The Debates and Proceedings in the Congress of the United States, Seventeenth Congress, Second Session Page: 61
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HISTORY OY CONGRESS.
Drawback on Cordage.
English will undersell us, the clear profits will be
so small, that I shall feel no uneasiness as to my
part of the responsibility of having neglected to
pass til is bill last session.
If it is the true policy of our Government to
encourage the manufacture of articles from for-
eign materials, by an allowance of drawbacks, we
arc about to begin with the most unfortunate ar-
ticle that could be selected.
Because the manufacture of cordage adds less,
than almost any others, to the value of the raw
material; because it will discourage agriculture
by putting an end to the growth of hemp in the
Western country; because it will lead to more
abuse and fraud upon the revenue than any other
article; and because it will increase our commerce
with Russia, which always has been, and always
will be, an unfavorable one to this country.
If great frauds now take place in the exporta-
tion of cordage under our drawback law, which
are strict, what are we to expect under the present
bill, which provides no adequate protection for
our revenue ?
The cordage now imported, must be exported
within a year of its importation, to entitle the ex-
porter to the benefit of drawback; and to coun-
tries not immediately adjoining the United States;
but under this bill no time is prescribed—and the
cordage may be landed in the English or Spanish
territories, within sight of the United States.
The oaths to be taken for the safety of the revenue
are of so loose a texture that they may be com-
pletely evaded without exposing the exporters to
a prosecution for perjury.
In the making of cordage twenty per cent, of
tar is made use of, says the gentleman from Rhode
Island. I believe more frequently twenty-five per
cent., and I think I have seen ropes composed of
one-third pail tar. The manufacturer will find it
his interest to use as much tar as possible in his
cordage, because, by this, he will obtain a draw-
back upon an article which pays no duty.
In the year 1794, a duty of eight cents per pound
was laid upon snuff, manufactured for sale, and a
drawback equal to the duty granted on such as
should be exported to a foreign country; with
abundance of oaths, to protect the revenue from
In 1795, it was discovered, that the apparent
gross amount of the duties on this article, amounted
to twenty thousand dollars, and that the draw-
backs upon the same amounted to twenty-live
thousand dollars. Congress then changed their
plan, and laid a tax upon snuff mills, and allowed
a drawback of six cents per pound upon snuff ex-
ported. But the makers of snuff were an over-
match for Congress. They ground up large quan-
tities of the stocks and stems of tobacco, which,
under the name of snuff, they exported ; and, thus
received from the treasury six cents per pound up-
on an article which cost them about two cents per
pound, and which was worth nothing; and,
finally, Congress abandoned this snuff business,
as a losing concern. If our rope-makers should
prove to be as adroit in their business as these in-
genious snuff-grinders, we may possibly see ropes
made entirely of tar, for the benefit of draw-
This bill will have a tendency to increase our
trade with Russia, which has always been unfa-
vorable to the United States. We import from
that country chiefly hemp and iron ; articles which
we can produce at home, to an unlimited extent;
articles, too, for which we should never depend
on foreign nations, in peace or war. The impor-
tation of these articles for home consumption,
would, under any circumstances, be highly preju-
dicial to this country; but the more so, while the
balance of trade with that nation is against us, to
an amount of more than twenty millions of dol-
lars, in the last twenty years.
In the year ending the 30th September, 1821,
Our imports from Russia amounted to - $1,852,199
Our exports to Russia of domes-
tic produce and manufacture,
Of foreign produce and manu-
facture - 500,955
Leaving against us a balance of - $1,223,305
In fact, Russia wants but little of our produce,
and we want none of hers.
The gentleman from Rhode Island professes
great anxiety to be doing something for the ben-
efit of the manufactures of this country. I will
take the liberty of pointing his attention to sub-
jects of the highest importance, which will afford
him an ample field for the exorcise of his talents
and his practical knowledge.
During the last year, we imported, for domestic
consumption, articles to an amount of more than
twenty-five millions of dollars, seven-eighths of
which we ought to manufacture for ourselves, and
from the produce of our country.
Of woollen and cotton goods (value) - $16,000,000
Ardent spirits ----- 3,000,000
Sugars ------ 2,000,000
Russia, Ravens, and Holland duck and
sheeting ------ 500,000
White and red lead, ochres and other
paints ------ 300,000
Lead in sheets, bars, pigs, and shot - 300,000
Cables, cordage, tarred and uutarred, and
twine ------ 130,000
Hammered bar iron ... - 1,000,000
Other kinds of iron and steel - - 500,000
Articles of iron and steel, paying ad va-
lorem duties ----- 1,500,000
This list might be extended to a variety of other
When we shall have taken care to manufac-
ture these articles for ourselves, it will be time to
provide for our neighbors.
Mr. D'Wolf replied to Mr. Dickerson and
others. He spoke at considerable length, further
in support of the bill, and to show that there was
do connexion between the objects and effects ol
this bill, and the amendment offered with 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.. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc30367/m1/29/: accessed May 24, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.