Imagens das páginas

H. OF R.)

Duties on Tonnage.

[MAY, 1789

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of reciprocity ? For I imagine those subjects monopolizing our trade; but finding, from fatiguwill be found to be connected. The arguments ing experience, that their separate efforts were inoffered against the measure are founded on a effectual, they united in forming the Government maxim of impolicy. It is stated, that as we have under which we deliberate. I will not say only not vessels enough of our own to transport the that if, in the first act of Congress, we abolish this produce of our country, and as this produce sells favorite distinction, we disappoint the expecta. low, we ought not to enter into regulations that tions of the warmest friends and advocates of the will increase the price of freight. The plain Constitution, but we shall also disappoint the exmeaning of which I take to be, let us employ pectations of its enemies, and the people of Britain. those vessels that will do our business cheapest, The policy manifested by that nation towards making no kind of discrimination whatever. If us since the Revolution must evince to etery this argument has weight, it goes against discrimi- thinking mind the necessity of extending our nating in favor of our own shipping. I admit, commerce to other channels, and no longer sufer that laying fifty cents on foreign vessels, and but her to regulate and limit us in this particular. six on our own, is a regulation by which the The policy of her Parliament has been on the owners of American shipping will put a consi- watch to seize every advantage which our weak derable part of the difference into their pockets. and unguarded situation exposed; she has bound This, sir, I consider as a sacrifice of interest to us in commercial manacles, and very nearly depolicy; the sacrifice is but small, but I should not feated the object of our independence. contend for it, if we did not stand in need of We all know there was a time when Britain maritime improvements. Were it not for the showed a disposition to form the treaty we wish necessity we are under of having some naval for. This resulted from an apprehension that the strength, I should be an advocate for throwing United States possessed both the power and in a wide open the doors of our commerce to all the clination to do ihemselves justice. The moment world, and making no kind of discrimination in she discovered we had not the power to perform favor of our own citizens. But we have maritime our contracts, her disposition changed. Now, for dangers to guard against, and we can be secured my part, I can discover no motive for that nation from them no other way than by having a navy to alter its conduct; if, now that we have the and seamen of our own; these can only be ob- power, we want the inclination. They will pertained by giving a preference. I admit it is a severe in their selfish interest, and narrow policy: tax, and a tax upon our produce; but it is a tax to exclude us from a reciprocal share of trade; we must pay for the national security. I recon- they will continue the ability to the Executive cile it to the interest of the United States that Magistrate to regulate the intercourse by circumthis sacrifice should be made; by it we shall be stances as they arise, but ever studious to their able to provide the means of defence, and by own interest alone. The gentleman from New being prepared to repel danger, is the most likely York seems to apprehend, that if we commence way to avoid it. This tax, therefore, may pre-commercial hostilities, we shall suffer by reprisals

. vent the horror of a war, and secure to us ihat For my part, I am not afraid of suffering in the respect and attention which we merit.

contest; her interests can be wounded almost I am a friend to the navigation of America, mortally, while ours are invulnerable. She is and shall always be as ready to go as great lengths sensible of this; and the people of America are in favor of that interest, as any gentleman on this not unacquainted with the natural advantages floor. I have it in contemplation to propose a possessed over her: if it were necessary, and distant time to be fixed, at which these high du- means of a pacific nature were not immediately ties on tonnage shall begin to operate; by which successful, America could defend herself. Supmeans the interests of that part of the community pose Great Britain not pleased with our regulaemploying foreign shipping will be unaffected for tion, but disposed to counteract and oppose us the present, and the other part will have time to with other restrictions, and we proceed to do each increase its tonnage, so as to answer for the trans- other all the injury which commercial prohibitions portation of the produce of all America.

