Category Archives: Commerce

Item of the Day: A New Discourse of Trade [1745]

Full Title: A New Discourse of Trade: Wherein Are recommended several weighty Points, relating to Companies of Merchants; The Act of Navigation, Naturalization of Strangers, and our Woollen Manufactures. The Balance of Trade, And Nature of Plantations; with their Consequences, in relation to the Kingdom, are seriously discussed. Methods for the Employment and Maintenance of the Poor are proposed. The Reduction of Interest of Money to 4 l. per cent. is recommended. And some Proposals for erecting a Court of Merchants, for determining Controversies relating to Maritime Affairs, and for a Law for Transferring of Bills of Debts, are humbly offer’d. To which is added, A short, but most excellent Treatise of Interest. By Sir Josiah Child, Baronet. Fourth Edition. London: Printed for J. Hodges, on London-Bridge; W. Meadows at the Angel in Cornhill; C. Corbet, against St. Dunstan’s Churdd, Fleet Stree; J. Jackson, at St. James Gate; J. Stagg, in Westminster-Hall; and J. Bevill, near S. Saviours Church, Southwark, [1745].



Concerning the Relief and Employment of the Poor.


THIS is a calm subject, and thwarts no common or private interest amongst us, except that of the common enemy of mankind, the Devil; so I hope that what shall be offered towards the effecting of so universally acceptable a work as this, and the removal of the innumerable inconveniencies that do now, and have in all ages attended this Kingdom, through defect of such provision for the Poor will not be ill taken , altho’ the plaister at first essay do not exactly fit the sore.

In the discourse of this subject, I shall first assert some particuclars, which I think are agreed by common consent, and from thence take occasion to proceed to what is more doubtful.

1.  That our Poor in England have always been in a most sad and wretched condition, some famished for want of bread, others starved with cold and nakedness, and many whole families in the out-parts of cities and great towns, commonly remain in a langishing, nasty, and useless condition, uncomfortable to themselves, and unprofitable to the Kingdom, this in confessed and lamented by all men.

2.  That the Children of our Poor bred up in beggary and laziness, do by that means become not only of unhealthy bodies, and more than ordinarily subject to many loathsome diseases, of which very many die in their tender age, and if any of them do arrive to years and strength, they are, by their idle habits contracted in their youth, rendered for ever after indisposed to labour, and serve but to stock the Kingdom with thieves and beggars.

3.  That if all our impotent Poor were provided for, and those of both sexes and all ages that can do any work of any kind, employed, it would redound some hundred of thousands of pounds per annum to the publick advantage.

4.  That it is our duty to god and Nature, so to provide for, and employ the Poor.

5.  That by so doing one of the great sins, for which this land ought to mourn, would be removed.

6. That our Forefathers had pious intentions towards this good work, as appears by many statutes made by them to this purpose.

7.  That there are places in the world, wherein the poor are so provided for, and employed, as in Holland, Hamborough, New-England, and others, and as I am informed, now in the city of Paris.

Thus far we all agree: the first question then that naturally occurs, is,

Question 1. How comes it to pass that in England we do not, nor ever did, comfortably maintain and employ our Poor?

The common answers to this question are two.

1.  That our Laws to this purpose are as good as any in the world, but we fail in the execution.

2.  That formerly in the days of our pious ancestors the work was done, but now charity is deceased, and that is the reason we see the Poor so neglected as now they are.

In both which answers, I humbly conceive, the effect is mistaken for the cause; for though it cannot be denied, but there has been, and is, a great failure in the execution of those Statutes which relate to the Poor, yet I say, the cause of that failure, has been occasioned by defect of the laws themselves.

For otherwise, what is the reason that in our late times of confusion and alteration, wherein almost every party in the Nation, at one time or other, took their turn at the helm, and all had that compass, those laws, to steer by, that none of them could, or ever did, conduct the Poor into a harbour of security to them, and profit for the Kingdom, i.e. none sufficiently maintained the impotent, and employed the indigent amongst us: And if this was never done in any age, nor by any sort of men whatsoever in this Kingdom, who had the use of those laws now in force, it seems to me a very strong argument that it never could, nor ever will be done by those laws, and that consequently the defect lies in the laws themselves, not in the men, i. e. those that should put them in execution.

