Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/64

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

problem before him is to show that. the system of commercial restriction has been a greater source of wealth for the United States than free trade would have been.[1]

He goes at once to the experience of the country and selects the following instances for examination: The high protective periods of 1812 to 1816, 1824 to 1833, 1842 to 1846, and 1861 to the present time; the partially protected period of 1833 to 1842 and the free-trade periods of 1816 to 1824 and 1846 to 1861. Here are seven instances, in four of which the effect is present, in one partially present, and in two absent. Now, assuming that all causes but one be eliminated, and assuming that one to be protection, the first four periods should be marked by the production of great wealth, the fifth by the production of moderate wealth, and the last two by the production of the least—or even by the loss—of wealth, calculated, of course, on a time basis such as per annum. Now, what do we find? Assuming that Mr. Blaine's rapid and cursory summary of those periods is correct, we learn that during the first-named period the country was sustained through a war, and that genuine prosperity characterized the other three mentioned high-protected periods, excepting that from 1873 to 1879, in which the business of the country was prostrated and the panic of 1873 ensued. We further learn that the partially protected period of 1833 was very disastrous to trade, resulting in the panic of 1837, and that that of 1816 to 1824 was equally disastrous, while the greater part of the free-trade period of 1846 to 1861 was characterized by the greatest prosperity. Here, then, we find prosperity under a high protective system and prosperity during a free-trade era. Similarly, we find disaster under high protection, disaster under low protection, and disaster under free trade; and from this confusion Mr. Blaine mildly tells us he has proved his case, and by the great method of Bacon too! Could anything be further from the truth? If his argument proves anything at

    to their mathematical form, are very precise. But when they concern human actions they are the result of all the motives which govern those actions; in other words, they are the result not merely of selfishness, but also of sympathy. And as Adam Smith, in the Wealth of Nations, dealt with only one of those passions viz., selfishness he would have found it impossible to conduct his generalization from statistics, which are necessarily collected from the products of both passions. Such statistical facts were in their origin too complex to be generalized, especially as they could not be experimented upon, but could only be observed and arranged. Adam Smith, perceiving them to be unmanageable, very properly rejected them as the basis of his science." (Buckle's History of Civilization, vol. ii, p. 367.)

  1. It is strange how the disputants who have succeeded Mr. Blaine in this controversy seem to lose sight of the main issue. No one can deny the facts which these gentlemen unceasingly proclaim, viz., that the creation of wealth, and the growth of the manufacturing industries of the nation during the enforcement of protective laws, have been prodigious. But not one writer has offered the slightest particle of evidence to show that a greater advance would not have been made under a system of free trade.