GHDI logo

John Prince-Smith: Excerpts from his Collected Writings (1843-63)

Due to dissatisfaction with restrictions on guild rights, protective tariffs, and feudal agricultural law, the idea of free trade gained increasing support. One of the most important proponents of free trade in Germany was the Englishman and Prussian citizen John Prince-Smith (1809-1874). Excerpts from his 1843 and 1845 essays on free trade and protectionism are included here.

print version     return to document list previous document      next document

page 1 of 7

I. On Hostility to Trade (1843)

I believe that I may introduce the following propositions as irrefutable, namely:

that government interference in the course of trade through tariffs can only prohibit profit or compel loss;

that creating certain branches of industry through protective tariffs does not increase employment for labor and capital, but can only provide for a damaging type of employment;

that, without this kind of artificial provision, the capital and labor to be employed in protected trades would find application in free, profit-making trades; — (because the price that the protected trades need to pay for capital and labor is the price that the unprotected trades offer for the same);

that a protective system diminishes the funds for employing workers overall by way of destroying capital;

that entrepreneurs in protected industries have to suffer under the general pressure that the protective system distributes across all members of the nation in the form of increased prices for articles for consumption;

that the protective system puts exotic trades that depend upon restricted sales at home in the place of natural, home-grown branches of production that might win out in world markets;

that an attempt at reprisal by way of protective tariffs only increases the damage to [a country’s] own subjects;

that an attempt to offset a disadvantage arising from a restriction imposed by others with a self-imposed restriction will actually increase the losses to those subjects who were disadvantaged in the first place;

that the entire prohibitive system, which stems from ignorance, aspires to imagined advantages, without any calculation of the costs.

first page < previous   |   next > last page