As to the second answer to the aforesaid question, wherein want of charity is assigned for another cause why the poor are now so much neglected, I think it is a scandalous ungrounded accusation of our contemporaries, except in relation to building of Churches, which I confess this generation is not so propense to as former have been, for most that I converse with, are not so much troubled to part with their money, as how to place it, that it may do good, and not hurt the Kingdom: for, if they give to the beggrs in the streets, or at their doors, they fear they may do hurt by encouraging that lazy unprofitable kind of life; and if they give more than their proportions in thier respective parishes, that, they say, is but giving to the rich, for the poor are not set on work thereby, nor have the more given them; but only their rich neighbours pay the less. And of what was given in churches to the visited poor, and to such as were impoverished by the fire; we have heard of so many and great abuses of that kind of charity, that most men are under sad discouragements in relation thereto. . . .




Leave a comment

Filed under 1740's, Commerce, Culture, Eighteenth century, Great Britain, Poor, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Sheffield on American Commerce (1784)

Full Title: Observations on the Commerce of the American States. By John Lord Sheffield. With an Appendix; Containing Tables of the Imports and Exports of Great Britain to and from all Parts, from 1700 to 1783. Also, the Exports of America, &c. With Remarks on those Tables, on the Trade and Navigation of Great Britain, and on the late Proclamation, &c. The Sixth Edition, Enlarged with a Complete Index to the Whole. London: Printed for J. Debrett, opposite Burlington House, Piccadilly, M,DCC,LXXXIV. [1784]



SINCE the first publication of this work upwards of a year has elapserd, and no less than seven professed answers have appeared; I am not, however, convinced that they disprove one material fact, or confute one essential argument. Many parts, indeed, are misquoted or mis-stated, and others are misunderstood.

It is the opinion of all with whom I have conversed, that those pamphlets do not require any answer; but as they contain strong assertions, which may perplex or deceive, and as many people may not have taken the trouble of informing themselves sufficiently to see that they are in general without foundation, it is perhaps due to the public, to shew that their authors proceeded upon grounds that are fallacious, and that not one of them fairly meets the question.

I do not mean to enter the lists in the way of controversy, as such a labour would be almost endless, and would afford no gratification either to the public or myself — To expose their numberless absurdities and misrepresentations, I should indeed be obliged to comment on almost every page they have written; several of their errors, however, are marked in the notes to the following work, and some others will be noticed in this introduction. Had some of them not been quite so angry, they would possibly have reasoned better: they must excuse me if I do not think it worth while to be angry in my turn; I have no object but to discover and lay open the truth for the public benefit.

The pamphlet which first appeared, and is entitled “A Letter from an American to a Member of Parliament,” does not attempt, even in the most distant manner, to disprove a single fact, or to answer a single argument that I have advanced, unless by asserting, for truths, the greatest extravagancies, without even a shadow of proof to support them. The following is a specimen of this author’s knowledge: —He says, that the American States can now supply the West Indies with beef, butter, tallow candles, soap, beer, and even bar iron, cheaper than Europe — but enough of such a writer. The second pamphlet is entitled “Considerations on the present Situation of Great Briatian and the Untied States of America; particularly designed to expose the dangerous Tendency of Lord Sheffield’s Observation,” &c. This appears to claim more attention. The author informs us, that he has spent the summer in collecting materials; but he gives no authority for the calculations he has produced, or the tables he has inserted: wherever he found them, they differ materially from the Custom-house entries both of Briatian and America, and contradict them in very frequent instances; many facts advanced, as from those entries, are found to be without foundation, or enormously exagerated. The author says, the Americans formerly took 25,000 hogsheads of sugar annually from our islands. The Americans had no motive for entering less sugar at the Customs House than what they actually imported from those islands; yet certainly their importations from thence never, in any year, exceeded 6700 hogsheads, reckoning only 1000 cwt. to the hogshead. The exaggeration of the account he gives of the quantity of refined sugar taken from hence, is equally great. Above 150 pages of his work are filled with calculations and assertions, hazarded without any apparent authority: the article relative to shipping is the most extraordinary of the whole; it is entirely built on an erroneous foundation, and therefore the deductions from it must be fallacious. The same author argues, that the American States, although now foreign, ought to be indulged with nearly all the commercial privileges which they enjoyed whilst British subjects; that in return they will supply our West-India islands with provisions, lumber, &c. and take from thence sugar, rum, &c. That they will become our ship builders, we being unable to build ships but at an intolerable loss. Singular as this mode of reasoning is, it is completely of a piece with all his other disquisitions. He holds out this farther advantage to us, That the Americans will take our manufactures when they cannot get the same articles cheaper, better, and on longer credit, than elsewhere. This work at first appeared anaonymous, but a second editon is now published with the name of Richard Champion, Esq. late Deputy Paymaster, &c. with many additions; which serve however only to confirm what was sufficiently evident before, that the author had no sufficient grounds for his former assertions. He seems now to give up the extraordinary account of sugar, and complains that he has been misquoted, particularly as to the shipping. I had no intention of quoting his every words, nor professed to do so; the mistake, as to his meaning, has been general among those whom I have heard mention that passage; but my observation is omitted in the present editon; and it is unnecessary to state particulary what he has said, because no part of his argument is admissible, from the entire want of authority. . . .


Leave a comment

Filed under 1780's, Commerce, Early Republic, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, United States

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.


Leave a comment

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

Item of the Day: The Complete English Tradesman (1732)

Full Title: THE COMPLETE English TRADESMAN: Directing him in the several PARTS and PROGRESSIONS of TRADE. In Two Volumes. VOL. I. In FAMILIAR LETTERS, Treating the several Points necessary to be known by the YOUNGER Tradesman, as well in his Apprenticeship, as on his first Entering upon Business; with regard to Diligence, Over-Trading, Expensive Living, Too-Early Marrying, Diversions, Credit, Partnerships, Compounding, Trading-Frauds, Punctuality, and many other material Subjects. With a SUPPLEMENT; containing farther Useful Instructions to a Tradesman, and brief and plain Specimens of BOOK-KEEPING, &c. VOL. II.  In TWO PARTS: Containing, I. Needful INSTRUCTIONS to the MORE-EXPERIENC’D Tradesman; with regard to Projects, Engrossing, Underselling, Combinations, Leaving off Business, Litigiousness, &c. II. Useful GENERALS in TRADE, describing the Principles and Foundations of the HOME-TRADE of Great Britain, with large TABLES of the British Manufactures, Product, Shipping, Land-Carriage, Importation, Home-Consumption, &c. The Whole calculated for the Use of our Inland Tradesmen, as well in the CITY as in the COUNTRY. The THIRD EDITION. London: Printed for C. Rivington, at the Bible and Crown, in St. Paul’s Church-yard, M.DCC.XXXII. [1732]



THE Title of this Work is an Index of the Performance. It is a collection of useful instructions for a young Tradesman. The world is grown so wise of late, or (if you will) fancy themselves so, and are so opiniatre, as the French well express it, so self-wise, that I expect some will tell us before-hand they know every thing already, and want none of my instructions; and to such indeed these things are not written.

HAD I not seen in a few years experience many young Treadesmen miscarry for want of those very cautions which are here given, I should have thought this work needless also, and I am sure had never gone about to write it; but as the contrary is manifest, I thought, and think still, the world wanted either this, or something better.

AND be it that those unfortunate creatures that have thus blown themselves up in trade have miscarried for want of knowing, or for want of practising what is here offer’d for their direction; whether for want of wit, or by too much wit, the thing is the same, and the direction is equally needful to both.

AN old experienc’d pilot as certainly loses a ship by his assurance and over-confidence of his own knowledge, as a young pilot does by  his ignorance and want of experience; this very thing, as I have been inform’d, was the occasion of the fatal disaster in which Sir Cloudesfly Shovel, and so many hundred brave fellows, lost their lives in amoment upon the rocks of Scilly.

