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short term. The Long Parliament was strongly against monopolies, but they would appear to have been essential in distant ventures.
The expansion of trade, the increase of bullion, the easier means of transport, the use of paper money and the advent of banking were leading under the later Stuarts to great jealousy of royal patents and monopolies, the complaint being made that the monopolist companies were making money for the individual and not for the State. In 1689 the granting of monopolies with the profit which attached to the power was transferred from the Crown to the politicians of the Parliament, from the fear of the King's tyranny to organized corruption. If the Crown still got anything, it came through the bribery that was mutual.
This Government regulation of trade was designed in the first instance for self-support. When the trade or manufacture, which it was desired should be self-supporting, was not naturally profitable, it had to be protected until it became so. The politicians of those days understood that commercial war could only be waged successfully by the country less dependent on supplies than its rivals. It was under this general system of aggressive protection that the immense commerce of the British Empire was built up in the eighteenth century, as American manufacture is being built up to-day. From a position of dangerous inferiority to the other maritime trading nations, Holland and France, Great Britain during the century leapt to the unquestioned supremacy which until recently she held over all the nations of Europe.
De Boislandry, manufacturer of muslins at Versailles, objecting in 1790 to prohibitory tariffs on the ground that commerce with nations other than those who pay in gold ceases if their products are refused, ascribes the invention of prohibitory tariffs to the English. They have pushed very far, he says, the theory and the practice. They have multiplied indefinitely the precautions against fraud. But the contraband, he says, serves England better than her prohibitions. Another French writer asserts that on account of the enormous amount of smuggling it was impossible to estimate the value of the French trade.
But at the close of the seventeenth century the commercial man, not tied to the interests of his country by the land, was
inclining to pursue wealth as an end in itself without regard to the community, regulating his relations to the political parties, who were squabbling over little or nothing, by what he could get from them for himself.
The English colonies were outside the new theories against State regulation. They were started by Chartered Companies under control of the Crown by licence and subordinate to the mother country. The African or Guinea Company had a monopoly of gold and slaves until the trade was thrown open in 1689 by the Declaration of Right. The colonists grumbled a great deal at this monopoly, asserting that it raised unduly the price of the black goods. This Company, like the East India Company, had to fight the interlopers, the Government being unable to make an effective settlement. From 1730 Parliament assisted them by an annual grant of £10,000. But although the trade was profitable the Company never succeeded. Great Britain is said, I believe truly, to have encouraged slavery in the Southern American colonies, to discourage the colonists from manufacturing against Great Britain, for it was feared that if they manufactured they would become independent, and that their tropical products would be lost to Great Britain. Realizing apparently that the negro was incapable of using machinery, they encouraged field crops and tropical or semi-tropical plants. Tobacco was first imported from the Spanish colonies by way of Spain until it was found possible to grow it in Virginia. Then it was strenuously protected against competition. The Dutch were at that time prominent in the slave trade. In 1620 a
a Dutch ship brought the first cargo of blacks to Virginia. The Charter to the New Netherlands in 1629 says that the Company will use their endeavours to supply the colonists with as many blacks as they conveniently can.
Owing to the Civil War in England and the want of the Navy which Charles I. was prevented from building by the Puritans, the Dutch had taken the trade with the English colonies and possessions, and were superior to the English at sea and at home. In 1632 they drove us out of Bantam and did great injury to our trade all over the world. The damage to the mother country was enormous," the trade of our English plantations in America being now," says an economic writer at the end of the seventeenth century, "of as great bulk and employing as much shipping as most of the trades of this kingdom.” Under such conditions, though Great Britain was to acquire supremacy later, the colonists were seriously considering the freedom of their plantations from the parent monopoly ; it is not long before " in plain truth the colonists had reached a stage when they resented all control.”
Meanwhile the views of the British on their relations with the colonies are very clearly defined. The only use, said Lord Sheffield, of colonies was the monopoly of what they consumed, and of the transport of their products by the mother country. Governor Pownall, very much later, a great supporter of the colonists in their revolutionary war, criticizing Adam Smith, said, “ so far as our colonies have to be considered as an institution established and directed to increase the naval force of our marine empire, and so far as that force derives in any degree from the operations of their commercial powers, so far that monopoly that engrafts them upon our internal establishment is indispensable, and ought never to be departed from or relaxed.” (Cunningham, Vol. II, p. 438.)
