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tion. It was the aid of the Boston Mechanics that was relied upon, on all occasions. They planned, they advised, and they enforced measures the wisdom of which is acknowledged every where to the present day.
I have shown that the American Government and the first Constitution of these United States, were the work originally of the Mechanics. It has always been the fortune of the Mechanics to be the back-bone of the prosperity of the country. Standing armies are sometimes necessary for particular occasions, but there is a standing soldiery of moral power necessary in every nation as a reserve to be relied upon to secure permanency. That moral power in this country is the Mechanic interest, and the good work which the Mechanics began they have ever since been relied upon to finish.
One of the most noted incidents in the history of the present year, is that of the Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace at London, and it will furnish to the world an assurance of two remarkable truths :That our Mechanics are among the first in the world; and that England's supremacy in all things no longer exists. However ardently we may have desired the one, and however reluctantly they may acknowledge the other, both facts are now indisputable. I am far from desiring to attribute unworthy motives to others, but I have looked upon this project of the English, from its first promulgation, as an effort to keep alive the old war upon all other countries, and especially upon America. The mind that conceived and the heads that carried out that project were sagacious; and if they did not succeed entirely to their satisfaction, it was not for want of well-directed effort.
The boasted empire of the seas belonged to England ; she once controlled the trade of the world; and she was once the manufacturer for all nations. But a change was felt to be coming over her prosperity. Her statesmen saw it. And it was necessary to stay the current that slowly but surely was running against her power. It is unnecessary to detail the struggles that have, from time to time been made, to force upon America her goods, nor the successful efforts Americans have made, by means of systems of internal improvement and tariffs for the protection of domestic industrysystems reluctantly adopted at last, after long opposition from the Merchants and much debate among the Politicians at Washington-systems only adopted in obedience to the moral weight of the representatives of the mechanic interest.
But I may be pardoned if I take up a few moments of your time in referring to well authenticated facts, to show what feelings and principles have always governed British statesmen. As long ago as 1699, a systematic course of restrictions on colonial manufactures was commenced, and Lord Chatham said in Parliament that “he would not have the Americans make even a hobnail,” a sentiment that was echoed by many of his hearers, and to which another member of that body added, “nor a razor to shave their beards." In 1816, the present Lord Brougham said that it was
well worth while, by a glut, to stifle in the cradle those rising manufactories in the United States which the then late war had forced into existence. Another British minister confessed, long ago, that the British policy was nothing more nor less than to get a monopoly of all markets, and to prevent other nations, one and all, from engaging in manufactures. And English writers on the subject of trade have always complained, because the surplus of their manufactures could not be forced upon the United States along with the surplus of their pauper population.
Here is the secret origin of the World's Fair at London. The world was to be invited, and the world was invited, to send specimens of the products of all nations to England for exhibition. Products of the earth and of the sea were not excluded, it is true ; but the products of the loom and the anvil, of the bench and the workshop, were what was particularly desired. The great glass museum was well filled with curiosities from all other points of the compass, the North and the East and the South, but not from the West. And when the large space that was so generously appropriated to the Americans was found to be almost tenantless, or at best occupied with only a few Yankee notions, a feeling of disappointment was exhibited by all parties. The end and aim of the scheme had not been attained; and the Americans, instead of being . seduced into the folly of showing to the British manufacturers on their own ground, samples of all the wares which are saleable in this
country, to be copied and sent back to us in a glut, are able, for a time at least, to keep possession of their own legitimate field of operations.
I am aware that I may be told that this is not so clearly the sole object had in view by the English, in establishing this great World's Fair ; and it is true that we have few or no secrets, as to the state of our trades, that cannot easily be obtained by other and less gigantic means.
Curious and plodding agents, coming to this country, can see for themselves and make report to their masters at home.
But to accomplish the whole object would require time and laborious research, in the hands of many and pecuJiarly and practically instructed men. Such has been the plan of operations heretofore, and it has not been successful ; for while one kind of manufacture was in the course of being ruined, another was springing into existence to take its place. Lord Brougham's glut, could in this way effect but one trade at a time; but let all our manufacturers exhibit their wares at one time, on the very doors of their English rivals, and they would stand a very good chance of being ruined, at one single blow, by having similar goods forced, at all risk and at any cost, upon all the markets of the world to which we now have access,
Our Mechanics and our Manufacturers would thus be crippled at once, and through their own folly.
The exhibitions by the different Mechanic Associations in this country are altogether of a different character, and are calculated to have a different effect. It is not necessary here to speak of those
even our own.
of our own Society, for their benefits to our own people are too well known to be repeated. They encourage instead of ruining ourselves, and their tendency thus far has been to increase still more, from year to year, the power and influence of the Mechanics as a distinct class. Of our own exhibitions, the last was eminently the most successful and useful ; the volume containing the reports of the different committees of judges is not only valuable as a history of new inventions, but as showing the progress of our Mechanics in intelligence and knowledge. Although we have been successful in competing with other nations, and have shown the world that the American Mechanics stand unrivalled for invention and improvement, for integrity and intelligence, they have many lessons yet to learn before they can claim the merit of supremacy.
The Mechanics of this country commenced the building of an empire destined to become larger than all the rest of the civilized world ; and their work, so well begun, has been nobly carried out. But it cannot be denied that, up to the present time, in respect to matters belonging more immediately to our productions, we have done more for invention than for perfection. Our artisans have discovered, patented and published to the world many modes of saving labor, of increasing mechanical power, and reducing expense. But in many instances we have left our machines, although skillfully arranged and with principles well laid out, for others to complete. Other nations have been ready to take advantage of our remissness in this respect, and hence the great