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[APRIL, 1789. preference which we ought to give our own Mr. HARTLEY, thinking sixty cents too high, navigation.
proposed one-third of a dollar, or thirty-three and Mr. LAWRENCE.—The subject before us requires one-third cents. the most particular consideration, for several im Mr. GOODHUE was fully of opinion that the portant reasons. I shall, therefore, without duty ought not to be laid so high as to prevent apology, proceed to state some observations. In foreign shipping from coming amongst us, while a former debate it was remarked, that the duty on they were useful or necessary to our navigation tonnage must eventually fall upon the productions nor yet so high as to injure the sale of our own of our country. If this is a just observation, we productions in foreign markets. But can it be ought to consider whether the prices that those said, that a duty of less than five per cent. on the productions bear at foreign markets are such as to tonnage of foreign vessels can be attended with bear this extra imposition. If we have not ship- such ill consequences? He apprehended it could ping enough of our own, and that point, I not, and was very well satisfied that sixty, cens imagine, will be conceded me,) we shall be under was as little as could be mentioned, to give enthe necessity of employing foreign vessels in the couragement to our own vessels. transportation of such articles as we have to dis Mr. Fitzsimons admitted the importance of pose of; the owners, knowing our necessity, will the subject as stated by the gentleman from New take advantage of the duty to raise their freight; York, (Mr. LAWRENCE,) and thought it the duty and thus the duty will inevitably fall upon our of the committee to consider well its effects beselves.
fore they came to a decision. There could be no It is well known to this committee, that in the doubt entertained of the policy of meeting the different ports of the United States we have a commercial regulations of foreign Powers with variety of articles peculiarly calculated for ex-commercial regulations of our own. In these portation, and which we are obliged to export; regulations, the policy is for each to obtain for its such as rice, lumber, tobacco, potash, flaxseed, own vessels an advantage over those belonging to and a great many others; besides, it is also well foreign nations. We certainly ought not to be known, that we have not that quantity of Ameri- less attentive to our interest than others are to can shipping which is required in the transporta-theirs ; every advantage, therefore, which can be tion of these articles; it is necessary, therefore, justly given to our own shipping is due them. that we either employ foreigners, or suffer our Happy effects may no doubt be derived from the commodities to perish on our hands. If this be present policy ; but, on this head, I am not altotrue, you will have, as I said before, to consider gether so sanguine as some gentlemen seem to be whether the articles we thus export are capable with the encouragement proposed. The merof bearing this additional burden upon the prices chant may be induced to vest more considerable they bring in foreign markets: I think they are sums in property of this kind than heretofore, and not. Gentlemen from the Southern States men- at some future period we may become at least the tioned the other day, that the planters had begun carriers of our own commerce. In this case, too, to turn their attention to other productions than we have every reason to believe the freight will those they were accustomed to the cultivation of, be less than it is at the present time in foreign because their staple commodities could no longer vessels. be exported to advantage. If difficulties of this A calculation of what may be the proper duty, kind exist now, without the operation of a ton- made from the freight of a ship, is but an indefinage act, what will they be when so considerable nite way of coming at the object. He undera burden is laid upon them? But what advan- stood the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. tage will accrue from the regulation, when the GOODHUE) to have calculated the freight of a duty we impose upon foreigners must revert back, voyage, at five per cent. on the value of the vessel; in its operation, upon us ? Besides, as the duty but surely the gentleman was mistaken. He bemust be paid out of the price of the articles ex- lieved no ship paid a clear profit of five per cent. ported, it will, in effect, be the same as a tax upon to the owner, at this time; such was the embarsuch articles, which is expressly forbidden by the rassed state of American commerce. Constitution. If foreigners enhance their freight The tonnage employed in the transportation of in proportion to the duty, and our commodities the productions of America, he estimated at about are unable to bear the additional expense, gentle-600,000 tons; of this two-thirds are owned by men will have reason to deprecate the conse- citizens, the other one-third by foreigners. From quences; it must unavoidably check domestic in- this view of our navigation, he very much doubtdustry, the sole foundation of national welfare ed if any restrictions which could be laid on and importance. For what stimulus will the foreign vessels would produce immediately, or at farmer have to raise more produce than is neces- a very short period, the additional tonnage necessary for his own support ?' Will he toil in culti-sary to supply the whole American trade. We yating the earth, in gathering in its increase, to are limited, said he, in this particular, by not poshave the fruits of his labor perish in his granaries? sessing capital sufficient to do it. Ifa merchant Once destroy this spring of industry, and your vests his capital in shipping, he will want it in country totters to ruin. Will the proposed high the operations in which it is now employed; yet, duty have such effect? I fear it may; and there nevertheless, he was firmly of opinion, that good fore shall be for a much lower sum. "Thirty cents policy required a discrimination between our own will be a sufficient duty.
