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price, and therefore there is no propriety in calling the course of trade, the course of its choice.
The subject before the committee, naturally divides itself into navigation and manufactures, in speaking of which, I shall offer some other considerations, to show that the same effects are by no means to be expected from the greatest commercial wisdom in individuals, which are in the power of the general concert of the community; the one having in view profit on each separate transaction, the other promoting an advantageous result to the whole commerce of the country.
In considering the importance of navigation to all countries, but especially to such as have so extensive a production of bulky articles, as America, I think I shall show that the last observation is accurately right, and that the interest of the whole community, not those only who are the carriers, but those also who furnish the object of carriage, positively demands a domestic marine, equal to its whole business, and that, even if it is to exist under rates higher than those of foreign navigation, it is to be preferred. In circumstances of tolerable equality, that can never however entirely be the case; for in the carriage of the produce of one country, by the shipping of another, to any other place than the country to which the shipping belongs, there is considerably more labor employed, than would have been by domestic shipping, as the return to their own country, is to be included. On this ground, it may be confidently asserted, that where the materials of navigation are equally attainable, they will always be more advantageously employed by the country for whose use they are intended, and that if under such circumstances, another country is employed as the carrier, it must be under the influence of some other cause than interest, as it respects that particular busi
A dependence on the shipping of another country, tends to establish a place of deposit in that country, of those exports which are for the use of others, if it is at a convenient distance from them. The super
intendence of property, makes short voyages desirable for the owner, and the connexion, that soon takes place, between the money capital of a country and its shipping interests, greatly strengthens the vortex. The attainment of wealth beyond the demands of navigation, leads to an interest in the cargo itself, and then the agency in selling to the consumer, becomes important. It is apparent, that as the final sale depends on the wants of the purchaser, all intermediate expenses of care and agency, must be taken from the price to which the maker would be entitled. Our own commerce has involved this loss in a remarkable degree, and it has gone to an enormous extent, from a necessity of submitting to the perfidy of agents, arising from a dependence established by means of the so much boasted credit.
That there is this tendency in the employment of foreign shipping, is not only proved by the commercial importance of Holland, which became thus from her naval resources, the store-house of Europe, without furnishing any thing from her own productions, but also from the varied experience of America. Before the revolution, every thing for European consumption was carried to Great Britain; but since America has possessed shipping of her own, and in the northern states, there has been an accession of capital, the export to England is reduced one half. It is true indeed, that there is still nearly one half of what she receives, that is re-exported; but it will be found, that she still retains a proportionate share of those influences, which formerly carried the whole. Great Britain, under all the discouragements of our laws, which we are told by the mercantile members of the committee, amount to a prohibition where they have any rivals, did, until the European war, possess one third of the foreign tonnage employed in America. This has been supported by the dependence into which the southern states were placed by credit, and here, as in every other step of the connexion, this engine extorts ad
vantages from us, beyond the compensation which is always secured in the first advance. If there is wanted other proof of the British interest in the American navigation, being supported in direct opposition to our interests, it may be found in the comparative state of the tonnage employed, where it appears that, after the protecting duties once had their effect, the additional tonnage, to a considerable amount, has been entirely American, and that the British tonnage has remained very nearly stationary, and in proportion to their undue influence.
In time of war, in addition to the inconveniences before stated, which are enhanced by throwing the trade from its accustomed channel, there are great and important losses brought on a country by this kind of dependence. If your carriers are parties to the war, you are subjected to war freight and war insurance on your cargo, and you are cut off from all the markets to which they are hostile; and indeed, from our experience in the present war, I may say you are cut off from the market of your carriers themselves, as it would have been impossible for British vessels to have escaped in our seas last summer.
To what extent this loss goes, may be seen from a calculation in the secretary of state's report on the fisheries, making the proportion of war to that of peace in the last one hundred years, as forty-two to one hundred; and on that calculation there can be no hesitation in determining that the interest of the farmers requires that this foreign dependence should end here. But the European war, by making a temporary exclusion of British shipping, has already brought on us the greatest mischief of such a regulation, and by the encouragement it has afforded to our shipping, almost completed the remedy; so that we have reason to consider this as a fortunate period. But it is not merely the advancement of our marine that is contemplated by the present resolutions; the security of that which we have, is also dependent on them. The danger
from the Algerines has been estimated in this house at five per centum on the vessel and cargo, but the whole encouragement to our own shipping in our existing laws, consists in the one tenth additional duty on goods imported in foreign vessels. Whenever there shall be an European peace, which cannot be far distant, the whole difference between the two sums will be a direct encouragement on British ships, and will probably be equal to two freights. Do gentlemen rely on the carious prospect of building frigates, and the more precarious service to be rendered by them when built, so much as to neglect any other regulations for the safety of our shipping, when they are so much in their power ?
Having shown, that the actual state of our commerce is by no means the most beneficial, as far as navigation is concerned, I will proceed to consider the benefits derived from the consumption of those European manufactures, which form the principal part of the stores of America: and here it may safely be said, that national policy by no means justifies the almost exclusive preference, given to those of Great Britain. It is not always true, that the commodity which is bought for least money is the best bargain; for the means of payment form an important consideration in all traffic, and accommodations in it, may more than counterbalance an inequality of price. If one man will receive an article in exchange, which you can sell to no other, it will certainly be a saving to deal with him, at a high advance on his property. If there are countries which would become great consumers of American produce, on the terms of reciprocal consumption, and we find a difficulty, as is often the case, in vending that produce, is it not of great national importance to excite those acts, which are to become the foundation of the connexion, even if in the first instance, it is to be attended with inconvenience and loss ? France may be made a connexion of this sort ; she is at this time, almost, if not quite on a footing
with Great Britain in the consumption of American products, and every hand which shall receive employment from us, will add to her wants. We are told, that it is of no less importance to us to find a country which can supply us advantageously, than one which will consume our productions, and that, as commerce is no longer carried on by barter, it is no less beneficial to sell in one country and buy in another, than if we could complete the exchange in the same country. This might be true, if your production was limited, and the demand for it certain; but with a greatly improving agriculture, and some risk in our markets, the object is important. Great Britain being the factory of those things, which would make her most dependent on the agricultural interest, and her national wealth being probably at the greatest height, there is no expectation that her consumption will increase. On the other hand, as labor is now to receive its direction in France to the manufacturing arts, so far as concerns America you will take from the agricultural strength a large class of people, and by that means create a dependence on you, at least to the amount of their own consumption, and the wealth you will diffuse, will give ability to thousands who are now too poor to bid for your commodities. Nor is it probable that you will purchase this important benefit, on very disadvantageous terms; for it is agreed on all hands, that many important arts are well understood there, and that labor, which forms the principal part of the cost of most articles, is considerably cheaper in France, than in England.
Another very important operation of a discrimination in favor of France, will be, that by encouraging liberal industry, you may put an end to some practices, which, in the existing state of consumption, greatly depreciate our commodities; I mean the public provision made in granaries, and the supply from them in times of scarcity, which destroy the competition that raises every thing to its just value. Different conse