Gambar halaman


Colonial regulations of Great Britain-Condition of States after the Revolution-Acts of first Congress-Sheffield's Pamphlet-Convention of 1815-Acts of Congress of 1818-Act of Parliament of 1818Negotiation-Law of U. S. of 1820-British act of 1822-Proclamation of President in 1822-Negotiation continued-Act of U. S. of 1823-Order in Council of 1823-Acts of Parliament of 1825-Principles of the two parties-British Colonial ports shutNegotiation-Proceedings in Senate-In House-Conclusion of Ses. sion-Proclamation of President-Ports of U. S. closed.

THE Controversy between the United States and Great Britain, relative to the trade with the American colonies of the latter power, was alluded to in the last Register, and a hasty sketch was given of its origin. By the course of events, that dispute resulted in the prohibition of all intercourse between them and this country. This termination of the negotiation imparts a deeper interest to this subject, than any connected with our foreign history which transpired during the last year, and entitles it to a prominent place in the present volume. As the stand taken by the American government is intimately connected with the system of policy adopt ed by those who framed the federal constitution; and as that policy had

in view the emancipation of the

trade of the United States from the burdens and restrictions which grew out of the colonial systems of the European powers: it will be necessary to bear in mind,the condition of this country immediately after its separation from Great Britain, and the relative position of the two powers at that important era.

The operation of the navigation acts, and colonial regulations of the British government, previous to the revolution, upon the provinces, had proved extremely injurious to their permanent interests. Their navi gating and manufacturing interests had been designedly repressed, in order to promote those of the mother country.

The revolutionary war had occasioned a still greater depression of these important interests. Peace

found them almost extinct, and with a national government just on the point of dissolution, and unable to protect them against the hostile legislation of foreign powers, they were compelled to enter into competition with the skill and capital of Europe. The shipping interest of the country, experienced the first effects of this state of things.Thirteen governments, actuated by jealous feelings, and clashing in policy, were unable to afford it adequate protection against the discriminating duties and colonial regulations of European nations.

Great Britain especially, the nation with which we had the most intercourse, and whose productions were best adapted to the American market, availed herself of this imbecility of the federal government, and sought to monopolize, not only the supply of our wants, but the carrying trade between her ports and those of the United States by commercial regulations, adapted to the circumstances of that period. The colonies, which she still retained in the West Indies, and on the North American continent, gave her great advantages in any commercial contest, which might be caused by her attempt to monopolize the carrying trade; and the distracted condition of the states, under the old articles of confederation, prevented any effectual resistance to this selfish policy.

At one time, indeed, it was hoped,

that our commercial intercourse would be placed upon a more liberal footing. William Pitt, whose early commercial views were of a more enlarged character, than those usually entertained by the premiers of England, and who then thought it necessary to attract American trade into British channels, introduced into parliament, a bill for the purpose of placing the intercourse between the United States and Great Britain, and her American colonies, upon terms of exact reciprocity. Unfortunately, this bill did not pass; and it is to be regretted, that the means of its defeat were furnished by a citizen of the United States, once high in the public favour. Silas Deane, who was at that time in England, made known to John Lord Sheffield, a member of the board of trade, the distracted condition of the states; the imbecility of the federal government; its inability to adopt measures counteracting any commercial policy which the British government should pursue towards her late provinces; their almost total want of capital; the adaptation of British manufactures to the American market; and the great advantages which might be gained in the carrying trade, by shutting the colonial ports to American vessels. The goods destined for the American market could then be transported in British vessels, which, after landing their cargoes,

would return homewards by a circuitous route through the West Indies, carrying supplies to the islands, and bringing the produce of the West India colonies to the ports of the mother country. By thus combining three voyages in one, an advantage would be gained by the British merchant, which could not be ea. sily counterbalanced.