and foreign vessels, in order to give the former
Duties on Imports.
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encouragement. America must, from her natural ers, and in American shipping a considerable situation, participate considerably in the com- quantity is exported. The duty will be paid merce of the world, and ought to have the means equally, in either case, by the shipper, for the of protecting it; but while this is gradually freight of American vessels will be raised to an growing up into strength, it would be im politic to equality with the other; and of all this money so deprive ourselves of the convenience which paid, there comes into the Treasury that part foreign shipping affords. Then we will not adopt only collected from foreigners ; the rest, as I said such a duty as must deter foreigners from coming before, goes as bounty to benefit the owners of amongst us until we are in better circumstances. American ships. I trust it cannot be said by the If we lay a duty at two-thirds of a dollar per ton advocates for high tonnage, that the States most on the vessels of nations in alliance, we cannot likely to be affected by such a measure do not bear propose to lay less than a dollar on those with a proportion to the other taxes, because it is flawhom we have not treaties. A ship of two hun- grant that they bear more than their proportion. dred tons will then have to pay two hundred dol- Where, then, let me ask, is the justice of extendlars; a very considerable expense, perhaps much ing it? more than our trade can bear. If we are to discrimi So far as I can make a calculation in my own nate between nations in treaty and those not in mind, I conclude that the duty on tonnage protreaty, I should prefer the lowest sum proposed on posed by the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. the first, and the highest on the other.
Goodhue) would amount, on what is employed There was an observation made by the gentle- at the port of Charleston alone, to forty or fifty man from New York. (Mr. Lawrence, which thousand dollars annually-one-third of the whole though it does not apply strictly to the subject tonnage is foreign, the other two-thirds American. under consideration, it may not be amiss to remark The first is all that could come into your Treaupon. It is said, that the duty on tonnage must sury; the latter goes, need I repeat it, into the inevitably fall upon the produce of the country, pockets of individuals, as an extra reward for and be a reduction of so much of the planter's serving us. I think a bounty of thirty thousand profits; this assertion is probably founded on a dollars to our Eastern brethren would be no iuconpresumption that foreigners can draw their sup- siderable one from the port of Charleston alone; plies conveniently from other parts of the world. but I fear that it is more than is able to afford. But these articles are not conveniently to be had But besides drawing this to themselves, you are from any other quarter; consequently, if they to consider they are exempt from contributing any are necessary to the people of those nations which part of the duty on foreign tonnage. we supply, the duty will fall upon them. Lum I wish gentlemen also to consider, that there ber and flour are necessary to the West Indies; remains another addition to be made to the duty but the truth is, they cannot be obtained any on tonnage-I mean that of nations with whom where else than from America. As our shipping the United States have formed no treaty. If we are restrained from carrying these articles to the lay sixty cents now, and contemplate a still higher place of consumption, it may certainly be thought sum on the other, it will certainly be insupportagood policy to draw a revenue from those vessels ble to those States which have no shipping; I that carry them for us. Rice is not raised in any think the lowest sum that has been mentioned is other country sufficient to supply the European as much as can be required by any State; I am market; it is so with tobacco ; of consequence, sure it is more than some are able to bear. Being the consumer must pay what we demand. But it convinced in my own judgment of this
, I will would not be prudent to lay our restraints too move twenty cents, and think it fully sufficient heavy, lest we deprive nurselves of the use of to effect what gentlemen have in contemplation ; foreign shipping ; thirty cents is probably enough it will be a liberal encouragement to an interest to answer every good purpose.
