Monthly Archives: March 2008

Item of the Day: Cui bono? (1781)

Full Title: Cui Bono? Or, An Inquiry, What Benefits Can Arise Either to the English or the Americans, the French, Spaniards, or Dutch, from the Greatest Victories, or Successes, in the Present War? Being a Series of Letters, Addressed to Monsieur Necker, Late Controller General of the Finances of France. By Josiah Tucker, D.D. Dean of Glocester. Glocester: Printed by R. Raikes, for T. Cadell, in the Strand; Sold also by Evans and Hazell, in Glocester, M.DCC.LXXXI. [1781]

LETTER I.

TO MONSIEUR NECKER.

Cui Bono?

SIR,

A MAN who has distinguished himself in such critical Times as the present, in the difficult and envied Station of Controller-General of the Finances of France, is certain of being attacked, and as sure of being defended, by Multitudes of Writers. You have experienced the Effects of both Parties; and are, perhaps, by this Time, sufficiently cloyed with the Flattery of the one, and grown callous to the Censures of the other. Therefore it is natural for you to conclude, that when any other Writer is bringing your Name again before the Public, he is only repeating what you have so often heard. —But if you, Sir, will honour these Letters with a careful Perusal, you will find hardly one Thing in them similar to what you have read before, and yet many of them, perhaps, not unworthy of your serious Attention.

As I wish to treat you with all the Respect due to your distinguished Character; and as my Aim, in the Prosecution of my Subject, is entirely the Good of Mankind; I presume it is unnecessary, as a Stranger to your Person, to apologize for the Liberty I take in thus addressing you. And here allow me to observe, that I was favoured with the Correspondence of your Predecessor, Mons. Turgot, both during the Time he was in Office, and after his Resignation; —and that I am the same Person, of whose Writings Mons. Necker himself has sometimes condescended to make mention; and more particularly at that Juncture, when the idle Project of invading England, became the general Topic of Conversation throughout Europe.

Setting, therefore, all Apologies aside, and endeavouring to divest myself of national Partialities, and local Prejudices, to the utmost of my Power, I now enter on the Work proposed, not as an Englishman, but as a Citizen of the World; not as having an inbred Antipathy against France, but as a Friend of the whole human Species.

Whatever were your private Views, either of Interest, or of Honour, in publishing your Compte Rendu, the Example you have set deserves universal Commendation. And it is greatly to be wished, that it were made a fundamental Law in all arbitrary Governments, that each Minister, in the grand Departments of Trust and Power, should publish annual Accounts of his respective Administration; —Accounts I mean, which could stand the Test of an open and impartial Scrutiny, free from those false Colourings, and wilful Misrepresentations, with which yours have been so frequently and expressly charged; and from which I fear you have not yet been able to clear yourself to general Satisfaction.

But waving every Thing of this Nature, (because I do not intend to be either your Advocate, or your Accuser) and taking for granted, what you do not wish to conceal, that the grand Design of the Government, under which you live, in ordering your Account to be made Public, was to shew the World, that France had so many Resources still remaining, as would exhaust and ruin England in the Progress of this war; —I will here suppose, for Argument Sake, that every Thing has succeeded, or shall succeed according to the warmest Wishes of the most bigotted Frenchman, Poor England is no more! Non modo delenda, sed penitus deleta est Carthage! In short, the Lillies of France, like the Eagles of Rome, are every where triumphant!

Well, my good Sir, after all this Expence and Trouble, after so much Hurry and Confusion in subduing this devoted Island, after such repeated Victories, and immortal Fame, —will you permit us to rest a while, and to take a Breath: —And since the French have now raised their Nation to this Pinnacle of Glory, let us pause a little, to view the extended Prospect so far below us? —This is all the Boon I ask, and in granting this, I hope we shall be induced to think in the next Place, (for we have not yet thought upon the Matter) what would be the inevitable Consequences of these mighty Revolutions, now so ardently desired by every Frenchman, were Providence to permit them to pass.

