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VII—PUBLIC LANDS. Pre-emption laws. Education endowments.
Railroad grants. Pre-emption rights. Swamp Lands of Illinois
DEPARTMENT OF STATISTICS.
GENERAL LAND OFFICE STATISTICS. Statement showing the
areas of the several land States, and Territories, the amount of
undisposed of on the 30th June, 1853..
General Review. Real Estate. Churches, Colleges, Schools,
JOURNAL OF MANUFACTURES.
THE CLEVELAND IRON CO.
JOURNAL OF INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT.
PACIFIC RAILROAD_EQUITY SHARES. Force of inertia against
the enterprise. Proposition for a levy of $1,200,000 on St. Louis
its success. By the JUNIOR Editor....
land grants, extensive in number and length. Evidences of the
LITERARY NOTICES. American Railway Times. American Rail
road Journal. Southern Quarterly Review. The Mining Mag
azine. By the JUNION EDITOR GERMAN PHILOSOPHY. Moral and religious influence of the sci
ence of metaphysics. Classes. Views theory and of results.
From the French of Madame De Staël. By the Junior Editor.
TOPHER NORTH (PROFESSOR WILSON). The genial in-
Perhaps the most difficult problem in the science of public economy is the enactment of laws relating to industry or trade without affecting adversely the interests of some portion of the community. Indeed, we hold it to be impracticable for human wisdom to devise a measure for the encouragement of any one particular object connected with the general economy of a people without causing a greater or less degree of inconvenience, at least for a season, to those engaged in other pursuits.
Hence the utmost degree of caution should always be observed by the legislator when acting upon subjects relating to the industry, trade or finance of his constituents. It is his duty to examine the entire field of national industry, and be sure that the benefits proposed to one branch shall not be outweighed by injuries done to others.
Though not free tradists in the popular meaning of the term, we repeat what we have expressed upon other occasions, that legislation touching a tariff of duties, or the regulation of trade, is simply an act of expedience, to be governed by circumstances and well defined views of consequences.
Therefore when the circumstances are not absolutely imperious, and the consequences of legislation are uncertain, we hold it to be the wiser policy to leave industry and commerce to regulate themselves. Keeping these premises in view, we shall proceed to inquire into the expediency of abolishing the duties on Iron to be used in the construction of railroads.
While it may be admitted that the circumstances in which many of the railroad companies are placed, imperiously demand they should be
relieved from the high prices of Iron, it is by no means certain that an act of Congress abolishing the duties would afford the relief so much needed. The high price of Iron at the present time is doubtless owing chiefly to the great and growing demand for railroad and other purposes. The producers in Great Britain are, as we believe, working nearly up to their capacity; and it would be absurd to suppose that they would not raise the price of their commodities in proportion to the reduction of duties ; unless they should conclude that it was their better policy first to bieak down the American producers by selling at low prices for a time, and then occupy the market at their own rates without competition. In either case the benefits, if any, accruing to the railroad companies of this country would be but temporary ; while the act of Congress abolishing duties op Iron would be the means of establishing a scale of prices which would be governed entirely by the demand, with no reference to the cost of producing. The Iron trade of Great Britain was built up and established by a system of protection, which was steadily continued until complete control of the principal Iron markets of the world had been obtained. Under the influence of this system an amount of capital has been brought to bear upon this branch of industry which defies all competition arising from new establishments in countries where the producers are unprotected against its tremendous power.
To show the power of the Iron masters in Great Britain, and the policy by which they control the Iron trade, we make the fol. lowing extracts from a communication by Charles E. Smith, Esq., of Philadelphia, to the Secretary of the United States Treasury. The writer visited England, Scotland and Wales, in 1849, for the purpose of obtaining information relating to the Iron trade of those countries; and the document before us bears the marks of a close observing and well judging mind. After giving instances of fluotuations in the price of Iron without any apparent cause, except the will of the Iron masters, he proceeds to state that
"In conversation with an English iron-master, he said to me And it was repeatedly confirmed
by others subsequently—that they did not pretend nor expect to make a profit every year, but that they averaged their business for several years, and looked to the good years to reimburse them for the bad ones; that the practical result of the great fluctuations was to make the rich ones richer, and the poor ones poorer-in this way: The manufacturers with wall capital are obliged to sell, at the market price, nearly as fast as they make; and, when iron is low, they supply the greater part of the demand. The men with large capital keep their works always running, but, when iron goes below cost, stock
greater part of their
make, leaving the market to those who are obliged to sell; and, when iron comes up again at a remunerating price, they go into the market with a large stock, and sell out to a profit; while the smaller man, having sold as fast as he made, has no stock to sell at the advanced price, and frequently becomes a bankrupt before the high price comes. One establishment cleared one million pounds sterling in a single operation of this kind in 1844.
