Item of the Day: DuPratz on Louisiana (1763)

Full Title: The History of Louisiana, or of Western Parts of Virginia and Carolina: Containing A Description of the Countries that lye on both Sides of the River Mississippi: With An Account of the Settlements, Inhabitants, Soil, Climate, and Products. Translated from the French, (Lately Published.) By M. LePage Du Pratz; With Some Notes and Observations Relating to our Colonies. In Two Volumes. Vol I. London, Printed for T. Becket and P.A. DeHondt in the Strand. MDCCLXIII.

Extract from a late French Writer, concerning the importance of Louisiana to France.

“One cannot help lamenting the lethargic state of that colony (Louisiana,) which carries in its bosom the bed of the greatest riches; and in order to produce them, asks only arms proper for tilling the earth which is wholly disposed to yield an hundred fold. Thanks to the fertility of our islands, our Sugar plantations are infinitely superior to those of the English, and we likewise excel them in our productions of Indigo, Coffee, and Cotton.

Tobacco is the only production of the earth which gives the English an advantage over us. Providence, which reserved for us the discovery of Louisiana, has given us the possession of it, that we may be their rivals in this particular, or at least that we may be able to do without their Tobacco. Ought we to continue tributaries to them in this respect, when we can so easily do without them?

I cannot help remarking here, that among several projects presented of late years for giving new force to this Colony, a company of creditable Merchants proposed to furnish Negroes to the inhabitants, and to be paid for them in Tobacco alone at a fixed valuation.

The following advantages, they demonstrated, would attend their scheme. I. It would increase a branch of Commerce in France, which affords subsistence to two of the English Colonies in America, namely Virginia and Maryland, the inhabitants of which consume annually a very considerable quantity of English stuffs, and employ a great number of ships in the transportation of their Tobacco. The inhabitants of those two provinces are so greatly multiplied, in consequence of the riches they have acquired by their commerce with us, that they begin to spread themselves upon territories that belong to us. II. The second advantage arising from the scheme would be, to carry the cultivation of Tobacco to its greatest extent and perfection. III. To diminish in proportion the cultivation of the English plantations, as well as lessen their navigation in that part. IV. To put an end entirely to the importation of any Tobacco from Great Britain into France, in the space of twelve years. V. To diminish annually, and in the same space of time finally to put an end to, the exportation of specie from France to Great Britain, which amounts annually to five millions of our money for the purchase of Tobacco, and the freightage of English ships, which bring it into our ports. VI. By diminishing the cause of the outgoing of specie, to augment the ballance of Commerce in favour of this nation. These are the principal advantages which France would have reason to have expected from the establishment of this company, if it had been effected.” Effai sur les Interets du Commerce Maritime, par M. Du Haye. 1754.

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Filed under 1760's, History, Posted by Rebecca Dresser

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