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any other; it is our duty also, for we are the resolutions on the table; and if it shall clearly depositaries and the guardians of the interests appear, that they tend to cause our exports to of our constituents, which, on every considera- be sold cheaper, and our imports to be bought tion, ought to be dear to us. I make no doubt dearer, they cannot escape condemnation. they are so, and that there is a disposition suf- Whatever specious show of advantage may be ficiently ardent existing in this body, to co- given them, they deserve to be called aggravaoperate in any measures, for the advancement of tions of any real or supposed evils in our comthe common good. Indeed, so far as I can mercial system, and not remedies. judge from any knowledge I have of human I have framed this statement of the question nature, or of the prevailing spirit of public so as to comprehend the whole subject of detransactions, that sort of patriotism which bate, and at the same time, I confess it was my makes us wish the general prosperity, when design to exclude from consideration a number our private interest does not happen to stand of topics which appear to me totally irrelative in the way, is no uncommon sentiment. In to it. truth, it is very like self-love, and not much The best answer to many assertions we have less prevalent. There is little occasion to ex- heard is, to admit them without proof. We cite and inflame it. It is, like self-love, more are exhorted to assert our natural rights; to apt to want intelligence than zeal. The danger put trade on a respectable footing; to dictate is always, that it will rush blindly into embar- terms of trade to other nations; to engage in a rassments, which a prudent spirit of inquiry contest of self-denial, and by that, and by shiftmight have prevented, but from which it will ing our commerce from one country to anoscarcely find means to extricate us. While ther, to make our enemies feel the extent of our therefore the right, the duty, and the inclina- power. This language, as it respects the protion to advance the trade and navigation of the per subject of discussion, means nothing, or United States, are acknowledged and felt by us what is worse. If our trade is already on a all, the choice of the proper means to that end profitable footing, it is on a respectable one. is a matter requiring the most ciranmspect in- Unless war be our object, it is useless to inquiry, and the most dispassionate judgment. quire, what are the dispositions of any govern
After a debate has continued a long time, ment, with whose subjects our merchants deal the subject very frequently becomes tiresome to the best advantage. While they will smoke before it is exhausted. Arguments, however our tobacco, and eat our provisions, it is very solid, urged by different speakers, can scarcely immaterial, both to the consumer and the profail to render the discussion both complex and ducer, what are the politics of the two coundiffusive. Without pretending to give to my tries, excepting so far as their quarrels may disarguments any other merit, I shall aim at sim- turb the benefits of their mutual intercourse. plicity.
So far, therefore, as commerce is concerned, We hear it declared, that the design of the the inquiry is, have we a good market? resolutions is to place our trade and navigation The good or bad state of our actual market is on a better footing. By better footing, we are the question. The actual market is every where to understand a more profitable one. Profit is more or less a restricted one, and the natural a plain word, that cannot be misunderstood. order of things is displaced by the artificial.
We have, to speak in round numbers, twenty Most nations, for reasons of which they alone million dollars of exports annually. To have are the rightful judges, have regulated and rethe trade of exports on a good footing, means stricted their intercourse, according to their nothing more than to sell them dear; and con- views of safety and profit. We claim for oursequently, the trade of import on a good foot- selves the same right, as the acts in our statute ing, is to buy cheap. To put them both on a book, and the resolutions on the table evince, better footing, is to sell dearer and to buy cheap- without holding ourselves accountable to any er than we do at present. If the effect of the other nation whatever. The right, which we resolutions will be to cause our exports to be properly claim, and which we properly exersold cheaper, and our imports to be bought cise, when we do it prudently and usefully for dearer, our trade will suffer an injury.