Such a Subject is surely of Importance, to the Welfare and Happiness of Mankind. And this is the Subject I propose for the ensuing Letter. In the mean Time, I own I am under a strong Temptation to add a few Words concerning the infatuated Conduct of my own Country-men, the English, in the former War, as a Warning and Memento [sic] to future Politicians.

Almost thirty Years ago, when the Colonists in America were at least fifty to one more in Number than the Handful of Men, who could have invaded them from Canada, —I say, when these fifty undaunted Heroes, of the true English Breed, pretended to be afraid of one Frenchman — Common Sense might have taught us to have suspected the Truth of such pretended Fears; — Common Sense also might have suggested the Expediency of pausing a while, and of examining into Facts, particualry relating to the Fur-trade, before we rushed into Hostilities on such weak and frivolous Pretences: —Lastly, Common Sense might have told us that it would be bad Policy to put these turbulent and factious Colonies above Controul, (if we really thought them worth the keeping) and of placing them in that very State of Independance [sic], which they had ever wished for, and had been constantly aiming at. —I say, Common Sense might have suggested all these Things, if we had not disdained to ask the Advice of such a Counsellor. Nay more; —there was a Man at that very Time, who remonstrated strongly against the Absurdity, not to say Injustice of such Proceedings. —He shewed, with an Evidence not attempted to be invalidated, that the Americans had not assigned a sufficient Cause for going to War for their Sakes; —and that their pretended Dangers either of being driven into the Sea, or of being put between two Fires (the constant Cry, and Clamour at that Juncture in all our Public Papers) were mere Imposture, and Grimace. —And what is beyond all, he offered to prove from the English Custom-House Books of Entries or Imports, that the Quantity of Furs brought into England from America was almost double to what it had been in former Times, instead of being monopolized (as was asserted) by the French: —Though I must own, that had this really been the Case, it would have been something new in the Annals of the World, that a great Nation, and a civilized People had made War on another Natin, because the latter had bought more Skins of Cats, Foxes, Badgers, and of such Sort of Vermin, than the former had been able to do. —Lastly the same Person ventured to foretel in the most direct Terms, that the driving of the French from the English back Settlements would be the Signal to the Colonies, to meditate a general Revolt. But alas! he was preaching to the Winds and Waves: —Some would not vouchsafe an Answer to his Letters; —others were pleased to tell him that the American Colonists were better Judges of their own Dangers, than he had any Right to pretend to be; —and that the Reflections cast upon them for harbouring thoughts of Independance, and of planning Schemes of Rebellion, were base and scandalous, and utterly void of Foundation. Moreover, not a few plainly declared, that whosoeve should attempt to raise such Suspicions against the best of loyal Subjects, the faithful Americans, could be no other than a Spy in Disguise, and a Pensioner to France. (You, Sir, who so justly complain, that the several Pensions on the French List amount to the enormous Sum of Twenty-eight Millions of Livres, or about £.1,272,727. Sterling; —you, I say, can best tell, whether you have met with the Name of Tucker among the long Roll of English Mock Patriots, and French Pensioners.)

Now, as we have such a recent Example, before our Eyes of those fatal Consequences, which might have been prevented by a cool and timely Reflection; it is to be hoped, that the like blind, infatuated Part will not be acted over again; —but that the Powers at War will take Warning by the past, and consider, ‘ere it is too late, what would be the Effects of the present furious Contests, were they even to be crowned with all that Brilliancy and Success, which their own fond Hearts can wish, or desire.

With these Sentiments, and with just Esteem for your great Talents, I have the Honour to be,

SIR,

Your most obedient,

Humble Servant,

J.T.

 

 

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Filed under 1780's, Eighteenth century, England, Europe, Foreign Relations, France, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Revolution

Item of the Day: The Law of Liberty (1775)

Full Title: The Law of Liberty. A Sermon on American Affairs, Preached at the Opening of the Provincial Congress of Georgia. Addressed to the Right Honourable The Earl of Dartmouth. With an Appendix, Giving a Concise Account of the Struggles of Swisserland [sic] to Recover their Liberty. By John J. Zubly. Philadelphia: Printed and Sold by Henry Miller, 1775. . . .

