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which have existed and do exist, that he was in favour of the proposition to amend the constitution, but against the motion to refer it.
The question on Mr. Lacock's motion to refer the proposed constitutional amendment to a committee, with instructions to enquire into the expediency of so amending it as to refer the presidential election in the first instance to the whole peoplewas decided as follows:
Yeas.-Messrs. Bibb, Brown, Campbell, Daggett, Dana, Gaillard, Goldsborough, King, Lacock, Roberts, Sanford, Tait-12.
Nays.-Messrs. Barbour, Barry, Chace, Condit, Fromentin, Horsey, .Howell, Hunter, Macon, Mason of N. H. Mason of Va. Morrow, Ruggles, Talbot, Thompson, Tichenor, Turner, Varnum, Wells, Williams, Wilson-2i.
So the motion was negatived.
The question was then taken on Mr. Barbour's motion to strike out of the proposed article so much as requires an uniform election of electors by districts:
Which motion was decided in the negative as follows:
Peas.-Messrs. Barbour, Barry, Bibb, Dana, Gaillard, Lacock, Mason of Va. Roberts, Ruggles, Sanford, Tait, Wilson -12.
Nays.-Messrs. Brown, Chace, Condit, Daggett, Fromentin, Goldsborough, Horsey, Howell, Hunter, King, Macon, Mason, N. H. Morrow, Talbot, Thompson, Tichenor, Turner, Varnum, Wells, Williams.-20.
Mr. Barbour then moved to postpone the whole subject indefinitely.--Agreed, 18 to 14.
COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE WITH FOREIGN
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. On the 5th of February, 1816, Mr. King of Massachusetts, presented for consideration the following resolution:
Resolved, That the committee on foreign relations, be in. structed to inquire into the expediency of excluding from the ports of the United States, all foreign vessels, owned in, coming from, bound to, or touching at, any of his Britannic Majesty's possessions in the West Indies, and in the continent of North
America, from which the vessels of the United States are excluded: And of prohibiting, or increasing the duties on, the importation in foreign vessels, of any articles, the growth, produce, or manufacture of such possessions.
This resolution underwent much discussion, but was finally laid upon the table, and the subject not again introduced during the same session.
January 27th, 1817. There was introduced into the House DE
“A Bill to prohibit all Commercial Intercourse with ports or places, into or with which, the vessels of the United States are not ordinarily permitted to enter or trade.”
January 30th, The House in committee of the whole, Mr. BRECKENRIDGE in the chair, on the bill “ to prohibit all Commercial Intercourse with ports or places, into or with which, the vessels of the United States are not ordinarily permitted to enter and trade."
MR. KING of Massachusetts, observed, that it was only necessary to suggest to the committee the great importance of the subject under discussion to insure to it all the attention it demanded. It was not a subject that respected particular classes in society, or particular sections of the country, but it had a direct bearing upon our national prosperity and national defence. Commerce and navigation were indeed indivisible,
and their intimate connection with the agricultural and manuNBS facturing interest was known to all. The regulations proposed
by the bill bore no analogy to the restrictive system, commencing with the non-importation act of 1806, and ending with war in 1812: that was not to regulate commerce, but to convert it into an engine of war, which re-acted with greater force upon our citizens than it acted upon our enemy. The present regulations, if adopted, would be in self-defence to retaliate upon foreign nations some of their injurious impositions. It never has been the policy of this country to begin a system of this kind, but it is her true policy to countervail the regulations of other nations.
A free and fair commerce with all the world is what we wish--an absence of all restrictions; but if other nations will not pursue this course, we must retaliate, or sacrifice the best interests of the country.
We admit all the productions of England; she refuses, or lays prohibitory duties on many of ours: all our ports are open to her; one third of her ports are closed against us. She told our commissioners at Ghent, we had nothing to offer in exchange for her colonial ports: -Have we not a most extensive and lu. crative commerce to offer for them, a commerce if not essential to their existence, at least necessary to their growth and prosperity.Shall it be said we have nothing to offer for the trade VOL. II.
of these colonies, when they now receive in British bottoms three quarters of their supplies from us? No, sir, pass the laws on your table, and at your next negotiation, you will have in them stronger arguments than any of your commissioners had at the formation of the late convention, as it respects the colonial trade. In little more than two years that convention will expire; you will probably treat again upon the subjects embraced by it - these laws will aid you in obtaining a true reciprocity in commerce. All nations disposed to act on high and honourable principles will find America anxious to do the same. If they are disposed to remove all restrictions from commerce, America will do the same-such is the language of her statesmen—such the language of her laws.
Permit me now, sir, to ask the attention of the committee to the principal features of the British navigation act. It is a wise and aged monitor; it has existed for more than one hundred and fifty years; the most profitable and best counsellor the British monarchy ever possessed. And I sincerely hope that our country will draw much profit and instruction from the same source. The following account of that act, greatly abbreviated, is taken from Chitty's law of nations; some of the additional acts have received modification since he wrote, particularly in relation to this country.
The great navigation act, as it is called, of Great Britain, passed before the restoration, viz. 9th Oct. 1651, and was intended “ to cripple the Dutch trade.” The subsisting act of navigation, was passed 12 Charles 2d, c. 18. Its principal provi. sions are threefold.
1. Relating to the coasting trade of Great Britain. 2. Her trade with other independent states.
3. The trade she carries on herself, or permits other states to carry on, with her plantations and foreign possessions.
The first is confined solely to British bottoms--the master and three quarters at least of the seamen English
and is from one port or creek of England, Ireland, &c. to another port or creek in the same.
