Search the
Browse Newspapers
by Date
Articles Indexed
by Topic
About the
Valley of the Shadow

Staunton Spectator: February 27, 1866

Go To Page : 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 |

-Page 01-

Correspondence between Mr. W. A. Burke and Hon. A. H. H. Stuart, in relation to a Protective Tariff
(Column 02)
Summary: A. H. H. Stuart responds to a query from William Burke on the subject of protective tariffs, leading to a discussion on a wide range of subjects, including the causes of the war.
(Names in announcement: William Burke, Alexander Stuart)
Full Text of Article:

Staunton, February 6, 1866

Hon. A. H. H. Stuart:

Dear Sir:--Enclosed please find memorial to the Congress of the U. S. asking an increase of duties on foreign imports, which I have received from the Secretary of the "American Home Labor League," with the request that I should have them signed by the people of our county. I feel a very great interest in the subject, and think a protective tariff would greatly assist in the development of our section, but being unrepresented in the U. S. Congress, I am not sure that a petition from us would have any effect, and I have concluded to submit them to you, and to ask your opinion on the subject.

Your respectfully,

W. A. Burke

Staunton, Va., Feb. 8th, 1866.

Wm. A. Burke, Esq.

Dear Sir:--I have received your note of the 6th inst., enclosing a petition of the "American Home Labor League," and asking my opinion as to the propriety of your undertaking to second the effort to procure adequate protection to American industry.

As the people of Virginia are now unrepresented in Congress, as much through the agency of Pennsylvania members as any other cause, I do not see any good that would be likely to result from such an attempt. You had better wait, until the sober second thought of the Northern people shall have produced its effects on the National Councils.

In regard to the general purpose of the petition, I need hardly say, I am in favor of it.--For twenty-five years, I have been the consistent advocate of the protective policy. As early as 1842, I delivered an elaborate speech in favor of it, in the Congress of U. S., and on several occasions subsequently, I have, in public addresses, sought to enforce the same line of policy. Recent events have strengthened, rather than changed, my convictions on the subject.

From the foundation of the government until 1824, the leading public men of Virginia were supporters of a liberal tariff. One of the best reports ever made to Congress in favor of protection, was submitted by Mr. Newton, on of the representatives from Virginia. I have always thought that the public men of Virginia committed a great error in abandoning the ground taken by Washington, and other fathers of the Republic, in favor of fostering domestic industry. Virginia possesses as many, if not more, of the elements of wealth, if properly developed, than any other State in the Union.--To say nothing of her gold mines, which are beginning to attract so much attention, she has boundless quantities of coal, iron, copper, lead, salt, gypsum, manganese, kaolin, barytes, feldspar, and the purest white sand and silex for manufacture of glass.

She also possesses immense forests of ship and building timber, and water power without limit.

The salubrity of her climate, the fertility of her soil, and the adaptation of most of her territory to the growth of tobacco, cotton, and every kind of grain and grass, and fruits, including grapes in profusion and of fine quality, render the old State more desirable as a residence than other part of our country with which I am acquainted.

We are midway between the North and South and possess the advantages of both without the drawbacks on either.

Yet with all these advantages, Virginia has never been a prosperous State. And why?--Simply because she has not shown the proper energy and judgment in developing her resources. She has been, almost exclusively, an agricultural State, and she has expended all the proceeds of her crops in buying from the North a thousand things that she should have made at home. Clinging to certain delusive political theories, she has neglected her substantial interests.

But all that belongs to the past. The revolution in her labour system will compel a change in her policy. A new era is dawning upon us, and we must accommodate ourselves to the new condition of things.

We must diversify our pursuits. We must open our mines and coal-fields, fell our forests, improve our water power, introduce all kinds of machinery, extended our orchards, plant vineyards, and establish manufactories and work-shops of every description. We must build up a home market for the products of our fields, and make within ourselves every thing necessary for our comfort.

The recent war has taught us some useful lessons. It has shown us how dependent we have been on the North and foreign countries, and how helpless we were when cut off from the outside world. Let us profit by this painful and humiliating experience, and try and put ourselves on a better footing in future.

Our country needs a settled policy in regard to domestic industry. Change, perpetually recurring change, has been the source of untold injury. A bad policy steadily adhered to, is hardly as mischievous as one that is constantly shifting. Our people have never had any assurance of stability in our policy. It has generally happened, heretofore, that as soon as men of enterprise were tempted, by a fair tariff, to invest capital in manufactories, a cry was raised for the repeal of the law. With the repeal, down went all the enterprises that had been set on foot. The competition produced by home industry was withdrawn, and foreign nations were able to tax us at pleasure.

