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The possibility that the government of France may become so settled as that we may hazard the anticipation of payment, and so avoid dead interest.
The reasons against it are,
The possibility that France may continue, for some time yet, so unsettled as to render an anticipation of payments hazardous.
The risk of losing the capital borrowed by a successful invasion of the country of deposit, if it be left in Europe ; or by an extension of the bankruptcies now shaking the most solid houses; and when and where they will end we know not.
The loss of interest on the dead sum, if the sum itself be safe.
The execution of a power for one object, which was given to be executed but for a very different one.
The commitment of the President, on this account, to events, or to the criticisms of those who, though the measures should be perfectly wise, may misjudge it through error or passion.
The apprehension that the head of the department means to provide idle money to be lodged in the banks ready for the corruption of the next legislature, as it is believed the late ones were corrupted, by gratifying particular members with vast discounts for objects of speculation.
I confess that the last reasons have most weight with me.
XL.—Report on the privileges and restrictions on the commerce of the United States in foreign countries.
December 16, 1793. Sır,— According to the pleasure of the House of Representatives, expressed in their resolution of February 23, 1791, I now lay before them a report on the privileges and restrictions on the commerce of the United States in foreign countries. In order to keep the subject within those bounds which I supposed to be under the contemplation of the House, I have restrained my statements to those countries only with which we carry on a commerce of some importance, and to those articles also of our produce which are of sensible weight in the scale of our exports; and even these articles are sometimes grouped together, according to the degree of favor or restriction with which they are received in each country, and that degree expressed in general terms without detailing the exact duty levied on each article. To have gone fully into these minutie, would have been to copy the tariffs and books of rates of the different countries, and to have hidden, under a mass of details, those general and important truths, the extraction of which, in a simple form, I conceived would best answer the inquiries of the House, by condensing material information within those limits of time and attention, which this portion of their duties may justly claim. The plan, indeed, of minute details which have been impracticable with some countries, for want of information.
Since preparing this report, which was put into its present form in time to have been given in to the last session of Congress, alterations of the conditions of our commerce with some foreign nations have taken place—some of them independent of war; some arising out of it.
France has proposed to enter into a new treaty of commerce with us, on liberal principles; and has, in the meantime, relaxed some of the restraints mentioned in the report. Spain has, by an ordinance of June last, established New Orleans, Pensacola, and St. Augustine into free ports, for the vessels of friendly nations having treaties of commerce with her, provided they touch for a permit at Corcubion in Gallicia, or at Alicant; and our rice is, by the same ordinance, excluded from that country. The circumstances of war have necessarily given us freer access to the West Indian islands, whilst they have also drawn on our navigation vexations and depredations of the most serious nature.
To have endeavored to describe all these, would have been as impracticable as useless, since the scenes would have been shifting while under description. I therefore think it best to leave the report as it was formed, being adapted to a particular point of time, when things were in their settled order, that is to say, to the summer of 1792. I have the honor to be, &c.
To the Speaker of the House of Representatives of the United States of America.
The Secretary of State, to whom was referred, by the House of
Representatives, the report of a committee on the written message of the President of the United States, of the 14th of February, 1791, with instruction to report to Congress the nature and extent of the privileges and restrictions of the commercial intercourse of the United States with foreign nations, and the measures which he should think proper to be adopted for the improvement of the commerce and navigation of the same, has had the same under consideration, and thereupon makes the following Report:
The countries with which the United States have their chief commercial intercourse are Spain, Portugal, France, Great Britain, the United Netherlands, Denmark, and Sweden, and their American possessions; and the articles of export, which constitute the basis of that commerce, with their respective amounts, are,
Bread-stuff, that is to say, bread grains, meals, and bread, to the annual amount of
1,263,534 Salted fish
941,696 Pot and pearl ash
839,093 Salted meats
537,379 Horses and mules
339,753 Whale oil
252,591 Flax seed.
236,072 Tar, pitch and turpentine .
217,177 Live provisions
137,743 Ships. . . Foreign goods .
To descend to articles of smaller value than these, would lead into a minuteness of detail neither necessary nor useful to the present object.
The proportions of our exports, which go to the nations before mentioned, and to their dominions, respectively, are as follows:
These imports consist mostly of articles on which industry has been exhausted.
Our navigation, depending on the same commerce, will appear by the following statement of the tonnage of our own vessels, entering in our ports, from those several nations and their possessions, in one year ; that is to say, from October, 1789, to September, 1790, inclusive, as follows:
116,410 Great Britain
43,580 United Netherlands
Of our commercial objects, Spain receives favorably our breadstuff, salted fish, wood, ships, tar, pitch, and turpentine. On our meals, however, as well as on those of other foreign countries, when re-exported to their colonies, they have lately imposed duties of from half-a-dollar to two dollars the barrel, the duties being so proportioned to the current price of their own flour, as that both together are to make the constant sum of nine dollars
barrel. They do not discourage our rice, pot and pearl ash, salted provisions, or whale oil; but these articles, being in small demand at their markets, are carried thither but in a small degree. Their demand for rice, however, is increasing. Neither tobacco nor indigo are received there. Our commerce is permitted with their Canary islands under the same conditions.
Themselves, and their colonies, are the actual consumers of what they receive from us.
Our navigation is free with the kingdom of Spain; foreign goods being received there in our ships on the same conditions as if carried in their own, or in the vessels of the country of which such goods are the manufacture or produce.
Portugal receives favorably our grain and bread, salted fish, and other salted provisions, wood, tar, pitch, and turpentine.
For flax-seed, pot and pearl ash, though not discouraged, there is little demand.
Our ships pay 20 per cent. on being sold to their subjects, and are then free-bottoms.
Foreign goods (except those of the East Indies) are received on the same footing in our vessels as in their own, or any others; that is to say, on general duties of from 20 to 28 per cent., and, consequently, our navigation is unobstructed by them. Tobacco, rice, and meals, are prohibited.
Themselves and their colonies consume what they receive from us.
These regulations extend to the Azores, Madeira, and the Cape de Verd islands, except that in these, meals and rice are received freely.
France receives favorably our bread-stuffs, rice, wood, pot and pearl ashes.
A duty of 5 sous the quintal, or nearly 41 cents, is paid on our tar, pitch, and turpentine. Our whole oils pay 6 livres the quintal, and are the only foreign whale oils admitted. Our indigo pays 5 livres the quintal, their own 2}; but a difference of quality, still more than a difference of duty, prevents its seeking that market.
Salted beef is received freely for re-exportation ; but if for home consumption, it pays five livres the quintal. Other salted provisions pay that duty in all cases, and salted fish is made lately to pay the prohibitory one of twenty livres the quintal.
Our ships are free to carry thither all foreign goods which may be carried in their own or any other vessels, except tobaccoes not of our own growth; and they participate with theirs, the exclusive carriage of our whale oils and tobaccoes.
During their former government, our tobacco was under a monopoly, but paid no duties; and our ships were freely sold in their ports, and converted into national bottoms. The first national assembly took from our ships this privilege. They emancipated tobacco from its monopoly, but subjected it to duties of eighteen livres, fifteen sous the quintal, carried in their own vessels, and five livres carried in ours-a difference more than equal to the freight of the article.
They and their colonies consume what they receive from us. Great Britain receives our pot and pearl ashes free, whilst