can produce; which, let me ask, of the parties, are With relation to the discrimination proposed to most vulnerable? How we could sustain our wounds be made between foreigners, I think nothing new I will not say; those who know our country has been offered now. It has not been denied, well, will have but little uneasiness on that head. and therefore I take it to be tacitly admitted, that But, though I do not say how we could sustain the public sentiments are friendly to such a dis- our wounds, I can point out how we could inflict crimination as is proposed. I do not think it ne- most deadly ones. If we were to say, that no arcessary, therefore, to relate particularly some ticle should be exported from America to the facts, which would have shown that almost all West Indies, but what went in our own bottoms, the States in the Union have manifested their we should soon hear a different language from opinion on the subject, that a discrimination ought any that has ever been held out to us on the subto be made, and ought to operate particularly on ject of commercial regulations. It may be said, Great Britain. A discrimination of this kind first the British West Indies could draw supplies from appeared in New Hampshire; the influence of its the mother country; but these would be only preexample expanded the whole extent of the Union, carious; there are always times when they must and State after State adopted regulations for the be dependent upon us, even for the necessary subsalutary purpose of checking a power that was I sistence, to save them from destruction.

May, 1789.]

Duties on Tonnage.

[H. OF R.

Now, let me ask, what article is that we are give it that impulse which pature directs. I wish dependent upon Great Britain for, that is neces- that any general principle would permit us to sary for our subsistence? If it be said there are make a distinction between Spain and Britain, but articles of convenience we must have from her, II do not know there is such a general principlebeg gentlemen to look round and observe, that there is none in the possession of this House to those m aterials for manufactures which she sup- avail ourselves of. We must consider Spain as a plies us with, and fabricates in the highest per nation not having formed a treaty of commerce fection, are to be found in the United States, and, with us. If they are disposed to make such a within these few years, we have made rapid ad-treaty, they will only be subjected for a short time vances in manufacturing ourselves. This must to the inconvenience which the proposed measure eventually lessen the imports from Britain, and will inflict. Admitting that the duty on tonnage her independent situation arises from the flourish- is not very agreeable to every part of the Union, ing condition of her manufactures and commerce. yet their momentary inconvenience must give I have, therefore, no fears of entering into a com- way to considerations of greater importance. I mercial warfare with that nation; if fears are to have no reason to suppose, that the sense of the be entertained, they lie on the other side. I could House will lead us to disagree to the measure. I go more largely into this subject, and demonstrate have made these remarks, not because I thought clearly that we have infinite advantages over her. they would influence the vote of any gentleman, Even at this moment we hear the cry of distress but because I thought it decent to show the prinfrom one part of her dominions, which can only ciples upon which our determination is founded. be relieved by the resources they have in this I trust there will be a majority, and a large majoricountry. But I will not take up the time of the !y too, in favor of the proposed discrimination ; committee longer on this subject, nor dilate upon indeed, the question stands predetermined; we the nature and extent of the direct trade carried have made a discrimination on the article of spion between foreigners and us, and the circuitous rits upon the same principle; it would be a violaone through Great Britain, from which she de- tion of propriety, therefore, to suppose a contrary rives great advantages; nor show the compara decision in this case. tive motives we have for making a discrimination Mr. FitzSIMONS.--I shall not speak as to the between her and other foreign nations. Whale policy of the measure; I mean to confine myself oil is prohibited in Britain; at least subjected to a io stating a few facts, as I did when the subject duty amounting to a prohibition, but it is admit- was before the Committee of the Whole House. ted into France. I need not remark the value The gentleman from New York (Mr. LAWRENCE) which we ought to set upon this part of our com- has said, that I stated the foreign tonnage as twomerce; fisheries are, perhaps, the best nurseries thirds of the whole employed by the United for seamen of any employment whatever. Rice States. It is possible that I made this mistake in is also an article received by them, and enters my language, but the truth is, that one-third only considerably into the consumption of the people; is foreign, and of this a very considerable proporthese articles are making their way through that tion is British. The state of the tonnage in Mascountry, and will open a considerable vent for the sachusetts is nearly all American, in New York, surplus that we have. In this point of view, it is 55,000 tons of the same, and 30,000 foreign; nearimportant not to take any steps that would check ly the same proportion is employed at Philadelthat spirit which seems disposed to favor the com- phia. Maryland employs about three American merce and interests of America. Tobacco is also to two foreign; in Virginia and South Carolina, consumed in considerable quantities in France; they are nearly equal; in Georgia, the difference undoubtedly it is our interest that a direct trade is two-thirds foreign, and one-third American; so should be carried on with that kingdom in this that, upon the whole, there is little more than onearticle. Eighty or ninety thousand hogsheads of third foreign. This statement very considerably this article have been shipped to Great Britain, of lessens our dependence upon foreign nations from which scarcely 15,000 are consumed there; the what has been imagined by the gentleman who remainder is sent off to other countries; 20,000 has spoken in opposition; nor does it follow that hogsheads of this very tobacco is consumed in we shall pay the freight upon all our exports in France. It is not the fault of our merchants that proportion as we lay the duty. If we take a view this supply does not go direct to that kingdom, as of the trade of the United States, we shall disgood policy would dictate. I need not repeat the cover that it will not neces

