Front Page Titles (by Subject) CXC: THE INTEREST OF GREAT BRITAIN CONSIDERED, WITH REGARD TO HER COLONIES AND THE ACQUISITIONS OF CANADA AND GUADALOUPE 1 - The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763
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CXC: THE INTEREST OF GREAT BRITAIN CONSIDERED, WITH REGARD TO HER COLONIES AND THE ACQUISITIONS OF CANADA AND GUADALOUPE 1 - Benjamin Franklin, The Works of Benjamin Franklin, Vol. III Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763 
The Works of Benjamin Franklin, including the Private as well as the Official and Scientific Correspondence, together with the Unmutilated and Correct Version of the Autobiography, compiled and edited by John Bigelow (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1904). The Federal Edition in 12 volumes. Vol. III (Letters and Misc. Writings 1753-1763).
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THE INTEREST OF GREAT BRITAIN CONSIDERED, WITH REGARD TO HER COLONIES AND THE ACQUISITIONS OF CANADA AND GUADALOUPE1
I have perused with no small pleasure, the Letter Addressed to Two Great Men, and the Remarks on that letter. It is not merely from the beauty, the force, and perspicuity of expression, or the general elegance of manner, conspicuous in both pamphlets, that my pleasure chiefly arises; it is rather from this, that I have lived to see subjects of the greatest importance to this nation publicly discussed without party views or party heat, with decency and politeness, and with no other warmth than what a zeal for the honor and happiness of our King and country may inspire; and this by writers whose understanding, however they may differ from each other, appears not unequal to their candor and the uprightness of their intention.
But, as great abilities have not always the best information, there are, I apprehend, in the Remarks some opinions not well founded, and some mistakes of so important a nature, as to render a few observations on them necessary for the better information of the public.
The author of the Letter, who must be every way best able to support his own sentiments, will, I hope, excuse me, if I seem officiously to interfere; when he considers, that the spirit of patriotism, like other qualities good and bad, is catching, and that his long silence, since the Remarks appeared, has made us despair of seeing the subject farther discussed by his masterly hand. The ingenious and candid Remarker, too, who must have been misled himself, before he employed his skill and address to mislead others, will certainly, since he declares he aims at no seduction, be disposed to excuse even the weakest effort to prevent it.
And surely, if the general opinions that possess the minds of the people may possibly be of consequence in public affairs, it must be fit to set those opinions right. If there is danger, as the Remarker supposes, that “extravagant expectations” may embarass “a virtuous and able ministry,” and “render the negotiation for peace a work of infinite difficulty,”1 there is no less danger that expectations too low, through want of proper information, may have a contrary effect; may make even a virtuous and able ministry less anxious and less attentive to the obtaining points, in which the honor and interest of the nation are essentially concerned; and the people less hearty in supporting such a ministry and its measures.
The people of this nation are indeed respectable, not for their numbers only, but for their understanding and their public spirit. They manifest the first by their universal approbation of the late prudent and vigorous measures, and the confidence they so justly repose in a wise and good prince, and an honest and able administration; the latter they have demonstrated by the immense supplies granted in Parliament unanimously, and paid through the whole kingdom with cheerfulness. And since to this spirit and these supplies our “victories and successes”1 have, in great measure, been owing, is it quite right, is it generous, to say, with the Remarker, that the people “had no share in acquiring them”? The mere mob he cannot mean, even where he speaks of the madness of the people; for the madness of the mob must be too feeble and impotent, armed as the government of this country at present is, to “overrule,”2 even in the slightest instances, the virtue “and moderation” of a firm and steady ministry.
While the war continues, its final event is quite uncertain. The victorious of this year may be the vanquished of the next. It may therefore be too early to say, what advantages we ought absolutely to insist on, and make the sine quibus non of a peace. If the necessity of our affairs should oblige us to accept of terms less advantageous than our present successes seem to promise us, an intelligent people, as ours is, must see that necessity, and will acquiesce. But as a peace, when it is made, may be made hastily; and as the unhappy continuance of the war affords us time to consider, among several advantages gained or to be gained, which of them may be most for our interest to retain, if some and not all may possibly be retained, I do not blame the public disquisition of these points as premature or useless. Light often arises from a collision of opinions, as fire from flint and steel; and if we can obtain the benefit of the light, without danger from the heat sometimes produced by controversy, why should we discourage it?
