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Excerpt from Lectures on the History of Protection in the United States: Delivered Before the International Free-Trade Alliance
The following lectures were delivered by me before the International Free Trade Alliance, in New York, in the spring of 1876. They are here republished exactly as delivered, although there are certain points which I should like to elaborate, if the opportunity were offered. I have endeavored here to combine two things: lst, the history of our own tarifi' legislation, showing its weakness, ignorance, confusion, and oscillation; and, 2d, a discussion of the arguments for and against free trade, as they have presented themselves in the industrial and legislative history of the country. I have summed up in the last lecture the convictions to which such a study of the subject must lead. Suffice it here to say, that when one clears one's head of all the sophistries and special pleas by which proteo tion is usually defended, and looks at the matter as a simple matter of common sense, one must be convinced that an industrious people on a fertile soil, so abundant in extent that population is inadequate to the highest organization of labor, must enjoy advancing wealth and prosper ity. They will owe this to a diligent use of their natural advantages. They Will reach the maximum of production when they produce and ex change most freely. Certainly no application of taxation can possibly increase their production; that is their national wealth. Every tax or other interference with. The freedom of production or exchange produces restraint, confusion, delay, change, risk and vexation, and these, as every one knows, cause loss of time, labor, and capital, that is, diminish the pro duct which may be obtained from a given amount of labor. The amount of this loss can never be measured in figures, because we can never get statistics of what might have been but when it is shown here that the legislation of the United States has been constantly vacillating, not only in its policy, but also in the degree to which its policy has been pursued; that it has laid burdens on production and exchange in a clumsy, brutal, and ignorant disregard of possible effects on the delicate network of modern industry; that it has had in view, from point to point, only a single interest, and has had no national stand-point or conception of the public interest (much as it boasts to the contrary) then, I think, any one must see that such legislation has lamed the national productive power, wasted the natural advantages which the nation enjoys, diminished its wealth, and contracted the general status of comfort for the whole people.
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bound: 70 pages
publisher: Forgotten Books (April 17, 2017)
isbn: 1330792386, 978-1330792384,
weight: 3.8 ounces (