It seems like a paradox to say that a well digested protection tariff tends to bring down prices. Yet it is unquestionably true.

Let me illustrates this idea. Suppose England, in consequence of greater capital, cheaper labor, and other causes has an advantage over the U. S. equal to 40 per cent in the production of iron, and of 20 per cent in cotton goods. In view of this disparity, it is obvious, we cannot enter into competition with her, and she consequently has a monopoly, and can fix prices to suit herself. The only competition is among her own producers, and they find it to their interest to combine to keep up prices.

But suppose we impose a tariff of 40 per cent on the British iron and 20 per cent on British cotton goods, is it not plain, that this will bring our home manufacturers up to the point of competition with the foreigner? They can then stand the contest, because they fight the battle, as it were, behind a rampart of protection.--Active competition begins between the domestic and foreign producer. The foreign monopoly is destroyed, a struggle ensues to undersell each other, and thus prices are worked down to the lowest point at which the commodities can be produced.

I admit on the other hand, that duties may be too high, and thus drive out the foreigner and secure a monopoly to the home producer. But this can easily be avoided. The true rules is, to graduate the duty, on each article so as to keep up the competition.

If we had t he protective policy firmly established, on the principle above indicated, why should not Virginia in twenty years outstrip New England in cotton goods, and Pennsylvania in iron? We are nearer than those States to the raw-material, and to the markets in which our wares would be sold.

Our mines and coal fields are as extensive and as rich as those Pennsylvania. Our water power is never obstructed by ice, while that of New England is locked up for months at a time and they are compelled to substitute steam.--Steam cannot successfully compete with water power.

Provisions are cheaper here than at the North. Our seasons are longer -- our lands are better -- our stock requires less food and attention than theirs, and our families need less fuel and clothing to protect them against the rigors of the climate.

New England has to bring all her provisions and raw materials a long way before they work them up, and then she has to transport the product of her skill and labor a great distance to market.

We have every thing we need, as it were, at hand, to be worked up, and distributed, without heavy freight or transportation. We of Virginia need protection, until we can get fairly under war. When we have established our manufactories, our natural advantages will assert their power.

Our people also need relief from direct taxation and stamp duties which they find so burdensome. A high tariff will tend not only to give this relief but also to induce foreigners to transfer capital skill and machinery to Virginia.

If a guarantee could be given of a permanent protective tariff, I am greatly mistaken, if, within twenty, Richmond, Petersburg, Fredericksburg and other towns near the falls in our rivers, would not be formidable rivals of Pittsburg, Lowell and Lawrence and other manufacturing towns of the North. Now is the crisis of our fortunes. If we will discard antiquated errors, and hereditary prejudices, we can soon repair, so much as is reparable, of the injuries of the past, and establish our prosperity on a solid and durable basis.

It seems to me very plain that no nation can ever prosper which buys more than it sells.--This has been our case. All that we received from our tobacco, wheat, and other agricultural products has been expended in the purchase of goods from other States and Countries. We have thus been always kept poor. The time has come when we must change all this. We no longer have slaves to till our lands. Let us now be self-dependent. Let us make what we can, within ourselves. Let us keep our money at home, and spend it among our own people. Our wealth will thus be increased. Our lands will rise in value, our population will be augmented, and out whole country wear a new aspect.

Why should we not beat the North with their own weapons? We have as much inventive genius as they, and we have, as I have shown, greatly the advantage in geographical position, and all that physical elements necessary to a successful prosecution of manufacturing industry.

The great cause of discord between North and South, in former years, was a supposed, (but not real) antagonism between their systems of labor. Rightly understood, and controlled by wise statesmanship, these systems ought to have operated in perfect harmony -- as allies, instead of adversaries -- each producing what the other could not produce, and each supplying the best markets for the products of the other.

The North asked protection for her white labor, which was essential to its existence, because it had to compete with the pauper labor of Europe. The South, needing no protection for its peculiar labor and productions, because they had no formidable competition in the markets of the world, refused to accord it to the free labor of the North, and thus by a short-sighted and mistaken policy, the two systems were brought into a relation of antagonism which culminated in the war. If we had supported the protective system. I really believe we would have had no war. If you will revert to the history of the last forty years, you will find that whenever we had a protective tariff, comparative quiet prevailed in the country; but as soon as protection to free labor was withdrawn, sectional excitement and animosity followed.

