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rope becomes only a geographical term. America, maintaining a more constant and frequent intercourse with the most powerful members of the European continent, than (with one exception) they hold with each other, must, unavoidably, partake, in some degree, of the changes, to which they are subject. Her territory, it is true, is not exposed to invasion or dismemberment; but she has rapidly created a great connexion and influence, moral, political and commercial, which will, at all times, render her liable to become involved in the general quarrels, that disturb the old world.
COMMERCIAL CONVENTION OF 1815 WITH G. BRITAIN.
Pitt first proposed a reciprocity of duties-Introduced a bill into Parliament in 1783 for that purpose-Failed-Eden's remarks—1790, date of navigation laws of this country-System of protection still continued, though application altered-Adams, Clay and Gallatin negotiate a convention at London with Robinson, Adams and Goulbourn-Points of laws of nations not touched—Convention strictly commercial-East but not West India trade regulated—Remarks on specie-Perfect equality of importation duties and tonnage ratesColonial possessions give England great advantages--Theory of convention unequal-Still favourable in practice to U. States-No trade with Indians allowed-Nor between respective territories on this continent-Consuls-Adams minister to England-Bagot to this country.
THE Treaty of Peace of Ghent was immediately succeeded by a commercial convention, concluded at London in the following July, a document of uncommon importance and interest, being the first successful endeavour, on the part of the U. States, to abolish, by the grave process of a treaty, all discriminating duties, charges and tonnage rates. The experiment was made under the most formidable circumstances, that could be assembled,-the trade of the country being thrown, at once, into competition with that of the wealthiest, as well as greatest commercial nation of the old world, encouraged and reinforced by the contributions and resources of colonies and possessions in every sea and on every continent. These surprising advantages awakened apprehensions in the breasts of some of our ministers for the result of the operation. And at the time of the negotiation, one, who has been much employed of late years in discus
sions with Great Britain, expressed to his own government a decided and deliberate opinion against the plan; a judgment, that, in regard to the first action of the convention of 1815, was undoubtedly well founded.
William Pitt, Chancellor of the English Exchequer, is entitled to the applause of having first proposed an abrogation of duties between the United States and Great Britain, probably urged to it, rather, by the original habits of trade,— a desire to continue the ancient commercial system of his country, than by a partiality for the principle, embraced in the arrangement. It is likely, also, that great minister entertained the idea, then prevalent in England, that the mother country could readily attract back to its ports the whole American commerce, in the manner it was carried on before the revolution. And as the commissioners, in concluding the treaty of peace of 1783, had not succeeded in making provision for the regulation of trade and navigation, the proposition should rather be considered a measure, merely necessary to restore and confirm the former commercial intercourse, undoubtedly important to Great Britain, as the American colonial market was one of the best, the world offered. Few statesmen have possessed a more capacious, profound intellect than William Pitt, though not altogether adapted to the times, in which he governed England, from an absence of that energy and decision, with which his illustrious father was so amply endowed; but we have no idea, that at the commencement of his long political and eventful life, he had deliberated fully and maturely upon this great commercial subject, a conception of modern times, proceeding directly from the freedom of enquiry, now indulged in regard to all important political concerns, and as immediate and distinct a deviation from the commercial system upon which, in the opinion of every Englishman, then rested the prosperity of his country. For the first time Chancellor (in the Shelburne administration) when only twenty-three years of age, Mr. Pitt introduced, in March. 1783, into the House of Commons a bill to regulate the commercial intercourse with this country, in which will be found this remarkable language:
"And whereas it is highly expedient, that the intercourse between Great Britain and the said United States should be established on the most enlarged principles of reciprocal benefit to both countries, but, from the distance between Great Britain and America, it must be a considerable time, before any convention or treaty, for establishing and regulating the trade and intercourse between Great Britain and the said United States of America upon a permanent foundation can be concluded.
"Now, for the purpose of making a temporary regulation of the commerce and intercourse between Great Britain and the said United States of America, and in order to evince a disposition of Great Britain to be on terms of the most perfect amity with the said United States of America, and in confidence of a like friendly disposition on the part of the said United States towards Great Britain, be it further enacted, that from and after the
the ships and vessels of the subjects and citizens of the said United States of America, with the merchandises and goods on board the same, shall be admitted into all the ports of Great Britain in the same manner, as the ships and vessels of the subjects of other independent sovereign states, but the merchandises and goods on board such ships or vessels of the subjects or citizens of the said United States, being of the growth, produce or manufacture of the said United States, shall be liable to the same duties and charges only as the same merchandises and goods would be subject to, if they were the property of British subjects and imported in British built ships, or vessels navigated by British natural born subjects." "And be it further enacted, that during the time aforesaid, the ships and vessels of the subjects and citizens of the said United States shall be admitted into the ports of his Majesty's islands, colonies or plantations in America with any merchandises or goods of the growth, produce or manufacture of the territories of the aforesaid United States, with liberty to export from his said Majesty's islands, colonies or plantations in America to the said territories of the said United States any merchandises or goods whatsoever, and such merchandises and goods, which shall be so imported into, or exported from the said British islands, colonies or plantations in America, shall be liable to the same duties and charges only, as the same merchandises and goods would be subject to, if they were the property of British natural born subjects, and imported or exported in British built ships or vessels, navigated by British seamen.
"And be it further enacted, that during all the time hereinbefore limited, there shall be the same drawbacks, exemptions and bounties on merchandises and goods, exported from Great Britain into the territories of the said United States of America, as are allowed in the case of exportation to the islands, plantations or colonies now remaining, or belonging to the crown of Great Britain in America."
The bill met with opposition, and was shortly dismissed to a noiseless death, principally on account of political considerations. The Shelburne administration was then nearly crowded out of place by the profligate coalition of Mr. Fox and Lord North, and, though the measure was supported by the former, while in opposition, it was not renewed when he came into power, an event, (though of short duration) that soon after happened.
On this occasion a principal adversary of the proposition was Mr. Eden, afterwards Lord Auckland, one of the individuals, with whom the unratified treaty of 1806 was negotiated, in which a portion of the same principle of reciprocity was, for the first time, introduced. Feeble reports only of the debates of those remarkable times now remain, but, among other things, that gentleman said,
"The American states lay so contiguous to our West India islands, and the bill, giving the Americans leave to trade with them, there was no shadow of doubt, but they would supply them with provisions from the continent of America to the utter ruin of the provision trade of Ireland, which, at present, supplied the British West Indies; the fisheries of that kingdom would, of course, be ruined. The next thing to be apprehended was, that we should totally lose the carrying trade, for as the Americans were to be permitted, under this bill, to bring the West India commodities to Europe, so he feared the six hundred ships of this country, which, that trade employed at present, would become useless, not only to the great decrease of our revenue, but the absolute destruction of our navy, arising from the destruction of that great nursery for seamen. The sugar refinery of England would, also, he feared, be destroyed by this bill, for as the Americans could carry the raw sugars to their own country, and manufacture them much cheaper than we could here, the consequence would be, that they would