our nation, is as well established, and has been It is hard to compute how great the injury longer in use in the countries of which we comwould prove; for the first loss of value in the plain, than in our own. If their right is as buying dear, and selling cheap, is only the good as that of Congress, to regulate and resymptom and beginning of the evil, but by no strict, why do we talk of a strenuous exertion means the measure of it; it will withdraw a of our force, and by dictating terms to nations, great part of the nourishment that now sup- who are fancied to be physically dependent on. plies the wonderful growth of our industry and America, to change the policy of nations? It opulence. The difference may not amount to a may be very true, that their policy is very wise great proportion of the price of the articles, and good for themselves, but not as favorable but it may reach the greater part of the profit for us as we could make it, if we could legisof the producer; it may have effects in this late for both sides of the Atlantic. way which will be of the worst kind, by dis- | The extravagant despotism of this language couraging the products of our land and indus- accords very ill with our power to give it ef. try. It is to this test I propose to bring the fect, or with the affectation of zeal for an un
limited freedom of commerce. Such a state of | This evasion of the force of the statement, or absolute freedom of commerce never did exist, rather this indirect admission of its authority, and it is very much to be doubted whether it establishes it. It will not be pretended, that it ever will. Were I invested with the trust to has been shaken during the debate. legislate for mankind, it is very probable the It has been made to appear, beyond contrafirst act of my authority would be to throw all diction, that the British market for our exports, the restrictive and prohibitory laws of trade taken in the aggregate, is a good one; that it is into the fire; the resolutions on the table would better than the French, and better than any we not be spared. But if I were to do so, it is have, and for many of our products the only probable I should have a quarrel on my hands one. with every civilized nation. The Dutch would The whole amount of our exports to the claim the monopoly of the spice trade, for British dominions, in the year ending the 30th which their ancestors passed their whole lives September, 1790, was nine million two hunin warfare. The Spaniards and Portuguese dred and forty-six thousand six hundred and would be no less obstinate. If we calculate six dollars. what colony monopolies have cost in wealth, But it will be more : imple and satisfactory to in suffering, and in crimes, we shall say they confine the inquiry to the articles following: were dearly purchased. The English would breadstuff, tobacco, rice, wood, the produce of plead for their navigation act, not as a source the fisheries, fish oil, pot and pearl ash, salted of gain, but as an essential means of securing meats, indigo, live animals, fax seed, naval their independence. So many interests would stores, and iron. be disturbed, and so many lost, by a violent The amount of the beforementioned articles change from the existing to an unknown order exported in that same year to the British doof things; and the mutual relations of nations, minions, was eight million four hundred and in respect to their power and wealth, would fifty-seven thousand one hundred and seventy suffer such a shock, that the idea must be al- three dollars. lowed to be perfectly Utopian and wild. But We have heard so much of restriction of infor this country to form the project of changing imical and jealous prohibitions to cramp our the policy of nations, and to begin the abolition trade, it is natural to scrutinize the British sysof restrictions by restrictions of its own, is tem, with the expectation of finding little beequally ridiculous and inconsistent.
| sides the effects of her selfish and angry policy. Let every nation that is really disposed to Yet of the great sum of nearly eight millions extend the liberty of commerce, beware of rash and a half, the amount of the products beforeand hasty schemes of prohibition. In the af- mentioned sold in her markets, two articles fairs of trade, as in most others, we make too only are dutied by way of restriction. Breadmany laws. We follow experience too little, stuff is dutied so high in the market of Great and the visions of theorists a great deal too Britain as, in times of plenty, to exclude it, and much. Instead of listening to discourses on this is done from the desire to favor her own what the market ought to be, and what the farmers. The mover of the resolutions justischemes, which always promise much on pa fied the exclusion of our breadstuff from the per, pretend to make it, let us see what is the French West Indies by their permanent regulaactual market for our exports and imports. tions, because, he said, they were bound to preThis will bring vague assertions and san- fer their own products to those even of the guine opinions to the test of experience. That United States. " It would seem that the same rage for theory and system, which would en-apology would do for England in her home tangle even practical truth in the web of the market. But what will do for the vindication brain, is the poison of public discussion. One of one nation becomes invective against anfact is better than two systems.
other. The criminal nation however receives The terms on which our exports are received our breadstuff in the West Indies free, and exin the British market, have been accurately ex- cludes other foreign, so as to give our producers amined by a gentleman from South Carolina, the monopoly of the supply. This is no merit (Mr. William L. Smith.) Before his statement in the judgment of the mover of the resolutions, of facts was made to the committee, it was because it is a fragment of her old colony sysurged, and with no little warmth, that the system. Notwithstanding the nature of the duties tem of England indicated her inveteracy to- on breadstuff in Great Britain, it has been wards this country, while that of France, spring- clearly shown that she is a better customer for ing from disinterested affection, constituted a that article in Europe than her neighbor France. claim for gratitude and self-denying measures The latter, in ordinary times, is a poor customer of retribution.
for breadstuff, for the same reason that our own Since that statement, however, that romantic country is, because she produces it herself, and style, which is so ill adapted to the subject, has therefore France permits it to be imported, and been changed. We hear it insinuated, that the the United States do the like. Great Britain comparison of the footing of our exports, in the often wants the article, and then she receives markets of France and England, is of no im- it; no country can be expected to buy what it portance; that it is chiefly our object to see does not want. The breadstuff sold in the how we may assist and extend our commerce. European dominions of Britain, in the year
1790, amounted to one million eighty-seven which France receives either the like articles, thousand eight hundred and forty dollars. or the aggregate of our products. The best
Whale oil pays the heavy duty of eighteen proof in the world is, that they are not sent to pounds three shillings sterling per ton; yet France. The merchants will find out the best spermaceti oil found a market there to the market sooner than we shall. value of eighty-one thousand and forty-eight The footing of our exports, under the British dollars.
