Speech of Mr. M. P. Gentry on the Tariff

SPEECH OF MR. M. P. GENTRY, OF TENNESSEE, ON THE TARIFF. Delivered in the House of Reps, of the United States, July 2; 1846. WASHINGTON: PRINTED BY J. & G. S. GIDEON. 1846.

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I SPEECH. The House having under consideration'the Bill to reduce the duties on Imports—• Mr. GENTRY addressed the House as follows: Mr. Chairman: I do not rise to attempt a philosophical examination of the questions of political economy which grow out of the measure now under consideration; nor to make an argumentative reply to the speculative theories which have been advanced during this debate, by those who support the bill. Mine shall be the humble task of grouping a few facts which are, I think, entitled to some consideration in the determination of the question before the committee, and which are too well known to require proof; and to express some conclusions which are, in my judgment, so obviously true, as to require no argument in their support. If any gentleman doubts my facts, he is welcome to disprove them; if he questions my -conclusions, let him show their fallacy. Without wishing to say anything that can be construed to imply a want of proper respect for those who support the bill now before the committee, I am constrained to express the conviction that, but for pre-committals, made for mere party purposes, no gentleman on this floor would, under existing circumstances, advocate the repeal, at the present time, of the tariff act of 1842, with the exception perhaps, of those gentlemen from South Carolina and Virginia, who have dreamed of the blessings of free-trade until they are so far deranged, on that particular subject, as to believe that the repeal of the tariff of 1842 will rev store their worn-out lands to primitive fertility, and their incomes to what they were before the new and rich lands of the Mississippi valley had, by over-production, reduced the price of their staples, cotton and tobacco, to •one-third of their former value. What, sir, are the circumstances alluded, to, which so powerfully forbid the repeal, at the present time, of the tariff act of 1842? We are at war with Mexico; we have already authorized an army of sixty thousand men for the prosecution of that war; we have voted, an appropriation of ten millions of dollars to defray the expenses of the war; we are notified that other large appropriations, for the same purpose, will be asked of us; and that we will, be called upon to authorize a loan, and the issue of Treasury notes to a large amount. No man can predict the duration of the war; none can foresee its end. All may hope that it will be of short duration, but no one can have an assurance of that fact. Every man must know that, to carry invasion into the heart of a country so remote as Mexico, even a short war will demand large expenditures—a long war expenditures to an amount almost incalculable. Under these circumstances, we are called upon to pass the bill nowunder consideration, and to repeal the tariff act of 1842. We are called upon to repeal the tariff of 4842, which has brought into the Treasury an average annual net revenue of more than twenty-six millions of dollars, and to pass the bill now before the committee, which the gentleman from New York,(Mr. Hungerford,) a leading supporter of the present administration, has demonW0«20JUN’34

4 strated will not bring into the Treasury a revenue of eighteen millions of dollars—a sum far below the annual ordinary expenditures of our Government. At a time when the nation is surrounded by difficulties, which ought to inspire its rulers with a patriotic solicitude to adopt all measures necessary to guard its honor and interests by maintaining its credit unimpaired, the American patriot is subjected to the mortifying humiliation of seeing the Executive Administration of his country seek a temporary clap-trap popularity by recommending the enactment of a law “reducing the duty on imports;” and the yet more painful humiliation of seeing that recommendation gravely and seriously entertained by an American Congress. Are the President of the United States and his Cabinet ignorant of the importance of preserving the national credit at all times, but more especially in a conjuncture like the present? Do they not know that there is a close relationship and intimate sympathy between public and private credit? Do they not know that the destruction of the one involves the ruin of the other? Are they ignorant of the evils and embarrassments which never fail to beset a Government when its credit is stricken down? Do they not know that it will be impossible to negotiate loans upon advantageous terms,, or maintain treasury notes at par, when the revenue of the Government 'shall be reduced many millions below the amount necessary to pay its. ordinary annual expenditures? Have they been unobservant of the truth, which experience teaches, that when a nation is embarrassed by such financial difficulties as result from a destruction of its credit, its people cannot prosper? Are the representatives of the people, in the legislative branch of the Government, ignorant of these truths? It would be an unpardonable reflection upon the American people to believe that they have placed in authority, either in the executive or legislative branch of the Government, men who have not investigated and understood these well-settled questions. Why, then, is it that this measure is so earnestly Urged by the executive, and so seriously" entertained by the legislative,, branch of the Government? Why are we importuned by argument and entreaty to abandon the existing law, which as a revenue measure, has proven itself a rock of safety, to adventure upon the doubtful quicksands of wild experiment, that present themselves in the bill now under consideration ? But one answer can be given to this question. It is because party has so decreed. Shall the decrees of that monster nullify the obligations of patriotism, and extinguish the lights of wisdom? The gentleman from Georgia, [Mr. Jones,] a member of the Committee of Ways and Means, who, it seems, was selected to open the debate and commend the bill to the favorable consideration of this committee, placed foremost in his array of arguments the fact that the Baltimore Convention, which nominated Mr. Polk as a candidate for the Presidency, passed a resolution declaring that the tariff act of 1842 ought to be repealed. And many gentlemen who succeeded him in the debate on the same side of the question have urged the same argument. If this is a valid argument, the conclusion would seem to follow, that hereafter the only duty which will devolve upon the Congress of the United States will be, not to deliberate and debate with a view to wise legislation'—not to look to our own independent convictions, nor yet to the will of our constituents, to ascertain our public duty, but merely to inform ourselves of the action of a political con­

5 vention which assembles once in four years, and without hesitation carry into effect its decrees. Without stopping to show how much such a principle is in conflict with the genius of our Government, and how subversive it is of everything valuable in our institutions, I will, for the sake of argument, grant the principle, and yet contend that the particular convention referred to is entitled to no such respect. To establish this position I will not inquire how many of the members of that convention were self-constituted, claiming- to be representatives of the people, yet having no constituents; but I discredit their proceedings with the fact (which cannot be controverted) that a very large majority of them were instructed by their constitu- -ents to nominate Mr. Van Buren as a candidate for the Presidency, and that when they assembled one of their first acts was to adopt a rule which required a vote of two-thirds of the convention to make a nomination. The object of this rule was to prevent the nomination of Mr. Van Buren, and it produced that result. That object being accomplished, the convention proceeded to nominate Mr. Polk, who had never, so far as I know, been thought of or mentioned by any man, woman, or child in America, as a candidate for that high office. Upon what ground can the respect of a Democratic Congress be claimed for the proceedings of a convention which, thus trampled under foot the. expressed will of the party which it professed to represent? Need 1 tell this Democratic House of Representatives that this was a palpable violation of a fundamental principle of Democracy? Is it not the doctrine of Democracy that the will of the people ought always to control ? Is it not the doctrine of Democracy that the voice of the people is the supreme law ? And was not this a palpable substitution of the will of a few—interested, intriguing politicians—for the will of the people? It may be urged, in answer to these interrogatories, that circumstances had occurred after the appointment of the members of that -convention which absolved them from their instructions^,nd authorized them to exercise a discretion in regard to the selection of a candidate. I meet this argument by contending that circumstances now exist which absolve the Democratic members of this House from any obligation which may have been supposed to exist, requiring them to obey the dictates of the Baltimore convention. The gentleman from Pennsylvania, [Mr. Thompson,] himself a Democrat, has informed us that the resolution relating to the tariff was adopted when one-third of the members of that convention had left their homes, without a moment of deliberation or a word of debate; and hence he deduces the conclusion that it ought not to be regarded as binding upon Congress. Is it thus that the great interests of this Republic are to be determined ? Is it not worse than ridiculous—is it not contemptible, in view of such facts, to refer to the proceedings of that convention as an argument for passing the bill now before this committee? Mr. Chairman, Congress has already decided that the proceedings of that convention are entitled to nothing but contempt and disregard. I refer to the action of Congress upon the Oregon question. The Baltimore convention passed a resolution on that subject, affirming that our title to the whole of Oregon was clear and unquestionable, and that the same ought to be re-occupied or re-annexed—I speak from memory, and am not certaia which word was employed. When that question was under consideratioa ■in the Senate, a distinguished democratic Senator, [Mr. Haywood, of North

6 Carolina,] in answering the argument that Congress was bound to be guided by the decrees of that convention, said in his place that “the Baltimore convention was organized by faction and controlled by demagogues.” Was not that a graphic description? Our countryman Healy, the productions of whose genius now adorn the rotunda of this Capitol, cannot, paint a truer portrait. Congress seems to have adopted the sentiment. By its action on the Oregon question it has nullified the decree of the Baltimore convention, and determined that our title to the whole of Oregon is not clear and unquestionable and by (hat decision, happily for our country, peace has been preserved, and a war has been avoided, which would have been most disastrous to all our national interests. A similar disregard of the decrees of that convention, on the subject of the tariff, will, I believe,, likewise shield our country from evils, not equal in degree to those which at one time were likely to result from the Oregon difficulty, but evils of such magnitude as that their probable occurrence will, I hope, wake into