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COMMON SENSE AND THE TARIFF QUESTION.

culture to support commerce. And when government has exhausted its invention in these modes of legislation, it finds the result less favorable than the original and natural state and course of things. I can hardly conceive of anything worse than a policy which should place the great interests of this country in hostility to one another, a policy which should keep them in constant conflict, and bring them every year to fight their battles in the committee-rooms of the House of Representatives at Washington.

"An appeal has been made to the patriotic feelings of the nation. It has been said we are not independent so long as we receive these commodities from other nations. He could not see the force of this appeal. He did not perceive how the exchange of commodities between nations, when mutually and equally advantageous, rendered one dependent on the other, in any manner derogatory to its interest or dignity. A dependence of this sort exists everywhere, among individuals as well as nations. Indeed, the whole fabric of civilization, all the improvements which distinguish cultivated society from savage life, rest on a dependence of this kind. He thought the argument drawn from the necessity of providing means of defense in war had been pressed quite too far. It was enough that we had a capacity to produce such means when occasion should call. The reasoning assumes that in war no means of defense or annoyance can be probably obtained, or not without great difficulty, except from our own materials or manufactures. He doubted whether there was much ground for that assumption. Nations had hitherto obtained military means in the midst of war, from commerce. But, at any rate, as it was acknowledged on all hands that the country possessed the capacity of supplying itself whenever it saw fit to make the sacrifice; and he did not see why the necessity of making it should be anticipated; why should we now change our daily habits and occupations, with great loss and inconvenience, merely because it is possible that some change may hereafter become necessary? We should act equally wise, he thought, if we were to decide that although we are now quite well, and with very good appetites, yet as it was possible we might one day be sick, we would therefore now sell all our food and lay up physic."

In another part of this great speech Webster, with prophetic insight, foretold how the whole face of New England industry and society would be changed for the worse if this high tariff policy were forced into effect by sectional votes. Two generations have passed since Webster's prophetic words in Faneuil Hall in 1820. This speech was given just seventy years ago. Do we not now witness the representatives of different industries fighting their battles in the committee-rooms of the House of Representatives at Washington? Do we not to-day witness agriculture