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JANUARY, 1794.]
Commerce of the United States.

[H. OF R. credit-every where despondency-the pressure attracts too much capital for the circumstances of evils not only great, but portentous of civil dis- of the country. I cannot readily persuade myself tractions. These were the grievances; and what to think so valuable a branch of employment more was then desired than their remedies? Is it thrives too fast. But a steady and sure encouragepossible to survey this prosperous country, and to ment is more to be relied on than violent methods assert that they have been delayed? Trade flou- of forcing its growth. It is not clear that the rishes on our wharves, although it droops in quantity of our navigation, including our coasting speeches. Manufactures have risen, under the and fishing vessels, is less, in proportion to those shade of protecting duties, from almost nothing, to of that nation. In that computation, we shall such a state that we are even told it is safe to depend probably find that we are already more a navigaton the domestic supply, if the foreign should cease. ing people than the English. As this is a growThe fisheries, which we found in decline, are in ing country, we have the most stable ground of the most vigorous growth. The whale fishery, dependence on the corresponding, growth of our which our allies would have transferred to Dun- | navigation; and that the increasing demand for kirk, now traverses the whole ocean: to that hardy shipping will rather fall to the share of Americans race of men, the sea is but a park for hunting its than foreigners, is not to be denied. We did exmonsters; such is their activity, the deepest abysses pect this, from the nature of our own laws; we scarcely afford to their prey a hiding place. Look have been confirmed in it by experience; and we around, and see how the frontier circle widens, how know that an American bottom is actually preferthe interior improves, and let it be repeated, that red to a foreign one. In cases where one partner the hopes of the people, when they formed this is an American and another a foreigner, the ship Constitution, have been frustrated !

is made an American bottom. A fact of this kind But if it should happen that our prejudices prove overthrows a whole theory of reasoning on the stronger than our senses; if it should be believed necessity of further restrictions. It shows that the that our farmers and merchants see their products work of restriction is already done. and ships and wharves going to decay together,

If we take the aggregate view of our commercial and they are ignorant or silent on their own ruin, interests, we shall find much more occasion for still the public documents would not disclose só

satisfaction, and even exultation, than complaint, alarming a state of our affairs. Our imports are and none for despondency. It would be too bold obtained so plentifully and cheaply, that one of to say that our condition is so eligible there is nothe avowed objects of the resolution is to make thing to wished. Neither the order of nature nor them scarcer and dearer. Our exports, so far from the allotments of Providence afford perfect content, languishing, have increased two millions of dol- and it would be absurd to expect in our politics lars in a year. Our navigation is found to be aug- what is denied in the laws of our being. The namented beyond the most sanguine expectation. tions with whom we have intercourse have, withWe hear of the vast advantage the English derive out exception, more or less restricted their comfrom the Navigation Act, and we are asked, in a merce. They have framed their regulations to tone of accusation, Shall we sit still, and do no suit their real or fancied interests. The code of thing? Who is bold enough to say, Congress has France is as full of restrictions as that of England. done nothing for the encouragement of American We have regulations of our own, and they are navigation ? To counteract the Navigation Act, the interests and

circumstances of nations vary so

unlike those of any other country. Inasmuch as we have laid on British a higher tonnage than our own vessels pay in their ports; and, what is much essentially, the project

of an exact reciprocity on more effectual, we have imposed ten per cent. on

our part is a vision. What we desire is, to have, the duties, when the dutied articles are borne in not an exact reciprocity, but an intercourse of muforeign bottoms. We have also made the coast-tual benefit and convenience. It has scarcely been ing trade a monopoly to our own vessels. Let so much as insinuated that the change contemthose who have asserted that this is nothing, com- plated will be a profitable one—that it will enable pare facts with the regulations which produced us to sell dearer and to buy cheaper; on the con

trary, we are invited to submit to the hazards and

losses of a conflict with our customers to engage Tonnage.

Tons. Excess of Am. in a contest of self denial. For what? To obtain

tonnage. American, 1789

- 297,468

better markets? No such thing; but to shut up, Foreign,

- 265,116

forever, if possible, the best market we have for

32,352 our exports, and to confine ourselves to the dearest American, 1790


and scarcest markets for our imports; and this is Foreign,


to be done for the benefit of trade, or, as it is some

88,747 American, 1791

times more correctly said, for the benefit of France.

