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530

COMMERCE WITH GREAT BRITAIN, ETC. [CHAP. VII.

States was exempt; while, in France, there was no discrimination.

Salted fish and fish oil were the only articles in which the regulations of France were more advantageous than those of Great Britain. The latter nation being able to supply herself, admitted their importation, subject to a small duty, while she gave a bounty on those articles taken by her own subjects.

Pot and pearl ashes, naval stores, and indigo, were more favored in Great Britain than in France.

Live cattle and flaxseed were on an equal footing in both countries.

A consequence of this greater encouragement to the trade with Great Britain was, that, in 1789, the exports to that country were nearly double those to France, and the average of 1790, 1791, and 1792, gave an annual excess of the same character of three millions seven hundred and fifty-two thousand dollars.

But to do away with the effects of this excess of exports, the Secretary had relied on the fact that a great part of the commodities received by Great Britain lay under the disadvantages of double freight and charges.

The fact of re-exportation, which formerly took place, he said, might then be questioned, but supposing it to exist to the extent of one-third of the commodities received, even then, her consumption would exceed that of France. But were the fact otherwise, it might not always be to the interest of the United States to carry their commodities to the highest market, if their vessels could not there obtain other commodities in exchange, and a freight back. In this state of things it might be more profitable to have an intermediate market, not subject to the before-mentioned disadvantages. That this is the free course of trade is a proof that it is beneficial.

1794.]

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The great amount of imports from Great Britain, on which the Secretary lays stress, is a proof of the utility of that trade. It must be owing to the better quality and greater cheapness of her commodities. She was also able to give an extensive credit, which is an immense advantage to a young and growing country, like the United States. The necessity of laying a duty on British manufactures, in order to find a sale for those of other countries, is a proof that the first were cheaper, or better suited to the American market.

He confessed that there might be more expediency in the proposed policy, if the object were to encourage domestic manufactures; but its avowed object is to turn the course of trade from one foreign nation to another.

He admitted the disadvantages of depending on a single nation for the supply of articles of general consumption, but urged that this dependence was not to be shaken off by a sacrifice of their best interests; that the lessening the imports of British manufactures by high duties to counterbalance the disadvantages under which other nations lay, was to pay a bounty out of our own pockets, not to encourage our own manufactures, but those of the nations we thus favored.

On the subject of navigation, he maintained that the trade of the United States was as free in American as in British vessels, except as to some trifling port charges. France merely put the American vessels on the footing of the most favored nations. Thus far, American navigation was most favored by Great Britain. In the West Indies, American vessels are excluded by Great Britain, but by France, vessels of sixty tons are admitted from all countries. In this respect, the French regulations are the most favorable.

The Secretary had stated the American tonnage

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[CHAP. VII. employed in the trade with France at one hundred and sixteen thousand four hundred and ten tons; while that employed in the trade with Great Britain was only fortythree thousand five hundred and eighty tons: but he had not taken into account that four voyages are made in the year to the West Indies, while only two are made to Europe: that, to make the comparison fairly, a call had been made for the tonnage of the vessels actually employed in the trade with the two countries, and it was found to be to France eighty thousand five hundred and eighty-two tons, and to Great Britain sixty-six thousand five hundred and eighty-two tons. On the whole, that the commercial system of Great Britain was friendly, and made more discriminations than France in favor of the United States.

The defence of the resolutions by their mover, Mr. Madison, Messrs. Findley, Nicholas, Clarke, Smiley, Moore, and Giles, was in substance as follows:

That most of the injuries inflicted by Great Britain on the United States proceeding from her efforts to extend her commerce, could be remedied by appealing to her commercial interests: that the Indian war against the United States, and the attack of the Algerines, must be referred to these views, or she must be convicted of gratuitous cruelty. The propositions submitted were likely to answer their intended purpose. The speakers professed themselves friendly to the principles of free trade, but urged that to this rule there were exceptions. The effect of the navigation laws of Great Britain was a striking instance of such exception.

Another exception was when, by duties on the commodities of another country, we could not only strengthen our means of rivalship, but draw from Great Britain the hands employed in producing those commodities.

1794.]

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The practical effect of leaving commerce to regulate itself is in fact to subject it to the regulations of other nations. The best way to derive advantage from trade is to leave it entirely free; and, next to that, is to make the restrictions reciprocal. It was the want of this reciprocity, and of adequate efforts to provide a remedy for it, which first suggested the present Constitution; and to this remedy the people confidently looked.

The injurious effect of British restrictions on American shipping was shown by comparing what was employed in our trade with them and with other countries. Thus our shipping in the trade with other nations compared with theirs, in the same trade, varied from five to twentysix to one; but in our trade with Great Britain it was only as one to three. We should, moreover, be the greater gainers by carrying our own products, because they were so bulky in proportion to their value. They relied on the balance of trade being against the United States, in its commerce with Great Britain, and maintained that it was a disadvantage to depend upon a single nation for articles of general consumption.

They urged the improbability of retaliation by Great Britain, considering the value and importance of the American trade to her: that the credit afforded to American merchants was no real benefit, but was productive of mischief in augmenting luxurious consumption, discouraging domestic manufactures, and increasing British influence and lastly, the conduct of Great Britain in stimulating the hostilities both of the Algerines and Indians was referred to, and contrasted with the conduct of France, which had always been friendly and generous. They insisted that three hundred thousand British manufacturers would be thrown out of employment by with

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[CHAP. VII.

drawing the trade between that country and the United States.

Besides the arguments relative to the interests of commerce, political considerations were pressed into the debate by one party, and probably entered into the feelings of both parties. The public debt was repeatedly adverted to, sometimes to show its mischiefs, by the heavy taxes to which it gave rise, by the dependence on other nations which it produced; and sometimes as explaining the difference in the language now held towards Great Britain, and that held when America declared her independence. The national character was said to depend on the passage of the resolutions.

These arguments were replied to by Messrs. Smith of Maryland, Goodhue, Lee, Dexter, Ames, Dayton, Hartley, Tracey, Hillhouse, Forest, Fitzsimmons, and Foster.

They insisted that if the United States had suffered wrongs from Great Britain, this was not the mode of redressing them. When that subject came properly before them, they would not be slow to vindicate the rights of the country. The mode proposed, they said, was unworthy the dignity of the American character.

If the resolutions were adopted, it should be only because they would advance the interests of the United States, not that they would injure one foreign nation, and benefit another. As there was no friendship in trade, neither ought there to be any enmity.

But the objects of the resolutions avowed by their friends, were to encourage the navigation and commerce of the United States. Let them then be examined under this aspect. It had been urged that the American tonnage ought to exceed the foreign tonnage as the exports of the United States exceed in bulk their imports from other countries. This was denied. Great Britain carries

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