William Jennings Bryan
Delivered in Congress on March 16, 1892, in the discussion of the tariff
measures reported by the Ways and Means Committee of which Mr. Bryan was
a member. This is known as his first speech in Congress, although he had
previously spoken for five minutes on a minor question. The House was then
in Committee of the Whole on the state of the Union, and had under consideration
the bill making wool free and reducing the duties on woolen goods.
THE gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] put forward to open the debate by
our friends who occupy the wedge-shaped space on what used to be called
the Republican side, has seen fit to criticize as sporadic the bills so
far reported by the committee. He has also found fault with the method
which has been adopted.
I desire to say that I am in hearty sympathy with the majority of the committee in its decision to attack the tariff in detail; and I think that the bills which have been reported and the bills to be reported will fully answer the argument of the gentleman that we are making only a slight assault upon the system.
The main reason which has led me to favor this method of attack is, that
it is possible that some of the bills reported by the committee may pass
the Senate and receive the sanction of the President, and if we can succeed
in bringing to the people of this country relief in any form, even to a
small degree, we shall be accomplishing far more for our country, and,
as I believe, doing better for our party, than if we simply attempt to
make a record by a general bill, with no prospect of its passage.
Another reason: This will enable us to unmask some of the Republicans of
the North and West, who have insisted to their people that they believe
in reforming the tariff in the interest of the consumers, and that they
were anxious to give certain relief, but always shield themselves behind
the extended provisions of a general bill. If we are thus able to put those
people upon a defense before their constituents, which they are poorly
prepared to make, we shall have done something for our country.
The gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY], however, in that remarkable plea
which he made against free wool when he was discharging the self-imposed
task of defending the agricultural classes, a spectacle as unexpected as
it was absurd, would have you believe that the only cause of his solicitude
was the fear that this bill might injure the farmer.
But you who listened to him will remember that the climax was reached when he turned to this side of the House and with the most intense fear depicted upon his features exclaimed that the policy of the committee was to “divide and conquer.” He had perhaps read the Home Market Bulletin, where Mr. Draper said that “protectionists must stand together or fall separately.” He had perhaps read in that same Bulletin that the “wool tariff is the keystone of the protective arch.” And we then understood from his manifestations of anxiety that what he feared was not so much that the farmer might be injured as that protection might lose one of its most ardent champions.
That was a confession, Mr. Chairman, that the protective system can not stand upon its merits. It was a confession that they dare not go before the people and defend the tariff upon each article upon the ground that it is right and needed. It was a confession that this system is sustained simply by the cooperation of the beneficiaries of a tariff, and that they are held together by “the cohesive power of plunder.” It was a confession that the loss of one defender might endanger the whole system.
If, Mr. Chairman, the fears of the gentleman from Maine are realized, the committee will find in that fact complete justification for its course; renewed hope and encouragement will be given to that large proportion of our people who have felt the burdens of a protective tariff, but have been unable to obtain relief because of the log-rolling of those who stand behind this bulwark.
I desire to call attention first to the bill now under consideration, and
then to what is known as the binding-twine bill; which, though not regularly
before the committee, has been referred to by our friends on the other
side; and then, if the committee is willing to listen, I should like to
go even further and accept the challenge of the gentleman from Maine [Mr.
DINGLEY] to discuss the principle of protection. I consider myself fortunate
that I am permitted to hear protective doctrine from its highest source.
Out in Nebraska we are so far away from the beneficiaries of a tariff that
the arguments in justification of protection in traveling that long distance
become somewhat diluted and often polluted, so that I am glad to be permitted
to drink the water fresh from its fountains in Maine and Massachusetts,
and I will assure the gentleman [Mr. DINGLEY] that those of us who believe
in tariff reform are willing to meet him upon the principle involved, not
only here but everywhere.
The bill under consideration provides for admitting free of duty wool and
those associated articles which we know as raw material in the woolen industry.
It also takes away entirely those specific or compensatory duties which
were added to the ad valorem rates to enable the manufacturer to transfer
to the back of the consumer the burden which a tariff on raw material places
upon the manufacturer. We have also reduced the ad valorem rates, leaving
the rates ranging from 25 to 45 per cent., with an average of not quite
40 per cent., less than the Mills bill, whereas the present rates average
over 90 per cent. We have left the tariff lowest upon the articles which
are cheapest and of most necessary use.
The reason why I believe in putting raw material upon the free list is
because any tax imposed upon raw material must at last be taken from the
consumer of the manufactured article. You can impose no tax for the benefit
of the producer of raw material which does not find its way, through the
various forms of manufactured product, and at last press with accumulated
weight upon the person who uses the finished product.
Another reason for believing that raw material should be upon the free
list is because that is the only method by which one business can be favored
without injury to another. We are not, in that case, imposing a tax for
the benefit of the manufacturer, but we are simply saying to the manufacturer:
“We will not impose any burden upon you.” When we give to the manufacturer
free raw material and free machinery, we give to him, I think, all the
encouragement which a people acting under a free Government like ours can
legitimately give to an industry.
The reduction which we have made in the tariff upon manufactured articles
is a great reduction in existing schedules. It is not as great a reduction
as might be made. I believe that we have left far more tariff than can
be shown to be necessary to provide for any difference, if there be any
difference, between the cost of manufacture here and abroad. But I am led
to agree to this moderate reduction of the tariff upon manufactured articles
for two reasons: first, because, in going from a vicious system—and I believe
that our present system is a vicious system, created by the necessities
of war and continued by favoritism—because, I say, in going from a vicious
to a correct system the most rapid progress can be made by degrees.
Another reason why I am willing to stop at this point at this time is because
all measures of legislation must be practical rather than ideal. We are
confronted by a condition. Notwithstanding the attempt of the people to
turn out of power those who in the last Congress ran riot, the limitations
of our Constitution have prevented us from obtaining control of more than
one of the three coordinate branches of the legislative power. Any bill
to become a law must pass not only this House but also the Senate, which
is hostile, and must receive the approval of a Republican President. Therefore,
if we expect success we must leave room for no objection that a Republican
can take advantage of as a justification for standing in the way of this
relief. And I believe in this bill we have done that; there is no objection
that the Republican party can stand upon in opposition to this bill and
upon which they dare to go before the country.
I desire to call attention, Mr. Chairman, to the advantage which this bill
brings to the people of this country. We are not prepared to say, nobody
can affirm positively, what effect the present tariff on wool has upon
the wool-grower. I read in the address of Judge Lawrence, before the Ohio
Wool-Growers’ Association, that in his opinion the man in this country
who raises sheep receives for his wool the foreign price of wool plus the
duty upon wool. But there are many who differ with him. Many sheep-raisers
believe that the farmer does not receive the tariff duty upon wool which
is imposed ostensibly for his benefit, and they point to the decline in
the number of sheep and in the price of wool under protection.
I care not, for the sake of the argument, which position is true. One of
three conditions must exist at this time. We have imposed a tariff upon
wool; we have given a compensatory duty, which is equivalent to that tariff,
upon wool in all its manufactured forms. The manufacturer of wool must,
if he buys foreign wool, pay this duty. Now, if the farmer gets no increased
price for his wool because of protection, and the manufacturer deals honestly
with the people and does not charge them anything extra, then the removal
of this duty will still bring relief to the consumers of woolen goods by
reducing the price of imported wool without affecting the price of the
farmer’s home-grown wool. This is the first condition which may exist.
It is also possible that the manufacturer in this country, having the advantage
of the compensatory duties, does charge up to the people who buy woolen
goods the amount of the tariff as if he paid it to the farmer, and yet
he may not pay it to the farmer. In that case the passage of this bill
will still more largely reduce the cost of goods to the consumer and not
affect the farmer who raises sheep.
There may be a third condition. It may be that the manufacturer of woolen goods pays the duty upon imported wool and pays a like amount on home-grown wool and then charges to the consumer just exactly, under the compensatory duties, the amount which he has had to pay as a tariff upon foreign wool and as an additional price upon the home-grown wool. If that condition exists, then the operation of this bill will be to bring to the people of this country who consume woolen goods the reduction made by the bill and to prevent the grower of wool from collecting from the consumer of woolen goods, through his agent the manufacturer, the amount which he has been receiving.
Now, those are the three conditions, one of which must exist. I do not
care, my friends, for the sake of the argument, which condition exists,
I am in favor of this bill. I am in favor of it, in the first place, because
it makes a reduction in ad valorem rates; and in addition thereto, if the
first condition supposed exists, reduces the price of woolen goods to the
extent of the tariff paid on imported wool. This is only just, because
such necessary articles as woolen goods should not be made so expensive
as they are to the great masses of our people.
If the second condition exists, and the manufacturer is charging up against us as consumers that which he does not pay, I am still in favor of the bill, and in favor of taking away from him this unjust and unfair advantage.
If the third condition exists, and the manufacturer collects from us simply what he pays to the farmer who raises sheep, I am still in favor of this bill, because I do not believe we should make a manufacturer or any one else an agent to collect money from one man and pay it into the pocket of another man. So you can take any of these conditions you like, and you can frame any defense you please, but I am in favor of this bill from any standpoint and on any condition.
But there is another phase of this question, Mr. Chairman. The amount of wool produced in this country is about 4½ pounds per capita; the amount of wool consumed is about 6-1/2 pounds per capita. Therefore we consume about 50 per cent. more than we produce. Hence, if whatever benefit there is from a tariff on wool is equally divided among all the people, then the abolition of this compensatory duty, not to speak of the reduction in ad valorem rates, brings to the people of the country about 50 per cent. more of advantage than it can possibly take away from them.
I find that in the States east of the Mississippi River we have now about
one-half the number of sheep that we had when protection took the wool
industry of the country into its encouraging embrace. I find but two States,
Michigan and Ohio, which have one sheep per capita. The average production
is about 6 pounds per sheep. Therefore, in a State that has one sheep per
capita the people of the State would get just as much relief from this
bill as they could possibly lose because of the repeal of the tariff duties
on wool. Maine has a little less than one sheep per capita, and therefore
she would receive more advantage by a reduction of the duty than she could
possibly lose. The States of New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and Nebraska—and
you can take others for yourself and make the computation; I simply mention
these for illustration—these four States produce less than 1½ pounds of
wool per capita, and they consume 6½ pounds per capita. So, Mr. Chairman,
to the people of these States this bill brings more than four times as
much in the way of advantage as it can possibly take away from them.
But I have gone on the theory, Mr. Chairman, that this advantage, whatever
it is to the wool-grower, is equally divided among the people of the State.
I find in the report of the Wool-Growers’ Association for the State of
Ohio, held at Columbus some two months ago, a statement that there are
80,000 flockmasters in Ohio. I find that in Ohio there are about 4,000,000
people. Hence there is about one fiockmaster to 50 persons. It is fair
to assume that in computing this number, it being for political purposes
and to influence legislation, all the sheep-raisers in Ohio, both heads
of families and sons old enough to vote, were probably counted. But supposing
every one to be the head of a family, it means that one head of a family
in Ohio out of ten raises sheep, and I suppose that the proportion is fully
as great in Ohio as anywhere.
