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Chap. vn. Pot and pearl ash, indigo, naval stores, and \794. iron, were more favoured in Great Britain than in France. Live cattle, and flaxseed, were equal in both countries.
Thus it must appear that the great articles of exportation were more encouraged by the British, than by the French market.
A comparative statement of the value of the exports to the two countries would assist in confirming this opinion.
The value of the exports to Great Britain, at the close of the year ending with September 1789, was nearly double those made to France in the same period: and even the average of the years 1790, 1791 and 1792, gave an annual excess to the exports to Great Britain of three millions, seven hundred and fifty.two thousand, seven hundred and sixty dollars.
But to do away the force of these facts, the secretary had stated, that great part of the commodities received by Great Britain from the United States was re-exported to other countries, under the disadvantage of double charges and a double voyage. This assertion, he believed, was founded on a statement made by lord Sheffield from data taken prior to the American revolution, when their exports were chiefly confined to that single country. This standard was surely inapplicable to the existing state of things. But suppose Great Britain to re-export one third of the commodities received from the United States, still her consumption would exceed that of France.
But were the fact otherwise, it might not be Chap, va always the interest of America to carry her com- 1794. modities to the highest market, if her vessels could not there obtain commodities in exchange, and a freight back. In such a state of things it might be more advantageous to have an intermediate market, as England, which in this relation rather tends to extend than abridge her commercial advantages; and is almost as useful as if she actually consumed that produce. The existence of such a system, not forced, is a proof that it is not injurious. The great amount of merchandise imported from Britain, instead of being a grievance, demonstrated, in the opinion of Mr. Smith, the utility of the trade with that country. For the extent of the intercourse between the two nations, several obvious reasons might be assigned. Britain was the first manufacturing country in the world, and was more able than any other to supply an assortment of those articles which were required in the United States. She entitled herself too to the preference which was given her by the extensive credit she afforded. To a young country wanting capital, credit was of immense advantage. It enabled them to flourish by the aid of foreign capital, the use of which had, more than any other circumstance, nourished the industry of America.
By the advocates for forcing a trade with France, it was asserted that she could supply the wants of America on better terms than Great Britain. To do this, she must not only sell
Chap, vu. cheaper, but give credit, which, it was known her 1794. merchants either could not, or would not give.
The very necessity of laying a duty on British manufactures, in order to find a sale for those of other countries, was a proof that the first could be purchased on better terms, ortwere better adapted to the market.
If the object of the resolutions were the encouragement of domestic manufactures, there might be some semblance of argument in their favour. But this is not contemplated. Their avowed object is to turn the course of trade from one nation to another, by means which would subject the citizens of the United States to great inconvenience.
He should not deny the disadvantage of depending on one nation only for a supply of the articles of usual and necessary consumption; but this dependence was not to be shaken off by a sacrifice of their best interests. Lessening the importation of British manufactures by high duties, imposed for the purpose of counterbalancing the disadvantages under which other nations laboured, was to give a bounty out of their own pockets, not for the encouragement of their own manufactures, but those of another country.
Mr. Smith next proceeded to consider the subject with a view to navigation.
The trade of the United States to G. Britain, for the transportation of their own produce, was as free in American as in British bottoms, a few trifling port charges excepted. In France, they enjoyed the advantages granted to the most favoured nation. Thus far the comparison was in favour of Chap. Vh. Great Britain. In the West Indies, he admitted 1794, the existence of a different state of things. All American bottoms were excluded from the British islands with the exception of Turks island. In the French islands, vessels under sixty tons were admitted, but this advantage was common to all other nations.
The effect of the difference in the regulations of the two rival nations in respect of navigation was not so considerable as the secretary of state had supposed. He had stated the tonnage employed in the intercourse with France and her colonies at 116,410 tons; and that employed in the commerce with Great Britain at 43,580 tons. The secretary was led into this miscalculation by taking for his guide, the actual entries of American bottoms from the dominions of each country in the year. As four voyages are made to the West Indies while only two are made to Europe, the vessels employed in the former traffic will be counted four times in the year, and those employed in the latter will be counted only twice in the same period. The deceptiveness of the calculations made from these data had induced a call on the secretary of the treasury for an account of the actual tonnage employed in trade with foreign nations for one year. This account shows that France employs 82,510 tons, and Great Britain 66,582 tons of American shipping, leaving in favour of France, an excess of 15,928, instead of 72,830 tons, as reported by the secretary of state.
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Chap. Vii. From this comparative view taken of the regu1794. lations of the two nations, Mr. Smith conceived himself justified in saying, that the commercial system of Great Britain towards the United States, far from being hostile, was friendly; and that she made many discriminations in their favour. France, on the contrary, placed them on a better situation than her rival, only in one solitary instance, the unimportant article of fish oil.
If this be a true picture of the existing state of things, and he could not perceive in what it was defective, was it not time he asked, that the deceptions practiced on the people by the eulogists of France, and the revilers of Great Britain, should be removed?
The resolutions were advocated by Mr. Madison, Mr. Findley, Mr. Nicholas, Mr. Clarke, Mr. Smiley, Mr. Moore and Mr. Giles.
They admitted the subject before the committee to be of a commercial nature, but conceived it to be impracticable to do justice to the interests of the United States without some allusions to politics. The question was in some measure general. They were to inquire how far it was the interest of this country by commercial regulations to vary the state of commerce now existing. They were of opinion that most of the injuries proceeding from Great Britain were inflicted for the promotion of her commercial objects, and were to be remedied by commercial resistance. The Indian war, and the Algerine attack originated both in commercial views, or Great Britain must stand without excuse for