Wlliam Gilmore Simms
The Simms Review (Vol 15: No 1) >> The Pen as Sword: Simms and the Beginning of the War — Rediscovered Writings from 1861 >> Page 12

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Secondary Scholarship | 2007
Transcription The profits of cotton planting would thus be reduced, and some portion of
the capital and labor now employed in it might be diverted to other pursuits,
and by this process the supply of cotton might be so diminished as to raise
the price to such a rate as would cover the duty and leave the same profits as
before. But this would be only one of the consequences of an artificial
discouragement and a partial destruction of the most important branch of our
productive industry; and, moreover, the enhancement of the price resulting
from such a cause, would be but temporary for it would soon bring back to
the cultivation of cotton the capital and labor that had been diverted from it,
and by increasing the supply again reduce the price.
A duty on exports carries with it at least one recommendation. Though
not a direct tax, it is much more like one than a duty on imports. The
producers of cotton and other articles produced mainly for exportation,
would much more easily understand that a duty on the export was a tax on
their industry, than they can be made to comprehend that a duty on imports
operates as a tax on the industry which produces the exports for which they
are received in exchange, by diminishing the exchangeable value of such
exports, and they would therefore be more sensitive and prompt to resist a
duty on exports than a similar duty on imports, for the same reason that
indirect taxes are more readily submitted to than those which are direct.
People cannot help knowing that they pay the latter, but they do not see
when and how they pay the former.
The proposition that duties on imports injuriously affect the interests of
the producers of the exports of which they are the representatives and
equivalents, by impairing the exchangeable value of such exports, has been
denied and many persons seem to be incapable of recognizing its truth. But it
is nevertheless true, and is susceptible of pretty rigid demonstration. It is not
now either necessary or convenient to present the demonstration, which
would occupy some space. Many of the gentlemen composing the Southern
Congress know that it is true, and require no argument to convince them.
Taking it, then, for granted, if we are to have duties on imports, and also a
duty on the exportation of cotton, the cotton planters will be doubly
burthened, let us have one or the other, but not both together. Of the two, the
export duty may be the least objectionable because it would be more direct
and therefore more sensibly felt and more easily understood. But if we have
both, the cotton planters will indeed be ground between the upper and nether
millstones. Their gains will be shortened at both ends. Should such a thing
happen in a Confederacy of Cotton-growing States, in which cotton planting
is beyond all comparison the chief productive industry, it would furnish a
curious illustration of the well known truth, that men may by habit acquire a
relish for things which in themselves originally are naturally distasteful. It
would show that we had been so long accustomed to be plundered and be
fooled by other people, that having parted company with those who have