system, is better than that of their exports to Thus it appears, that of eight millions and a the United States, under our system. Nay, it half sold to Great Britain and her dominions, is better than the freedom of commerce, which only the value of one million one hundred and is one of the visions for which our solid prossixty-eight thousand dollars was under duty of perity is to be hazarded; for, suppose we could a restrictive nature. The breadstuff is hardly batter down her system of prohibitions and reto be considered as within thv description; yet, strictions, it would be gaining a loss; one-eighth to give the argument its full force, what is it? is restricted, and more than six-eighths have about one-eighth part is restricted. To proceed restrictions in their favor. It is as plain as with the residue:
figures can make it, that if a state of freedom
for our exports is at par, the present system Indigo to the amount of . . .
. . . $478,830
raises them, in point of privilege, above par. Live animals to the West Indies.
62,415 Flas-seed to Great Britain
To suppose that we can terrify them by these
resolutions to abolish their restrictions, and at . . . . . . $756,169
the same time to maintain in our favor their These articles are received duty free, which
duties, to exclude other foreigners from their is a good foot to the trade. Yet we find, good
market, is too absurd to be refuted. as it is, the bulk of our exports is received on
We have heard that the market of France is even better terms:
the great centre of our interests; we are to look
to her, and not to England, for advantages, beFlour to the British West Indies, . . ; $858,006 | ing, as the style of theory is, our best customer Grain, .
:. 278,505 Free-while other foreign tour and grain are
and best friend, showing to our trade particular prohibited.
| favor and privilege, while England manifests in Tobacco to Great Britain, . . . . . 2,754,498 her system such narrow and selfish views. It Ditto to the West Indies,
22,816 One shilling and three pences
is strange to remark such a pointed refutation shillings and sixpence on other foreign tobacco.
of assertions and opinions by facts. The amount In the West Indies, other foreign tobacco is prohibited.
sent to France herself is very trivial. Either Piee to Great Britain,
773,852 our merchants are ignorant of the best markets, Seven shillings and four pence per cwt. duty;
or those which they prefer are the best; and if eight shillings and ten pence on other foreign rice.
the English markets, in spite of the alleged illTo West Indies,
180,077 usage, are still preferred to the French, it is a Other foreign rice pre Wood to Great Britain,
proof of the superior advantages of the former Free-higher duty on oth
over the latter. The arguments I have adverted To West Indies,
to, oblige those who urge them to make a Free other foreig Pot and pearl ashes,
| greater difference in favor of the English than Free-two shillings and three pence on other
the true state of facts will warrant. Indeed, if foreign, equal to ten dollars per ton, Naval stores to Great Britain,
they persist in their arguments, they are bound
. . . . Higher duties on other foreign,
to deny their own conclusions. They are To West Indies,.
bound to admit this position: if France reFree other foreign Iron to Great Britain,
in : . . . 81,612 ceives little of such of our products as Great Free-duties on other foreign
Britain takes on terms of privilege and favor, be$6,510,926
cause of that favor it allows the value of that fa
vored footing. If France takes little of our artiThus it appears that nearly seven-eighths of cles, because she does not want them, it shows the the exports to the British dominions are re absurdity of looking to her as the best customer. ceived on terms of positive favor. Foreigners, It may be said, and truly, that Great Britain our rivals in the sale of these articles, are either regards only her own interest in these arguabsolutely shut out of their market by prohibi- ments; so much the better. If it is her interest tions, or discouraged in their competition with to afford to our commerce more encouragement us by higher duties. There is some restriction, than France gives: if she does this, when she it is admitted, but there is, to balance it, a is inveterate against us, as it is alleged, and large amount received duty free; and a half when we are indulging an avowell hatred togoes to the account of privilege and favor. wards her, and partiality towards France, it This is better than she treats any other foreign shows that we have very solid ground to rely nation. It is better, indeed, than she treats her on. Her interest is, according to this statement, own subjects, because they are by this means stronger than our passions, stronger than her deprived of a free and open market. It is bet-own, and is the more to be depended on, as it ter than our footing with any nation with whom cannot be put to any more trying experiment we have treaties. It has been demonstratively in future. The good will and friendship of shown that it is better than the footing on nations are hollow foundations to build our
systems upon. Mutual interest is a bottom of say, it must be sustained and encouraged. No rock: the fervor of transient sentiments is not such thing is asserted. Seamen's wages are better than straw or stubble. Some gentlemen high, freights are high, and American bottoms have lamented this distrust of any relation be- in full employment. But the complaint is, our tween nations, except an interested one; but vessels are not permitted to go to the British the substitution of any other principle could West Indies. It is even affirmed, that no civilproduce little else than the hypocrisy of senti-ized country treats us so ill in that respect. ment, and an instability of affairs. It would Spain and Portugal prohibit the traffic to their be relying on what is not stable, instead of possessions, not only in our vessels, but in their what is : it would introduce into politics the own, which, according to the style of the resojargon of romance. It is in this sense, and lutions, is worse treatment than we meet with this only, that the word favor is used: a state from the British. It is also asserted, and on as of things, so arranged as to produce our profit bad ground, that our vessels are excluded from and advantage, though intended by Great Bri- most of the British markets. tain merely for her own. The disposition of a This is not true in any sense. We are adnation is immaterial; the fact, that we profitmitted into the greater number of her ports, in by their system, cannot be so to this discus- our own vessels; and by far the greater value sion.