activity, and bring to the rescue, the patriotism of Congress. But I waive aJI these minor facts and considerations, and, for the support of the position ■which I have assumed, throw myself upon facts which are unanswerably conclusive upon this question. I affirm it to be true that the political issues presented by the Baltimore convention to the American people were modified, after the adjournment of that convention, by the pleading men of the Democratic party, and that the parly throughout the Union, with but a few exceptions in South Carolina, tacitly acquiesced in that modification; and that to this fact Mr. Polk owes his election to the Presidency. This fact being established, I deduce the conclusion that the friends of the President have no right to urge the resolutions of the Baltimore convention in support of the bill now before this committee. The resolution relating to the re-occm- pation of the whole of Oregon, and the repeal of the tariff of 1842, were not the only resolu ^ns adopted by that notorious assembly. It adopted a resolution declaring the re-annexation of Texas to be a democratic measure. After its adjournment, it was very soon discovered that the great States of New York and Pennsylvania would not co-operate in the election of Mr, Polk without a change of the political issues, as presented by that convention ; and it was obvious to all that, without the co-operation of those States,, it was idle to hope for a democratic triumph. It was, therefore, necessary that something should be done to make these two great States wheel into line. It was perceived that the Democracy of New York was not a little restive on the subject of re-annexing Texas,, and upon the subject of repealing the tariff act of 1842. What remedy was- resorted to for the cure of this disease, which threatened the death of De^ mocracy by the defeat of the Baltimore nominations? The Democracy of New York met together, and solemnly declared that the re-annexation of Texas was not an issue involved in the pending election .’!! But, to make assurance doubly sure, they nominated as a candidate for Governor of that State Silas Wright, whose opinions on the subject of re-annexing Texas- were known to be identical with those of Mr. Van Buren, and who had voted in the Senate of the United States for the tariff of 1842. Thus the politicians of the State of New York went before the people of that State,, claiming for Mr. Wright the merit of having passed, by his vote, the tariff ; and declaring that the re-annexation of Texas was not an issue in.-

7 volved in the pending Presidential election. By these means they secured the election of Mr. Wright as Governor of the State of New York, and the vote of that State for Mr. Polk as President of the United States. Texas is now annexed to the United States, and, in fulfilment of the predictions made by the opponents of that measure, the nation is involved in a war with Mexico as a consequence of that annexation. When the bill now under consideration shall be passed into a law, the people of New York will be very stupid, indeed, if they do not awake to the fact that they have been deceived, cheated, and betrayed. What shall be the mode and measure of their redress, themselves may determine. Tracing this deliberately organized system of falsehood, fraud, and perfidy, we shall find that it becomes yet more glaring and palpable in relation to the State of Pennsylvania. I remember to have read in the newspapers, very soon after the adjournment of the Baltimore convention, that a prominent citizen of Tennessee, a near neighbor and confidential friend of Mr. Polk’s, had assured the Pennsylvanians that Mr. Polk was not hostile to the protective policy ; and that he was particularly in favor of giving ample protection to iron and coal, the great interests of Pennsylvania. It would shed much light dn the subject which I am discussing, if we could know who it was that made this assurance on behalf of Mr. Polk. If 1 might be permitted to indulge in the Yankee privilege of guessing, I think I could identify him ; but I choose to deal in facts which cannot be questioned. The assurance referred to, though it probably quieted in some degree, did not satisfy the anxiety of the Pennsylvanians,for we find that Mr. John K. Kane, of that State, addressed a letter to Mr. Polk, soliciting a declaration of his principles on the subject of giving protection to American manufactures. I will not detain this committee by reading Mr. Polk’s reply, which has become so notorious in the politics of the time. That letter will stand forever, as the unimpeachable witness of the most diabolical conspiracy to defraud a trusting people of their suffrages, which has ever disgraced the political annals of our country. It will stand forever, “ to damn to everlasting fame” the unprincipled authors of a most atrocious fraud. Every gentleman who hears me is familiar with its contents. After referring to various acts of his public life, by which he had sanctioned iC such moderate discriminating duties as would afford reasonable incidental protection to our home industry Mr. Polk proceeds in that letter to say : In my judgment it is the duty of Government to extend, asfar as it may be practicable to do so by its revenue laws, and all other means within its power, fair and just protection to all the great interests of the whole Union, embracing agriculture, manufactures, the mechanic arts, commerce, and navigation P What more could have been desired of him by the most zealous advocate of a protective tariff? This letter was immediately published throughout the length and breadth of Pennsylvania, and the politicians of the Democratic party in that State claimed it as conclusive proof that the interests of that State would be safe under the policy of Mr. Polk’s administration, in the event of his election to the Presidency ; and, with this assurance to the people, they successfully invoked them to confer upon, him their suffrages. Foremost among those who engaged zealously and effectively in this work of deception and fraud, was James Buchanan, the present Secretary of State. I have lately read in the newspapers that Mr. John K. Kane has been appointed by the President

8 to a lucrative and highly honorable office. This appointment no doubt reconciles him to the seeming inconsistency of the President’s opinions as presented in his letter, and as embodied in the bill now under consideration ; and the high and dignified position which Mr. Buchanan occupies in the President’s Cabinet no doubt saves him from those gnawings of conscience which would otherwise disturb him when his memory reverted to the part which he played in the false and perfidious transaction which I am describing. Mr. Chairman, the secret history of this celebrated Kane letter has never been, and perhaps never will be, made public. If the same facility existed for obtaining access to the private correspondence of certain citizens of Pennsylvania and Tennessee, which seems to exist with respect to the confidential records of the State Department, relating to the expenditure of the secret service fund, I apprehend that a flood of light would be shed upon the interesting period of political history which I am now discussing, and I think it would be made manifest that Mr. Polk's Kane letter was written to order : that it was the result of an understanding between Mr. Polk and certain leading politicians of Pennsylvania ; that they sought it for the purpose of deceiving the people of that State, and that he wrote it with a full knowledge of their purpose, and with the intention that this letter should be used for the accomplishment of that nefarious design. When it was published in Tennessee, where it was known that Mr. Polk had been uniformly opposed to the policy of protecting “home industry f and where his supporters were daily striving to win the people to his support upon the ground of his opposition to that policy, the Whig party of that State were inspired with astonishment and indignation, that a fraud so bold and barefaced should be attempted, and they determined to expose it. They forwarded to Pennsylvania Mr. Polk’s speeches and circulars, containing conclusive proofs of his uniform inveterate hostility to the protective policy, as that policy was known to be understood by the people of that State. The Democratic politicians of Pennsylvania met these proofs by assuring the people that they**were Whig inventions—Whig falsehoods. The people believed, and shouted huzza for Polk and the Tariff of 1842. The Democratic leaders of that State emblazoned upon their banners in close juxtaposition, Polk and the Tariff of 1842; and with these words for their motto, they marched on “ conquering and to conquer.” The Whigs of Tennessee were not content with merely forwarding to Pennsylvania the proofs of Mr. Polk’s opinions, to which I have referred : public meetings were called at different places in that State, in which many of the most prominent citizens participated, at which resolutions were passed propounding to Mr. Polk interrogatories calculated to elicit from him a more specific declaration of his opinions upon the subject of the tariff, and to relieve his Kane letter from ambiguity, and from the possibility of misconstruction. Committees of highly respectable gentlemen were appointed to communicate those interrogatories to Mr. Polk, and ask a response. They performed in respectful terms the task assigned them. Upon various pretences he postponed and evaded a response to those interrogatories. He was as silent as the grave. He perceived that he could not reach the Presidential chair without the support of the tariff men of the North and the anti-tariff men of the South. Hence it was not his interest to be distinctly understood on that subject; He chose to be supported as a tariff man in New York and Pennsylvania, and

9 as a n anti-tariff man at the South, where the free-trade doctrine prevails; and thus, obtaining the Presidency, deceive and betray the one interest or the other. Whilst Mr. Polk was playing this perfidious game in Tennessee, his coconspirator in Pennsylvania was not idle. On the contrary, he was actively engaged in canvassing, that State; and wjth the Kane letter in his hand, he argued to the people, and convinced them, that the protective tariff policy, to which they were so much devoted, would be as safe under the wise and patriotic guardianship of Mr. Polk as President, as under that of Mr. Clay, whose eminent talents, as every body knows, have been constantly and zealously devoted to the maintenance of that policy through a long life of distinguished public service. Mr. Buchanan was the favorite son of Pennsylvania. The people of that State had repeatedly conferred upon him high honors and distinctions. He had been their favorite candidate for the Presidency,and they had, through their representatives in the Baltimore Convention, zealously pressed his claims upon the consideration of that body for a nomination as the Democratic candidate for that high office. He had been long acquainted with Mr. Polk, and had been associated with him in the public service for years as a member of this House. He was, therefore, naturally presumed to know the opinions and principles of Mr. Polk; and it is not therefore at all surprising, that the honest and confiding people of Pennsylvania believed his assertions, and under his advice gave the vote of that great State to Mr. Polk for President of the United States. Bound to them as he was by a thousand ties of gratitude, for honors generously conferred, I suppose it did not enter into the mind of the most suspicious man among them to conceive it to be