cessarily be the conseadvantages to be derived from a direct intercourse quence. with those nations, whose inhabitants consume What are the articles Great Britain takes of the staples of our country. I conceive, where no America? A great proportion of the lumber special reason to the contrary exists, we may con- used in the West Indies, indeed I may say the sider trade in its natural channel when the arti- whole-a great proportion of the lumber used cles are carried immediately to the consumer. within that kingdom. The West Indies cannot Considering our trade in this point of view, a great draw her supplies elsewhere; if you were, therepart of ours is extremely diverted from the course fore, to lay a duty of forty per cent. upon the it ought to pursue; but a small proportion of it freight, the consumers in those islands must flows in any other than in that between Great pay it. The same observation_holds good as it Britain and 'us; our policy, therefore, as I stated respects our intercourse with Britain; the artion a former occasion, ought to be calculated to cles she takes from us cannot be supplied from

H.OF R.]

Duties on Tonnage.

[May, 1789.


any other country. Experience has proved, that with us; the price is better, and we are better every one of these articles has been advanced paid. But gentlemen are mistaken when they say in price in the proportion as it has been encum- that Britain cannot draw her supplies from another bered, and the high freight only serves as a pre-quarter. We have several competitors in her text to increase the rate to the consumer. It is market for various articles, and it is the prefernot just, therefore, to say that the articles are ence they give us in the duties and charges, that of less value in our country, for in instances of renders it unsuccessful on the part of our oppothis kind the burden must fall upon those who nents. It is said that flaxseed cannot be obtained use them. It is not the case with the rice of elsewhere ; yet gentlemen must recollect that South Carolina, nor with the tobacco of Vir- very small supplies of this article were furnished ginia, nor ever can be, unless there is a com- by 'America during the war. Britain drew the petition with other countries in the sale of these deficiency from Holland. This proves that their articles. Flax is a very necessary article in one dependence is not exclusively upon us for flas of their most important manufactures; the seed seed. Is it good policy to deprive ourselves of the of this plant is sedulously sought for in America advantage which we possess, without a probabecause it is superior to their own, or because it is bility of acquiring greater ? There is very little inconvenient to raise it; but if they find it neces- prospect of success in a commercial struggle with sary, will they not be obliged to pay the price Britain, and I do not see any great benefits that when increased by a small tonnage duty ? Will arise from the trade of our allies that will warrant gentlemen contend against me, that the citizens of the sacrifice. It appears to me, that, by making the United States do not pay the taxes and duties the discrimination now in contemplation, we pay laid by Britain on the articles we consume ? a compliment that is of very little consequence They certainly will not do this. Why, then, do in the estimation of the nation in whose favor it they contend that we are to bear the duty of ton- is intended. They employ a very inconsiderable nage paid on exportation? The advantages tonnage in the American trade, and those few Great Britain derives from our commerce, be- vessels are all that can receive a profit from the sides its absolute necessity to her existence, are regulations. Besides, it is admitted that the considerations too important for her to sacrifice United States have not vessels enough of their for a paltry regulation of fifteen per a ton upon own for the transportation of their produce ; can her shipping, and this is all that the proposed dis- it be good policy, then, to destroy a competition crimination" subjects her to. You have heard it among foreigners for the remainder of our carrydeclared, that the number of British vessels are ing trade? not lessened, although there is a duty of six shil- If gentlemen will show me the advantages lings and eight pence per ton in some of the States. I arising from our commercial connexions where They still find it their interest to pursue our bene- we are bound by treaty, I will join them in a meaficial commerce. I admit that a tax on tonnage sure which is likely to produce similar effects on increases the freight, but it is equally certain that other nations ; but, when I see no one interest the tax, in almost every instance, falls upon the that will be promoted by it, I feel diffident lest we