These views, illustrated by a vast number of details furnished by Mr. Deane, were promulgated by Lord Sheffield, in a pamphlet, which produced a decisive effect upon the public mind in England. The hope of a temporary gain prevailed. Mr. Pitt's law was relinquished; and, instead of settling the terms of intercourse with the United States upon a reciprocal basis, the colonial ports were closed; an order in council issued, (which, in 1788, became a permanent law) regulating the trade; and all advances towards a commercial treaty scornfully repelled. In this manner, the British cabinet sought to secure an undue share of the carrying trade between the two countries. The views inculcated by Lord Sheffield, occasionally modified by circumstances, were adopted as leading maxims of its policy towards the United States, and continue at this day to govern the councils of England. At first they were completely successful. The trade fell into the hands of the foreign merchants, and the lan

guishing state of American commerce, and the acknowledged inability on the part of the general government, to afford adequate protection to the great interests of the country, gave an impulse to the public mind, which resulted in the adoption of the federal con


Upon the assembling of the first congress, the leading members in that body, after much consultation, and in accordance with the views of Washington, and of Hamilton and Jefferson, the governing minds of his cabinet, agreed upon a sys. tem of policy, counteractive of the hostile commercial policy of European nations, and more especially of Great Britain.

[ocr errors]

Discriminating tonnage duties were imposed on foreign shipping; and Mr. Madison, then a representative from Virginia, strenuously urged the propriety of making a distinction disadvantageous to those powers with whom we had no commercial treaty. Impost duties were laid on importations, for the purposes of revenue; and on such articles as were then manu. factured in the United States, heavier duties were laid, in order to encourage domestic manufactures.

These retaliatory measures induced the British cabinet to descend from its lofty stand, and to commence a negotiation with the government of the United States, which resulted in the treaty of 1794.

commercial relations of the United States with Great Britain were renewed. A convention was form

In this treaty, as at first agreed upon by the negotiators, there was an article, prescribing the terms of our intercourse with the Wested July 3d, 1815, establishing the Indies; but as it was very un favourable to the shipping of the United States, and degrading to our character as a nation, the senate rejected it; and the treaty was ratified, with the exception of that article.

The terms of this article strikingly illustrate the extravagant and peculiar spirit of the British cabinet, respecting the West India trade. The United States were permitted to trade with the British islands in vessels not exceeding 70 tons; and, in consideration of this boon, they agreed not to export from the United States any molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton, to any part of the world; and British vessels of any burthen were permitted to participate in the same intercourse.

[ocr errors]

The trade between the United States and the British colonies remained in this state, unregulated by treaty, and only occasionally opened by orders in council, and governors' proclamations, (when the pressure of war, or an apprehended scarcity, compelled them to relax the strictness of the naviga. tion acts,) until the late war between the two countries put an end to all commercial intercourse between them.

terms of intercourse between the United States and Great Britain; but the British cabinet declined making any arrangement relating to the colonial trade, which, it was asserted, was of a peculiar charac


By this convention, the trade with the European possessions of Great Britain was established upon a reciprocal basis, so far as the navigating interest was concerned. The staple productions of the United States were, indeed, placed upon a worse footing than the British staples, by onerous duties imposed by that government, in some instances amounting to a prohibition; but this came under another head of the reciprocal system, not yet fully matured, and did not affect the policy originally adopted, to secure a portion of the carrying trade.

The convention secured to the productions of the United States, and of Great Britain, admission into their respective ports, upon as favourable terms as the productions of other countries; and generally provided, that no prohibitions nor restrictions should be applied to the commerce between them, which did not generally extend to the commerce of other

Upon the return of peace, the nations. The shipping of the two

countries was placed upon an equal footing in the ports of the United States, and in British ports in Europe; and the trade with the colo. nies was expressly declared, not to be affected by any of the provisions of the convention.`

sively secured to British vessels, by a combination of voyages, in the course of which supplies could be carried to the West Indies, would not be less real and operative in the trade with Europe, than if they were directly given by bounties or discriminating duties.

The practical operation of this state of things was so severely felt when the convention took effect, that after various efforts to induce the British government to adjust

In acceding to this treaty, the British government substantially accepted a proposal made on the part of the United States, to all nations, by an act of congress, passed March 3d, 1815, conditionally repealing our discriminating the collision of interests by amicaduties. At the same time, it adhered ble negotiation, the government of to its system of excluding Ameri. the United States came to a detercan vessels from the colonial trade; mination, to put an end to an interand persisted in monopolizing, in course in which they were not perBritish shipping, the transportation mitted to share. Before this deof all those productions of the termination, four fifths of the trade West-Indies and of the United with all the British colonial possesStates, which, in the ordinary sions was monopolized by British course of things, were so freely ex- shipping, and even the small quanchanged to supply the natural or tity of American tonnage then enartificial wants of their respective gaged in it, was daily diminishinhabitants. ing.

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »