Front Page Titles (by Subject) ESSAY No. CXXV. - The Principles of Free Trade
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ESSAY No. CXXV. - 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. CXXV.
may 2, 1832.
The Cotton manufacture. Statistics of, in the United States, as published by the New York Tariff Convention. Tax imposed for the support of, upon consumers.
ONE great benefit conferred upon the public by the Tariff Convention at New York, last October, was the adoption of measures for the collection of statistical details, which were very much needed by the Free Trade party, as documents best adapted to demonstrate the absurdity of the Restrictive System. In pointing out the operation of the duty on cotton goods, as we have frequently done in this journal, we were obliged to assume data, arrived at by a process of reasoning, to argue upon, and we always knew that an argument which was not founded upon positions admitted by the opposite party, was not as powerful as one where the positions were admitted. The necessity, however, of arguing in the dark upon the subject of the cotton manufacture, is now obviated, and we shall henceforth assume as correct, the following statement, condensed by the “New York American Advocate,” from the materials furnished by the Convention, until we are advised that a more authentic one exists:
“Cotton Manufactures.—Summary of the results of the present state of the Cotton manufacture in the United States:
Cotton consumed 77,557,031 pounds, is 214,882 bales, of the average of 361 86.100 pounds.”
From the foregoing statement it appears, that the number of yards of cotton cloth manufactured in the United States is 230,461,990. This immense production, we are told, owes its existence to a Protecting Tariff, and that if the existing duty were to be greatly reduced, the manufacture would be totally destroyed. If there be any truth or meaning in this declaration, it amounts to this, that by means of the Tariff, the manufacturers of cotton cloth are enabled to get a higher price for it than they could get if there was no duty. The extent of this augmented price is not, however, mentioned; but, be it what it may, it constitutes the precise tax which the people of the United States pay for the support of the cotton manufacture. The present duty on cotton cloth of the kind manufactured in this country is 8¾ cents per square yard, which is 6½ cents per running yard of the usual width of three quarters. Now if the whole of this duty were requisite to sustain the manufacture, the tax would be 6½ cents per yard; but such is not the case. It is only on the finer qualities, and on prints and calicoes, which sell for about 18 to 20 cents per yard, that the whole of this duty is necessary for preventing the foreign competition. Upon the coarsest qualities a duty of three cents would be sufficient; but, as we wish to be liberal in our allowances, we are willing to assume three cents per yard, upon an average, as the extent of the tax imposed upon the nation for the support of the cotton manufacture, which, upon the quantity stated, would amount to $6,913,859. That this amount is not overrated, we are most thoroughly convinced; and, if we add to it the tax paid for the yarns, amounting to 10,642,000 pounds, which are charged with a duty of 15 cents per pound, but which we shall only estimate at 6 cents per lb., amounting to $638,520, we shall have a gross sum of upwards of $7,500,000, paid for the support of the cotton manufacture, by the consumers of cotton goods, over and above the full value of the articles. If any body doubts the correctness of this estimate, he can convince himself by asking the first cotton manufacturer he meets whether he will put his name to a declaration of his willingness to reduce the duty below 3 cents per yard upon any one quality which he manufactures.
Having thus demonstrated, from the statistical facts furnished by the manufacturers themselves, that the nation pays them a clear bounty, without any equivalent, of upwards of $7,500,000 per annum, we are, nevertheless, disposed to pursue our argument upon the most liberal basis, and will, therefore, assume the bounty on cotton cloth to be only two cents per yard, and that upon yarn to be only four cents per pound. We shall then have $5,000,000 as the bonus paid to the manufacturers, over and above the full value of their goods.
Let us now examine another point.
By the foregoing statement it appears, that the number of persons employed, in the United States, in the cotton manufacture, is, males, 18,539, females, 38,927, hand-weavers, 4,761—making a total of 62,227. It is not stated what number of each sex are grown persons, and what number are children—but every body knows that a very large portion of them are children. Now if five millions of dollars are contributed by the people of the United States towards the support of 62,227 persons, besides paying their employers the full value of the articles they manufacture, the amount is precisely $80 and a fraction per head, as any one may see, who will take the trouble to make the calculation.
Eighty dollars a piece, per annum, is a sum amply sufficient to maintain all the operatives, young and old, who are employed in the cotton manufacture; and it is, therefore, manifest, that the benefit which the community derives from the labour of the whole manufacturing community is not one sixpence more than it would be if these sixty-two thousand and odd persons were employed in turning grindstones, and if the consumers of cotton goods were at liberty to buy their goods where they could get them cheapest. It would, therefore, be better for the public, to enter into a contract with the owners of the cotton factories, to allow each of their operatives a pension, for standing idle, of $40 per annum, the amount which Pennsylvania allows to old soldiers, which would be equal to $2,500,000, if they would, in consideration thereof, shut up their factories.
It may, perhaps, be thought, that the owners of factories would not agree to this, unless some compensation were also made to them for the interest on their capitals. Very well—let us examine and see what we could afford to do towards buying them up.
We are told by the above statement, that the capital employed in the cotton manufacture in the United States is $44,914,988. This of course includes the cost of buildings, machinery, lands, and water-power, and the funds invested in raw materials, goods on hand, outstanding debts, and money in hand to pay wages. What proportion of this amount is fixed capital, which cannot well be applied to other pursuits, is not stated, but, as we are told that the whole number of cotton mills is 795, and these have probably not cost, upon an average, with all their appurtenances and machinery, more than $30,000 a piece, we may reasonably conclude that 24,000,000 dollars would be an ample allowance. The rest of the capital being circulating, such as goods and money, could easily be turned into foreign commerce, which would be opened by Free Trade. Now it is evident, that after paying the pensions to the operatives, there would be a fund left, to be disposed of to buy up the proprietors of the factories, of $2,500,000, which would enable the public to allow them an interest or rent for shutting them up. Six per centum would be sufficient allowance, and this, upon twenty-four millions of dollars, would amount to $1,440,000, which would leave to the consumers a clear gain of $1,060,000 by the compromise, besides all the advantages they would derive from a more extended foreign demand for their agricultural productions, and by an exemption from a large amount now paid in duties upon cotton fabrics imported.
The only conceivable answer to this reasoning, is, that the Tariff does not protect the manufacture of cotton fabrics to the extent of two cents per yard. Then, gentlemen, we ask, Does it protect them to the extent of one cent?—for, if so, the tax is then two millions and a half of dollars. If it does not do this, then come forward, like true patriots, and quiet the discontents of the country, by proposing a reduction of the duty to one cent per yard, and every body will be satisfied. If the manufacture can be sustained without any duty, why persevere in holding on to the present one, at the hazard of breaking up the Union?