Now, if that calculation be true, what does it mean? It means that all over this country, irrespective of their State or locality, ten times as many people are benefited by this bill as are by any possibility injured. Is not that some advantage?
The gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] said that I would not dare to take this bill to my State. I will not be afraid to take it to my State, nor will I be afraid to take any bill that is passed by this House; but I certainly would not hesitate to take a measure of this kind, when I say to you, my friend, that this bill brings to the people of the State of Nebraska, to the people of New York, to the people of Pennsylvania, to the people of Kansas, to the people of this entire country, immeasurably more advantage than it can possibly deprive them of, and it brings the advantage to ten times as many people as are injuriously affected by it.
Our friends have said that this is class legislation. That is, that when
we say we shall deprive the wool-grower of any advantage he has under the
present law we are guilty of class legislation. It is sufficient evidence,
Mr. Chairman, that this bill does not advance class legislation that the
Republican party is solidly opposing it. If it were class legislation we
could reasonably expect their united support.
But, sir, I desire to call the attention of the Committee to this distinction.
We have referred to it in the report of the committee on binding twine.
There is a difference between a man coming to this Congress and demanding
that other people shall be subjected to a tax for his benefit and a demand
on the part of those taxed to be relieved of the burden. Is there not a
difference between these two principles? It seems to me that the difference
is as marked as between day and night. It is simply this difference, sir:
The man who says, “Impose upon somebody else a tax for my benefit,” says
what the pickpocket says, “Let me get my hand into his pocket”; but the
man who says, “Take away the burdens imposed on me for other people’s benefit,”
says simply what every honest man says, “Let me alone to enjoy the results
of my toil.” I repeat, is there not a difference between these two principles?
But, Mr. Chairman, upon what ground is this protection to the wool-grower asked? Is it because of the importance of the industry? The gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] said that it was one of the most universal of all the industries of the farm; and when I tried to call his attention to the fact that only a small proportion of our people own sheep, he did not care to be further interrupted. The fact is, Mr. Chairman, that last year the value of sheep in this country was only $108,391,444. while the value of live stock upon the farm was $2,329,787,770; that is, the value of sheep was less than one-twentieth the value of all the live stock.
The wool crop last year was valued at about $70,000,000, while the value
of the corn, wheat, and oats raised that year, without mentioning the other
crops of the farm, amounted to $1,582,184,206. Three items of the farm
amounted to twenty times the value of the wool clip. Out in Nebraska there
was a time when we had almost one sheep for each man, woman, and child.
We look back to it as the “mutton age” of Nebraska. But, alas, that happy
day has passed! The number of sheep has continually decreased, until now,
if every woman in the State named Mary insisted upon having a pet lamb
at the same time, we would have to go out of the State to get lambs enough
to go round.
No; it is not because of the importance of the industry, nor is it because it is an infant industry. You may go back into history, sacred or profane, as far as tradition runs, and you will find a record of the sheep. Homer tells how Ulysses escaped from the cave of the Cyclops by means of a sheep. We read in the Bible that when Isaac was about to be offered up, away back in the patriarchal days, a ram was found caught by the horns in a thicket, and offered in his stead; and further back than that, in the fourth chapter of Genesis, I think in the second verse—my Republican friends, of course, will remember—it is recorded of the second son of the first earthly pair, “Abel was a keeper of sheep.” And from that day to this—
Mr. SIMPSON. I want to ask the gentleman if we are to understand that this
is the sacrifice you are offering up on the altar of protection.
Mr. BRYAN. No, sir; we are only beginning an attack, which will be continued just as long as there is anything to remedy. But I was going to say, Mr. Chairman, that from that day to this the sheep has been the constant companion of man in all his travels, and it has differed from its modern owner perhaps the most in that it is recognized as the symbol of meekness.
Mr. Chairman, in the earlier days, when protection was defended from more patriotic motives, if I may so assert, than to-day, the main excuse given was that we needed the tariff to help infant industries to get upon their feet. I want to call the attention of the Republicans to the language of one or two of the early fathers upon the subject. Alexander Hamilton, in his report on manufactures in 1791, said:
“The continuance of bounties on manufactures long established must always
be of questionable policy because a presumption would arise in every such
case that there were natural and inherent impediments to success.”
That was the original idea. Mr. Clay said in 1833:
“The theory of protection supposes too that after a certain time the protected
arts will have acquired such strength and perfection as will enable them
subsequently, unaided, to stand against foreign competition.”
And again in 1840:
“No one, Mr. President, in the commencement of the protective policy, ever
supposed that it was to be perpetual.”
This was the argument used in the beginning; but arguments have to be framed
to meet conditions, and we find now that infants that could get along on
10 per cent. when they were born, and 20 per cent. when they were children,
and 30 per cent. when they were young men, have required 40, 50, 60, or
70 per cent. when old and entering upon their second childhood.
Therefore they had to frame new arguments. What is the argument advanced
now? It is that the conditions in this country are such that we can not
compete with other countries, and that therefore we must put upon the imported
article a tariff making the price so high that we can afford to produce
the article in this country. Do they say that they need a protective tariff
to help the sheep industry get upon its feet? Not at all. Mr. Lawrence
in his speech said in regard to the impossibility of competing:
“And these are the existing conditions. In Australia merino wool can be and is produced at a less cost than it can be in the United States, because (1) pasturage can be had there for a few cents an acre. and (2) the climate there is such that substantially no winter feeding is required. The same is true of South America.”
We are even assured by the same high authority that “wool-growers should
at the first practical moment demand gradually annually increasing duties
on all classes of wools just as our increasing flocks can supply increasing
demands.” A modest demand! They offer no hope of reduction. In discussing
protection our friends are in the habit of claiming everything possible.
Why, the gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] stated to us seriously that
the tariff on wool had made more pounds of wool grow on a sheep’s back.
That is in the RECORD, that protection is responsible for the fact that
the sheep to-day produce more wool than they used to. I have often thought
how perplexed the sheep must have been after the passage of the last bill
when they got together and consulted among themselves as to how they were
going to increase the amount of their wool now that the tariff had made
it necessary. But nobody, Mr. Chairman, has said to this House that protection
would reduce the price of pasturage in this country, nor has anybody claimed
that it would so moderate the climate as to do away with the necessity
for winter feeding. The theory, Mr. Chairman, upon which this is justified
might as well be met here as anywhere; and I want to state, as emphatically
as words can state it, that I consider it as false in economy and vicious
in policy to attempt to raise at a high price in this country that which
we can purchase abroad at a low price in exchange for the products of our
It was said by a gentleman who appeared before the committee—I think at the last Congress—that wool could be raised in Australia for 6 cents a pound, and that it could not be raised in this country for less than 15 cents; and we are told that it is a wise policy to so tax imported wool as to enable our people to raise wool at 15 cents a pound instead of buying it at 6 cents a pound; that we save money and give employment to labor. If that principle is true, then it is wise to raise wool at 15 cents a pound instead of buying at 3 cents, because we save more in labor. If it is wise to raise it 15 cents a pound instead of buying it at 3, it is still wiser to raise it at 15 cents rather than have somebody give it to us.
That what it leads to; and the gentlemen who maintain that position are
fit companions for the people who are supposed by Bastiat to have petitioned
the French legislature to find some way of preventing the sun from shining,
because it interfered with the business of the candle-makers. If their
theory is true, then the most unkind act of the Creator was to send that
great orb of day every morning to chase away the shadows of the night,
flood all the earth with his brightness, and throw out of employment those
who otherwise might be making tallow candles to light the world.
It was said by a French writer that Robinson Crusoe was a protectionist;
that when he was on the island all alone he started to make a canoe by
hollowing out a log with a broken stone. Just about the time he commenced,
some boards floated up to the shore, and the thought came to him, “I will
take these boards and make myself a canoe out of them;” but the protective
idea came to him, and he said, “No; if I do that I will lose the labor
I put into the log.” So he kicked the boards away from the shore, and went
on hacking at the log with the broken stone. A little later, when he and
Friday were together, they spent four hours in the morning gathering fruit,
and four hours in the afternoon catching game. Some one came up from another
island and said, “On our island we have lots of game but no fruit; we will
bring you all the game you can catch in four hours for the fruit you can
gather in two hours.” “Let us do it,” said Friday. “Oh, no,” says Crusoe,
“if we do that, what will we do with the other two hours of labor?”
And that is the theory of our friends. When we buy something, we buy with the results of our toil; and they tell us that we must not so arrange the laws of this country that we can buy a great deal, but that we must so arrange them as to make us work just as long as possible upon every piece of work we undertake. It is the old theory, “the maximum of toil and minimum of product.” If this is the true principle, then discard your riding cultivators, go back to the crooked stick, and let us plow in such a way that all the people of this country can find employment in plowing alone.
I, therefore, Mr. Chairman, denounce as fallacious, as unworthy of consideration, the only reason that can be given in support of the tariff on wool, as a protective tariff and for protective purposes.
I desire now, Mr. Chairman, to call the attention of this committee to
another bill, known as the “binding-twine bill.” This bill places upon
the free list the various kinds of binding-twine. The majority and minority
of the committee agree upon some of the facts. We agree that there were
consumed in this country last year about 100,000,000 pounds of binding-twine.
We agree that if a tariff of seven-tenths of 1 per cent. is added to the
price of the binding-twine it costs the people of this country $700,000
because of that tariff.
We agree also that no twine was imported and that no revenue was received
by the Government from this source. Therefore, if this was a tax upon the
consumer, it was a tax of $700,000 taken out of the people’s pocket, not
one cent of which reached the Treasury. According to the Republican idea,
that is an ideal tariff; it embraces the maximum of burden with the minimum
of revenue. Follow out that principle, arrange your schedules upon that
plan, and there will not be a dollar derived for the support of government
from a tariff upon imports, because you will have no imports, and you must
find some other source of revenue. I want to ask the gentlemen who represent
the minority if they are in favor of applying this principle to the other
schedules; if they are in favor of so adjusting the tariff as to prevent
imports and yet enable the protected manufacturer here to take the money
out of the people’s pockets?
I desire to call attention briefly to what this principle involves. It
is supposed that a tariff is levied because we need revenue. I heard the
gentleman who led the majority in the last Congress in the tariff discussion,
Mr. McKinley, in a speech which he made at Ottumwa, Iowa, say that were
it not for the necessity for revenue there would be no justification for
a tariff upon imports. Therefore, the idea is that you levy the tariff
to collect revenue to support your Government.
Now, how ought it to be done? Suppose you should apply this principle in
collecting the taxes for your counties and your towns. It is estimated
that on an average for every dollar brought into the Treasury by import
duties $4 go into the pockets of the protected manufacturers. What does
that mean? It means that 80 per cent. of the taxes paid by the people for
the support of the General Government because of import duties goes to
the protected interests, and only 20 per cent. goes into the public Treasury,
80 per cent. being absorbed in collecting the tax. Try that in your counties.
How many of your counties would permit the collection, by direct taxation,
of $100,000 in taxes when only $20,000 were needed for revenue? How many
of you would pay $80,000 to some man to collect the $20,000 that you wanted
to use? And yet, Mr. Chairman, according to the principle involved in this
particular item, we pay not 80, but 100 per cent. for collection! Seven
hundred thousand dollars are collected from the people in this case if
it is a tax, not one cent of which gets into the Treasury. Are the gentlemen
who represent the minority going to justify that? I am anxious to hear
upon what principle that can be defended. But the minority say:
“So that, if this assumption were true, the entire additional cost would
only amount to 1 cent per acre, or less than 1 mill per bushel of grain,
and yet the saving of this trifling sum is the excuse given by the majority,”
We had a report from one of the manufacturers of binding-twine that there are thirty-five binding-twine factories in the United States (there are possibly a few more). If that is true, then $700,000 a year means $20,000 to every one of these binding-twine factories. Is that a trifling consideration? It is trifling to the farmer to be taxed 1 cent an acre, but it is a matter of some importance (which minority seems to think of more consideration) that it means $20,000 a year to every binding-twine manufacturer in this country. This tax is a small matter, Mr. Chairman; 1 cent an acre is trivial; the total sum is not great; but if you concede the right of Government to collect from the farmer 1 cent an acre in order that a binding-twine factory may make $20,000 a year more, you concede the right of Government to collect from that farmer 1 cent an acre on each of two hundred additional items for the “protection” of other industries, until you have absorbed every cent of his income from his farm. They told us the other day that there are twenty-five hundred articles upon the tariff list.
Now, if there are twenty-five hundred articles upon that list, and you
can take one at a time and deal with it upon this principle, imposing a
tax of 1 cent an acre upon the farmer for each article, then you can impose
an aggregate tax of $25 an acre upon the farmer for the benefit of somebody
else. This binding-twine tax is a trifling consideration, but the farmers
of this country who have been oppressed, who have been made to bleed at
every pore by your infamous system, will welcome even a trivial advantage
as an earnest of that complete relief which will come when it is in our
power to give it.
But, Mr. Chairman, I desire to call attention now to two inconsistent sentences
that lie side by side in the report of the minority. I do not, however,
call attention to them because inconsistent sentences are at all rare in
arguments in defense of protection; in any hour’s speech in defense of
a protective tariff you will find such contradictions standing face to
face. But I call attention to these inconsistencies for the purpose merely
of showing the confusion into which those are led who attempt to prove
that you can benefit one man by legislation without taking something from
somebody else. Here is the first sentence:
“It is evident, however, from the report of the Bureau of Statistics, that
nothing has been added to the price during the past year on account of
And here is the next sentence:
“It is also evident from the circular of the Belfast Rope Company, Limited,
that to remove the tariff is to transfer the entire industry to other countries.”
Here are two estranged products of one mental effort yearning for reconciliation.
Now, if the first statement is true, that no part of this duty was added
to the price, then how is the last part true that the removal of the duty
is going to transfer all this industry to some other country? There can
be no reconciliation of those propositions, because the only way in which
you can drive out the manufacturing industry from this country is to so
reduce the price of the article competing from abroad that manufacturers
in this country cannot afford to make it; and if you say that the tariff
was not added to the price, you say that the price was just as low as without
the tariff; and when you say that the price was just as low with the tariff
as without the tariff, then you say it makes no difference to the manufacturer
in this country whether he has a tariff or not.
But I want to call attention to the alarm on the part of the minority of
“It is also evident from the circular of the Belfast Rope Company, Limited—”
There was a circular sent by some twine-manufacturing establishment to the Bureau of Statistics and by it sent to us in the committee room; and this circular offering to sell twine is made the excuse in this minority report for retaining a tax of $700,000 on the farmers of this country. I suppose that if some other man had sent a circular—if we had two circulars instead of one—the minority of the committee would have wanted to double the tariff and to collect $1,400,000 from the farmers. This shows how readily they become alarmed when the interests of a manufacturer are at stake, and how slow they are to become alarmed when the interests of the great consuming masses of this country are at stake.
Another thing. In this report they say—
“If it is true, as stated in a report of the majority, that the Senate
in 1890 voted to place this article on the free list—”
“If it is true?” They will not believe the records of Congress. If it is true! Then they say:
—it was induced largely by the assumption that the price was then regulated
by a trust and combination formed with a view to force up the price; but
this condition of affairs which was then proven never to have existed is
certainly impossible under present competition.
They tell you that the vote in the Senate was taken upon a false assumption—the
assumption of a condition which did not then exist and which is impossible—and
yet the minority of this committee have in their possession a letter of
Edwin H. Fitler & Co., saying that twenty-nine out of thirty-five of
these factories are controlled by the National Cordage Company, and that
this company controls 60 per cent. of the total output. Yet in spite of
the fact that they know of the company, its name and location, and the
number of factories which it controls, they tell you in this report that
that vote was taken upon a supposed condition which not only did not exist
but cannot exist. And then to add to their inconsistency, after telling
you that the competition in this country is such that no combination can
exist (in spite of the actual fact that it does exist) they tell you a
little further on that they are not willing to destroy the competition
of the American manufacturer and leave the farmer entirely at the mercy
of the foreign producer and importer. In other words, it is impossible
for the manufacturers of this country to combine, but just take off the
tariff and all the factories in the world will combine against the poor
farmer of the United States.
Again, they state that if we take the tariff off, the importer will charge
his per cent. and the farmer will not get his binding-twine any cheaper
than he did before. At what straws a drowning man will catch! Why, Mr.
Chairman, if it is true that the amount charged by the importer will offset
the tariff, then what becomes of all this gloomy prediction that this industry
is going to be destroyed in our country and transferred to foreign countries?
If the importer charges an amount equal to the tariff, then the farmer
will not get his twine any cheaper; and if he will not get his twine any
cheaper, these men can sell at the same price, can they not? And how are
they going to be run out of the market?
Now, Mr. Chairman, there is another thing to be said in regard to binding-twine.
Complaint is made here in the last part of this minority report that the
effect of the bill will be to admit free a class of jute yarns and twine
in an advanced state of manufacture and to disarrange the entire manufacture
of jute goods in this country.
(Here the hammer fell.)
Mr. BURROWS. Mr. Chairman, I ask unanimous consent that the gentleman from
Nebraska may have such additional time as he may require to conclude his
THE CHAIRMAN (Mr. ELLIS). Is there objection to the request of the gentleman
There was no objection.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, I am obliged to my colleague upon the committee
for his kindness and to the committee for its courtesy.
I was, when interrupted, about to call the attention of the members present to the fact that this bill puts on the free list those kinds of twine which are made in whole or in part from raw material already upon the free list. There is an apparent exception in the case of jute. Jute and jute butts are already on the free list; but what is known as jute yarn is subjected to a tariff under the present law, and the objection made to this clause in the bill is that what is known as jute yarn used in other industries may come in free as twine and disarrange the whole business in this country. I have simply this to say: we remove the duty from binding-twine made of jute and these other materials. If jute yarn can be used for binding-twine, we want it to come in free. If it is not binding-twine, it does not come in free under this law, and we can safely trust the authorities to prevent something coming in as binding-twine which is not binding-twine.
Mr. LIND. Will the gentleman yield for a question?
Mr. BRYAN. Very gladly.
Mr. LIND. I notice that the report brought into this House by the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. TURNER], a member of your committee, the machinery used in the manufacture of cotton-bagging is put on the free list. Cotton-bagging, as I understand it, is made from substantially the same material as binding-twine. Now, I should like the gentleman from Nebraska to state to the committee why you put the machinery for the manufacture of cotton-bagging on the free list and not the machinery for the manufacture of binding-twine?
Mr. BRYAN. That is a fair question and I am glad to answer it, as I shall be glad to answer any question that may be proposed in good faith by any of the gentlemen, friends on this side of the House or the other.
There is this difference: There is no doubt that the manufacture of binding-twine
under present conditions can be conducted in this country as cheaply as
in any other country in the world, and that this tariff of seven-tenths
of one cent per pound is absolutely unnecessary to protect the industry.
There could be, therefore, no injury inflicted upon the manufacturers by not putting the machinery for making the binding-twine on the free list. I will say this, that speaking for myself, I shall be glad to put on the free list, not only the machinery for manufacturing binding-twine, but for manufacturing all things, for I believe it a legitimate advantage that can be given to industries in all parts of the country. I was glad when the last Congress put on the free list the machinery used in the manufacture of beet sugar. My only criticism was that they did not make it broad enough to include not only the machinery used in the manufacture of beet sugar, but that used in the manufacture of all other kinds of sugar.
Now, Mr. Chairman—
Mr. LIND. If the gentleman will pardon me for another interruption, that
does not answer my specific question. Here you put a manufactured article,
specifically named, on the free list. Why not put the machinery for manufacturing
that specific article also on the free list, so as to give the domestic
producer at least an equal show with the foreign producer?
Now, I am not discussing or rather inquiring into the gentleman’s general
ideas here on this subject, but in regard to this specific article I ask
why that exception is made.
Mr. BRYAN. I will say this to the gentleman. That it was the object of the committee, in presenting separate bills, to as far as possible confine the discussion to these bills and to the items they embody; and if we had attempted to put on the free list the machinery by which this material now under consideration is made (I have stated that the manufacturers can compete without this advantage), then there would have been men owning machinery who would have come and complained that we ought also to put on the free list pig iron, iron ore, and other articles.
Mr. LIND. But do not the manufacturers of machinery for making cotton-bagging
Mr. BRYAN. I do not know, but I will say this in regard to machinery for the manufacture of cotton-bagging, that it is very simple machinery, and is about all imported anyway. That is my understanding at least. But the gentleman will see that if we should attempt to embrace in this bill everything that can be related to it we could not confine the subject to binding-twine and we would soon find some of the associates of my friend telling the people of Minnesota and Iowa that they were much in favor of this feature or that feature of the bill, but they could not vote for it altogether. Now, we want them to go on record on individual propositions, and condemn them or support them as they see fit.
Mr. LIND. And stultify ourselves.
Mr. BRYAN. Well, you can do just as you please about that. But if the present
system were framed with an eye to justice, entire justice, there might
be some reason in opposing any change that was not entire1y just in all
its details and relations. But when you have a system conceived in greed
and fashioned in iniquity I do not think that the question of justice can
be brought in when you revise it. That is. reform is not to be delayed
until exact justice can be rendered.
Mr. McKENNA. Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question?
Mr. BRYAN. Certainly.
Mr. McKENNA. Do you really believe that the protective policy is similar
to the pickpocket’s policy of putting a man’s hand into another man’s pocket
and extracting money from it?
Mr. BRYAN. Yes, that is my belief.
Mr. McKENNA. Now, then, one other question. You can answer it all together.
If that is so, how do you justify your position, not in economics, but
in morality, for reporting a bill which leaves 39 per cent. taxes on woolen
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, if I found a robber in my house who had taken
all I had, and I was going to lose it all or else get one-half back, I
would take the half. I will ask the gentleman from California whether he
would refuse to give the people any relief because he could not give all
that he wanted to give?
Mr. McKENNA. No.
Mr. BRYAN. Then we agree.
