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veral of our productions, when carried in our ships, from duties which are paid on the like articles of other foreign countries carried in the ships of those countries; that several of our productions may be carried from the United States to the British West Indies, while the like productions cannot be carried thither from any other foreign country; and that several of the productions of those countries may be brought from thence to the United States, which cannot be carried from thence to any other foreign country.
These important differences in the systems of the two countries will appear more fully by passing in review each article, and presenting, at the same time, the remarks which it will suggest.
[Here Mr. Smith entered into a critical examina-tion of our export trade with France and Great Britain, from which he drew an inference, that Great Britain and her dominions consumed annually a much greater amount of our commodities than France and her dominions, and consequently, that Great Britain was a much better customer, as a consumer, than France. He then proceeded to take a view of our import trade with those countries, from which he drew the conclusion, that Great Britain was our best furnisher as well as our best customer. Mr. Smith next adverted to our navigation with France and England. After going into a detail of facts upon this subject, he proceeded thus]
We find then, upon a comprehensive and particular investigation of the system of Great Britain, that instead of its wearing an aspect particularly unfriendly towards us, it has in fact a contrary aspect; that compared with other foreign nations, it makes numerous and substantial discriminations in our favor; that it secures by means, which operate as bounties upon our commodities, a preference in her markets to the greatest number of our principal productions, and thereby materially promotes our agriculture and commerce ; that in the system of France there is but a
single and not very important instance of a similar kind; that if France allows us some advantages of navigation in her islands, she allows the same advantages to all other foreign nations, while Great Britain allows advantages to our navigation with herself directly which she does not allow to other foreign nations; that if France admits our salted fish into her West India islands, she does it under such duties upon ours and such premiums upon her own as would exclude us from them, if she had capacity to supply herself, while she formally prohibits our flour; that if Great Britain excludes our fish from her islands, she freely admits our flour; that while France, as far as we are permitted to trade with her islands, lets in other foreign nations to a competition with us on equal , terms, Great Britain excludes from a competition with most of the articles of the United States, which she admits into the islands, the like articles of other foreign countries; that while France permits us to be supplied directly from her islands with nothing more than she permits to other nations, and with only the two articles of molasses and rum, Great Britain allows us to be supplied directly from her islands with a considerable number of essential articles, and refuses a direct supply of those articles to other foreign countries; that if the system of France is somewhat more favorable to our navigation, that of Great Britain is far more favorable to our agriculture, our commerce, and to the due and comfortable supply of our wants; that Great Britain is a better furnisher than France of the articles we want, from other foreign countries, and a better customer for what we have to sell; and that the actual relations of commerce between the United States and Great Britain are more extensive and important than between the United States and France, and it may be added, or any other country in the world, for our trade with France is no doubt second in importance.
Where then is the ground for extolling the liberal
policy of France, the superior importance of our commercial connexion with her, and for exclaiming against the illiberal and oppressive policy of Great Britain, and for representing our intercourse with her as secondary in consequence and utility? There is none. 'Tis altogether a deception which has been long successfully practised upon the people of the United States, and which it is high time we should unmask.
If we pass_from the fact of the footing of our commerce with France and Great Britain to the principles and motives of their respective systems, we shall find as little room for eulogium on the one as censure on the other. Candor will assign to both the same station in our good or bad opinion.
Both (like other nations) have aimed at securing the greatest possible portion of benefit to themselves, with no greater concession to our interests than was supposed to coincide with their own.
The colonial system of France is the great theme of the plaudits of her partizans. The detail
, already entered into respecting it, will now be further elucidated by a concise view of its general principles and progress.
An ordinance of the year 1727, like the British navigation act, had given to the mother country a monopoly of the trade of the colonies, and had entirely excluded foreigners from it.
Experience having shown, as we learn from an ordinance of 30th August, 1784, that it was necessary to moderate the rigor of that system, small relaxations from time to time accordingly took place, and by the ordinance just mentioned, more important alterations were made.
That ordinance establishes several free ports in the French islands, one at St. Lucie, one at Martinique, one at Guadaloupe, one at Tobago, and three at St. Domingo, and grants permission, till the king should please otherwise to ordain," to foreign vessels of at
least sixty tons burthen to carry to those free ports wood of all kinds, pit coal, live animals, salted beef, but not pork, salted cod and fish, rice, Indian corn, vegetables, green hides in the hair or tanned, peltry, turpentine and tar, and to take from the same ports, molasses, rum and merchandizes which had been imported from France, charging the articles which are permitted to be imported, with the duties stated in the table.
The steps which succeeded that ordinance, calculated to narrow its operation in regard to the article of fish, have been already noted so particularly as to render a recapitulation unnecessary.
It is sufficient to repeat that they manifested on this point a decided disposition to exclude as far as possible foreign fish, from a competition with their own.
It appears then that the general principle of the colony system of France, like that of Great Britain, was a system of monopoly, and that some temporary deviations from it were, from time to time, made from necessity or the force of circumstances.
In like manner, the navigation act of Great Britain gives the mother country a monopoly of the trade of her colonies, not only as to navigation, but as to supply; but the force of circumstances has led to some deviations.
The deviations of France have extended partially to navigation, as well as to supply. Those of Great Britain have extended further than those of France, as to supply, but have been narrower as to navigation. Neither however has deviated further than particular situation dictated. Great Britain has been less relaxed on the article of navigation than France, because the means of navigation possessed by the former were more adequate than those possessed by the latter. France has been more restrictive on the article of exports than Great Britain, because her home market was more adequate to the consumption of the productions of her islands than that of Great Britain to
those of her islands, and because the latter found advantages in allowing a freer export to the United States as an article of exchange.' France permitted the introduction of salted beef and fish into her islands, because she could not sufficiently furnish those articles herself: she prohibited flour and pork, because she thought herself competent to the supply of them: Great Britain prohibited fish, because she knew herself able to furnish it, and like France, was jealous of an interference with her fisheries, as a main support of her navigation. She permitted flour, because she knew herself unable to supply it.
As far as the measures of France may have had a conciliatory aspect towards this country, she was influenced by the desire of sharing more largely in our trade, and diverting it more from her ancient rival. As far as the measures of Great Britain may have made any concession to us, they have proceeded from a sense of our importance to her as a customer, from the utility of our supplies to her, from a conviction that it was necessary to facilitate to us the means of re-exchange, that it was better to take our commodities, which were paid for in commodities, than those of other countries, which she might have to pay for in specie, that it was good policy to give us some douceur, as well to hinder our commerce from running into another channel, as to prevent collisions which might be mutually injurious.
These are the true features of the systems of both countries, as to motives. If we are unprejudiced, we shall see in neither of them either enmity or particular friendship; but we shall see in both a predominant principle of self-interest, the universal rule of national conduct.
Having completed my comparison of the two systems of France and Great Britain towards this country, I shall now extend it to those of other countries, in order to mark the principal differences.
[Here Mr. Smith described the situation of our commercial relations with the United Netherlands, Sweden,