The levee or dyke, which has heretofore confined the negro population within the Southern States, has been broken down by the war, and freedmen will gradually migrate into Northern and Western States. The peculiar interests of slave labor have ceased to exist. All cause of sectional animosity has thus been removed, and the contest hereafter, will be, not between sections and systems of labor, but between individuals, and perchance races, on the broad theatre of the Union.

We must prepare ourselves for this great struggle. We must subdivide our lands, and improve our agriculture. We must foster domestic manufactures, and create a home market. We must, in a word, make all our natural advantages tell in the effort to promote our prosperity and happiness.

It is to be hoped that other will follow your example, in abandoning old party dogmas and obsolete ideas. From all I can see and hear, I am satisfied that a wholesome change has taken place in the public sentiment of Virginia.

If our people, with out genial climate, fertile solid and inexhaustible sources of wealth, cannot compete successfully with the inhabitants of the bleak hills of New England, this fact, will furnish strong presumptive evidence, that we do not deserve the blessings which a benificent Providence has so bountifully bestowed upon us.

I have thus, according to your request, hastily, and amid many interruptions, expressed my opinions. You can make such use of them as you choose.

Very Respectfully,

Your obedient Servant,


Message From The President--Veto Of The Freedmen's Bureau Bill
(Column 05)
Summary: A transcript of Johnson's veto message.

-Page 02-

The President's Veto Message
(Column 02)
Summary: The editor praises Johnson's veto message as "the long-wished for hour... that elevates Mr. Johnson into the glorious position of defender of the Constitution" and offers the armed support of the South, should Johnson request it, to "disarm revolution" among the Radicals.
Election of Judges
(Column 02)
Summary: A list of judges recently elected, including local lawyer Hugh Sheffey.
(Names in announcement: Lucas P. Thompson, Hugh Sheffey)
Public Meeting Endorsing the President
(Column 04)
Summary: A copy of the resolutions passed by a meeting of white citizens at the Staunton court house, supporting President Johnson's course and expressing gratitude for his "firm and manly stand."
(Names in announcement: H. M. Bell, Alexander Stuart, George CochranJr., R. Mauzy, A. M. GarberJr., William Lynn, William Burke, Benjamin Crawford, R. G. Bickle, W. M. Tate, T. W. Shelton, G. A. Bruce, J. G. Fulton, J. G. McChesney, Col. M. G. Harman)
Railroad Meeting--A Convention
(Column 05)
Summary: The proceedings of a meeting held to press for the construction of the Valley railroad through Staunton.
(Names in announcement: Bolivar Christian, David Fultz, Marshall Hanger, H. W. Sheffey, Powell Harrison)

-Page 03-

Local News--Public Meeting--President Endorsed
(Column 01)
Summary: Praises the "sagacious and patriotic citizens" of Augusta who expressed their support for President Johnson in a meeting at the court house last week.
Local News
(Column 01)
Summary: James Levell, imprisoned for knowingly passing a counterfeit note, was acquitted and released last Thursday.
(Names in announcement: James Levell, John O'Hare)
Local News
(Column 01)
Summary: John D. Brown died last Sunday at "fifty-odd years of age."
(Names in announcement: John Brown)
Local News
(Column 01)
Summary: A list of the recently qualified deputies and sheriff.
(Names in announcement: Samuel Paul, John Towberman, A. B. Lightner, William Mowry, William Gamble, George Harlan)
Local News
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports that the Rev. J. C. Dice has been reassigned and will soon be leaving the area.
(Names in announcement: Rev. J. C. Dice)
Local News--Thrown From A Horse
(Column 01)
Summary: Lina Eidson was thrown from her horse and sustained a serious head wound. Quickly tended to by doctors, she is now doing "quite well considering the character of the wound."
(Names in announcement: Lina Eidson, Henry Eidson, McChesney, Fauntleroy)
Local News--An Old Negress
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports that a freed woman known as "Millie" living in the county is 126 years old.
Local News--Attempt to Burn
(Column 01)
Summary: Reports that a boy attempted to burn a local carpenter shop. Witnesses were unable to discern whether the boy was "white or colored."
(Names in announcement: Boothe, Smith)
[No Title]
(Column 02)
Summary: The editor of the Spectator takes issue with an article in the Charlottesville Chronicle claiming that the town has more "beautiful women" than Staunton.
Origin of Article: Charlottesville Chronicle
(Column 02)
Summary: John McCue died on Feb. 22nd. He was "about 51 years of age."
(Names in announcement: John McCue)
(Column 02)
Summary: George Airy, a "worthy citizen," died suddenly on Feb. 25th.
(Names in announcement: George Airy)

-Page 04-