HE that is above informing himself when he is in danger, is above pity when he miscarries: A young Tradesman who sets up thus full of himself, and scorning advice from those who have gone before him, like a horse that rushes into battle, is only fearless of danger becasue he does not understand it.

IF there is not something extraordinary in the temper and genius of the Treadesmen of this age, if there is not something very singular in their customs and methods, their conduct and behaviour in business; also if ther is not seomething different and more dangerous and fatal in the common road of trading, and Tradesmanes management now, than ever was before, what is the reason that there are so many bankrupts and broken Tradesmen now among us, more than ever were known before?

I make no doubt there is as much trade nwo, and as much gotten by trading, as there ever was in this nation, at least in our memory; and, if we allow other people to judge, they will tell us there is much mofe of both: What then must be the reason that the Tradesmen cannot live on their trades, cannot keep open their shops, cannot maintain thmselves and families, as well now as they could before? Something extraordinary must be the case.

THERE must be some failure in the Tradesman, it can be no where else; either he is less sober and less frugal, less cautious of what he does, who he trusts, how he lives, and how he behaves, than Tradesmen use to be; or he is less industrious, less diligent, and takes less care and pains in his business, or something is the matter; it cannot be, but if had the same gain, and only the same expence which the former ages suffer’d Tradesmen to thrive iwth, he would certainly thrive as they did: There must be soemthing out of order in the foundation, he must fail in the essential part, or he would not fail in  his trade: The same causes would have the same effects in all ages; the same gain, and but the same expence, would just leave him in the same place as it would have left his predeccor in the same shop; and yet we see one grow rich,a nd the other starve, under the very same circumstances.

The temper of the times explains the case to every body that pleases but to look into it. The expences of a family are quite different now fromw hat they have been; Tradesmen cannot live as Tradesmen in the same class used to live; custom, and the manner of all the Tradesmen round them, command a difference, and he that will not do as otherd so, is esteem’d as no body among them; and thus the Treadesman is doom’d to ruin by the fate of the times.

In short, ther is a fate upon a Tradesman, either he must yield to the snare of the times, or be the jest of the times; the young Tradesman cannot resist it; he must live as others do, or lose the credit of living, and be run down as if he was broke: In a word, he must spend more than he can afford to spend, and so be undone; or not spend it, and so be undone.

If he lives as others do, he breaks, because he spends more than he gets; if he does not, he breaks too, because he loses hi credit, and that is to lose his trade; What must he do? . . .

Leave a comment

Filed under 1730's, Commerce, Culture, Eighteenth century, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trade

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.   

Leave a comment

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

Item of the Day: “Prior Documents” (1777)

Full Title: A Collection of Interesting Authentic Papers, relative to the Dispute between Great Britain and America; Shewing the Causes and Progress of that Misunderstanding, from 1764 to 1775. London: Printed for J. Almon, Opposite Burlington-House, in Piccadilly, M.DCC.LXXVII. [1777]


The dispute between Great Britain and America commenced in the year 1764, with an attempt to prevent smuggling in America. There are some persons who apprehend the seeds of it were sown much earlier. They may be right. –But it is not the design of this compilation to explain motives, or explore latent causes. The object here is, to present an impartial collection of authentic Documents; with such additions only, as are absolutely necessary to connect the narrative.

In 1764, the British ministry having come to a resolution, to prevent, as much as possible, the practice of smuggling, not only the commanders of the armed cutters stationed on the British coasts, but of the ships sent to America, were ordered to act in the capacity of revenue officers, to take the usual Custom-house oaths, and observe the Custom-house regulations; by which that enterprising spirit of theirs, which had been lately, with great success, exerted against the common enemy, was now directed and encouraged against the sujbect. Trade was injured by this measure. The gentlemen of the navy were not acquainted with Custom-house laws, and therefore many illegal seizures were made. The subject in America could get no redress but from England, which was tedious and difficult to obtain.

