Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 37.djvu/615

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

to Congress, whose capacity or whose want of capacity we all know; many of whom we would never choose to manage a single large corporation, bank, or other commercial enterprise—to be able to choose and direct the occupations of this people? Are such men as our members of Congress to be empowered to say to us, This branch of work you shall do, and that branch of work you shall not do? What an absurdity! As if the people were not more competent than any Congress that ever existed, and more capable of managing their own affairs than the average member.

Again, what could be more absurd than the bugbear which is held up to us, of a community which would be exclusively devoted to agriculture, as the penalty for doing away with protection to domestic industry? Such a community never existed upon this continent except in the slave States. There, owing to slavery, we had a community almost wholly devoted to agriculture, and this was due to the coercion of law and the attempt to direct and control the labor of a great community by statute.

The first pamphlet ever printed by the writer, on Cheap Cotton by Free Labor, was devoted to an economic review of the slave system of labor. In that and in other articles I treated the system purely from the economic standpoint; I ventured to predict the changes which would come whenever the attempt to direct the labor of the community by the force of slavery should be removed. When the economic history of the present generation shall be written, it will give a picture of the most wonderful industrial revolution that has ever been witnessed, and it will do away forever with the conception that infant industries require even temporary support from the Government.

Witness the conditions. In 1865 the people of the Southern States were subjected not only to a revolution of institutions but of ideas. A considerable part of the most effective brain-power of the South was disfranchised as a penalty for having taken part in the rebellion, while the franchise was given to the most ignorant portion of the community. I fully justify the enfranchisement—the protection of the ballot was necessary to the black citizens of the United States—but I have never justified the disfranchisement. The result was as bad as it could be. We all know the history of what had been miscalled "carpet-bag" governments. They were not "carpet-bag" governments in any single State, so far as I can find out. The Northern men who took part in the readmission of the Southern States brought to their aid the best constitutional lawyers, and the organic laws of these States were most admirably framed and carried through by them. It was in specific legislation under these organic laws that the abuses happened; and, so far as I can learn, there was not one single instance or not one single law called into existence under these