Skip to comments.The South and the Northern Tariff
Posted on 02/26/2003 1:10:37 PM PST by GOPcapitalist
The South and the Northern Tariff - Speech of Senator Thomas Clingman, North Carolina, March 19, 1861 (Congressional Globe 36-2 p. 1476-77)
CLINGMAN: Mr. President, I admire the closing rhetoric of the Senator form Rhode Island (Simmons); but I want to call his attention to one or two questions which I put to him, and which he does not apprehend, but which I think are practical. The Senator attaches very little weight to the imports that go into the seven States that have seceded. He thinks it a matter of very little moment whether those States remain out or in. I endeavored to show him the error; but perhaps too hurriedly for him to apprehend my meaning; and I beg leave to recapitulate, for I think if there is a practical mind on the floor of the Senate, the Senator?s is one, and I want to see how he will get this Government out of the difficulty. I say to him, that I am as yet a representative of the Government of the United States, and shall faithfully represent what I believe to be in its interests, while I stand here. But let us see how this will affect the revenue. There were made last year about four million six hundred thousand bales of cotton. About two hundred thousand bales of it were made in North Carolina, and I suppose about as much in Tennessee, and about the same amount in Arkansas. There were very nearly four million bales of cotton made in the seven States that have seceded, worth fully $200,000,000. Very little of it was consumed in those States ? not more, perhaps, than three or four millions? worth ? and the rice crop exported exceeded that, and Louisiana made, I believe, about twenty millions? worth of sugar. I do not know what the amount of the sugar crop was last year; it has fluctuated; but it must have been at least that; it has sometimes been more. I think it fair, therefore, to assume that those seven States sent out of their limits from two hundred to two hundred and twenty million dollars? worth of produce. They get back a return in some way. It is not to be supposed it was given away. My friend from Texas suggests to me that they got it in wood-screws. No doubt they did get some of them; and they may have been gotten up in the State of Rhode Island, for aught I know. I was about to say that they must have got back $220,000,000 worth of products in some form. A portion of the money ? not very much ? went for horses and mules; and grain and other agricultural products, but much the larger amount of it went for articles that were dutiable. All of them were not actually imported, as many of them came from New England and elsewhere; but they were dutiable articles, and, but for the duties would have been furnished at a lower rate from abroad. I take it, therefore, that off the dutiable articles there must be twenty or thirty million ? certainly twenty million ? of revenue that would, in the ordinary course, be collected off those States with the tariff which we had last year.
Now, it is idle for the honorable Senator to tell me that the importations at Charleston and Savannah were small. I know that the merchants have gone from those cities to New York, and bought goods there; that goods are imported into New York are bought there, and then are sent down and deposited at Charleston, New Orleans, and other places. But, in point of fact, here is an enormously large consumption of dutiable articles, from one hundred to one hundred and fifty million. These people make their own provisions mainly, and cotton to sell, and do very little in the way of manufactures. Their manufactured goods came from the United States, or from foreign countries. I put the question to the honorable Senator, how much duty does he think this Government is going to lose by the secession of those States, supposing, of course, that they do not pay us any duties; for if New England goods are to pay the same duty with those of Old England, and Belgium, and France, we all know that the New England goods will be excluded, unless they make up their minds to sell much cheaper than they have been heretofore doing? I was curious, the year before last, in going through Europe, to ascertain, as well as I could, the value of labor and the prices of articles, and I was astonished at the rate at which goods may be purchased all over the continent, compared with similar articles here. The reasons they are not furnished as cheap here, is partly due to the circuitous trade. For example: houses in England purchase up articles in Belgium, France, Germany, and even Italy, and make a handsome profit; they then send them to New York, and handsome profits are made there by the wholesale dealers and, finally, they get down south, and in this way they are very high; but the tariff has also operated very largely. That Senator knows, as well as I do, and everybody knows, that if there be direct trade with Europe by these States; if goods are not to go around through New York, and not to pay duties ? and you may be sure they will not go there under his tariff, for nobody will pay a duty of fifty or seventy-five per cent. on what he imports, when he can send the goods to another port for fifteen or nineteen per cent. ? the result will be, that these States certainly will pay this Government no duties at all.
But it does not stop there. Merchants from my own State go down to Charleston, and lay in their goods. This Government, as things now stand, is not going to get any revenue from them. If goods are imported at Charleston at ten, or fifteen, or nineteen per cent. duty, whatever is paid will go into the coffers of the confederate States, and merchants will go down from my State and buy their goods there; and thus you lose a great portion of the North Carolina trade. It will be the same with Tennessee; it will be the same with the Mississippi valley. Now, what revenue are we going to get to support our Government under th epresent condition of things? The honorable Senator is very adroit in parrying questions. I asked him, when he spoke of the free list, if the manufacturers were willing that their chemicals, their dye stuffs, and coarse wool, that has been admitted free, should be taxed; and he replied, ?They are willing to have tea and coffee taxed.?
SIMMONS: The Senator will pardon me. I said, if we wanted money I would tax them, whether they were willing or not.