possible, that he whom they had so long honored and trusted could be so base as to deceive them into the support of a man for the Presidency, the influence of whose Administration would be directed to the destruction of a policy which they believed essential to their welfare, and which therefore they desired to maintain^and perpetuate. The sequel is now revealing to them a new chapter in the history of human baseness and perfidy. What do they now behold ? This same James Bu- chanan, whom they have trusted and honored so much, and whose assurance to them that the protective tariff policy would be safer under the Administration of Mr. Polk, induced them to elect him the President of the United States, is now a member of Mr. Polk’s cabinet, and giving the influence of his name, his talents, and character to the measures of his Administration I! What is the policy of that Administration on the subject of the tariff? It is embodied and expressed in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, and in the bill now before the committee. When the report of the Secretary of the Treasury was read at the beginning of the present session of Congress, an honorable member from Alabama (Mr. Payne) rose in his place, and moved the printing of a large number of extra copies for distribution among the people, and hailed it in most enthusiastic terms as the first free trade document that had ev-jqr emanated from the Executive branch of this Government. And the gentleman from Georgia, who opened this debate, labored to commend the bill to the favor of this committee upon the express ground, that it repudiated the principle •of “protecting home industry P The democratic members from Pennsylvania rise in their places here, and in woful strains tell the committee

10 how the Kane letter induced them to believe that the protective tariff policy would be safe under the Administration of Mr. Polk ; how they read that letter to the people of Pennsylvania, and made them believe the same thing; and they entreat their democratic brethren to take into consideration their peculiar position, and implore them not to pass the Administration measure now under consideration. What response do they receive ? They have been repeatedly regularly read out of the Democratic party, and denounced for cherishing, what is called a bastard Democracy. Without venturing to express any opinion upon so delicate a question as the relative claims to orthodoxy, and respectability, of the legitimate, and bastard branches of the Democratic family, I proceed with the question which I am examining. Mr. Buchanan is, I repeat, a member of the Administration which is employing all its influence to pass this free trade .measure ; and this fact precludes the possibility of the conclusion that he Was himself deceived by the Kane letter., and thus became the innocent and unwitting instrument of deceiving the State to which he owed so large a debt of gratitude. If this had been true, when Mr. Polk developed his free trade policy, he would have resigned his place in the cabinet with indignation, saying to Mr. Polk,li you induced me to believe that the protective tariff policy would be fostered and guarded by your Administration. Under that belief I made assurances to the people of Pennsylvania, which induced them to make you the President of the United States. You have deceived me, and made me the instrumait of deceiving those who confided in me, and to whom I am indebted for all that I am. Therefore, self-respect, honor, patriotism—every high motive which ought to control the conduct of man, compel me to cut myself loose from your Aministration, and cooperate, as best I may, with my deceived and injured friends in redressing our common wrongs.” But where is he? What is he doing? He is, as I before remarked, a member of that Administration which is employing its whole influences abolish the policy which Mr. Buchanan made the people of Pennsylvania believe would be safe in its keeping. He is dancing attendance at the White House, where he can “ lick absurd pomp, and crook the pregnant hinges of the knee, that thrift may follow fawning.” He is literally lending the strength of his arm to aid the feebler arm of his master- in striking down the interests of the people of Pennsylvania. Therefore, it is impossible for the most Christian charity to believe that he was not knowingly and wilfully a party to the foul and atrocious fraud that has been practised upon the, American people, but more especially upon those of New York and Pennsylvania. The President of the United States cannot escape the same damning imputation by referring to the generalities of his Kane letter. If he had not intended that letter to do a work of fraud and deception, he would have responded to the interrogatories propounded to him by the public meetings in Tennessee, to which I have referred, thereby relieving himself from the possibility of being misunderstood. Mr. Chairman, I do not understand the casuistry which makes a distinction between the perfidy of an individual and that of a public man, and decides the one to be less reprehensible than the other. If personal disgrace and dishonor were the penalties with which public opinion punished politi- , cal perfidy, it would be impossible to conceive of a lower deep of infamy than that to which James K. Polk and James Buchanan would be con­

