Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO EUSTIS, United States Minister at the Netherlands. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
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GALLATIN TO EUSTIS, United States Minister at the Netherlands. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
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GALLATIN TO EUSTIS, United States Minister at the Netherlands.
Paris, 9th October, 1817.
The long letter of Messrs. Goldberg and Vanderkemp of 30th September last would not seem, viewing its date, manner, or contents, to require any direct answer. But I agree with you that in order to prevent or correct erroneous impressions it is necessary that you should take notice of it in letter or conversation with Baron de Nagel. Almost every point had been discussed or explained in the conferences, and as what was said on the occasion, being in French, must be more within my recollection than yours, I will repeat in substance the explanations which were thus given.
On the subject of their complaints that our government had not repealed the discriminating duties when they had been repealed in the Netherlands, we observed that the nature of the application, said to have been made in 1815 by Mr. Ten Cate after the old recognition duty of Holland had been repealed, was unknown to us, but that we presumed that he had not been able to assure our government that all extra duties, general or local, were thus repealed in the Netherlands, and that with respect to the administrative measure by which American vessels were exempted from the extra tonnage duty laid by the law of October, 1816, as that fact could not have been known at Washington till after our appointment to treat on that very subject, our government must have necessarily waited for the result of the negotiations before they would act upon it. In reply to the remark that the Act of Congress of March, 1815, had not, in that instance, been carried into effect, it was observed that for the execution of the laws of the United States the President was answerable to his country, and not to any foreign nation; to which observation the Dutch plenipotentiaries acceded. When they alluded to our convention with Great Britain and to their right of being placed on the footing of the most favored nations, we stated that Holland in order to be entitled to the same privileges with Great Britain must give the same advantages, one of which was the admission in the East India possessions without equivalent. The two last observations were made only to repel the demand of the repeal of discriminating duties as a matter of right, and were accompanied by explicit declarations of the disposition of our government, either by treaty or otherwise, to treat Dutch vessels in the United States as favorably as American vessels were treated in the Netherlands.
The complaint that we had not extended the provisions of the treaty of 1782 to Louisiana is the more extraordinary, as not only had the proposal to make this one of the conditions of the new treaty come from ourselves, but we had with perfect candor explicitly stated to Messrs. Goldberg and Vanderkemp that, in point of fact, the Dutch vessels had, from the time when we had acquired Louisiana, been treated there as favorably as in any other part of the United States, and that, on account of our institutions, this would continue to be the case even if there was no new treaty. We told them at the same time that we knew that considerations of a similar nature would produce the same effect with respect to Belgium, and that we had no doubt that our vessels without any new stipulations would be admitted there on the same terms as in Holland.
We did not attempt to answer the arguments which in the conferences and in their official note the Dutch plenipotentiaries adduced to prove that the geographical situation of Holland forbade their agreeing to a repeal of the discriminating duties limited to the products and manufactures of the two countries. Presuming that they were the best judges of the interest of their country, we thought it sufficient to state on our part the reasons which prevented the United States from agreeing to the stipulation on that subject in the manner proposed by the Netherlands. It would have been more decorous in those gentlemen, particularly considering the date of their letter, to have pursued the same course, and not to have attempted to prove that their proposal would not produce the inequalities and inconveniences which we had stated. Their observations, besides, had been made, discussed, and refuted during the conferences. They had been told that the expense of inland transportation of German goods to Amsterdam had no connection whatever with the subject; that that expense was the same for the citizens of the United States or for the inhabitants of Holland; that the American merchant could not import the calicoes of Switzerland without paying that inland expense of transportation; that those goods delivered at Amsterdam cost the same price to both Americans or Dutchmen; and that, therefore, the merchants of Holland would be able, according to the proposed stipulation, to bring to the United States German goods exactly on the same terms as the American merchants, whilst, as we had clearly stated, the American merchants could not bring to Holland articles not the produce of the United States without paying a double freight, which the Dutch merchants were not compelled to pay, since they could import those articles directly from the place where they grew. We added that the only species of foreign merchandise which from particular circumstances we might, perhaps, be able to import in common times, though loaded with that double freight, were the tea and other products of China; and that those, tea-company or other similar internal regulations would interfere so as to prevent our sales. To the observation that in point of fact we did actually continue to import foreign articles in the Netherlands, we replied that this was owing to temporary circumstances, and that the whole negotiation was grounded on the expectation of a speedy revival of the maritime commerce of Holland; in which case circuitous importations never could be made on equal terms with direct ones.
When at the last conference the subject of lands owned by inhabitants of Holland in the United States was brought forward, we stated, 1st, that we considered that subject as belonging more immediately to the States’ authorities, and that the stipulations entered in some of our former treaties, which were no longer in force, had been found inconvenient, and had not been renewed; 2dly, that, by the general law of the land, aliens could not in the United States acquire or own land; that it was by virtue of certain special laws of the States of New York and Pennsylvania that aliens had been permitted to purchase, and that inhabitants of Holland had actually purchased, lands; that those laws were from the beginning expressly limited to a number of years, which had now expired; that the foreign purchasers knew that limitation when they made the purchase, and they were now precisely in the same situation as citizens of the United States, who could no more than the members of the Holland company sell the lands they owned to foreigners.
On a review of the letter of the 30th of September, I find that the only point which was not fully discussed, although it was once mentioned in the conferences, relates to our high duties on importations. I have not received a single document relative to the subject of a date subsequent to the peace. But my knowledge of details previous to the war and some general facts of a subsequent date enable me to say that neither can our duties, a few articles excepted, be considered as amounting to a prohibition, nor is the diminution of our consumption of some articles, the produce of Holland, to be principally ascribed to those duties. It is a notorious fact that, notwithstanding those duties, we consume, in proportion to our population, a greater quantity of foreign manufactures than any other nation. The duties received in 1816 have exceeded 36 millions of dollars. We have been overwhelmed with importations of foreign linens and cloth and cotton goods, to the destruction of many of our own new manufactures. If the linens and the cloth of the Netherlands have not been imported, it must certainly be due to other causes than the duties. Two articles which were mentioned in the conferences, madder and thread or silk laces, pay the lowest rate of duty,—7½ per cent. ad valorem. It would not be astonishing that the consumption of foreign cheese and spirits distilled from grain should have been lessened in America: it is more extraordinary that any should still be imported, considering the price of land, of cattle, and of rye and barley. If a sensible diminution has taken place, it is owing to the great improvements made during the last twenty years in the United States in the manufacture of cheese and of spirits. The consumption of Dutch cheese and gin is a mere matter of fancy and luxury, which is not much arrested by the duties; and I doubt altogether the assertion that it has been lessened. The fact certainly was not so a few years ago, before the decrees of Bonaparte and the orders in council interrupted the natural course of commerce. But it must be acknowledged that Holland has, in one respect, some right to complain, although the plenipotentiaries have not mentioned the fact in their letter. We have laid a duty of four to five cents more per gallon on spirits distilled from grain than on rum or brandy. This extra duty, which falls exclusively on Holland gin, is not wanted for the protection of our distilleries, and is doubly unjust, as the duty is specific, and gin is the cheapest of all spirits.
All this is for yourself. What objects your communication to Mr. de Nagel should embrace you are the best judge. But I think that it should be in writing, and that, whilst you animadvert on the manner and arguments of the last letter, it must not be forgotten that the maritime poverty of Holland does for the present give, in all negotiations, an advantage to its government over ours. They care but little for our extra duties, so long as one hundred American vessels visit their ports for one from the Netherlands that enters ours.
I have the honor, &c.