Supposing then that Heaven may still continue to bless his Majesty’s arms, and that the event of this just war may put it in our power to retain some of our conquests at the making of a peace; let us consider:
The Security of a Dominion, a justifiable and prudent Ground upon which to demand Cessions from an Enemy.
Whether we are to confine ourselves to those possessions only that were “the objects for which we began the war.”1 This the Remarker seems to think right, when the question relates to “Canada, properly so-called; it having never been mentioned as one of those objects, in any of our memorials or declarations, or in any national or public act whatsoever.” But the gentleman himself will probably agree, that if the cession of Canada would be a real advantage to us, we may demand it under his second head, as an “indemnification for the charges incurred” in recovering our just rights; otherwise, according to his own principles, the demand of Guadaloupe can have no foundation. That “our claims before the war were large enough for possession and for security too,”1 though it seems a clear point with the ingenious Remarker, is, I own, not so with me. I am rather of the contrary opinion, and shall presently give my reasons.
But first let me observe that we did not make those claims because they were large enough for security, but because we could rightfully claim no more. Advantages gained in the course of this war may increase the extent of our rights. Our claims before the war contained some security; but that is no reason why we should neglect acquiring more when the demand of more is become reasonable. It may be reasonable in the case of America to ask for the security recommended by the author of the Letter,2 though it would be preposterous to do it in many cases. His proposed demand is founded on the little value of Canada to the French; the right we have to ask, and the power we may have to insist on, an indemnification for our expenses; the difficulty the French themselves will be under of restraining their restless subjects in America from encroaching on our limits and disturbing our trade; and the difficulty on our part of preventing encroachments that may possibly exist many years without coming to our knowledge.
But the Remarker “does not see why the arguments employed concerning a security for a peaceable behaviour in Canada would not be equally cogent for calling for the same security in Europe.”1 On a little farther reflection, he must, I think, be sensible that the circumstances of the two cases are widely different. Here we are separated by the best and clearest of boundaries, the ocean, and we have people in or near every part of our territory. Any attempt to encroach upon us by building a fort, even in the obscurest corner of these Islands, must therefore be known and prevented immediately. The aggressors also must be known, and the nation they belong to would be accountable for their aggression. In America it is quite otherwise. A vast wilderness, thinly or scarce at all peopled, conceals with ease the march of troops and workmen. Important passes may be seized within our limits, and forts built in a month, at a small expense, that may cost us an age and a million to remove. Dear experience has taught this. But what is still worse, the wide-extended forests between our settlements and theirs are inhabited by barbarous tribes of savages that delight in war, and take pride in murder; subjects properly neither of the French nor English, but strongly attached to the former by the art and indefatigable industry of priests, similarity of superstitions, and frequent family alliances. These are easily, and have been continually, instigated to fall upon and massacre our planters, even in times of full peace between the two crowns, to the certain diminution of our people and the contraction of our settlements.1 And though it is known they are supplied by the French, and carry their prisoners to them, we can, by complaining, obtain no redress, as the governors of Canada have a ready excuse, that the Indians are an independent people, over whom they have no power, and for whose actions they are, therefore, not accountable. Surely circumstances so widely different may reasonably authorize different demands of security in America from such as are usual or necessary in Europe.
The Remarker, however, thinks that our real dependence for keeping “France or any other nation true to her engagements must not be in demanding securities, which no nation whilst independent can give, but on our own strength and our own vigilance.”1 No nation that has carried on a war with disadvantage, and is unable to continue it, can be said under such circumstances to be independent; and, while either side thinks itself in a condition to demand an indemnification, there is no man in his senses but will, cæteris paribus, prefer an indemnification that is a cheaper and more effectual security than any other he can think of. Nations in this situation demand and cede countries by almost every treaty of peace that is made. The French part of the island of St. Christopher’s was added to Great Britain in circumstances altogether similar to those in which a few months may probably place the country of Canada. Farther security has always been deemed a motive with a conqueror to be less moderate; and even the vanquished insist upon security as a reason for demanding what they acknowledge they could not otherwise properly ask.