To the Right Honourable

WILLIAM HENRY,

Earl of DARTMOUTH.

My Lord,

YOUR Lordship’s appointment to be Secretary of State for the American department, by numbers that respected your Lordship’s religious character, was looked upon as a very providential and happy event. Your patronizing of religious undertakings, confirmed the general opinion, and we were happy in the expectations of your Lordship’s conscientious regard to justice and equity, as well as to the civil and religious liberties of this great Continent; we expected the cause of liberty and religion would meet with the strongest support under your administration, and in your Lordship would ever find a cosntant and successful advocate with your royal master.

Unhappily during your administration, measures have been pursued very contrary to American hopes, and we easily conceive your Lordship may think it not less strange that many friends of religion in America should be so uneasy under laws which had your Lordship’s concurrence and approbation.

It is to the Man and to the Christian I wish to be permitted to address myself: Your Lordship ranks among the highest subjects, and has a large share in all public measures, but anxiety for what may distress, and zeal for the welfare of the empire, can be no crime even in the meanest; and when a house is once in flames, every man is inexcusable, or must at least be so in his own breast, that does not contibute whatever he may think in his power to their being extinguished. The effects of the present measures are visible, and it requires no sagacity to foresee what may be the consequence, should they be continued. Your Lordship may do much towards restoring and perpetuating the tranquility of a great empire; persons of my station have nothing to offer but hints and wishes, should these be beneath your notice, or stand in need of forgiveness, my sincere wish to contibute any thing towards a just, happy and perpetual connexion between a parent state and an infant country growing apace to the most astonishing importance, must be my only apology. Pulchrum est bene facere reipublicae, sed & bene dicere non est absurdum.

The question, My Lord, which now agitates Great-Britain and America, and in which your Lordship has taken such an active part, is, whether the Parliament of Great Britain has a right to lay taxes on the Americans, who are not, and cannot, there be represented, and whether the Parliament has a right to bind the Americans in all cases whatsoever? Whatever may be said, or whatever the good people in Great-Britain may believe, this is the whole subject of the dispute. All the severities hitherto exercised upon the Americans professedly have no other view than to enforce such a dependance, and nothing less than a claim destructive of all natural and national liberty, could possibly have united all Ameria in a general opposition, or have aroused them to join all like one man in their common defence. Let a declaratory bill be passed, that any law and usage to the contrary notwithstanding, America is entitled to all the common rights of mankind and all the blessings of the British constitution, that the sword shall never be drawn to abridge, but to confirm, her birthright, and the storm instantly becomes a calm, and every American thinks himself happy to contribute to the necessities, defence and glory of Great-Britain to the utmost of his strength and power.

To bind them in ALL CASES WHATSOEVER, my Lord, the Americans look upon this as the language of despotism in its utmost perfection. What can, say they, an Emperor of Morocco pretend more of his slaves than to bind them in all cases whatsoever. Were it meant to make the Americans hewers of wood and drawers of water, were it meant to oblige them to make bricks without straw, were it meant to deprive them of the enjoyment of their religion, and to establish a hierarchy over them similar to that of the church of Rome in Canada? it would, say they, be no more than a natural consequence of the right of binding them (unseen, unheard, unrepresented) in all cases whatsoever.

My Lord, the Americans are no ideots [sic], and they appear determined not to be slaves. Oppression will make wise men mad, but oppressors in the end frequently find that they were not wise men: there may be resources even in despair sufficient to render any set of men strong enough not to be bound in all cases whatsoever. . . .

 

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Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Great Britain, Liberty, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Sermons

Item of the Day: Franklin on the Slave Trade (1790/1836)

Full Title:

The Works of Benjamin Franklin; Containing Several Political and Historical Tracts Not Included in Any Former Edition, And Many Letters Official and Private Not Hitherto Published; with Notes and A Life of the Author.  By Jared Sparks.  Volume II [of 9].  Boston: Hilliard, Gray, and Company. 

