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'which have eclipsed the renown of the genius of the south, Liberty cites you before the revolutionary tribunal of the publick opinion. You have falsified your commercial avocation, and the representatives of the people are occupied in enriching you alone, or in repairing the injuries you have done us. You have been the enemies of the republick, and the republick answers you with benefits, with a navigation act, which will amend your errours and your crimes, while in the time, a decree already projected, is about opening in all the departments canals for interior navigation, and proscribing all gewgaws, all the miserable wants of luxury, all merchandises manufactured by our irreconcilable enemies, the English. Let us have sufficient strength of mind, of patriotism, to become ourselves by our own consumption, the first benefactors of the national manufactures ; let us multiply, let us bring our fabricks to such perfection as to render the wants of other nations tributary to us; let us multiply them in order to diminish those of Batavia, and of Breton. Such ought to be the result of the navigation act, until that desirable epoch, when all the other European nations, having also their navigation acts, in virtue of their natural rights, shall force England to revoke hers, and to restore to the seas and to commerce that latitude and liberty which nature, the true policy of empires and justice assigned to them.
Let Carthage be destroyed! Thus did Cato conclude all his. speeches in the Roman senate.
Let England be ruined, annihilated! This should be the concluding article of every revolutionary decree of the National Convention of France.
The following are the projects of decrees which the commiltec of publick safety present to you.
Decree of a Navigation Act. The National Convention, after having heard the report of the committee of publick safety, decree :
Article 1. That the treaties of commerce and navigation existing between France and the powers with whom she is at peace, shall be executed according to their form and tenour, without derogating therefrom by the present decree.
11. That after the first of January, 1794, no vessel shall be reputed French, nor have a right to the privileges of a French vessel, unless she shall have been constructed in France, or in the colonies and other possessions of France, or declared to be a lawful prize taken from the enemy, or confiscated for contravening the laws of the Republick, if she does not belong entirely 10 Frenchmen, and if the officers and three fourths of the crew are not Frenchmen.
11. That no foreign commodities, productions, or merchan. dises, shall be imported into France, or into the colonies and possessions of France, except directly by French vessels, or vessels belonging to the inhabitants of the country of which they are the growth, produce, or manufacture, or of the ordinary ports of sale and first exportation; the officers and three fourths of the crews of such foreign' vessels being of the country under whose flag the vessels sail ; the whole under the pain of confiscation of the vessel and cargo, and of a fine of three thousand livres, jointly and severally, against the owners, consignees and agents of the vessel and cargo, captain and lieutenant.
iv. That foreign vessels shall not transport from one French port to another French port, any commodities, productions, or merchandises of the growth, production, or manufacture of France, the colonies or possessions of France, under the penalties contained in Article i11.
v. That the tariff of the national custom-houses shall be reformed and combined with the act of navigation, and the de. cree which abolishes the duties between France and the colonies.
VI. That the present decree shall, without delay, be solemnly proclaimed in all the ports and commercial cities of the republick, and notified by the minister of foreign affairs to the nations with whom the French nation is at peace. Decree relative to the Licenses of Vessels under the French Flag.
The National Convention, after having heard the report of the committee of publick safety, decree :
Article 1. That the licenses of vessels under the French fag shall be in three days, reckoning from that of the publication of the present decree, for those which shall be in the ports; and in eight days from the arrival of those which shall enter, reported and deposited in the office of the national customs, together with the proofs of ownership. The unlading and departure of every vessel shall be deferred till after the delivery of an act of francisation.
11. That every owner on presenting a license and title of proprietor of a vessel, shall be bound to declare, before a jus. tice of the peace, and to sign on the register of French ves. sels, that he is owner of the vessel, that no foreigner is interested therein directly or indirectly, and that her last cargo arrived from the colonies, or French seitlements, or her present outward bound cargo for the colonies or French settlements, is not an armament on commission, nor foreign property.
111. That if the owner does not reside in the port in which the vessel lies, the consignee and the captain shall give security conjointly and individually, to repori, as soon as may be, the proofs of ownership and a declaration attested and signed by the true proprietor of the vessel and cargo.
iv. That if the property of the vessel, and also that of the cargo for the commerce between France, her colonies and setįlemenis, is not proved to be French by title and under oath, the vessel and cargo shall be seized, confiscated, and sold, and one half of the product given to the informer.
Report on a project of an act of navigation of the French Re.
publick, presented to the National Convention the 3d of July, 1793. In the name of the committees of marine, of commerce and of publick safety, by Peter Marec, deputy from Finistère, printed by order of the National Convention.
Citizen LEGISLATORS,-You have referred to your diplomatick committees of marine and commerce united, the proposition made in your body, the 20th of May last, to present to you without delay a project of an act of navigation.
This object so worthy of the meditation of a republican legislator, has not been overlooked by your committee of publick safety. In the report they made to you on the 29th of May, on the state of the French Republick, they traced to you in general the invaluable advantages which would result to her from a measure, which having been adopted by England a cen. tury and a half ago, has been the most fruitful source of the prosperity of that rival power. But in a question of this nature, general considerations and observations hastily made, are insufficient to impress conviction on every mind.
Your marine committee has been employed in collecting such ideas and elements as might completely enlighten you on the importance of a navigation act, and finally determine you to establish at the side of the political constitution of the empire, this first basis of her commercial constitution. They could not unite, according to your views, with the diplomatick committee, which has not been renewed since the suppression of the committee of general defence; but they have concerted with those of commerce and publick safety, and it is in the name of these three committees that I come to present to you the result of their deliberations.