The security of the frontier of France on the side of the Netherlands was always considered in the negotiation that began at Gertrudenberg and ended with that war. For the same reason they demanded and had Cape Breton. But a war, concluded to the advantage of France, has always added something to the power, either of France or the House of Bourbon. Even that of 1733, which she commenced with declarations of her having no ambitious views, and which finished by a treaty at which the ministers of France repeatedly declared, that she desired nothing for herself, in effect gained for her Lorraine, an indemnification ten times the value of all her North American possessions.
In short, security and quiet of princes and states have ever been deemed sufficient reasons, when supported by power, for disposing of rights; and such dispositions have never been looked on as want of moderation. It has always been the foundation of the most general treaties. The security of Germany was the argument for yielding considerable possessions there to the Swedes; and the security of Europe divided the Spanish monarchy by the partition treaty, made between powers who had no other right to dispose of any part of it. There can be no cession, that is not supposed at least to increase the power of the party to whom it is made. It is enough that he has a right to ask it, and that he does it not merely to serve the purposes of a dangerous ambition.
Canada, in the hands of Britain, will endanger the kingdom of France as little as any other cession; and from its situation and circumstances cannot be hurtful to any other state. Rather, if peace be an advantage, this cession may be such to all Europe. The present war teaches us, that disputes arising in America may be an occasion of embroiling nations, who have no concerns there. If the French remain in Canada and Louisiana, fix the boundaries as you will between us and them, we must border on each other for more than fifteen hundred miles. The people that inhabit the frontiers are generally the refuse of both nations, often of the worst morals, and the least discretion; remote from the eye, the prudence, and the restraint of government. Injuries are therefore frequently, in some part or other of so long a frontier, committed on both sides, resentment provoked, the colonies are first engaged, and then the mother countries. And two great nations can scarce be at war in Europe, but some other prince or state thinks it a convenient opportunity to revive some ancient claim, seize some advantage, obtain some territory, or enlarge some power at the expense of a neighbour. The flames of war, once kindled, often spread far and wide, and the mischief is infinite. Happy it proved to both nations, that the Dutch were prevailed on finally to cede the New Netherlands (now the province of New York) to us at the peace of 1674; a peace that has ever since continued between us, but must have been frequently disturbed, if they had retained the possession of that country, bordering several hundred miles on our colonies of Pennsylvania westward, Connecticut and the Massachusetts eastward. Nor is it to be wondered at, that people of different language, religion, and manners, should in those remote parts engage in frequent quarrels, when we find that even the people of our own colonies have frequently been so exasperated against each other, in their disputes about boundaries, as to proceed to open violence and bloodshed.
Erecting Forts in the back Settlements, almost in no Instance a sufficient Security against the Indians and the French; but the Possession of Canada implies every Security, and ought to be had, while in our Power.
But the Remarker thinks we shall be sufficiently secure in America, if we “raise English forts at such passes as may at once make us respectable to the French and to the Indian nations.1 The security desirable in America may be considered as of three kinds: 1. A security of possession, that the French shall not drive us out of the country. 2. A security of our planters from the inroads of savages, and the murders committed by them. 3. A security that the British nation shall not be obliged, on every new war, to repeat the immense expense occasioned by this, to defend its possessions in America.
Forts in the most important passes may, I acknowledge, be of use to obtain the first kind of security; but, as those situations are far advanced beyond the inhabitants, the expense of maintaining and supplying the garrisons will be very great, even in time of full peace, and immense on every interruption of it; as it is easy for skulking parties of the enemy, in such long roads through the woods, to intercept and cut off our convoys, unless guarded continually by great bodies of men.
The second kind of security will not be obtained by such forts, unless they were connected by a wall like that of China, from one end of our settlements to the other. If the Indians, when at war, marched like the Europeans, with great armies, heavy cannon, baggage, and carriages; the passes through which alone such armies could penetrate our country, or receive their supplies, being secured, all might be sufficiently secure. But the case is widely different; they go to war, as they call it, in small parties; from fifty men down to five. Their hunting life has made them acquainted with the whole country, and scarce any part of it is impracticable to such a party. They can travel through the woods even by night, and know how to conceal their tracks. They pass easily between your forts undiscovered; and privately approach the settlements of your frontier inhabitants. They need no convoys of provisions to follow them; for whether they are shifting from place to place in the woods, or lying in wait for an opportunity to strike a blow, every thicket and every stream furnishes so small a number with sufficient subsistence. When they have surprised separately and murdered and scalped a dozen families, they are gone with inconceivable expedition through unknown ways; and it is very rare that pursuers have any chance of coming up with them. In short, long experience has taught our planters that they cannot rely upon forts as a security against Indians; the inhabitants of Hackney might as well rely upon the Tower of London, to secure them against highwaymen and housebreakers.