CLINGMAN: Exactly; but when pressed on that point, he turns it off on the tea and coffee. But, sir, we are legislating here for the United States ? all of us who are here, except by friend from Texas, who is kind enough to stay with us and help us legislate, until he gets official notice of the ordinance of his State. I thank him for his kindness. I think he is doing us a favor to stay here and help the wheels along. It needs the help of Hercules and the wagoner both to get us out of the mud. I want to know of honorable Senators on the other side of the Chamber how this Government is going to support its revenue next year. I think, if you have no custom-house between Louisiana and the Upper Mississippi, merchants up there will come down and buy their goods at New Orleans. If they learn that at New York they can buy goods under a tariff of fifty or seventy-five per cent., and that they can biy them at New Orleans under a tariff of only one third that, they will go down to New Orleans; and the result will be that we shall get very little revenue under the existing system. We may bandy witticisms; we may show our adroitness in debate; but this is a question which we have to look at practically. One of two things must be done: either you must prevent imports into those States, which I do not think you can do ? and I do not suppose there is a Senator on this floor who believes that, under the existing laws, the President has authority to do it ? or you must call Congress together, and invest him with some authority. If you do not do that, you must establish a line of custom houses on the border.
Is it not better for us to meet this question frankly on its merits? My apprehension, as I have already expressed it, is that the Administration intend, (I hope I may be deceived) as soon as they can collect the force to have a war, to begin; and then call Congress suddenly together, and say, ?The honor of the country is concerned; the flag is insulted. You must come up and vote men and money.? That is, I suppose, to be its policy; not to call Congress together just now. There are two reasons, perhaps, for that. In the first place, it would be like a note of alarm down south; and, in the next place, if you call Congress together, and deliberately submit it to them whether they will go to war with the confederate States or not, I do not believe they would agree to do it. Of course, I do not know what is the temper of gentlemen on the other side; but, though they will have a large majority in the next Congress, I take it for granted from what little I have heard, that it will be difficult to get a bill through Congress for the war before the war begins; but it is a different thing after fighting begins at the forts.
The Senator himself says they are going to enforce the laws and carry them out everywhere. I cannot tell what he means. In one part of his speech, I understood him to say that he was willing to let the seceded States alone; but towards the close of it, he spoke of enforcing the laws, and collecting the revenue everywhere. There is a very wide difference between these lines of policy. If you intend to let the confederate States stand where they now do, and collect their own revenues, and possess the forts, we shall get nothing, or very little, under the existing system. If on the other hand, you intend to resort to coercive measures, and to oblige them to pay duties under our tariff, which they do not admit that they are liable to pay, and to take back the forts, we shall be precipitated into war; and then, I suppose, we shall have a proclamation calling Congress together, and demanding that the honor of the United States shall be maintained, and that men and money shall be voted. I would rather the country should ace into this matter.
I shall not detain the Senate with a discussion about the tariff. I take it that we understand it, and I presume that the intelligent minds of the country understand its situation, and how much we shall get under it. The Senator form Rhode Island alluded to a remark which the Senator from New Hampshire made, that Rome lasted seven hundred years, and that, therefore, this Government must last seven hundred years; and he gave us some witty remarks about the sun not going down before breakfast. Mr. President, it is unfortunate that these analogies do not always run out; they will not hold good. I have read that Methuselah lived until he was more than nine hundred years of age. If a man who was something above ninety were told by his physicians that he was in very great danger of dying, that his constitution was worn out, and disease was preying on him, if he were to refer to the case of Methuselah, and say, ?I have not lived one tenth as long as he did; and, according to his life, I am now just before the breakfast of life,? it might be a very satisfactory argument, perhaps, to the man who used it, but I doubt whether anybody else would be consoled by it; I doubt very much whether his physicians would leave him under the idea that he had certainly eight hundred years to live. I am very much afraid that my friend from Rhode Island, when he rests on this declaration of the Senator from New Hampshire is resting on an unsubstantial basis, when he assumed that this Government must, of necessity, live as long as the Roman republic, and that the comparison of the sun does not hold good. However, I see the Senator from New Hampshire near me, and as he understands these things so much better than I do, I yield the floor.
The "Wlat Brigade" is a small group of freepers associated with a liberal democrat and admitted Clinton-Gore voter named Walt who posts as "WhiskeyPapa." They show up on any thread that has even the slightest connection to the southern region of the country, where they post heavily cut n' pasted PC tirades attacking the south and deifying the likes of William Sherman for burning his way across it.
What is up with this constant Civil War rant?
Who cares? Give it a rest.
Slavery was the issue according to the statements of secession. Treason was the southern strategy as they attacked and seized federal fortifications. Secessionsts violated the US Constitution by forming a confederacy which is strictly prohibited by the US Constitution.
The highlight of southern gentlemanly tactics was to shoot Abe Lincoln in the back.
Why not ask yourself that one. Not a thread goes by with even the slightest relevance to the south that you do not show up on to trash it and sing of your deification of the likes of Lincoln and Sherman.