The principal end of the navigation act which we propose, is to destroy the interposition of all indirect navigation, in the maritime transportation of our articles of exchange with foreign nations, and in fine to put a stop to that intermediate carrying trade, so prejudicial to our commerce and marine, which hitherto has rendered us benevolent tributaries of all the maritime powers of Europe. This act has also for its object, to reserve to the national vessels the exclusive privilege of transporting the same articles of exchange from one port of the republick to another.
This double prohibition is doubtless contrary to the principles of an indefinite commercial freedom : but such freedom perhaps would not agree with the system of an universal republick; and it is conceived that the republick of the human race will be still more difficult to realize than that of Plato. It is then our wisdom not to allow ourselves to be dazzled by the brilliant imaginations of political writers, and who warp the light of reason and experi. ence in their specious arguments and pompous theory. It is from the example of the great nations who surround us, from that nation especially, who first knew how to apply to her navi. gation prohibitory regulations ; it is from that source we ought to derive rules for our conduct, if we have at heart the true prosperity of our country.
France taken in a commercial point of view is the richest entrepôt of the universe ; she is also the market which offers the most consumers and vent for the industry of other nations. Whence does it happen that, with so many resources and wants, with such abundance of territorial commodities, productions and merchandises, with the habit of consuming such great quantities of the commodities, productions and merchandises of foreigners, her navigation has hitherto been so languishing, her commercial marine so pitiful, so altogether destitute of the advantages which are its inherent right? Whence does it happen that the flag of her most formidable enemies has almost exclusively figured in her commercial relations? Because she was destitute of a navigation act; because a false, timid, and frivolous policy knew not how to produce, or did not dare to borrow, from a great nation proud of its wealth and of its credit, this valuable system which has contributed more to the power of that nation, than all the victories of its admirals.
In a word, it is time that the French nation should know all her advantages, and how to profit of them. It is time for her to repair all the injury she has sustained, in this respect, through the ignorance or criminal indifference of an oppressive government, more careful of preserving at any price, its despotick authority, more occupied in diplomatick intrigues or fiscal operations, more tenacious in maintaining the false splendour of a throne at the expense of the true interests of the people, than attentive to render productive by every means in its power their agriculture, their commerce, and their industry.
Doubtless there never was a more favourable occasion for procuring to our country the benefit of a navigation act. Numerous republican armies, familiarized with victory, being now fighting for her independence and her liberty, against the very powers who are most interested in preventing us from enjoying such an act. Before the war it might have been sufficient for us to have made such an act merely with regard to England ; such was the effect on Holland, when Oliver Cromwell, in 1651, had a decree passed by the British parliament.
At that epoch, according to the inquiries of one of our countrymen, the best informed at the present day, in the knowledge of our true commercial and political interests Citizen Ducher*) the
* If the convention pass the present project of a navigation act into a decree, the oountry will be under obligations to citizen Ducher, who for upwards of two years past, has endeavoured to obtain the adoption of this plan with indefati le perseverance, as well in committees of the National Assembly, as by the publication of his writings. This is an act of justice which it affords me pleasure publickly to render to that excellent citizen.
maritime commerce of the English did not consist of more than 96,000 tons of transports ; in 1790, it rose to more than 800,000 tons.
Again at that epoch, according to the interesting report presented to the constituent assembly, on this subject, by citizen Delattre, “One half of the navigation of England was carried on by foreigners. England has imperceptibly re-taken her rights ; towards the year of 1700, foreigners possessed no more than the fifth part of this navigation ; in 1725, only a little more than the ninth; in 1750, a little more than a twelfth ; and in 1791, they possessed only the fourteenth part of it."
Our navigation a year ago, was in regard to foreign nations, still more unfavourable than the English navigation of 1651. Permit me here, to give in a concise manner the striking calculations which were laid before you on this subject, in the month of December last, by the ex-minister of the home department, in the table containing the amount of the exterior commerce of the Republick of France.
The maritime transportation of our exchange with the Europeans, the Levant, the Barbary states and the Anglo Americans, estimating on a mean year, from 1787 to 1789, inclusive, has employed in the whole 16,225 vessels, measuring 1,184,170 tons, which, taking one with another, at 36 livres the ton, would produce 42,630,120 livres of freight.
There have been employed in this transportation, during the same period, only 3,763 French vessels, measuring, in the whole, 295,251 tons, making, at the same rate, 10,808,316 livres of freight.
That is to say, the French flag has appeared to come in for only a little more than two tenths, whilst the English flag has participated therein to nearly the amount of four tenths, and that of other nations in the remaining four tenths.
In the first six months of 1792, in near six thousand vessels, measuring five hundred thousand tons, which have been, in like manner, employed on our commercial imports, and ex. ports, to and from the same people, the French had but three i enths of the total mass, whilst the vessels of England and Hol. land, and the Hanseatic towns, had four tenths, and the vessels of other nations the remaining three tenths.
If we view this navigation under another aspect, that of our direct relations with each of the European states, of the Levant, Barbary, and North America, it will be seen, that during the same time (taking the mean year of 1788 and 1789 inclusively) there have been mixed in the maritime transportation of our exchanges; with Spain, one hundred and ninety-nine vessels other than French or Spanish, deduction being made of the foreign vessels who might have intermeddled in this carrying trade, under either of the two flags. With Sardinia, two hundred and sixty-nine vessels, also intermedial. With the Re