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The now United States exported about one hundred and thirty thousand barrels of flour, in 1773, to the West Indies. Ireland, by grazing less, could supply wheat; England herself usually exports it; she also imports from Archangel. Sicily and the Barbary states furnish wheat in abundance. We are deceived, when we fancy we can starve foreign countries. France is reckoned to consume grain at the rate of seven bushels to each soul. Twenty-six millions of souls, the quantity one hundred and eighty-two millions of bushels. We export, to speak in round numbers, five or six millions of bushels to all the different countries, which we supply; a trifle this to their wants. Frugality is a greater resource. Instead of seven bushels, perhaps two could be saved by stinting the consumption of the food of cattle, or by the use of other food. I'wo bushels saved to each soul is fifty-two millions of bushels, a quantity which the whole trading world, perhaps, could not furnish. Rice is said to be prohibited by Spain and Portugal to favor their own. Brazil could supply their rice instead of ours.
I must warn you of the danger of despising Canada and Nova Scotia too much as rivals in the West India supply of lumber, especially the former. The de pendence, the English had placed on them some years ago, failed, partly because we entered into competition with them on very superior terms, and partly because they were then in an infant state. They are now supposed to have considerably more than doubled their numbers since the peace; and if, instead of having us for competitors for the supply as before, we should shut ourselves out by refusing our supplies, or being refused entry for them, those two colonies would rise from the ground; at least we should do more to bring it about than the English ministry have been able to do. In 1772, six hundred and seventy-nine vessels, the actual tonnage of which was one hundred and twenty-eight thousand, were employed in the West India trade from Great Britain. They were supposed,
on good ground, to be but half freighted to the islands; they might carry lumber, and the freight supposed to be deficient would be, at forty shillings sterling the ton, one hundred and twenty-eight thousand pounds sterling. This sum would diminish the extra charge of carrying lumber to the islands. But is lumber to be had?-Yes, in Germany, and from the Baltic. It is even cheaper in Europe than our own: besides which, the hard woods, used in mills, are abundant in the islands.
We are told they can sell their rum only to the United States. This concerns not their subsistence, , but their profit. Examine it, however. In 1773, the now United States took near three million gallons of rum. The remaining British colonies, Newfoundland, and the African coast, have a considerable demand for this article. The demand of Ireland is very much on the increase. It was, in 1763, five hundred and thirty thousand gallons; 1770, one million, five hundred and fifty-eight thousand gallons ; 1778, one million, seven hundred and twenty-nine thousand gallons.
Thus we see, a total stoppage of the West India trade would not starve the islanders. It would affect us deeply; we should lose the sale of our products, and, of course, not gain the carriage in our own vessels; the object of the contest would be no nearer our reach than before. Instead, however, of a total stoppage of the intercourse, it might happen, that each nation prohibiting the vessels of the other, some third nation would carry on the traffic in its own bottoms. While this measure would disarm our system, it would make it recoil upon ourselves. It would, in effect, operate chiefly to obstruct the sale of our products. If they should remain unsold, it would be so much dead loss; or if the effect should be to raise the price on the consumers, it would either lessen the consumption, or raise up rivals in the supply. The contest, as it respects the West India trade, is in every respect against
us. To embarrass the supply from the United States, supposing the worst as it regards the planters, can do no more than enhance the price of sugar, coffee and other products. The French islands are now in ruins, and the English planters have an increased price and double demand in consequence. While Great Britain confined the colony trade to herself, she gave to the colonists in return a monopoly in her consumption of West India articles. The extra expense, arising from the severest operation of our system, is already provided against, two fold; like other charges on the products of labor and capital, the burden will fall on the con
The luxurious and opulent consumer in Europe will not regard, and perhaps will not know, the increase of price nor the cause of it. The new settler, who clears his land and sells the lumber, will feel any convulsion in the market more sensibly, without being able to sustain it at all. It is a contest of wealth against want of self-denial, between luxury and daily subsistence, that we provoke with so much confidence of success. A man of experience in the West India trade will see this contrast more strongly than it is possible to represent it.
One of the excellences, for which the measure is recommended, is, that it will affect our imports. What is offered as an argument, is really an objection. Who will supply our wants ? Our own manufactures are growing, and it is a subject of great satisfaction that they are.
But it would be wrong to overrate their capacity to clothe us. The same number of inhabi . tants require more and more, because wealth increases. Add to this the rapid growth of our numbers, and perhaps it will be correct to estimate the progress of manufactures as only keeping pace with that of our increasing consumption and population. It follows, that we shall continue to demand, in future, to the amount of our present importation. It is not intended by the resolutions, that we shall import from England. Holland and the north of Europe do not furnish a suffi
cient variety, or sufficient quantity for our consumption. It is in vain to look to Spain, Portugal, and the Italian States. We are expected to depend principally upon France: it is impossible to examine the ground of this dependence without adverting to the present situation of that country. It is a subject, upon which I practise no disguise; but I do not think it proper to introduce the politics of France into this discussion. If others can find in the scenes that pass there, or in the principles and agents that direct them, proper subjects for amiable names, and sources of joy and hope . in the prospect, I have nothing to say to it: it is an amusement, which it is not my intention either to disturb or to partake of. I turn from these horrors to examine the condition of France in respect to manufacturing capital and industry. In this point of view, whatever political improvements may be hoped for, it cannot escape observation, that it presents only a wide field of waste and desolation. Capital, which used to be food for manufactures, is become their fuel. What once nourished industry, now lights the fires of civil war, and quickens the progress of destruction. France is like a ship, with a fine cargo, burning to the water's edge; she may be built upon anew, and freighted with another cargo, and it will be time enough, when that shall be, to depend on a part of it for our supply: at present, and for many years, she will not be so much a furnisher as a consumer. It is therefore obvious, that we shall import our supplies either directly or indirectly from Great Britain. Any obstruction to the importation will raise the price which we, who consume, must bear.
That part of the argument, which rests on the supposed distress of the British manufacturers, in consequence of the loss of our market, is in every view unfounded. They would not lose the market in fact, and if they did, we prodigiously exaggerate the importance of our consumption to the British workmen. Important it doubtless is, but a little attention will expose
extreme folly of the opinion, that they would be brought to our feet by a trial of our self-denying spirit. England now supplants France in the important Levant trade, in the supply of manufactured goods to the East, and, in a great measure, to the West Indies, to Spain, Portugal, and their dependencies. Her trade with Russia has, of late, vastly increased; and she is treating for a trade with China : so that the new demands of English manufactures, consequent upon the depression of France as a rival, has amounted to much more than the whole American importation, which is not three millions.
The ill effect of a system of restriction and prohibition in the West Indies, has been noticed already. The privileges allowed to our exports to England may be withdrawn, and prohibitory or high duties imposed.
The system before us is a mischief, that goes to the root of our prosperity. The merchants will suffer by the schemes and projects of a new theory. Great numbers were ruined by the convulsions of 1775. They are an order of citizens deserving better of government, than to be involved in new confusions. It is wrong to make our trade wage war for our politics. It is now scarcely said, that it is a thing to be sought for, but a weapon to fight with. To gain our approbation to the system, we are told, it is to be gradually established. In that case, it will be unavailing. It should be begun with in all its strength, if we think of starving the islands. Drive them suddenly and by surprise to extremity, if you would dictate terms; but they will prepare against a long expected failure of our supplies.
Our nation will be tired of suffering loss and embarrassment for the French. The struggle, so painful to ourselves, so ineffectual against England, will be renounced, and we shall sit down with shame and loss, with disappointed passions and aggravated complaints. War, which would then suit our feelings, would not suit our weakness. We might, perhaps, find