Category Archives: Trade

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? . . .


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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.   

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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.”


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

Item of the Day: A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies (1777)

Full Title: A Philosophical and Political History of the Settlements and Trade of the Europeans in the East and West Indies. Translated from the French of Abbe Raynal, by J. Justamond. Third Edition, Revised and Corrected. With Maps Adapted to the Work, and Copious Index. Vol. I. London: Printed for T. Cadell, MDCCLXXVII.



NO event has been so interesting to mankind in general, and to the inhabitants of Europe in particular, as the discovery of the New World, and the passage to India by the Cape of Good Hope. It gave rise to a revolution in the commerce, and in the power of nations; and in the manners, industry, and government of the whole world. At this period, new connexions were formed by the inhabitants of the most distant regions, for the supply of wants they had never before experienced. The productions of climates situated under the equator, were consumed in countries bordering on the pole; the industry of the north was transplanted to the south; and the inhabitants of the West were clothed with manufactures of the East; a general intercourse of opinions, laws and customs, diseases and remedies, virtues and vices, was established among men.

Every thing has changed, and must change again. But it is a question, whether the revolutions that are past, or those which must hereafter take place, have been, or can be of any utility to the human race: will they ever add to the tranquillity, the happiness, and the pleasures of mankind? Can they improve our present state, or do they only change it?


The Europeans have founded colonies in all parts, but are they acquainted with the principles on which they ought to be formed? They have established a commerce of exchange, of the productions of the earth and of manufactures. This commerce is transferred from one people to another. Can we not discover by what means, and in what situations this has been effected? Since America and the passage by the Cape has been known, some nations that were of no consequence are become powerful: others, that were the terror of Europe, have lost their authority. How has the condition of these several people been affected by these discoveries? How comes it to pass that those to whom Nature has been most liberal, are not always the richest and most flourishing? To throw some light on these important questions, we must take a view of the state of Europe before these discoveries were made; we must trace circumstantially the events they have given rise to; and conclude with examining it, as it presents itself at this day.

The commercial states have civilized all others. The Phoenicians, whose extent of country and influence were extremely limited, acquired by their genius for naval enterprises, an importance which ranked them foremost in the history of ancient nations.

They are mentioned by writers of every class. They were known to the most distant climes, and their fame has been transmitted to succeeding ages.

Situated on a barren coast, separated from the continent by the Mediterranean on the one side, and the mountains of Libanus on the other; they seem to have been destined by Nature for the dominion of the sea. Fishing taught them the art of navigation, and furnished them with the purple dye which they extracted from the murex: at the same time the sea-sand led them to discover the secret of making glass. Happy in possessing so few natural advantages, since the want of these awakened that spirit of invention and industry, which is the parent of arts and opulence!

It must be confessed, that the situation of the Phoenicians was admirably adapted to extend their commerce to every part of the world. By inhabiting, as it were, the confines of Africa, Asia, and Europe, if they could not unite the inhabitants of the globe in one common interest, they at least had it in their power, by a commercial intercourse, to communicate to every nation the enjoyments of all climates. But the antients whom we have so often excelled, though we have derived much useful knowledge from them, had not means sufficient to enable them to establish an universal commerce. The Phoenicians had no shipping except gallies; they only carried on a coasting trade, and their sailing was confined to the Mediterranean. Though this state was the model upon which other maritime powers were formed, it is not so easy to determine what they have, as what they might have performed. We may form a conjecture of their population by their colonies. It is said that their numbers extended along the coasts of the Mediterranean, particularly the shores of Africa. . . .


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Filed under 1770's, Commerce, Explorations, History, Posted by Caroline Fuchs, Trade