THE WEALTH OF NATIONS.
Having presented a brief résumé of our tariff Acts and their results,—showing the evils of the one and the benefits of the other, as demonstrated in protective and free trade tariffs,—we now offer a concise and practical illustration of the ways and means to national prosperity, or in what consists the wealth of nations.
A nation's wealth consists principally in her natural resources; secondly, in the in telligence, skill, and industry of her people. A country may be rich in all the bountiful gifts of nature, as Mexico and China, and yet without the ability to profit for the lack of intelligence, skill, and industry. We find the people of New England, who have not much to boast of in their barren hills, far more wealthy and prosperous than those of Virginia, who for centuries have been delving in miserable poverty among the untold riches of a most magnificent country.
England possesses both in an eminent degree, and prospers wonderfully by their com bination. She has more available coal than exists in all other parts of Europe, and perhaps her iron and tin and copper are on a corresponding scale. She certainly makes the best use of them.
Her intelligence taught the use and value of iron, and her people were the first to make it on the grand scale, with mineral coal for fuel,—first in the blast-furnace for the production of cast iron, then in the puddling-furnace for the elaboration of the bar. Skill and industry were the handmaids of science. What the intelligent mind pro posed, the willing hand did skillfully. This knowledge brought her power and wealth. Steam obeyed the ingenious Watts, and strong, tireless motors of iron, breathing fire and steam, sprang forth, full-grown, like Minerva from the brain of Jupiter, to labor for the intelligent Englishman.
While the people of the South bought slaves of flesh and blood,—men and women, with all the failings and ills of humanity.—and drove them to the fields under the lash of the taskmaster, the people of both Old and New England bought or made the tire less "iron slave,"—the steam-engine,—which, directed by intelligence and skill, was a hundredfold more valuable to the owner or master than the negro slave. The price of
the latter, say $1000, bought seventy times the power in the former. Each horse-power, costing one hundred dollars, does the work of seven men while employed ; but since human limbs grow tired and the iron wheels do not, we may say that each horse-power, directed by intelligence, is worth ten ignorant negro slaves.
The slave-masters of the South owned 4,000,000 of the latter, while the manufacturers of England owned 83,000,000 of the former.
The planters of the South followed the rude and primitive pursuits of barbarous ages, and supplied with slave labor the more skilful spinning jennies of England with the raw material at six cents per pound, and bought it back again in manufactured articles at ten times its former value. The barbarous slave paying tribute to the civilizing iron ! England's slaves need no lash, but work patiently, tirelessly, and most effectively. In peace, industrious and accumulating wealth ; in war, formidable, and the first to hurl forth wrath on the foe. They need no emancipation ; with them no insurrection is feared.
Ignorance may import coolies or buy or breed the negro slave, but intelligence will build the steam-engine.
The slaves of the South brought poverty, waste, war, and desolation, and never did, and never could, have made their masters powerful, influential, and wealthy. They were an element of weakness,—a relic of the barbarous past.
The steam-power of England has enabled her to increase the productive ability of her 30,000,000 intelligent and industrious people to 600,000,000 of laboring units, as before stated, each equal to the physical force of an able-bodied man. This acquisition of mechanical power has enabled her to manufacture for the world, to gather wealth from every quarter of the globe, and spread her language, her influence and power in every clime. She has founded a mighty nation in the West, destined to overshadow her in future greatness and wealth. But, while we are passing out of her power, she is creating a new nation of perhaps equal magnificence on the remote continent of Aus tralia, where a wide field is open for her surplus population and future markets for her products.