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were weak and mischievous; for it is notorious to every person connected with Jamaica, that the average price of pickled and dried fish, throughout the whole of that year was only from five to six dollars the barrel and quintal, and lumber and every other article at the same proportionate low rate*. In the intercourse, which the subjects of the United States maintain with their other allies, they are obliged to pay heavy duties on all tharticles they carry to, or bring from their West-India islands; although the want of such articles must be as great, if not greater, in those settlements, than in the British islands; it is also well known that the duties imposed on cargoes imported into the United States, in British ships, are very considerable; in no instance less than £15 per cent. ad valorem, and in many upwards of £30 per cent. If, then, this indulgence is continued, and the subjects of the United States are to be tolerated in their intercourse in their own vessels, with the British West-India islands, why not compel them to pay proportionate duties there? It is a tribute, which without hesitation or reluctance, they pay to other powers, and which they exact from British subjects in their own ports; it surely, therefore, ought on principles of reciprocity and justice, to be demanded from them in British ports, in case the impolitic relaxations of the ancient system are any longer to be continued. It may not be improper to observe that in some of the King's West-India settlements, there are tonnage and other island duties imposed on British ships resorting there, but from which it is stated American shipping have in many instances been exempted, † particularly those American vessels in which are imported articles allowed by Proclamation!
The great change which has taken place in the condition of the British North American colonies, since the indepen
though at the period alluded to many negroes died from the inclemency of the weather during the hurricanes, but not in very great numbers, as Mr. Jenkinson (now Earl Liverpool) stated in the debate on the intercourse, on the 17th February 1786. See also reports of board of trade, 1784 and 1791.
* Post, Appendix, Nos. 5 and 6.
+ See Appendix, p. 104, 106, which points out the necessity of requiring the governors of the West-India islands, to transmit annually to government, statements of the colonial duties imposed on the imports and exports of the islands, and on the shipping employed in that trade.
dence of the United States, renders part of the colonial system inapplicable to their present state, as they are more in contact with countries, which have become foreign to Great Britain, and have not only the facilities of interfering in their trade, which so obviously arise from similarity of manners and language, as well as proximity of situation; but also from a right by treaty of entering all their ports, bays, and harbours for the ostensible purpose of fishing*. These causes operating on the restricted state of the trade of the provinces, have brought the contraband trade with the United States to such a regular system, that the duties upon the exports of the United States, to foreign countries, which are drawn back in favour of their trade to all other places, are withheld on their exports to Canada, Nova-Scotia and New Brunswick; so little do they consider the British merchant as a successful competitor in this trade, that the consumer has the full duties of the United States added to the price of the foreign commodities, with which the provinces are supplied in a contraband way, and this is effected without the British merchant's being able to rival them in the articles of East-India and West-India productions, the manufactures of Great Britain and Ireland, foreign liquors, wines, oil, and fruit, which are supplied from the United States, in quantities sufficient to constitute a great part of the whole consumption of the King's provinces. On this trade, in addition to mercantile profits, and besides the advantage of the returns in fish, lumber, furs, feathers, butter, oil, plaister of Paris, and money, the government of the United States have the full amount of the duties, as well upon the articles exported, as upon most of those imported. Whilst the advantages of this contraband trade are so great, it is impossible for the most vigilant revenue officers in the provinces to do little more than enforce obedience to the law on the part of the honest trader, who is under such depressing circumstances deterred from actively pursuing and extending his commercial concerns.
To enable the fair trader to enter into competition with the contraband trader, by carrying the fish suited for the European market to the place of its consumption, it became desirable that he should be allowed to make the return of his fish cargo in other articles besides salt; which was the only article, prior to 1806, he was permitted to * See Appendix, Nos. 5, 6, and 7.
bring back: it was therefore suggested by an eminent character connected with the provinces, that it would be highly beneficial if the merchants could import wine, oil, and fruit, in addition to salt; that the trade would then become an object deserving their attention, as the salt alone would not produce, in point of value, an adequate return. That such indulgence would take from the merchants of the United States, the export of the fish of the British provinces, to the European market, on which they had the profit, and the government of that country, a duty of half a dollar per quintal, and enable the British merchants to supply the King's provinces with those articles of consumption, which were then principally furnished in a contraband way from the United States, and that it would also tend to revive the fish trade to Europe, which the British merchants in the colonies had been obliged to abandon.
It was further represented, that it was an indulgence to which the province of Nova Scotia had an additional claim under the resolution of the house of commons in 1775, when the necessity of the measure was not so obvious." Resolved, "That it is the opinion of this committee, that it will be ad"viseable to admit a direct importation into the province of "Nova Scotia by His Majesty's subjects, in ships and vessels
qualified by law, of all wines, oranges, lemons, currants "and raisins, the growth and produce of any foreign country "whatsoever, provided such wines, oranges, lemons, cur
rants and raisins, be imported directly from the place of "their growth and produce, and provided also that the said "commodities be not imported into any other part or place "within the said province, except the port of Halifax*.". This resolution originated in a petition from Nova Scotia, which created much debate and opposition, but was ultimately carried and a bill ordered to be brought in on the subject, but which does not appear to have been donet.
