III - Review of the Commercial Policy of the Last Thirty Years
With every step in the growth of the home production of coal, the money price has steadily diminished. That of a ton of anthracite in 1826 , in Philadelphia, was six, eight, and sometimes ten dollars, and yet the whole import was only 970,000 bushels, or about 30,000 tons. In 1846, the price of anthracite was about four dollars, and yet the import was 156,000 tons. It would appear from this, that when a nation is capable of supplying itself, other nations, desiring to sell, must come to them and sell at the lowest price, and the consumption is large; but when it cannot supply itself, it must go abroad to seek supplies, and pay the highest price, and then consumption is small. Applying this to iron, we find that when we had to seek abroad for nearly all our supply, it sold at prices twice or thrice as great as those at which it is now obtained...
It remains to be seen whether the converse of this proposition may not be true, to wit, that when a nation makes a market at home for nearly all its products, other nations have to come and seek what they require, and pay the highest price; and that, when it does not make a market at home, markets must be sought abroad, and then sales must be made at the lowest prices. If both of these be true, it would follow that the way to sell at the highest prices and buy at the lowest is to buy and sell at home. (p. 15)
....With every increase in the power of production, consumption grew, and the labourer received larger returns for his labour, producing a tendency to immigration. With every diminution in the power of production, the power to pay for foreign commodities diminished, and hence it was that the early years to the approach of freedom of trade were signalized by the creation of a vast debt, the interest on which has now to be paid. (p. 23)
It appears obvious that the productive power of the country diminished from 1835 to 1841, and still more rapidly in the two following years; and therefore it was that the power to pay for foreign commodities diminished so much that consumption could be maintained only by obtaining goods on credit , to be paid for at some future time and bearing interest until paid....
With each step in the diminution of the power to produce, there is
diminished power of purchase, and hence the necessity for obtaining goods on
credit. So it was from 1835 to 1841, and the result was almost universal
bankruptcy. So is it at present, and the goal toward which we are moving would seem
to be the same. The amount now required for the payment of interest is about
$14,000,000 per annum, being $2,000,000 more than was required for the same purpose
two years since... the amount of importation depends upon the