As to the third kind of security, that we shall not in a few years, have all we have done to do over again in America, and be obliged to employ the same number of troops and ships, at the same immense expense, to defend our possessions there, while we are in proportion weakened here; such forts, I think, cannot prevent this. During a peace, it is not to be doubted the French, who are adroit at fortifying, will likewise erect forts in the most advantageous places of the country we leave them; which will make it more difficult than ever to be reduced in case of another war. We know, by experience of this war, how extremely difficult it is to march an army through the American woods, with its necessary cannon and stores, sufficient to reduce a very slight fort. The accounts at the treasury will tell you what amazing sums we have necessarily spent in the expeditions against two very trifling forts, Duquesne and Crown Point. While the French retain their influence over the Indians, they can easily keep our long-extended frontier in continual alarm, by a very few of those people; and, with a small number of regulars and militia, in such a country, we find they can keep an army of ours in full employ for several years. We therefore shall not need to be told by our colonies, that if we leave Canada, however circumscribed, to the French, “we have done nothing”1 ; we shall soon be made sensible ourselves of this truth, and to our cost.
I would not be understood to deny, that even if we subdue and take Canada, some few forts may be of use to secure the goods of the traders, and protect the commerce, in case of any sudden misunderstanding with any tribe of Indians; but these forts will be best under the care of the colonies interested in the Indian trade, and garrisoned by their provincial forces, and at their own expense. Their own interest will then induce the American governments to take care of such forts in proportion to their importance, and see that the officers keep their corps full, and mind their duty. But any troops of ours placed there, and accountable here, would in such remote and obscure places, and at so great a distance from the eye and inspection of superiors, soon become of little consequence, even though the French were left in possession of Canada. If the four independent companies, maintained by the crown in New York more than forty years, at a great expense, consisted, for most part of the time, of faggots chiefly; if their officers enjoyed their places as sinecures, and were only, as a writer1 of that country styles them, a kind of military monks; if this was the state of troops posted in a populous country, where the imposition could not be so well concealed, what may we expect will be the case of those that shall be posted two, three, or four hundred miles from the inhabitants, in such obscure and remote places as Crown Point, Oswego, Duquesne, or Niagara? They would scarce be even faggots; they would dwindle to mere names upon paper, and appear nowhere but upon the muster-rolls.
Now all the kinds of security we have mentioned are obtained by subduing and retaining Canada. Our present possessions in America are secured; our planters will no longer be massacred by the Indians, who, depending absolutely on us for what are now become the necessaries of life to them (guns, powder, hatchets, knives, and clothing), and having no other Europeans near, that can either supply them, or instigate them against us, there is no doubt of their being always disposed, if we treat them with common justice, to live in perpetual peace with us. And, with regard to France, she cannot, in case of another war, put us to the immense expense of defending that long-extended frontier; we shall then, as it were, have our backs against a wall in America; the sea-coast will be easily protected by our superior naval power; and here “our own watchfulness and our own strength” will be properly, and cannot but be successfully, employed. In this situation, the force now employed in that part of the world may be spared for any other service here or elsewhere; so that both the offensive and defensive strength of the British empire, on the whole, will be greatly increased.