11 demned. Who believes that James K. Polk could have been elected President of the United States, if he had proclaimed to the American people the political doctrines and measures which are set forth and recommended in the report of the Secretary of the Treasury? Who believes that he would have received the vote of New York or Pennsylvania, if the people of those States had known that the influence of his Administration would be exerted to pass such a measure as the bill now before this committee? The gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Thompson,) when addressing this committee, the other day, frankly declared that neither of those States would have voted for Mr. Polk if they had believed that such a measure would have been urged by his Administration, and he warned his political brethren of the Democratic party, that political power would depart from them in those States, if this bill becomes a law. I hopor the Democratic delegation from the State of Pennsylvania, for the zeal,firmness, and ability with which they have resisted and opposed the Administration upon th© question now before this committee ; and I cannot believe that those who in this matter have been so faithful to their constituents, so firm in their duty, knowingly co-operated in deceiving their constituents into the belief that Mr. Polk was as much devoted to the protective policy as Mr. Clay. I am inclined to believe that they were themselves deceived by their confidence in Mr. Buchanan, and were thus made the innocent instruments of misleading their constituents. Whilst I honor them for the fidelity with -which they resist the influence of the Administration, by opposing the bill now under consideration, I must confess my surprise that they do not give voice upon this floor to the deep indignation which their deceived and betrayed constituents may be supposed to feel against those who have deceived and betrayed them. If they desire to free themselves entirely from the imputation of having aided in cheating the people of Pennsylvania into the belief that Mr. Polk would guard and foster the policy of a protective tariff, they must renounce their loyalty to his Administration, and denounce James Buchanan as false and faithless to Pennsylvania. Mr. Chairman,the facts which I have brought to the view of this committee establish clearly the position, that the resolutions of the Baltimore Convention, on the subject of the Tariff, are entitled to no weight whatsoever as an argument for the passage of the bill under consideration, inasmuch as it is made manifest, that Mr. Polk and his supporters, in the great States of New York and Pennsylvania, repudiated those resolutions before the last Presidential election; and that without such a repudiation or modification of the Tariff issue, he could not have been elected to the Presidency. The conclusion would therefor© seem to follow,-that the supporters of Mr. Polk’s Administration are morally inhibited from passing this bill into a law; for no fact can be clearer than that the will of the American people was declared against such a law in the election of Mr. Polk. Congress will, by passing the bill now before this committee, consummate the fraud which the Executive branch of the Government has begun, but which it has as yet only partially completed. In my endeavor to establish these conclusions, I have found it necessary to animadvert with some severity upon the conduct of high public functionaries. I have done so in the performance of what I conceive to be a public duty, and not to gratify personal or party malignity. It is certainly the right of a free people, and the Representatives of a free people, boldly to canvass

12 ■ the public acts of public men. Thoroughly convinced that a considerable portion of the American people were cheated of their suffrages in the last Presidential election, and finding the verdict which they then rendered re*- lied upon here to force through Congress a measure which they condemn, and which I believe to be fraught with mischief to the public welfare, I have felt it to be my duty to expose the perfidy which has been practised, and to invoke the just indignation of the people upon the authors, great and small, of that perfidy. Let a severe, but just retribution be visited upon them, as a warning in all after times to ambitious and unprincipled aspirants, teaching them to know, that the people, ever ready to sustain and honor those who are faithful to them, possess intelligence to detect, and virtuous resentment to punish those, who by falsehood and dissimulation, and double dealing, win their confidence and support only to deceive and betray them. Thus, and thus only, can practical effect be given to the principle, which is the foundation of our political institutions, that the people are competent to govern themselves. For it must be obvious to all, that this principle will become inefficient and inoperative, when it shall be permitted to any man to go “ unwhipped of justice” whoreaches the Presidency by professing himself favorable to a system of public policy, and, when safely installed in power, employs all the influence of his high station to destroy the policy which he was elected to maintain. Upon such a man, and all his guilty coadjutors, the people.of the United States owe it to themselves, to honor, truth, and justice, and to the principles of their Government, to visit a blasting indignation ; and I hesitate not to say, that if there is yet left among us a remnant of the spirit of our Fathers, this duty will in due time be performed. Mr. Chairman, I have occupied so much of the hour to which I am lim* ited by a rule of the House in refuting the argument so zealously and per- severingly urged—that the people, by electing Mr. Polk, ratified the decree of the Baltimore Convention, and that therefore Congress is bound to pass the bill now before this committee,—as to have but a few minutes left to devote to an examination ofiits probable effects upon the national interests,and contrast the same with the actual realized operation of the tariff act of 1842, which this bill proposes to repeal. I do not regret that I am thus restricted, for the arguments upon which the supporters of the opposing systems of policy rely to sustain their respective theories have been ably presented