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Chap, vii. United States, to prove, that three hundred thou1794. sand British manufacturers would be suddenly thrown out of employment, by withdrawing the trade carried on between America and that country. In the complication of distress to which such a measure would reduce them, they would consider the United States as a natural asylum from wretchedness. But whether they remained in discontent at home, or sought their fortune abroad, the evil would be considered and felt by the British government as equally great, and they would surely beware of taking any step that might provoke it.
On the advantages of America in such a contest with a populous and manufacturing country, they dwelt with peculiar earnestness. She produced all the necessaries of life within herself, and could dispense with the articles received from others. But Great Britain, not producing them in sufficient abundance, was dependent on the United States for the supply of her most essential wants. Again, the manufacturer of that country was dependent on this for a sale of his merchandise which was to purchase his bread. Thus was produced a double dependence of Great Britain on the United States. She was also dependent on them for the raw materials which formed the basis of her manufactures. Her West Indies were almost completely dependent. This country furnished the best market for their productions, and was almost the only one which could supply them with the necessaries of life. The regulation excluding the provisions of other foreign countries was entitled to no consideration. It was of ancient Chap. vn. date, and had remained untouched because there 1794. was no other foreign country by which provisions could be supplied.
That the commercial regulations of Great Britain were as favourable to the United States as to other nations ought not to satisfy America. If other nations were willing to bear impositions, or were unable to retaliate, their examples were not worthy of imitation. America was in a condition to insist, and ought to insist on perfect commercial equality.
It was denied that any real advantage was derived from the extensive credit given by the merchants of Great Britain. On the contrary, the use made of British capital was pronounced a great political evil. It increased the unfavourable balance of trade, discouraged domestic manufactures, and promoted luxury. But its greatest mischief was, that it favoured a system of British influence, which was dangerous to their political security.
The subject was placed by different speakers in a great variety of forms; and the speculative advantages to be produced by diverting American commerce from British to French channels, were pressed with all the zeal of conviction.
The immense advantages to be derived from the proposed regulations would, it was said, without doubt, amply repay for the expense of fitting out a marine force, and for any other consequences that might attend them.
As the debate progressed, a greater degree of exasperation against Britain was avowed; and
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Chap. Vii. occasional allusions were made to those party 1794. questions which had long agitated the public mind, with a bitterness which marked their intimate connexion with the conduct of the United States to foreign countries.
It was said to be proper in deciding the ques%tion under debate, to take into view political, as well as commercial considerations. Ill will and jealousy had at all times been the predominant features of the conduct of England to the United States. That government had grossly violated the treaty of peace, had declined a commercial treaty, had instigated the Indians to raise the tomahawk and scalping knife against American citizens, had let loose the Algerines upon their unprotected commerce, and had insulted their flag, and pillaged their trade in every quarter of the world. These facts being notorious, it was astonishing to hear gentlemen ask how had Britain injured their commerce?
The conduct of France, on the contrary, had been warm and friendly. That nation respected American rights, and had offered to enter into commercial arrangements on the liberal basis of
i perfect reciprocity.
The period which Mr. Smith had taken as that at which the systems of the two nations should be compared with each other, was reprobated with peculiar severity. It was insinuated to proceed from a wish that the United States should directly countenance the restoration of despotism; and much regret was expressed that a distrust of the permanency of the French revolution should be avowed. It was hoped and believed that the Chap. Vii. present was the settled state of things; and that 1794 the old order of things was unsettled forever: that the French revolution was as much more permanent than had been the French despotism, as was the great fabric of nature, than the petty plastic productions of art. To exclude the period since the revolution would be to exclude some of the strongest evidences of the friendship of one nation, and the enmity of the other.
The animadversions which had been made on the report of the secretary of state were retorted with acrimony. It was declared that he would not suffer by a comparison in point of intelligence, accuracy, and patriotism, either with the laborious compiler of the table produced by Mr. Smith, or with the gentleman who had been judiciously selected for its interpreter. Some explanations were given of the inaccuracies which had been alleged; and the facts omitted were declared to be immaterial circumstances, which if inserted, would have swelled the report, without adding to the information it communicated.
On the part of the argument which stated that Great Britain did not in common years raise a sufficient quantity of grain for her own consumption, and would consequently afford an increasing market for American wheat and Hour, it was remarked that this not only established the all important position of the dependence of that country on this, but suggested a very interesting reflection. It was that the continual increase of debt and paper machinery, will not produce a T t t 2
Chap. Vii. correspondent increase of ability in the nation to 1794. feed itself. That an infinity of paper will not produce an infinity of food.
In contrasting the ability of the two nations to support a commercial conflict, it was said "Great Britain, tottering under the weight of a king, a court, a nobility, a priesthood, armies, navies, debts, and all the complicated machinery of oppression which serves to increase the number of unproductive, and lessen the number of productive hands; at this moment engaged in a foreign war; taxation already carried to the ultimatum of financial device ; the ability of the people already displayed in the payment of taxes, constituting a political phenomenon; all prove the debility of the system and the decrepitude of old age. On the other hand, the United States, in the flower of youth; increasing in hands; increasing in wealth; and, although an imitative policy has unfortunately prevailed in the erection of a funded debt, in the establishment of an army, the anticipation of a navy,* and all the paper machinery for increasing the number of unproductive, and lessening the number of productive hands; yet the operation of natural causes has, as yet, in some degree countervailed their influence, and still furnish a great superiority in comparison with Great Britain."
An attempt was made to liken the present situation of America to that in which she stood at
* Resolutions had been offered for the creation of a small navy to be employed in the Mediterranean.