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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 34.djvu/22

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

out of it; the laborers would be on an equal footing witb the masters. But as it is, the masters have both the public and their employés "in chancery," and have so far been able to resist the otherwise universal tendency to advance in wages. The little circle of events which I have outlined has taken place again and again in Pennsylvania, as the frequent strikes (more frequent, I believe, than anywhere else in the Union) in part testify. These circumstances can not long escape the attention of the leaders of the laboring-people, and from the rising unpopularity of protection among them we may confidently predict that they will not much longer be deceived.[1]

The depression of American agriculture is well known. In the ten years 1850-'60 the value of American farms more than doubled. In the following twenty years the value increased slightly over 50 per cent. So far as the influence of the tariff is felt in the value of farms, it might be supposed that its operation would be very favorable in the manufacturing States. Yet even here the percentage of increase in value for the decade 1850-'60 is greater than for the twenty years following 1860. All the New England States, save Massachusetts and Rhode Island, show a nominal decrease in the decade 1870-'80, and, even allowing for the 25-per-cent depreciation of greenbacks in 1870, the increase is not great; it does not by any means keep pace with the decade of 1850-'60, during which there was a low tariff. The State of Illinois should be a fair example of what has happened in purely agricultural States. From 1850 to 1860 the increase was 412 per cent; from 1860 to 1880 it was but 250 per cent. The census does not show the mortgages on farms; but, according to the statistics printed in the "New York Times," ten agricultural States have their farms mortgaged for $3,422,000,000 on a total valuation of less than four times as much. It would be surprising if agriculture were not depressed. The same state of affairs exists in American farming as existed in 1840 in English manufacturing, when Cobden and his friends associated themselves to bring in free wheat and to break the power of the landlords. Every tool which farmers use, and nearly every article they consume, bears a heavy tax, just as in Great Britain the high-tariff prices of provisions made it impossible for the manufacturers to pay subsistence wages to workmen. This country naturally manufactures agricultural machinery, and would do so even under absolute free trade, as is proved by the fact that we export it, but the duty on iron-ore and pig-iron makes the price from 15 to 25 per cent higher. Sugar is enhanced in price about 75 per cent by the tariff, and clothing, furniture, and lumber are largely raised in price to

  1. This explanation was first made, T think, by Mr. Benjamin Reece, at the Free-Trade Conference of 1885.