A trade had for many years been carried on between the British, and Spanish colonies, consisting of the manufactures of Great Britain, imported by the British colonies for their own consumption, and bought with their own produce; for which they were paid by the Spaniards in gold and silver, sometimes in bullion and sometimes in coin, and with cochineal, &c occasionally. This trade was not literally and strictly according to law, yet the advantage of it being obviously on the side of Great Britain and her colonies, it had been connived at. But the armed ships, under the new regulations, seized the vessels; and this beneficial traffic was suddenly almost destroyed. Another trade had been carried on between the North American colonies and the French West India islands, to the great disadvantage of both, as well as to the mother country. These matters had been wined at many years, in consideration of the quantity of manufactures our North American colonies were thereby enabled to take from us. This advantagious commerce not only prevented the British colonies being drained of their current specie by the calls of the mother country, but added to their common circulation of cash; which encreased in proportion with the trade. But this trade being also cut off, by the cruizers [sic], all America became uneasy.

On the 10th of March, 1764, the House of Commons agreed to a number of resolutions respecting the American trade; upon a number of which, a bill was brought in and passed into a law, laying heavy duties on the articles imported into the colonies from the French and other islands in the West Indies; and ordering these duties to be paid, in specie, into the Exchequer of Great Britain. As to the Spanish trade, the Court of Madrid had always been against it; and in complaisance to that Court, as well as in compliance with the old law, and treaties with Spain, it continued to be prevented, as much as possible.

The Americans complained much of this new law; and of the unexampled hardship, of first being deprived of obtaining specie, and next being ordered to pay the new duties, in specie, into the Treasurey at London; which they said must speedily drain them of all the specie they had. But what seemed more particularly hard upon them, was, a bill brought in the same session, and passed into a law, “To restrain the currency of paper money in the colonies.”

At the end o the session, the King thanked the House of Commons, for the “wise regulations which had been established to augment the public revenues, to unite the interests of the most distant possessions of his crown, and to encourage and secure their commerce with Great Britain.”


Leave a comment

Filed under 1760's, 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Commerce, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trade

Item of the Day: Kalm’s Travels (1772)

Full Title:

Travels into North America; Containing Its Natural History, and a Circumstantial Account of its Plantations and Agriculture in General, With the Civil, Ecclesiastical and Commercial State of the Country, the Manners of the Inhabitants, and several curious and important Remarks on various subjects.  By Peter Kalm, Professor of Oeconomy in the University of Aobo in Swedish Finland, and Member of the Swedish Royal Academy of Sciences.  Translated into English by John Reinhold Forster, F. A. S.  Enriched with a Map, several Cuts for the Illustration of Natural History, and some additional Notes.  The second edition.  In Two Volumes, Vol. I.  London: Printed for T. Lowndes, No. 77, in Fleet-street. 1772.

November 1748.  New York.

The port is a good one: ships of the greatest burthen can lie in it, quite close up to the bridge: but its water is very salt [sic], and the sea continually comes in upon it; and therefore is never frozen, except in extraordinary cold weather.  This is of great advantage to the city and its commerce; for many ships either come in or go out of the port at any time of the year, unless the winds be contrary; a convenience, which, as I have before observed, is wanting at Philadelphia.  It is secured from all violent hurricanes from the southeast by Long Island, which is situated just before the town: therefore only the storms from the south west are dangerous to the ships which ride at anchor here, because the port is open only on that side.  The entrance however has its faults; one of them is that no men of war can pass through it; for though the water is pretty deep , yet it is not sufficiently so for great ships.  Sometimes even merchant ships of a large size have, by the rolling of the waves and by sinking down between them, slightly touched the bottom, though without any bad consequences.  Besides this, the canal is narrow; and for this reason many ships have been lost here, because they may be easily cast upon a sand, if the ship is not well piloted.  Some old people, who had constantly been upon this canal, assured me, that it was neither deeper nor shallower at present, than in their youth.

The common difference between high and low water, at New York, amounts to about six feet, English measure.  But a certain time in every month, when the tide flows more than commonly, the difference in the height of the water is seven feet.

