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Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Rives, July 20, 1829—Extract ..
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Page. 129 135 137
Same to same, April 14, 1838-Enclosure
The accompanying correspondence, &c., is that portion which has been selected from the communication of the President of the United States of 14th April, 1840, upon the subject of the tobacco-trade, and which was directed to be printed by order of the House of Representatives.
Mr. Van Buren to Mr. Rives.
Washington, July 20, 1829. SIR: These acts have, in no instance, been reciprocated by France. While the United States have been pursuing a policy so favorable to some of her primary interests, she adheres to her regie on the manufacture of tobacco. It is alleged to be in a great degree owing to that system, that, instead of eight thousand hogsheads, which she formerly took from us, she now takes only six or seven thousand. Whether this particular view of the results of that measure be correct or not, it is undeniable that its operation is highly injurious to our interest, without, it is believed, a correspondent benefit to France.
Mr. Rives to Mr. Van Buren. - [No. 39.]
PARIS, August 18, 1830. SIR: I have the honor to enclose a communication addressed by me, some time ago, to the late Minister of Finance, on a subject of considerable interest to the commerce of the United States. A project had been gotten up here to put all the purchases of American tobacco for the régie into the hands of a single contractor, and thus to establish a monopoly upon a monopoly, the effect of which would, in all probability, have been a reduction of twenty-five per cent. at least, in the value of the American tobacco destined for the French market, equivalent to a loss of from one hundred and fifty thousand to two hundred thousand dollars annually to the planters of the United States. The scheme had been thoroughly concocted, had received the unanimous approbation of the régie, and awaited only the sanction of the Minister of Finance, to whose department the subject belonged, when I heard of it. I immediately asked an interview with him on the subject, which he very politely accorded me; and, after a brief conversation, he invited me to present my views in writing, that he might lay them before the council. The enclosed communication was addressed to him in consequence of that invitation, and had the effect of arresting the adoption of the measure, which had been already resolved upon, and will, I hope, finally defeat it.
As this subject is one of great interest to the commerce of Virginia, particularly, and as I learn that letters have been addressed there announcing that this change in the system of supplying the régie with American tobacco had been, or would be adopted (which will, of course, very much discourage the operations of that branch of trade), it might be
well to take measures for making it known that the change in question has not yet been adopted, and, it is hoped, may be finally prevented by the representations of the American Government. I have the honor to be, with great respect, your most obedient servant,
W. C. RIVES. Hon. M. VAN BUREN,
Secretary of State.
P. S.-I have taken measures, through General Lafayette, to call the attention of the new Minister of Finance to the views I had presented on this subject to his predecessor.
Mr Rives to Baron de Montbel.
rest to the come permissione ney's charac
Paris, July 20, 1830. , MONSEIGNEUR : In the interview with which your excellency favored me on the 17th instant, your excellency was pleased to invite me to present to you in writing such observations as should occur to me on the subject of the proposed change in the manner of purchasing the foreign tobaccoes required for the consumption of France. As the sub- ; ject is one of great interest to the commerce of the United States, I gladly avail myself of your excellency's permission, in the confidence inspired by the well-known equity of your excellency's character, as well as by the conciliatory sentiments your excellency was pleased to express, that if it shall appear that the proposed change would be detrimental to the United States, without producing correspondent benefits to France, it will not receive the sanction of your excellency's approval.,
The change proposed cannot fail to be seriously detrimental to the United States. Your excellency remarked that the same quantity of tobacco now taken of the United States would continue to be taken, notwithstanding the change proposed in the system of supply. But the purchase of that quantity, in the American market, being confined, as is; proposed, to a single contractor, without competition, he would be ena-: bled to reduce the price at his pleasure ; nor would France receive the benefit of that reduction, involving so serious a loss to the American producer, inasmuch as the price to be paid by the régie will have been previously fixed by an immutable contract.
It is also worthy of consideration, whether a progressive reduction of price, regulated by the interest of a single individual, might not so discourage the production of the particular kind of tobacco called for by the wants of France, as to lead to its entire abandonment in the United States, the American planter finding it his interest to apply himself to the cultivation of other kinds of tobacco, for which a free competition ! would ensure him prices better proportioned to the expense of production. Beside the inconvenience to whica such a result might expuse. France, of losing the supply of that particular kind and quality of tobacco which? she has been accustomed to find in the United States, she would, at the same time, lose the market for an equivalent amount of her manufactures) and productions, which the exchange of that supply has heretofore endast bled the Uuited States to buy of her, sing $5.04.,:) !!
In any eveni, it seems evider: th97 . cintorests of French industry, in its relations with foreign trade, woul: injurvusly affected by the proposed change. Under the system of "H r., a number of foreign merchants contributing to the supply of the régic, when they come to invest the proceeds of their sales in ristura cargoes, th y upport, by their com. petition; the price of the pictior' ud omdactures of France', ar! by diflu od and multiplici agencies: give, ii rhe same tima, increas? employnie it to the merchants of France. įmonopoly oi the sipply, granted :) single contractor, ob musly 94:1?ites all those colater! advantages, wh'', it is not perceiro pienny alvar over ile system concours, in reference is to the quality or price or the up plies ci wreig 1 tobacco; the be: unity bach for the qality and inco of a commodity being generally fou, ir in arce coin desitin of sellers. If abuses of any sort have occured under the concours, they cannot be attributed, I presume, to the principles; the system, but must have arisen from dinquencies which the virilan if the administration, under such regulations as the enlightened suderironnce of your excellency shoud prescribt, would doubtless be adepat o correct.
In illustration of some of the preceding viers, I beg leave to invite your excellency's attention to the conser: 1 state of the commercial relatious between France and the United States. An interesting document, annexed to the late report to his Mirrosty on the adminisíration of the finances, while it exhibits the high in nortance of the commerce of the United States to France, shows that ine present state of that commerce is very unfavorable to the Luited Stait. :, France seiling annually to the United States sixty-six millions of her productions and manufactures, and buying of them only forty-nine millions of theirs ; thus leaving a balance against the United States of seventeen millions annually, te be paid in money. This result is undoubtedly attributable to the striking difference in the regulations of the two countries concerning their commercial intercourse with cach other. Whil, France, by the operation of her tobacco monopoly, has reduced the iride of the United States with her in that article from thirty Thousand hogsheads, its foumneamount, to five thousand, the present consumption of the régie, and has imposed discriminating duties in favor of the cottons of other countries, to the disadvantage of those of the United Sta: 's, the United Status, drawn to France by ancient recollections and a since's desire to consoli. date their friendship by the ties of commercial intercourse, have progres. sively reduced their tariil of duties on all the princ nal produciions et French industry; and in regard to the most important of thos produetions, the silks of France, have favored them by a siena! discrimination, in imposing a duty of thirty per cent on the uks of India and Clu“ while those of France pay a duty of twenty percent. only.
The Government of the United States his always hoped, and still hopes, that his Majesty's Goverument will find it consistent, with a just view of its own interests, to relax a system operatins so untivorably to the interests of the Crited States. It certainly told not be prepared for a measure, which, instead of mitigating, would add tů the injurious effect of existing regulations; and however anxious to mil iply and extend all its friendly reiations with ris Majesty's Government. it might feel itself constrained, in the interest of its own citizens, io cultivate und encourage other channels of trade, otrring inore equality. 11" minds