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the intercourse of trade, in the instance of Great Britain, may be reduced to two considerations ; namely, National Protection, and Constancy of Individual Pursuit or
employment. And the more extended the interchange of the products of labor and ingenuity can be rendered, without imprudent hazard in these respects, the more will the law by which man is bound to love his neighbour as himself be fulfilled.
For Protection, the United Kingdom depends chiefly upon maritime power. The encouragement of British navigation is therefore essential to all the political calculations of British trade.
And as the United Kingdom depends for internal peace, order and satisfaction, upon maintaining an even and uninterrupted course in the direction and application of capital and of labor, the consideration of Constancy of Individual Pursuit, or the stability or fixedness of her various relations, should be entertained with auxious solicitude. These various relations are;
The reciprocal relations within the limits of the British Isles. The reciprocal relations of the several parts or members of the Empire, comprehending all countries under the British do
minion. And the relations of the British Empire with Foreign countries.
The soil, climate, population, and marine position, are the chief elements of political power,
Industry is the active and moving principle, which renders these several elements of power productive and effective.
The British Empire possesses within itself, to an extent without example, these elements of power, in a state of combination peculiarly favorable to the excitement of industry, and to the development of the means of protecting the property which becomes the effect of industry. The soil and climate, the minerals, the fisheries, the insularity of the United Kingdom; the variety of soil, climate, production and the maritime distance of the British possessions and dependencies, in North America, in the Antilles, in New Holland, in Asia, in Africa, and at the entrance and in the Isles of the Mediterranean Sea ; and the numerous people who inhabit these countries-laborious, inventive, enterprising and persevering, present a combination unparalleled in the History of Nations. It is the province of the Statesman, to develop these vast resources; and however extensive the object may be, an attentive and updeviating regard to first principles will produce a simplicity of action, the least exposed to the risk of error or miscarriage.
Considered in reference to the intercourse of trade, a due regard to first principles would require that duties and lazes should be limited, throughout the Empire, to the proper annual expenses of the State, and of the several local Governments; that the readiest and least expensive communication, by means of roads, bridges, internal navigation and docks, should be provided ; that the ports and harbours of the kingdom should be the subject of careful attention and improvement; thut the utmost facility should be accorded to the transmarine British carrier, and that the laws of esport and import, throughout the Empire, should be consistent and uniform in principle, and clear and distinct in application. A system which appearing to consult the interests of the individual only, would result in the great advancement of the State in effective power and authority, and would practically illustrate the principle of “ Free Trade,” by modes of application to which exception cannot be made.
Reciprocity of advantage is implied in the exchanges of property which constitute Trade.
The exchanges of the produce of the Country for the productions of the Town, within the British Isles, are of reciprocal advantage to the cultivator and to the artificer and manufacturer, and consequently, are beneficial to the nation.
The exchanges of property between the British Isles and the British possessions and dependencies in North America, in the Antilles, in Asia and elsewhere, are of reciprocal advantage to the several members of the Empire engaged in this intercourse.
The exchanges of property between the several parts or members of the Empire and Foreign countries, are of reciprocal advantage to the British and to the Foreign subject, and consequently to the respective countries.
Butalthough all these exchanges are of reciprocal advantage; although the United Kingdom is benefited by each of these classes of exchanges of property, a clear distinction arises in respect of each class.
In the instance of the exchange of property between the Country and the Town, within the British Isles, All the parties receiving advantage are British; the British advantages are double in every instance of such exchange, and the interests which are thus created, are in the heart of the Empire: to the extent to which these interests can be carried and sustained, they are identified with the existence of the Empire, they are of the most constant and permanent character, and their prosecution and extension tend to promote the home or coasting navigation, and thus to create a national arm for protection, in the seamen who are, by these means, brought into activity.
In the instance of the exchange of property between the British Istes, and the British possessions and dependencies in the various parts of the globe, all parties receiving advantage are British subjects: the British advantages are again double in every instance of " such exchange. In respect, however, of the advantages acquired by the dependent member of the Empire, and which become located or fixed therein, the benefit is less certainly permanently British, than in the instance first mentioned, of the intercourse within the British Isles; because the dependent country may cease to be a British dependency. But in counterpoise of this disadvantage, so long as the connexion be maintained and continued, the interchanges being effected through the medium of British shipping, the national arm for protection is invigorated and strengthened, in a degree commensurate with the distance of the dependency, the salubrity of its climate, and the bulk of the commodities interchanged.
In the instance of the exchange of property between the several parts or members of the British Empire and Foreign countries, the intercourse, under different degrees of probability, is liable to interruption ; one only of the parties receiving advantage is British, the advantages are divided in the varying proportions of the varying circumstances and different relative situations of each of these Foreign countries to the United Kingdom ; and it is to be well observed, that the intercourse with some Foreign countries is conducted chiefly in British shipping, the intercourse with other Foreign countries, on the contrary, is conducted chiefly or entirely in Foreign shipping
Here then are guides which leave no question as to the policy of giving the utmost facility and encouragement to the interchanges of property, within the United Kingdom, and which indicate distinctly, the motives for facilitating such interchanges, between the several parts or members of the Empire.
