Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

This impression we feel of the utility and expediency of encouraging our domestic manufactures is in perfect correspondence with your own; and we shall most cheerfully unite our endeavors with those of our brethren throughout the Union, and shall be ready to adopt every measure which will have a tendency to facilitate the great design.

The Legislature of our State, convinced of the propriety of cherishing our manufactures in their early growth, have made some provisions for that purpose. We have no doubt that more comprehensive measures will in time be taken by them. But on the confederated exertions of our brethren, and especially on the patronage of the Federal Government, we rest our most flattering hopes of success.

In order to support and improve the union and harmony of the American manufacturers, and to render as systematic and uniform as possible their designs for the common benefit, we perfectly concur with you in the propriety of establishing a reciprocal and unreserved communication. When our views, like, our interests, are combined and concentrated, our petitions to the Federal Legislature will assume the tone and complexion of the public wishes, and will have a proportionable weight and influence.

We request you to favor us with the continuance of your correspondence, and to transmit to us, from time to time, such resolutions and proposals of your association as may be calculated for the promotion of our mutual interests.

We are, with the highest respect, etc.

Here the power, the obligation, and the likelihood of the new government to enact laws for the specific purpose of encouraging domestic industry, and of defending it from the evil effects of foreign importations, excessive in quantity and prostrating to home competition, were taken for granted with that strong confidence which can proceed only from absence of all doubt or fear of contradiction. In those days the idea was undisputed that one of the principal objects in ordaining and establishing the Constitution of “the more perfect Union” was to secure to American capital and American labor, to American skill and American enterprise, immunity from the malign influences of European interference, to the end that American resources might be developed, American progress might be accelerated, and American prosperity might be assured.

Such expectation and such reliance were constantly manifested on those numerous occasions all over the country, when men came together in formal assemblies to celebrate, with exultant hearts, the grand event of completed ratification of the new plan of government. Rufus Choate, in his speech in the United States Senate, April 12 and 15, 1844, on “Protecting American Labor by Duties on Imports,” portrayed in glowing yet truthful words these exhibitions of the popular joy. He said:

Sir, the Congress of 1789 might have known, by another and shorter process, the public sentiment of that day—the public sentiment of the age of the Constitution. There were members who had witnessed and united in some one of the processions and assemblies which, in so'many towns and villages, had just been celebrating the institution of the new government; and they might have learned there what the people expected of them! Very striking exhibitions they were, sir; and altogether worthy of the contemplation of him who would truly and adequately know for what the Constitution was created. On an appointed day, men came in from the country, and mingling themselves with those of the town, were arranged in order by thousands. Beneath bright skies—the moral and national prospect how much brighter than the natural !—with banners and music, gazed on, sympathized with by wives, and mothers, and daughters, and sisters, thronging at windows, in balconies, and up to the house tops, the long and serried files of labor, moved from street to street, and at length composed themselves to unite in thanksgiving to God, and in listening to discourses commemorative of the event, and embodying the gratitude and the expectations with which the new government was welcomed in; embodying a survey of its powers and objects, and a sketch of the transcendent good of which it was full, for that age, and for all time. Sir, in the banners of various device which marked the long course of those processions; in the mottoes upon their flags; in the machines, and models and figures, with which the pacific and more than triumphant march was enriched and enlivened; in the order of its arrangements; in the organization of tradesmen and artisans, and all the families of labor which swelled it; in the conversation of individuals of those “grave and anxious multitudes" one with another, in the topics and thoughts of the orators of the day; in the applause of the audience; in all this vast, vivid, and various accumulation and exhibition of the general mind, almost as well as in the journals of the Convention, the Madison papers, the debates of public bodies, or the grave discussions of the “Federalist " itself, you may read—the Congress of 1789 might read—what kind of government the people thought they had constructed. I could almost say that the Constitution is what the general belief of that age held it to be; and in these great and solemn festal scenes is the expression of that general belief.

