President Jackson’s Bank Veto, 1832


It is to be regretted that the rich and powerful too often bend the acts of government to their selfish purposes. Distinctions in society will always exist under every just government. Equality of talents, of education, or of wealth can not be produced by human institutions. In the full enjoyment of the gifts of heaven and the fruits of superior industry, economy, and virtue, every man is equally entitled to protection by law; but when the laws undertake to add to these natural and just advantages artificial distinctions, to grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society—the farmers, mechanics and laborers—who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their government. There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses. If it would confine itself to protection, and, as Heaven does its rains, shower its favors alike on the high and low, the rich and the poor, it would be an unqualified blessing. In the act before me there seems to be a wide and unnecessary departure from these just principles.


Henry Clay on the tariff, 1824


Labour is the source of all wealth; but it is not natural labour only. And the fundamental error [of the opponents of the tariff] in adducing from our sparse population our unfitness for the introduction of the arts, consists in their not sufficiently weighing the importance of the power of machinery. In former times, when but little comparative use was made of machinery, manual labour and the price of wages were circumstances of the greatest consideration. But it is far otherwise in these later times. Such are the improvements and the perfections in machinery that, in analysing the compound value of many fabrics, the element of natural labour is so inconsiderable as almost to escape detection…Britain is herself the most striking illustration of the immense power of machinery…A statistical writer of that country several years ago, estimated the total amount of the artificial or machine labour of the nation, to be equal to that of one hundred millions of able-bodied laborers. Subsequent estimates of her artificial labour, at the present day, carry it to the enormous height of two hundred millions. But the population of the three kingdoms is 21,500,000…Look at her immense subsidies! Behold her, standing unaided and alone, breasting the storm of Napoleon’s colossal power, when all continental Europe owned and yielded to its irresistible sway; and, finally, contemplate her vigorous prosecution of the war, with and without allies, to its splendid termination, on the ever-memorable field of Waterloo!…



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