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A Convention of dealers in shoes and leather was held at Boston, on Wednesday last, March 2d. About 800 delegates were present and they were assembled without distinction of political party. Amasa Walker of Boston was chosen President.

A petition to Congress was prepared, and a Committee chosen to address the people of Massachusetts upon the subject which called the convention together. A committee was also appointed to obtain statistical information respecting the leather business, to be forwarded to the Committee on Manufactures in Congress.

The Convention was addressed by Robert Rantoul, jr., Abbot Lawrence, Emory Washburn and others.

Mr. Lawrence said that the great cause of our trouble, is we buy too much and manufacture too little. We have contracted a debt for foreign goods of two hundred millions of dollars. In regard to borrowing money abroad on State and other stocks, Mr. Lawrence said, at the risk of being called a political heretic, he would say that he should rejoice if we could not borrow another dollar.

Nothing, he observed, but a specific duty on boots and shoes, equal to that of 1832, will do any good. Under the ad valorem duty, the country will be flooded with goods from Russia, Germany, and France. Fine boots can be imported from France for $3 50, equal to those which now sell for $6 and $7: and he had lately seen fine boots imported from Russia, for only $2, which a year ago would have been worth $8 here. Good mechanics can be hired in Europe for $1,75 and $2 a week. They cannot live for that, but what they lack, to keep them from starving, is made up by the parish.

The convention was also addressed by a Mr. Burton, who has recently emigrated to this county from England. He gave a sad account of the sufferings of the laboring classes in England from low wages and the corn laws, and made a powerful appeal to the mechanics of his adopted country to stand firm against the delusion of free trade.

(c) Pocumtuck Valley Memorial Association, Deerfield MA. All rights reserved.
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In 1842, the shoe and leather industry was an important source of jobs and income for may people in Massachusetts. This convention was called because of the concern about the lack of tariffs that would help prohibit cheap imports. In 1832, a tariff act was passed which assessed specific rates of taxes to imports. This very unpopular tariff was modified by the Compromise Tariff of 1833, which lowered the tariff rates over a period of ten years to the point where most goods would be taxed at 20%. As this rate approached, members of the Whig Party called for protection from competition from European manufacturers. The speaker quoted here cites prices of goods, as well as claiming that the workers in Europe do not make a living wage, but are subsidized. The Tariff of 1842 was finally passed, and restored protection from cheap European goods by raising the rates to around 40%.


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"Shoe and Leather Dealers' Convention" article in The Hampshire Gazette newspaper

publisher   Hampshire Gazette
date   Mar 8, 1842
location   Northampton, Massachusetts
height   9.75"
width   3.75"
process/materials   printed paper, ink
accession #   #L10.016

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See Also...

Work shoe


"Boots, Shoes & Rubbers for Everybody at Sovereign's Cash Shoe Store"

"Statistical Information Relating to Certain Branches of Industry in Massachusetts For the Year Ending June 1, 1855"

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