363,810 Foreign,

This language is nột á little inconsistent and 240,799

strange from those wko recommend a non-import

123,011 American, 1792

ation agreement, and who think we should even

415,330 Foreign,

renounce the sea, and devote ourselves to agricul244,263

ture. Thus, to make our trade more free, it is to 171,067

be embarrassed and violently shifted from one Is not this increase of American shipping rapid country to another; not according to the interest enough ? Many persons say it is too rapid, and of the merchants, but the visionary theories and


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H. OFR.)
Commerce of the United States.

[JANUARY, 1794. capricious rashness of the legislators. To make the tendency of the system of discrimination to trade better, it is to be made nothing.

redress and 'avenge all our wrongs, and to realize So far as commerce and navigation are regard- all our hopes. ed, the pretences for this contest are confined to two. It has been avowed, that we are to look to We are not allowed to carry manufactured articles France, not to England, for advantages in trade; to Great Britain, nor any products, except of our we are to show our spirit, and to manifest towards own growth, and we are not permitted to go, with those who are called 'enemies the spirit of enmity, our own vessels, to the West Indies. The former, and towards those we call friends something more which is a provision of the Navigation Act, is of than passive good will; we are to take active little importance to our interests, as our trade is measures to force trade out of its accustomed chanchiefly a direct one; our shipping 'not being equal nels, and to shift it by such means from England to the carrying for other nations; and our manu- to France. The care of the concerns of the factured articles are not furnished in quantities French manufacturers may be left

, perhaps, as for exportation, and if they were, Great Britain well in the hands of the Convention, as to be would not be a customer. So far, therefore, the usurped into our own. However our zeal might restriction is rather nominal than real. The ex- engage us to interpose, our duty to our own imme. clusion of our vessels from the West Indies is of diate constituents demands all our attention. To more importance. When we propose to make an volunteer it, in order to excite competition in one effort to force a privilege from Great Britain, foreign nation to supplant another, is a very strange which she is loth to yield to us, it is necessary to business; and to do it, as it has been irresistibly compare the value of the object with the effort, proved it will happen, at the charge and cost of and, above all, to calculate very warily the proba- our own citizens, is a thing equally beyond all jusbility of success. A trivial thing deserves not a tification and all example. What is it but to tax great exertion; much less ought we to stake a our own people for a time, perhaps for a long very great good in possession for a slight chance time, in order that the French' may at last sell as of a less good. The carriage of one half the ex- cheap as the English ?-cheaper they cannot, por ports and imports to and from the British West is it so much as pretended. The tax will be a loss Indies, is the object to be contended for. Our to us, and the fancied tendency of it not a gain to whole exports to Great Britain are to be hazarded. this country, in the event, but to France. We We sell on terms of privilege and positive favor, shall pay more for a time, and in the end pay no as it has been abundantly shown, near seven mil- less; for no object but that one nation may relions to the Dominions of Great Britain. We are ceive our money instead of the other. If this is to risk the privilege in this great amount--for generous towards France, it is not just to Ameriwhat? For the freight only of one half the Bri-ca; it is sacrificing what we owe to our constitutish West India trade with the United States. It ents, to what we pretend to feel towards strangers. belongs to commercial men to calculate the entire We have indeed heard a very ardent profession of value of the freight alluded to; but it cannot bear gratitude to that nation, and infinite reliance seems much proportion to the amount of seven millions. to be placed on her readiness to sacrifice her inteBesides, if we are denied the privilege of carrying rest to ours. The story of this generous strife our articles in our vessels to the islands, we are on should be left to ornament fiction. This is not the a footing of privilege in the sale of tłem. We form nor the occasion to discharge our obligations have one privilege, if not two. It is readily ad- of any sort to any foreign nation; it concerns not mitted that it is a desirable thing to have our ves- our feelings but our interests, yet the debate has sels allowed to go to the English islands, but the often soared high above the smoke of business into value of the object has its limits; and we go un- the epic region. The market for tobacco, tar, turquestionably beyond them, when we throw our pentine, and pitch, has become matter of sentiment, whole exports into confusion, and run the risk of and given occasion alternately to rouse our courage losing our best markets, for the sake of forcing a and our gratitude. permission to carry our own products to one of If, instead of hexameters, we prefer discussing those markets; in which, too, it should be noticed, our relation to foreign nations in the common lanwe sell much less than we do to Great Britain guage, we shall not find that we are bound by herself. If to this we add, that the success of the treaty to establish a preference in favor of the contest is grounded on the sanguine and passionate French. The treaty is founded on a professed rehypothesis of our being able to starve the island- ciprocity-favor for favor. Why is the principle ers, which, on trial, may prove false, and which of treaty or no treaty made so essential, when the our being involved in the war would overthrow favor we are going to give is an act of supererogaat once, we may conclude, without going further tion? It is not expected by one of the nations in into the discussion, that prudence forbids our en-treaty; for Holland has declared, in her treaty with gaging in the hazards of a commercial war; that us, that such preferences are the fruitful source great things should not be stated against such as of animosity, embarrassment, and war. The French are of much less value; that what we possess have set no such example. They discriminate, in should not be risked for what we desire, without their late Navigation Act, not as we are exhorted great odds in our favor; still less, if the chance is to do, between nations in treaty and not in treaty, infinitely against us.

