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What Can Be Got In America
by [?]

“Yes,” said Jenny, “I am quite sure that there are hundreds who have been buying foreign goods who would not do it if they could see any connection between their not doing it and the salvation of the country; but when I go to buy a pair of gloves, I naturally want the best pair I can find, the pair that will last the longest and look the best, and these always happen to be French gloves.”

“Then,” said Miss Featherstone, “I never could clearly see why people should confine their patronage and encouragement to works of their own country. I’m sure the poor manufacturers of England have shown the very noblest spirit with relation to our cause, and so have the silk weavers and artisans of France,–at least, so I have heard; why should we not give them a fair share of encouragement, particularly when they make things that we are not in circumstances to make, have not the means to make?”

“Those are certainly sensible questions,” I replied, “and ought to meet a fair answer, and I should say that, were our country in a fair ordinary state of prosperity, there would be no reason why our wealth should not flow out for the encouragement of well-directed industry in any part of the world; from this point of view we might look on the whole world as our country, and cheerfully assist in developing its wealth and resources. But our country is now in the situation of a private family whose means are absorbed by an expensive sickness, involving the life of its head: just now it is all we can do to keep the family together; all our means are swallowed up by our own domestic wants; we have nothing to give for the encouragement of other families, we must exist ourselves; we must get through this crisis and hold our own, and, that we may do it, all the family expenses must be kept within ourselves as far as possible. If we drain off all the gold of the country to send to Europe to encourage her worthy artisans, we produce high prices and distress among equally worthy ones at home, and we lessen the amount of our resources for maintaining the great struggle for national existence. The same amount of money which we pay for foreign luxuries, if passed into the hands of our own manufacturers and producers, becomes available for the increasing expenses of the war.”

“But, papa,” said Jenny, “I understood that a great part of our governmental income was derived from the duties on foreign goods, and so I inferred that the more foreign goods were imported the better it would be.”

“Well, suppose,” said I, “that for every hundred thousand dollars we send out of the country we pay the government ten thousand; that is about what our gain as a nation would be: we send our gold abroad in a great stream, and give our government a little driblet.”

“Well, but,” said Miss Featherstone, “what can be got in America? Hardly anything, I believe, except common calicoes.”

“Begging your pardon, my dear lady,” said I, “there is where you and multitudes of others are greatly mistaken. Your partiality for foreign things has kept you ignorant of what you have at home. Now I am not blaming the love of foreign things: it is not peculiar to us Americans; all nations have it. It is a part of the poetry of our nature to love what comes from afar, and reminds us of lands distant and different from our own. The English belles seek after French laces; the French beauty enumerates English laces among her rarities; and the French dandy piques himself upon an English tailor. We Americans are great travelers, and few people travel, I fancy, with more real enjoyment than we; our domestic establishments, as compared with those of the Old World, are less cumbrous and stately, and so our money is commonly in hand as pocket-money, to be spent freely and gayly in our tours abroad.