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compatible with, and necessarily to abridge the the Navigation Act, which she was at liberty equal rights of other states.
to do, by opening a direct intercourse between In the late debates of the English Parliament, the colonies and a foreign country, but controlthe minister in the House of Lords stated, ling, which she had no authority to do, the " that instead of seventeen thousand men, em- reciprocal rights of the United States to employ ployed abroad in 1791, forty-one thousand were their own vessels to carry it on. then (1816) required, exclusive of those that Colonies, being parts of the nation,* are subwere serving in France and in India. Thatject to its regulations, and, according to the England now has forty-three principal colonies, practice of Europe, they have been considered in all of which troops are necessary ; that six- as a monopoly of the mother country; but, as teen of these principal colonies were acquired has been stated in former discussions of this since 1791, and six of them had grown into subject, when an intercourse and trade are that rank from mere colonial dependencies." once opened between colonies and a foreign And in the House of Commons the minister, country, the foreign country becomes a party, alluding to the acquisitions made during the and thereby has a reciprocal claim to employ late war with France, said, “that Englard had its own vessels and seamen equally in the inacquired what, in former days, would have tercourse and trade with such colonies, as with been thought a romance-she had acquired the any other part of the nation to which they keys of every great military station."
belong. Thus the commercial aggrandizement of Eng- Governments owe it to the trust confided to land has become such, as that the men who them, carefully to watch over, and by all protested against monopoly, and devised the suitable means to promote, the general welNavigation Act to break it down, could never fare ; and while, on account of a small or have anticipated. And it may, ere long, con- doubtful inconvenience, they will not disturb a cern other nations to inquire whether laws and beneficial intercourse between their own people principles, applicable to the narrow limits of and a foreign country, they ought not to omit English dominion and commerce, at the date the interposition of their corrective authority, of the Navigation Act, when colonies and com- whenever an important public interest is inmerce, and even navigation itself, were com- vaded, or the national reputation affected.paratively in their infancy; laws and principles “It is good not to try experiments in states aimed against monopoly, and adopted to secure unless the necessity be urgent, or the utility to England her just share in the general com- evident; and it is well to beware, that it be the merce and navigation, ought to be ased by Eng reformation that draweth on the change, and land to perpetuate in her own hands a system not the desire of change that pretendeth the equally as exclusive, and far more comprehen-reformation." In this case the importance of sive, than that which she was the chief agent the reformation is seen and acknowledged by to abolish.
every one, and the delay that has occurred in Our commercial system is an open one-our | the making of it may call for explanation. ports and commerce are free to all. We neither We are unable to state with accuracy the possess, nor desire to possess, colonies; nor do tonnage and seamen employed before the revowe object that others should possess them, sub- lution, in the trade between the territories of ject to the ordinary rules and regulations of the United States and the other English colonies; the colonial system, unless thereby the general but it is known to have been a principal branch commerce of the world be so abridged, that we of the American navigation. The colonies that are restrained in our intercourse with foreign England has since acquired from France, Spain, countries wanting our supplies, and furnishing and Holland, together with the increased popuin return, those which we stand in need of. lation of the old colonies, require more ships
It is not, however, to the colonial system, and seamen to be employed in the trade now, but to a new principle, which, in modern than were engaged in it before the independtimes, has been incorporated with those of the ence of the United States. Without reference Navigation Act, that we now object. Accord- to the tonnage and trade between the United ing to this act, no direct trade or intercourse States and the English West India colonies, can be carried on between a colony and a during the late wars between England and foreign country; but yet, by the free port bill, France, which, by reason of the suspension of passed in the present reign, the English contra the English Navigation Act, and the neutrality band trade, which had been long pursued, in of the United States, will not afford a correct violation of Spanish laws, between the English standard by which the tonnage and trade in and Spanish colonies, was sanctioned and regu- time of peace can be ascertained : our customlated by an English act of parliament; and, house returns are the best documents that we since the independence of the United States, England has passed laws, opening an inter- * England alone excludes our vessels and seamen from the course and trade between her West India colo- trade opened between her West India colonies and tho pies and the United States, and, excluding the United States. In the same trade between the United shipping and seamen of the United States, has States and the colonies of France, Spain, Holland, Denmark, confined the same to English ships and seamen ; , and Sweden, our vessels and seamen are alike employed, as thos departing not only from the principles of those of the parent countries respectively.