The capital employed in one of the large English works cannot be less than five millions of dollars; whereas the largest works in this country do not employ over $500,000, or one-tenth the capital used in England, and by far the greater number of our works have not more than one hundred thousand dollars capital, or one fiftieth the capital of large English works; so that, in comparison with their works, ours are all small, and are made to suffer in precisely the same way as the small makers in England, and, if they succeed in breaking down our works, the price of iron will be whatever they choose to ask for it, as we will be obliged to buy of them.
Another great facility they have arises from the low rate of in. terest, and the custom of the bankers to loan money on the manufactured iron, and thus enabling the maker to hold his iron for a long time, and not force it on to a weak or declining market; whereas here, we must first sell at any price we can get, in order to obtain the buyers' notes, on which to raise the money necessary to carry on the works.
Another advantage they have over us is in freights to America, in comparison with freights from the interior to the Atlantic cities. The articles we send to England occupy great space, in proportion to their value ; those we receive, being often the same materials manufactured, occupy but little bulk : hence the returning vessels are always short of cargo, and will bring iron for any price, rather than buy ballast, to be thrown away on arrival here. But the freights and tolls on our canals and railroads are always the same, and will average higher than the freight from England.”
In view of these facts, upon what ground can it be expected that a repeal of the tariff will reduce the price of rails ? It is shown that the large establishments in Great Britain are able to hold their stocks for years, and that they actually do so whenever they deem it to be their interest to pursue such a course.
A repeal of the duties op rails would put an end to the building of mills in the United States for making them; for with the history of the Iron trade in this country and in Great Britain before him no in
dividual possessing ordinary prudence would risk his capital and labor in erecting works to manufacture railroad iron.
Under the operation of the compromise tariff, the Iron business had become almost completely broken down before the year 1842. The tariff of that year brought again into operation the furnaces which had been abandoned, and caused many more to be erected. Under that law the Iron business prospered, and was rapidly gaining strength, when it was again checked by the act of Congress of 1846. The great demand for Iron in Great Britain, in the years 1846 and 1847, for the construction of railroads in that country, prevented the operation of the law of 1846 from being seriously felt until about two years after its passage.
But when the railroad mania began to subside in Great Britain, it was soon discorered that the Iron business of the United States was again in the power of the iron-masters of that country, and our furnaces were blown out and abandoned.
The following letter of Theo. Fenn, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, to the Secretary of the United States Treasury, may be regarded as containing a fair statement of the condition of the Iron trade in every part of this country from the year 1812 to 1850.
Harrisburg, November 12, 1849. SIR : Since my return home from Washington I have been engaged in procuring some iron statistics, which I serd you, and will be able to give you more, which I shall get from good sources, immediately.
Dauphin county.-In this county there were four furnaces and one forge previous to 1842, but one of which was making iron up to 1842. All the others were idle. That furnace made about 40 tons per week, or 2,000 tons a year.
In 1813. '4+, '45, '46, and '47, these were all in blast, yielding at the rate of about 40 tons per week each, or upwards of 8,000 tons per year. The rolling mill here was also going, making about five tons of sheet-iron per day, or 1,500 tons a year. The forge was also going, producing about 1,000 tons of iron in bars per year.
In 1846 the new furnace of Porter's was in operation, and the capacities of some of the others increased. The product of that year in pig metal was increased, as is estimated, to upwards of twelve thousand tons. The rolling mill and forge are in blast as usual.
At this time all the furnaces but two are stopped; the forge is stopped, but the rolling mill is doing about half work.