On The Slave Trade.

To the Editor of the Federal Gazette. 

March 23rd, 1790.

Sir,

Reading last night in your excellent paper the speech of Mr. Jackson in Congress against their meddling with the affair of slavery, or attempting to mend the condition of the slaves, it put me in mind of a similar one made about one hundred years since by Sidi Mehemet Ibrahim, a member of the Divan of Algiers, which may be seen in Martin’s Account of his Consulship, anno 1687.  It was against granting the petition of the sect called Erika, or Purists, who prayed for the abolition of piracy and slavery as being unjust.  Mr. Jackson does not quote it; perhaps he has not seen it.  If, therefore, some of its reasonings are to be found in his eloquent speech, it may only show that men’s interests and intellects operate and are operated on with surprising similarity in all countries and climates, whenever they are under similar circumstances.  The African’s speech, as translated, is as follows.

Allah Bismallah, &c.  God is great, and Mahomet is his Prophet.

“Have these Erika considered the consequences of granting this petition?  If we cease our cruises against the Christians, how shall we be furnished with the commodities their countries produce, and which are so necessary for us?  If we forbear to make slaves of their people, who in this hot climate are to cultivate our lands?  Who are to perform the common labors of our city, and in our families?  Must we not then be our own slaves?  And is there not more compassion and more favor due to us as Mussulmen, than to these Christian dogs?  We have now above fifty thousand slaves in and near Algiers.  This number, if not kept up by fresh supplies, will soon diminish, and be gradually annihilated.  If we then cease taking and plundering the infidel ships, and making slaves of the seamen and passengers, our lands will become of no value for want of cultivation; the rents of houses in the city will sink one half; and the revenue of government arising from its share of prizes be totally destroyed!  And for what?  To gratify the whims of a whimsical sect, who would have us, not only forbear making more slaves, but even manumit those we have. 

“But who is to indemnify their masters for the loss?  Will the state do it?  Is our treasury sufficient?  Will the Erika do it?  Can they do it?  Or would they, to do what they think justice to the slaves, do a greater injustice to the owners?  And if we set our slaves free, what is to be done with them?  Few of them will return to their countries; they know too well the greater hardships they must there be subject to; they will not embrace our holy religion; they will not adopt our manners; our people will not pollute themselves by intermarrying with them.  Must we maintain them as beggars in our streets, or suffer our properties to be the prey of their pillage?  For men accustomed to slavery will not work for a livelihood when not compelled.  And what is there so pitiable in their present condition?  Were they not slaves in their own countries?

“Are not Spain, Portugal, France, and the Italian states governed by despots, who hold all their subjects in slavery, without exception?  Even England treats its sailors as slaves; for they are, whenever the government pleases, seized, and confined in ships of war, condemned not only to work, but to fight, for small wages, or a mere subsistence, not better than our slaves are allowed by us.  Is their condition then made worse by their falling into our hands?  No; they have only exchanged one slavery for another, and I may say a better; for here they are brought into a land where the sun of Islamism gives forth its light, and shines in full splendor, and they have an opportunity of making themselves acquainted with the true doctrine, and thereby saving their immortal souls.  Those who remain at home have not that happiness.  Sending the slaves home then would be sending them out of the light and into darkness.

“I repeat the question, What is to be done with them?  I have heard it suggested, that they may be planted in the wilderness, where there is plenty of land for them to subsist on, and where they may flourish as a free state; but they are, I doubt, too little disposed to labor without compulsion, as well as too ignorant to establish a good government, and the wild Arabs would soon molest and destroy or again enslave them.  While serving us, we take care to provide them with every thing, and they are treated with humanity.  The laborers in their own country are, as I am well informed, worse fed, lodged, and clothed.  The condition of most of them is therefore already mended, and requires no further improvement.  Here their lives are in safety.  They are not liable to be impressed for soldiers, and forced to cut one another’s Christian throats, as in the wars of their own countries.  If some of the religious mad bigots, who now tease us with their silly petitions, have in a fit of blind zeal freed their slaves, it was not generosity, it was not humanity, that moved them to the action; it was from the conscious burden of a load of sins, and a hope, from the supposed merits of so good a work, to be excused from damnation.