can consult upon this subject. According to a houses, our harbors, and our commerce, from late report from the department of the treas- foreign aggression and violence, a navy is acury, the tonnage employed in this trade during knowledged to be necessary. From the land the year 1816, which may be taken as a pretty side we are safe ; against dangers from the fair average, amounted to one hundred and two ocean, a navy will prove to be our cheap, our thousand tons, requiring upwards of five thou- sure, and most efficient defence. Although a sand seamen. There may be some error in this subject of doubt heretofore, this truth is now return, though we are not able to detect it. so well understood, and so universally admitThe magnitude and importance of the shipping ted, that it would be to misspend the time of the and seamen engaged in this trade will be more Senate to enter into its development. readily understood by comparison than other- An efficient navy never has existed, and wise. The tonnage thus employed exceeds the cannot exist, without a commercial marine, and whole tonnage employed by the English East the maritime history of Europe, which abounds India Company in its trade with Asia; is nearly with instruction on this subject, demonstrates a moiety of the American and English tonnage this political truth, that the naval power of employed between the United States and Eng-every nation is in proportion to its ships and land, and her possessions in Europe-is equal seamen. Money may build ships, but the navito the American tonnage employed between gation of the great ocean only can make seathe United States and England, and is almost men; and it is in connection with this view of an eighth part of the whole registered tonnage the subject, that the exclusion of our shipping of the United States.
and seamen from the navigation between the To the loss of profits which would accrue United States and the colonies of England, defrom an equal participation in this trade, may rives its chief importance. be added the loss of an equal share of the The prosperity and safety of nations are profreights made by the vessels engaged in it—the moted and established, by institutions early and aggregate amount whereof must be equal to wisely adapted to these ends. A navy, being two millions of dollars, annually. Other ad- such an institution, and our experience having vantages are enjoyed by England in the posses-proved its importance, it has become the duty of sion of the exclusive navigation between the Congress to adopt and to enforce those regulaUnited States and her colonies, and between tions that are necessary to its efficient establishthem and England. Freights are made by ment. In addition to the protection of the English vessels between England and the United fisheries, none more efficacious can be devised. States; between them and the English colonies, than such as shall secure to our own shipping as well as between these colonies and England. and seamen a full participation in the national English voyages are thus made on the three navigation; thereby shutting out any foreign sides of the triangle, while those of the United power from the exclusive enjoyment of a prinStates are confined to one side of it; that be- cipal branch thereof; a branch that now edutween the United States and England.
cates and holds ready for service in the navy of But the money value of this great portion of England, and which would educate and hold our navigation, claimed and hitherto enjoyed ready for service in our own navy, were the by England, although an object that deserves United States, instead of England, in the posthe public protection, is not the most important i session thereof, a body of several thousand seaview in which the same should be considered men. by the Senate. We must learn wisdom from But, by passing this act, shall we not cut ourpast times; and while the experience of the selves off from those foreign supplies, which father is too often lost on the son, this ought our habits have rendered indispensable as well not to be the case in the affairs of nations, as desirable? Will not the English colonial which, living from age to age, and profiting by markets for supplies hitherto purchased and long experience, should become wiser as they exported among us, be lost to them? And shall grow older. The present condition of nations, we increase our navigation by adopting the law ? and especially that of the inhabitants of our The documents that have been communi. own continent, merits our watchful attention, cated to the Senate, by the chairman of the and admonishes us to cherish our national re- Committee of Foreign Relations (Mr. Barbour), sources, and seasonably to devise, and perse- satisfactorily prove, that we are independent veringly to build up, those establishments that of the English colonies for a supply of sugar our present safety demands, and which may be and coffee, for our own consumption; our ancommensurate with our future destiny.
nual re-exportation of these articles exceeding Justice and noderation, which, we confi- the quantity of them annually imported from dently hope, may preside over, and guide our the English colonies: and, in respect to rum, public counsels, have not been found to be a the other article imported from these colonies, suficient armor for the defence of nations. its exclusion will be the loss to England of its “Wisdom, in the ancient mythology, was rep- best, if not only market; and its place will be resented as armed, because experience had readily supplied by other foreign rum and by proved, that good examples and noble precepts brandy: or, which is more probable, as well as fail of their efficacy, unaccompanied by a power more desirable, by domestic spirits distilled to enforce them.” To defend ourselves, our | from grain.
The exports from the United States to the formerly, and within the memory of men now English West India colonies have been esti- living, than they are at the present day; and a mated at four millions of dollars annually. The little more care and economy in the use of our problem has been disputed ever since the inde- timber, even now, would confer an important pendence of the United States, and still remains benefit on posterity. The probability, however, to be solved, whether these colonies could ob- is, that as respects our valuable timber, we shall tain from any other quarter the supplies re- not want foreign markets for all we ought to ceived from the United States. To make this spare. experiment, effectually, further restrictions and As a general rule, it is correct, that every regulations may become necessary, which it is person should be free to follow the business he not now deemed expedient to propose. If the may prefer, since, by the freedom, sagacity and question be decided in the negative, the sup- enterprise of individuals, the general welfare is plies will be continued from the United States, commonly promoted. There are, however, exand our shipping will be benefited. If the ceptions to this principle; and, as general rules articles heretofore supplied from this country affect unequally individual concerns, and meascan be obtained elsewhere, we must find out ures adopted for the common welfare may, from other markets for our exports, or the labor em- | the nature and end of society, sometimes interployed in preparing them must be applied to fere with private pursuits, the latter must give some other branch of industry. We have the way for, and yield to, the former; and, in this power, and hereafter it may become our policy, case, the general welfare, and the interest that as it is that of other countries, to resort to all have, in the encouragement and protection measures, the effect of which would go far to of the shipping and seamen of the country, take balance any disadvantage arising from the loss precedence over the private and individual inof the English colonial markets. We import terests of persons, whose occupations may thereannually upwards of six million gallons of by be somewhat affected. West India rum, more than half of which As to the last point, whether we shall increase comes from the English colonies; we also im- our own navigation and seamen, by passing the port every year nearly seven million gallons of bill, it may be observed : if England meets us molasses; and as every gallon of molasses yields, in the temper that we hope she may, and enters by distillation, a gallon of rum, the rum im- into a reciprocally beneficial arrangement, conported, added to that distilled from molasses, is cerning the navigation of the two countries, our probably equal to twelve million gallons; which shipping will acquire thereby a portion of the enormous quantity is chiefly consumed by citi- carrying trade, now exclusively possessed by zens of the United States. If the importation her; if she persist in her exclusive system, and of rum and molasses for distillation be pro- thus compels us to meet restriction with restrichibited, it would require, at least, four million tion, we shall not be losers by this course, but bushels of grain for distillation to supply an shall ultimately be gainers. equal quantity of ardent spirits; and in this According to the English navigation act, as way, our agriculture would be indemnified for well as the act of parliament, that departs from any loss it might suffer by an exclusion from it, and opens an intercourse between the Engthe English colonial markets.
lish colonies and the United States, we are exAs respects the timber and lumber trade, in- cluded from any share in the navigation between cluding staves and woods, in all the forms in these colonies and the United States. No nowhich we prepare them for exportation, should tice is taken of the occasional relaxation of the no foreign markets be found to supply those, latter act, because, by the double competition which, by the imposition of high duties in Eng- created by the Americans themselves, as sellers land, and those, which, by the passing of this and buyers in the English colonies, the interbill, we may lose in the colonies, those who are course is probably disadvantageous, rather than engaged in this precarious, and, generally, ill beneficial to us. According to the permanent paid and unprofitable business, will hereafter law, English shipping only brings to us her West confine their supplies to our domestic wants, India supplies, and takes in return the articles which are constantly increasing, and to the for- wanted in these colonies. If English shipping eign markets, that are neither affected by Eng- be no longer employed in this service, and the lish duties, nor the bill before us.
articles formerly sent to these colonies are exThe timber of the country is becoming scarce, ported to other markets, or the supplies received and more and more an object of public concern, from them are sought for, and imported into The forests upon the frontier of the ocean, and the United States from other places, the vessels on the great rivers leading to it, are nearly de- of the United States will be employed in this stroyed. In other countries, and even in Rus- service, and so the navigation and mariners of sia, the improvident waste of their timber, es- the country will be encouraged and increased. pecially in the neighborhood of their great iron It will doubtless be found, as it has been hereworks, has become a subject of national solici-tofore, that new markets will be discovered, as tude. Masts, spars, pine, and oak timber fit well for our surpluses, as for our wants, should for naval purposes, and for the other numerous those be lost with which we have formerly had uses for which timber and wood are wanted, intercourse. were far more abundant and of better quality! But, why has a measure of this importance been so long deferred? The explanation which that sncceeded, introduced, in lieu thereof, a this question requires, cannot be made without new bill, which became a law, vesting in the some reference to the history of our communi- king and council authority to make such cations with England since the peace of 1783, temporary regulations of the American navias well as to the views and policy of men and gation and trade, as should be deemed expeparties, that have in succession influenced our dient. public affairs.
