Cortland Standard and Weekly Journal, Friday, October 14, 1892.
Pierce Against Pierce.
To the Editors of the Cortland STANDARD:
Mr. Pierce’s free trade speech published in the Cortland Democrat, and his articles in favor of protection, recently published in the Cortland STANDARD and in the Homer Republican, place him in a most ridiculous position. In 1858, Lincoln and Douglass held a series of joint political discussions that were widely circulated and extensively read throughout the country. It was then Lincoln against Douglass. In 1891, McKinley and Campbell held joint discussions, and the head lines announcing their discussions read “McKinley against Campbell.” The head lines announcing Mr. Pierce’s tariff discussion must necessarily read “Pierce against Pierce.” It represents Pierce, as an apostle of free-trade, wrestling with Pierce as an apostle of protection, and, judging by the speech and articles above referred to, with the honors altogether in favor of Pierce as a Protectionist.
Whatever some Republican bureaus may do, it is evident that no Democratic literary bureaus will ever print his free-trade speech side by side with his articles in favor of protection. Even the most ultra free traders would see that Mr. Pierce’s joint discussion makes against them. It could not be said that the argument favored the theory of protection because it was presented with greater ability, for the contestant is the same on both sides, Pierce against Pierce. Pierce in his downward flight front the heights of protection to the treacherous quicksands of free trade acquired such velocity that he swept past all Democratic barriers and political land marks, swept past Senator Carlisle and Henry Watterson and even left free-trade Grover in the rear, finally landing in the arms of Frank Hurd and Henry George. He is not in favor of a tariff that may even accidentally protect American labor and American industries. He is opposed even to that infinitesimal protection which British free-trade sometimes affords. He is opposed to raising revenue through the instrumentality of a tariff and favors raising it by a direct tax. He is in accord with Hurd and Henry George, though the gentlemen named would hardly be satisfied with his way of stating their position.
We publish to-day one of Mr. Franklin Pierce’s summaries of facts proving the wisdom of a protective tariff. The facts have not changed. Pierce has changed, suddenly and completely. Democrats as well as Republicans are suggesting the reason why.
To the Editors of the STANDARD:
SIR —The Hon. Roger Q. Mills in his speech defending his bill before the house of representatives in April last bases his argument upon statistics obtained from Mr. Edward Atkinson’s work on “Distribution of Products,” and to create confidence in the accuracy of his statistics he declares Mr. Atkinson to be “one of the clearest thinkers and writers on political economy of the present day.” (See page 10 of Mills’ speech as published in pamphlet form.) In view of this commendation from the author of the Mills’ bill no Democrat should doubt for a moment the accuracy of Mr. Atkinson’s statements. Let us see if Mr. Atkinson cannot furnish us some statistics which will not be so pleasing to our Democratic friends. In an article written by Mr. Atkinson for the Century Magazine of January, 1887, he says at pages 431 and 432:
The earning power of $100 in gold coin invested in United States bonds of the best class was, at the highest point of paper money inflation in 1884, 16 66-100 per cent per year. At the present time the earning power of $100 in gold coin invested is 4 1/2 per cent. United States bonds is only 2 20-100 per cent per year. While the power of capital to secure income merely as capital has thus been diminished, the wages of by far the larger part of all the mechanics, operatives, domestic servants, and the like, are now as high or higher in gold coin than they were in paper money at the highest point which wages or earnings reached in the paper money inflation period of 1864 to 1867. See Table. [Table statistics and references omitted by CC editor.]
At the present time and at present prices the gold dollar will buy twenty-six per cent, more than in 1860. That is to say, wages are now as high or higher than they were from 1865 to 1872 in paper and much higher than they were in 1860 in gold. This gold coin will buy the commodities which are necessary to subsistence in the ratio of 126 units now to 100 units in 1860. Wages have increased absolutely and relatively, white profits have decreased relatively, in much greater proportion.
Let us draw a few more facts from this eminent writer, remembering that in the language of Mr. Mills he is “one of the clearest thinkers and writers on political economy of the present day.” In the April, 1887, number of the Century at page 930, Mr. Atkinson summarizes the results of his elaborate enquiries as follows:
There never has been a period in the history of this or any other country equal to the present in this country, at this period (Jan. 1887) in the following conditions:
First, So large a product made and distributed at so low a cost in ratio to the capital invested either in production or in the mechanism of distribution.
Second, So low a rate of profit sufficing to satisfy capital and to induce further investment in any or all arts.
Third, So high a general rate of wages earned by so small a number of hours of work per day.
Fourth, So large a purchasing power in each unit or dollar of the wages or earnings, when expended for the necessaries or comforts of life.
Fifth, In no previous period has the workman received so large a proportion of the joint product of labor and capital or its equivalent either in money or goods.
It seems to me, Mr. Editor, that I have heard several Democratic orators declare that the only persons benefited by the tariff were the manufacturers and that the burden of the tariff fell upon the laborer alone in the enhanced price of the necessities of life which he buys. What are the real facts? Mr. Atkinson demonstrates by carefully prepared statistics that capital invested in manufacturing is paying scarcely five per cent upon the money invested while the laboring man can take his day’s pay and go in to the market and actually purchase with it 51 per cent more of the necessities of life than he could with his pay for a day’s labor in 1860.