“How grossly are they mistaken to suppose slavery to be disallowed by the Alcoran!  Are not the two precepts, to quote no more, ‘Masters, treat your slaves with kindness; Slaves, serve your masters with cheerfulness and fidelity,’ clear proofs to the contrary?  Nor can the plundering of infidels be in that sacred book forbidden, since it is well known from it, that God has given the world, and all it contains, to his faithful Mussulmen, who are to enjoy it of right as fast as they conquer it.  Let us then hear not more of this detestable proposition, the manumission of Christian slaves, the adoption of which would, by depreciating our lands and houses, and thereby depriving so many good citizens of their properties, create universal discontent, and provoke insurrections, to the endangering of government and producing general confusion.  I have therefore no doubt, but this wise council will prefer the comfort and happiness of a whole nation of true believers to the whim of a few Erika, and dismiss their petition.”      

The result was, as Martin tells us, that the Divan came to the resolution; “The doctrine, that plundering and enslaving the Christians is unjust, is as best problematical; but that it is in the interest of this state to continue the practice, is clear; therefore let the petition be rejected.”

And it was rejected accordingly.

And since like motives are apt to produce in the minds of men like opinions and resolutions, may we not, Mr. Brown, venture to predict, from this account, that the petitions to the Parliament of England for abolishing the slave-trade, to say nothing of other legislatures, and the debates upon them, will have a similar conclusion?  I am, Sir, your constant reader and humble servant,

HISTORICUS.

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Filed under 1790's, 1830's, Early Republic, Eighteenth century, Foreign Relations, Government, Islam, Koran, Letters, Newspapers, Posted by Matthew Williams, Slavery

Item of the Day: An Appeal to the Public, on the Subject of the National Debt (1774)

Full Title: An Appeal to the Public, on the Subject of the National Debt. A New Edition. With An Appendix, containing Explanatory Observations and Tables; and an Account of the present State of the Population in Norfolk. Also an Additional Preface. By Richard Price. London: Printed for T. Cadell, in the Strand, M.DCC.LXXIV. [1774]

PREFACE

TO THE

SECOND EDITION.

IN perusing this Appeal to the Public, it will be found, that one of my chief purposes in it has been to prove the following proposition: “That to alienate a fund, appropriated to the payment of public debts, while it can be avoided, by borrowing money at simple interest on new taxes or savings, is a most pernicious measure.” And it may be depended upon, that, if there is any certainty in numbers, this has been proved beyond the possibility of reasonable doubt.

Dr. Davenant, in the reign of King William, warned the kingdom of the danger which would attend breaking into appropriated funds. He was disregarded; and the public debts increased so much as to be generally thought, in the year 1716, insupportable. This gave occasion to the establishment, in that year, of a general saving under the name of the SINKING FUND; which repeated laws declared should be applied to the payment of the public debts, and to no other purpose whatever. This fund soon became the only hope of the kingdom; and, could it have been defended against alienation, it would, in a few years, have accomplishd all that was expected from it. Notice was given of this, in the year 1726, by a writer of great abilities (a); and the public was a second time warned of the fatal consequences which would follow alientations. But this warning was also neglected; and, in consequence of this, our debts, instead of being annihilated, as they might have been, have increased from 17 millions, their amount in 1699, and from 52 milions, their amount in 1726, to 140 millions, their amount nearly in the present year. —There is now one farther attempt made to bring back the State fo the path of rectitude and safety by a writer indeed of much less weight, but possessed of the same good intentions. he knows that he cannot expect to be regarded. The same measures will be pursued; and it is easy to foresee in what they will terminate.