but between nations at war and not at war with "If these considerations should fail of their effect, them; so that, when peace takes place, England will it will be necessary to go into an examination of stand by that act on the same ground with our selves



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JANUARY, 1794.]

Commerce of the United States.

[H. OF R.

Mr. Ames proceeded to show, that if we expect seemed to be thought a merit to express hatred. by giving favor to get favor in return, it is impro- It is common and natural to desire to annoy and per to make a law. The business belongs to to crush those whom we hate, but it is somewhat the Executive, in whose hands the Constitution singular to pretend that the design of our anger is has placed the power of dealing with foreign na- to embrace them. The tendency of angry meațions. He noticed its singularity to negotiate sures to friendly dispositions and arrangements is legislatively-to make by à law half a bargain, not obvious. We affect to believe that we shall expecting a French law would make the other. quarrel ourselves into their good will—that we He remarked that the footing, of treaty or no shall beat a new path to peace and friendship with treaty, was different from the ground taken by the Great Britain, one that is grown up with thorns, mover himself in supporting his system. He had and lined with men-traps and spring-guns. It said favor for favor was principle. Nations not should be called the war-path. in treaty grant favors--those in treaty restrict our To do justice to the subject, its promised advantrade. Yet the principle of discriminating in tages should be examined. Exciting the compefavor of nations in treaty, was not only inconsist-tition of the French is to prove an advantage to ent with the declared doctrine of the mover and this country, by opening a new market with that with facts, but it is inconsistent with itself. Na- nation. This is scarcely intelligible. If it means tions not in treaty are so very unequally operated anything, it is an admission that their market is upon by the resolutions, it is absurd to refer them not a good one, or that they have not taken meato one principle. Spain and Portugal have no sures to favor our traffic with them. In either treaties with us, and are not disposed to have. case our system is absurd. The balance of trade Spain would not accede to the treaty of commerce is against us, and in favor of England. But the between us and France, though she was invited; resolutions can only aggravate the evil, for, by Portugal would not sign a treaty after it had been compelling us to buy dearer and sell cheaper, the discussed and signed on our part. They have few balance will be turned still more against our counships or manufactures, and do not feed their Colo-try. Neither is the supply from France less the nies from us; of course there is little for the dis-aliment of luxury than that from England. Their crimination to operate upon.

