Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

Notwithstanding the repeal of these statutes, the refining of sugar in the United States was “not wholly unprotected.” At one time, sugar candy or crystallized sugar could be imported from Asia, “not only so cheap as to vie with the West India brown, but even to be substituted, in many cases, for refined sugars in the markets of the United States.” The merchants who could have bought great quantities of this “elegant form of sugar," were interrupted in their trade by the imposition of a duty of nine cents a pound, which three years afterwards was increased two cents and a half per pound more. “Thus, to protect the domestic refiners of sugar, the merchants who traded to the East Indies were prohibited from bringing sugar candy to the United States, and the citizens at home from consuming it, but at the enormous price paid for it as a dainty, a medicine, or a rarity.”

Nor was Congress unmindful of “encouraging the domestic sugar refinery." By various acts, a duty amounting to nine cents a pound was imposed on foreign refined loaf sugar, and six and onehalf cents per pound on all other refined sugars. In 1799, Congress refused to grant a drawback on the exportation of imported loaf and lump sugars refined abroad, and forbade the importation of it in vessels of less burthen than one hundred and twenty tons, and in parcels of less than six hundred pounds. These heavy duties effected an almost total prohibition of foreign refined sugars.

The domestic refiners, nevertheless, strenuously sought to obtain a drawback on the exportation of their own product. There were two difficulties in the way, springing from the acquisition of Louisiana. The first was that a large amount of sugar was prepared and exported annually from New Orleans and vicinity, and it was regarded as unreasonable to allow a drawback on sugar which had never paid a duty. The other difficulty was that a sugar refinery had been established at New Orleans, where others were likely to be established. To accomplish the object which the sugar refiners had in view, it was declared necessary to prohibit the importation of refined sugar from Louisiana ; and, to avoid paying a drawback on sugar that had never paid duties, it would also be necessary to distinguish the sugars of Louisiana from those of foreign production.

The sugar refiners often renewed their demand, but in vain. Indeed, a report of the Committee on Commerce and Manufactures, made during the session of 1805, shows that the current had set strongly against the sugar refiners.

Occasionally, Congress discovered that the duties were so high as to check importations. When cocoa, for example, was first taxed in 1789, the duty assessed was one cent per pound. It was afterward raised to two cents, and in 1799 the duty was doubled. The latter rate checked importations. The revenue received from the article when the duty was two cents per pound, was as great as when the duty was doubled. The increased duty, therefore, operated, say a committee who investigated the subject, “ if not to discourage importation, to produce this effect by causing an export of it before manufactured." Another effect of the high rate of duty was to oppress unreasonably the manufacture of chocolate without benefiting in any way the public revenue.

ALBÉRT S. BOLLES.

THE AMERICAN INCUBUS.

ALTHOUGH intelligent men of all parties deplore the present A condition of American politics, and assert the necessity for reforming the civil service, yet many persons who have had nothing to do with politics are unable to see why this point should be so strenuously urged as a sine quâ non, and think that there is an unreasonable hue and cry raised because a few hundred thousands or millions of dollars should be wasted or stolen, and some indefinite number of clerks be uncertain of retaining their positions. These persons read an article about “ The Merit System,” “ Fixity of Tenure,” or “ Competitive Examinations,” without comprehending the personal and local interest which it contains for them. They are not alarmed that we should “depart from the examples of our forefathers,” and are not aware that the vote which they deposited on election day at the back window of a neighboring grog-shop, was arrested on its sovereign mission and placed under the table by an employé of the United States Government. If it be brought to their attention, they admit it is improper that this state of affairs should exist; but they look upon the whole matter as of infinitely less importance than the chance success of the wicked opposition; and they claim that, while these abuses may tend to demoralize Washington, (where they fancy the civil service resides,) yet the will of the people eventually prevails.

If the percentage which gave victory at any recent election be compared with the number of national, State, and municipal em ployés constituting the civil service of the section considered, it will usually be found that the latter, acting in concert, could control the result, even leaving out of consideration their organized facilities for cheating at the polls. Then let it be remembered that, while the disinterested voter probably succeeded in recording his vote for one of two undesirable candidates, yet he had no more chance to express his opinion in the selection of these two bad nominees, than if he had dwelt in Siam.