“In FRANCE the custom of borrowing on Funds, instead of levying money for the necessary supplies within the year, was begun in 1678. M. COLBERT perceived the tendency of it; and after remonstrating against it in vain, he told the ministers who advised it, that they should answer to God for the mischief they would do to the king and the state, by introducing so pernicious a practice (a).” —The managers of our affairs will have more to answer for. They have not only introduced this pernicious practice; but they have defeated the effect of an establishment, which would have preserved us from all the dangers attending it. —The greatest sufferers by this practice will in the end be the moneyed people themselves; or those creditors of the public, who are now maintained by the contributions of the poor, and the labour of the industrious. —It is impossible that debts always increasing, should not in time sink the kingdom. They have already done us unspeakable mischief. A considerable part of our people is lost. By extending the influence of the crown, they have undermined the foundation of our liberties. It is doubtful also, whether they have not turned the balance of trade against us, by raising the price of our manufactures, and carrying out of the kingdom about a million and a half every year, in payments of dividends to foreigners. The late augmentation of the navy, though probably a right measure, has, by taking a large annual sum from the SINKING FUND, removed us to agreater distance than ever from the possibility of discharging them. An unfavourable turn of events in the East-Indies, or any considerable deficiencies in the revenue, might destroy our ability of paying even the interest of them. At least, it is to be feared, that another war would exhaust our resources, and bring our affairs to a crisis.

In these circumstances; some vigorous measures for our own preservation, ought to be entered into immediately More especially, it seems to be time for the public creditors to think of securing their capital. The law once gave them the Sinking Fund as a sacred and unalienable security. Would it be wrong to require a restitution of it; and to make this a condition of future loans?

Upon the whole. It is my sincere conviction, that a policy, too narrow and selfish, has brought us into threatning circumstances. I have written under this conviction; and, if my feelings have drawn from me any language improperly severe, I hope I shall be excused.

I will only add, that I think myself much obliged to the civility of some who have addressed remarks to me. But their objections have not yet led me to any change of sentiments. — Whenever I am made sensible of having fallen into any material mistakes, I shall think myself bound to acknowledge and retract them. In the mean time, I must beg leave to avoid disputes; and to refer in silence all I have written to the decision of the public.

 

(a) I have related this fact from the most respectable authority.

 

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Filed under 1770's, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Public Debt

Item of the Day: Trevett against Weeden (1787)

Full Title:

The Case, Trevett against Weeden: On Information and Complaint, for refusing Paper Bills in Payment for Butcher’s Meat, in Market, at Par with Specie.  Tried Before the Honourable Superior Court, in the County of Newport, September Term, 1786.  Also, The Case of the Judges of Said Court, Before the Honourable General Assembly, at Providence, October Session, 1786, on Citation, for diminishing said Complaint.  Wherein the Rights of the People to Trial by Jury, &c. are stated and maintained, and the Legislative, Judiciary and Executive Powers of Government examined and defined.  By James M. Varnum, Esq; Major-General of the State of Rhode Island, &c. Counsellor at Law, and Member of Congress for said State.  Providence:  Printed by John Carter, 1787. 

Upon the last Monday of September, in the eleventh year of the Idependence of the United States, in the city of Newport, and State of Rhode Island, &c. was heard, before the Superior Court of Judicature, Court of Assize, and General Gaol-Delivery, a certain information, John Trevett against John Weeden, for refusing to receive the paper bills of this State, in payment for meat sold in market, equivalent to silver and gold: And upon the day following the Court delivered the unanimous opinion of the Judges, that the information was not cognizable before them.

That this important decision may be fully comprehended, it will be necessary to recur to the acts of the General Assembly, which superinduced the trial.–At the last May session, an act was made for emitting the sum of one hundred thousand pounds, lawful money, in bills, upon land security, which should pass in all kinds of business, and payments of former contracts, upon par with silver and gold, estimating an ounce of coined silver at six shillings and eightpence.  Another act was passed in the June following, subjecting every person who should refuse the bills in payment for articles offered for sale, or should make a distinction in value between them and silver and gold, or should in any manner attempt to depreciate them, to a penalty of one hundred pounds, lawful money; one moiety to the State, and the other moiety to the informer; to be recovered before either of the Courts of General Sessions of the Peace, or the Superior Court of Judicature, &c.

