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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 51

Chapter IV. — How to Put a Stop to the Intolerable Losses which are Year After Year Inflicted on the Farmers of America

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Chapter IV.

How to Put a Stop to the Intolerable Losses which are Year After Year Inflicted on the Farmers of America.

Fortunately, great as is the grievance, its removal is easy. The remedy is in the farmer's own hands. It lies in the exercise of his voting power. It is simply this: let the American farmers give their support to no candidate for a seat in the House of Representatives who does not pledge himself, if elected, to propose, or at least to vote for, "a reduction of 5 per cent, every successive year on the import duties, till the whole are abolished." Never mind what party he may belong to. The relief of the farmers from an in-tolerable burden is not, cannot be, and must not be, a party question. It is a paramount and inevitable measure which comes before, overrides, and casts into the shade all party distinctions. To refuse the abolition of the tariff is to refuse justice to the agriculturists. It amounts to a persistence in the iniquity of confiscating the farmer's property. Up with the tariff means down with the farmer !

If it be said that abrogation of the tariff would suppress one of the sources of State revenue, the Western farmer's ready reply would be, "Out of the $400,000,000 yearly taken from us, only $60,000,000 go to the revenue. There are plenty of ways of raising $60,000,000 of revenue without resorting to the clumsy, wasteful, roundabout process of inflicting on us a loss of $400,000,000 to enable the State to get $60,000,000. You might as well say that there is no other way of roasting a pig than by burning down the house. We shall be all the better able to pay the taxes necessary to replace the import duties if our earnings are left with us intact."

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The farmers, by insisting on justice being done to themselves, are at the same time fighting the battle of the American community at large. All are sufferers from-the same fiscal absurdity, and all ought to join the farmers heart and hand, in enforcing the redress of a common grievance.

Every farmer should hold this language to the candidates : "I will only vote for you if you will vote for me; and voting for me means voting in the House for A reduction of five per cent, every successive year on the import duties till the whole are abolished." If this were done pretty generally, the tariff, in its present shape, would not survive the first sitting of Congress. The voting power of the farmers is overwhelming, and will further increase after the next census. They hardly know their own strength. They are the backbone of the great American Republic. They own most of its soil, they have created most of its wealth, and they form the most numerous and influential body among its population. The exercise of their voting power would forcibly influence the commercial policy of the government, and if they choose to exercise it an end will be put forever to the yearly exactions from which they are now suffering. In other words, they have but to signify unmistakably by their votes that they wish to be freed from the unjust burdens laid upon them by heavy import duties, and those duties will speedily cease to exist. Is it possible to imagine that they should feel the evil, know the remedy, and hesitate to apply it?

It is doubtless true that many, perhaps most, of the American farmers are unaware of, or have given little attention to the facts set forth in these pages, and hence their silent endurance. But if every farmer who reads this concurs in our views, would order from the nearest town ten or twenty copies of this little paper, and would distribute them by hand among his neighbours, or by post among his friends at a distance, a spirit of inquiry would rapidly be roused, and a definite expression of public opinion would soon be elicited. By such means each man would con- page 27 tribute to the good work, and, with little trouble and little expense, the exact state of the case might be laid before every farmer in the Union. It would be for him, after obtaining a knowledge of facts so interesting to his class, to decide whether he would continue to endure the grievance or insist on its removal.

Meanwhile, all honour, Western farmers of America, to the brave and blessed work which your indomitable energy and brawny arms are accomplishing! While in Europe millions of able-bodied men are dragged from the plough and the loom to be trained to bloodshed and destruction, you are pursuing your beneficent conquests over nature, and converting barren wastes into orchards and cornfields. Surely the least that you can demand in return is that your earnings should not be wrung from you by unjust laws, and that you should be allowed to enjoy undividedly the fruits of your unremitting toil.

It is for you to Decide, and to Enforce your Decision.