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instigating the most horrid cruelties. The pro- Chap, Vh, positions before the committee were the strongest 1794, weapon America possessed, and would, more probably than any other, restore her to all her political and commercial rights. They professed themselves the friends of free trade, and declared the opinion that it would be to the general ad vantage, if all commerce was free. But this rule was not without its exceptions. The navigation act of Great Britain was a proof of the effect of one exception on the prosperity of national commerce. The effect produced by that act was equally rapid and extensive.
There is another exception to the advantages of a free trade, where the situation of a country is such with respect to another, that by duties on the commodities of that other, it shall not only invigorate its own means of rivalship, but draw from that other the hands employed in the production of those commodities. When such an effect can be produced, it is so much clear gain, and is consistent with the general theory of national rights.
The effect of leaving commerce to regulate itself is to submit it to the regulation of other nations. If the United States had a commercial intercourse with one nation only, and should permit a free trade while that nation proceeded on a monopolizing system, would not the carrying trade be transferred to that nation, and with it, the maritime strength it confers be heaped upon a rival? then, in the same proportion to the freedom granted to the vessels of other nations in the s s s 2
Chap, Vii United States, and to the burdens other nations 1794. impose on American vessels, will be the transfer of those maritime resources.
The subject was not novel. It was as old as the nation. It had been discussed from their political birth, and had exercised the thoughts and attention of reflecting persons ever since.
The various ineffectual attempts which had been made by the state legislatures, for the establishment of a system to retaliate the restrictions on American trade, were reviewed, and it was declared that out of this experience arose those measures which terminated in the existing constitution, with a view to permanent regulations, and the vindication of commercial rights. It had been the firm belief of the people, that some regulations on this head would be among the first fruits of the government. An attempt in that house was one of its first fruits, but this first experiment expired in the senate.
The propositions before the committee should be examined as they concern navigation, manufactures, and the just principles of discrimination that ought to prevail in their policy to nations having treaties with them.
With respect to navigation, it was conceded that they were not placed upon the same footing by the two nations with whom they had the greatest commercial intercourse. British vessels could bring the produce of all countries into any port of the United States; while American vessels could carry to the ports of Britain only their own commodities, and those only to a part of her
dominions. From her ports in the West Indies Chap, Vu. they were entirely excluded.
To exhibit at a glance the effect of the British navigation act, it was sufficient to compare the quantity of American and British tonnage employed in their intercourse with each other. The former in 1790 amounted to 43,000 tons, and the latter to 240,000 tons. The effect of British policy would be further shown by showing the proportion of domestic tonnage employed at the same time in the intercourse with other European nations. With Spain the American was to the Spanish as five to one, with Portugal six to one, Netherlands fifteen to one, Denmark twelve to one, France five to one, Great Britain one to five. This ratio had by particular circumstances, been somewhat changed. From calculations founded on the documents last introduced into the house, it appeared that, at present, the proportion of American to foreign tonnage employed in the American trade was, with Spain as sixteen to one, Portugal seventeen to one, Netherlands twentysix to one, Denmark fifteen to one, Russia fourteen to one, France between four and five to one, and Great Britain one to three.
The situation of American commerce was the more mortifying when the nature and amount of their exports came to be considered. They were not only necessaries of life, or necessaries for manufactures, and therefore of life to the manufacturer, but their bulkiness gave them an advantage over the exports of every other country. If America, to increase her maritime strength,
Chap, vii. should secure to herself the transportation of her 1794. own commodities, leaving to other nations the transportation of theirs, it would greatly augment the proportion of her shipping and of her sailors. In relation to manufactures, the regulations existing between the United States and Great Britain were not more equal. Out of the whole amount of manufactured articles imported into this country, which was stated in round numbers at fifteen millions, two hundred and ninety thousand dollars, Great Britain furnished thirteen millions nine hundred and sixty thousand. In the same period, in the year 1789-90, the articles which the United States received from France, a country which actually consumed more of their produce, amounted only to one hundred and fifty-five thousand dollars. The balance of trade at the same epoch was greatly in favour of the United States with every other nation, and greatly against them with Britain. Although it might happen in some cases, that other advantages might be derived from an intercourse with a particular nation, which might compensate for an unfavourable balance of trade, it was impossible that this could happen in the intercourse with Great Britain. Other nations, however, viewed a balance of trade against them as a real evil; and Great Britain in particular was careful to prevent it. What then must be the feelings of a nation, between whom and the United States the most friendly relations existed, when she saw, not only the balance of trade against her, but that what was thus obtained from her, flowed in the same manner into the coffers of one of her Chap. vn. most jealous rivals and inveterate enemies? 1794.
The propriety of discriminating between nations having treaties with the United States, and those having none, was admitted in some states before the establishment of the present government, and was sanctioned by that house during their sitings in New York. It was the practice of nations to make such a discrimination. It was necessary to give value to treaties.
The disadvantage of depending on a single nation for articles of necessary consumption was strongly pressed; and it was added as an evil of most serious magnitude, more truly alarming than any other of its features, that this commercial dependence produced an influence in their councils which enabled it, the more inconvenient it became by its constant growth, to throw the more obstacles in the way of a necessary remedy.
They entertained no apprehensions of injurious consequences from adopting the proposed resolutions. The interests of Great Britain would not suffer her to retaliate; and the intercourse between the two countries would not be interrupted further than was required by the convenience and the interests of the United States. But if Great Britain should retaliate, the effects of a commercial conflict would be felt by her much more sensibly than by the United States. Its effects would be felt in the shipping business, by the merchants, and above all by the manufacturer.
Calculations were offered, by comparing the total amount of British exports with those to the