Single sheet, folded, a 2pp. letter signed, from Edward Everett, approx. 480 words, old fold lines, a single line of text on the recto of the integral leaf, Everett's name and date on the verso, else not addressed. The letter, addressed "Dear Sir" was evidently written to Judge Alexander Porter (1785-1844), a state Supreme Court justice in Louisiana at the time, and a slave owner with a sugar plantation. The letter defends the tariff as an important device for protecting the valuation of slaves in the south, particularly in sugar producing Louisiana. A remarkable attempt to frame the tariff as beneficial to the southern states.
Everett mentions that their "mutual friend, Mr. [Josiah] Johnston, read me yesterday part of a letter from you in which the subject of the Tarif [sic] is attended to, and in which you suggest a consideration, which, though it has passed through my mind before, never struck it, with so much force. I allude to your remark, that the sugar culture of Louisiana, by enhancing or at least keeping up the price of Slaves, adds, in fact, essentially to the value of that property throughout all the slaveholding states." Everett asserts that this "benefit" to the plantation owners therefore makes the tariff of more benefit to the south than to other parts of the Union. He continues his calculations estimating the number of slaves to be "roundly at 2,000,000," and their average value approximately $200 each, with a population "constantly increasing in numbers." Everett also projects that the sugar culture is well protected by the duties imposed by the tariff and that it will be some time before domestic demand slows. He asks Porter to advise him on points related to defending the tariff in the south: "Fancy yourself called on to oppose the repeal of the duty on sugar, and favor me with the brief of the speech you would make." Item #63381
Following the War of 1812, the U.S. Congress enacted several tariff bills to protect and promote the fledgling American manufacturing industries. Henry Clay and his fellow congressmen outlined an "American System" based on principles of economic independence and national self-sufficiency one component of which was a protective tariff system. The import duties came under fire from the southern states which believed them to have a crippling economic effect on Southern agriculture. The Tariff of 1828, which became known in the south as the "Tariff of Abominations" particularly rankled South Carolina and would lead to its threats to secede from the Union, and its "Ordinance of Nullification" in 1832.
Edward Everett, a Whig, served as a representative to Congress from the state of Massachusetts from 1825-1835, aligning himself with Clay and President John Quincy Adams. He later served as Governor of Massachusetts, president of Harvard, a U.S. Senator from that state, and as Pres. Fillmore's Secretary of State. Notably, he gave a lengthy address at Gettysburg at the dedication of the national cemetery there, before turning the stage over to President Lincoln in 1863.
Alexander Porter was the owner of Oaklawn Manor on the Bayou Teche in Louisiana, and made his fortune in sugar. Along with Everett and his friend Sen. Josiah Johnston of Louisiana, Porter was a strong supporter of the Union and the American System. He did not view the tariff as destructive to southern agricultural markets. After serving as a state Supreme Court justice from 1821-1833, he was selected U.S. Senator from Louisiana to succeed Johnston who died in office in 1833. This letter was purchased at a sale which included a large collection of Porter family papers and was identified as being written by Everett to Porter.