New York probably carries on a more extensive commerce, than any town in the English North American provinces; at least it may be said to equal them: Boston and Philadelphia however come very near up to it.  The trade of New Yok extends many places; and it is said they send more ships from thence to London, than they do from Philadelphia.  They export to that capital all the various sorts of skins which they buy of the Indians, sugar, logwood, and other dying woods, rum, mahogany, and many other goods which are the produce of the West Indies; together with all the specie which they get in the course of trade.  Every year they build several ships here, which are sent to London, and there sold; and of late years they have shipped a quantity of iron to England.  In return of these, they import from London stuffs, and every other article of English growth or manufacture, together with all sorts of foreign goods.  England, and especially London, profits immensely by its trade with the American colonies; for not only New York, but likewise all the other English towns on the continent, import so many articles from England, that all their specie, together with the goods which they get in other countries, must altogether go to Old England, in order to pay the amount, to which they are however insufficient.  From hence it appears how much a well-regulated colony contributes to the increase and welfare of its mother country.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, Colonial America, Commerce, Eighteenth century, Geography, Posted by Matthew Williams, Travel, Travel Literature

Item of the Day: Observations on the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Boston Port-Bill (1774)

Full Title: Observations on the Act of Parliament Commonly Called the Boston Port-Bill; with Thoughts on Civil Society and Standing Armies. By Josiah Quincy, Jun’r. Boston, N.E.: Printed for and sold by Edes and Gill, in Queen-Street, 1774.


THE Statute of the 14th George 3d, received in the last Ships from London, (entitled “An Act to discontinue, in such Manner, and for such Time as are therein mentioned, the landing and discharging, the lading or shipping of Goods, Wares, Merchandize, at the Town, and within the Harbour of Boston, in the Province of Massachusetts-Bay, in North-America,”) gave rise to the following OBSERVATIONS: —They will appear thrown together in haste; and as the Writer was out of Town on business, almost every day, the Sheets were printing off, no doubt many Errors of the Press escaped correction.

The Inaccuracies of a sudden Production from one of infirm health, perplexed with various avocations, will receive a mild censure: more material faults, FRIENDS may be prone to forgive; but from ENEMIES–public or private–we are never to expect indulgence or favor.


Boston, May 14, 1774.



IN times of public calamity, it is the duty of a good citizen to consider. If his opportunities or advantages, for knowledge and reflection, are greater than those of mankind in general, his whole duty will remain undischarged, while he confines his thoughts to the compass of his own mind. But if danger is added to the calamity of the times, he who shall communicate his sentiments on public affairs with decency and frankness, merits attention and indulgence, if he may not aspire to approbation and praise.

Whoever attends to the tenor and design of the late act of the British Parliament for the BLOCKADE of this HARBOUR, and duly considers the extensive confusion and distress this measure must inevitably produce; whoever shall reflect upon the justice, policy and humanity of legislators, who could deliberately give their sanction to such a prceedure [sic]–must be satisfied, that the man, who shall OPENLY dare to expose their conduct, hazards fatal consequences. –Legislators, who could condemn a whole town unheard, nay uncited to answer. who could involve thousands in ruin and misery, without suggestion of any crime by them committed; and who could so construct their law, as that enormous pains and penalties would inevitably ensue, NOTWITHSTANDING THE MOST PERFECT OBEDIENCE TO IT’S [sic] INJUNCTIONS; I say, that legislators, thus formed as MEN, thus principled as STATESMEN, would undoubtedly imagine the attainder and death of a private individual, for his public animadversions, a less extraordinary act of power. But all exertions of duty have their hazard: –if dread of Parliamentary extravagance is to deter from public energies, the safety of the common wealth will soon be despaired of; and when once a sentiment of that kind prevails, the excess of present enormities so rapidly increase, that strides, at first appearance, exorbitant, will soon be found–but the beginning of evils. We therefore consider it as a just observation, that the weight and velocity of public oppressions are ever in a ratio proportionate to private despondency and public despair.