The expediency of extending equal encouragement or of applying the principle of “Free Trade,” in the same latitude, to the intercourse of trade extending beyond the limits of the British Empire, or to Foreign trade, is not equally clear. In a state of “Universal peace and good will,” the principle of “ Free Trade” ought to command universal assent. Under the unhappy disposition of man to usurp the rights of man, and of Nations to give body and force to this disposition, it must be subjected to prudential calculation.
The principle of “ Free Trade,” in its unlimited application, merges the distinction between British Agriculture and Foreign Agriculture, between British Navigation and Foreign Navigation. Losing sight of these distinctions, and of the distinction between a constant and an irregular course of demand and supply, its advocates assume, that the immediate rate of the money price of commodities may be allowed to govern the dealer and consumer, without regard to any other consideration; and they, of course,
, contend, that this system of action would the most effectually advance
British Interest. The conclusion appears to be too general; but even in respect of Foreign Trade, the nearest ap
proximation to the principle of “ Free Trade," consistent with the considerations of National Protection and Constancy of Individual Pursuit, cannot be too ardently desired nor too sedulously promoted. [See Appendix A.]
Preparatory to a more connected view of the subject under consideration, three important changes, which have occurred during the last fifty years, of a decided character in their bearing upon Production, Trade and Navigation, will be noticed ;-incidental to which, some observations will be offered upon the nature and effects of Market.
The changes to be noticed, are ; The change of most of the dependent British provinces of North America, to independent and rival maritime States.
The abolition of the British trade in slaves. And the change from comparatively low, to high constituents of cost, in respect of the agricultural productions of the United Kingdom.
Each of the two first mentioned of these changes; namely, the change of most of the dependent British provinces of North America to independent and rival maritime States, and the abolition of the British trade in slaves, constituted a great, decided and permanent change in the relative position of Great Britain, and required a decided change in the course of her policy. Without changing her political maxims, a clear and decided alteration in the application of those maxims, appears to have been required. The principles which indicated the expediency of such alteration, appear, however, to have been recognised of late only. Upon the representations, indeed, which have proceded from merchants, and other parties, actuated by a sense of particular interest, partial changes have received the sanction of the Government and of the Legislature; but until the act of the last session of Parliament, "for the
further regulation of trade to and from places within the limits of the charter of the East-India Company,” by which British ships are permitted to sail from the place of Asiatic growth to the country of consumption generally, the principles upon which such changes were required, do not appear to have been apprehended with the strength, and applied with the effect, required by their latent power and practical importance.
Whilst the United States of America were dependencies of the British Empire, the British Government, with great clearness and strength of judgment, encouraged the Agriculture and Navigation of those countries; the plantations in which were emphatically called “ British Plantations," and the ships of these British dependencies were entitled to the privilege of a British register, as the shipping of the American provinces continuing under the British Government, still are.
The West Indies and Great Britain, and the Continent of Europe, through Great Britain, presented markets for their produce; the staples of which were provisions, lumber, ashes, tobacco, and rice. And to the supply of these markets, the planters and merchants assiduously directed their attention, in all the particulars which are calculated to promote a current and advantageous sale.
Thus possessed of the markets of the West Indies and of Europe, the change in these States from “ British Plantations,” giving employment to British capital and British shipping, to independent and rival maritime States, does not appear to have been met by sufficient regard to the remaining resources of the British Empire. When the plantations or farms of Virginia, Georgia and South Carolina ceased to be British, in respect both of produce and shipping, extensive supplies of cotton wool, rice, and probably tobacco, might have been obtained from the British Asiatic provinces, not only for the supply of Great Britain, and the dependencies of the British Empire wherein such productions were required, but also for the supply of the continent of Europe, at less than the American prices.
But it does not appear that upon the acknowledgment of the Independence of the United States of America, any greater facilities of intercourse with the British Asiatic provinces were accorded to the British merchant; the British intercourse with those extensive, productive and cheap countries, continued in monopoly to the East India Company, and that monopoly held the British trade with India in severe check.
When the British trade in slaves was abolished, British Tropical Agriculture in the West, became limited to the then actual extent of British cultivation. The estates in cultivation no longer admitted of increase, either in number or extent, because fresh supplies of capable laborers were forbidden to the British planter. This limitation does not, however, prescribe a limit to demand
Very little Cotton-wool was grown in North America until after the declaration of American Independence.
2 It is not intended to convey any other than respectful sentiments of the East India Company, under whom the great fabric of the British Asiatic Government has arisen. Still, however, it has happened that the very expensive shipping system of the Company, and their management of the commercial property of private traders, until gradually broken down by the substitution of the present more enlarged and liberal system, nearly excluded all East Indian produce of great bulk, compared with its value, from the European market, through the medium of the British flag.
3 The words “Tropical Agriculture," as used in this Essay, are not intended to be confined to their strict geographical sense, but to include the countries on either side of the Tropics in the hotter climates.