which I wish success to; and though it is at the Mr. Tucker.— I am willing to give every pro- expense of a few States, I shall be satisfied with per encouragement to ship-building in the United the measure, under a hope that it may eventually States, but I cannot consent that it should bear promote the general welfare. heavy on certain States, while part of their bur Mr. BENSON wished a previous question, to asden is received by others as a bounty. I mean certain whether there should be a discrimination to move, therefore, for a small duty, although I in the manner proposed or not? For his part, he am sensible that it will be exclusively borne by a did not discover, from any thing that had been few of the Southern members of the Union. Some said, the principle of policy or interest which was States, it is well known, have more tonnage than to guide us on this
occasion. He supposed it was is sufficient to carry all their small productions to intended that the Dutch and French ships should a market; of course, a duty on foreign ships will be preferred to English. Now, if this policy was not affect them. Other States, which have con- for the interest of America, he was content; but siderable quantities of more bulky articles to ex- he saw nothing that pointed out the necessity. port, require a greater number of ships, having Are we bound by treaty or compact to make this few or none of their own, must consequently be discrimination ? If we are, it is certainly proper subjected to the whole of the additional duty; to make it. But he did not know of any treaty for, whether the vessels be foreign or American, which directed our conduct in this affair. He the freight will be the same. Much of the pro- knew our treaties mentioned that they should
be duce of South Carolina is carried off by foreign- entitled to the same advantages as the most fa
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[APRIL, 1789 vored nations, but this does not, even by construc-subjects of Great Britain ; of consequence, they tion, mean that we should prefer them to every cannot be sold without a considerable loss. Nay, other. If it is for the advantage of our country so cautious are they to prevent the advantages we to give this preference, although we are not bound naturally possess, that they will not suffer a Brito do it, he would be content it should be so; but tish ship to be repaired in America, beyond a cerhe wished gentlemen would decide this point be- tain proportion of her value; they even will not fore a question was taken on filling up the blank. permit our vessels to be repaired in their ports.
Mr. BURKE thought sixty cents a very extrava- Another consideration has some weight with gant impost upon the tonnage of foreign shipping. me in deciding the question of discrimination. Did gentlemen see the extent of the mischief, or The policy of our ally, from the views of the minwere they unacquainted with the present state ister employed, has frequently been adverse to the of the staple productions of Virginia, Carolina, interest of this country. The person who has and Georgia, which, if carried to market, are so had the charge of our affairs at that Court has fallen in price as not to reward the planter's toil; long been soliciting a relaxation in our favor, and whilst great part of our tobacco and rice, for want although it cannot be declared that he has sucof vessels to carry them, are now decaying in our ceeded, yet there is reason to believe he has made warehouses? Will not restrictions therefore tend some impressions, which our conduct ought to to hurt those productions? If they will, he trust- avoid effacing; they are such as merit national ed gentlemen would be moderate in laying them; attention, and might justify a discrimination at he was satisfied that the citizens of the State he this time, although it may be proper to hold ourcame from considered a high tonnage duty as a selves at liberty to pursue that policy which a great evil; he saw it in the same light also, and change may. make necessary. There are also was therefore opposed to it.
