No better illustration of our proposition, made in a recent article, that it is unwise for a nation to depend upon foreign sources for any commodity which is a national want, when that want can be supplied by home production, could be furnished than the present rise in the price of sugar consequent upon the Cuban insurrection. A very much larger proportion of the sugar used in the United States has hitherto oome from Cuba than from all other sources put together. The rapid rise in this commodity, shows how thoroughly commercial men understand the effect upon the market, sure to occur upon a total or partial interference with the success- ul harvest of the sugar crop in the (so far as size is concerned) i nsignificant area upon which we have become so abjectly de- j >endent for one of our most important articles of diet. ' The inconvenience and rise in price which is certain to take )lace, should the apprehensions of a diminished crop be real-zed, will in this instance more than counterbalance the burden )f twenty years' protective duty, to those not engaged in the )roduction of sugar, to say nothing of the value of such pro-cction to all engaged in that industry. The deprivation of accustomed comforts—necessities, for j :oinf orts are necessities to people of the present age—engenders liscontent among the masses, and thus becomes a disruptive , brce. Citizens demand of Government that it ehall secure to j ,hem the privilege of living comfortably as well as safely, and ,hey are discontented, and reasonably so, with a government ,hat fails in this respect. Deprive the mass of American citi-;ens of shoes and compel them to go barefoot, by want of >roper foresight on the part of the Government, and such an mportant mistake would produce a murmuring that would ihake its foundations. A protection to home industry, which will make our nation is far as possible independent of others for any important aroduct, is, then, a conservative power. Though it increases; he price of particular manufactured commodities, it hightens; he price of agricultural products also by its indirect effect ipon all collateral branches of industry. We do not in these views disregard the claims of commerce I for protection, in our zeal for the manufacturing interests of; he country, but we do believe that if the interests of any class )f people have a prior right for consideration, they are those jf the hard-toiling producing class. All we want of commerce is to bring us those things which we cannot produce, md those things which it is not easy to produce in our own and. We can easily produce iron, cotton goods, woolens, sugar, etc., in quantity ample to meet our requirements. It is such industries that we believe it theduty and the wise policy if the Government to protect.
This article was originally published with the title "Protection Considered as a Conservative Element in National Affairs" in Scientific American 20, 12, 186 (March 1869)