The operation on excess of credit is an evil which we pretend to nations in treaty is equally a satire on the princi- cure: by checking the natural growth of our own ple of discrimination. Sweden, with whom we capital, which is the undoubted tendency of renave a treaty, duties rice higher, if borne in our straining trade, the progress of the remedy is thus bottoms, than in her own. France does the like, delayed. If we will trade, there must be capital. It in respect to tobacco, two and a half livres the is best to have it of our own; if we have it not, quintal, which in effect prohibits our vessels to we must depend on credit. Wealth springs from freight' tobacco, as the duty is more than the the profits of employment, and the best writers on freight. He then remarked on the French Navi- the subject establish it, that employment is in progation Act, the information of which had been portion to the capital that is to excite and reward given to the House since the debate began. He it. said the mover had, somewhat unluckily, proposed To strike off credit, which is the titute for to except from this system nations having no capital, if it were possible to do it, would so far Navigation Acts, in which case France would be stop employment. Fortunately, it is not possible; come the subject of unfriendly discrimination as the activity of individual industry eludes the miswell as Great Britain.

judging power of Governments. The resolutions He remarked on the disposition of England to would, in effect, increase the demand for credit; settle a commercial treaty, and adverted to the as our products selling for less in a new market, known desire of the Marquis of Lansdowne, (then and our imports being bought dearer, there would Prime Minister,) in 1783, to form such an one on be less money and more need of it. Necessity the most liberal' principles. The history of that would produce credit. Where the laws are strict, business, and the causes which prevented its con- it will soon find its proper level; the uses of credit clusion, ought to be made known to the public. will remain, and the evil will disappear. The powers given to our Ministers were revoked, But the whole theory of balances of trade, of and yet we hear that no such disposition on the helping it by restraint, and protecting it by sys part of Great Britain has existed. The declara- tems of prohibition and restriction against foreign tion of Mr. Pitt in Parliament, in June, 1792, as nations, as well as the remedy for credit, are well as the correspondence with Mr. Hammond, among the exploded dogmas which are equally show a desire to enter upon a negotiation. The refuted by the maxims of science and the authorstatement of the report on the privileges and re-ity of time. Many such topics have been advanced strictions of our commerce, that Great Britain has which were known to exist as prejudices, but were shown no inclination to meddle with the subject, not expected as arguments. It seems to be beseems to be incorrect. After tracing the operation lieved that the liberty of commerce is of some of the resolution on different nations, he examined value. Although there are restrictions on one side, the supposed tendency to dispose Great Britain to there will be some liberty left; counter restricsettle an equitable treaty with this country. He tions, by diminishing that liberty, are in their naasked whether those who held such language to-ture aggravations, and not remedies. We comwards that nation as he heard, could be supposed plain of the British restrictions as of a millstone; to desire a treaty and friendly connexion?' It our own system will be another, so that our trade

H. OF R.]
Commerce of the United States.

(JANUARY, 1794. may hope to be situated between the upper and war, have increased their domestic supplies to a the nether millstone.

great degree. The now United States exported On the whole, the resolutions contain two great about 130,000 barrels of flour in 1773 to the West principles. To control trade by law, instead of Indies; Ireland, by grazing less, could supply leaving it to the better management of the mer- wheat; England also usually exports it, she also chants, and the principle of a sumptuary law. To imports from Archangel. Sícily and the Barbary play the tyrant in the counting-house, and in di- States furnish wheat in abundance. recting the private expenses of our citizens, are We are deceived when we fancy we can starve employments equally unworthy of discussion. foreign countries. France is reckoned to consume

