Front Page Titles (by Subject) GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS. - Albert Gallatin, The Writings of Albert Gallatin, vol. 2 
The Writings of Albert Gallatin, ed. Henry Adams (Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott, 1879). 3 vols.
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The text is in the public domain.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
GALLATIN TO J. Q. ADAMS.
Paris, 24th November, 1821.
Mr. Pasquier invited me to a new conference, which took place this morning.
After some explanations respecting the tenor of your proposition to Mr. de Neuville, and the quantity of tobacco which a vessel usually carries per ton in the trade with France, on both which points Mr. Pasquier acknowledged that he had been led into errors, and seemed to agree nearly with my statement, we came to the main question, that of the mutual reduction of the discriminating duties heretofore imposed by each country to which it might be possible to agree.
I said that if I had been intrusted with a discretionary power on that point, which was not, however, the case, I would not certainly have agreed to a higher rate than one-fourth part of the duties now existing; and he stated that, although willing to go farther than Mr. de Neuville had proposed, he could not instruct him to agree to so great a reduction. The discussion which ensued consisted in little more than a repetition of the facts and arguments heretofore urged on both sides.
Mr. Pasquier finally observed that if no agreement was made, France would recur to more efficient measures than those heretofore adopted for the purpose of securing to her navigation the importation of American products, and that her Act of Navigation, which has, it seems, never been repealed, would be enforced in order to exclude British and other foreign vessels from participating in that trade. I reminded him of what had already been so explicitly stated in my letter of the 15th of October last, that the difference now existing between French and American vessels, between American and European entrepôts, was already enormous; that it was hardly possible that it should be submitted to any longer by the United States; and that if it was either increased directly, or brought into practical operation by the exclusion of foreign vessels, measures would most undoubtedly be immediately adopted to counteract the plans of France, either by forbidding the exportation of cotton to American entrepôts and by increasing the tonnage duties on French vessels, or by other means as efficient.
As Mr. Pasquier agreed that if this was done, and if both countries carried to the utmost this species of commercial warfare, it must end in a complete annihilation of the commerce between them, I took the liberty to represent to him that this event, however it might affect the United States, would be far more injurious to France. I observed that if she consumed instead of repelling our grain and other provisions, which we had the means of raising to a much greater extent than there was demand for them, the loss of her market would be sensibly felt; but that she took of our produce only what was indispensable for her wants and manufactures, or for which we could always find another market. Having reduced her consumption of foreign tobacco to the smallest possible quantity, and to that which was indispensable to enable her to manufacture that of her own growth, she took of course only the strongest and most valuable qualities of ours, for which it was well known that there was no substitute anywhere else. France would either directly or indirectly purchase the same quantity of that article of our growth, whatever restrictive measures might be adopted with respect to navigation. As to potash, the whole quantity made everywhere was hardly equal to the demand, and was not susceptible of any increase. If France purchased that of the Baltic instead of ours, the only consequence would be that what we had been in the habit of selling to her would be sold to Great Britain or other countries. The same remark would apply with nearly the same force to our rice, and with this addition, that it was of a superior quality to that of the growth of any other country. And with respect to cotton, the great article of American importation in France, an article so much wanted that its consumption had, notwithstanding the obstacles to the commercial intercourse, considerably increased last year, where would she find a substitute? The whole of her system of spinning and manufacturing was founded on our cotton, and must be altered before the attempt was made. The supply from the Levant, already insignificant, must be still more reduced on account of the state of that country. The Brazil cotton, very valuable for some manufactures, could not replace ours in others without affecting the quality and increasing the price. From India alone could a large supply be obtained; and supposing that the French manufacturers should learn how to clean and spin the cotton of that part of the world, still, its inferiority to ours was acknowledged, and it could not be imported to advantage even by the nations who know how to use it, except when, on account of a bad crop in America or of an extraordinary demand in Europe, the cotton of the United States rose much above its average price; that is to say, when the French market was no longer wanted to consume the surplus of what we raised. It was, in a word, utterly impracticable for France to exclude that article without materially injuring her manufactures, both with respect to quality and price, without renouncing every expectation to compete abroad with Great Britain and other nations, and without increasing the contraband importation in France of British goods, which even now could not be prevented to a considerable amount. But if France could not exclude our produce, she could with great facility lessen by her measures the consumption of the products of her soil and industry in the United States. It was only gradually and with difficulty that the habit of French wines was introduced there. For her brandies substitutes could be found in Spain, in West India rum, and, above all, in the increased use of spirits distilled from our own superabundant supply of grain. The danger of our using China instead of French silk stuffs, the most valuable of the exports of France to the United States, was acknowledged; and even the English manufacturers of silk were on the eve of coming in competition with theirs in foreign markets. We now at least, and for the first time, consumed a considerable quantity of French produce and manufactures, and equal in value to the articles of our own growth consumed by France. If the interdiction of our navigation continued, this last amount would not be considerably lessened, whilst our consumption of French merchandise would naturally and necessarily almost entirely cease.
What effect these remarks may have produced it is impossible for me to say; and amongst the persons on whose advice the Ministry relies in this instance there are some who are not perhaps sufficiently acquainted with the subject to understand or foresee the consequences of the system they have recommended. I have urged every argument and stated every fact which appeared material, and do not expect that anything more will at this time pass between this government and me in that respect. Mr. Pasquier gave me to understand that he would immediately prepare his instructions to Mr. de Neuville, and send them probably by the way of England.
I have the honor, &c.