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the British government, upon hearing that such a retaliating measure was contemplated, with great promptitude, authorized, by an act of Parliament, passed 8th May, 1818, the opening of the ports of Halifax and St. Johns to the vessels of friendly powers, for the importation of certain enumerated articles adapted to the West-India market. By making these ports places of deposit, it expected to secure to British shipping the greater share of the carrying trade, by the indirect route to the West. Indies; and with that view, a participation in the intercourse between those ports and the United States was relinquished to the American navigators. Within three weeks after its passage, an order of council, revocable at pleasure, was is sued, carrying into effect the provisions of the act.
This order in council, revocable at pleasure, was not, however, regarded by the government of the United States as modifying the ordinary navigation acts, and their ports continued to be shut against British vessels from those ports, although they were thus tempora. rily opened to American shipping.
The British government, finding its object unattainable in this manner, was compelled, by the distresses of the West India islands, to make some advances, for the purpose of arranging the terms of intercourse between them and the
United States; and on the 6th of the ensuing October, a proposition was made, to allow the importation and exportation of certain enumerated articles, in American vessels. This article, however, extended only to such West India ports as should be open to the vessels of other foreign nations; and such distinctions were established, respecting the kind of productions to be admitted into the different colonies, as to secure to British shipping a decided advantage in the trade. The proposition gave to the vessels of the United States no privileges in the ports of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, which they did not already enjoy, and admitted the British vessels to a participation in that trade, from which they were then excluded, by the existing navigation laws of the two countries. It diminished their privileges in the Bermuda trade, as established by act of parliament, by excluding from the enumerated articles, all live stock, which they were then permitted to import; although it added to the exportable articles, molasses, cocoa nuts, ginger, and pimenta, all productions of the West Indies. As these regulations were obviously intended to secure to the British islands supplies of indispensable necessity, which could not be easily obtained elsewhere ; and aimed at making Bermuda, St. Johns, and Halifax, places of deposit, for the supply of the West
Indies, with the view of monopolizing, in British vessels, the longer voyage in the indirect route; the American government refused to accede to them, and proposed as a counter project, that the intercourse should be established upon the following terms:-1st. That the list of admissable articles should be the same for the West Indies, Bermuda, and for the North American provinces. 2dly. That the duties should be equalized, and particularly, that no higher duties should be charged upon the productions of the United States, than upon similar articles, when imported from any other country or place.
This proposal was rejected, on the alleged ground, that the British government must continue to protect the productions of her northern colonies against foreign competition. It was, however, easy to be seen, that under that pretence, the productions of the United States might be forced, by colonial regulations, to obtain admission into the West Indies, through the ports of the northern colonies, and under the character of colonial productions. A high discriminating duty in their favour, would make it the interest of the American merchant to send his cargo to Halifax, or Bermuda, to be there re-shipped to the West Indies in British bottoms.
The rejection of this proposition,
consequently, left the United States no option, but to relinquish the trade to British shipping, or to meet the British navigation system by similar restrictions. They chose the latter, and on the 15th of May, 1820, a law was passed prohibiting all intercourse in British vessels, with any colony, and also, the importation of all colonial productions, except produced in the colony itself from which they were imported. This closed the intercourse between the United States and the West Indies, and shut the produce of the British West Indies from the American market.
The operation of these retaliatory measures upon the British islands was severely felt, both by the inhabitants of the colonies, and by the British capitalist, whose property was invested in plantations, or in the West India trade.
The vast amount of British capital invested there, estimated at 70,000,000 sterling, recommended the condition to which the islands were reduced by our navigation system, to the attention of the ministry, and after permitting them to endure its effects for two years, an act was introduced into parlia ment for their relief.
By this act, passed June 24th, 1822, certain enumerated articles were authorized to be imported into certain colonial ports, in vessels of the country where those articles were produced, and the
exportation of colonial produce and British manufactures was also permitted in foreign vessels, bonds being given, that such cargoes be landed in the country to which such vessel belonged.
On bread stuffs, live stock, and lumber, articles of the first necessity to the West Indies, when imported from any foreign country, an average duty of ten per cent. was imposed, for the purpose of encouraging their importation from the British provinces in North America. To British vessels, the same privileges were given as to foreign, and they were permitted, in addition, to trade from the islands with any of the British possessions in America or Europe.
This provision was intended, to give them the advantages to be derived from the circuitous voyage.
After thus prescribing the terms of intercourse, the act went on to authorize the king, by order in council, to prohibit this trade to the vessels of all countries, where the privileges granted by that act to foreign shipping, were not allowed to British vessels trading with those countries.
This threat of prohibition, made it necessary for the American government to consider attentively the provisions of the British act; so that while on one hand it granted to British vessels trading with the colonies, privile. ges similar to those allowed to its
own vessels, on the other, it might not depart from that system of reciprocity, to which it had adhered from its first organization.