The second is restricted to English vessels, or vessels of the country producing the article--the master and three quarters of the crew of that country: or to vessels of the place where the article is first shipped. By 6 Geo. 1st, c. 15. Timber from Germany confined to English vessels. Certain enumerated articles admitted from Europe. The trade with Asia, Africa and America, restricted to British colonial vessels of hers by 12 C. 2. c. 18. 3. Exceptions in favour of the Portuguese, 48 Geo. 3. c. 11-products direct from Brazil in Portuguese vessels, owned by subjects of that government resident in said country.
Exception as to the United States, 57 Geo. 3. c. 97-American products in American and British ships—the master and
three quarters of the mariners of the country: “any goods, wares or merchandise, the growth, production or manufacture of the United States, not prohibited by law,” 37 sec. this act to continue in force so long as the treaty between his majesty and the United States shall. The treaty ceased--but this statute was continued by sundry acts to 1808—then continued another
year, and the 49 Geo. 3. c. 59. re-enacted the same without any limitation. (Imparlance of these legislative acts not repealed by war.) This act then is permanently in force, except when affected for a time, by our non-intercourse, embargo, or the British retaliations thereof. Some exceptions from the general law as to unmanufactured tobacco, indigo and cochineal. Exceptions and permanent absence of all restrictions as to masts, timber or boards, pitch, tar, rosin, hemp or flax, by 47 Geo. 3. c. 27, 2may be exported in any vessel belonging to any state in amity with his majesty, navigated in any manner (since altered.) Also bullion and prize goods by original act of 12 C. 2. c. 18. 15also temporary suspensions during war. By said original act, the trade of Great Britain with her colonies, which was the third branch above named, is confined to her home and colonial shipping. Exceptions by 45 Geo. 3. c. 57-enacts that wood, cotton, wool, &c. mill timber, horses, cattle, &c. may be imported into certain ports, viz. Kingston, Savannah La Mar, &c. &c. from the country of their growth, production or manufacture in vessels of such country, also tobacco, also permits certain exports (since altered.) When war is declared, the king by proclamation, shall permit merchant vessels, &c. to be sailed differently from the navigation laws.
The great object of these laws is to enlarge and strengthen the maritime power of Great Britain, and as one of her political writers remarks, they impose burdens on foreign, to encourage domestic industry; that the act of navigation is perhaps the wisest of all the commercial regulations of England. “ If the wisdom of any scheme of policy is to be measured by its effects and consequences, our navigation system is entitled to the praise of having attained the end for which it was designed. Whether we regard the primary or inferior objects in this system; whether it is the increase of shipping, the extension of our foreign trade, or the strength of our navy, they have all advanced to a degree of consideration unexampled, and they owe that advancement to this system.”—(Reeve's Law of Shipping, cited in Chitty's Law of Nations.)
These are some of the features of the celebrated Navigation Act of Great Britain, and of some of the laws relating to the same subject. Let it not be said, that she will not relax in her colonial system, when we see she has relaxed, even in relation to this country, when it was for her interest. But what reason has she to relax her restrictions if you do not retaliate them?
Relax them, did I say? Nay, she will add to them-favour the trade of her own subjects at the expense of your trade, unless you countervail her acts. The very trade between our country and her colonies, which she allows in her own bottoms, is a relaxation of the old colonial law, which restricted that trade to the mother country. And what has been the consequence of this direct trade in British ships between her colonies and this country? That some of these colonies have prevented, by high duties, the introduction from neighbouring islands, to which our vessels can go, (except from Bermuda) of all commodities from this country, because they can receive them cheaper direct from this country, and can send their produce, such I mean as they permit to be sent, chiefly rum, sugar and molasses, directly to us. And, sir, it is principally by this colonial trade of Great Britain, the decided advantage which that affords, which enables her almost to engross the direct trade between this and Great Britain—the advantage of double voyages: thereby enabling her ship-owners to under-bid us in our own ports--I mean, to carry for less freight.
On the subject of the trade in plaister of Paris, the assemblies of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, have passed laws of the most offensive character: laying a duty almost equal to the price of the article in the Boston market, on all the plaister exported from their provinces, and landed to the east of Cape Cod -the duty, I think, is twenty shillings sterling the ton; and this act, contrary to all expectation, has received the sanction of the prince regent. Thus, to enable the British vessel to carry the article to the place of consumption, a distinction is made in our ports, and a preference given to some of our ports over others. Can congress for a moment, suffer a preference of this kind? Suffer a foreign power to do that which the constitution will not permit you to do? Where will these encroachments end, if not met by the most decisive measures of retaliation?
I will now, sir, for a moment, take a view of the navigation of this country; and of its importance, not only to the individuals who may own its tonnage, not to that part of the country, where the principal part is constructed, but to the nation at large, in relation to the hands and materials employed in its construction, the amount and value of the tonnage, and, above all, in a national point of view, for manning our navy in case of war, with the number of seamen required to navigate it. The amount of our tonnage in 1816, as stated in the treasury report, was over 1,400,000 tons; but this is presumed to be, by the author (a member of this house, Mr. Pitkin) of a statistical view of our commerce, (a work distinguished for accuracy of research and correctness of remark,) greater than the actual amount, which he states at 1,250,000 tons; by the treasury statement of the amount of tonnage for 1815, laid on our tables yesterday, there were