Mr. McKENNA. No, we do not. If I was in a position of power, being a member of the Committee on Ways and Means, and believed that my vote would relieve this country from a system of policy which was simply a system of pickpocketing, I would never consent to vote for a bill in that way.
Mr. BRYAN. In that respect the gentleman from California and the gentleman
from Nebraska do not think alike.
Mr. McKENNA. And in some other respects also.
Mr. BRYAN. I am willing to take the best method that is possible, to obtain
relief just as far as possible, and I will not insist upon getting it all
before I consent to take any.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I desire to call attention to a letter which I received to-day from the Bureau of Statistics. It may assist in understanding whether there is any trust in this country or not. We addressed a communication to the Bureau of Statistics for information upon the subject. We received a number of letters, and to-day I was handed two other letters which have just been received, one from the National Cordage Company and one from Edward H. Fitler & Co. I want to call attention to one sentence in the letter from the National Cordage Company:
“The National Cordage Company, erroneously termed the trust, has the power
of legislating for some forty of these mills.”
Now, those who believe that a trust is a “private affair,” into which we
should not inquire, might regard it as all right; but those who are accustomed
to the use of the English language can not read that statement, that this
company has the legislating for forty mills, and then deny that there is
The Fitler Company write:
“We would think that the average price obtained by the manufacturer would
be slightly higher than last year, when we had 20,000 tons carried over
from 1890 which the large crop of 1891 consumed.”
Now, there is the promise of a man outside of the National Cordage Company that the chances are that the farmer will pay a little more for his binding-twine this year than last year, and the papers of the last few days have contained items to the effect that the advance in price has already been agreed upon; agreed upon, I presume, with a confident expectation that a Republican Senate will not permit the people, voting through their Representatives in Congress, to bring relief from this tax. But enough on that subject.
Mr. TURNER. Does my friend from Nebraska remember that that body agreed
during the last Congress to make binding-twine free?
Mr. BRYAN. I do remember it, and our report on that bill so states; and
yet the minority of this committee say that it was induced by a misunderstanding,
and we have been given to understand by high authority that they will not
allow any bills of a tariff reform nature to pass the Senate. My hope is—it
is simply a hope—that when these bills go before that body their consciences
will rise superior to their partisanship.
Mr. CLOVER. Vain hope!
Mr. BRYAN. It may be a vain hope, but it is the only hope we have, until
the people, speaking at the polls, carry still further the reform that
was begun in 1890.
But now, Mr. Chairman, I desire to call attention to the principle of protection.
As I said in the beginning, we were invited by the gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] to discuss it; and if I gather anything from the remarks that I hear on this side of the House, and from what has already been said, there will be no hesitation in accepting the invitation. Let us go back to the foundation of the principle. What is the object of a protective tariff? There are two kinds of tariff; a tariff for revenue and a tariff for protection. In our platform of 1876, that upon which Mr. Tilden was nominated and elected, we declared, “we demand that all custom-house taxation shall be only for revenue.” That is the platform upon which the party stood then. That I believe is the principle of the Democratic party to-day; and that we will approach just as rapidly as we can. Then there is a tariff for protection. That is the only tariff of which we complain.
I am not objecting to a tariff for revenue. If it were possible to arrange
a system just as I believe it ought to be arranged, I would collect one
part of our revenues for the support of the Federal Government from internal
taxes on whisky and tobacco. These are luxuries and may well be taxed.
I would collect another part from a tariff levied upon imported articles,
with raw material on the free list—the lowest duties upon the necessaries
of life and the highest duties upon the luxuries of life. And then I should
collect another part of the revenues from a graduated income tax upon the
wealth of this country. It is conceded by all writers that a tariff upon
imports operates most oppressively upon the poor. A graduated income tax
would fall most heavily upon the rich, and thus the two would partially
compensate each other and lessen the injustice that might come from either
one alone. That, I say, would be my idea, if it were possible.
But I am not complaining at this time of a revenue tariff. What I denounce
is a protective tariff, levied purely and solely for the purpose of protection.
It is false economy and the most vicious political principle that has ever
cursed this country.
Mr. RAINES. Will the gentleman allow me to ask him a question?
Mr. BRYAN. Certainly.
Mr. RAINES. I want to know if the gentleman does not remember that in the
Democratic platform of 1876 they expressly said that it was for the protection
of American industries, a tariff for revenue, and to promote industry?
Mr. BRYAN. There is a question, Mr. Chairman. when you come to consider
the details of a revenue tariff, as to just how it ought to be laid. I
do not remember the exact language of that platform upon that question;
but I do believe, as I say, and I am ready to stand by it anywhere, that
a protective tariff levied, not to raise revenue, but to protect some particular
industry, is wrong in principle and vicious in practice.
Now, what is a protective tariff, and what does it mean? It is a simple
device by which one man is authorized to collect money from his fellow
men. There are two ways in which you can protect an industry. You can give
it a bounty out of the Federal Treasury, or you can authorize it to take
up the collection itself. This is the only difference. Suppose that the
Chairman desired to help some particular industry—for instance, one in
the home of my friend from New York [Mr. RAINES], who has asked the question.
He might do it in either of two ways. He might pass around the hat here
and collect the money and turn it over to the favored industry, or he might
simply say to the man, “I will put a tariff upon the imported article and
make the price so high that you can collect the additional price for your
Now, what is the difference except that in the one case the Chairman passes
around the hat and turns the money over to his friend, and in the other
case he authorizes the friend to pass the hat himself.
Mr. PERKINS. May I ask the gentleman one question to clear up a matter in my own mind?
Mr. BRYAN. Certainly; I will be very glad to answer if it will clear my
Mr. PERKINS. Are you to be understood as opposed to a State or national protection to be extended to the beet-sugar industry?
Mr. BRYAN. I am, most assuredly. And when it is necessary to come down
to Congress and ask for a protection or a bounty for an industry in my
own State which I would refuse as wrong to an industry in another State,
I shall cease to represent Nebraska in Congress. The difference between
a protective tariff and a bounty is simply a difference of form.
In the one case it is open and visible, and in the other it is secret and
hidden. There is the difference between a bounty and a protective tariff
that the Bible describes when it speaks of the “Destruction that wasteth
at noon-day, and the pestilence that walketh in darkness.” It is the difference
between the man who meets you upon the highway, knocks you down and takes
what you have, and the man who steals into your house in the night while
you are asleep and robs you of your treasures; and if I had to make choice
between the two I would consider the highway robber the more honorable,
because he does what he does openly and before the world.
Mr. CATCHINGS. And he incurs some little personal danger.
Mr. BRYAN. Yes, he also incurs some little personal danger. The great advantage of a protective tariff over a bounty is that it is not seen, and, as some one has said, its greatest justification is that by means of it you “can get the most feathers off the goose with the least squawking.”
Just a word, Mr. Chairman, on the subject called up by my friend from Iowa
[Mr. PERKINS]. I stated that I was not in favor of the sugar bounty. I
was opposed to its being given in my own State; was in favor of its being
repealed in my own State; and when the representative of those industries
was here the other day I told him that he could rely upon me to vote for
the repeal of the bounty on sugar at every stage in committee or House.
And in taking that position, Mr. Chairman, I believe that I represent the
great mass of the people, who cannot come to this Congress and lobby bills
through in behalf of private interests, who cannot get together and petition
us, but whose only petitions fall into the ballot-box when they vote, and,
so help me God, I will be guided by those petitions just as long as I hold
this office. When that bounty was put on, it was opposed in this House
I will read at this point from a decision of the United States Supreme
Court, 20 Wall., 657:
“To lay with one hand the power of the Government on the property of the citizen, and with the other to bestow it upon favored individuals to aid private enterprises and build up private fortunes, is none the less a robbery because it is done under the forms of law and is called a taxation. This is not legislation. It is a decree under legislative forms.
“If it be said that a benefit results to the local public of a town by
establishing manufactures, the same may be said of any other business or
pursuit which employs capital or labor. The merchant, the mechanic, the
innkeeper, the banker, the builder, the steamboat owner, are equally promoters
of the public good, and equally deserving the aid of the citizens by forced
contributions. No line can be drawn in favor of the manufacturer which
would not open the coffers of the public Treasury to the importunities
of two-thirds of the business men of the city or town.”
Now I desire to ask my friend from Iowa [Mr. PERKINS], does the Supreme Court state the truth, or are you in favor of a bounty on sugar?
Mr. PERKINS. If the gentleman desires an answer I will give it. I do not
live in Nebraska; I had no part in the legislation of that State placing
a bounty on sugar. I do know, however, that in the State of Nebraska and
in the State of Iowa this “highway robbery” principle which the gentleman
denounces is largely observed and applied in all our communities.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, I hope the gentleman will confine that statement to the district which he represents, and not extend it to our State.
Mr. PERKINS. I say, Mr. Chairman, that that is true in the city of Lincoln, and in the city of Omaha. as well in the city of Sioux City. I know that those communities are always glad and anxious to improve every opportunity to give a bounty to get a material industry into their midst. It is upon that principle that that great Western country has been built up and developed as it has been, and we apply the same principle in the Government of this great country.
Mr. HARRIES. Will the gentleman answer a question?
Mr. PERKINS. I am not speaking in my own time.
Mr. BRYAN. You are welcome to all the time you want if you will talk in
Mr. PERKINS. I have answered your question.
Mr. BRYAN. But the gentleman has not presented an illustration of the principle
for which he contends. I want him to point to an instance where the city
of Sioux City, or the city of Lincoln, or any other city, has voted money
raised by taxation to aid a private enterprise.
Mr. PERKINS. I can say for my own city that we voted a tax to build railroad
machine shops there on account of the labor and money that they would bring
into the community, and we did it not as a benefit to the railroad company
but as a benefit to Sioux City. There is one illustration, and I can give
Mr. BRYAN. If the gentleman will read the decision of the Supreme Court
which I have cited he will find that the court in discussing that question
says that in every instance where a vote of bonds to aid a railroad company
has been justified it has been justified upon the ground that a railroad
is a public and not a private improvement. And, so far as I know, there
is no instance on record where the courts of any State in the United States
have declared a bonus given to a purely private industry to be constitutional
Mr. PERKINS. Take the matter of the beet-sugar industry. The gentleman
knows that communities in Nebraska have given aid for the establishment
of factories for that industry.
Mr. BRYAN. I will state to the gentleman that that was attempted in the
case that came to the supreme court of our State from Neligh. I had the
honor to be one of the attorneys in the case and filed a brief against
the bonds. The court held that the bonds voted were illegal.
Mr. HARRIES. I was going to ask my friend, the gentleman from Iowa [Mr.
PERKINS], a question; perhaps the gentleman from Nebraska can answer it.
Do you think it will make the trees grow to give a bounty upon maple sugar?
Mr. BRYAN. I do not know, but I suppose it is perfectly in harmony with
the “infant industry” plan that was presented in the McKinley bill and
previous bills. They protect the “infant industry” of boring holes into
On this question, I wish to say, Mr. Chairman, that the policy of the Democratic
party is not hostility to industries. We welcome to this country every
industry that can stand upon its feet; but we do not welcome the industries
that come to ride upon our backs. We do not desire to discourage industries;
we desire to restore to them the “lost art” of self-support. We are not
objecting to “infant industries;” but what we do say is that the public
Treasury shall no longer stand sponsor by the cradle of every “infant industry”
born upon American soil.
But, Mr. Chairman, to resume. I have said that the purpose of the protective
tariff is to transfer money from one man’s pocket to another man’s pocket.
I want to show to you and to this committee that it is the only purpose
a protective tariff can possibly have. Why do you impose a tariff? You
impose it upon the theory that you cannot produce in this country the article
which you protect as cheaply as it can be produced abroad; and you put
the tariff upon that article in order that the price of the article may
be so much increased that American manufacturers can afford to produce
it. You mean that the man who buys that article shall pay into the public
Treasury the tariff upon the article, and you expect that this, together
with the price, will be sufficient to protect somebody else.
Is not that the purpose? If not, why did the gentleman from Maine [Mr.
BOUTELLE] ask to have the tariff taken off of building material when Eastport,
Me., was burned, or why give to the shipbuilders of Maine free building
material, as suggested by the gentleman from Georgia [Mr. TURNER]? How
do you protect the wool-grower except on the theory that foreign wool is
made higher? But why do you make a man pay more for the foreign article?
It is in order that your protected manufacturer may charge more for his
product than he could charge without the tariff. That is the only justification;
because if you say that you cannot produce the article as cheaply in this
country as it is produced abroad, what benefit is it to you to have the
outside article increased in price if you do not increase the price of
the home-made article also?
The gentleman from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY] says that a couple of years ago be purchased a piece of calico in Manchester, England, and paid 5 cents a yard for it; that the tariff on calico was 4 cents a yard, and that if the tariff were a tax it would make the price 9 cents; but that, on the contrary, his wife purchased in a store in this city, a piece of calico of better quality for 5 cents a yard. Now I wish to ask you this: If you can produce and sell in this country a yard of calico at the same price per yard at which it is sold in England, the American calico being of better quality, why do you want a tariff of 4 cents a yard to protect your calico?
I submit this proposition: Either a tariff is needed or it is not needed. If a tariff is needed, it is in order to add the amount of the tariff to the price of the home article to enable the American manufacturer to compete with the foreign. If it is not needed, who is going to justify it? Now, which horn of the dilemma will you take? Will you say that this tariff is needed and used; or will you say it is not needed and ought to be abolished?
If, then, that is the purpose of a tariff—to make the man who buys the
protected article pay more for that article than he would pay without the
tariff—it means simply this, that the law should transfer so much money
from my pocket to the pocket of somebody else. You cannot in this way raise
an “infant industry” without putting the burden somewhere. Whenever you
see the Government by operation of law send a dollar singing down into
one man’s pocket, you must remember that the Government has brought it
crying up out of some other man’s pocket. You might just as well try to
raise a weight with a lever without a fulcrum as try to help some particular
industry by means of taxation without placing the burden upon the consumer.
Back in Illinois when we were repairing a rail fence, we would sometimes find a corner down pretty low in the ground, and not wanting to tear down the fence we would raise that fence corner and put a new ground chunk under it. How did we do it? We took a rail, put one end of it under the fence corner, then laid down a ground chunk for a fulcrum. Then we would go off to the end of the rail and bear down; up would go the fence corner—but does anybody suppose there was no pressure on that fulcrum?
That, my friends, illustrates just the operation, as I conceive it, of
a protective tariff. You want to raise an infant industry, for instance;
what do you do? You take a protective tariff for a lever, and put one end
of it under the infant industry that is to be raised. You look around for
some good, fat, hearty consumer and lay him down for a ground chunk; you
bear down on the rail and up goes the infant industry, but down goes the
ground chunk into the ground.
The reason our friends justify the principle is that they see the infant industry rise, but they forget the men upon whom they are placing the burden. And the trouble with this country is that all over the land are the homes of forgotten men—men whose rights have been violated and whose interests have been disregarded in order that somebody else may be enriched. It is the principle that is involved in this little binding-twine bill. You see the industry that gets the $20,000, but you never think of the farmers who go down into their pockets and pay the little sums that make up the great amount. Is not that a fact? Is not that the effect of the tariff?
The man who justifies protection as a principle must prove three things:
He must prove that the principle is right; that the policy is wise, and
that the tax is necessary.
No man on that side of the House in this session of Congress will stand
up before you and justify a law that takes from one man one cent and gives
it to another man if he will admit that that is the operation. Take an
illustration: Here are ten men owning farms side by side. Suppose that
nine of them should pass a resolution, “Resolved, That we will take the
land of the tenth man and divide it among us.” Who would justify such a
transaction? Suppose the nine men tell the tenth man that he will get it
back in some way; that it is a great advantage to live amongst nine men
who will thus be better off, and that indirectly he gets an advantage from
How long do you suppose it would be before they would convince that man
that they were right in taking his land? Would you, gentlemen, dare to
justify that? You would not justify the taking of one square foot of his
land. If you do not dare do that, how will you justify the taking of that
which a man raises on his land, all that makes the land valuable? Where
is the difference between the soil and the product of the soil? How can
you justify the one if not the other?
Mr. LIND. Will the gentleman from Nebraska yield for another question?
Mr. BRYAN. Most willingly.
Mr. LIND. I believe the gentleman from Nebraska voted for a bill the other day taxing the public at large for the purchase of text-books for children who attend the public schools. How does he justify that?
Mr. BRYAN. I think, if I remember correctly, Mr. Chairman, that I have
also paid a little tax for the support of public schools upon the theory
that it was a public purpose, and I voted to buy school books upon the
same theory. If I am wrong, I will be glad to be corrected. Did the gentleman
from Minnesota vote for that with the understanding that it was for a public
purpose or for a private purpose?
Mr. LIND. A public purpose.
Mr. BRYAN. Very well, then we agree.
Mr. LIND. But let me say in justice to myself that if the gentleman from
Nebraska can convince me that a protective tariff, a protective policy,
is not a public policy and beneficial to the people, and to the country
as a whole, I will be a free trader with him.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, I do not know that I want to take him quite that far, but I wish I could lead him to believe in a tariff for revenue only.
Mr. RAINES. And with incidental protection.
Mr. BRYAN. I will say this, that it makes a great deal difference with a man whether what has been done is the result of accident or design. If you levy a tariff for revenue, you will so arrange it as to raise a revenue and stop when you have raised revenue enough. But if you levy a tariff for protection you may so arrange the schedules as to make a heavy tax, raise but little revenue, and you never know when to stop.
Mr. RAINES. Does the gentleman claim that we are getting too much revenue
Mr. BRYAN. Perhaps not; but you have reduced the revenue by increasing the taxes upon the people and that is what I object to.
Mr. RAINES. Will the gentleman allow me a question?
Mr. BRYAN. Certainly.
Mr. RAINES. I would like the gentleman now, in order to clinch his argument,
to answer this question: Can the gentleman point to any one single article
produced in the United States in competition with a foreign article that
has been increased in price by the McKinley tariff, or which is not actually
cheaper to-day than it was prior to 1860?
Mr. BRYAN. I will ask the gentleman if tin is manufactured in this country?
Mr. RAINES. Well, I have in my desk a list in a trade paper—
A MEMBER. They are all on paper.
Mr. RAINES (continuing). A list of twenty-seven manufacturers of tin; but
I want to say to the gentleman that no trade paper was ever printed that
could contain a list of all the tinplate liars of the United States.
Mr. BRYAN. I suppose that paper, then, has no biographical sketch of my
friend from New York. I will say, Mr. Chairman—and it will explain why
I asked my friend from New York if we had any tin industries in this country—I
have here a statement that the average price of tin plate for 1888 was
$4.45 a box. The average price for five years prior to July 1, 1890, was
$4.45. The average price for 1891 was $5.68 a box. This was given on the
authority of the Tin Plate Consumers’ Association of the United States,
which has in its ranks a large majority of those who use tin. And I will
place this on record as my authority, against the statement of the gentleman
that no article could be mentioned upon which the price had been increased.
And I will go further and name, if he wishes, an article upon which the
price has been reduced by the removal of the tariff, namely, sugar.
Mr. HALVORSON. And quinine.
Mr. RAINES. I wish to call the gentleman’s attention right here to the
fact that in 1880 the foreign price of tin was $8.28 a box, and the American
price was $9.36 a box, while the price in 1891 was $5.42 a box.
Mr. BRYAN. I am grateful, Mr. Chairman, for the information that the gentleman has injected into the body of my remarks. If he has the statistics in regard to the price in 1870 or in 1860, or in fact if he can give me the price of tin plate in 1592 say, or 1492, it will be a matter of great Interest to my people, and this speech is going to circulate among them.
Mr. RAINES. Mr. Chairman, I want to say that the gentleman himself seems to be the one who is indulging in ancient history.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, I am sure if I have indulged in ancient history, this House will not pardon me unless I have a better excuse than the gentleman from New York can furnish for his indulgence in ancient history. And on this point—I expected to come to it later, but it is made opportune by the remarks of the gentleman—I want to ask him if he believes the tariff upon tin plate had anything to do with the cheapening of the price of tin plate in this country?
Mr. RAINES. I believe that the tariff upon tin will result in the establishment of an industry in the United States.
A MEMBER. Answer the question.
Mr. RAINES (continuing). And will result in the keeping at home of thirty
millions of dollars a year that have been sent abroad, and will give employment
to 100,000 men in the industry, and will result in cheapening the price
to the consumers in the United States.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from New York may well be pardoned,
as the rest of his party may be, for indulging in prophecy rather than
history since 1890. But that is not an answer to my question. He stated
that the price of tin plate had been reduced in the last ten years. I ask
him, and I expect a direct answer and no equivocation, whether in his opinion
the tariff upon tin plate has reduced (not will reduce) the price of tin
plate? For that can be the only point to his remarks.
Mr. RAINES. I have given my answer. When the industry of tin plate is established
in the United States—and three months ago there was not a gentleman on
that side who would admit that there was or would be a tin plate factory
in the United States—
Mr. BRYAN. We will not admit it to-day, sir.
Mr. RAINES (continuing). When it is established in the United States the result will be just the same as it has been in the wire-nail industry, for you can buy wire nails to-day for less than the duty on nails.
Mr. BRYAN. If the gentleman does not desire to answer my first question
and wants to branch off into the wire-nail subject, I assure him that one
of the most pleasant entertainments I had in my district last campaign
revolved around a wire nail. If he prefers to refer to that, let me ask
him if he believes the reduction in the price of wire nails is due to a
Mr. RAINES. Largely.
Mr. BRYAN. How largely? What is the proportion?
Mr. RAINES. In that business I am laboring under the same difficulty that
your majority of the Committee on Ways and Means are laboring, when in
their report they say it is impossible to tell in what degree the tariff
does affect either the increase or the reduction of the price of an article.
Mr. BRYAN. I will ask you to give your best judgment as to what proportion
protection has reduced the price of wire nails and the proportion in which
other things have entered?
Mr. RAINES. I would like to ask the gentleman when he suggests—
Mr. BRYAN. One thing at a time.
Mr. RAINES. I do not desire to interrupt the gentleman without his permission.
Mr. BRYAN. If the gentleman will answer my question I will continue to
answer his questions as long as he puts them; but I do not want him to
refuse to answer my question and then ask me a question.
Mr. RAINES. I do not want the gentleman to make an answer for me.
Mr. BRYAN. I will let you make an answer if you will.
Mr. RAINES. I was going to make an answer.
Mr. BRYAN. Then make an answer.
Mr. RAINES. I was going to make an answer in this way. I was going to ask
the gentleman this. When he is buying a pound of wire nails for 2.8 cents,
on which the duty is 2 cents, what is he doing? Is he buying nails or is
he paying duty?
Mr. BRYAN. I would like to ask the gentleman if his mind is so constructed
that he considers that an answer to my question? Do you consider that an
Mr. RAINES. A reasonable one.
Mr. BRYAN. Then, I am glad to send that out to the people of Nebraska as
an illustration of the astuteness of the mind of a distinguished New York
Mr. Chairman, I think I can suggest to this House a reason why the gentleman from New York would not answer the question. I will give him the credit for more intelligence and less sincerity. The reason he would not answer that question is that he suspected that the next question would be: “If protection reduced the price of wire nails, and was put on for that purpose, and reduced the price of tin plate, and was put on for that purpose, why did the Republican party increase the tariff on wheat? Because they wanted to reduce the price? When a man defends a protective tariff on the theory that it reduces the price of the protected article, he wants the people of this country to believe that the manufacturer comes down to Congress and begs for a tariff on his article to decrease the price of his article, and then begs for a tariff on agricultural products to increase their price.
Mr. RAINES. Well, Mr. Chairman, let me suggest to the gentleman that in
the majority report, which he has signed, it is said that the tariff actually
did reduce the price of wool. You cannot get away from that; you signed
Mr. BRYAN. I said, Mr. Chairman, in the beginning, that there are wool
growers in this country who believed that; but the gentleman cannot dodge
the logic of his position by any such subterfuge as that. The difficulty
is, Mr. Chairman, that when a man gets up here to defend protection he
would have you believe that the manufacturer’s sole aim in life is to make
his goods cheap, in order that he may pay high wages to labor; and, as
he cannot get them cheap enough otherwise, he asks Congress for a law to
encourage competition, that he may be compelled to sell them cheaper. Now,
if he is so anxious to cheapen goods to the people, why does he not simply
reduce the price and not beg for a law to compel him to do it?
But, Mr. Chairman, as Plutarch would say, I digress. I was saying when interrupted that the man who defends the principle of protection must justify the taking of one man’s money and putting it into another man’s pocket. He must justify the appropriation by legislation of a part of the proceeds of our daily toil to somebody else as a benefit, and yet there is this difference between the case which I cited, of nine men getting together and taking the land of the tenth man and dividing it among them by resolution, and the case of protection. In that we have one man getting together and taking the property of the nine men by resolution and dividing it among “him.” [Laughter.]
It has been said that a slave was a slave simply because 100 per cent.
of the proceeds of his toil was appropriated by somebody without his consent.
If the law is such that a portion of the proceeds of our toil is appropriated
by somebody else without our consent, we are simply to that extent slaves,
as much so as were the colored men. And yet this party, that boasts that
it struck the shackles from 4.000,000 slaves, insists on driving the fetters
deeper into the flesh of 65,000,000 of free men.
But Mr. Chairman [looking at the clock. Cries of “Go on!”], if it is difficult
to defend this on principle, it is equally difficult to defend it as a
policy. I make this assertion, that if it is wise to appropriate money
out of the public Treasury to aid a private enterprise, then it is wiser
for a town than for a county. It is wiser for a county than for a State.
For a Congress of restricted and delegated powers, whose members are far
removed from the people, it is most unwise of all to vote away the public
money for private purposes. So that, if that policy is wise at all, this
is the last place to apply the principle.
We would not dare to trust that policy in our county or our town; and my
friend from Sioux City has not pointed to an instance where it has been
done at public expense. The difference between voting public money for
private purposes and taking up a subscription voluntarily is so wide, that
I do not believe there is a gentleman upon the other side who does not
see it. Why would you not trust it at home? Because you know that there
would go before that council, or before the county commissioners, only
the men who want something, only those men and their paid attorneys would
go there to represent the great advantage that the proposed industry would
be to the community, while the other side would never be heard.
Although you walk the streets with your councilmen every day; although
they are your constant companions; well as you know them, as much confidence
as you have in them, you would not dare to trust them in that way, because
you know that when men come to vote money for private purposes, when they
come to this special legislation, there are always special influences at
work on the side of the strong and powerful, while, on the other hand,
Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
—the noiseless tenor of their way
are never heard, although it is upon them that the burden resulting from such special legislation ultimately rests. Therefore, honest as your councilmen might be, desirous of doing right as they would be, you would feel that you could not, that you must not trust them with such power. And yet gentlemen will tell you that what they would not trust to their local authorities at home, what they would not dare to approve as a local matter in Sioux City or in Lincoln, they think right and proper here.
Mr. PERKINS. If the gentleman will excuse me for interrupting, I will give
him this further illustration. A Democratic city council in Sioux City,
a body in which only one Republican was sitting, has voted for the last
two years $50 a month out of the public funds to assist in the maintenance
of a jobbers and manufacturers’ association in Sioux City. That is one
illustration of voting public money to sustain a private organization,
and it was done by a Democratic council containing only one Republican.
Mr. BRYAN. It is a great credit to that city council that it has such a
large majority of Democrats, and a credit to Sioux city also, but—
Mr. PERKINS. If the gentleman will excuse me again, I will state that in
the election held the other day the proportions were reversed.
Mr. BRYAN. Mr. Chairman, I am sorry that the news must go out over this
great country that Sioux City is on the decline. But until the gentleman
has shown where the right to vote that money has been sanctioned by law
he cannot cite the case as a precedent.
Mr. STACKHOUSE. Probably those councilmen were turned out by the people
because they had done that.
Mr. BRYAN. Yes, as the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. STACKHOUSE] suggests,
probably the result of the recent election was due to the fact that they
had disregarded their duty to their people. I think I recall a case where
some city in Minnesota voted a certain bounty for a saloon to open in its
midst, but my recollection is that the Supreme Court decided that that
was hardly a public improvement or a public purpose.
Mr. LIND. I want to say to my friend that that must have been in some other
State, because in our State we tax a saloon a minimum sum of $500 for the
privilege of existing.
Mr. BRYAN. That tax may have made it all the more necessary that the bounty
should be given before the saloon would open.
Now, Mr. Chairman, if the committee will pardon me for detaining them so long (cries of “Go on!” “Go on!”) I want to say that it is as difficult to defend the necessity for a tariff as it is to defend its principle or its policy. And this brings me to another contradiction which we often find in the arguments of our Republican friends. If you ask them why they need a tariff they at once tell you that we pay so much better wages in this country than are paid abroad that we can not compete, and that until we are willing to reduce the wages of our workingmen we never can compete. That is a very plausible argument to start with, but then comes along some person who asks a question something like that asked yesterday by the gentleman from Texas [Mr. CRAIN] of the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. WALKER]. The gentleman from Texas asks, “Does not that protection make the price of goods higher in this country than abroad?” “No, sir,” says Mr. Walker. “Everything that a man uses, except woolen goods, is cheaper in this country than it is abroad.”
Now, to an “untutored mind,” such as we are told new members possess, it
would seem that if you need protection to labor in this country because
labor is higher, that idea is hardly consistent, upon the Republican theory,
with a cheaper product. Yet the same gentleman who yesterday told you that
we must have a tariff to protect the laboring men in this country told
you that the laboring men of this country were producing articles cheaper
than the 1aboring men of other countries.
I want to call attention—it is with some diffidence I assure you, after
the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. WALKER] has said that it is nothing
but “nonsense”—I want to call attention, however, so that those may consider
it who are not inclined to look upon it as “nonsense,” to what Hon. William
M. Evarts said when he was Secretary of State, in his report in 1879. He
“The average American workman performs from one and a half to twice as much work in a given time as the average European workman. This is so important a point in connection with our ability to compete with the cheap labor manufactures of Europe, and it seems at first thought so strange that I will trouble you with somewhat lengthy quotations from the reports in support thereof.”
That was the statement of the Republican Secretary of State. And I hope
that none of my Republican friends will reflect upon the next authority
I shall quote, Hon. James G. Blaine, who, when Secretary of State, said:
“Undoubtedly the inequalities in wages of English and American operatives
(that is, in cotton manufactures) are more than equalized by the greater
efficiency of the latter and their longer hours of labor. If this should
prove to be a fact in practice, as it seems to me to be proven by official
statistics, it would be a very important element in the establishment of
our ability to compete with England for our share of the Cotton-goods trade
of the World.”
Henry Clay said in the Senate in 1832—sixty years ago—
“I have before me another statement of a practical and respectable man,
well versed in the flannel manufacture in America and England, demonstrating
that the cost of manufacture is precisely the same in both countries.”
Are we less independent because of the protection we have had? Mr. J. B. Sargent, of New Haven, has been engaged for thirty years in the hardware business, being one of the largest manufacturers in the world of locks, bolts, builders’ and furniture hardware, and, in certain lines, of carpenters’ tools. He employs from fifteen hundred to two thousand men. He has nearly 12 acres of ground under roof. His daily output is nearly 50 tons of goods per day. He says in regard to the cost of manufacturing in this country:
“American manufacturers can successfully compete in any market where skilled
labor is the test in spite of the low pay for which men work in China,
in India, and in every country where labor is debased. My observation has
taught me that the greatest obstacle to American competition in foreign
markets to nearly every class of goods is the high price of our raw material.
Take off the duty and we will send our goods everywhere. Wages would increase
here under such a system rather than become lower.”
Now these are the statements, cool and unimpassioned, of officials and
men in position to know. I submit to you, my friends, that those statements
are amply borne out by the illustrations of the gentleman from Maine [Mr.
DINGLEY] and the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr.WALKER] when they tell
you that notwithstanding the greater wages paid, the actual product in
this country is cheaper than it is in Europe. If that be true, then where
is your need of protection? If that be true, then who can justify the imposition
of a tariff on the ground that it is necessary to protect the laboring
men in this country?
Mr. Chairman, the laborer has been used as a cats-paw to draw chestnuts
out of the fire for the manufacturer. The manufacturer comes here and pleads
for a protective tariff in order that he may give employment with remunerative
prices to labor. You give him the protection he asks; you make him a trustee
for the benefit of his employee; you give to that employee no law by which
he can enforce his trust. The manufacturer goes back to his factory and
puts in his pocket the bonus you have given him. And then the employee
pleads, and pleads in vain, for his portion of the promised benefits.
I will tell you a story. I do not know whether you allow stories here [cries
of “Go on!”] but there is a story which to my mind illustrates this point.
A white boy said to a colored boy, “Let’s go into cahoots and go a coon
hunting; you furnish the dog and climb the tree, and I’ll do the hollering.”