And now, Mr. Editor, I want to say a few words upon the college professors and free trade enthusiasts, “the students of maxims rather than of markets,” who look down with such lofty self-sufficiency upon all who dare to have an opinion not approved by the text books. No one of these men ever put forth a theory which can not be found more elaborately developed in the works of Adam Smith, J. S. Mill or Prof. Jevons. The theories of these truly learned writers are founded upon the physical conditions of England and of English life. The true theory for America must likewise be formulated with a view to the physical characteristics of our country, a thorough knowledge of our people and a thousand other conditions which do not exist in England.
Free trade is a necessity to England. England and Wales combined have 58,320 square miles of territory, an area greater by only 320 square miles than that of the state of Georgia. Of this limited area over ten million acres are unproductive. At least 27,000,000 of people exist in England and Wales. The agricultural lands are incapable of supplying but a small portion of the necessities of life. Her people must either make something to exchange with other nations for food, or else starve or emigrate. In England agriculture and manufacturing can not drive abreast and manufacture leads producing annually upwards of $1,000,000,000 worth for exportation.
In the United States we have conditions of life altogether different from in England. As regards land our area including Alaska is 3,501,404 square miles.
Texas alone has an area of 274,356 square miles. Drop England in to the sea off the coast of Texas and it would hardly make an island of respectable dimensions. The land in actual use for growing Indian corn, wheat, hay, oats and cotton in 1887 was only 272,500 square miles, or a fraction less than the area of Texas alone. Our vast domain embraces all climates and all soils necessary to produce, with few exceptions, every agricultural product. When these immense tracts of land are brought to the highest state of cultivation we can furnish food for a population several times greater than that of the whole world to-day. Nor do we lack the conditions for manufacturing the necessities for a population a hundred fold greater than that which now exists in this country. Inexhaustible deposits of iron extend continuously from Lake Champlain to Alabama and spread through the West to the Rocky Mountains. Co-extensive with these iron fields coal deposits are found. Thus we are conditioned that agricultural and manufacturing pursuits can go abreast and when once abreast we become quite independent of foreign countries.
Patriotism as well as political economy require that we develop these immense resources and taking advantage of the greatest natural advantages ever secured to any people, build up on this continent the grandest commonwealth of the world. All of this talk about selling in the dearest market and buying in the cheapest presents merely an atomistic and purely material conception of society. The transitory interest of the individual should be conserved, but the development of national life, of all the powers, possessions, productive capacity, and greatness of a nation is a thousand fold more important.
John Stuart Mill says, “The superiority of one country over another in a branch of industry often arises only from its having begun it sooner. A protective duty, continued for a reasonable time, will sometimes be the least inconvenient mode in which a country can tax itself for the support of such an experiment.”
We are led to ask what is “a reasonable time” for the continuance of protection to young industries. Prior to the 14th century England had no manufacturing and exported all of its raw material to the Netherlands and France. There was a saying in those days that the English in trading with the Dutch “sold the hide for a sixpence and bought back the tail for a shilling.” In the time of Elizabeth the Inquisition drove thousands of the Flemish weavers into England. England then commenced to establish and protect different manufacturing industries. By the law of the land it was a crime for an English man to export sheep or wool. For the first offense the exporter forfeited his goods, suffered a year’s imprisonment and had his left hand cut off in a market town on market day, and for the second offense he was adjudged a felon and suffered death. A hundred years later for the encouragement of the manufacturers of woolen goods an act of parliament directed that every corpse should be buried in a woolen shroud. Parliament suppressed all kinds of manufacturing in the English colonies. England had but one great purpose, to make itself the home of industrial arts and of commerce. Our forefathers were prohibited by law of parliament from manufacturing and transferring to market any woolen garments or other manufactured articles. (See Bancroft Vol. II, pages 241, 81 and 356.) Great wars were waged to establish the supremacy of England in manufacturing and for a period of five hundred years parliament protected her manufacturers and agriculture by prohibitive duties. In 1845 the duty upon wheat and corn imported into England was practically prohibitive. Then famine stalked abroad in Ireland and England, thousands from actual starvation lay dying by the roadsides and the protective system which England had hung to with relentless grasp for five hundred years until her manufacturing interests were established as impregnably as her own Gibraltar was swept away.
From 1824 to 1832, from 1842 to 1846 and from 1861 to 1888, thirty nine years all told, we have had a protective tariff against five hundred years of protection in England. I apprehend that if John Stuart Mill were an American and living to-day, he would say that we had not “continued it for a reasonable time.”
Dated October 27, 1888.
CC Editor's note:
CC Editor's note:
Who’s Who in New York, Issue 7, 1918:
"Pierce, Franklin: Lawyer, author; admitted to bar; formerly member firm Griggs, Baldwin & Pierce; now practicing alone; Author: The Tariff and the Trusts, 1907 (Macmillan); Federal Usurpation, 1908 (Appleton); Democrat. Member Association Bar City of N. Y., N. Y. County Bar Association, N. Y. State Bar Association. Clubs: City, Reform. Residence: 391 West End Ave. Address: 2 Rector St., N. Y. City."