other considerations which ought to be taken into Mr. SHERMAN would trouble the committee no view. From artificial or adventitious causes, the further than just to remark, that the policy of lay- commerce between America and Great Britain ing a high tonnage on foreign vessels, whether in exceeds what may be considered its natural bountreaty or not in treaty, was at best but a doubtful dary. I find from an examination of the accounts point. The regulation is certainly intended as an of tonnage for the three large States of Massaencouragement to our own shipping; but if this chusetts, Virginia, and South Carolina, that the is not to be the consequence of the measure, it tonnage of nations in alliance with us holds no
promust be an improper one. If a large duty is laid portion with that of Great Britain, or of the Union foreigners coming into our ports, they will be ted States. This is a proof that a very small induced to counteract us, by increasing the re- direct commerce takes place between those counstraints which our vessels already labor under in tries and this; that there is less of direct intertheirs. But sixty cents will surely be too high in course than there would naturally be if those exthe present case, if it is proposed to lay more on traneous and adventitious causes did not prevent foreigners not in treaty. Not seeing, therefore, it; such as the long possession of our trade, their any advantage resulting from high duties on ton- commercial regulations calculated to retain it, nage, he should vote against the sixty cents. their similarity of language and manners, their
Mr. Madison.-Some gentlemen have seemed conformity of laws and other circumstances-all to call in question the policy of discriminating these concurring have made their commerce with between nations in commercial alliance with the us more extensive than their natural situation United States, and those with whom no treaties would require it to be. I would wish, therefore, exist. For my own part, I am well satisfied that to give such political advantages to those nations, there are good and substantial reasons for making as might enable
them to gain their proportion of it. In the first place, it may not be unworthy of our direct trade from the nation who has acquired consideration, that the public sentiments of Ame- more than it is naturally her due. From this rica will be favorable to such discrimination. I view of the subject, I am led to believe it would am sure, with respect to that part from which I be good policy to make the proposed discriminacome, it will not be a pleasing ingredient in your tion between them. Is it not also of some importlaws, if they find foreigners of every nation put ance, that we should enable nations in treaty with on a footing with those in alliance with us. There us to draw some advantage from our alliance, and is another reason, which, perhaps, is more appli- thereby impress those Powers that have hitherto cable to some parts of the Union than others; one neglected to treat with us, with the idea that adof the few nations with which America has form- vantages are to be gained by a reciprocity of ed commercial connexions has relaxed considera- friendship? If we give every thing equally to bly in that rigid policy it before pursued-not so those who have or have not formed treaties, surefar, to be sure, as America could wish, with rely we do not furnish to them any motive for spect to opening her ports to our trade; but she courting our connexion. has permitted our ready built ships a sale, and en It has been objected, that the price of our protitles them to the same advantage, when owned duce at foreign markets would not bear this 'adby her own citizens, as if they had been built in ditional burden, and that the freight must be paid France, subjecting the sale to a duty of five per by the planters. It will be unnecessary, after cent. The British market receives none; the what was said by the gentleman from Pennsyldisabilities of our ships to trade with their colo-vania, (Mr. Fitzsimons,) to take up the time of nies continue, even if they are purchased by the the committee in observing that foreigners must
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receive our tobacco, rice, &c., in American ship- and these, perhaps, without advantage; if I am ping, if they cannot be otherwise got. There mistaken, let me be set right, and let the gentlemay be a discrimination made in other respects man make it appear that we can draw a benefit besides in tonnage, so that a very high impost on from this relaxation sufficient to justify the presthis article need not be insisted upon. But will ent measure. He mentioned also an expectation any gentleman say, British vessels ought to enjoy of some further alterations in our favor." I admit in American ports greater advantages than are we may have such expectation, but probably it enjoyed by Americans in British ports? Yet, may not be realized. Some time ago, we had were the duties laid equal in both cases, the Bri- some privilege respecting the importation of oil tish merchant would have a very great superi- into France; but an alteration has taken place on ority. In the first place, some of the most valua- this subject, and our privilege, together with the ble ports which she possesses, and most condu- benefit, is gone. The gentleman mentioned, that cive to our interest, are absolutely closed, while the commerce of Britain with this country was every port in the United States is open to her too great in proportion to that of other nations; without restriction or limitation. Again, even in but this is a point not for the Government to setthose which it is permitted America to enter her tle. I maintain, that the merchants of America vessels, she must bring nothing but the produce of are well able to understand and pursue their own her own soil, whilst the British ship makes circui- interests, and the advantages which they obtain tous voyages, and brings with her the produce of tend to tne wealth and prosperity of the Union. every quarter of the globe. These are material If they find it their interest or convenience to advantages; and take the whole of these obser- form connexions with the subjects of one nation vations together, I think they furnish substantial in preference to another, why should the Governreasons for making the proposed discrimination. ment interfere to dissolve it? They should be
Mr. LAWRENCE.-The question in this case, left to themselves, like the industrious bee, to I take it, will be the policy of giving a preference gather from
the choicest flower the greatest abunto one nation above another. I would ask the dance of commercial sweets. gentleman over the way, (Mr. Madison,) if we I believe there is a propriety in discriminating have experienced advantages from the Powers between our own citizens and foreigners; but as with whom we have treaties, sufficient to entitle to the latter, there is no good reason for estabthem to this preference? If we have, and are lishing a preference among them. It is not conunder obligations to them for such advantages, I tended that we are bound by treaty to do any such shall be the last man to say any thing to prevent thing; if we are not bound by treaty, then we are a grateful discharge of those obligations; if we left at liberty to pursue our particular interest. are under no such, we are left to act from what And here I would ask gentlemen, if it can be our we may consider our best interest; for nations, as interest, not having vessels enough of our own, to well as individuals, are guided by the principle of discourage the competition among foreigners for interest. If
, then, it will operate against the in- our carrying trade? If we give a preference, we terest of the United States, it will be bad policy destroy the competition. The Dutch, I am into give this preference; if it is congenial to and formed, navigate the cheapest of any nation; they consistent with that interest, then it becomes our have a treaty with the United States: of course, duty to give it. The gentleman last up has stated they will carry our produce in the first instance; several considerations why a preference should but as they will not furnish enough, we must look be given to the vessels of foreigners in treaty. further, to France. This nation does not accomHe tells you, the public sentiment is in favor of modate us with enough either. We then go to the measure. I would ask him how is the public nations not in treaty, and subject ourselves to this sentiment, in this case, to be collected? Is it to additional burden, and must give them what they be collected from the conversation of individuals, exact. We are told that American vessels have or from the acts of public bodies ? If from the not the same advantage in British ports that conversation of individuals, I am not so well in- British ships have in America. This may be formed as he is, because I never heard it men- true; but it must be considered, that our vessels tioned; if from the acts of public bodies, we may are on an equal footing with their own in carrybe on a footing, because they are to become ating the produce of our country, while articles of with a little inquiry and application. Now, if my the same nature, imported from other parts of the memory serves me right, I believe no discrimina- world, pay an additional duty. It may be well tion has been made but by one State. I know the on this occasion to observe, that the nation against State I have the honor to represent on this floor which this regulation is directed, may be disposed has made none; we consider all foreigners upon to meet you with a similar regulation, and destroy an equal footing, and that it is not our interest to that part of our carrying trade which remains to give a preference to any, and therefore we do not us. At present we can export potash, lumber, do it. The gentleman says, there has been a re- iron, and other articles to England, and we pay laxation in the policy of one Power in alliance no higher duty than British vessels, but a small with us, and in France we may now sell ships alien duty to which all nations are subjected. built in America under certain regulations; but, Upon the whole, it is good policy, I believe, to let probably, this privilege may be no benefit to us. commerce take its own course, and not to attempt I believe we have not sold more than two vessels discrimination, which may eventually prove more in that country since the alteration has been made, injurious to us than we at present conceive. We
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[APRIL, 1789. ought to contemplate our own interest as a na- In the trade of South Carolina is employed antion, and pursue what appears to be the best cal. nually about 56,977 tons of shipping. The proculated to promote that end, as we are under no portion of French and Dutch is about 2,100 tons, obligations to the contrary, from either the prin- while that of Great Britain is about 19,000. In ciples or practice of those Powers with whom Massachusetts the quantity is about 85,551 tons; subsist commercial treaties.
it is stated, that there are belonging to the State, Mr. Madison. I am a friend to free commerce, 76,857, the remainder is foreign, and mostly Britand, at the same time, a friend to such regulations ish. 'n Virginia we have 56,272 tons; 26,903 as are calculated to promote our own interest
, and British, and only 2,664 of the French and Dutch. this on national principles. The great principle I cannot, from this view of the subject, be perof interest is a leading one with me, and yet my suaded to believe that every part of our trade combination of ideas on this head leads me to a flows in those channels which would be most natvery different conclusion from that made by the ural and profitable to us, or those which reason gentleman from New York, (Mr. LAWRENCE.) I would dictate to us, if we were unincumbered of wish we were under less necessity than I find we old habits and other accidental circumstances that are to shackle our commerce with duties, restric- hurry us along. tions, and preferences; but there are cases in It has been asked by the gentleman from New which it is impossible to avoid following the ex- York, (Mr. LAWRENCE,) what evidence we had ample of other nations in the great diversity of that the public sentiments of America were in our trade. Some reasons for this were mentioned favor of discrimination ? Perhaps it would be on a former occasion; they have been frequently improper on this occasion to adduce any other illustrated in the progress of this business, and the proof of the fact than from the transactions of decision of the committee has proved them to public bodies; and here, I think, is abundant proof be necessary.
to be found. The State of Virginia, if I am not I beg leave to remark, in answer to a train of mistaken, lays a double duty on tonnage; French ideas which the gentleman last up has brought and Dutch vessels pay half a dollar per ton, while into view, that although interest will, in general, the vessels of Great Britain are subjected to one operate effectually to produce political good, yet dollar. There are other distinctions in our revethere are causes in which certain factitious cir-nue laws manifesting the same principle; some cumstances may divert it from its natural chan- of them establish a preference to French wines nel, or throw or retain it in an artificial one. and brandy. In Maryland, a similar policy has Have we not been exercised on this topic for a prevailed. I believe the difference there is about long time past? Or why has it been necessary to one-third in favor of our allies, (if I err,
the gen. give encouragement to particular species of in- tlemen from that State can set me right;) in dustry, but to turn the stream in favor of an in- Pennsylvania, there is a discrimination of about terest that would not otherwise succeed? But a fourth. I do not certainly recollect, but I belaying aside the illustration of these causes, so lieve the like policy exists in other States; but I well known to all nations, where cities, compa- have not had an opportunity of searching their nies, or opulent individuals engross the business laws on this point, but what I have enumerated from others, by having had an uninterrupted pos- are facts affording substantial proof that the pubsession of it, or by the extent of their capitals be- lic sentiment does favor the discrimination. ing able to destroy a competition, let us proceed Mr. Baldwin observed, that the question imto examine what ought to be our conduct on this mediately before the committee was of less imprinciple, upon the present occasion. Suppose portance than the one which had been argued by two commercial cities, one possessed of enormous the gentleman from Virginia (Mr. Madison) and capitals and long habits of business, whilst the the gentleman from New York (Mr. LAWRENCE.) other is possessed of superior natural advantages, He was glad to have this question discussed, and but without that course of business and chain of thought the gentleman had very properly called connexions which the other has: is it possible, in in the public sentiment as an argument in favor the nature of things, that the latter city should of his motion for discrimination; but the gentlecarry on a successful competition with the former? man over the way wants evidence of what the Thus it is with nations; and when we consider public sentiment is. I think, said he, we have a the vast quantities of our produce sent to the dif- strong proof of what the public sentiment is in ferent parts of Europe, and the great importations the very existence of the House. This sentiment from the same places; that almost all of this com- he believed to be the cause of the revolution una merce is transacted through the medium of Brit- der which we are about to act. The commercial ish ships and British merchants, I cannot help restrictions Great Britain placed upon our comconceiving that, from the force of habit and other merce in pursuing her selfish policy, gave rise to conspiring causes, that nation is in possession of an unavailing clamor, and excited the feeble ata much greater proportion of our trade than she tempt which several of the State Legislatures is naturally entitled to. Trade, then, being re- made to counteract the detestable regulations of strained to an artificial channel, is not so advanta- a commercial enemy; but these proving altogether geous to America as a direct intercourse would be; ineffectual to ward off the effects of the blow, or it becomes therefore the duty of those to whose revenge their cause, the convention at Annapolis care the public interest and welfare are committed, was formed for the express purpose of counteractto turn the tide to a more favorable direction. ing them on general principles. This convention