This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
The Chinese raise tea and silk. This is their specialty, the form of industry to them most profitable. The Cubans produce sugar; and the Sicilians, oranges, for the same reason. England excels all nations in useful manufactures; France, in those of taste and beauty; while the United States has its great industrial power in cotton and wheat.
Under the operation of natural laws, each country employs and disposes of its labor, without any arbitrary enactments, in just the way most congenial and profitable; in other words, in that way which develops its greatest industrial power, and secures the largest possible production.
Suppose, on the contrary, that we of the United States should determine to raise our own oranges. We could do so, and create a supply equal to the demand. The cost of one orange would probably be equal to the cost of raising a bushel of wheat, which would procure for us abroad one hundred oranges. The loss would be equal to ninety-nine out of every hundred oranges. We should force a certain part of the labor engaged in other pursuits into the business of raising oranges. The supply would be fully equal to the demand; for, at the rate of a bushel of wheat for each orange, few oranges would be wanted. The people would lose the enjoyment of ninety-nine out of every hundred oranges they would otherwise consume, and could just as well have, if allowed to pay for them in wheat.
If we turn to the advantages alleged * of the division of labor individually, we shall find that each one of them holds good in the application of the principle territorially. Indeed, it may be assumed that it is here more active and efficient, since the differences of communities range higher than those of individuals. On the other hand, the limitations prescribed are indefinitely removed when we come to the field of national industry; and the disadvantages disappear altogether. That would be a bold philosophy that should declare a people one-sided which does not produce every thing it consumes. So far from being considered a defect, that races or nationalities should develop very strongly in special directions, it is highly desirable. While it takes nothing from the individual excellence, each contributes with a greater generosity to the completeness of the whole.
* See Production, ch. iv. el seq. Chapter IV. The Advantages Of Division of Labor
From these general considerations of trade, we deduce the following principles: —
1st, That individuals must produce a surplus of their own commodities to have an opportunity to trade, and must trade to make it an object to produce a surplus. Wants create wealth, and wealth creates wants.
2d, That every nation is interested in the production of every other nation. Any thing which impedes the production of any individual or community injures the trade of the world. Such causes, for example, are pestilence, as the cholera, yellow-fever, and plague; the convulsions of nature, as earthquakes and inundations; war, as in the case of the late war in India, which sensibly affected the trade of the world, and, still more striking and recent, in the case of the great Rebellion in the United States, which was felt, it may almost be said, by every human- being on the globe. Not a consumer of cotton, high or low, civilized or savage, but suffered in consequence.
3d, That this mutual interest exists between any two nations, whether they have direct commercial intercourse or not. For example : there may be a German principality that purchases nothing of the United States, yet it may purchase largely of the cotton yarn of England. That causes a demand for American cotton ; that benefits the Southern States; that, in turn, helps the trade of the North; and that, again, the producers of the West, on whom the North depends for agricultural supplies.
By such ramifications, exchange extends itself through the world.
4th, Since, by the laws of trade, those countries which lie most remote from each other, and are most unlike in soil, climate, civilization, and ethnical characteristics, are most nearly united by commerce, it is shown, that, by this territorial division of labor, the most extended production and the most beneficent distribution of all the commodities of the earth are secured; and that, if any nation creates an article of peculiar desirableness, it is placed within the reach of all. Every invention or improvement becomes, in this way, the common property of mankind.
5th, That commerce harmonizes all differences in the industry of the world.
"All Nature's difference makes all Nature's peace."
Any natural impediment or artificial obstruction to the intercourse of nations, in fact, so far injures the production and trade of all.
" A commercial nation," says Sir James Mackintosh, " has the same interest in the wealth of her neighbors that a tradesman has in the wealth of his customers. . . . Not an acre of land has been brought into cultivation in the wilds of Siberia, or on the shores of the Mississippi, which has not widened the market for English industry." and the Indiaman of England bringing home the stored treasures of barbarism influenced the cupidity of governments to the point of war. But as commerce abandoned the spoils of conquest for the honest industry of the world, as its field became widened, its connections more intimate, its benefits more popular, the temptation to plunder and violence died away. The advantages of a peaceful participation in trade are greater to every people, even those least maritime, than all that could be hoped from the ravages of a Drake or a Doria. The whole interest of commerce is now the inalienable ally of peace. It has not been found sufficient, thus far, to prevent all wars. But it enters into negotiations, tempers grievances, and delays violence. And when, in spite of its admonitions, war is declared and waged, it remains still an argument for peace more impressive and influential by reason of the distresses and inconveniences attending the loss of accustomed traffic.