Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/282

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restrictions—that is, shall be left free in all their industrial and commercial pursuits. Whatever may be the strength of local interests, whatever the advantages or drawbacks of States, they are for ever forbidden to interfere with the mutual liberties of exchange between citizens by tariffs, imposts, or any form of trade restrictions. No pretext of developing resources, diversifying industry, fostering weak interests, or protecting labor, could be made an excuse for commercial restrictions. It was ordained that business shall be left to voluntary enterprise, to the spontaneous impulses of private effort, and to stand upon the stable basis of its natural laws rather than upon the artificial support of regulative State legislation.

The good effects of this policy no man can now be found to question. A hundred years of experience has attested the practical wisdom and established the solid and permanent beneficence of this great constitutional measure. With trade as free as the winds, the result has been an unparalleled activity in the development of all resources, and a general prosperity such as the world has never before seen; while the open liberty of interchange, resulting in active and intimate intercourse, has favored political unity and strengthened amicable feeling between distant and diverse communities.

One has but to picture what the consequences would have been of applying protective theories to Northern and Southern, Eastern and Western States, to understand how vast has been the advantage of the free-trade policy. With the general ignorance that prevailed in regard to economical principles, the restrictive policy, if permitted at all, would have been driven to its last results. To have let State politicians loose upon our internal commerce would not only ha\c abolished it, but would have aggravated local prejudice, narrowness of feeling, rivalries and jealousies, and engendered alienations and irritations that would have made national unity impossible. The fathers built wiser than they knew, and did the noblest service to human freedom which it was in their power to render when they united the American States on the basis of free trade.

This great lesson has not been lost, though it has not yet borne its full and final fruits. The policy which has proved of such immense benefit at home has not been trusted beyond the national borders. We adopt a partial practice with immense benefit, and then repudiate the principles it involves. Internal trade is free, but external trade is still shackled. A New-Yorker trades with a Pennsylvanian without restriction under the principle that they are the best judges of their own business affairs. They are free to buy and to sell as they like, and for the sufficient reason that the thing they will do is the best for both. But if a New-Yorker undertakes to trade with a Canadian, Government declares that the transaction shall not be free, the parties shall not do as they like with their own, and this for no other reason under heaven than because the Canadian is a foreigner. If Canada were "annexed," presto! these traders would at once know their own business best, and could exchange with perfect freedom.

We have here, in this surviving prejudice about the "foreigner," an illustration of the vicious potency of militant conceptions. The foreigner is our virtual enemy, one whom it is our patriotic duty to hate and not to help. The term is redolent of international antagonism and the pursuit of war which is the curse of civilization. This spirit, identified with the love of country, and fortified in long tradition, is slow to yield to the influence of humanizing and pacific agencies; but yield it must, and it has already greatly yielded, as witness the doings at Yorktown. That demonstration commemorated a military exploit; but ev-