According to the navigation laws of the two countries, after the passage of the above mentioned act, the intercourse between the United States and the British colonies stood upon the following basis, viz :
American vessels might trade with certain enumerated ports in the West Indies, and were allowed to import directly from the United States, certain articles produced there of indispensable necessity to the British islands. Upon these cargoes, however, duties averaging ten per cent. were laid by act of parliament, to which similar cargoes, from the North American colonies, were not liable; and heavy discriminating duties were imposed, in addition, by various colonial legislatures, so as to give a decided advantage to British vessels, and to encourage the exportation of the produce of the United States, through Canada, Nova Scotia, and Bermuda. Besides this advantage to the shipping of Great Britain, there was a still greater, given by the regulations concerning the return cargoes. American vessels, upon giving bonds to land their cargoes in the United States, were allowed to load with colonial produce or British manufactures, paying an ad valorem export duty of 4 or 5 per cent. British vessels,
in addition to this, might take the same cargoes to any other possessions of Great Britain, in America or Europe.
It was clear, that by this change in its policy, the British government aimed at three objects-to encourage the exportation of the West India supplies from her nor thern colonies, whether produced there or obtained from the United States; to sustain her shipping in the direct trade between the United States and Europe, by securing to them, exclusively, the advantages of the combination of voyages; and to engross the colonial trade, by burdening American vessels with discriminating duties, imposed by the local legislatures.
The government of the United States perceived this, and addressed itself to provide counteractive measures to protect its shipping, and to preserve the reciprocity in trade, which formed so striking a feature in its commercial policy.
The proclamation issued by Mr. Monroe, May 6th, 1822, opening the ports of the United States to British vessels from the colonies, prohibited the importation from the West Indies of any articles other than the produce or manufactures of the West Indies; and a similar restriction was extended to the importations from the North American colonies. The discriminating duty of one dollar per ton, continued to be levied on British vessels
from the colonies, according to the existing revenue laws.
These provisions, however, did not render the terms of intercourse exactly reciprocal. To effect that, the government of the United States should have permitted British vessels to enter only certain specified ports; to bring only certain enumerated articles, excluding some of the chief staple productions of the islands; and on the enume. rated articles, a duty of ten per cent. should have been laid, in addition to the ordinary duty on the same articles imported from other places. The return cargo should have been burthened by some state law, with an export duty of four or five per cent.; and the British vessel should have been required to land the cargo at the port for which she should clear out. This would have placed the navigation laws of the respective countries, regulating the colonial trade, on a basis of reciprocity. But such provisions would have been inconsistent with the American commercial system; and were, moreover, beyond the powers vested in the executive of the United States. Congress, accordingly, took the subject into its consideration; and after much deliberation, passed the act of March 1st, 1823, limiting the permission to British vessels, to clear out for the colonies, to such as should have come directly from some of the enu.
merated ports. This law confined the British shipping to the direct trade, as that of the United States had been by the British navigation acts; and it offered to discard all discriminating duties, if Great Britain would place the productions of the United States upon the same footing as similar productions from elsewhere.
The intercourse was thus made as nearly reciprocal as the nature of the case would allow. The vessels of both parties were confined to the direct trade, and to meet the average import duty of ten per cent. in favour of the productions of British North America, and the export duty of four or five per cent., a discriminating tonnage duty of ninety-four cents on British vessels was retained.
The British minister at Washington immediately complained of these measures, to preserve American shipping from the operation of the navigation and colonial system of his government; and he was distinctly assured, that the United States were ready, as they always had been, to adjust the intercourse with the West Indies upon terms of reciprocity, but that they should continue to meet restriction by restriction.
An order by the king in council was then issued, July, 1823, imposing a tonnage duty of 4s. 3d. on American vessels trading with the colonies, for the purpose of coun
tervailing the American discriminating tonnage duty.
This left the British import and export duties without any countervailing measure on the part of the United States; but as our exports were absolutely necessary to the existence of the West India colonies, all these impositions were finally borne by their inhabitants; and Great Britain became convinced, that all the expenses of this commercial warfare were paid by her own subjects. This, in connexion with the fact, that notwithstanding the burdens imposed upon that trade, the greatest portion of it was carried on in American shipping, determined the British government to adopt a new policy respecting it. This determination was evinced by the act of parliament of July 5th, 1825.
Previous, however, to the passage of that act, a negotiation had been opened at London, between the two governments, for the purpose of settling this long dispute, in a manner satisfactory to both parties.
In this negotiation, their respective views were fully developed. The United States were willing, to remove all discriminating duties upon the vessels of both parties trading between the United States and the colonies, upon condition that no duties should be levied upon the importations into the colonies from the United States, which