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opinion of all the statesmen of the day—that Congress possessed the power to protect domestic industry by means of commercial regulations.
Similar testimony might be extended, if requisite, to many additional pages, derived from historical documents, and from the concurrent views of the entire generation of American statesmen contemporary with the formation of the Constitution, so far as these views have been preserved to the present day. Indeed, it may be set down as beyond reasonable dispute, that no intelligent and candid mind, divesting itself of prejudices and all preconceived notions on the subject, can make an earnest and full search through our annals, from 1763 to 1789, without finding a strongly marked, cumulative, vigorous, and more and more direct movement of events toward the creation and the fruition of a Supreme national organism, specially clothed with and exercising authority to protect home industry of every kind against injury from foreign aggression and encroachment, so as to secure a uniform system of commerce, of custom-house duties, and a general regulation of the trade, external and internal, of the whole Country—a movement of events which may be compared to a river's current, beginning in weakness at its Source, but augmented by tributary streams at various points of its progress; broadened, deepened, accelerated by every new affluent; gathering majestic volume and irresistible force as it nears its estuary; and fulfilling its destiny as it pours forth with final impetuosity into gulf or ocean.
CHAPTER X. NATURE AND EXTENT OF THE PROTECTING POWER.
Various parts of the Constitution, when considered in the light of the historical circumstances which led to the formation of the new government, are seen very distinctly to be the natural outgrowths—the legitimate and necessary offspring—of certain lesson-teaching experiences which had left a deep impress upon the public mind. Of this sort, for instance, is the provision that “no State shall make anything but gold and silver coin a tender in payment of debts.” It is easy to trace this prohibition to the manifold evils which preVailed in some of the States in consequence of making cattle and other property a legal tender for discharging obligations payable by contract in metallic money. Of this sort, also, is the provision that “all duties, imposts, and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States”—a requirement intended to obviate the difficulty, vexation, damage, and bitterness which had resulted from thirteen different tariffs in thirteen different States joined in one federal nationality. In like manner, the intimate connection might be pointed out between many other provisions and particular embarrassments and dangers within the remembrance of the people. But our organic law furnishes no more curious, complete, signal example of the translation of historical precedent and experience into constitutional authority and obligation than the nature and extent of the protecting power, as related to the defense of home interests against foreign trespass. This power is usually sought, and supposed to be found, in the grant to Congress “to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts, and excises”; yet what is really conferred in that clause is the power to raise revenue “to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.” Only incidentally—that is to say, through distinctly authorizing entry charges on imports, or one of the principal instrumentalities by which protection can be rendered effectual—is the power to raise revenue connected with the power to encourage and foster and shield domestic industry by national legislation. If there was in the organic law of the Union no more direct reference to the subject, the protecting power would have to be sought by implication, whereas it exists in express terms; and arguments based on a latitudinarian construction of the Constitution would have to take the place of an explicit grant of authority, which is to be found in the prerogative of Congress “to regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian tribes.” To fully understand the meaning of this part of the Constitution, it is necessary to know the history of the circumstances which determined the use of this precise formula of words by the framers of our political structure. The expressions, commercial regulations, regulations of trade, the power to regulate commerce, the power to regulate trade, and the like, had acquired, in the political and popular language of the day, a definite and uniform sense, so that, according to that sense, a protective tariff was a form of commercial regulation, and the power to regulate commerce included the power to construct such a tariff. This meaning and intent had been indelibly impressed upon the minds of all classes by a long train of measures of strong and palpable injustice, on the part of Great Britain, toward the American commonwealths, both as colonies and as States—a protracted and expanding series of abuses and grievances, which had chafed, and harassed, and humiliated, and exasperated the whole people, until they were driven, as by relentless pursuit which left no other outlet for escape, to seek deliverance and permanent safety through revolution, political independence, and redemption from industrial vassalage. Whoever has looked deeply into the causes which produced the separation of the colonies from the mother country must have found the origin of the tendency to divorce in England's domineering claim of right to monopolize the trade of her colonial offspring, and in the latter's continued effort to resist or evade that monopoly, the antagonism between this constantly recurring action and reaction precipitating the final collision, with its historical outcome. Daniel Webster, in his discourse on the “First Settlement of New England,” points out the beginnings of this mighty movement of events toward severance. He says:
For a century, causes had been in operation tending to prepare things for this great result. In the year 1660 the English Act of Navigation was passed; the first and grand object of which seems to have been to secure to England the whole trade with her plantations. It was provided by that act, that none but English ships should transport American produce over the ocean, and that the principal articles of that produce should be allowed to be sold only in the markets of the mother country. Three years afterward another law was passed, which enacted, that such commodities as the colonies might wish to purchase should be bought only in the markets of the mother country. Severe rules were prescribed to enforce the provisions of these laws, and heavy penalties imposed on all who should violate them. In the subsequent years of the same reign, other statutes were enacted to re-enforce these statutes, and other rules prescribed to secure a compliance with these rules. In this manner was the trade to and from the colonies restricted, almost to the exclusive advantage of the parent country. But laws, which rendered the interest of a whole people subordinate to that of another people, were not likely to execute themselves; nor was it easy to find many on the spot, who could be depended upon for carrying them into execution. In fact, these laws were more or less evaded or resisted, in all the colonies. To enforce them was the constant endeavor of the government at home; to prevent or elude their operation, the perpetual object here.
In this protracted see-saw between coercion and resistance—a coercion which could not be executed, and a resistance which could not be repressed—the British policy of interference, restraint, and prohibition, as applied to the maritime, commercial, and manufacturing interests of the colonies, was carried to such an extreme as at length to provoke a searching inquiry into the legitimacy of the principles on which that policy was founded, followed by a solemn protest against it as involving an assault upon the natural and inalienable rights of man. Thus it came to pass that even what had been acquiesced in at first as unobjectionable was finally repudiated as pernicious. David Ramsey, who had been an active and decided participant in the scenes of the Revolution, devoted nearly a page of his once widely read “History of the United States” (Vol. I., page 334), to an exposition of the manner in which the primary object of quarrel was gradually supplemented, until it had added to itself an extensive range of differences. His statement is copied below: