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present white population of the United States, and those provinces of North America which still appertain to the British crown.
In the colonies of Britain, whilst under the dominion of the parent state, intellect, animation, industry, were constantly in exercise, and constantly increasing. When, through mutual mismanagement and misapprehension, they came to be involved in a war for their independence, there was less sanguinary ferocity exercised than, perhaps, any other civil war on record ever exhibited. When their independence was achieved, as was rationally to be expected, some degree of confusion, and much of the partyspirit which uncertainty engenders, were displayed; yet none of those scenes of turbulence, terminating in atrocities marked with blood, disgraced the commencement of their independent career, which have accompanied every one of the steps of the Spanish American emancipation.
We view the progress which the United States have since made, and shall view that which we hope they will in future make, with complacency and with self-gratulation. We look with emotions of honest pride across the Atlantic. We there behold ten millions of human beings sprung from ourselves-speaking our language-disposed, like ourselves, to cultivate freedom in speculation and in action-initiated in the habits of order, integrity, industry, and enterprise, which Britain has diffused through all the ramifications of society-drawing from the fountain-head of knowledge-the land of their ancestors-whatever of the arts, the sciences, and the decorations of life can be accommodated to the advancement they have hitherto made in social life. We see with pleasure that, as far as they have copied the institutions of their ancestors, they have been benefited by the example; and we see also, that when, from necessity, from caprice, or the affectation of discovery, they have departed from these models, such departure has formed an impediment to their advancement, or has involved them in temporary or local suffering.
Mr. Tazewell's work gives a clear and distinct historical narrative of the several diplomatic negociations which, from the independence of America to the present time, have been carried on between the governments of the two countries on commercial subjects. The facts are accompanied by the proofs, the inductions are fairly drawn, and the conclusions left to the reader.
Before, however, we proceed to the several negociations which it details, we must be permitted, without indulging any hostile or unkind feeling towards America, to take a view of the transactions which preceded any attempts of that kind. The long continuance of the war of independence had naturally soured the minds of the combatants. A degree of irritability had been excited which could not be speedily allayed. A new state of things had arisen, which required moderate counsels, in order to produce temperate feel
ings. The hostile feelings of America had been directed solely towards England. The hostile feelings of England had been divided between America, France, and Spain, and, latterly, Holland. To these latter powers were attributed not merely hostility but treachery, and the degrading crime of duplicity. Thus, at the termination of the war, the feelings of England towards America, if not cordial, were at least softened, whilst the treachery and duplicity of the other belligerents had attracted to them the concentrated hostility or contempt of this country. Under these circumstances, it was natural that England should lead the way to conciliation with America, and that America should coldly, and with suspicion, receive the demonstrations of returning amity.
A few facts will show the conduct of the two parties towards each other. By the acknowledgment of her independence, America had acquired the right of trading to all parts of the world not subject to the mother country; but she had lost the right to trade with the colonies which still owed allegiance to her late sovereign. This is of the nature of a coasting trade, which no government allows to be carried on in foreign vessels; and such, by their independence, the vessels of America had become with respect to the British dominions. This trade, although not generally opened to America, was, however, occasionally permitted, under certain restrictions, in which the Americans necessarily acquiesced but the permission was granted much more to benefit the British colonies than to serve the United States. The ships of America had become aliens in Great Britain, and, in strict justice, were bound to pay the same tonnage-duty as the vessels of all other nations; yet a preference was given to them: on account of this preference foreigners made representations to our government, but it continued from the cessation of hostilities in 1783 to 1792. The Americans, on the other hand, in several of the states, imposed tonnage-duty on English ships higher than on their own, and added to it other restrictions. The same discrepancies were to be seen in duties on imports and exports. The products of the United States were allowed to be imported into Great Britain, at the rate of duty charged on the same articles from the North American provinces still under the British dominion, and many of them at a lower rate than would have applied to them had they come from any foreign country in Europe. Such commodities, whether imported in American or in British ships, were charged with a like duty, though, if imported in other foreign ships, they were subject to the alien or higher duty. The Americans, on the contrary, imposed various discriminating duties, to the injury of British commerce. Of these and of similar laws passed, we believe, in other states, Great Britain had a right to complain; but it caused no countervailing restrictions on her part.
By the treaty of peace it had been stipulated, That creditors
on either side should meet with no lawful impediment to the recovery of the full value, in sterling money, of all bond fide debts heretofore contracted.' By another article it was stipulated, "That congress shall earnestly recommend to the several states a reconsideration and revision of acts and laws regarding the premises, so as to render them perfectly consistent, not only with justice and equity, but with the spirit of conciliation which on the return of peace should universally prevail.' The legislature of Great Britain acted in full conformity to these just and honourable principles in their persons and property, American subjects uninterruptedly enjoyed throughout the British dominions the same protection as British subjects; and no distinction was ever made either by the British legislature or by the courts of justice to the disadvantage of American citizens.
We must now turn to the laws enacted in the states, and to the decisions in the American courts of justice. In many of the states laws were passed, enacting that in some cases debts due to British subjects should be paid only by instalments, and postponing the last instalment to a very distant period: that in other cases no suits should be permitted to be instituted by a British subject for a debt contracted by a citizen of the United States, till a distant period; and that no execution should be levied till a certain number of years had expired after judgment had been obtained; and these rules were applied not only to debts contracted before the war, but, in some cases, even to debts contracted after the peace. Laws were also passed in some of the states, making a depreciated paper currency legal tender, and even authorising debtors to tender land, at a certain valuation, in satisfaction of their debts; and yet in these identical states it had been held by the courts of justice that British subjects were aliens, and, as such, incapable of holding land-so that the land thus assigned to a British creditor in payment of his debt reverted to the state by this rule of law, as being the forfeited property of an alien possessor: In one of the states the governor made an order, (which subsisted for a short time,) compelling all British subjects and factors, who had arrived there for the purpose of collecting and recovering the debts owing to their employers, forthwith to depart from the territories of that state. In almost all the states, laws were passed precluding British creditors from claiming interest which had accrued during the continuance of the war, or any debts then owing to them. In one of the states all demands of interest were declared unlawful till after the 1st of May, 1786.
We have not adverted to these transactions in order to taunt the Americans of the present generation with the conduct of those that preceded them, but to show that the return towards conciliation was more prompt and more cordial on the part of Great Britain
than on that of America. It should be observed also, that during the period we have been surveying, there was no general government in America of sufficient strength either to enforce the terms of the treaty of peace, or to enact any commercial laws against the decisions of the state legislatures.
This state of things continued till after 1791; and though Great Britain had strong grounds of complaint, yet as, in the interval since the peace, the trade with America had increased beyond what it had been in a period of correspondent length preceding the war, she waited with patience, and without remonstrance, till a more powerful and therefore tangible government was formed. A more efficient government was at length established, under the virtuous and enlightened Washington, who felt and endeavoured to remedy the evils which had arisen from the want of a federal organization of the general power of the states.
When the general government was put in action, the powers of the state governments ceased, as far as regarded the imposition of taxes and the regulation of external commerce. Congress imposed a higher duty on foreign ships than on their own, and a higher import duty on the goods they brought; but they were of so low a rate, and the difference so insignificant, that no foreign nation made any complaints or remonstrances on the subject, though Great Britain thought it necessary to establish countervailing duties; and in this manner the trade was carried on till the end of 1794. Complaint and discontent had mutually been engendered by the alleged non-fulfilment of the treaty of peace, and to remove them, by negociation, Mr. Jay arrived in England as envoy extraordinary in 1793.
In the account of this and the succeeding negociations, we shall adopt the facts as represented by Mr. Tazewell, both because they are distinguished by the most scrupulous accuracy, and because his testimony, when given in favour of the honourable conduct of Great Britain, must be considered stronger than that of our own countrymen. The treaty negociated by Mr. Jay settled the several questions involving the commercial relations of the two countries, and conferred upon America the privilege of trading with the British possessions in the East Indies. The question of the trade to the West Indies was adjusted by a special article. Great Britain conceded to the United States the right of exporting their own productions to, and of importing those of our islands from them in vessels of not more than seventy tons burden, on the payment of the same duties which were chargeable on British vessels carrying on a similar trade. The American vessels were, however, to carry their return cargoes, and to land them in the United States only. America, in return for these concessions, stipulated to prohibit the exportation, from their
ports, in American vessels, of molasses, sugar, coffee, cocoa, and cotton. This last condition was thought too hard by the senate of the United States, and the president refused to ratify the twelfth article of the treaty, containing the arrangements respecting the West Indies. The British government had at first reluctantly admitted the subject of the West India trade to become a matter of discussion, and willingly agreed to expunge this provision from the treaty, which was finally ratified by both parties, with the special exception of the article which referred to that branch of commerce. Such was the termination of this attempt to regulate the trade of the Americans' with our islands.
Mr. Tazewell says, on this subject,
The trade then remained as it had stood before this negociation had commenced, that is to say, American vessels were still generally excluded the British West India ports, but were occasionally admitted there, in the manner before stated. In this condition the matter remained for many years.
And here let me remark, that although the negociation of the Treaty of 1794 furnished the most conclusive evidence that nothing was to be expected from negociation upon this subject at that time— although the heavy pressure, imposed as well upon Great Britain herself, as upon her colonies, by the war in which she was then engaged, seemed to present a fair opportunity to try the effect of retaliatory measures upon her then tottering interests, and to open another negociation with her, while labouring under the weight of such a new burden -although the condition of the neutral commerce of the United States (which at that time had the monopoly of almost every other market) was so eminently prosperous, that even the total deprivation of the trade with the British West India islands would not then have been sensibly felt by any interest in the United States-yet such was the cautious policy, the sagacious prudence, and the profound wisdom of that great man, President Washington, who, for the happiness and glory of the United States, then presided over their destinies, that it never entered seriously into his imagination to make such an experiment. A vain, reckless, speculative politician, fancying himself to be a statesman, and more solicitous to obtain ephemeral popularity by the exhibition of some specious, glittering scheme, than to rest his hopes. of future fame upon the solid basis of his country's real and permanent interest, secured by moderation, and promoted by sagacious prescience, would probably have acted differently. Stimulated by the idle hope of coercing Great Britain to abandon her ancient colonial system, by empty menaces, and useless restrictions upon her trade, such a man might perhaps have been captivated by the spectacle existing in his own disordered imagination only, of elevating the commercial prosperity of one country, by depressing that of another. But fortunately for the United States, Washington was not such a man.
He had studied, and knew well, the character of the nation with which he had to deal, and had no conceit that loud-sounding threats