Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

quences have been foretold, as likely to result from those measures, to which I shall give a short examination. We are told, that the preference, long since given by our laws, has been equal to a prohibition of British vessels, and that to the extent to which it has gone, the best effects have been produced. To secure this operation from a recent attack, and at the same time to extend it to some branches of trade, to which its principle would equally extend, is the object of the marine resolutions. We have no reason to apprehend bad effects from an action, which has hitherto had good consequences. As to the increased duties on manufactures, I think the prospect in no way threatening, for if there should be found no country to supply our wants on better terms, the diminution of consumption will be only in proportion to the duty. This can be by no means alarming, considered as the worst consequence of the measure to men, with whom the impost is the favorite mode of collecting the revenue, at a time when the public wants are equal to any possible produce. If there shall be found a competitor with Great Britain for our consumption, the great object will be attained, as it must be accompanied by a corresponding consumption of American productions. But we are told, that there will be a conflict of commercial regulations between this country and Great Britain, and that the consequence will be the loss of the market she affords us. The probable consequences of such a conflict, will best determine whether it is to be expected; as it will commence on her part as well as ours, with a view to consequences. The danger, which she can alone apprehend, is the loss of the market for her manufactures, and to obviate this, it would be absurd to widen the breach between us, as that would tend, in a direct proportion, to the establishment of unfriendly habits, and manufactures, either here or in other countries, which would rival her own. If, however, the ultimate advantage would justify such measures, the immediate distress of her people would forbid it.

[ocr errors]

'The American trade must be the means of distributing bread to several hundred thousand persons, whose occupation would be wholly ended with the trade, and the government is by no means in a situation to bear their discontent.

Their navigation and manufactures draw many important ingredients from America, which would be lost to them. The creditors of the people of America to an immense amount, would be deprived of the remittances which depend on a friendly intercourse. On the whole, it would add to the disorders of the

government among those, who perhaps have heretofore contributed to its support, without gratifying any thing but an arrogant resentment. But we are told, that our own citizens would be equal sufferers, and are more to be injured by being stopped in a career of rapid improvement: it will be hard to anticipate any real misfortune to America, in such a contest, unless the temporary loss of indulgences, which are by no means necessary, can be so called. The consumption of Great Britain is, according to the most friendly calculation, not more than one third of our purchases from her, and therefore the national wealth, independent of the gratification of our appetites, will receive an immense addition, and a vast fund will be procured to make lasting and valuable improvements, which would be degraded by comparison with the gewgaws of a day. It is to be remarked, that the diminution of our exports would be divided among large classes of people, and in all cases rather form a deduction from the annual income, than a total loss: this will result from the various objects of American industry and the division of the markets of its produce. This forms an important difference between America and Great Britain, in an estimate of the effects of a rupture between the two countries. In my opinion, the habits of the southern states are such as to require the control, which is said to be the consequence of these measures. Under the facility offered by the modes of trade before spoken of, and the credit which is said to

be so beneficial, they have not only involved themselves in debt, but have contracted habits, which, with the power of gratification, must always keep them so. We did hope that the administration of justice would have corrected the evil, but we now find that it cannot be corrected but by entire changes. It is founded in the policy of the merchant himself, and this circumstance is enough to present to the minds of the committee a long train of dependent mischiefs; it is a fact, supported by the best evidence, that our merchants who get their goods from the manufacturer, pay as much for them as the shopkeeper, who buys at Baltimore or Philadelphia. This is one of the consequences of the want of credit, which always will follow a reliance on collection from farmers; and there can be no doubt, that the merchant is indemnified for his disgrace, as well as his advance. The result of the whole train of indulgence is, that our goods are bought at an advance from a half to one fourth of what they could be afforded for in cash sales; nor does the mischief stop here; it brings a subjection which materially affects the sale of our produce. I believe myself, that the war with Great Britain did not bring half the mischief on us that their credit has, and I very much suspect that a credit for consumption will always be found equally mischievous. It by no means resembles money loans, as is insinuated by the gentleman from South Carolina, by freeing a man's own resources for any other use. It is certain, that there is no other safe regulation of a farmer's expenses, than his income and experience every day proves—that when so regulated they always fall short of the income, and that when they depend on credit they always exceed it, and thereby subject future revenue. Lessening the importation of foreign manufactures will increase our household fabrics, which experience has proved to be highly profitable, as the labor is done by a part of the community of little power in any other application. Regular efforts in this way have been, in my country, certainly productive of independence.

It is acknowledged, that we may derive great advantages from France in our commerce; but it is said they should be secured by treaty, and we should not pay beforehand for them. If advantages are to be drawn by treaty from foreign nations, to enable the executive to procure them we must advance the impost beyond the revenue standard, or they will have nothing to give in exchange. Will gentlemen agree to involve France in this measure indiscriminately, when we have already a commercial treaty with her, which was concomitant with that treaty which gave us independence? Will they, under such proofs of friendliness, and whịle they are laboring under a revolution that must strengthen our connexion, show distrust of their justice, when the distinction now proposed may give them a knowledge of those advantages they may derive from our trade, and thereby make them more eager for a permanent contract? It will be always in our power, when we find ourselves deceived, to restore the equality with Great Britain. We are asked, what will become of our revenue under such an establishment ? The answer is obvious from my former observations. If the consumption is reduced only by means of revenue, the revenue will increase; if it is lessened by competition, it will not be diminished, for the present rates will continue on all foreign goods, and we shall be better able to pay from the improvement of our foreign markets. But if there should be a diminution without lessening the power of the people to pay, what mischief will there be ? Every body understands that the people pay the revenue, although it is collected by custom-house officers; and there is reason to believe, that the expense of collection is greater in that way than any other, as there is not only the apparent expense, but a secret compensation to the merchants for advancing it.

But we are told, that we are including countries, in the general description, which are our best customers Spain, Portugal, the Hanse Towns and Denmark. It

will be found, that they are little within the reach of the propositions, not being carriers and in a small degree

manufacturers of the articles to be taxed. It will be in the power of the legislature to save them, in filling up the blanks; but this is not intended to shut out any nation, which chooses to trade with us on liberal terms, and if we are satisfied with our footing in their trade, there is no doubt but we can secure it by treaty: they will not complain of our taking away benefits, which they may resume at any time. We are told, that this business is merely commercial, and that we should not think of our political relations to Great Britain; but in my opinion, most of our grievances have commercial objects, and therefore are to be remedied by commercial resistance; if you take away what is contended for, contest must end. The Indian war and the Algerine attack, have both commercial views, or Great Britain must stand without excuse for instigating the most horrid cruelties. I consider, however, the propositions before you, as the strongest weapon America possesses, and the most likely to restore her to all her rights, political and commercial and I trust I have shown, that the means will have a beneficial effect, if they should fail as a remedy with respect to Great Britain.

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »