Front Page Titles (by Subject) 233.: To WILLIAM EDEN - Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
Return to Title Page for Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
Also in the Library:
233.: To WILLIAM EDEN - Adam Smith, Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence Vol. 6 Correspondence of Adam Smith 
Correspondence of Adam Smith, ed. E. C. Mossner and I. S. Ross, vol. VI of the Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1987).
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 Glasgow Edition of the Works and Correspondence of Adam Smith and the associated volumes are published in hardcover by Oxford University Press. The six titles of the Glasgow Edition, but not the associated volumes, are being published in softcover by Liberty Fund. The online edition is published by Liberty Fund under license from Oxford University Press.
©Oxford University Press 1976. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be stored transmitted retransmitted lent or reproduced in any form or medium without the permission of Oxford University Press.
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.
To WILLIAM EDEN1
Journal and Corr. of William, Lord Auckland (London, 1861), i. 64–6; Rae 385–6
Edinburgh, 15 Dec. 1783
If the Americans really mean to subject the goods of all different nations to the same duties, and to grant them the same indulgences, they set an example of good sense which all other nations ought to imitate. At any rate, it is certainly just that their goods, their naval stores for example, should be subjected to the same duties to which we subject those of Russia, Sweden and Denmark, and that we should treat them as they mean to treat us, and all other nations.
What degree of commercial connection we should allow between the remaining colonies, whether in North America or the West Indies, and the United States, may to some people appear a more difficult question. My own opinion is that it should be allowed to go on as before, and whatever inconveniences may result from this freedom may be remedied as they occur. The lumber and provisions of the United States are more necessary to our West India Islands, than the rum and sugar of the latter are to the former. Any interruption or restraint of commerce would hurt our loyal much more than our revolted subjects. Canada and Nova Scotia cannot justly be refused at least the same freedom of commerce which we grant to the United States.
I suspect the Americans do not mean what they say. I have seen a Revenue Act of South Carolina by which two shillings are laid upon every hundredweight of brown sugar imported from the British plantations, and only eighteen–pence upon that imported from any foreign colony. Upon every pound of refined sugar from the former one penny, from the latter one halfpenny. Upon every gallon of French wine, two–pence; of Spanish wine, three–pence; of Portuguese wine, four–pence.
I have little anxiety about what becomes of the American commerce. By an equality of treatment to all nations, we might soon open a commerce with the neighbouring nations of Europe infinitely more advantageous than that of so distant a country as America.2 This is an immense subject, upon which, when I wrote to you last,3 I intended to have sent you a letter of many sheets, but as I expect to see you in a few weeks, I shall not trouble you with so tedious a dissertation. I shall only say at present that every extraordinary either encouragement or discouragement that is given to the trade of any country more than to that of another, may, I think, be demonstrated to be in every case a complete piece of dupery, by which the interest of the State and the nation is constantly sacrificed to that of some particular class of traders. I heartily congratulate you upon the triumphant manner in which the East India Bill has been carried through the Lower House.4 I have no doubt of its passing through the Upper House in the same manner. The decisive judgment and resolution with which Mr Fox has introduced and supported that Bill does him the highest honour.
I ever am, with the greatest respect and esteem, dear Sir, your most affectionate and most obedient humble servant,
[1 ]See his Letters to . . . Carlisle (1779), for a defence of the Government’s policy on America, also Letter 203 addressed to William Eden dated 3 Jan. 1780.
[2 ]Shelburne and others had a vision of an Atlantic trading community as an answer to the economic problems arising from the loss of the American colonies.
[3 ]Not traced.
[4 ]Fox’s India Bill, drafted by Burke, was passed by the House of Commons in Nov. 1783. It sought to establish a measure of public control over the East India Co., but the Commissioners to be appointed were placemen and they were to be based in London. The King intervened and the Bill was defeated by the Lords. Fox went into Opposition and Pitt headed the Administration.