This is looking far ahead. But to go back a little, Sir Josiah Child sums up the position of the mother country and the colonies so fully that, were not our historians for the most part committed to the Whig George III. fiction, they could not fail to view honestly the economic causes of revolution. “ All Colonies and Plantations," says Child,“ do endamage their Mother Kingdoms, whereof the Trade of such Plantations are not confined by severe Laws to the Mother Kingdom.” “That the Dutch will reap the greatest advantage by all colonies issuing from any Kingdom of Europe whereof the Trades are not so strictly confined to the Mother Kingdom.” “That New England is the most prejudicial Plantation to the Kingdom of England."
“New England produces the same Commodities as in the old Country; the more southerly ones what we do not produce, such as Tobacco, Sugar, Cocoa, Wool, Ginger, sundry sorts of dyeing woods. They supply Fish, Meat, Bread, Beer, etc. to the West Indies and Southern Colonies to the prejudice of the Old Country. They export, in New England shipping, to Spain and other foreign countries the products of the Southern Plantations to our detriment, paying no duty. Their increase of shipping is dangerous to us.” The whole force of this can be appreciated only if you realize Great Britain as a backward country with few manufactures, depending for its progress
ly upon the increase of shipping, profit of transport, and heavy tariffs againste foreign or colonial manufacture. The idea that Colonial trade was hurtful or not helpful to the country meant that the home industries were injured by the foreign or colonial trade, and that the injury was not offset by the customs import duty paid.
The Northern Americans traded in fish and timber with the West Indies for rum and sugar and other tropical products, but the British Government objected to colonists buying from French planters, and in 1733 destroyed the trade by heavy duties. “ But as regards New England I must confess," says Child," that though we lose by their unlimited trade with our foreign plantations, yet we are very great gainers by their direct trade to and from Old England, our yearly export of English manufactures being ten times as great as the imports And therefore, whenever a Reformation of our Correspondency in trade with that people shall be thought on, it will in my poor judgment require great tenderness and very serious circumspection."
iv. The Navigation Acts. The most important of the means for enforcing monopoly in trade were the Navigation Acts, prohibiting the import and export of goods to and from England and its colonies, unless in ships built in England and manned by English crews.
Of the English Navigation Acts the theorist Adam Smith in the eighteenth century writes : “These laws were the wisest of all the commercial regulations of England.” As Mr. Huskisson in the nineteenth century points out, “they had a twofold object; first to create and maintain in this country a great commercial machine : secondly to prevent any other nation from engrossing too large a portion of the carrying trade of the world,” and he adds, speaking from the point of view of a seafaring people, that, “whenever the interests of commerce and navigation cannot be reconciled, the interests of commerce ought to give way and those of navigation to have the preference.”
Sir Josiah Child in the seventeenth century asserts that the Navigation Acts had occasioned the building and employing of three times the number of ships and seamen. They certainly helped to our supremacy over the Dutch at the end of that century. They were in accord with the basic principle of naval empire, the encouragement of merchant seamen with the tradition of sea adventure and its connection with the history of the British peoples.
These Navigation Acts were of value only in proportion to the shipping owned and the trade carried on by the country adopting them, and were dependent on command of the sea. They had been enacted from very early times. In 1651, the Navigation Act directed against our enemy the Dutch ordered that "no goods or commodities whatever of the growth production or manufacture of Asia, Africa or America, including our own plantations there should be imported into England or Ireland or any of the Plantations except in English-built ships, owned by English subjects, navigated by English commanders, and three fourths of the sailors Englishmen.” This resulted in war with Holland. Then in 1660 another Act was passed, intended to drive the Dutch from the Levantine trade and to help our fisheries by putting heavy duties on fish imported from Holland. This Act forbade direct trade between our colonies and foreign countries. Ricardo calculated that between 1660 and 1847 there had been passed 144 Acts of Parliament relating more or less to the navigation of British and foreign vessels. It would hardly be too much to say that Great Britain's development in seaborne commerce was the result of the Navigation laws and consequent increase of shipping and seamen for the mercantile navy in the eighteenth century.
At the beginning of the century the English shipping was 270,000 tons, in the middle of the century 600,000 tons, and at the end 1,600,000 tons. In 1815, it showed 1,660 ships with a tonnage of 2,029,637 and 127,740 seamen.
Child recites the objection made that “the inhabitants and planters of our plantations in America say that this Act will in time ruin their plantations, if they may not be permitted at least to carry their sugars to the best markets, and not compelled to send all to and receive all commodities from England.” His answer is that, if they were not kept to the rules of the Act