He who shall go about to treat of important and perilous concerns, and conceals himself behind the curtain of a feigned signature, give an advantage to his adversaries; who will not fail to stigmatize his thoughts, as the notions of an unknown writer, afraid or ashamed to avow his sentiments; and hence they are deemed unworthy of notice and refutation. Therefore I give to the world both my sentiments and and name upon the present occasion, and shall hear with patience him, who will decently refute what is advanced, and shall submit with temper to that correction and chastisement which my errors deserve.



Leave a comment

Filed under 1770's, American Revolution, Colonial America, Commerce, England, George III, Great Britain, Political Pamphlets, Posted by Caroline Fuchs

Item of the Day: Feature’s of Mr. Jay’s Treaty (1795)

Full Title: Features of Mr. Jay’s Treaty. To which is annexed, A View of the Commerce of the United States. As it stands at present, and as it is fixed by Mr. Jay’s Treaty. Philadelphia: Printed for Mathew Carey, by Lang and Ustick, Oct. 20, 1795.




I. The origin and progress of the negociation [sic]for the Treaty, are not calculated to excite confidence.

1. THE administration of our government have, seemingly at least, manifested a policy favourable to Great Britain, and adverse to France.

2. But the house of representatives of Congress, impressed with the general ill conduct of Great Britain toward America, were adopting measures, of a mild, though retaliating nature, to obtain redress and indemnification. The injuries complained of were, principally, 1st. The detention of the western posts—2dly. The delay in compensating for the negroes carried off at the close of the war—and 3dly, The spoliations committed on our commerce. The remedies proposed, were, principally, 1st. The commercial regulations of Mr. Madison—2dly. The non-intercourse proposition of Mr. Clarke—3dly. The sequestration motion of Mr. Dayton—4thly. An embargo—and 5thly, Military preparations.

3. Every plan of the legislature was, however, suspended, or rather annihilated, by the interposition of the executive authority; and Mr. Jay, the chief Justice of the United States, was taken from his judicial feat, to negociate [sic] with Great Britain, under the influence of the prevailing sentiment of the people, for the redress of our wrongs. Query—Are not his commission and the execution of it, at variance? Is any one of our wrongs actually redressed? Is not an atonement to Great Britain, for the injuries which she pretends to have suffered, a preliminary stipulation?

4. The political dogma of Mr. Jay are well know; his predilection, in relation to France and Great Britain, has not been disguised; and even on the topic of American complaints, his reports, while in the office of secretary of foreign affairs, and his adjudications while in the office of chief justice, were not calculated to point him out as the single citizen of America, fitted for the service in which he was employed. Query—Do not personal feelings too often dictate and govern the public conduct of its ministers? But whatever may have been his personal disqualifications, they are absorbed in the more important consideration of the apparent violence committed by Mr. Jay’s appointment, on the essential principles of the constitution. That tipic, however, has already been discussed, and we may pass to the manner of negociating the treaty in England, which was at once obscure and illusory. We heard of Mr. Jay’s diplomatic honours; of the royal and ministerial courtesy which was shewn to him, and the convivial boards to which he was invited: but, no more! Mr. Jay, enveloped by a dangerous confidence in the intuitive faculties of his own mind, or the inexhaustible fund of his diplomatic information, neither possessed nor wished for external aid; while the British negociator, besides how own acquirements, entered on the points of negociation, fraught with all the auxiliary sagacity of his brother ministers, and with all the practical knowledge of the most enlightened merchants of a commercial nation. The result corresponds with that inauspicious state of things. Mr. Jay was driven from the ground of an injured, to the ground of an agressing, party; he made atonement for imaginary wrongs, before he was allowed justice for real ones; he converted the resentments of the American citizens (under the impressions of which he was avowedly sent to England) into amity and concord; and seems to have been so anxious to rivet a commercial chain about the neck of America, that he even forgot, or disregarded, a principal item of her own produce, (cotton) in order to make a sweeping sacrifice to the insatiable appetite of his maritime antagonist. But the idea of the treaty, given by Mr. Pitt in answer to Mr. Fox, who, before he had seen, applauded it as an act of liberality and justice towards America, was the first authoritative alarm to our interests and our feelings. “When the treaty is laid before the parliament (said the minister) you will best judge whether any improper concession has been made to America!”