They went. The white boy “hollered”; the colored boy furnished the dog
and climbed the tree. They caught three coons. When they came to divide,
the white boy took them all. The colored boy asked, “What am I going to
have?” “Why,” said the white boy, “you get the cahoots.”
Now, Mr. Chairman, the manufacturer has been making just such combination or partnership with his employee. The manufacturer says to his workman, “You come on and furnish the dog and climb the tree; you bring out the votes; and I will do the talking.” They get their coons—they have been getting them. But compelled to put up with the “cahoots.” Yes, and when the employee asks for the higher wages that were promised him last year, you find Pinkerton detectives stationed to keep him off and foreigners brought in to supply his place.
Why do we need a contract-labor law? It is to prevent the protected industries
of this country from sending abroad to get cheap labor to take the place
of American labor. Is not that the result? Were we not promised last year
just what the gentleman from New York tells us to-day will still come by
and by? The “sweet by and by” has been the hope of the people for these
thirty years; the “present” has been the enjoyment of the men who made
We were told of the number of laborers to be employed because of the McKinley bill; yet scarcely had the bill passed when there appeared in New York an advertisement for laborers to make tin plate; and the point of it was the statement that they would be paid higher prices than laborers were paid in Wales. Why was that stated in New York, except with a view to having that paper sent to Wales and importing here the labor to make these goods?
No, my friends, the manufacturer has not dealt fairly and honestly with
the employee. What has been the result? Who has been getting the benefit?
Is it the great mass of our people? Are they the ones that have profited
by this transaction? If, Mr. Chairman, you undertook, by the method proposed
awhile ago, to raise money by passing around a hat in this body for some
protected friend or some one you wished to benefit, what would be the result
of your efforts? If you passed it often enough you would get all the money
we had in our pockets, and the man to whom you gave it would have all you
collected; and if we did not get out of money it would be because while
you were emptying the hat we would be scratching around to get the next
contribution ready, while the man to whom you gave it would get rich without
having to scratch at all. Thus this system has operated. You have built
up wealth in this country to a degree unparalleled in the history of the
United States or of the world.
These men tell us that they cannot live without the collections they make; and yet they are the ones who build their stately palaces, who give their banquets, which rival in magnificence the banquets of ancient times. These are the men who can gather around a banquet board as they did, I think it was in New York, to celebrate “home industries” at $10 per plate, when within a stone’s throw of their banquet hall were people to whom a 10-cent meal would be a luxury. Yes, sir, you take the statistics furnished by Mr. Shearman in the Forum, and he shows that 25,000 people own one-half of the wealth of this country,
and 65,000,000 of people divide the other half between them.
If, Mr. Chairman, you should ask the friend receiving the contributions
which you were supposed a moment ago to gather here and give to him, I
presume he would tell you it was the best system of government ever invented.
I am not surprised that a man like Mr. Carnegie is willing to write articles
in month1y magazines to show what a great benefit of a protective system.
But, Mr. Chairman, I ask you whether the people who pay this money believe
that it is a good system? You went before them: a year ago; you took your
idea of a protective tariff with you, and said to them: “This, gentlemen,
is the way we bring relief to the people.” You said in your report “agriculture
is depressed,” and then you applied as a remedy the earliest practice known
to surgery. “Bleed him again.”
Under your protective party banner you went to the country and boasted that you had fastened on the people a law which they could not change for ten years. But you were as ignorant of the power of the people as you were careless of their welfare. You say that we deceived them; that we exceeded you in misrepresentation. You have the consolation of knowing that if we did it was the first time we ever went beyond you in that respect. But we did not. Because as a successful fabricator the average Republican will be recognized as one the latchet of whose shoes we are unworthy to unloose.
No; the people knew what you were doing; they knew what you had done, and
they rose in their might and hurled you from power; and to-day the once
proud Republican party, that used to take the election of President as
a matter of course, thinks it worth while to announce to this body through
the gentleman from New York [Mr. RAINES] that the Republican party has
made a gain in supervisors in New York.
Mr. RAINES. Let me suggest to the gentleman that all the people are getting
as a result of the change is free wool, free binding-twine, and free cotton-ties.
Mr. BRYAN. I only hope, Mr. Chairman, that what the gentleman says is true,
and that they will get these things. I hope that the body at the other
end of this Capitol, which differs from us in the political complexion
of its majority, will not stand between the people and this relief.
Yes, sir; they boasted that nothing could be done; that they had the people
bound hand and foot. Where are those conspirators today? Where the men
who were the most largely instrumental in fastening that iniquitous legislation
on this country? When they went back to their people the expression of
confidence was in the other man.
Mr. RAINES. One of them is governor of Ohio.
Mr. BRYAN. Yes; I believe he did succeed in being elected governor of a Republican State.
Mr. DAVIS. By a minority vote.
Mr. BRYAN Yes, by a minority vote. And to such extremity has this great
Caesar come that he welcomes the holding of a Republican State now more
than before he boasted of the conquest of a nation. We do not feel unkindly
toward our friend from Maine, the ex-Speaker, although he seems more sensitive
to remarks now than when in the chair. And he has rather contradicted the
statement that the “leopard can not change his spots,” or a person his
skin. He seems to have made some kind of an exchange by which he got one
much thinner than the one he wore two years ago.
A MEMBER. A thinner hide.
Mr. BRYAN. We shall not find fault with him if he consumes much of his
time, as he gazes around upon the chairs once occupied by his faithful
companions, in recalling those beautiful words of the poet Moore:
‘Tis the last rose of summer, left blooming alone,
All her lovely companions have faded and gone,
No flower of her kindred, no rosebud is nigh
To reflect back her blushes, or give sigh for sigh.
And it is barely possible that the great revolution which began a year
ago may some time reach even to the coast of Maine; and for the good of
the country, but perhaps for the injury of our party—because he has been
a faithful friend to us, and in the language of another noted gentleman
from Maine, “has done us a great favor without knowing it”—
Mr. WHEELER of Alabama. Without intending it.
Mr. BRYAN. The time may come, I say, when his constituents will address him in the language of that other verse, as beautiful in words and as appropriate in sentiment—
I’ll not leave thee, thou lone one, to pine on the stem;
Since the lovely are sleeping, go sleep thou with them.
Thus kindly I scatter thy leaves o’er the bed
Where thy mates of the garden lie scentless and dead.
Mr. Chairman, some reference has been made to the effect of a protective
tariff upon manufactured articles, and the argument has been advanced that
the aim and results are to reduce the price of protected articles to the
consumer. I want to say to you that such was never the intention of a protective
tariff upon the part of those who supported it; and that if the price is
reduced, it comes as the effect of improved machinery, and not as the effect
of a law which enables the manufacturer to sell here protected from competition,
while he often sells abroad in competition with the world. The gentleman
will tell us that goods are cheaper to-day than they were thirty years
ago. It is true. But if protection did it, let him explain why it is that
not only here, where we have protection, but in England, where they have
free trade, goods are cheaper than they were before.
The gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. WALKER] told us that steel rails
had fallen in price because of a protective tariff.
I will append to my remarks a schedule given by Mr. Carlisle in an article in the Forum, in which he shows the price of steel rails in England from 1871 to 1882, and the price of steel rails in this country during that time, and the amount consumed. This shows what the Englishman paid for them, and also what the American paid for the same amount of rails. And when you add up the difference you find that in these ten or eleven years the American people paid $159,000,000 more for their steel rails than the English people paid. And yet you say that protection makes them cheaper.
During all that time they were cheaper in England. Is your system such
a one that it will take hold of a price and pull it down in this country,
and then, not satisfied with that, go over to some foreign country, grab
the price there and pull it down? And then, not satisfied with that, will
it pull down the price in foreign countries more than it pulls it down
in this country? Some one has said that the onion is a vegetable that makes
the man sick who does not eat it. It would seem that protection does the
greatest good to the country that does not have it.
Until you explain what it is that reduces the price of steel rails and
other manufactured products, not here alone, but all over the world, you
cannot attribute it to a protective tariff; but you must attribute it rather
to the inventive genius that has multiplied a thousand times, in many instances,
the strength of a single arm, and enabled us to do today with one man what
fifty men could not do fifty years ago. That is what has brought the price
down in this country and everywhere, and so far from the protective tariff
helping it, it has stood as a bar and prevented us, step by step, from
taking advantage of the inventive genius of other countries. It has compelled
us, each time and all the time when it has benefited the protected industry,
to pay more for those same things than the people elsewhere.
I asked my friend from Maine [Mr. DINGLEY], when he was telling us of the benefits of protection, if a man in this country bought his goods as cheaply as in England, and he said while we might get them at a higher price in dollars, that we got them cheaper in labor, and that labor was the only standard of measurement. Then I asked him—I will append to my speech the exact language of the question and answer—I asked him whether, if the farmer in Nebraska went to sell his wheat and to exchange the price he obtained for it for woolen clothing, he would get as much woolen clothing as the English farmer would get for the same amount of wheat when he went to exchange his product. You remember the answer. There was no direct answer, but, like my friend from New York [Mr. RAINES], he spurned the present and soared with outstretched wings into the dismal future, and told us that if we got free trade, then he would not. I ask, how is it to-day? We have had enough of your prophecies. We want to come down and find what are doing now.
His answer, if it was an answer, must be construed to mean that while the farmer in Nebraska had to pay more wheat for the same amount of clothes than the English farmer, he got it back in other ways. That, being surrounded by the benefits of protection, he absorbed through his skin, as it were, what he paid out of his pocket. Living in an atmosphere of protection, forced upon this country by philanthropists who tell you, as the gentleman from Massachusetts [Mr. WALKER] did, that free trade would help manufacturers—but he so loves the great mass of the people that he does not dare to give himself the benefit—living surrounded by these elevated minds, you breathe in an atmosphere that far more than compensates for all you lose.
Now, there are two arguments which I have never heard advanced in favor
of protection; but they are the best arguments. They admit a fact and justify
it, and I think that is the best way to argue, if you have a fact to meet.
Why not say to the farmer, “Yes. of course you lose; but does not the Bible
say. ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’—and if you suffer some
inconvenience, just look back over your life and you will find that your
happiest moments were enjoyed when you were giving something to somebody,
and the most unpleasant moments were when you were receiving.” These manufacturers
are self-sacrificing. They are willing to take the lesser part, and the
more unpleasant business of receiving, and leave to you the greater joy
Why do they not take the other theory, which is borne out by history—that
all nations which have grown strong, powerful and influential, just as
individuals have done it, through hardship, toil and sacrifice, and that
after they have become wealthy they have been enervated, they have gone
to decay through the enjoyment of luxury, and that the great advantage
of the protective system is that it goes around among the people and gathers
up their surplus earnings so that they will not be enervated or weakened,
so that no legacy of evil will be left to their children. Their surplus
earnings are collected up, and the great mass of our people are left strong,
robust and hearty. These earnings are garnered and put into the hands of
just as few people as possible, so that the injury will be limited in extent.
And they say, “Yes, of course, of course; it makes dudes of our sons, and
it does, perhaps, compel us to buy foreign titles for our daughters [laughter],
but of course if the great body of the people are benefited, as good, patriotic
citizens we ought not to refuse to bear the burden.”
