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tied on with great spirit, increasing their trade with the West Indies to an incredible extent; considerable numbers of our best fishermen have emigrated from Newfoundland and this Province, to the United Suites, within a few months, and more are daily following them: thus it appears evident, that a wise policy, steadily pursued, will preserve a sinking trade, and that this Province is not wanting in exertion, when favourable opportunities for it are offered.
Should the Americans obtain by treaty an indulgence of their trade in fish with the West Indies, it will prove the ruin of that of the British Northern Colonies, and draw away from them their most industrious inhabitants. The islands will then depend on Foreign States for supplies of all the articles before enumerated; and if at any time hereafter differences should take place between Great Britain and the American States, from what quarter, it may be asked, are the Islands to obtain their supplies; the ruined trade and fisheries of those colonies may prove, too late, the fatal policy of throwing into the hands of foreigners a trade, which, with a little encouragement, might have been almost, if not entirely, confined to British subjects.
From these considerations the justice and policy of giving encouragement to the Northern Colonies are evident. Should the stranger's duty, imposed in the Islands, be taken off; should a bounty equal to that granted by the State Legislature be allowed, and the present war succeeded by a peace, then may the West India Islands receive from these Colonies supplies of all kinds of dried or pickled fish, on terms as advantageous as they are now furnished with them from a Foreign State. It is obvious that the Americans, and the West India planters, have a mutual interest in the free trade to the Islands, but the planters have no right to expect supplies from a neutral nation in time of war, merely because it affords them at a cheaper rate than the British Colonies; they should bear the inconveniences of war a9 well as their fellow subjects, who have been driven into these northern regions by their zealous loyalty in support of the happy constitution under which they now live. The supplies required by the Islands cannot greatly increase; while the Northern Colonies, from their great extent and growing population, will every year be more and more able to furnish those supplies. The Islands are, in a measure, limited in their extent; but the Northern Colonies are almost unbounded.
The inhabitants of those colonies have acquired their present con
«ition, tohich, at best, is mediocrity, by a continued exertion of industry and frugality, under a climate and a soil, which yield their blessings to persevering exertion alone. The West India planters have ever been in a different situation, and can afford to wait a reasonable time for the accomplishment of those expectations which are justly entertained by the colonists; in the interim, they ought to give a fair equivalent for the articles of which they stand in need, and not expect, at an inferior price, commodities whose value the imperious circumstances of the times have tended to enhance. The northern colonists have struggled with all the difficulties incident to a young country, and they are now arrived at a period, when, if duly encouraged, they may be enabled to reap the fruits of their honest labour: but restricted in their trade to the Mediterranean by an ancient regulation, which obliges them to land their cargoes in some English .European port, before they can proceed on homeward-bound voyages, and burthened also in the manner here stated in the West India trade, the petitioners cannot contend with the Americans, but look forward with the most" distressful prospects to means of procuring a future subsistence, unless his Majesty, in his goodness, shall be pleased to afford them protection and relief. They therefore anxiously hope, that the observations contained in this memorial may not appear unworthy of the attention of his Majesty's ministers, but that whatever temporary indulgences may be granted to the American citizens, the British colonists, agreeably to their former solicitations on that subject, may be permitted to return to America, without entering at any port in Great Britain.
My Lord, Halifax, Jan. 30, 1805.
We the Committee of the-merchants and inhabitants of Halifax, Nova Scotia, who presented to Lord Hobart, your Lordship's predecessor, a petition, praying that the British colonists might have the exclusive right of supplying his Majesty's West India islands with fish, have lately seen, in print, a letter written to your Lordship by G. W. Jordan, Esq. Colonial Agent for Barbadoes, containing observations on our petition, and the memorial annexed to it; we think it our duty briefly to answer those observations, and to enforce die object of our petition.
Mr. Jordan's first remark is founded on a misconception or perversion of the allegation of the petitioners; we assert in our memorial "that in the islands of Barbadoes, Antigua, Saint Kilt's, and Ja"maica, a stranger's duty, of two and a half per cent. is imposed on "imports, and that in the island of Saint Vincent, British subjects, "exclusively, are subject to a duty of three per cent.;" no charge is therefore made, that the duty is not general in the island of Barbadoes; the charge is clearly confined to the single island of Saint Vincent.
