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other part of Europe. In the state of New York, the lowest class of workmen and those employed in the most ordinary kinds of labor usually gain “ three shillings and sixpence currency, equal to two shillings sterling, a day; ship-carpenters, ten shillings and sixpence currency, with a pint of rum, equal in all to five shillings and sixpence sterling; house-carpenters and brick-layers, eight shillings currency, equal to four shillings and sixpence sterling ; journeymen tailors, five shillings currency, equal to about two shillings and ten pence sterling.”
These prices, much higher than those of London, are quite as high in other parts of the United States as in New York. I have taken them from Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations.*
An intelligent observer, who travelled through a part of the United States in 1780, gives us a still more favorable idea of the price that is paid there for work.
“At Farmington,” says he, “I saw them weaving a kind of camblet, and also a blue and white striped woollen cloth, for women's clothing. These fabrics are all sold at three shillings and sixpence per ell, † in the currency of the country, equal to about forty-five sous tournois. The sons and the grandsons of the master of the
* Book I. chap. 3. This was written in the year 1773. The money price of wages has since that time risen very much in the United States. At present (1835) in Boston, the rate of wages in the same trades is about as follows, viz. common labor per diem, sixty-eight and į cents, equal to five shillings and sixpence of the New York currency in shil. lings and pence; ship-carpenters $2, equal to sixteen shillings New York; housewrights $1,75, equal to fourteen shillings New York; bricklayers $2,25, equal to twenty shillings New York; tailors $1,50 equal to twelve shillings New York. This is the rate of wages for journeymen in each of the above trades. The rate in the principal towns in the northern and middle States generally does not vary materially from that in Boston. The laborer is supposed to support himself at the above rate of wages; and fortunately the pint of rum is not now so generally a part of his requisite supplies, as it was at the time when Adam Smith wrote his work. — W. Phillips.
† About thirty-three inches.
house were working at the business. One workman can easily make five ells of this cloth a day; and as the original material costs but a shilling, he can earn ten or twelve shillings by his day's labor.” But this fact is so well known, that it is superfluous to attempt to prove it by further examples. The causes of the high price of labor in our American States must then continue to operate more and more powerfully; since agriculture and population advance there with such rapidity, that labor of every description is increased in proportion. Nor is this all. The high rate of wages paid them in money proves, that they are even better than one would suppose them at first view; and, in order to estimate them correctly, an important circumstance should be known. In every part of North America, the necessaries of life are cheaper than in England. Scarcity is unknown there. In the least productive seasons, the harvest is always sufficient for the supply of the inhabitants, and they are only obliged to diminish the exportation of their produce. Now, the price of labor in money being higher there than in England, and provisions cheaper, the actual wages, that is, the amount of necessary articles, which the day laborer can buy, is so much the greater. It remains for me to show how the high rate of wages in America will increase their rate in Europe. Two distinct causes will unite in producing this effect. The first is the greater quantity of labor, that Europe will have to perform, in consequence of the existence of another great nation in the commercial world, and of its continual increase; and the second, the emigration of European workmen, or the mere possibility of their emigrating, in order to go to America, where labor It is certain, that the amount of labor in the various branches of agriculture, manufactures, commerce, and navigation, must be augmented in Europe, by the addition of several millions of men to the commercial world. Now, the amount of annual labor being increased, labor will be somewhat better paid, and the rate of daily wages received by the workman will be raised by this concurrence of circumstances. For example, if the additional supply of one hundred thousand pieces of cloth, twenty thousand casks of wine, and ten thousand casks of brandy, is to be furnished to the Americans, not only will the persons necessarily employed in the production or manufacture of these commodities receive higher wages, but the price of all other kinds of labor will be augmented.
is better paid. VOL. II. 56
The rate of wages in Europe will be raised by yet another circumstance, with which it is important to be acquainted. I have already said, that the value of wages ought not to be estimated solely by the amount of money, nor even by the quantity of subsistence, which the workman receives per day, but also by the number of days in which he is employed; for it is by such a calculation alone, that we can find out what he has for each day. Is it not evident, that he who should be paid at the rate of forty pence a day, and should fail of obtaining work half the year, would really have but twenty pence to subsist upon, and that he would be less advantageously situated than the man, who, receiving but thirty pence, could yet be supplied with work every day ? Thus the Americans, occasioning in Europe an increased demand and necessity for labor, would also necessarily cause there an augmentation of wages, even supposing the price of the day's work to remain at the same rate.
Perhaps it will be objected to what I have said, that
this new nation will contain within itself as many laboring people as it can employ; and that thus, adding nothing to the quantity of work to be performed in Europe, it will be no advantage to the men who perform this work. But I reply, that it is impossible but that the United States of America, in their present condition, and much more when their population and wealth shall be doubled, nay, quadrupled, should employ the labor of Europeans in one way or another. It is impossible, because in this respect the Americans are not differently situated from other nations, who all have need of each other. The fertility of the American soil, the abundance and variety of its productions, the activity and industry of its inhabitants, and the unrestricted commerce, which will sooner or later be established in Europe in consequence of the American Independence, secure the relations of America with other countries; because she will furnish to other nations such of her productions, as they may require; and, as each country possesses some productions peculiar to itself, the demand and advantage will be reciprocal.
The second cause, which I have said must coöperate in producing an augmentation of wages in Europe, is emigration, or the mere possibility of emigrating to America, where labor is better paid. It is easy to conceive, that, when this difference is generally known, it will draw to the United States many men, who, having no means of subsistence but their labor, will flock to the place where this labor is best recompensed. Since the last peace, the Irish have been continually emigrating to America. The reason of this is, that in Ireland wages are much less than in England, and that the lower classes are consequently great sufferers. Germany has also furnished new citizens to the United States; and all these laborers must, by leaving Europe, have raised the price of work for those who remain. This salutary effect will be produced even without emigration, and will result from the mere possibility of emigrating, at least in those states of Europe whose inhabitants are not compelled to leave their own country by excessive taxation, bad laws, and the intolerance of government. In order to raise the rate of wages, it is enough that higher can be obtained in any place to which the workman, who depends upon them, can remove. It has been wisely remarked in the discussions, which have arisen upon the corn trade, that the simple liberty of exporting grain would keep up and even raise its price, without the actual exportation of a single bushel. The case is the same with wages. As European workmen can so easily remove to America to procure higher wages, they will oblige those who purchase their labor to pay them more for it. Hence it follows, that these two causes of the rise of wages, actual emigration and the mere possibility of emigrating, will concur to produce the same effect. Each acting at first in an inconsiderable degree, there will be some emigration. Then wages will be raised, and the laborer, finding his gains increase, will no longer have a sufficiently powerful motive to emigrate. But the rise of wages will not be equally felt by the different nations of Europe. It will be more or less considerable, in proportion to the greater or less facilities for emigration, which each affords. England, whose manners, language, and religion are the same with those of America, must naturally enjoy this advantage in a higher degree than any other European state. We may assert, that she already owes much to America; for her relations with that country, the market which she has found there for her merchandise, and which has raised the wages of the day-laborers employed in her