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Free Trade

Henry George: In Liverpool: The Financial Reform Meeting at the Liverpool Rotunda (1889)

You are right, Mr. Garrison. The true republic, the American Republic that we hope for and pray is not yet here. (Hear, hear) A poor thing is a republic where the tramp jostles the millionaire, where liberty is mocked by a paternal system of interference with human rights, where, under the pretext of protecting labor, labor is robbed! (Cheers) And here, in the motherland, in the United States, in Australia and New Zealand, we of the English tongue find the same difficulties confronting us. Liberty is not yet here; but, thank God, she is coming. (Cheers) Not merely the American Republic, not merely the Republic of the Southern Cross, not merely the Republic of Great Britain and Ireland is it that we see in the future, but that great republic that some day is to confederate the English speaking people everywhere (loud cheers) that is to bring a grander "Roman peace" to the world. (A voice: More than that.) Aye, more than that — that is to bring civilization as much higher, as much better than what we call a Christian civilization, as this is higher and better than barbarism. And already, in meetings such as this, it seems to me that I feel an earnest [presentiment] of the coming time when we of one blood and one speech are also to be one. (Cheers) For the same principles, for the same great cause that we stand in the United States we stand here. And in a little over a week from now I will be standing on an American platform speaking to men whose hearts are beating in the same cause in which we are engaged here. (Cheers)

Our little local politics may differ; our greater politics are one and the same. We have the same evils to redress, the same truth to propagate, the same end to seek.

And that end, what is it but liberty? (Hear, hear) He who listens to the voice of Freedom, she will lead and lead him on. Before I was born, before our friend there was born, there was in a southern city of the United States a young printer bearing the name William Lloyd Garrison. (Cheers) He saw around him the iniquity of negro slavery. (Hear, hear) The voice of the oppressed cried to him and would not let him rest, and he took up the cross. He became the great apostle of human liberty, and today in American cities that once hooted and stoned him there are now statues raised to William Lloyd Garrison.

He began as a protectionist. As he moved on he saw that liberty meant something more than simply the abolition of chattel slavery. He saw that liberty also meant, not merely the right to freely labor for oneself, but the right to freely exchange one's production, and, from a protectionist, William Lloyd Garrison became a free trader. (Cheers)

And now, when the first is gone, the second comes forward, to take one further step to realize that for perfect freedom there must also be freedom in the use of natural opportunities. (Hear, hear, and cheers)

We have come . . . to the same point by converging lines. Why is freedom of trade good? Simply that trade — exchange — is but a mode of production. Therefore, to secure full free trade we must also secure freedom to the natural opportunities of production. (Hear, hear) Our production—what is it? We produce from what? From land. All human production consists but in working up the raw materials that we find in nature — consists simply in changing in place, or in form, that matter which we call land. To free production there must be no monopoly of the natural element. Even in our methods we agree primarily on this essential point — that everyone ought to be free to exert his labor, to retain or to exchange its fruits, unhampered by restrictions, unvexed by the tax gatherer. (Hear, hear) . . .

Chattel slavery, thank God, is abolished at last. Nowhere, where the American flag flies, can one man be bought, or sold, or held by another. (Cheers) But a great struggle still lies before us now. Chattel slavery is gone; industrial slavery remains. The effort, the aim of the abolitionists of this time is to abolish industrial slavery. (Cheers)

The free trade movement in England was a necessary step in this direction. The men who took part in it did more than they knew. Striking at restrictions in the form of protection, aiming at emancipating trade by reducing tariffs to a minimum for revenue only, they aroused a spirit that yet goes further. There sits, in the person of my friend, Mr. Briggs [Thomas Briggs], one of the men of that time, one of the men who, not stopping, has always aimed a a larger freedom, one of the men who today hails what we in the United States call the single tax movement, as the natural outcome and successor of the movement which Richard Cobden led.39 (A voice: "Three cheers for Mr. Briggs," and cheers)

And here, in your Financial Reform Association, you have the society that has best preserved the best spirit of that time, that has never cried "Hold!" [and] that has always striven to move forward to a fuller and a brighter day. (Hear, hear)