Take the Philadelphia procession for an instance, of the fourth of July, 1788, and see what the readers of poor Richard's Almanac, the pupils and contemporaries of Franklin, expected of the Federal Constitution. It was a column of many thousands of persons, of trades and callings. The more advanced figures and devices of the procession were intended to represent, in a chronological series, the great events which preceded the adoption of the new government. There was one on horseback, representing Independence, and bearing the staff and cap of liberty; next followed one, riding upon a horse, formerly of Count Rochambeau, and carrying a flag, with devices of lilies and stars, commemorative of the French alliance, to which we owed so much; then another, with a staff surmounted with laurel and olive, announcing the treaty of peace; after him, another, bearing aloft the name of Washington; then a herald, proclaiming with sound of trumpet the NEW ERA; then a representation of the Convention which framed the Constitution; and then others of the Constitution itself—"a lofty ornamental car, in the form of an eagle”; and "a grand federal edifice, the dome supported by thirteen columns, and surmounted by a figure of plenty.” After these came an appropriate and golden train—the long line of the various labor of America, for whom the new era had risen, with healing on its

wings. First, as it ought to have been, was the agricultural society. Then came the manufacturing society, with spinning and carding machines; looms and apparatus for the printing of muslins and calicos. This bore three flags. The device on one was a bee-hive, with bees issuing from it, standing in the beams of a rising sun; the field of the blue flag, and the motto, “In its rays we shall feel new vigor.” The motto on the next was, “ May the Union Government protect the manufactures of America”; and on the next, “May Government protect us.” On the carriage of the manufacturers, drawn by ten horses, were a carding machine, worked by two persons, “carding cotton”; a spinning machine, worked by a woman, and drawing cotton suitable for fine jeans; looms on which laces and jeans were being woven; a man designing and cutting prints for shawls; and “Mrs. Hewson and her four daughters,” in cotton dresses of their own manufacture, penciling a piece of chintz of Mr. Hewson's printing. There followed then great numbers—I believe there may have been more than fifty bodies of tradesmen and mechanics, each with its banner, devices and motto, expressive of the same hopes and the same convictions, evidencing equally the universal popular mind. But I need pursue the matter no further. Sir, what was seen in this procession was seen, on a larger or smaller scale, everywhere. The pageant is passed. The actors have retired from human view. The awful curtain has dropped on them forever. All the world's a stage, and this part is played! Yet the spirit of philosophical history—that spirit to which the halfobliterated figures of a procession upon a wasting architectural fragment reveal, intelligibly and instructively, some glory or some sorrow of a past age—will not disdain to gather up and ponder these manifestations of the hopes, desires and purposes of that mighty heart now hushed. I do not wish or expect to understand the objects for which the Constitution was framed better than the generation which made it; and of their understanding of them I have referred you to very vivid and very authentic proofs. I cannot forbear to read to you a sentence or two, before I take leave of the subject, from “Observations on the Philadelphia Procession,” written by an eye-witness, very soon after the celebration:

“The large stage on which the carding and spinning machines displayed the manufacture of cotton was viewed with astonishment and delight by every spectator. On that stage were carried the emblems of the future wealth and independence of our country. Cotton may be cultivated in the Southern and manufactured in the Eastern and Middle States, in such quantities, in a few years, as to clothe every citizen of the United States. Hence will arise a bond of Union to the States, more powerful than any article of the new Constitution. Cotton possesses several advantages over wool as an article of dress and commerce. It is not liable to be moth-eaten, and is proper both for winter and summer garments. It may, moreover, be manufactured in America at a less expense than it can be imported from any nation in Europe. From these circumstances, I cannot help hoping that we shall soon see cotton not only the uniform of the citizens of America, but an article of expor tation to foreign countries. Several respectable gentlemen exhibited a prelude of these events by appearing in complete suits of jeans, manufactured by the machines that have been mentioned.”

Compare this with the judgment of Mr. Calhoun, in his speech in the House of Representatives, April, 1816 : Capital employed in manufacturing is calculated to bind together more closely our widely spread Republic. It will increase our mutual dependence and intercourse.”

Thus, many months before the new government could be organized in its various departments, and could undertake the work of passing and administering remedial laws, the ratified Constitution was accepted everywhere, by statesmen and people alike, including all classes of the population, openly, avowedly, formally, without dispute, without hesitation, without distrust, as a guarantee that Congress had been vested with and would exercise the power of protecting and fostering the agriculture, the tonnage, the navigation, the commerce, and the manufactures of the nation. It does not seem to have entered into anybody's mind to suppose to the contrary. There was only one opinion on the subject.

Prospective relief became, to some extent, relief itself; for confidence in the present was restored by the universal trust in the future. It was like a besieged

« ZurückWeiter »