Why do they not do that? They simply come to you and tell you that they
want a high tariff to make low prices, so that the manufacturer will be
able to pay large wages to his employees. And then, they want a high tariff
on agricultural products, so that they will have to buy what they buy at
the highest possible price. They tell you that a tariff on wool is for
the benefit of the farmer, and goes into his pocket, but that the tariff
on manufactured products goes into the farmer’s pocket, too, “and really
hurts us, but we will stand it if we must.” They are much like a certain
maiden lady of uncertain age, who said, “This being the third time that
my beau has called, he might make some affectionate demonstration”; and,
summing up all her courage, she added. “I have made up my mind that if
he does I will bear it with fortitude.”
Mr. Chairman [looking at the clock—cries of “Go on!”], if there is no limit
to your patience there is a limit to my strength, and I will not claim
your attention much longer. But I desire to say here, Mr. Chairman—
Mr. BUSHNELL. Let the committee rise, and close in the morning.
Mr. BRYAN. I prefer to finish to-night if gentlemen are willing to listen. [Cries of “Go ahead!”]
I desire to say, Mr. Chairman, that this Republican party, which is responsible
for the present system, has stolen from the vocabulary one of its dearest
words and debased its use. Its orators have prated about home industries
while they have neglected the most important of home industries—the home
of the citizen. The Democratic party, so far from being hostile to the
home industries, is the only champion, unless our friends here, the Independents,
will join with us, of the real home industry of this country.
When some young man selects a young woman who is willing to trust her future
to his strong right arm, and they start to build a little home, that home
which is the unit of society and upon which our Government and our prosperity
must rest—when they start to build this little home, and the man who sells
the lumber reaches out his hand to collect a tariff upon that; the man
who sells paints and oils wants a tariff upon them; the man who furnishes
the carpets, table-cloths, knives, forks, dishes, furniture, spoons, everything
that enters into the construction and operation of that home—when all these
hands, I say, are stretched out from every direction to lay their blighting
weight upon that cottage, and the Democratic party says, “Hands off, and
let that home industry live,” it is protecting the grandest home industry
that this or any other nation ever had.
And I am willing that you, our friends on the other side, shall have what
consolation you may gain from the protection of those “home industries”
which have crowned with palatial residences the hills of New England, if
you will simply give us the credit of being the champions of the homes
of this land. It would seem that if any appeal could find a listening ear
in this legislative hall it ought to be the appeal that comes up from those
co-tenants of earth’s only paradise; but your party has neglected them;
more, it has spurned and spit upon them. When they asked for bread you
gave them a stone, and when they asked for a fish you gave them a serpent.
You have laid upon them burdens grievous to be borne. You have filled their
days with toil and their nights with anxious care, and when they cried
aloud for relief you were deaf to their entreaties.
It is said that when Ulysses was approaching the island of the Sirens, warned beforehand of their seductive notes, he put wax in the ears of his sailors and then strapped himself to the mast of the ship, so that, hearing, he could not heed. So our friends upon the other side tell us that there is depression in agriculture, and a cry has come up from the people; but the leaders of your party have, as it were, filled with wax the ears of their associates, and then have so tied themselves, by promises made before the election to the protected interests, that, hearing, they can not heed.
Out in the West the people have been taught to worship this protection.
It has been a god to many of them. But I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the
time for worship has passed. It is said that there is in Australia what
is known as the cannibal tree. It grows not very high, and spreads out
its leaves like great arms until they touch the ground. In the top is a
little cup, and in that cup a mysterious kind of honey. Some of the natives
worship the tree, and on their festive days they gather around it, singing
and dancing, and then, as a part of their ceremony, they select one from
their number, and, at the point of spears, drive him up over the leaves
onto the tree; he drinks of the honey, he becomes intoxicated as it were,
and then those arms, as if instinct with life, rise up; they encircle him
in their folds, and, as they crush him to death, his companions stand around
shouting and singing for joy.
Protection has been our cannibal tree, and as one after another of our farmers has been driven by the force of circumstances upon that tree and has been crushed within its folds his companions have stood around and shouted, “Great is protection!”
But the dream has passed, the night is gone, and in the East we see more than the light of coming day. A marvelous change has taken place, and, rising from the political mourners’ benches throughout the Northwest, their faces radiant with a new-found joy, multitudes are ready to declare their allegiance to the cause of tariff reform.
And if you believe, gentlemen, as you have so often professed to believe, that your political disfigurement is simply temporary, or if you console yourselves with the idea that the Lord is only chastising those whom he loves—if so, it is the most affectionate demonstration known to political history—you are making a grave mistake.
We have heard from that side of the House twice, I think, recently that “truth is eternally triumphant.” That is true; and while the proposition may describe the success of the Democratic party in 1890 and give us encouragement to hope that that success will continue, I want to suggest to our friends over there a quotation that is far more appropriate to describe the condition of the Republican party. It is this: “Though justice has leaden feet, it has an iron hand.” You rioted in power, you mocked the supplication of the people, you denied their petitions, and now you have felt their wrath. At last justice has overtaken you, and now you are suffering the penalty that must sooner or later overtake the betrayer of a public trust.
I believe, Mr. Chairman, that the overthrow of the Republican party is not temporary but permanent. As the poet has beautifully expressed it:
Truth, crushed to earth, shall rise again;
Th’ eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes in pain,
And dies among his worshipers.
Mr. Clarkson, high Republican authority, has told us that the young men of the country are becoming Democrats. Why? Because we are right. And when you find where the young men of the country are going, you can rest assured that that party is going to succeed. Why are we right? Because, Mr. Chairman, we are demanding for this people equal and exact justice to every man, woman, and child. We desire that the laws of this country shall not be made, as they have been, to enable some men to get rich while many get poor.
I will append to my speech statistics from seven States, furnished by the
Census Bureau, showing the proportion of those who in 1880 rented their
farms and the proportion who rented in 1890. These statistics are only
partial, embracing in some States only a few counties. I was told by the
official who gave them to me that they might be changed a little by verification,
but that they were substantially correct. I want the people of this country
to read these statistics and understand what they mean. In ten counties
in the State of Kansas the proportion of those renting their farms increased
from 13.13 in 1880 to 35.25 per cent. in 1890; and 64.38 per cent. of the
farms are mortgaged. Yet they tell us that they are protecting “infant
Why, sir, these mortgages are held in the East; and if these manufacturing
States, when their industries are “infants,” own themselves and have a
mortgage on us, what is going to be the result when they get full grown?
In Ohio in ten counties the proportion of renters in 1880 was 24.96 per
cent.; in 1890, 37.10 per cent. In five counties of Virginia in 1880 the
proportion was 15.20 per cent.; in 1890, 20.20 per cent.; in New York in
eight counties 18.20 per cent. in 1880, 24 per cent. in 1890; in Massachusetts
in ten counties 6.70 per cent. in 1880, and 14.20 per cent. in 1890; in
Rhode Island in four counties 19.50 per cent. in 1880, 23.25 per cent.
in 1890; in Maine in six counties 2.50 per cent. in 1880, 7.33 per cent.
Thus in every State, so far as these statistics have been collected, the
proportion of home-owning farmers is decreasing and that of tenant farmers
increasing. This means but one thing; it means a land of landlords and
tenants; and, backed by the history of every nation that has gone down,
I say to you that no people can continue a free people under a free government
when the great majority of its citizens are tenants of a small minority.
Your system has driven the farm-owner from his land and substituted the
Mr. Chairman, just a word more, and I am through. You can, if you like,
build up these “infant industries,” if your country is willing to pay the
price. A good many years ago a colored man, whose child had the whooping-cough,
went to his physician and laid the matter before him. The doctor looked
very wise for a moment and then said: “Take three hairs out of the back
of your mule and lay them on the child; you will cure the child, but you
will kill the mule.” The man thought of his love for his child and his
need for the mule, and said: “Doctor, I’se poor; I can’t afford ter lose
de mule.” Yes, my friend, you can build up your “infant industries” if
you will, if you are willing to risk the destruction of the people. But
I say that the country is poor; it cannot afford to lose its common people;
it cannot spare the men who will thus be sacrificed. Well has the poet
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates, and men decay.
Princes and lords may flourish or may fade—
A breath can make them, as a breath has made;
But a bold peasantry, their country’s pride,
When once destroy’d, can never be supplied.
We cannot afford to destroy the peasantry of this country. We cannot afford
to degrade the common people of this land, for they are the people who
in time of prosperity and peace produce the wealth of the country, and
they are also the people who in time of war bare their breasts to a hostile
fire in defense of the flag. Go to Arlington or to any of the national
cemeteries, see there the plain white monuments which mark the place “where
rest the ashes of the nation’s countless dead,” those of whom the poet
has so beautifully written:
On Fame’s eternal camping-ground
Their silent tents are spread.
Who were they? Were they the beneficiaries of special legislation? Were they the people who are ever clamoring for privileges? No, my friends; those who come here and obtain from Government its aid and help find in time of war too great a chance to increase their wealth to give much attention to military duties. A nation’s extremity is their opportunity. They are the ones who make contracts, carefully drawn, providing for the payment of their money in coin, while the Government goes out, if necessary, and drafts the people and makes them lay down upon the altar of their country all they have. No; the people who fight the battles are largely the poor, the common people of the country; those who have little to save but their honor, and little to lose but their lives. These are the ones, and I say to you, sir, that the country cannot afford to lose them. I quote the language of Pericles in his great funeral oration. He says:
“It was for such a country, then, that these men, nobly resolving not to have it taken from them, fell fighting; and every one of their survivors may well be willing to suffer in its behalf.”
That, Mr. Chairman, is a noble sentiment and points the direction to the
true policy for a free people. It must be by beneficent laws, it must be
by a just government which a free people can love and upon which they can
rely that the nation is to be preserved. We cannot put our safety in a
great navy; we cannot put our safety in expensive fortifications along
a seacoast thousands of miles in extent, nor can we put our safety in a
great standing army that would absorb in idleness the toil of the men it
protects. A free government must find its safety in happy and contented
citizens, who, protected in their rights and free from unnecessary burdens,
will be willing to die that the blessings which they enjoy may be transmitted
to their posterity.
Thomas Jefferson, that greatest of statesmen and most successful of politicians,
tersely expressed the true purpose of government when he said:
“With all these blessings, what more is necessary to make us a happy and prosperous people? Still one thing more, fellow citizens; a wise and frugal government, which shall restrain men from injuring one another; shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government, and this is necessary to close the circle of our felicities.”
That is the inspiration of the Democratic party; that is its aim and object.
If it comes, Mr. Chairman, into power in all the departments of this Government
it will not destroy industry; it will not injure labor; but it will save
to the men who produce the wealth of the country a larger portion of that
wealth. It will bring prosperity and joy and happiness, not to a few, but
to every one without regard to station or condition. The day will come,
Mr. Chairman—the day will come when those who annually gather about this
Congress seeking to use the taxing power for private purposes will find
their occupation gone, and the members of Congress will meet here to pass
laws for the benefit of all the people. That day will come, and in that
day, to use the language of another, “Democracy will be king! Long live