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Here, then, are $ 40,000,000 worth of products, of the raw materials of other States, paid for and consumed by Massachusetts, to say nothing of the other States. Here is a sum equal to almost half of the whole export of raw material from the United States to all Europe! And now what do Mr. Polk and the followers of Mr. Polk propose? They say to agriculturists, "Your produce is low." How do they propose to increase the prices? They say, "Your consumption is too small." They propose to diminish it! You produce too much. They propose to increase it! They desire to stop the manufacturing operations of the Eastern States. They propose to convert all those engaged in these operations into farmers, to raise wheat and oats on our sterile hills, or to emigrate South and raise them in a far more fertile and prolific soil. At the same time, therefore, that they diminish the demand, they would increase the supply. And this is their way of remedying the evils under which agriculture suffers.
I know that agriculture is now apparently in a state of depression. The produce of farmers sells at prices which I wish Were higher. But look at the state of things. No doubt the works of internal improvement, which have brought the produce of the West into the midst of you, have had some effect. No doubt in times past the depression of manufactures has had some effect. After all, we hope there is a tendency to a better state of things; that the progress of things is onward, and that agriculture will soon receive its just reward. Sure I am, as sure as I am of any principle, moral or political, that, if there is such a thing as benefiting the agriculture of the country, it is to be accomplished by urging forward manufactures and the mechanical arts. This will multiply the number of consumers, and thus raise the prices of what they consume.
Gentlemen, I see a little printed tract which has been circulated largely over the country, full of what I think are errors. I will not not call them misrepresentations. It is dedicated to Mr. Greely, who, I hope, will acknowledge the dedication, and answer it in his own way. It purports to state prices, which it appears to me are all imaginary. The tariff was passed in 1842, in the summer. The writer of this tract states that there has been a fall in the price of beef, from % 8 in 1843 to $ 5 in 1844. What has the tariff to do with beef? I wish I had known where beef could have been sold in 1843 for $ 8; as I happened then to have a little of the article to dispose of. And so of the rest; the prices are all imaginary. If the price-currents ever set forth such prices as are here stated, they never met my eye.
In the next place, he says that the price of manufactured goods has risen. What does he mean by this? He says, Cocheco, and other prints with hard names, have risen in 1844. Every one must see the fallacy of all such reasoning as this. In 1841 and 1842 manufactures were greatly depressed; a great many establishments stopped. The business of the country was stagnant, for in order to have business active, people must be able to buy as well as to sell. It is generally known that no dividends were made by manufacturers during these years. When the tariff was passed, the goods then made were brought into market. But the question is not, if a man will be candid and just, whether the act of 1842 raised or lowered the prices of American goods. The question is, whether the general protection of American manufactures has not, on the whole, reduced the price of goods, so that a man can clothe himself cheaper than before. The inquiry should be, not as to the prices of a piece of cloth in 1842 and 1844, but as to the general effect of the tariff on the business of the country and the prosperity of the people.
Having thus, I fear at too great length, spoken of our past history and present condition, I will submit what I think is likely to be the future progress of the country. Under the favor of Providence, it is in our power, in a great measure, to prescribe this futurity, and to say what it shall be. If we choose to go in the path we have trod before, to adhere to the course of measures thus far in the main pursued, there is no reason to doubt that our prosperity will make progress, that we shall go on, step by step, until we attain any desirable degree of national greatness. If, on the contrary, we run counter to all that has hitherto been done, then, whatever others may expect, I look for nothing but disaster and distress.
Gentlemen, there is another question about to be decided, most interesting to us and the whole country, to which I shall only allude by saying, that this subject of the annexation of Texas is one of those which give the greatest intensity of interest to the impending election. But the great question before the public is in regard to the general policy of the country, whether we shall follow in the tracks of our fathers, or reverse all their opinions and all their measures, and take a new course for ourselves. And I put it to you to-day, and I am willing to leave the decision to this great State and to you, how the people of New York mean to bear themselves, how this great State means to conduct herself, in the decision of this question. Whosoever looks upon the map, and sees her stretching over so great an extent of the Union, or looks at the census and sees her large population, or looks at the commercial returns, must contemplate New York as holding a great, I had almost said a fearful, responsibility for the future conduct of this government. I do not doubt that her intelligent people will acquit themselves on this occasion as they think their own interests and the interests of the Union require. If I were to doubt that, I should doubt the continuance of the prosperity of our country; I should doubt that the interests of the United States would go forward, but I should expect to see them steadily decline, till they finally sunk in ruin.
Gentlemen, I will detain you no longer. To as many of you as are inhabitants of Albany, I desire to give my thanks for the kindness of this invitation, and for your hospitality. Of late years my intercourse with the good city of Albany has not been frequent. Of the great and good men of the State whom I have had the good fortune to know, some are not now among the living. Mr. De Witt Clinton, a man never to be mentioned by any American without entire respect; the late General Van Rensselaer, whose many virtues and amiable qualities seemed to enable him to overcome the difliculty of a "camel's going through the eye of a needle"; Governor Tompkins, and Mr. Van Vechten, are gone to their final homes. Among those with whom, in early life or early manhood, I had the pleasure to form acquaintance here, two are still living, at an advanced age, having enlightened a whole profession, and reflected great honor by their public life on the State and country, Chancellor Kent and Chief Justice Spencer. They are not here to-day; but they are with us, I doubt not, in sympathy and feeling, full of the same patriotic purpose. I pray God they may long live to see and enjoy the prosperity and glory of our common country.
And now, Gentlemen, with my best good wishes for you all, allow me most respectfully to take my leave.