do a substantial injury to the cause we attempt to Our commerce with Spain and Portugal is support. beneficial, and it may be proper to consider what Mr. Clymer appealed to the public acts of effects our regulations are likely to produce, as America for the sentiments of the people respectthey respect those Powers; but with England we ing a discrimination, from which it would appear risk nothing. As long as they find it their interest that Britain was looked upon in commerce as a to continue the American trade, there is no no fear hostile nation. But it was the wish of all to inof their discontinuing it, and this will be the case crease the intercourse between France and the as long as we consume her manufactures, and United States. The little direct trade carried on give her in return our produce, which enables her between that kingdom and America is favorable to to extend her commerce to other parts of the us; that to Great Britain the contrary. We reworld.

ceive money for what we carry to France, with Mr. WADSWORTH.-I am opposed to all dis- which our mercantile operations are increased: crimination between foreign nations, unless I can we are not paid with rum, as in our British West discover some solid reason for the measure. We India trade. This is a fáct of notoriety ; it has enjoy equal advantages, with respect to our trade, become a subject of complaint in that country, from those nations that are not in alliance with, that we take no returns in manufactures from her, as from those to whom we are linked by commer- as we do from a neighboring nation. These adcial treaty. Why, therefore, shall we give a pre- vantages, therefore, backed by the voice of the ference that may be odious, and draw injurious people, warrant a preference of the nature of what restrictions upon our commerce? It is to Great is now intended. Britain that we are indebted for a market for our Mr. Page was sorry to trouble the House upon lumber, our pot and pearl ash, our naval stores, this occasion after so much had been said, and he rice, and tobacco; in short they take every thing would not have done it, if it had not been that he we have to dispose of except our fish and oil. conceived it proper to notice some remarks which But our fish finds a better market in countries had escaped the gentleman who argued in oppowith whom the United States have no alliance, sition to the proposed measure. It had been said, than in those of Powers in commercial treaty that America obtained greater advantages from


May, 1789.]

Duties on Tonnage.

(H. OF R.

nations not in commercial alliance with us, than the British subjects as to induce them to give from those that were. He would leave this point what we ask; therefore, the gentlemen's arguto be settled by the gentlemen who had heard the ments go too far, when they intend to prove that facts stated on both sides, and turn to consider it nation altogether dependent upon us.

