Images de page

latest tariffs of Great Britain and her colonies, of France, and other countries, and even of the islands of Cuba and Porto Rico.

The new tariff proposed by the Treasury, and that recently reported by the Committee of Ways and Means of the House of Representatives of the United States, do not bring down the tax on imports to be paid by the consumer in the United States to the scale adopted in the countries named. Of course, to arrive at this result in each instance a few articles, such as tobacco (which pays nearly 1,200 per cent in Great Britain), are excluded from the general tariff. The highest duty exacted in the British North American colonies upon the importation of our products and merchandise into them does not exceed 12} per cent ad valorem, and their free list is comparatively more liberal than ours; and it should also be borne in mind that our products and manufactures are admitted by the colonies on the same terms as the products and manufactures of Great Britain.

The increase of the demand for coals in the United States will be caused by the increase of the use of steam power of all kinds, steam manufactories, mills, steam vessels on the ocean and upon our inland waters, locomotives for railroads, and in the auginented use of coals for gas and for domestic fuel. Those most competent to form a correct opinion on this subject have not hesitated to express the conviction that for many years to come the supply in our country will not be equal to the demand for home consumption, and this year the deficiency will be near 500,000 tons, and that the demand will continue to exceed the supply, and require foreign importations to make up the deficiency until the coal fields of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, etc., are more fully opened and a larger portion of their inexhaustible wealth brought into market. These coals do not as yet reach our seaboard markets, except in limited quantities. All the Atlantic cities rely principally on Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland for domestic coal, and on Great Britain and Nova Scotia for their foreign coal.

The statistics annexed show how rapid has been the augmentation of Pennsylvania coals since 1819, and enable some comparison to be made between that State and other States.

In twenty years, it is repeated, no foreign coal whatever will be brought into the United States for use, unless of very peculiar qualities and for particular purposes. Great Britain and Ireland, it is stated, now raise 42,000,000 tons of coals annually, and export 4,000,000 tons, leaving 38,000,000 tons for home consumption. Increasing as the

Some English writers insist that the coal fields of Great Britain will yield a full supply of coals for several thousands of years -some for two, and some one thousand, and a few fall a little lower. Sir Robert Peel, when (July 25, 1834) he resisted the taking off the export duty on coals, said (vide Peel's Opinions and Speeches, p. 441): "I am not at all satisfied as to the proofs of the very abundant supply of coal in this country. I know that the reproduction of coal (and the evidence of reproduction is far from convincing; in fact, I may say that there is no positive evidence of a reproduction) is not so rapid as the consumption. Then our legislature is sure'y not to contemplate merely the present interests of the country; it is bound to look forward, even for a period of four hundred or five hundred years. In matters of legislation or fiscal arrangement, the interests of remote periods ought always to be considered, unless some immense ultimate advantage is to be gained. I am not satisfied that the supply of coals in this country--I mean of coals lying so near the surface as to be procured upon cheap and moderate terms-is so abundant as some honorable gentlemen suppose. That somewhere in the bosom of the earth there is a supply that may last for centuries I do not mean to deny; but if it has to be procured at such a cost as to render the price of coal in this country equal to what it is in foreign countries, there must be an end at once to the great advantage for manufacturing which we now enjoy." use of coals is in the United States, it is not extravagant to estimate that in twenty years the home demand will exceed 20,000,000 of tons annually. The anthracite coal of Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia will find its way west, and the bituminous coal of the same States continue to supply the Atlantic border; whilst the States of Illinois, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Missouri will meet the wants of the ultramontane region; but so soon as the railroad transportation contemplated is completed, all will send a portion of their vast stores of superior coal to the seaports for exportation, and at cheaper prices than any other coals can be supplied. A sagacious writer on the subject of the increase of coals in the United States estimates that in less than thirty years as much as 35,000,000 tons will be raised annually and find a profitable market.

It is not a little extraordinary that whilst most of the statesmen of this country denounce the restrictive tariff system, not yet extirpated from some of the despotic governmental senilities of the Old World, and boast that we are in advance of mankind in respect to the doctrines of “freedom of trade,

some of

m still cling to the protective duty on coals, in the face of the fact that Great Britain, Austria, Russia, the Netherlands, the Hanse Towns, Mexico, Sweden, Cuba, and some of the British colonies and several other countries have released all impositions upon foreign coals, and admit them free of charge or impost.

And why should consumers of coal in the United States—the manufacturers of cotton and wool, and pig iron and castings, and other manufactures—the railroads, the gaslight consumers, the steamship and steamboat owners, and the hundreds of thousands who use coalbe compelled by law to pay a tax of 30 per cent to the proprietors of domestic collieries for the privilege of using such foreign coal? If foreign coals are the best or the cheapest, there is no justice in coercing the coal consumers to pay 30 per cent, any more than to constrain by law the consumers of coffee or tea, or marble, or spices, or wines, or watches, or other foreign product or manufacture, and of many other articles of foreign merchandise, luxuries as well as necessaries, now imported free of duty or proposed so to be.