Besides the advantages of the system, we have grain at the rate of seven bushels to each soul: been called to another view of it, and which seems twenty-six millions of souls, the quantity 182 milto have less connexion with the merits of the dis- lions of bushels. We export, to speak in round cussion. The acts of States and the votes of public numbers, five or six millions of bushels to all the bodies, before the Constitution was adopted, and different countries which we supply; a trifle, this, the votes of the House since, have been stated as to their wants. Frugality is a greater resource. grounds for our assent to this measure at this time. Instead of seven bushels, perhaps two could be To help our own trade, to repel any real or sup- saved by stinting the consumption of the food of posed attack upon it, cannot fail to prepossess the cattle, or by the use of other food. Two bushels mind; accordingly, the first feelings of every man saved to each soul, is fifty-two millions of bushels, yield to this proposition. But the sober judgment a quantity which the whole trading world perhaps on the tendency and reasonableness of the inter- could not furnish. Rice is said to be prohibited meddling of Government, often does, and probably by Spain and Portugal to favor their own. Brazil ought still oftener, to change our impressions. On could supply their rice instead of ours. Lumbera second view of the question, the man who voted he stated the danger of despising Canada and Noformerly for restrictions may say, much has been va Scotia too much as rivals in the West India done under the new Constitution, and the good supply, especially the former. The dependence effects are yet making progress. The necessity of the English had placed on them some years ago measures of counter restriction will appear to him had failed, partly because we entered into compemuch less urgent, and their efficacy in the present tition with them on very superior terms, and partturbulent state of Europe infinitely less to be re- ly because they were then in an infant state. They lied on. Far from being inconsistent in his con- are now supposed to have considerably more than duct, consistency will forbid his pressing the ex- doubled their numbers since the peace; and if, inperiment of his principle under circumstances stead of having us for competitors for the supply, which baffle the hopes of its success. But if so as before, we should shut ourselves out by refusing much stress is laid on former opinions in favor of our supplies or being refused entry for them, those this measure, how happens it that there is so little two Colonies would rise from the ground: at least on that which now appears against it. Not one we should do more to bring it about than the Engmerchant has spoken in favor of it in this body; not lish Ministry had been able to do. In 1772, 679 one navigating or commercial State has patron- vessels, the actual tonnage of which was one hun. ized it.

dred and twenty-eight thousand, were employed Mr. Ames then entered pretty fully into the in the West India trade from Great Britain. They consideration of the absolute dependence of the were supposed, on good ground, to be but half British West India islands on our supplies. He freighted to the islands; they might carry lumber, admitted that they cannot draw them so well and and the freight supposed to be deficient would be, so cheap from any other quarter; but this is not at 40s.sterling the ton, £128,000. This sum would the point. Are they physically dependent ? Can diminish the extra charge of carrying lumber to we starve them ? And may we reasonably expect the islands. But is lumber to be had? Yes, in thus to dictate to Great Britain a free admission Germany, and from the Baltic., It is even cheaper of our vessels into her islands? He went into de- in Europe than our own. Besides which, the hard tails to prove the negative. Beef and pork sent woods used in mills are abundant in the islands. from the now United States to the British West We are told they can sell their rum only to the Indies, 1773, 14,993 barrels. In the war time, 1780, United States: this concerns not their subsistence, ditto from England, 17,795. At the end of the but their profit. Examine it, however. In 1773, war, 1783, 16,526. Ireland exported, on an ave- the now United States took near three millions rage of seven years, prior to 1777, 250,000 barrels. gallons rum. The remaining British Colonies, Salted fish the English take in abundance, and Newfoundland, and the African Coast, have conprohibit it from us. Butter and cheese from Eng-siderable demand for this article. The demand of land and Ireland are but lately banished even from Ireland is very much on the increase. It was, in our markets. Exports from the now United 1763, 530,000 gallons; 1770, 1,558,000 gallons; States, 1773: horses, 2,768 ; cattle, 1,203; sheep 1778, 1,729,000 gallons. and hogs, 5,320. Twenty-two years prior to 1791, Thus we see a total stoppage of the West India were exported from England to all ports, 29,131 trade could not starve the islanders. It would afhorses. Ireland, on an average of seven years, to fect us deeply; we should lose the sale of our pro1779, exported 4,040 live stock, exclusive of hogs. ducts and of course not gain the carriage in our The coast of Barbary, the Cape de Verds, &c., own vessels. The object of the contest would be supply sheep and cattle. The islands, since the no nearer our reach than before. Instead, however,

JANUARY, 1794.]

Commerce of the United States.

(H. OF R.

