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MY honorable colleague (Mr. Sheffey) has said, that the case of the manufacturers is not fairly before the House. True! it is not fairly before the House. It never can be fairly before the House; whenever it comes before us, it must come unfairly, not as "a spirit of health-but a goblin damned"-not "bringing with it airs from Heaven, but blasts from Hell"-it ought to be exorcised out of the House: for, what do the principles about which such a contest is maintained amount to, but a system of bounties to manufacturers, in order to encourage them to do that which, if it be advantageous to do at all, they will do, of course, for their own sakes; a largess to men to exercise their own customary callings, for their own emolument; and Government devising plans, and bestowing premiums out of the pockets of the hard working cultivator of the soil, to mold the productive labor of the country into a thousand fantastic shapes; barring up, all the time, for that perverted purpose, the great, deep, rich stream of our prosperous industry.

Such a case, sir, I agree with the honorable gentleman, cannot be fairly brought before the House. It eventuates in this: whether you, as a planter will consent to be taxed, in order to hire another man to go to work in a shoemaker's shop, or to set up a spinning jenny. For my part I will not agree to it, even though they should, by way of return, agree to be taxed to help us to plant tobacco; much less will I agree to pay all, and receive nothing for it. No, I will buy where I can get manufactures cheapest; I will not agree to lay a duty on the cultivators of the soil to encourage exotic manufactures; because, after all, we should only get much worse things at a much higher price, and we, the cultivators of the country, would in the end pay all. Why do no gentlemen ask us to grant a bounty for the encouragement of making flour?-the reason is too plain for me to repeat it; then why pay a man much more than the value for it, to work up our own cotton into clothing, when, by selling my raw material, I can get my clothing much better and cheaper from Dacca.

Sir, I am convinced that it would be impolitic, as well as unjust, to aggravate the burdens of the people, for the purpose of favoring the manufacturers; for this government created and gave power to Congress, to regulate commerce and equalize duties on the whole of the United States, and not to lay a duty but with a steady eye to revenue. With my good will, sir, there should be none but an ad valorem duty on all articles, which would prevent the possibility of one interest in the country being sacrificed, by the management of taxation, to another.

What is there in those objects of the honorable gentleman's solicitude, to give them a claim to be supported by the earnings of the others? The agriculturists bear the whole brunt of the war and taxation, and remain poor, while the others run in the ring of pleasure, and fatten upon them. The agriculturists not only pay all, but fight all, while the others run. The manufacturer is the citizen of no place, or any place; the agriculturist has his property, his lands, his all, his household gods to defend; and, like that meek drudge, the ox, who does the labor, and ploughs the ground, and then, for his reward, takes the refuse of the farm yard, the blighted blades and the mouldy straw, and the mildewed shocks of corn for his support;-while the commercial speculators live in opulence, whirling in coaches, and indulging in palaces; to use the words of Dr. Johnson, coaches, which fly like meteors, and palaces, which rise like exhalations. Even without your aid, the agriculturists are no match for them. Alert, vigilant, enterprising, and active, the manufacturing interests are collected in masses, and ready to associate at a moment's warning, for any purpose of general interest to their body. Do but ring the fire bell, and you can assemble all the manufacturing interests of Philadelphia, in fifteen minutes. Nay, for matter of that, they are always assembled, they are always on the Rialto; and Shylock and Antonio meet there every day, as friends, and compare notes, and lay plans, and possess in trick and intelligence, what, in the goodness of God to them, the others can never possess.

It is the choicest bounty to the ox that he cannot play the fox or the tiger. So it is to one of the body of agriculturists that he cannot skip into a coffeehouse, and shave a note with one hand, while with the other he signs a petition to Congress, portraying the wrongs and grievances and sufferings he endures, and begging them to relieve him; yes, to relieve him out of the pockets of those whose labors have fed and enriched, and whose valor has defended them. The cultivators, the patient drudges of the other orders of society, are now waiting for your resolution. For, on you it depends, whether they shall be left further unhurt, or be, like those in Europe reduced, gradatim, and subjected to another squeeze from the hard grasp of power. Sir, I have done.

John Randolph
1816


General Summary

Randolph was a planter Congressman and Senator from Virginia. A proud and haughty descendant of Pocohontas, he was renowned for his eloquence, wit, sarcasm, invective and eccentricity. He seldom wrote or spoke without denouncing something or somebody. He opposed the War of 1812, and the Missouri Compromise, stigmatizing the Northern Members of Congress who voted for the latter as "doughfaces." Yet, in his will, he manumitted his 318 slaves, and provided for their maintenance in a free state.

After the War of 1812 Randolph was a firm advocate of States' rights, although he had earlier broken with Jefferson on that principle. In this speech, delivered in 1816, he denounces our first protective tariff measure as a blow aimed at the agricultural, as distinguished from the manufacturing, interests of the country. The economic conditions following the War of 1812 brought the tariff question before the country where it has remained for over a century.


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