The prices in another point of view. The committee, when for the Southern staples are generally lower than they had this report under consideration, endea- what they were before the war; and I am very Fored to adopt a successful mode of raising a reve- apprehensive that a high tonnage will reduce Due. If a duty on tonnage will have this effect, them still lower. The tonnage of the State of we ought to agree to it; for, to what other subject Georgia is about 20,000 tons, of this, two-thirds of revenue can we go that will prove equally pro- are British. If the duty is laid so high as to preductive? It is therefore requisite that we lay this vent them from coming amongst us to transport kind of tax; in so doing, if it is necessary to dis- our produce, what is to become of our planters ? criminate between our own citizens and foreign- It is said that this measure will raise us into coners, why is it not likewise proper to discriminate siderable maritime importance, by, making a between our commercial friends and commercial favorable discrimination. I admit that this may enemies? If the policy is good in one case, it is eventually take place, with prudent encourageso in the other. We must not only encourage our ment; but if, before we have got shipping enough friends to continue in alliance, but hold out an of our own, we discard foreigners, we must injure advantage to those of whom we want a reciprocity. the husbandman; the profits of his labor must It has always been the practice of that very perish upon his hands, for want of the means nation to discriminate who it is suspected will requisite to convey them to market. take umbrage at our doing it. Has not Britain If the tonnage duty is commenced at a distant laid heavy duties upon the wines of France, and day I shall favor the sum proposed; but if it is lower on those of Portugal, in order to encourage immediately to take place, I should think twenty the trade and commerce of their ally. They have, or twenty-five cents a ton sufficient, and even this by this means, made France agree to receive their ought not to take place before December, 1790. manufactures. It is the practice of wise nations Though I am a friend to discrimination, yet I am to adopt regulations of this nature; and most un- opposed to a high duty, until we have vessels doubtedly, if any nation on earth has a right to enough of our own to answer the purposes of doexpect a favorable regulation on our side, it is the mestic navigation and foreign transportation. one that, I may say, has given us the power to Mr. LAWRENCE.- I do not think the regulation deliberate. I conceive such a regulation wise, in contemplation will embrace the object gentlejust, and politic; the contrary policy I view as men have in view. The discrimination between pusillanimous, founded in folly, injustice, and im- our own vessels and foreigners is intended to inpolicy. For my part, I wish for greater discrimi- crease the quantity of American tonnage. The nation than is now proposed. Instead of resting discrimination between foreigners is also intended it here, I should have consented to have gone to increase the tonnage of our allies. But will much further. I believe the price of freight has this proposed measure have such effect? I not risen in Virginia, though the British vessels think, for my part, that a preference of twenty are subjected to a tonnage duty of double the cents per ton will not draw vessels belonging to amount of what is now proposed. Something of those nations into this branch of commerce, so as this nature might give the merchants of America to answer the purpose of supplying the deficiency such maritime advantages, that our commerce in our means of transportation. If the preference would shortly be placed on a respectable footing. is so small as not to induce their vessels io naviWe might then expect a beneficial treaty to be gate for us, the means are not proportioned to the formed with Britain ; and it is my opinion, that if end; but if the regulation is to induce Great a decisive discrimination was made, we should Britain to grant us reciprocity in commerce, and scarcely pass the act before offers of that kind our trade is of such high importance to that nawould be made.

tion, let us adopt measures more effectual than Mr. Jackson.— I am in favor of a discrimina- this small discrimination ; let us say, that they tion, but I like the idea thrown out by the gentle- shall receive no supplies from us but what are man from Virginia, (Mr. Madison,) that the high conveyed to them in our own bottoms. The duty commence its operation at a distant day ; gentleman from Pennsylvania, (Mr. Fitzsimons,) but I am not for a very great discrimination. says, it is not true that the freight will reduce the Some gentlemen, who advocate this side of the price to the farmer. He supposes the articles of question, have contended that Great Britain is tobacco and rice necessaries, and whatever price obliged to receive certain articles from America ; they are held at must be given for them, and then and, therefore, if we lay heavy duties upon trans- the whole expense will fall upon the consumer. portation, they will fall upon the consumer. Now This proves too much, and consequently, proves I must beg leave to mention a fact or two in nothing. Suppose we lay twenty shillings per point. In the State of Georgia we have a pretty ton on vessels, it must enter into the price of tohigh tonnage duty, but our produce falls in price. bacco and rice

, and the articles must still be purThe rice, about two or three years ago, sold for chased; yet, if the price is increased, the demand thirteen or fourteen shillings; now it is difficult to becomes limited. A man does not consume so procure nine shillings per hundred weight. This much when the price of an article is high, as he proves that these articles are not so necessary to does when it is moderate; consequently, if the

1st Co.—9

H. OF R.]

Duties on Tonnage.

[May, 1789.



planter was to get his usual profit on what was France; does not this demonstrate that our comsold, he would lose on all that remained on hand, merce flows in an improper channel, and calls owing to the limitation of the demand. The loudly on us to give it a different direction ? ! same reasoning holds good with respect to flax- think the good policy of fostering the trade of seed, lumber, and potash ; at the same time it France cannot be doubted; we must make the will be well to consider, whether the increase on other nation feel our power to induce her to grant the freight will not be such as to prevent our send us reciprocal advantages. Gentlemen will not ing them altogether.

