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gets his cotton, so we get ours.
His buyer buys at gross weights, but he invoices it with six per cent off, to reach the necessary limit of cost. Necessarily, all the cotton retained in America bears its proper relation to the price at Liverpool, or, say, the general market of Europe, as adjusted in this way.
Perhaps I fail to make myself clear in the matter; but there is a level, at any given time, which we may call the commercial level of prices, disregarding the temporary fluctuations and irregularities of local markets.
Now, there is a further fact. All you practical gentlemen will probably bear out the statement, that bagging and bands very seldom reach five per cent of the weight of your cotton. You are buying it at a price, tare on, as if it were six. To that extent you are therefore saving, in comparison with the actual tare. It has been impossible to imbue the legislative mind, in any one of the cotton States, with any other idea than this: that, if the actual tare was taken off, they would lose just so much. We could not persuade them that they would get, in selling to Englishmen, a little more in price than they took off in tare. And a corresponding error has generally prevailed here in New England, that the mills are losing the five or six per cent of tare which they find on the cotton. It would be so if there were no regulator to take it off in the price when the cotton was bought. But the great regulator of the price of the exported portion adjusts that for you, and makes the cost to the New England spinner. That is, the cost to you is precisely the same as it is to the English or German spinner, except difference in transportation. There is no difference between them, one of them getting the allowance in tare; the other, in price.
It is impossible to enact tare laws, except through a union of the Legislatures of the several States, by persuading the Legislatures of the several cotton-growing States that it is for their interest, the interest of their people, to do so; without that persuasion, they certainly will not do it.
Mr. ATKINSON. I certainly think that a committee had better be appointed. It fell to me several years ago to investigate this subject. I therefore took the price of middling cotton, as quoted in Liverpool and as quoted in New York, on even dates, four times a month, through a series of years. I converted the Liverpool price into currency, making allowance
for the difference between gold and currency on each specific date: then, deducting from the Liverpool price the six per cent of tare, I had the comparative price paid in New York and the comparative price paid in Liverpool for the same quantity of clean cotton, and I found that the average difference in our favor, and against Liverpool, was, as I recollect, six-tenths of one cent a pound; which represents three thousand miles of distance, and the cost of loading on board ship. That analysis covered a sufficiently long period of even dates to prove the point. I think Mr. Nourse's position is rightly taken, and that any interference with this matter by law, in any particular State, will only throw the cotton-market away from that State into the others that do not attempt legislative interference. Your remedy for this difficulty is to come, in the slow course of time, in the spread of intelligence, and the application of better methods to the treatment of cotton between the field and the factory, on which we have sometimes had discussion. It is at present as barbarous as may be, both in respect to the nature of the saw-gin, and the nature of many of the processes through which the cotton is passed. There is progress in that direction. The trash-cleaning machine, which was brought by diagram before this Association two or three years ago, has been perfected and improved, and is at work in Texas, and is delivering cleaner and better cotton; and, as far as that goes, a method has been devised of getting the dirt out of the cotton while it is still attached to the seed, and the seed has dead weight sufficient to carry it away from the dirt. Other machines of the same character are being perfected. In short, there is the same improvement going on in the methods of treatment of cotton that there is in the methods of Southern life. You will get your results ultimately; but you cannot hasten them by the action of specific States, in my judgment.
Mr. PAINE. The suggestion made by Mr. Atkinson in regard to the improvements, it seems to me, covers the whole ground of cotton, whether it is exported cotton, or cotton used in this country; and we welcome any improvements that may give us all an advantage. But it seems to me that the question before us has a different bearing. I agree with the gentleman who first spoke (Mr. Nourse), in regard to the improbability of making State legislation bear upon this subject; for we know that it would be almost impossible to get an united South upon
a question of this kind, and we have seen in the State of New York, when once brought to the point, a rebellion rising in the city of New York among the cotton-trade: so that it seems impossible for us to reach the difficulty at that point by legislation. But it does appear to me that the question is of moment enough for us to pursue it with the idea of accomplishing the object; and it appears to me that the only way we can reach it is through our cotton-exchanges.
