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light in which I contemplated my duty required that I should renounce every pecuniary compensation. From this resolution I have in no instance departed. And being still under the impressions which produced it, I must decline, as inapplicable to myself, any share in the personal emoluments, which may be indispensably included in a permanent provision for the executive department; and must accordingly pray that the pecuniary estimates for the station in which I am placed, may, during my continuance in it, be limited to such actual expenditures as the public good may be thought to require.
Having thus imparted to you my sentiments, as they have been awakened by the occasion which brings us together, I shall take my present leave; but not without resorting once more to the benign Parent of the human race, in humble supplication, that since he has been pleased to favor the American people, with opportunities for deliberating in perfect tranquillity, and dispositions for deciding with unparalleled unanimity on a form of government, for the security of their union, and the advancement of their happiness; so his divine blessing may be equally conspicuous in the enlarged views, the temperate consultations, and the wise measures on which the success of this government must depend.
. On the 3d of January, 1794, the house of representatives resolved
itself into a committee of the whole, on the report of Mr. Jefferson, Secretary of State,“On the nature and extent of the privileges and restrictions of the commercial intercourse of the United States with foreign nations, and the measures which he thought proper to be adopted for the improvement of the commerce and navigation of the same," when Mr. Madison introduced a series of resolutions, proposing to impose “ further restrictions and higher duties, in certain cases, on the manufactures and navigation of foreign nations, employed in the commerce of the United States, than those now imposed.” On the 13th, Mr. Smith addressed the committee as follows :
MR. CHAIRMAN, Among the various duties which are assigned by the constitution to the legislature of the United States, there is perhaps none of a more important nature than the regulation of commerce, none more generally interesting to our fellow-citizens, none which more seriously claims our diligent and accurate investigation.
It so essentially involves our navigating, agricultural, commercial and manufacturing interests, that an apology for the prolixity of the observations which I am about to submit to the committee, will scarcely be requisite.
In the view which I shall take of the question, disengaging the inquiry from all topics of a political nature, I shall strictly confine myself to those which are commercial, and which alone are, in my judgment, properly connected with the subject.
Called upon to decide on propositions, merely commercial, and springing from a report, in its nature limited to commercial regulations, it would be as illtimed, as it would be irregular, to mingle with the discussion considerations of a political nature. I shall accordingly reject from the inquiry every idea which has reference to the Indians, the Algerines, or the Western Posts. Whenever those subjects require our deliberations, I shall not yield to any member in readiness to vindicate the honor of our country and to concur in such measures as our best interests may demand.
This line of procedure will, I trust, be deemed by those gentlemen who follow me the only proper one, and that the debate will be altogether confined to commercial views; these will of themselves open a field of discussion sufficiently spacious, without the intervention of arguments derived from other sources. It would indeed argue a weakness of ground in the friends of the propositions, and imply a distrust of the merits of their cause, were they compelled to bolster it up
with such auxiliaries, and to resort for support to arguments, not resulting from the nature of the subject, but from irrelative and extraneous considerations.
The propositions, as well as the report, being predicated upon facts and principles having relation to our commerce and navigation with foreign countries, by those facts and principles, and those alone, ought, the propositions to stand or fall.
It will not be denied, that this country is at present in a very delicate crisis, and one requiring dispassionate reflection, cool and mature deliberation. It will be much to be regretted then, if passion should usurp
the place of reason; if superficial, narrow and prejudiced views should mislead the public councils from the true path of national interest.
The report of the secretary of state, on the privileges and restrictions on the commerce of the United States in foreign countries, is now before the committee. The tendency of that report, (whatever may have been the design of the reporter,) appears to be, to induce a false estimate of the comparative condition of our commerce with certain foreign nations, and to urge the legislature to adopt a scheme of retaliating regulations, restrictions and exclusions.
The most striking contrast, which the performance evidently aims at, is between Great Britain and France. For this reason, and as these are the two powers with whom we have the most extensive relations in trade, I shall
, by a particular investigation of the subject, endeavor to lay before the committee an accurate and an impartial comparison of the commercial systems of the two countries in reference to the United States, as a test of the solidity of the inferences which are attempted to be established by the report. A fair comparison can only be made with an eye to what may be deemed
the permanent system of the countries in question. The proper epoch for it, therefore, will precede the commencement of the pending French revolution.
The commercial regulations of France, during the period of the revolution, have been too fluctuating, too, much influenced by momentary impulses, and, as far as they have looked towards this country with a favorable eye, too much manifesting an object of the moment, which cannot be mistaken, to consider them as a part of a system. But though the comparison will be made with principal reference to the condition of our trade with France and Great Britain antecedent to the existing revolution, the regulations of the subsequent period will perhaps not be passed over altogether unnoticed.
The table which I have before me, comprises the
principal features of the subject within a short compass. It is the work of a gentleman of considerable commercial knowledge, and I believe may be relied on for its correctness. An attentive reference to it will, with some supplementary remarks, convey a just conception of the object. A view to conciseness and simplicity has excluded from it all articles (the production and manufactures of the United States,) which are not of considerable importance.
Accustomed as our ears have been to a constant panegyric on the generous policy of France towards this country in commercial relations, and to as constant a philippic on the unfriendly, illiberal and persecuting policy of Great Britain towards us in the same relations, we naturally expect to find, in a table which exhibits their respective systems, numerous discriminations in that of France in our favor, and many valuable privileges granted to us, which are refused to other foreign countries; in that of Great Britain, frequent discriminations to our prejudice, and a variety of privileges refused to us, which are granted to other foreign nations. But an inspection of the table will satisfy every candid mind that the reverse of what has been supposed is truly the case; that neither in France nor the French West Indies is there more than one solitary and unimportant distinction in our favor, (I mean the article of fish oil,) either with regard to our exports thither, our imports from thence, or our shipping; that both in Great Britain and the British West Indies, there are several material distinctions in our favor, with regard both to our exports thither and to our imports from thence, and, as it respects Great Britain, with regard also to our shipping; that in the market of Great Britain a preference is secured to six of our most valuable staples, by considerably higher duties on the riyal articles of other foreign countries; that our navigation thither is favored by our ships, when carrying our own productions, being put upon as good a footing as their own ships, and by the exemption of se