We are not alarmed, my Lord, at the reference made by Mr. Jordan to papers which were not intended for his inspection, but for private information only; since those papers contain no other facts than such as can be proved. The practice in the West India islands of keeping the ports always open to the Americans, amounts, in our apprehension, to the grant of a free trade; and that goods of foreign manufacture are by these means introduced into the islands no one who is at all acquainted with the character and practices of the American traders can doubt. We lament that, even in these colonies, into whose ports no American vessels are admitted, except fishing vessels, which by treaty are allowed to resort to our coasts, such quantities of foreign goods do find admittance, that it is to be feared more than half the East India goods consumed in this province is supplied from the neighbouring States of America.
We do not, as Mr. Jordan is pleased to assert, claim a right of selling our own commodities at our own prices in time of war j but we contend that, when the article of fish is furnished from the northern colonies, in abundance, although increased in price by the war expences, the West India colonists ought not, on that account, to require or permit the introduction of it from foreign states, and in foreign bottoms; especially as the fish is generally paid for in the produce of the islands, of which the planters take care to raise the price in proportion. That these northern colonies can supply the islands with their whole consumption of fish, and at reasonable prices, can be easily proved, and that they are, therefore, entitled to do so, exclusively, Mr. Jordan himself admits.
The right of the West India colonists to obtain from the American States all articles of the first necessity, which they cannot adequately obtain from the dominions of Great Britain, is not disputed by us; but we assert that the article of fish can be adequately ohtaincd from the British colonies. That the allowing supplies to be imported in American bottoms has been destructive to the British carrying trade, has been lately demonstrated by a very able writer on the subject; and that the indulgences granted to the Americans have injured the fisheries, and greatly reduced the tonnage and seamen employed in these colonies, we can assert from our own sad experience. An inspection into the imports and exports of the island of Jamaica for one year, as laid before their House of Assembly, and published in the Jamaica almanack for the last year, will shew how large a portion of the West India carrying trade is engrossed by the Americans.
If, my Lord, we have stated in our memorial that it is, now, more advantageous for the merchants of this colony to dispose of their fish in the United States, than to send it to the West India islands,— we have made it a subject of complaint; and at the same time have set forth the reasons why the Americans rival us in that trade. Were «ur commerce with the islands placed on a fair foundation, the same British ships would convey our fish thither, which now carry it to the American markets. But burdened as that trade is with insurance against the enemy, and confined as it is, and ought to be, to a fair dealing in legitimate merchandize, we contend in those ports with the Americans at every disadvantage.
Had Mr. Jordan fairly observed on our petition and memorial, he would not have asserted that the positive affirmation in the former, "that these provinces can supply the West Indies with fish," was shaken by a subsequent observation, "that, under certain cir"cumstances, the trade and fisheries of these colonies would be "ruined, which, with encouragement, might be almost, if not *' entirely, confined to British subjects." The observation refers expressly to the trade in all the articles enumerated in the memorial; the affirmation is confined to the single article of fish. One reading of the paragraph referred to will entirely refute Mr. Jordan's remark.
Having already, my Lord, observed that the increase of the price of fish, occasioned by war, is no just ground for the introduction of that article, from foreign ports, and in foreign vessels, we shall not follow Mr. Jordan in the curious inference he undertakes to draw from our admission, that, in war time, the Americans can undersell us in fish. So little are we disposed to require an extravagant price for our fish, that we most readily would accede to Mr. Jordan's' proposal, of fixing the maximum price of cod fish at eight dollars, in time of war; and, indeed, could we obtain even three-fourths of that price, generally, during the war, the fisheries would soon flourish again, and the islands be at all times amply supplied with fish.
On the two facts with which Mr. Jordan closes his observations, we shall only remark that the former is conceded by us as to the flour and grain imported into Nova Scotia from the United States; and it is perfectly consistent with our memorial, in which we confess that this province is deficient in the articles of wheat and corn. The other fact we must dispute; and although we are not provided with documents to ascertain the tonnage employed between the British North American provinces and the West India islands, for the particular year 1791, yet we are furnished with returns of the tonnage employed in the trade to and from the West India islands for the year 179'<r, and entered at the Custom-house in Halifax, being for one only of the two districts into which this province is divided, and which we beg leave to insert, as follows: *
It is therefore incredible, that, in the year 1791 only, 4837 tonswere employed in the trade between all the .British northern provinces and the West India islands, when, in the subsequent year, it appears by an authentic return, that in one district, of one province, upwards of six thousand tons were actually engaged in that commerce.
Here, my Lord, we conclude our observations ofi Mr. Jordan's letter; nor shall we presume to intrude on your Lordship's patience further than to state one fact, which must demonstrate the efficiency of the British colonies, or at least of British shipping, to supply the demands of the West India markets. From the year 1785, to the year 1794, American ships were excluded from the West