The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Seventeenth Congress, Second Session Page: 59

Drawback en Cordage.
December, 1822.
adopting the system of bounties proposed by the
amendment to this bill.
But, unfortunately for us, the proposed amend-
ment, however well intended, will not, in the
slightest degree, promote the interest of agriculture
or manufactures. The gentleman (Mr. D'Wolf)
who introduced this bill, informs us that forty-
nine fiftieths of all the hemp manufactured or
consumed in the United States is imported from
Europe; and, for this plain reason, that notwith-
standing the duty on foreign hemp, the expense
of importation, and other charges, it can still be
purchased in our market on better terms, or at a
lower price than the domestic hemp. This has
long been the case, and will continue to be so, un-
less we increase the duty on bemp, which does
not appear to be any part of the plan of gentlemen
who introduced this bill. The gentleman from
Kentucky thinks that, by extending the drawback
to the cordage made by domestic as well as for-
eign hemp, it will add to the price of the domes-
tic hemp, and thus promote the agriculture of the
Western States. But nothing can be more falla-
cious. No part of this bounty would ever reach
a pound of domestic hemp in consequence of this
amendment. The person about to purchase hemp,
to be manufactured into cordage, for exportation,
would buy that which he could procure on the
best terms ; that, at present, would be the foreign
hemp, by half a cent per pound. No domestic
hemp, of course, would be purchased for this pur-
pose. This bill, with its amendment, gives a
bounty of a cent per pound to the domestic as well
as the foreign hemp. The difference in favor of
the foreign hemp would still be the same it was
before, that is, half a cent per pound ; and of course
none of the domestic hemp would be purchased
for this manufacture. The bounty, therefore,
would not reach the domestic, but would produce
an excessive importation of Russia hemp. And,
as the conditions required for exportation of cord-
age for the benefit of drawback, as the quantity
to be exported must be at least ten tons, (about
the value of fifteen hundred dollars,) and in ves-
sels of not less than sixty tons burden, would
frequently not be complied with, large quantities
of hemp, imported for exportation, would remain
on hand, and glut the domestic market, and thus
put an end to produce of domestic hemp; while
the whole of the manufacture and exportation of
cordage would be confined to a few large capital-
ists in our seaport towns.
This cannot be considered as a bill for the en-
couragement of domestic manufactures, because
the slight additional value given to the raw ma-
terial, by the manufacture of cordage, is of no im-
portance when compared with other objects that
demand our attention. And it is calculated ma-
terially to injure agriculture.
It may, however, be considered as a bill in favor
of the shipping interest, and, as such, demands
our serious attention. And if it can be made to
serve that interest, without prejudice to other im-
portant interests, it will be our duty to vote for it.
I must be permitted to believe that the gentle-
man from Rhode Island greatly overrates the im-
portance of his bill. He charges Congress with
$280,000 for having neglected to pass his bill last
session. We might, he says, have made and ex-
ported a thousand tons of cordage during the last
year, for which we should have received one hun-
dred and fifty dollars per ton. This, however,
would amount to no more than $150,000. There-
fore, our loss could be no more than this sum, if
our good friends, the Russians, had given us the
hemp, and it had cost nothing to import, manu-
facture, and export it; but a thousand tons of
cordage is about twice the quantity we shall be
able to sell in the West Indies and South America.
As the American tonnage is exceeded by that
of no nation except Great Britain, it may be as-
sumed as a safe position, that the cordage wanted
for our own shipping would be five times as much
as we could sell in the West Indies and South
America, even if we had the whole market to
ourselves, which we never shall have.
I will endeavor to make an estimate of the
amount of cordage required for our own shipping,
by taking an average of the four years, ]817,1818,
1819, and 1820. The portion of domestic hemp
made use of, being very small, is not taken into
the calculation. In those four years we imported,
of cables and tarred cordage, 684 tons; and, du-
ring the same lime, exported 400 tons, upon which
a drawback was allowed; leaving 284 tons for
our own ships. It appears from this that nearly
five-eighths of the whole imported, was afterwards
exported for the benefit of drawback. It is be-
lieved, however, by those who are acquainted
with our commerce and shipping, that a large
portion of this cordage, 200 tons at least, thus ex-
ported, has been transferred again to our own
ships, and appropriated to the rigging of those
shipsj by which the revenue has been defrauded
to the amount of thirteen or fourteen thousand
dollars. In the year 1817, the quantity exported
exceeded the quantity imported by nearly ten
tons. This might have arisen from a surplus of
imports the preceding year; affording a just ground
to suspect fraud. If we add these 200 tons to the
284 tons, it will make 484 tons of cordage for our
own shipping. Deduct 20 per cent, for the tar,
and it will leave 366 tons of hemp contained in
this cordage.
During the same years, we imported 14,151 tons
of hemp; of this, we will suppose one-third part
was made use of for other purposes of manufac-
ture than cables and cordage. This will leave
9,434 tons, to which add the 366 tons contained
in the imported cordage, and it amounts to 9,797
tons of hemp, for our whole shipping for four
years, or 2.449 tons per year. The fifth part of
which quantity, 489 tons, or, at most, 500 tons, is
as much as we can hope to sell to the people of
South America and the West Indies. This, how-
ever, is exclusive of about 100 tons a year, which
would be fraudulently exported and made use of
for rigging our own vessels.
As the hemp of which this cordage is made, is
to be paid for, together with charges for importa-
tion, manufacture, and exportation; and, as il
must be sold at the lowest profit, as otherwise the

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Gales and Seaton. The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Seventeenth Congress, Second Session, book, 1855; Washington D.C.. ( accessed November 15, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library,; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.

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