during this debate, and on many former occasions, insomuch that but little which is either new or original can now be said on either side of the question. The tariff of 1842 is founded upon the principle that it is expedient to raise, by duties on foreign imports, a sufficient amount of revenue to defray the necessary expenses of Government, and to discrimin’ate in laying those duties so as to extend, in the language of Mr. Polk, when he was a candidate for the Presidency, “ fair and just protection to all the great interests of the whole Union, embracing agriculture, manufactures, the mechanic arts, commerce, and navigation whereas the bill under consideration is founded upon the free trade theory as set forth by Mr. Polk in his message since his election to the Presidency, and by his Secretary of the Treasury, in his annual report made at the commencement of the present session of Congress. Thousands of political agitators have constantly employed their talents, for mere party purposes, in endeavoring to excite the passions and preju­

13 dices of the people against the tariff act of 1842; and by conceding, for the most part j the correctness of the general principle of policy upon which that act is founded, and attacking it in its details, they have been to some extent successful. To accomplish this object, every narrow prejudice, every mean passion of the human heart has been perseveringly appealed to. It is a high proof of the intelligence rof the American people that, under such circumstances, their verdict was rendered at the last Presidential election, as I have conclusively shown; in favor of the general principle of policy upon which that law is founded. I claim of the most bitter opponent of that law the admission, which I think candor will compel him to make, that as a revenue measure it has admirably fulfilled the predictions of those who framed it, and most signally falsified the predictions Of those who opposed it when it was under consideration in this House. When that law was under consideration in this House, in 1842, its opponents argued most zealously that the duties which it imposed were so high as to prohibit importations, and that it would be wholly insufficient as a revenue*measure ; and I well remember that the present President of the United States, when a. candidate for Governor in the State of Tennessee, confidently announced the same opinion to the people of that State. The friends of the law, on the other hand, contended on this floor that the duties which it imposed were so adjusted as to raise twenty-six millions of dollars, and gi se fair and just encouragement and protection to American manufactures. The official reports from the Treasury Department show us that there has accrued to the Government, from the operations of that law, an annual average revenue of more than twenty-six millions of dollars ; and the proof is before us in many forms that the manufacturing interest, and every other interest of the country, immediately sprung upward from a state of languishing depression to one of healthful prosperity. When that law was passed by Congress the finances of the Government were in a most deplorable and disgraceful condition ; for, in a time of profound peace, the revenue of the Government had been for a period of years permitted annually to fall far below the annual expenditures. Treasury notes had been annually issued to keep up the appearance of solvency. These were under protest, and selling in the markets at a large discount. A loan had been authorized y and an agent of Government despatched to Europe to negotiate it ; and after visiting in England, and perambulating the continent of Europe, he returned to tell us the humiliating truth that the bonds of the United States were unsaleable, and that we could not borrow a dollar. Congress passed the act of 1842 to raise the amount of revenue necessary to pay the ordinary annual expenditures of Government; to pay the interest on the loan which had been authorized, and thus restore the credit of the Government; to provide a sinking fund for the final payment of the public debt, and to give il fair and just protection to American manufactures,” which, under that approximation to the revenue standard” provided for by the compromise act, had sunk almost into a state of ruin. All the purposes for which the law was passed were immediately realized. The credit of the Government instantaneously revived ; the bonds of the Government were no longer hacked about, unable to find a purchaser, but sold readily at a high premium ; private credit revived with public credit, and all the business interests of the people at once felt the healthful influence which an un impaild

14 public and private credit never fails to infuse. The manufacturing1 interest revived so much that we have been continually stunned with a loud outcry about the enormous profits of that interest ; the expenditures of Government have been promptly paid at the Treasury ; and but for the Mexican war, requiring the expenditures of the surplus which had accumulated , and was annually accumulating in the Treasury, the public debt might have been, very soon discharged. In view of these incontrovertible facts, who will say that the tariff law has not most happily realized the calculations of its friends, and put to shame the financial ignorance of those public men who predicted its failure ? It has not only fulfilled the expectations of its friends, but it has extorted homage from its enemies ; for 1 think I have already proven that the Administration, which is urging its repeal, obtained power from the people by feigning friendship for the principle of that law. Its details have been attacked before the people, and it has been plausibly urged that its imposition of duties was in some respects unjust—bearing oppressively upon the