Experience soon evinced the inadequacy of this measure to the objects of the Administration: And at a session of the General Assembly, specially convened by his Excellency the Governor, upon the third Monday of the following August, another act was passed, in addition to and amendment of that last mentioned, wherein it is provided, that the fine of one hundred pounds be varied; and that for the future the fine should not be less than six, nor exceed thirty pounds, for the first offence: The mode of prosecution and trial was also changed, agreeably to the following clauses, “that the complainant shall apply to either of the Judges of the Superior Court of Judicature, &c. within this State, or to either of the Judges of the Inferior Court of Common Pleas within the county where such offence shall be committed, and lodge his certain information, which shall be issued by the Judge in the following form,” &c.  It is then provided, that the person complained of come before a Court to be specially convened by the Judge, in three days; “that the said Court, when so convened, shall proceed to the trial of said offender, and they are hereby authorized so to do, without any jury, by a majority of the Judges present, according to the laws of the land, and to make adjudication and determination, and that three members be sufficient to constitute a Court, and that the judgment of the Court, if against the offender so complained of, be forthwith complied with, or that he stand committed to the county gaol, where the said Court may be sitting, till sentence be performed, and that the said judgment of said Court shall be final and conclusive, and from which there shall be no appeal; and in said process no essoin, protection, privilege or injunction, shall be in anywise prayed, granted or allowed.”   

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Filed under 1780's, Constitutional Debate, Crime and punishment, Early Republic, Eighteenth century, Government, Legal, Posted by Matthew Williams

Item of the Day: Commodore Byron’s An Account of a Voyage Round the World (1778)

 Full Title: An Account of a Voyage round the World, in the Years MDCCLXIV, MDCCLXV, and MDCCLXVI. By the Honourable Commodore Byron, in His Majesty’s Ship the Dolphin.

Found In: An Account of the Voyages Undertaken by the Order of His Present Majesty for Making Discoveries in the Southern Hemisphere, And successively performed by Commodore Byron, Captain Wallis, Captain Carteret, and Captain Cook, in the Dolphin, the Swallow, and the Endeavour: Drawn Up from the Journals which were kept by the several Commanders, and from the Papers of Joseph Banks, Esq; By John Hawkesworth, LL.D. In Three Volumes. Illustrated with Cuts, and a great Variety of Charts and Maps relative to Countries now first discovered, or hitherto but imperfectly known. Vol. I. London: Printed for W. Strahan; and T. Cadell in the Strand, MDCCLXXIII. [1778]

CHAP. I.

The Passage from the Downs to Rio de Janeiro.

(The longitude in this voyage is reckoned from the meridian of London, west to 180 degrees, and east afterwards.)

On the 21st of June 1764, I sailed from the Downs, with his Majesty’s ship the Dolphin, and the Tamar frigate, which I had received orders to take under my command: as I was coming down the river, the Dolphin got a-ground; I therefore put to Plymouth, where she was docked, but did not appear to have received any damage. At this place we changed some of our men, and having paid the people two months wages in advance, I hoisted the broad pendant, and sailed again on the 3d of July; on the 4th we were off the Lizard, and made the best our our way with a fine breeze, but had the mortification to find the Tamar a very heavy sailer. In the night of Friday the 6th, the officer of the first watch saw either a ship on fire, or an extraordinary phenomenon which greatly resembled it, at some distance: it continued to blaze for about half an hour, and then disappeared. In the evening of Thursday, July 12th, we saw the rocks near the island of Madeira, which our people call the Deserters; from desertes, a name which has been given them from their barren and desolate appearance: the next day we stood in for the road of Funchiale, where, about three o’clock in the afternoon, we came to an anchor. In the morning of Saturday the 14th, I waited upon the governor, who received me with great politeness, and saluted me with eleven guns, which I returned from the ship. The next day, he returned my visit at the house of the Consul, upon which I saluted him with eleven guns, which he returned from the fort. I found here his Majesty’s ship the Crown, and the Ferret sloop, who also saluted the broad pendant. Having completed our water, and procured all the refreshment I was able for the companies of both the ships, every man having twenty pounds weight of onions for his sea stock, we weighted anchor on Thursday the 19th, and proceeded on our voyage. On Saturday the 21st, we made the island of Palma, one of the Canaries, and soon after examining our water, we found it would be necessary to touch the whole of our course from the Lizard, we observed that no fish followed the ship, which I judged to be owing to her being sheathed with copper. By the 26th, our water was become foul, and stunk intolerably, but we purified it with a machine, which had been put on board for that purpose: it was a kind of ventilator, by which air forced through the water in a continued stream, as long as it was necessary.