As for this thread, it lists in full one of those many, many speeches on the tariff issue as a cause of the war that you purport not to exist
Ha ha ha. There are a million speeches on every issue. The cause of the war, however, was the unconstitutional rebellion and confederation of slave holding states, who then made war upon federal fortifications -- in the attempt to maintain the institution of slavery.
Not really. There were 11 secession ordinances, and not one of them listed slavery as a cause. There were also four legislative declarations from four states, each of which listed slavery as a cause at length and one of which listed the tariff at length. As for there being an official statement of secession for the confederacy itself, there simply isn't one. Instead what you have are those documents I listed, dozens of newspaper editorials, and hundreds of speeches by prominent southerners in the government at the time such as the one found above.
"The Constitution says: "Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort."
This is the only definition of treason given by the Constitution, and it is to be interpreted, like all other criminal laws, in the sense most favorable to liberty and justice. Consequently the treason here spoken of, must be held to be treason in fact, and not merely something that may have been falsely called by that name. To determine, then, what is treason in fact, we are not to look to the codes of Kings, and Czars, and Kaisers, who maintain their power by force and fraud; who contemptuously call mankind their "subjects;" who claim to have a special license from heaven to rule on earth; who teach that it is a religious duty of mankind to obey them; who bribe a servile and corrupt priest-hood to impress these ideas upon the ignorant and superstitious; who spurn the idea that their authority is derived from, or dependent at all upon, the consent of their people; and who attempt to defame, by the false epithet of traitors, all who assert their own rights, and the rights of their fellow men, against such usurpations.
Instead of regarding this false and calumnious meaning of the word treason, we are to look at its true and legitimate meaning in our mother tongue; at its use in common life; and at what would necessarily be its true meaning in any other contracts, or articles of association, which men might voluntarily enter into with each other. The true and legitimate meaning of the word treason, then, necessarily implies treachery, deceit, breach of faith. Without these, there can be no treason. A traitor is a betrayer --- one who practices injury, while professing friendship. Benedict Arnold was a traitor, solely because, while professing friendship for the American cause, he attempted to injure it. An open enemy, however criminal in other respects, is no traitor.
Neither does a man, who has once been my friend, become a traitor by becoming an enemy, if before doing me an injury, he gives me fair warning that he has become an enemy; and if he makes no unfair use of any advantage which my confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in his power. For example, our fathers --- even if we were to admit them to have been wrong in other respects --- certainly were not traitors in fact, after the fourth of July, 1776; since on that day they gave notice to the King of Great Britain that they repudiated his authority, and should wage war against him. And they made no unfair use of any advantages which his confidence had previously placed in their power. It cannot be denied that, in the late war, the Southern people proved themselves to be open and avowed enemies, and not treacherous friends. It cannot be denied that they gave us fair warning that they would no longer be our political associates, but would, if need were, fight for a separation. It cannot be alleged that they made any unfair use of advantages which our confidence, in the time of our friendship, had placed in their power. Therefore they were not traitors in fact: and consequently not traitors within the meaning of the Constitution.
Furthermore, men are not traitors in fact, who take up arms against the government, without having disavowed allegiance to it, provided they do it, either to resist the usurpations of the government, or to resist what they sincerely believe to be such usurpations. [*9] It is a maxim of law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent. And this maxim is as applicable to treason as to any other crime. For example, our fathers were not traitors in fact, for resisting the British Crown, before the fourth of July, 1776 --- that is, before they had thrown off allegiance to him --- provided they honestly believed that they were simply defending their rights against his usurpations. Even if they were mistaken in their law, that mistake, if an innocent one, could not make them traitors in fact.
For the same reason, the Southern people, if they sincerely believed --- as it has been extensively, if not generally, conceded, at the North, that they did --- in the so-called constitutional theory of "State Rights," did not become traitors in fact, by acting upon it; and consequently not traitors within the meaning of the Constitution." - Lysander Spooner, 1870
Also, I'm not sure I agree that secession is un-Constitutional.
As with today's Income Tax, equitable application of tariffs was widely abused by congressional special interests. Excessively high tariffs were levied on some items, while tariff exemptions were issued for others. This micromanagement of tax and trade policies through "targeted tariffs" severely distorted the use of the "revenue tariff" which was preferred by our Founders as the least intrusive mode of taxation.
A true "revenue tariff" is a relatively low, flat-rate tax placed on ALL imported goods, regardless of industry or nation of origin. It has the advantage of raising federal revenue while also encouraging domestic commerce and industry. IMHO, it is the mode of taxation that merits serious consideration today. The revenues generated could be used to offset reductions in other forms of domestic taxation without increasing the National Debt. This would produce a real, domestic economic stimulus.
"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery --- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of of the commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization. That blow has been long aimed at the institution, and was at the point of reaching its consummation. There was no choice left us but submission to the mandates of abolition, or a dissolution of the Union, whose principles had been subverted to work out our ruin."
-- Mississippi secession document.
Well, you tipped my BS-O-meter.