of our exports is sold in British ports, into The next point is, to consider whether our which our vessels are received, not only on a imports are on a good footing, or, in other good footing, compared with other foreigners, words, whether we are in a situation to buy | but on terms of positive favor, on better terms what we have occasion for at a cheap rate. In than British vessels are admitted into our own this view, the systems of the commercial na- ports. We are not subject to the alien duties; tions are not to be complained of, as all are and the light money, &c. of one shilling nine desirous of selling the products of their labor. pence sterling per ton is less than our foreign Great Britain is not censured in this respect. tonnage duty, not to mention the ten per cen. The objection is rather of the opposite kind, tum, on the duties on goods in foreign botthat we buy too cheap, and therefore consume toms. too much ; and that we take not only as much But in the port of London our vessels are as we can pay for, but to the extent of our received free. It is for the unprejudiced mind credit also. There is less freedom of importa- | to compare these facts with the assertions we tion, however, from the West Indies. In this have heard so confidently and so feelingly made respect, France is more restrictive than Eng- by the mover of the resolutions, that we are land; for the former allows the exportation to excluded from most of their ports, and that no us of only rum and molasses, while England civilized nation treats our vessels so ill as the admits that of sugar, coffee, and other principal British. West India products. Yet, even here, when The tonnage of the vessels, employed bethe preference seems to be decidedly due to the tween Great Britain and her dependencies and British system, occasion is taken to extol that the United States, is called two hundred and of the French. We are told, that they sell us twenty thousand; and the whole of this is the chief part of the molasses, which is con- represented as our just right. The same gensumed or manufactured into rum; and that atleman speaks of our natural right to the cargreat and truly important branch, the distillery, riage of our own articles, and that we may and is kept up by their liberality in furnishing the ought to insist upon our equitable share. Yet, raw material. There is at every step, matter soon after, he uses the language of monopoly, to confirm the remark, that nations have fram- and represents the whole carriage of imports ed their regulations to suit their own interests, and exports as the proper object of our efforts, not ours. France is a great brandy manufac- and all that others carry as a clear loss to us. turer; she will not admit rum, therefore, even If an equitable share of the carriage means half, from her own islands, because it would sup- we have it already, and more, and our proporplant the consumption of brandy. The mo- tion is rapidly increasing. If any thing is meant lasses was for that reason, some years ago, of by the natural right of carriage, one would no value in her islands, and was not even saved imagine that it belongs to him, whoever he in casks. But the demand from our country may be, who, having bought our produce, and soon raised its value. The policy of England made himself the owner, thinks proper to take has been equally selfish. The molasses is dis- it with him to his own country. It is neither tilled in her islands, because she has no manu- our policy nor our design to check the sale of facture of brandy to suffer by its sale.