In the morning of the 27th, we made the island of Sal, one of the Cape de Verds, and seeing several turtle upon the water, we hoisted out our jolly boat, and attempted to strike them, but they all went down before our people could come within reach of them. On the morning of the 28th, we were very near the island of Bona Vista, the next day off the Isle of May, and on Monday the 30th, we came to an anchor in Port Praya bay. The rainy season was already set in, which renders this place very unsafe; a large swell that rolls in from the southward, makes a frightful surf upon the shore, and there is reason every hour to expect a tornado, of which, as it is very violent, and blows directly in, the consequences are likely to be fatal; so that after the 15th of August no ship comes hither till the rainy season is over, which happens in November; for this reason I made all possible haste to fill my water and get away. I procured three bullocks for the people, but they were little better than carrion, and the weather was so hot, that the flesh stunk in a few hours after they were killed.

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Filed under 1770's, Explorations, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Travel

Item of the Day: Gallatin’s Sketch of the Finances (1796)

Full Title:

A Sketch of the Finances of the United States.  By Albert Gallatin.  New York: Printed by William A. David, No. 438 Pearl Street.  1796.

[…]  The tax upon snuff manufactured within the United States, was first laid on the quantity manufactured, at the rate of eight cents per pound, and during the six months ending on the last day of March 1795, while it remained in that shape, is stated to have yielded only 2,400 dollars; in which account, however, are not included the returns of the first survey of Pennsylvania, and for the state of Delaware, which pay about one half of the duty.  From the first of April 1795, the tax has been laid on the mills employed in the manufacture, as is stated for the six following months, to have produced 7,112 dollars, but on account of deficient statements, may be estimated for one year at about 20,000 dollars.  But, during the same period, the drawbacks allowed, at the rate of six cents per pound, seem to have excluded the amount of gross revenue.  From the first of April 1795, to the 23rd of February 1796, there were exported, from the port of Philadelphia alone, 237,000 lb. and, from the shipments then going on, there is little doubt that the quantity exported from that port, for the whole year ending on the first of April 1796, amounted to 350,000 lb; the drawbacks whereon would form a sum of 21,000 dollars.  The quantity exported was even increasing; for, of the above 237,000 lb, only 75,000 were exported during the sixth [sic] first months, and 162,000 during the five last.  In fact snuff was amnufactured for exportation, for the sake of the drawback which operated as a bounty.  An alteration in a revenue law, which thus drained the treasury, instead of yielding a revenue, became necessary.  The difficulty of rendering the duty equal, on account of the great difference in the relative situation and powers of the mills, the consequent complaints of the small manufacturers, the necessity of allowing a drawback upon the exportation of an article both of the growth and of the manufacture of the United States; the impossibility of fixing a drawback on the quantity of the article, proportionate to the duty laid on the machinery employed in manufacturing that article, together with the evasions stated to have taken place, by hand-mills employed in vaults, where the noise could not be heard, determined Congress, during last session, to suspend the law for one year.  As the suspension may continue, and as, unless an entirely new plan is proposed and adopted, this duty cannot yield any thing, it cannot at present be counted amongst the productive branches of revenue.   

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Filed under 1790's, Commerce, Early Republic, Posted by Matthew Williams, Trade