Does the quiet and respectable citizen who conscientiously votes at every election, suppose that the votes which he casts at primary elections are counted, unless he is one of so contemptible a minority of respectable voters that the various Government and city employés—who are the assessors, judges, inspectors and guardians of the peace at his poll,-good-humoredly permit his feeble ballot to appear ? These persons do this dirty work, not from choice ; they would choose neither pocket-picking nor forgery as an amusement or a profession. Many of them commit few crimes, excepting political ones. They do these from the hard necessity of retaining their petty salaries, and would be as much rejoiced as the most zealous Civil Service Reformer, if this necessity were removed. Others of them think the salary easily earned by light, irregular, irresponsible labor, alternating with crimes against their country and fellow-citizens ; whilst the older ones, having been battered about from one berth to another, do these things with the indifference come of long practice.

A certain example of the latter class now draws a salary from the State of Pennsylvania for performing certain services in a remote part of the State, and, dwelling comfortably in Philadelphia, he visits the scene of his imaginary labors on pay-day, and at other times makes himself useful in his ward, where he is regarded as a very capable judge of primary elections. He boasts that upon one occasion he suppressed all but twenty-three of the ninety votes cast, by holding the ballot which he thought should have been voted by the ninety persons, in the palm of his hand, and, accepting the injudicious one at the window, substituting the one for the other whilst placing it in the box. The feat is considered somewhat difficult, and it redounds greatly to the credit of the judge who demonstrates his proficiency in performing it, and will ensure this gentleman's retention in the civil service of Pennsylvania.

Occasionally, it has happened that some judge may have been elected the previous year who was opposed to the “ machine," or who had become anti-“ machine” during the year. This occurred, not very long since, in a certain locality in Philadelphia, when Lieutenant of Police — - told one of the“ boys ” that he would furnish him with a blank certificate of election as judge of primary elections, signed and ready to fill up with the name of some trusty city employé; and, as the Lieutenant laughing remarked that there was“: no honor in love, war or politics,” he doubtless felt secure in his retention upon the force. Did he do this simply to oblige some "boss politician?” When, subsequently, he, as, is said, did every police lieutenant in Philadelphia ordered his patrolmen, at roll-call, one morning, to subscribe a portion of their hard-earned wages toward a great corruption fund, and not to mention it to the reporters, did he do this from a disinterested desire to assist some hack politician ? When he ordered the patrolmen to leave addresses and tickets at every house on their beats, was it party zeal that actuated him ? When, upon the night of the election, a drunken negro (known as a “coon,") swaggered to and fro in the parlor of the station-house, (where the local politicians were receiving the returns,) Aourishing a revolver in this very abode of the guardians of the peace, and relating his prowess in threatening to shoot another negro because he desired to vote for a candidate now very popular outside of political circles,—when a local “ boss” called upon the “boys” to give “ Jim” something for the work which he had done for the party, and when this otherwise respectable policeman added his two silver dollars to the six with which the negro reeled away,—was it the party of progress and great moral ideas that he was assisting, or his lieutenancy? If you had approached the station-house with some story of murder, or robbery, or terrible accident, this same man would have met you, not only with succor, but with kindly sympathy. Why was he converted into a criminal when politics approached ? Because every station-house contained certain persons who attended to the politics of the division. They acted as brokers in the patronage, and as henchmen in executing the orders of their superiors in influencing primaries and elections. Every patrolman of the precinct might have lost his place at their request, and nearly all owed their appointments to the same. They were middle-men between “ boss "and “ boy." By obeying them alone in matters political, the policemen retained the positions by which they earned their daily bread.

It is to correct these evils that it is desired to appoint policemen on their merits alone, which would constitute Civil Service Reform in this branch of municipal government.

It is the same, and worse, in all the departments. Nearly every man who gains his living in the public service in Philadelphia,whether he be a clerk or a book-keeper in any one of the numerous · municipal and Federal offices, fireman, street cleaner or street

payer, contractor or laborer for any of the departments, or even it he sell coal, provisions, or furniture, to a political club,—is, together with his relatives and associates, converted by necessity

« VorigeDoorgaan »