In the United States, carried away by the heat of the great struggle, we allowed protection to build itself up. We have to now make the fight that you have partially won over here; but, in making that fight, we make the fight for full and absolute free trade. I don't believe that protection can ever be abolished in the United States until a majority of the people have been brought to see the absurdity and the wickedness of all tariffs, whether protective or for revenue only (hear, hear); have been brought to realize the deep truth of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man; have been led to see what Mr. Garrison has so eloquently said, that the interests of mankind are harmonious, not antagonistic, that one nation cannot profit at the expense of another, but that every people is benefited by the advance of other peoples — (cheers) — until we shall aim at a free trade that will enable the citizen of England to enter the ports of the United States as freely as today, the citizen of Massachusetts crosses into New York. (Cheers) ... read the whole speech

Rev. A. C. Auchmuty: Gems from George, a themed collection of excerpts from the writings of Henry George (with links to sources)

LET us try to trace the genesis of civilization. Gifted alone with the power of relating cause and effect, man is among all animals the only producer in the true sense of the term. . . . But the same quality of reason which makes him the producer, also, wherever exchange becomes possible, makes him the exchanger. And it is along this line of exchanging that the body economic is evolved and develops, and that all the advances of civilization are primarily made. . . . With the beginning of exchange or trade among men this body economic begins to form, and in its beginning civilization begins. . . . To find an utterly uncivilized people, we must find a people among whom there is no exchange or trade. Such a people does not exist, and, as far as our knowledge goes, never did. To find a fully civilized people, we must find a people among whom exchange or trade is absolutely free, and has reached the fullest development to which human desires can carry it. There is, as yet, unfortunately, no such people. — The Science of Political Economyunabridged: Book I, Chapter 5, The Meaning of Political Economy: The Origin and Genesis of Civilizationabridged: Chapter 4, The Origin and Genesis of Civilization

WHEN we, come to analyze production, we find it to fall into three modes, viz::
ADAPTING, or changing natural products either in form or in place so as to fit them for the satisfaction of human desire.
GROWING, or utilizing the vital forces of nature, as by raising vegetables or animals.
EXCHANGING, or utilizing, so as to add to the general sum of wealth, the higher powers of those natural forces which vary with locality, or of those human forces which vary with situation, occupation, or character. — Progress & Poverty — Book III, Chapter 3, The Laws of Distribution: of Interest and the Cause of Interest

THESE modes seem to appear and to assume importance, in the development of human society, much in the order here given. They originate from the increase of the desires of men with the increase of the means of satisfying them, under pressure of the fundamental law of political economy, that men seek to satisfy their desires with the least exertion. In the primitive stage of human life the readiest way of satisfying desires is by adapting to human use what is found in existence. In a later and more settled stage it is discovered that certain desires can be more easily and more fully satisfied by utilizing the principle of growth and reproduction, as by cultivating vegetables and breeding animals. And in a still later period of development, it becomes obvious that certain desires can be better and more easily satisfied by exchange, which brings out the principle of co-operation more fully and powerfully than could obtain among unexchanging economic units. — The Science of Political Economy unabridged: Book III, Chapter 2, The Production of Wealth: The Three Modes of Production abridged: Part III, Chapter 2, The Production of Wealth: The Three Modes of Production

"COME with me," said Richard Cobden, as John Bright turned heart-stricken from a new-made grave. "There are in England women and children dying with hunger — with hunger made by the laws. Come with me, and we will not rest until we repeal those laws."

In this spirit the free trade movement waxed and grew, arousing an enthusiasm that no mere fiscal reform could have aroused. And intrenched though it was by restricted suffrage and rotten boroughs and aristocratic privilege, protection was overthrown in Great Britain.

And — there is hunger in Great Britain still, and women and children yet die of it.

But this is not the failure of free trade. When protection had been abolished and a revenue tariff substituted for a protective tariff, free trade had only won an outpost. That women and children still die of hunger in Great Britain arises from the failure of the reformers to go on. Free trade has not yet been tried in Great Britain. Free trade in its fulness and entirety would indeed abolish hunger. — Protection or Free Trade — Chapter 26: True Free Trade - econlib -|- abridged 

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