This suggestion, to a certain extent, was afterwards adopted, it being deemed expedient to depart in this instance, from a principal point of policy in our colonial system, that of confining to the mother country, the export of European articles for the supply of the colonies; but this was in an instance, where a colonial object could at the same time be greatly promoted, without injury to British Shipping or
*Commons Journal, vol. 35. p. 400, 467-16 Geo. 3. 1775.
British manufactures; indeed, it might be called an object of the mother country, as the benefits of the fishery, more than any other branch of colonial trade, seem to centre directly in this kingdom, especially those of the Newfoundland fisheries. In the distress occasioned to the British fisheries by the war in the countries of the Mediterranean, it was considered whether a depot of fish could not be made at Gibraltar and Malta, and the ancient markets supplied from stores laid up at those places. In projecting this new trade, it was seen, that not only a great easement would be given to the British fisheries, but great encouragement would be holden out to foreign purchasers, if the European produce required in the colonies could be shipped directly from those two places of resort. To authorise this, it was enacted by the statute 46 Geo. 3. c. 116, that fruit, wine, oil, salt, or cork, the produce of Europe, may be shipped at Malta, or Gibraltar, for exportation direct to the king's plantations in North America, in any British-built ship, navigated according to law, which shall arrive with the produce of those fisheries, taken and cured by His Majesty's subjects, carrying on the same from any of the said plantations, or from Great Britain or Ireland respectively.
The effect of this regulation, which is too limited, and should not have been confined to Malta and Gibraltar, cannot be felt during the present war; it is, however, proper to observe, that the return cargoes of European produce, are restricted to be carried in British shipping. This act passed soon after the American intercourse bill in 1806, and was introduced by the late ministers, who ought, in that instance, to have acted with the same patriotic and national feeling as they did in this case, and have confined the trade between the British West India islands and the United States to British shipping.
From various causes, the British North American fisheries have languished and declined; amongst them, the most prominent are those before stated; the improvident grants of islands in the bays to private individuals; and the impress of the men belonging to the fishing vessels.-The impress of the fishermen while employed in the fisheries and coasting trade, instead of adding to the naval strength of the empire, diminishes it, by inducing the fishermen to emigrate, whereby the nursery for seamen is destroyed, as the fisheries formerly furnished most of the seamen who navigated the British
merchant vessels in their intercourse with America, and who in that capacity were always liable to serve his Majesty.
The American trade and fishery to the coast of Labradore and Streights of Bellisle, employed in 1805, above nine hundred sail of vessels belonging to the United States; if they were prevented from trading and fishing in the harbours and rivers of that settlement, they would abandon it; as the sea fishery is not worth following, and the trade and fishery would then be engaged and occupied by British subjects, who at present are excluded from any share in it, by the superior numbers of the Americans, who seize on every station which is advantageously situated, and hold the same to the exclusion of British subjects, and this is even done under some of the improvident grants before referred to.
The Nova Scotia fishermen, thus excluded from the fishery of the gulph of St. Lawrence, by the subjects of the United States, have resorted to that part of the Newfoundland shore, which was formerly occupied by the French, where there are some advantageous stations; but they have been driven from thence by the officers of his Majesty's ships on the Newfoundland station imprudently impressing their
The encouragement by the legislature of the fish trade to Europe, and to the British West India islands; the prevention of the encroachments of the United States, on the islands in Passamaquoddy bay; the suppression of the contraband trade carried on there, and securing to British fishermen protection from the impress*, will revive a branch of trade in the British colonies, which is of the first importance to Great Britain, as a nursery for seamen, and which furnishes beyond any other, the most extended consumption of British.
* By the 41st Geo. 3. c. 21. s. 30. which was a temporary Act, persons employed in the fisheries were exempt from the impress, but which is not contained in the subsequent statutes, which continued some of the provisions of that Act; indeed statutable protections from the impress, have of late years (notwithstanding their importance as encouragement to persons to enter into the Merchants' service and fisheries) been too much disregarded, and the expence, trouble and vexation in the service of and in obtaining (by Habeas Corpus) the discharge of persons so protected, has been such, as not only to deter the owners and masters from applying for them, but likewise to discontinue taking apprentices as extensively as formerly. The costs of obtaining the writ of Habeas Corpus are inconsiderable; it is the subsequent charges, and the difficulty of service by the removal of the men from ship to ship, which constitute the great expence and inconvenience.