Thomas Cooper to MVB, 31 July 1827
Columbia S. Car.
July 31. 1827
From what I can gather on perusing the imperfect reports of the meeting at Albany, you incline to support the principle of a Tariff of protection. I regret it: for it is unworthy your good sense, & political firmness. If I had not the motive of personal regard to incite me, I should not take the Liberty of saying this: but you are treading on the crust of a Lava not yet solid.
I am not about to prophecy, for the occasion does not call for this talent: nothing more is necessary than the application of common sense & experience to the facts as they become developed. The manufacturers will make the Woollens bill a sectional question: you will be hurried on with the multitude. The measure will be carried; perhaps with some slight modification as to the quantum of impost. In one twelve month from that period, South Carolina will be an independent State, and her ports will be free-ports. I count upon all this with full assurance.
The northern States having a climate similar to the Climate of Europe, can have nothing ^of their own^ to export to Europe. Flour ^or wheat^ can be had cheaper from northern Europe than from North America. You had no natural foundation for a commerce with Europe. You raise similar commodities: your manufactures are but counterparts of theirs. What have you to sell, or barter, or exchange? The foundation of all foreign trade in dissimilarity of climate. Europe can never raise to profit, Cotton, or Rice, or Indigo, or Tobacco. Your wealth & consequence depends on being the factors & agents of the South. You sell for us, you buy for us, you are our carriers. The South furnishes in value 3/4 or at least 2/3 of all the commodities furnished to Europe by the U. S. Reflect for a moment, if Charleston be a free-port, admitting without impost of any kind, European vessels of every nation, where will New York in that case derive her trade from? Will not Charleston ^when^ a free port, not merely entice but in fact compel all the South to deal with her? Is not this unavoidable? We shall separate in all amity, & assume conscientiously by our share of the national debt: we have & shall have with you, no quarrel or dispute: we construe the terms of our present pact, differently: we cannot exist under the construction you give it: we are compelled to separate. Let your own manufactures tax your own consumers as much as you choose to permit: we cannot stand under the system that transfers our money into yr pocket without an equivalent. The authors on international Law, which I have consulted viz Grotius, Puffendorf, Heineccius, Vattel, Burlamaqui, are clear, explicit, unequivocal in our favour as to the right.
I again take the liberty of saying to you, that the events I have stated as probable, appear to me inevitable.
I have taken it into my head, that with all yr. reputation for management, your management hitherto has been nothing but the clear sighted views of plain good sense, & honesty of intention. Therefore it is I venture to state to you with all freedom my own views. If you oppose decidedly (as I shd. in our situation) not merely the Woollens Bill, but the principle of a protecting Tariff, your present popularity will sink, to rise with redoubled <
full> ^strength^ and full permanence. However, you see yr ground better than I can; & can better judge how to forward yr. own views than I can. All I request ^of you^ at present is, to be assured that I have not exaggerated in the slightest degree my own apprehensions. I may be mistaken, at present I think I am not. If you impute this letter to any thing but feelings of perfect kindness as well as sincere respect, you will not do justice your yr. friend
I wrote some time ago to De Witt Clinton, hinting rather than expressing, the real state of public feeling here. I want him and you, whatever course you adopt, to be aware of what I consider the present State of public Sentiment here, and the probable result.