With respect to the British North American colonies, the trade and commerce between us and them should be regarded as an American continental question. We should not be content with a narrow view of the present state of things merely. We should extend our vision to the future; and every American of intelligence must discern in that future the certain ultimate union of those colonies with the United States, if not in the same national government, in the closest bonds created by natural, commercial, and social relations, and connected

Again, June 18, 1842 (ibid. p. 442): “Coal is an article not capable of reproduction, one which this country possesses in greater abundance than any other.

And again, July 12, 1838 (ibid. p. 441): "I have foreseen the consequences of permitting foreigners to purchase our coal free for many years. I foresee the injury it will be likely to create as regards competition with foreign manufacturers, and it is the fault of this House that an exception has not been made with regard to this particular article, thereby securing to England the elements of future prosperity."

The British Government, however, yielded to the clamors of the coal proprietors (who, as all such interests are too prone, consulted their immediate present profit, rather than the welfare and future prosperity of their country) and repealed the export tax on coals. The United States are forbidden by the Federal Constitution to levy any such tax, and, besides, we have more than twelve times the coals Great Britain has.

10. The idea of Nova Scotia coals that must pay a rent charge of 2 shillings per ton before leaving the pits, that must encounter the expense of transportation by sea of 700 miles to Boston, or 900 miles to New York, or 1,200 miles to Philadelphia, and then be transshipped and sent overland, either through canals or by railroads or up rivers, to the places of consumption in the interior, and there undersell our coals raised in the vicinity, is utterly preposterous. Our coal fields and mines are as rich and productive as any in the world, and, as heretofore observed, the kinds and qualities of our coals in the different sections of this Union embrace nearly every known variety, though it is conceded that the Nova Scotia coals are different in one or two particulars from any description of our coals usually found in the markets of the Atlantic cities of the Middle and Eastern States. So far as that difference constitutes any superiority of the Nova Scotia coals for any specific use or purpose, they will find a market in those cities, but no farther, as it is undeniable that for general utility they are decidedly inferior to our coals.

11. Another important advantage possessed by the domestic coal interests of the United States over foreign coals is that purchases of our coals can ordinarily be made by consumers on easier terms and with greater convenience than can purchases of foreign coals, and so as to save the expense of the intervention of the numerous “middlemen” between the coal producer and the consumer, which can not well be avoided in purchasing foreign coals. In the neighborhood of our collieries, and in the vicinity of our primary coal marts, other domestic products or manufactures are often bartered for coals, and with mutual advantage to both parties. Arrangements for credits upon purchases can ordinarily be more readily made between the vendor and home purchaser of domestic coals than in respect of purchases of foreign coals. In many cases, except in the large cities, sales of domestic coals are not regulated by the strict rules of commercial usage controlling those of foreign coals. The practice in the United States, pursued more perhaps than in any other country, by all who raise products, of dispensing with mercantile agents and interchanging with one another their domestic commodities for home use and consumption, has grown up from relations and associations originating in different ways-sectional, State, neighborhood, social, and personal in their character—but the custom is so deeply rooted that it can not be changed. As to the domestic coal trade in this regard it will require something more than the release of the duty on provincial coals to unsettle it and change the established channels through which it has been conducted. Our people have become accustomed to this mode of doing business. Many different, important, and influential interests are combined to preserve the present course of trade, and it can not easily be subverted or disturbed.

12. The Statement A in the appendix shows that the Mining Association of the British provinces have had the management of the coal fields upward of a quarter of a century, and commenced working the Pictou and Sidney mines as long ago as 1827; and yet not 200,000 tons of coal have been raised from the mines in any one year. It would be a deplorable confession of our lack of enterprise and industry, and of our inferiority to the Nova Scotians, for us to apprehend (even if a change of the control of the mines favorable to their increased production should take place) any injurious competition from them in coals, either in our own or foreign markets. If it were possible that the entire laboring male population of Nova Scotia could engage in coal mining, they could not produce 2,000,000 tons of coal annually. If they bought all their food and drink and raiment, all their necessaries and luxuries, abandoned fishing, shipbuilding, and agriculture, and other employments of manual labor, and devoted themselves exclusively to raising, shipping, and selling coals to the United States, they could not materially affect the domestic coal interests of this country.

The stimulant to increased production given by the abrogation of the United States duty of 30 per cent can not provide them the means of increase. It will not change the tide of European emigration from the United States to Nova Scotia. The exoneration of their coals from this duty will not have the talismanic power of creating additional labor to raise, transport, and ship their coals, or to give the population of Nova Scotia and the other colonies the ability to consume or otherwise advantageously dispose of the additional stores of our manufactures and products which they must receive in payment for any augmented shipments of coals to us. In truth, its effects in any way will be limited as to both countries.

13. There is another consideration that should not be wholly lost sight of. The Statement A shows the character of the gigantic monopoly controlling the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton coal mines, compiled from unimpeachable authorities. An American author of high intelligence, Mr. R. C. Taylor, of Pennsylvania, in his Statistics of Coal, in writing on this very subject,' ridicules the apprehension of competition from these mines, managed under what he styles “the deplorable system,” which must continue to be so long as the monopoly is continued.

But even if the effect of the proposed arrangement should be contrary to the opinions now advanced; if the prices of domestic coals to New England and other consumers of the United States are cheapened by the proposed reciprocal arrangement, the result should not be deprecated by this country. The advocates of the doctrine of protection to our domestic manufactures—our iron, cotton, and woolen establishments, whose aggregate capitals now exceed $200,000,000, surely ought not to object; for all those manufactures will be immediately and directly benefited. So will our immense steam navigating interests on the seas, and in our rivers and lakes; and so will every branch of “home industry” that employs steam power and uses coals for fuel. It does not follow that a reduction of the price of coals involves the substitution of foreign coals for domestic coals. The Eastern manufacturer wants the domestic markets of Pennsylvania, Virginia, and Maryland, and the markets in their vicinity, west and south, wherein to dispose of his manufactures. If New England abandons the coals of those States, she is certain to lose (to some extent at least) their markets. Trade will regulate itself as to prices,

NOTE.-Mr. Taylor, at page 189 of his valuable work, says: “ In reciting these details, we, as well as our readers, can not omit to remark the injurious magnitude o such gigantic monopolies as the one before us. In this case it covers an extent of more tban twelve millions of acres, or three times the size of Wales. It is scarcely necessary to say that its tendency is to impoverish the people, to destroy all energy in cultivating the abundant natural resources of a fine country, to prevent all fair and wholesome competition, to narrow the scope of active and productive industry, and to discourage all individual and general enterprise. On the continuance of such a deplorable system, the rival coal proprietors of the United States inay well found their calculations of a remunerative internal trade in coal at home with even greater safety and certainty than on the influence of tariffs and the restrictions of international regulations."

and as to buyer and seller. It languishes when it ceases to be an interchange of commodities, at fair prices, to both. If domestic coals are reduced in price to the New England manufacturer by allowing the introduction of Nova Scotia coals free, he is enabled of course to manufacture cheaper, so that, in fact, the same quantity of Pennsylvania, Virginia, or Maryland coals will buy a like quantity and quality of manufactures as at this time. If the prices of the manufactures are lessened in a corresponding ratio to the diminution of the present price of coals, the coal producers and the manufacturer mutually realize the same profits as now.

A careful and impartial consideration of all the premises, it is submitted, will result in the conviction that any alarm lest the exoneration of Nova Scotia, or other provincial coals, from the duty of 30 per cent now levied in the United States, or from all duties, may be fraught with ruin to our domestic coal interests, is causeless. Pictou, or Sydney, or any other provincial coals can not thereby be enabled to supplant Pennsylvania, Maryland, or Virginia coals in the New England markets, or even to affect, injuriously, our domestic coal interests, whether of capital or labor, there or elsewhere. In truth the fear that our domestic coal trade, now amounting to more than 9,000,000 tons annually, and increasing at least half a million of tons every year, and the supply not then keeping up with the increasing home demand, can possibly receive detriment from the competition of the comparatively insignificant product of the provincial coal fields, that yield less than 200,000 tons per annum~from which, too, shipments can not be made but about half the year, and the coals also being all of one kind—and, if all the available aid in labor, shipping, and capital that can possibly be obtained to increase their production be estimated, and supposing that the colonies can consume or dispose of our products or manufactures, adequate to pay for the apprehended increase of the quantity of their coals sent to the United States will, it is conceived, be regarded as absurd by practical men of an ordinary degree of commercial intelligence. Instead of arguments of this character against the onerous tax, the people of the United States are compelled to pay for the privilege of using foreign coals, the possessors of coal fields, who entertain any such apprehensions, ought to use more economy, and superadded energy and industry in working their mines and transporting their coals to market. And such means may be safely and fully relied upon as all-sufficient to prevent Nova Scotia coals, and in fact all foreign coals, from injuriously affecting their just interests.

Monopolies created by legislation and upheld by legislation are partial and odious. Monopolies of energy, enterprise, and industry, not founded on invidious legislative protection, are the reverse. Experience has shown that in analogous cases the timidity and selfishness of property has imagined like evil results that never occurred.'

NOTE.- A memorable example of this occurred in 1846, when the coal interests remonstrated against the reduction of the duty of $1.75 per ton on foreign coal, and predicted the destruction of the home coal interests. The intelligent Mr. R. C. Taylor, of Pennsylvania, in his work before cited, published in 1848, says:

COAL TRADE BETWEEN BRITISH AMERICA AND THE UNITED STATES. “During the discussion of the United States tariff bill of 1816 much anxiety was felt and expressed in the United States, but especially in Pennsylvania, as to the effect which a remission of so large an amount of the duty then imposed on the introduction of foreign coals might have on her hoine trade.

“It was shown, and may be confirmed by inspection of our own tables, that

« PrécédentContinuer »