Calhoun's 1811 Letter to Congress Regarding Free Trade

December 3rd, 1811
United States House of Representatives

Although Mr. Speaker, I believe, under existing circumstances, a war attitude necessary, or at least preparatory steps calculated to meet that event; and although situated as we are, I am for the whole of our legitimate rights; yet sir, I would not be willing to involve the country in war, in defence of the extensive and circuitous carrying trade, separate from the other causes; that is, that we should become carriers for the whole world; as Government receives no benefit from this circuitous carrying trade, only as it is calculated to aggrandize a few individuals engaged in it. I should be for holding fast the claim to the circuitous carrying trade, and would be willing to operate on our enemies by adopting countervailing restrictive systems. But, sir, I would not be willing, that the good of the States, the good of the people, the agriculturists and mechanics, should be put at hazard to gratify the avarice and cupidity of a small class of men, who in fact may be called citizens of the world, attached to no particular country; any country is their country where they can make the most money. But, sir, for what is an inherent right, for what I deem the legitimate, or necessary carrying trade, the liberty of carrying our productions to foreign markets, and with the return cargo, in which agriculture is particularly interested, I would fight in defence of.

Source: John C. Calhoun, Speech, in Annals of Congress, 12th Cong., 1st Sess., pages 482-483, 487.