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of a total stoppage of the intercourse, it might the prospect, I have nothing to say to it. It is an happen that each nation prohibiting the vessels of amusement whịch it is not my intention either the other, some third nation would carry on the to disturb or to partake of. I turn from these hortraffic in its own bottoms. While this measure rors to examine the condition of France in respect would disarm our system, it would make it recoil to manufacturing, capital and industry. In this upon ourselves. It would in effect operate chiefly point of view, whatever political improvements to obstruct the sale of our products. If they should may be hoped for, it cannot escape observation, remain unsold, it would be so much dead loss; or that it presents only a wide field of waste and deif the effect should be to raise the price on the con- solation. Capital, which used to be food for manusumers, it would either lessen the consumption or factures, is become their fuel. What once nourraise up rivals in the supply. The contest as it ished industry, now lights the fires of civil war, respects the West India trade is in every respect and quickens the progress of destruction. France against us. To embarrass the supply from the is like a ship, with a fine cargo, burning to the United States, supposing the worst as it regards water's edge, she may be built upon anew, and the planters, can do no more than enhance the freighted with another cargo, and it will be time price of sugar and coffee, and other products. The enough when that shall be, to depend on a part of French islands are now in ruins, and the English it for our supply; at present, and for many years, planters have an increased price and double de- she will be not so much a furnisher as a consumer. mand in consequence. While Great Britain con- It is therefore obvious, that we shall import our fined the Colony trade to herself, she gave to the supplies either directly or indirectly from Great Colonists in return a monopoly in her consumption Britain. Any obstruction to the importation will of West India articles. The extra expense arising raise the price which we who consume must bear. from the severest operation of our system, is already That part of the argument which rests on the provided against two-fold. Like other charges on supposed distress of the British manufactures in the products of labor and capital, the burden will consequence of the loss of our market, is in every fall on the consumer. The luxurious and opulent view unfounded. They would not lose the market consumer in Europe will not regard and perhaps in fact, and if they did, should we prodigiously will not know the increase of price nor the cause exaggerate the importance of our consumption to of it. The new settler who clears his land and the British workmen? Important it doubtless is, sells the lumber, will feel any convulsion in the but a little attention will expose the extreme folly market more sensibly without being able to sus- of the opinion, that they would be brought to our tain it at all. It is a contest of wealth against want; feet by a trialofour self-denying spirit. England now of self-denial, between luxury and daily subsistence, supplants France in the important Levant trade, that we provoke with so much confidence of suc- in the supply of manufactured goods to the East cess. A map of experience in the West India trade and in a great measure to the West Indies, to will see this contrast more strongly than it is pos- Spain, Portugal, and their dependencies. Her sible to represent it.

trade with Russia has of late vastly increased; and One of the excellencies for which the measure she is treating for a trade with China; so that the is recommended is, that it will affect our imports. new demands of English manufactures, consequent What is offered as an argument is really an ob- upon the depression of France as a rival, has jection. Who will supply our wants ? Our own amounted to much more than the whole Amerimanufactures are growing, and it is a subject of can importation, which is not three millions. great satisfaction that they are. But it would be British manufactures exported wrong to overate their capacity to clothe us. The in 1773, amounted to

£9,417,000 same number of inhabitants require more and 1774

10,556,000 more, because wealth increases. `Add to this the 1775

10.072,000 rapid growth of our numbers, and perhaps it will 1789

13,779,000 be correct to estimate the progress of manufactures 1790

14,921,000 as only keeping pace with that of our increasing con 1791

16,810,000 sumption and population. It follows that we shall 1792

18,310,000 continue to demand in future to the amount of our The ull effect of a system of restriction and propresent importation. It is not intended by the re-hibition in the West Indies has been noticed alreasolutions that we shall import from England. Hol- dy. The privileges allowed to our exports to land and the North of Europe do not furnish a suf- England may be withdrawn, and prohibitory or ficient variety or sufficient quantity for our con- high duties imposed. Mr. A. observed that not sumption. It is in vain to look to Spain, Portugal

, one of our articles is a monopoly, and noticed the and the Italian States. We are expected to depend effect of counter regulations on our products. He principally upon France ; it is impossible to exa- adverted particularly to pot and pearl ashes, and mine the ground of this dependence without ad- observed on the value of the extensive sale of that verting to the present situation of that country. article, as it advances the clearing and settlement of It is a subject upon which I practise no disguise, our new lands; he said. the best encouragement but I do

not think it proper to introduce the poli- for agriculture is a good market. tics of France into this discussion. If others can The system before us is a mischief that goes to find in the scenes that pass there, or in the princi- the root of our prosperity. The merchants will ples and agents that direct them, proper subjects suffer by the schemes and projects of a new theory. for amiable names and sources of joy and hope in Great numbers were ruined by the convulsions

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