Now, in regard to the matter of our receiving no benefit, I somewhat disagree with the gentleman who spoke, although my experience, of course, is very much less than his. But, in regard to the matter of price, we all know that the cotton that is exported from this country is not all ordered by the spinner: it is exported by speculators and middlemen, who sell to the spinner, and the spinner has the advantage of this six per cent from the price, which we do not have. In regard to the price, we find that a variation occurs sometimes. We find that
the Liverpool market is to-day nearly a cent a pound higher than the New York quotations for middling upland. There have been times, within the last two months, when the reverse was the case; when New York was higher than Liverpool. The price is governed by the demand and the supply at the spot. It seems to me that if we are able to have this practice universally adopted in this country, we, as spinners, will be placed on the same level with the spinners abroad; and, as the question of exporting goods is coming largely to our attention, it seems to me that this is another reason why we should press this matter for our own benefit. The foreign spinner, as I say, gets the benefit of this six per cent, regardless of prices; for prices are governed in that market by supply and demand, as they are here. It is soon lost sight of, even as the tax was in the time of the war. The tax on cotton was lost sight of in the price; and so we shall find here, if the system is adopted of taking the tare from the cotton universally at the Southern port, that we are placed on the same level with the foreign spinner in regard to tare. As to the matter of the tare not being equal to six per cent, perhaps it may not be in some instances, because our bales are larger than formerly; but if we get bales, as we do sometimes, running from four hundred to four hundred and fifty pounds, I think the tare will very quickly then reach six per cent. If you get large bales, your
tare is not so great. For instance, I had a bale come not long ago that had thirteen hoops upon it. I was somewhat surprised at it, and had the curiosity to ascertain what the tare was upon that bale. When I came to open it, and weigh the tare, I found that it was not half so much as an ordinary bale, with six hoops upon it.
I am glad that others are thinking on this question. I believe it is an important question, and have felt so for a great while; but how to reach the difficulty is the question. I think it can only be reached by our combined thought and combined effort. When I introduced the matter last year, it occurred to me that this Association, in which there was a large body of practical men, could exert an influence which could not be obtained from any other source. It is better than individual effort; it is better than State effort; it is a general effort of manufacturers throughout New England; and I am glad our friend Mr. Goulding has seen fit to urge it forward by moving for the appointment of a committee.
Mr. NOURSE. I see I was not understood. In instituting a comparison between the price of the cotton retained at home, and the price of the cotton for export, I was taking the price in this country for all; the price in Liverpool, or Havre, or Bremen, or Hamburg, having nothing to do with it, except as the price of cotton there determines the limit that should be set to foreign buyers in this country. I sought to make it understood that the price of cotton exported was fixed at the time of its purchase; and it was in the relation between those two portions in this country, and nowhere else, that this equality was established for any given time or date. I should leave out of account fluctuations and irregularities in the market, in the one place or the other, which really have no bearing upon this question. If we were to take into account the relation of prices in New York and Liverpool, it is true that the English spinner who has taken his cotton at Liverpool as wanted for use, and has not imported it himself, in the last four years, has bought his cotton certainly half a penny a pound lower for two of those years, and a penny a pound for the other two, in the average of the season, than he would if he had imported it, and taken it in large quantities, as it is usually taken in this country, because we have had four years of extraordinary fall in prices; in two of them a penny a pound from the opening
of one season to the opening of the next; in another one about three farthings, and in another one a farthing. Now our prices stand just about the same as a year ago. The gentleman refers to the quotations to-day. I think he is mistaken as to a difference of a penny a pound between Liverpool and New York. To-day the price is sixpence farthing for middling, and that just represents the price in New York, eleven and a half cents, because the expenses, and difference in the tare, would make that good. There is where tare comes in. You must add it to the New York price, or take it from the Liverpool price, as you please.
Now, Mr. Chairman, one word of excuse. It is only of the courtesy of the Association, in electing me an honorary member, that I have standing here at all; and it is only upon your call that I take part in the debate. I hope, however, that this subject will be treated fully and thoroughly by the committee which it is proposed to elect.
Mr. GARSED. I had something to do with the meeting or meetings of the cotton manufacturers and planters, to which reference has been made by Mr. Nourse. This subject was before that association upon three or four occasions; and, so far as my understanding of the matter went, the change was urged upon the ground that the American manufacturer did not stand upon the same footing as the Liverpool buyer of cotton. If it is proper to allow a tare of any amount in Liverpool, and no injustice is done, why should it not be universal? Why should we see the cotton-dealers of the city of New York rising up in arms against this law which has been proposed in the Legislature of New York? I do not pretend to say whether it will be effectual or otherwise; but why the opposition?
Now, if I understand the custom in Liverpool, and I think I do, where there is a dispute as to the tare upon cotton, whether it arises from mud or excessive hoops or excessive cloth, as we often have it, or where, perhaps, they do not take the trouble to take off one covering of cloth before putting another on, we have no chance of reclamation: there is no tribunal to which we can appeal. But, if I am correct, in Liverpool a given number of bales are stripped, and the settlement is made, upon the actual tare found upon that number of bales of cotton. Now, if that is the case, why do we not have the tare fixed, when all hands agree, at five or six per cent, and, when there is