Sundry orders in council were accordingly As, according to the laws of England, not-made, whereby a trade and intercourse in withstanding the acknowledgment of our inde- American and English vessels, between the pendence, neither trade nor intercourse could United States and Great Britain, were allowed, be carried on between the United States and and, with the exception of fish-oil, and one or her dominions, it became necessary after the two other articles, the produce of the United treaty of peace to pass some act whereby this States, imported into Great Britain, was adtrade and intercourse might be opened ;--a bill mitted free, or subject only to the duties payfor this purpose was therefore introduced into able on the like articles imported in English the House of Commons by the administration vessels from the American colonies. which concluded the treaty of peace with the An intercourse, and a trade, in enumerated United States. The general scope and provis- articles, were also opened, between the United ions of the bill correspond with the liberal prin- States and the English West India colonies, but ciples which were manifested in that treaty, with a proviso (the principle of which is still plainly show that the authors of this bill under- maintained against us), whereby American vesstood that the true basis of trade and intercourse sels were excluded, and the whole trade conbetween nations, is reciprocity of benefit; a fined to English vessels. foundation on which, alone, the friendly inter- After a periodical renewal of these orders, course between men and nations can be perma- for several years, the regulations that they connently established. The preamble of this bill tained were adopted by, and became an act of declares " that it was highly expedient that the Parliament. This act was afterwards modified, intercourse between Great Britain and the and rendered conformable to the provisions of United States should be established on the most Mr. Jay's treaty, the commercial articles of enlarged principles of reciprocal benefit to both which expired in the year 1803 ;-not long after countries," and as, from the distance between which date England passed a new act of Parthem, it would be a considerable time before a liament concerning the American navigation treaty of commerce placing their trade and in- and trade. This act maintains the exclusion tercourse on a permanent foundation, could be of American vessels from the intercourse beconcluded the bill, for the purpose of a tempo- tween the United States and the English colorary regulation thereof, provided, that Ameri- nies, and confines the same, as former acts and can vessels should be admitted into the ports of orders in council had done, to English vessels ; Great Britain, as those of other independent it repeals the settlement of duties pursuant to states, and that their cargo should be liable to Mr. Jay's treaty; and, giving up the policy of the same duties only as the same merchandise the enlarged and liberal system of intercourse would be subject to, if the same were the prop- which had been proposed in Mr. Pitt's bill, it erty of British subjects, and imported in British also repeals such parts of all former acts and orvessels-and, further, that the vessels of the ders as admitted the productions of the United United States should be admitted into the Eng- States, either free, or on paying the same duties lish plantations, and colonies, in America, with only as were payable on the like articles imany articles the growth or manufacture of the ported from the English colonies and plantaUnited States, and, with liberty to export from tions; and places all articles, the produce of such colonies and plantations to the United the United States, imported in American vesStates any merchandise whatsoever, subject to sels, on the same footing as the like articles imthe same duties only, as if the property of ported in foreign ships from other foreign counBritish subjects, and imported or exported in tries. This new footing of our trade with British vessels; allowing, also, the same boun- England, the importance whereof is well underties, drawbacks, and exemptions, on goods ex- stood by those who are engaged in supplying ported from Great Britain, to the United States, her markets with masts, spars, timber, naval in American vessels, as on the like exportations stores, and pot and pearl ashes, may be regarded in British vessels to the English colonies and as decisive evidence of a complete change of plantations. The persons benefited by the Eng- policy concerning the American trade and inIish exclusive system of trade and navigation, tercourse; which, however unsatisfactory, as became alarmed by the provisions of this bill respected the colonial trade, has become more and earnestly opposed it; and which, after a so, by the provisions of this act of Parliament. variety of discussion, was postponed or rejected. The policy that manifested itself in the treaty About this period, Mr. Pitt, who had supported of our independence, and which is seen in the this bill in the House of Commons, resigned his bill to regulate the trade and intercourse beoffice of Chancellor of the Exchequer, as his tween England and the United States, prepared colleagues in Lord Shelburne's administration, by the administration that made the treaty of had before done. The coalition administration peace, was, by the establishinent of trade and intercourse on the solid basis of reciprocal bene- many sailors and as much shipping as pos fit, to unite in a firm bond of friendship, a peo- sible.