The true change may now be readily brought about, because the masters of the art of converting ore into iron have become aware that, owing to the scarcity of the fine ores suitable for the Bessemer metal, and of coal suitable for coking in Great Britain, the paramount control of the metal industry is passing to this country; it needs only the maintenance of the prices on the other side without a reduction of our own, to put us in a position of advantage for converting the crude metals into the higher forms in which ten or twenty men may be called for as compared to one in the production of pig-iron, copper, lead, and zinc. The prosperity which would ensue, as it did in Great Britain, after similar changes in the tariff were made, would tend to increase the consuming power of our own people in respect to the dutiable goods from which we should still derive a constantly increasing revenue. In this way we might gain a true protection to our domestic industry and the development of our home market; we might then take the paramount position in manufacturing arts as well as in agriculture to which we are entitled and yet enjoy the full benefit of low price and high wages.
I have endeavored to bring out this point very conspicuously, because many persons have looked upon those who are stigmatized as free-traders as if they advocated radical and injudicious changes in our revenue system, such as would launch us upon free trade without warning and without preparation. It is time to lay aside such prejudice with regard to those who advocate tariff reform in the direction of freer trade. I can not name a man among my associates in the study of these economic questions whose views are not substantially like my own and who is of any considerable influence or importance either as a student, economist, or legislator—not one who would not deprecate radical and revolutionary changes and who would not be guided by the most conservative ideas in the measures by which an ultimate but very profound change in our fiscal system would be brought about.
So far as one may judge by the course which has been taken in the House of Representatives and in the Senate, and by the position taken by ex-President Cleveland, the advocates of tariff reform and reduction first declared their adhesion to this proposed method by putting wool, hemp, flax, and many other articles which are most important products in the specific States from which they have been elected at once into the free list. May not men like the representatives from Texas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas, who led off in the Committee of Ways and Means in taking off the taxes from wool, hemp, and flax, well be sustained in the brave stand which they have taken and on the lines on which they have carried their constituents with them? These men have also been willing, even eager, to grant rates of duty