people. I think these objections have been successfully met in this debate, and that it has been proven that consumers are purchasing all the articles, about which complaint has been made, at cheaper prices than at any former period. Yet I do not contend—no man on this floor contends—that the tariff act of 1842 is a perfect measure ; and if those who complain of its provisions in certain respects, would concede the correctness of the principle upon which the law is founded, and bring forward a proposition to amend such defects as experience may have proven to exist, this side of the House would freely co-operate with t^em. But it seems that nothing short of the absolute repeal of the tariff of 1842, and the enactment in its stead of a new law, founded on new principles, will satisfy the majority on this floor ; and accordingly they pertinaciously urge the passage of the bill now before the committee. The time which yet remains to me is too brief for me to attempt a discussion of this measure. I must content myself by referring to the suggestions which I made at the outset of my remarks, as to its insufficiency as a revenue measure, and by warning gentlemen of the majority that a tremendous responsibility will rest upon them, if, when the nation is engaged in war—a war of unknown duration—a war which will draw upom the Treasury of the Government to an unknown amount—they pass an act which, as has been conclusively shown by gentlemen oh both sides of the House, will not raise a sufficient revenue to pay the ordinary expenditures of Government in time of peace—thereby striking down the national credit, and with it private credit,.involving the Government and People in all the evils from which both were redeemed by the tariff act of 1842. I beg gentlemen to heed these suggestions, and give, for the sake of the country, full force to the promptings of patriotism, disregarding the obligations of party, which are nullified when they conflict with the higher obligations of patriotism. When they shall see their country plunged into the evils which. I have intimated as likely to result from the measure under consideration, they will find it difficult to appease their constituents or their consciences, by the assurance that they are merely making an interesting experiment of the hitherto untried theory of free-trade. This theory of free trade, though it has never been carried into practical effect by this Government, is not new. It developed itself in the first Con-

15 gress which assembled under our Constitution. When that body assembled to put into operation the form of government which the people of the United States had adopted—to make the freedom which they had won upon, the battle-fields of the Revolution conduce to the permanent welfare and happiness of themselves and their posterity, there were eminent and talented men who contended for this theory ; but they failed to convince a majority of that Congress that it was the true policy of the United States to adopt it. And, accordingly, we find that among the first acts of that Congress was a law laying duties on imports. And that the purposes for which that law was passed might never be questioned or misunderstood, the wise patriots and statesmen who passed it, prefixed a preamble, which is in the following words : K Whereas it is necessary for the support of the government, for the discharge of the debts of the United States, and the encouragement and protection of manufactures, that duties be laid on goods, wares, anti merchandises: Be it enacted," fyc. Since that time it has been the uuifunn policy of this Government, in laying duties for revenue, to discriminate “for the. encouragement and protection of manufacturesThis policy has paid the national debt which was contracted in the achievement of Independence, and for the prosecution of the last war witluGreat Britain—it has fortified our coasts and seaports—it has built our *vy and navy-yards—it has built our armories—it has supplied the nation with arms and munitions of war for its defence—it has furnished the means of extinguishing the Indian title to a vast and fertile domain—it has paid the debt of gratitude which we owed to the soldiers of the Revolution—in short, it has supplied the Government with revenue to accomplish all the purposes for which it was instituted, without subjecting the people to inconvenience, or onerous burdens ; and it has encouraged and protected American manufactures, until they have grown to a state of maturity which makes us independent of foreign nations for all that we need for our comfort and convenience in peace,' or for our defence in war ; and, by creating home markets, it has placed the welfare and prosperity of our people upon a more stable basis, less subject than formerly to be injuriously affected by the political or commercial convulsions of foreign nations. All the sources of national power and prosperity which were latent when this policy was first adopted, have been most happily developed, and we have grown as no nation ever before grew. Why should we discard the policy of our fathers which has produced such great and glorious results, to follow the lead of Mr. Polk into the untried experiment of free trade ? Is he wiser or more patriotic than the illustrious men of the first Congress, or the great statesmen of all political parties who have steadily maintained the policy which was then commenced ? Shall we render higher homage to him than to the sages of our early history ? Let us rather despise the counsels of this man of yesterday, and by adhering to the examples of our fathers, carry our country forward and upward to a greater prosperity and higher glory ; and of that prosperity and glory, erect the only monument which can befittingly commemorate their wisdom and patriotism, and attest our veneration for their virtues. 76 - h