Daily Archives: April 7, 2008

Item of the Day: The Universal Merchant (1797)

Full Title: The Universal Merchant, in Theory and Practice: Improved and Enlarged by W. J. Alldridge . . . First American Edition. Philadelphia: Printed by Francis and Robert Bailey, at Yorick’s=Head, No. 116, High-Street, M,DCC,XCVII. [1797]






I FEEL the greatest pleasure in presenting the following work to your consideration and use, from the hope I entertain, that amongst others it may contribute to advance our national interests; –from a reflection on that uncommon degree of patronage it has obtained, amongst the most respectable and patriotic characters; –as it furnishes an opportunity of thus testifying my gratitude for the participation with you, in the benefits derived from a just administration of wise and equal laws; –and from a sense of that encouragement which our happy mode of government presents to industry, skill and virtue.

To this cause must we attribute the attainment of that conspicuous situation America now holds in the commercial system, and her elevated rank among the nations.

The respect which commerce commands, is infinitely preferable to that which conquest excites: –those with whom we negociate, naturally become our friends, –those we conquer, as natually become our enemies: –the first address us with an open, bounteous benevolence, –the last approach us with tardy steps, and yield their compulsive tribute with a retracting hand.

While commerce enriches individuals with all that is comprized in the epithet of wealth–it enriches a nation with a fixed and lasting reputation; but conquest, merely amuses with an imaginary, impermanent, inglorius fame, –leaving its security ever quesionable, and obnoxious to those open or secret attacks, which a just resentment of injuries invariably inspires.

No position can be more evident, than, that war is destructive of commerce, and ruinous to the prosperity of a country, –therefore, a nation or state, the professed objects of whose aim are, prosperity and happiness, must avoid war, –encourage industry, — cultivate virtue, –and preserve good order at home.

Until the European nations shall imitate the United States, in the adoption of the same means, they will have no legitimate hope of obtaining the same end, in the participation of those substantial blessings, which form her distinguishing characteristics, and constitute her true honor, happiness and glory.

May the universal co-operation of individual virtue, secure and perpetuate these blessings, until her illustrious example shall have taught all nations duly to appreciate their value, that they may participate the possession; and with her to unite in transmitting them, by such individual virtue, to all succeeding generations.



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Filed under 1790's, Commerce, Eighteenth century, Europe, Foreign Relations, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, United States