contend, that we ought to allow her every thing, The oil at one time imported into France is re- and trust to her gratitude. They say it is a slenstricted at another. I am willing to enter into der obligation ; for my part, I have no hopes from stipulations with that nation for the admission of that source; because I have all along obserred the article; but, until something is done by trea- her seizing to herself every advantage in conty on this head, there is no security in the tempo- merce that presented to her view by all the ingerary regulations made by that or any other nation. nuity she could devise. Gentlemen admit, that I would not be understood to be against discrimi- we are now in a different situation from what we nating between ourselves and foreigners. No, sir, were when she declined entering into treaty with I admit the policy and propriety of such a mea- us, and they expect she will now come forward sure, but I contend we ought not to discriminate with generous offers. But permit me to ask genbetween foreign nations. As for the claim of tlemen, if it is not the same thing whether we gratitude which has been urged, I think it but of want the power or the will to compel them to do small weight. If we are bound, I presume it is us commercial justice? Yet, do not the genby treaty, and whatever we are so bound to do, I tlemen's arguments tend to create an opinion cheerfully concur in; but, if we are free, it never that we have not the power? They caution us can be deemed want of gratitude to decline doing to be afraid of reprisals. If she really believes what will be injurious to our interests; it is what us to be afraid on this head, will she not act in a nation has å right to expect from another. the manner she has hitherto done when we really The gentlemen say they are sorry to discriminate did not possess the power ? When I hear rebetween Spain and Portugal; they wish to favor marks of this nature, the more convinced I am of these nations: the former has some claim also the necessity there is of making a discrimination upon our gratitude; but it is a matter of certain to convince her of our power, and make her see ty that those nations will receive an injury by that her interest is concerned in being on terms of the proposed policy, and it may draw down upon friendship with us; it will be the most likely way that

part of our commerce very inconvenient and to obtain from her the advantages we contend for injurious restrictions. But say the gentlemen, no I have no doubt in my own mind but that it will general principle can be adopted, and at the same have this effect. Can it be expected that she will time permit us to accept them. If this be the case, shut her ports against us, when she re-exports the why pursue measures which have this fatal ten- greater part of what she takes from us, for indency, without any certainty of advantage from stance tobacco? Will she refuse to receive this another quarter?

article, when she does not consume the tenth Great Britain would not enter into a commer- part of what she carries from the United States ? cial treaty with us, because she saw we had not Will she shut her ports to the raw materials nepower to perform our engagements. If this was cessary for her manufactures? I think her dethe true reason for her declining to form a treaty, pendence, as a commercial and manufacturing there is a high degree of probability, that, now nation, is so absolutely upon us, that it gives a the objection is removed, she may evince a dispo- moral certainty that her restrictions will not, for sition to be bound to us by a link of that nature her own sake, be prejudicial to our trade. which we wish. Is it prudent, then, at this time, Gentlemen who fear any ill effect upon


ag to defeat the measure we aim at by a paltry ricultural interests, apprehend it from a supposiregulation aimed against her of fifteen pence per tion that the discrimination will be high. Now! ton? I conceive it is not, and hope the House profess, it is not so much for a high duty as for the will reject it.

policy of the measure that I advocate it. I shall Mr. Madison. I believe a few considerations be content with a small preference, and surely that lie in a compass, will be sufficient to guide us no doubt can be entertained of its justice or proin our determination on the present occasion. priety. Although it is an old maxim, that trade is best Mr. SHERMAN was opposed to the discriminaleft to regulate itself, yet, circumstances may and tion. In his opinion, the great principle in mado occur to require legislative interference. The king treaties with foreign Powers, was to obtain principles which have actuated us in laying du- equal and reciprocal advantages to what were ties on several articles of impost are founded upon granted, and in all our measures to gain this obthis necessity. Our commerce with France and ject thé principle ought to be held in view. If Great Britain may be considered in the same point the business before the House was examined, it of view, the one is depressed beyond what its na- would appear to be rather founded on principles ture deserves, and the other enhanced beyond its of resentment, because the nation of Great Bridue proportion. The justice of this remark is too tain has neglected or declined forming a comflagrant to be disputed. A considerable quantity mercial treaty with us. He did not know that of our produce goes through Great Britain into she discriminates between these States and other

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