5. The treaty being sent here for ratification, the President and the Senate pursue the mysterious plan in which it was negociated. it has been intimated, that till the meeting of the Senate, the instrument was not communicated even to the most confidential officers of the government: and the first resolution taken by the Senate, was to stop the lips and ears of its members against every possibility of giving or receiving information. Every man, like Mr. Jay, was presumed to be inspired. In the course of the discussion, however, some occurrences flashed from beneath the veil of secrecy; and it is conjectured that the whole treaty was, at one time, in jeopardy. But the rhetoric of a minister (not remarkable for the volubility of his tongue) who was brought post-haste from the country; the danger of exposing the odium and disgrace the distinguished American characters, who would be affected by a total rejection of the treaty; and the feeble, but operative, vote of a member transported from the languor and imbecility of a sick room to decide in the Senate a great national question, whose merits he had not heard discussed; triumphed over principle, argument and decorum!

6. But still the treaty remains unratified; for, unless the British government shall assent to suspend the obnoxious twelfth article, (in favour of which, however, many patriotic members declared their readiness to vote) the whole is destroyed by the terms of the ratification: and if the British government shall agree to add an article allowing the suspension, the whole must return for the reconsideration of the Senate. But the forms of mystery are still preserved by our government; and attempts to deceive the people have been made abroad upon a vain presumption, that the treaty could remain a secret, till it became obligatory as a law. . . .


Leave a comment

Filed under 1790's, Commerce, Early Republic, Federalists, Great Britain, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, United States

Item of the Day: The Age of Louis XIV (1780)

Full Title: The Age of Louis XIV. To which is added, AN Abstract of the Age of Louis XV. Translated from the Last Geneva Edition of M. De Voltaire, with notes, critical and explanatory, by R. Griffith, Esq. Vol. II. London: Printed for Fielding and Walker, Paternoster-Row. 1780.

Chap. XVII. The memorable war for the succession of the Monarchy of Spain. Conduct of the Ministers and Generals till the year 1703.

To William III succeeded the Princess Anne, daughter to King James by the daughter of Counsellor Hyde, afterward Chancellor, and one of the principal [sic] men of the kingdom. She was married to the Prince of Denmark, who ranked but as the first subject of the realm. As soon as she came to the crown, she adopted all the measures of King William, though she had been at open variance with him during his life. These measures were those of the nation. In other kingdoms, a Prince obliges his people to enter implicitly into all his schemes; but in England a King must enter into those of his people.

The dispositions made by England and Holland for placing if possible, the Archduke Charles, son to the Emperor, on the throne of Spain, or at least to oppose the the establishment of the Bourbon family, merits, perhaps, the attention of all ages.

The Dutch on their part were to keep an army of one hundred and two thousand men in pay, either in garrison or in the field. This was much more than the whole Spanish monarchy could furnish at that time. A province of merchants, who, thirty years before, had been almost totally subdued in the space of two months, could now do more than the matters of Spain, Naples, Flanders, Peru, and Mexico. England promised to furnish forty thousand men, besides its fleets. It happens in most alliances, that, in the continuance of them, the parties concerned fall short of their stipulations; but England, on the contrary, furnished fifty thousand men, the second year instead of forty; and, towards the latter part of the war, kept in pay, on the frontiers of France, in Spain, Italy, Ireland, America, and on board her fleet, near two hundred thousand fighting men, soldiers and sailors, partly her own troops, partly those of her allies; an expence [sic] almost incredible to those who reflect, that England, properly so called, is not above one third so large as France, and has not one-half of the current coin; but which will appear probable in the eyes of those who know what commerce and credit can do. The English always bore the greatest share of the burthen [sic] in this alliance, while the Dutch insensibly lessened theirs: for, after all, the Republic of the States-General is only an illustrious trading company; whereas England is a fertile country, a commercial and a warlike nation.

Leave a comment

Filed under 1780's, Commerce, England, Europe, France, History, Military, Posted by Matthew Williams