* ple politically separate, living under different This unequal footing of our foreign com governments, but having a common origin, a merce, and the language made use of by Engcommon language, a common law, and kindred | land at this juncture, served still more to inblood ; circumstances so peculiar as not to be crease the public discontent; especially as it found between any other nations. Instead of was plainly avowed that England ought to renthis policy, one of a different sort is preferred ; | der the trade with us as exclusively advantageone, however, that England has a right to pre-ous to herself, as her power and the defects of fer; and, against the many evils of which, ve the old confederation would enable her to do. must protect ourselves as well as we are able Congress having no authority, under the conto do. The intricate, countervailing, and per federation, to impose countervailing and other plexing code of commercial intercourse, founded corrective regulations of trade, the States sepain jealousy, and the rival establishments and rately attempted to establish regulations upon pursuits of the powers of Europe bordering this subject. But, as a part only of the States upon, and constantly interfering with, each joined in this measure, and as the laws passed other, has been adopted and applied to the for this purpose differed from each other, the United States—a people agricultural more than experiment completely failed. manufacturing or commercial ; placed in an- In this condition of our navigation and trade, other quarter of the globe; cultivating, and subject to foreign restrictions and exclusion, proposing to others an open system of trade without a power at home to countervail and and intercourse; and herein, as in many other check the same, Congress resolved to make animportant discriminations, differing from the other effort to conclude a commercial treaty nations of Europe, and therefore not fit subjects with England. For this purpose Mr. Adams, for these restrictive and jealous regulations. since President of the United Suites, was apOur policy is, and ever has been, a different pointed, and went to England in 1785, where one. We desire peace with all nations; and he resided for several years; but found and the wars of maritime Europe have taught us, left the government unchanged, and equally as that a free system of trade and intercourse before disinclined to make with us a treaty of would be the best means of preserving it. commerce, although, during his residence, Eng
With these principles as our guide, at the land concluded her famous commercial treaty negotiation of the treaty of peace, in 1783, our with France. ministers were anthorized to conclude a treaty This further disappointment with the deof commerce with England on this basis; but preciating condition of our navigation and no treaty was concluded. Afterwards, and trade, joined to the embarrassment of the public when a temporary trade and intercourse were finances, produced what no inferior pressure opened by England, looking, as we supposed, to a could have done; it produced the general contreaty of commerce, Congress instructed Messrs. vention of 1787, that formed the constitution Adams, Franklin, and Jefferson, to renew the of the United States. Had England entered overture of a treaty of commerce, which was into a liberal treaty of commerce with the done by them through the English ambassador United States, this convention would not, perat Paris, in the year 1784; but no correspond- haps, have been assembled. Without so inent disposition being shown by England, this tending it, the adherence of England to her unsecond overture failed.
equal and exclusive system of trade and navigaThe interest and prejudice of those who were tion, gave to this country a constitution; and benefited by the monopolies, and the exclusive the countervailing and equalizing bill now besystem of England, were opposed to any treaty fore the Senate, arising from the same cause, with this country, on the principle of recipro- may assist us in establishing and extending cal advantage. The political writers of that those great branches of national wealth and day, under the influence of these partial views, power, which we have such constant and or not sufficiently appreciating the true theory urgent motives to encourage. of commerce, contended that it would be folly The establishment of the constitution of the to enter into engagements by which England United States was coeval with the commencemight not wish to be bound in future; that ment of the French revolution. The sessions such engagements would be gratuitous, as, ac- of the General Convention at Philadelphia, and cording to their interpretation, Congress pos- the sessions of the Assembly of Notables at sessed no power, under the confederation, to Paris, were held in the same year. enforce any stipulation into which they might Laws were passed by the first Congress asenter; that no treaty that could be made would sembled under the new constitution, partially suit all the States; that if any were necessary, to correct the inequality of our navigation and they should be made with the States separately; trade with foreign nations; and a small disbut that none was necessary; and those who crimination in duties of impost and of tonnage talked of liberality and reciprocity in commer- was made for this purpose. Afterwards, in the cial affairs, were either without argument or year 1794, a number of resolutions on the subknowledge; that the object of England was, not reciprocity and liberality, but to raise as ]
• Sheffield, Charmers, and Knox.