|Address of Bloomfield H. Moore (in opposition to Fernando Wood's Tariff Bill).Mr. Chairman:--Your committee appointed to go to Washington to lay
before the Committee of Ways and Means your remonstrance against the repeal of the duty
levied upon the importation of books, addressed a letter to that committee asking it to
appoint a time when your committee could be heard in opposition to such proposed repeal,
but, up to this time no reply has been received.
The newspapers tell us that the Committee of Ways and Means has already reported favorably upon the bill to repeal the duty. The bill may now be called up in the House of Representatives, and may become a law unless an effective opposition to it is at once made.
It seems incredible that a committee of men, supposed to be statesmen, could have reported in favor of a bill so manifestly unjust.
Why should any one class of manufacturers be deprived of all protection while other classes are protected? Do not those who are interested in the manufacture of books, as publishers, as paper makers, as printers, as ink manufacturers, as type founders, as binders, as printing press manufacturers, have the same expenses as those engaged in other occupations? Must they not eat? Must they not be clothed? Must they hot have houses to cover them the same? Do the not pay the duties levied upon what they consume, what they wear and upon what enters into the construction of their houses? or, if the article of their consumption, wear, or used on the houses which cover them, are of native growth, are not their prices raised by the taxes levied upon similar tings imported? How, then, handcuffed by the government itself, are they to engage in an equal struggle with foreigners, free from their burdens, and favored, besides, with the advantage of cheaper capital.
It is simply impossible; it is absurd; yet this is proposed. What does it mean? This:--That the great publishing houses shall establish their branches in Europe, or go out of business, and that the business of making books in the United States shall substantially end.
The capital invested in paper mills will be sunk; their proprietors will be ruined; their operatives will be deprived of their employment, and forced to seek other modes of making a living. Such will also be the fate of the binder, the printer, the typefounder, and in fact, all those engaged in the manufacture of books. One common ruin will engulf them all.
But it will be said that newspapers will still consume paper, and therefore paper mills will be required. Does not everyone know that the diminution of the consumption of paper to the extent of one-half the amount used now in making books would result in such an overstock as to to utterly prostrate the industry, to prostrate it hopelessly until mills enough were destroyed to re-establish the equilibrium between supply and demand?
What has made this terrible depression of business under which the country is now suffering? A diminished consumption of manufactured articles arising from the destruction of capital by the war, and by our inability to continue borrowing abroad to supply the means of purchasing.
This may not have affected purely literary men; their incomes may not have been shrunken, and they can still "eat, drink and be merry," while the rest of the rest of their fellow-citizens are toiling, struggling to stave off impending bankruptcy.
If there was ever at struggle for life it is now with every branch of manufacture. Book making, in all its ramifications, is no exception; but there has been hope in the future. It is now proposed to cut short the struggle, and at one blow involve in one common ruin the tens of thousands who are engaged in the manufacture of books--at one blow to wipe out of existence the hundreds of millions of capital engaged in it.
Why not destroy all manufacturing in the United States at the same time by the repeal of all duties? Let all live or all perish together.
This destruction of the industries connected with the making of books is but the entering wedge. It will be driven home.
I call upon all other trades to record their protests with ours. I call upon the public press to put the seal of its condemnation upon so great a wrong.
I call upon those favoring free trade itself to hesitate and well consider before advocating this gross outrage upon so many thousands of their fellow-citizens.
I ask them whether all philosophers do not tell them that all changes of policy must be very gradual, spread over long periods of time, to avoid convulsion? I appeal to their manhood, whether it is not more noble to attack the whole system of protection than to attack and destroy the different branches in detail.
This is undoubtedly the object, and our cause is the cause of every working man in the country. If he wishes his industry protected, he must aid in protecting ours. It is the cause of every honest man in the country, also, because the passage of such a law would be flagrantly unjust.
As a citizen, I protest against any alteration of the tariff in the way of diminution of protection. The country has suffered far to much already. As a paper manufacturer I demand that the interest shall be favorably treated as other interests, asking for no more, unwilling to receive less. I ask for justice only.