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TERMINATION OF THE CANADIAN RECIPROCITY TREATY.
SPEECHES IN THE SENATE, ON THE JOINT RESOLUTION GIVING NOTICE FOR THE TERMINATION OF THE CANADIAN RECIPROCITY TREATY, DECEMBER 21, 1864, JANUARY 11 AND 12, 1865.
A JOINT RESOLUTION passed the House of Representatives, December 13, 1864, which, after an argumentative preamble, authorized and requested the President of the United States to give the British Government the notice required by the fifth article of the Reciprocity Treaty of the 5th June, 1854, for the termination of the same; and in the Senate the same was duly referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
December 20, 1864, Mr. Sumner reported from the Committee the House resolution, with the following substitute as an amendment.
"JOINT RESOLUTION providing for the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty of fifth June, eighteen hundred and fifty-four, between the United States and Great Britain.
"Whereas it is provided in the Reciprocity Treaty concluded at Washington the 5th of June, 1854, between the United States, of the one part, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, of the other part, that this treaty shall remain in force for ten years from the date at which it may come into operation, and further until the expiration of twelve months after either of the high contracting parties shall give notice to the other of its wish to terminate the same'; and whereas it appears, by a proclamation of the President of the United States, bearing date 16th March, 1855, that the treaty came into operation on that day; and whereas, further, it is no longer for the interests of the United States to continue the same in force: Therefore
"Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That notice be given of the termination of the Reciprocity Treaty, according to the provision therein contained for the termination of the same; and the President of the United States is hereby charged with the communication of such notice to the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland."
December 21st, the joint resolution was, on motion of Mr. Sumner, taken up for consideration, when the substitute was adopted as an amendment. The question occurring on the passage of the joint resolution as amended, Mr. Sumner said :
R. PRESIDENT,-I had originally intended, when this joint resolution came up, to review the whole subject, and to exhibit at length the history of the Reciprocity Treaty, and existing reasons for its termination. But, after the debate of a few days ago, and considering the apparent unanimity in the Senate, I feel unwilling to occupy time by any protracted remarks. They are not needed.
The people of the United States have been uneasy under the Reciprocity Treaty for several years, I may almost say from its date. A feeling early showed itself that the treaty was more advantageous to Canada than to the United States, that, in short, it was unilateral. This eeling has of late ripened into something like conviction. At the same time the exigencies of the present war, requiring so large an expenditure, make it unreasonable for us to continue a treaty by which the revenues of the country suffer. Such considerations have brought the public mind to its present position. The unamiable feelings manifested toward us by the people of Canada have had little influence on the question, unless, perhaps, they may conspire to make us look at it in the light of reason rather than of senti
The subject of the fisheries is included in this treaty. But it is not doubted that before the termination of the treaty some arrangement can be made in regard to it, either by reciprocal legislation or by further negotiation.
The Committee, after careful consideration at a full meeting, was unanimous in its report. And as the Committee represents all parts of the country and all sentiments of the Senate, I have thought that perhaps there might be a similar unanimity among Senators. Therefore I forbear all further remarks, and ask for a vote.
On motion of Mr. Hale, of New Hampshire, the further consideration of the question was postponed.
January 11, 1865, it was resumed, when Mr. Hale spoke against the notice. He was followed by Mr. Sumner.
MR. PRESIDENT, -The Reciprocity Treaty has a beautiful name. It suggests at once exchange, equality, equity; and it is because it was supposed to advance these ideas practically that this treaty was originally accepted by the people of the United States. If, however, it shall appear, that, while organizing an exchange, it forgets equality and equity in any essential respect, then must a modification be made in conformity with just principles.
I mean to be brief, but I hope, though brief, to make the proper conclusion apparent. It is a question for reason, and not for passion or sentiment, and in this spirit I enter upon the discussion.
The treaty may be seen under four different heads, as it concerns, first, the fisheries, secondly, the navigation of the St. Lawrence, -thirdly, the commerce between the United States and the British provinces,
and, fourthly, the revenue of the United States.
1. The fisheries have been a source of anxiety throughout our history, even from the beginning, and
for several years previous to the Reciprocity Treaty they had been the occasion of mutual irritation, verging at times on positive outbreak. The treaty was followed by entire tranquillity, which has not been for a moment disturbed. This is a plain advantage not to be denied. But, so far as I have been able to examine official returns, I do not find any further evidence showing the value of the treaty in this connection, while opinions, even among those most interested in the fisheries, are divided. There are partisans for it in Gloucester, and partisans against it in Maine.
If the treaty related exclusively to the fisheries, I should not be willing to touch it, — although the circumstance that representatives of these interests differ with regard to its value may leave it open to debate. But the practical question remains, whether any seeming advantage in this respect is sufficient to counterbalance the disadvantage in other respects.
2. Next comes the navigation of the St. Lawrence. This plausible concession has proved to be little more than a name. It appears that during the first six years of the treaty only forty American vessels, containing 12,550 tons, passed seaward through the St. Lawrence, and during the same time only nineteen vessels, containing 5,446 tons, returned by the same open highway.1 These are very petty amounts, when we consider the commerce on the Lakes,, which in 1856 was estimated at $587,197,320,2 or when we consider the carrying trade between the United States and the Brit
1 Reciprocity Treaty: Executive Documents, 36th Cong. 1st Sess., H. of R., No. 96, pp. 28, 29.
2 Navigation of the Northern and Northwestern Lakes: Reports of House Committees, 34th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 316, p. 10.
ish provinces. Take the years 1857-62, and we find that during this period the shipping of the United States clearing for the British provinces was 10,707,329 tons, and the foreign shipping clearing during this same period was 7,391,399 tons, while the shipping of the United States entering at our custom-houses from the British provinces was 10,056,183 tons, and the foreign shipping entering was 6,453,520 tons. I mention these things by way of contrast. In comparison with these grand movements of value, the business we have been able to do on the St. Lawrence is trivial. It need not be considered an element in the present discussion.
3. The treaty may be seen next in its bearing on the commerce between the two countries. This has increased immensely; but it is difficult to say how much of this increase is due to the treaty, and how much to the natural growth of population, and the facilities of transportation in both countries. If it could be traced exclusively or in any large measure to the treaty, it would be an element not to be disregarded. But it does not follow from the occurrence of this increase after the treaty that it was on account of the treaty. Post hoc, ergo propter hoc, is too loose a rule for our Government on the present occasion.
The census of the United States and of the British provinces shows an increase of population which must not be disregarded in determining the origin of this increase of commerce.
There are also the railroads, with prompt and constant means of intercommunication, which have come
1 Reciprocity Treaty: Reports of House Committees, 38th Cong. 1st Sess., No. 39, p. 6.