair. It was made in the East Indies, where it possibly cost five hundred dollars, the residue of the price being required to pay freight, insurance, interest, commissions, duties, and other charges, and the importer’s and retailer’s profits. The process necessary for its manufacture, and for procuring the raw material in India, gave a demand for the labour of a number of persons, and its transportation to this country employed many more, such as the seamen who navi gated the ship, the mechanics who built her, and the labourers who assisted in loading and unloading her. In fact, the labouring classes in every country, who live by their industry, may be considered more or less as standing in need of the patron age of the rich; and if that patronage were to be withheld, it is easily to be seen that they would soon be placed in the attitude of paupers, instead of that of industrious producers, who give an equivalent for what they receive. From this it may be seen, that those who buy articles of value, cannot do it without giving employment to the labouring classes, which employment it is that keeps them from actual poverty.
But we expect to hear some patriotic American System man cry out, “This is all true enough, but charity should begin at home: If our rich people are inclined to expend their money upon articles of taste and luxury, let them give employment to our own citizens, by purchasing articles of domestic production.” What! has the American System no bowels of compassion for the poor Hindoos? Does it teach, that philanthropy is no longer friendship to man, but to one’s own household? Does it prescribe limits to the spirit of benevolence and good will due to the whole human family as children of one common parent, and say, Love thyself better than thy neighbour? Does it assert that the rule of conduct obligatory upon every individual, towards other individuals, is not of equal obligation upon a nation in reference to other nations? We ask these questions, not for information, but to shame that portion of the champions of the Restrictive System who make professions of piety, and who, whilst they compass the whole earth to make proselytes to their faith, are putting into practice and maintaining a vile and anti-christian policy, subversive of all the feelings of charity and universal benevolence, which true philanthropy and religion enjoin.
But we will argue with them upon their own ground—we will take them up upon their own selfish reasoning—and will show that the purchase of this foreign shawl, produced by the industry of Indians, was nevertheless procured by domestic industry. We presume that no one will deny, that that part of the price which pays the ship-owner, the seamen, the ship-carpenter, the sail-maker, the rigger, the mast-maker, the ship-smith, the painter, the plumber, the block-maker, the pilot, the porter, the merchant, the clerk, the retailer, and the various others whose industry is in part rewarded by the importation of this shawl, is a reward to American industry. And now, as to the other part of the price, supposed to be equal to five hundred dollars. Was the shawl obtained for nothing? We presume no one will assert this. It was therefore paid for: And how was it paid for?
First. Either by shipping cotton goods to Calcutta, from Boston, or some other port; or,
Secondly. By a bill on London, transmitted for sale to Calcutta; or,
Thirdly. By a shipment of specie.
As to the first mode, (which is quite a possible one, for there were cotton goods shipped to India, within the last five years, enough to pay for two dozen shawls,)* any statistical collector might see that the fund was derived directly from domestic industry; and it therefore wants no further evidence to prove that the shawl was the product of American industry.
As to the second mode, the bill upon London could only have been drawn upon some fund deposited there from the sale of some products of American industry, shipped to London, or some other place; and, in this case, the shawl will have been procured by domestic industry.
As to the third and last mode, the only point we have to ascertain is, how the specie was obtained by us. If it came out of the mines in North Carolina or Georgia, it was clearly produced by domestic industry. But if it came from Mexico, it was paid for by domestic productions of some kind or other; and, although the process was a little more round-about than the other mode, it was still a purchase of a shawl with the products of domestic industry.
To make this plainer, we will illustrate it by an analogous case. A lady wants a camel’s hair shawl. The lady’s husband has a store full of goods of another sort, and he offers these in exchange for the shawl. The owner of the shawl says he does not want any coffee, or tea, or cotton, or tobacco, or rice, and that nothing will suit him but money. But the merchant finds another dealer, who wants coffee, tea, &c., but who has no shawls for sale, and is willing to pay money for what he buys. The husband therefore sells his coffee, tea, &c., to the one, and buys the shawl of the other. Now is not the shawl, in this case, as certainly and as manifestly procured with the coffee, tea, cotton, tobacco, or rice, as if the very shawl-merchant himself had taken them?
[* ] The total value of cotton goods shipped to India, from the United States, during the years 1826-’27-’28-’29, was $12,710.