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suaded the English government might at this time have made a treaty by which the trade should have been placed on a very advantageous footing for her shipping interest, as well as for the colonies. The general trade of America was labouring under great difficulties, and greater importance was attached to the trade with the British West India colonies than it has since been found to deserve. At this time I happened to be in America, and I well remember the surprise of many, and the joy of all, when it began to be whispered in New York, in December 1821, that the English government had actually resolved to give up the point, and throw open the West India trade to vessels of the United States. Speedily the report got into the newspapers, and afforded a triumph to the Democrats.' The towns that had petitioned were scouted for their selfishness and want of spirit in recommending to the government to degrade the country by opening its ports to a trade from which its own vessels were excluded, or supposing that they were not able to compel England to submit to terms of reciprocity. It was at the same time announced, that the commercial treaty with England, entered into at the peace of Ghent, and then about expiring, had been renewed; that the Columbia river had been agreed to as the western boundary; and the right to the fisheries, so anxiously sought, and for which a large consideration was at one time said to have been offered, had been gratuitously placed on the same footing as before
These were too trifling matters to occupy public attention in England; but in America, where they were better understood and more fully appreciated, they were considered as great points gained, and were consequently the cause of much exultation.
This brings us to the era of Mr. Robinson's bill in 1821, by which the colony ports were thrown open
to the vessels of the United States. This had become in a great degree a measure of necessity. The low price of sugar for several years preceding, had not paid the expense of the cultivation, and the distress of the planters was so much aggravated by the high prices which they had to pay for their supplies of lumber and other articles, in consequence of the American non-intercourse acts, that they were threatened with general ruin. Yet from the distress which existed on the other side also, and from the great anxiety manifested by the Americans in their petitions to Congress, to have a participation in the trade (and even to let it be carried on in English vessels direct, rather than it should be continued through Bermuda), there is much reason to think that more favourable terms might have been obtained, had we treated for them; and it is mortifying to reflect, that we suffered so much in vain. The point had been contested from the time that the States of the Union became independent; for the last seven years in particular, an obstinate struggle had been maintained between the countries, and at an incalculable sacrifice to
the colonists. Peace with France, which removed the obstructions that had so long excluded their products from the continent of Europe, only involved them in another struggle, by which they were in a great measure excluded from the markets of the North American continent; markets exceedingly important to them, as it was there only they could barter their rum for those important necessaries, lumber and flour. By being excluded from these markets, they were obliged to pay double, nay, treble prices for many of their foreign supplies; they were prevented from getting their rum (then almost unsaleable in Europe) disposed of to their neighbours, their old and principal customers for it; or it went to them burthened with such ruin. ous charges by circuitous voyages and retaliatory duties as were almost equivalent to a prohibition. By these exceedingly impolitic regulations, following the war, the Americans were necessitated to resort to other means of supplying themselves. They built large distilleries, which are supplied with molasses principally from the Spanish islands, (with which they enjoy a perfectly free trade), and the people having got accustomed to the 'new England rum,' which, as it pays no duty, is of course much cheaper than West Indian, they have become in
a great measure independent of us : and thus an injury has been done to the colonists, which no new system can repair. May it be a lesson to us in the regulations of our trade with the new states of the South American continent!
A fatal error in the Act of 1822 was a clause (copied I believe from former acts), requiring that when an American vessel should enter any of our enumerated free ports, and take on board a cargo of colonial produce, the same should be carried direct to the country or state in America to which such ship or vessel belonged; and that, before the shipment thereof, security by bond should be given by the master and exporter, in a penalty equal to half the value of the cargo, for the due landing thereof at the port for which entered. The object of this regulation of course was to prevent the Americans from carrying colonial produce to Europe, and the clause, it is most likely, was first suggested by the English ship-owners. But, however this might be, the restriction was totally useless; for the plantations being owned in England, and the far greater part of them mortgaged to merchants there, the danger that much of the produce would be sent to the continental markets, either in American or British vessels, was small indeed; besides, that the exporter, or agent, to whom a foreign vessel came consigned in the colonies, having no power over her after her leaving port, could not undertake any such responsibility. The clause, consequently, never was acted upon; but it furnished an admirable excuse to the government of the United States for a retaliatory regulation, not, like ours, impracticable and nominal, but substantial, and to their shipping most advantageous. It was enacted by Congress, that any
articles, the growth, produce, or manufacture of the United States, might be exported directly to any of the enumerated British colonial ports in any British vessel coming directly from any of the said enumerated ports, but that a ship entering from England should not be permitted to take on board a cargo for the colonies, or, vice versá, entering from the colonies, to take on board a cargo for England. The effect of this regulation has been to throw nearly the whole of the trade between the United States and the British West India colonies into the hands of the Americans, while, had no such restrictions been imposed, it would not only have been retained as an English trade, but the English shipping would have been able to command a larger share of the direct trade between England and America. The West India ships combining the advantages of carrying three cargoes in one voyage, would have taken the bulky articles of coals, salt, and crockery ware from England to the United States, and delivering these would have carried lumber to the West India islands at a cheaper rate, with the advantage of sugar cargoes home, than it would have been possible for ships of the United States to carry
those articles from England to America, or lumber from America to our West India islands. The Americans are perfectly aware of this, and continue to enforce their regulation, although ours never was acted upon, and has lately been repealed. The result to the planters is, that instead