our produce. We invite every description of A question remains respecting the state of purchasers, because we expect to sell dearest, our navigation. If we pay no regard to the when the number and competition of the buyregulations of foreign nations, and ask, whether ers is the greatest. For this reason the total this valuable branch of our industry and capi- exclusion of foreigners and their vessels from tal is in a distressed and sickly state, we shall the purchase and carriage of our exports, is an find it is in a strong and flourishing condition. advantage, in respect to navigation, which has If the quantity of shipping was declining, if it a disadvantage to balance it, in respect to the was unemployed, even at low freight, I should price of produce. It is with this reserve we ought to receive the remark, that the carriage /ed by our patriots? Feebleness of the public of our exports should be our object, rather than councils; the shadow of union, and scarcely that of our imports. By going with our ves the shadow of public credit; every where desels into foreign ports we buy our imports in spondence, the pressure of evils, not only great the best market. By giving a steady and mo but portentous of civil distractions. These derate encouragement to our own shipping, were the grievances; and what more was then without pretending violently to interrupt the desired than their remedies? Is it possible to course of business, experience will soon estab- survey this prosperous country and to assert lish that order of things, which is most benefi- that they have been delayed? Trade flourishes cial to the exporter, the importer, and the ship on our wharves, although it droops in speeches. owner. The best interest of agriculture is the Manufactures have risen under the shade of true interest of trade.
protecting duties, from almost nothing, to such In a trade, mutually beneficial, it is strangely a state that we are even told we can depend on absurd to consider the gain of others as our the domestic supply, if the foreign should cease. loss. Admitting it, however, for argument The fisheries, which we found in decline, are in sake, yet it should be noticed, that the loss of the most vigorous growth: the whale fishery, two hundred and twenty thousand tons of ship which our allies would have transferred to Dunping, is computed according to the apparent kirk, now extends over the whole ocean. To tonnage. Our vessels not being allowed to go that hardy race of men, the sea is but a park to the British West Indies, their vessels, mak- for hunting its monsters; such is their activity, ing frequent voyages, appear in the entries the deepest abysses scarcely afford to their prey over and over again. In the trade to the Eu- a hiding place. Look around and see how the ropean dominions of Great Britain, the distance frontier circle widens, how the interior imbeing greater, our vessels are not so often en-proves, and let it be repeated that the hopes of tered. Both these circumstances give a false the people, when they formed this constitution, show to the amount of British tonnage, com- have been frustrated. pared with the American. It is, however, very But if it should happen that our prejudices pleasing to the mind, to see that our tonnage prove stronger than our senses; if it should be exceeds the British in the European trade. believed that our farmers and merchants see For various reasons, some of which will be their products and ships and wharves going to mentioned hereafter, the tonnage in the West decay together, and they are ignorant or silent India trade, is not the proper subject of calcu- on their own ruin; still the public documents lation. In the European comparison, we have would not disclose so alarming a state of our more tonnage in the British than in the French affairs. Our imports are obtained so plentifully commerce; it is indeed more than four to one and cheaply, that one of the avowed objects of
The great quantity of British tonnage em- the resolutions is, to make them scarcer and ployed in our trade is also, in a great measure, dearer. Our exports, so far from languishing, owing to the large capitals of their merchants, have increased two millions of dollars in a employed in buying and exporting our produc- year. Our navigation is found to be augmenttions. If we would banish the ships, we must ed beyond the most sanguine expectation. We strike at the root, and banish the capital. And hear of the vast advantage the English derived this, before we have capital of our own grown from the navigation act: and we are asked in up to replace it, would be an operation of no a tone of accusation, shall we sit still and do little violence and injury, to our southern breth- nothing? Who is bold enough to say, Congress ren especially.
has done nothing for the encouragement of Independentiy of this circumstance, Great American navigation? To counteract the naviBritain is an active and intelligent rival in the gation act, we have laid on British, a higher navigation line. Her ships are dearer, and the tonnage than our own vessels pay in their provisioning of her seamen is perhaps rather ports; and what is much more effectual, we dearer than ours : on the other hand, the rate have imposed ten per centum on the duties, of interest is lower in England, and so are sea- when the dutied articles are borne in foreign men's wages. It would be improper, therefore, bottoms. We have also made the coasting to consider the amount of British tonnage in trade a monopoly to our own vessels. Let our trade, as a proof of a bad state of things, those who have asserted that this is nothing, arising either from the restrictions of that gov- compare facts with the regulations which proernment, or the negligence or timidity of this. duced them. We are to charge it to causes which are more
Tons. Excess of American tonnaga connected with the natural competition of capi
American, 1789, . . 297,468 tal and industry; causes which, in fact, retard Foreign, . . .. 265, 116 ed the growth of our shipping more, when we
American, 1790, . . 347,663 were colonies and our ships were free, than
256,916 since the adoption of the present government.
88,747 It has been said with emphasis, that the con
American, 1791, .. 863,810
24 stitution grew out of the complaints of the na
128,011 tion respecting commerce, especially that with American, 1792, .. 415,880
Foreign, .. . 244,263 the British dominions. What was then lament