But to leave the French in possession of Canada, when it is in our power to remove them, and depend (as the Remarker proposes) on our own “strength and watchfulness”1 to prevent the mischiefs that may attend it, seems neither safe nor prudent. Happy as we now are, under the best of kings, and in the prospect of a succession promising every felicity a nation was ever blessed with; happy, too, in the wisdom and vigor of every part of the administration, we cannot, we ought not to promise ourselves the uninterrupted continuance of those blessings. The safety of a considerable part of the state, and the interest of the whole, are not to be trusted to the wisdom and vigor of future administrations, when a security is to be had more effectual, more constant, and much less expensive. They who can be moved by the apprehension of dangers so remote, as that of the future independence of our colonies (a point I shall hereafter consider), seem scarcely consistent with themselves, when they suppose we may rely on the wisdom and vigor of an administration for their safety. I should indeed think it less material whether Canada were ceded to us or not, if I had in view only the security of possession in our colonies. I entirely agree with the Remarker, that we are in North America, “a far greater continental as well as naval power,” and that only cowardice or ignorance can subject our colonies there to a French conquest. But, for the same reason, I disagree with him widely upon another point.
The Blood and Treasure spent in the American Wars, not spent in the Cause of the Colonies alone.
I do not think that our “blood and treasure have been expended,” as he intimates, “in the cause of the colonies,” and that we are “making conquests for them”1 ; yet I believe this is too common an error. I do not say they are altogether unconcerned in the event. The inhabitants of them are, in common with the other subjects of Great Britain, anxious for the glory of her crown, the extent of her power and commerce, the welfare and future repose of the whole British people. They could not, therefore, but take a large share in the affronts offered to Britain; and have been animated with a truly British spirit to exert themselves beyond their strength, and against their evident interest. Yet so unfortunate have they been, that their virtue has made against them; for upon no better foundation than this have they been supposed the authors of a war carried on for their advantage only.
It is a great mistake to imagine that the American country in question between Great Britain and France is claimed as the property of any individual or public body in America; or that the possession of it by Great Britain is likely, in any lucrative view, to redound at all to the advantage of any person there. On the other hand, the bulk of the inhabitants of North America are land-owners, whose lands are inferior in value to those of Britain, only by the want of an equal number of people. It is true, the accession of the large territory claimed before the war began (especially if that be secured by the possession of Canada), will tend to the increase of the British subjects, faster than if they had been confined within the mountains; yet the increase within the mountains only, would evidently make the comparative population equal to that of Great Britain, much sooner than it can be expected when our people are spread over a country six times as large. I think this is the only point of light in which this account is to be viewed, and is the only one in which any of the colonies are concerned.
No colony, no possessor of lands in any colony, therefore, wishes for conquests, or can be benefited by them, otherwise than as they may be a means of securing peace on their borders. No considerable advantage has resulted to the colonies by the conquests of this war, or can result from confirming them by the peace, but what they must enjoy in common with the rest of the British people; with this evident drawback from their share of these advantages, that they will necessarily lessen or at least prevent the increase of the value of what makes the principal part of their private property, their land. A people spread through the whole tract of country on this side the Mississippi, and secured by Canada in our hands, would probably for some centuries find employment in agriculture, and thereby free us at home effectually from our fears of American manufactures. Unprejudiced men well know, that all the penal and prohibitory laws that were ever thought on will not be sufficient to prevent manufactures in a country whose inhabitants surpass the number that can subsist by the husbandry of it. That this will be the case in America soon, if our people remain confined within the mountains, and almost as soon should it be unsafe for them to live beyond, though the country be ceded to us, no man acquainted with political and commercial history can doubt. Manufactures are founded in poverty. It is the multitude of poor without land in a country, and who must work for others at low wages or starve, that enables undertakers to carry on a manufacture, and afford it cheap enough to prevent the importation of the same kind from abroad, and to bear the expense of its own exportation.
But no man, who can have a piece of land of his own, sufficient by his labor to subsist his family in plenty, is poor enough to be a manufacturer, and work for a master. Hence, while there is land enough in America for our people, there can never be manufactures to any amount or value. It is a striking observation of a very able pen, that the natural livelihood of the thin inhabitants of a forest country is hunting; that of a greater number, pasturage; that of a middling population, agriculture; and that of the greatest, manufactures; which last must subsist the bulk of the people in a full country, or they must be subsisted by charity, or perish. The extended population, therefore, that is most advantageous to Great Britain, will be best effected, because only effectually secured, by the possession of Canada.
So far as the being of our present colonies in North America is concerned, I think indeed with the Remarker, that the French there are not “an enemy to be apprehended”1 ; but the expression is too vague to be applicable to the present, or indeed to any other case. Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, unequal as they are to this nation in power and numbers of people, are enemies to be still apprehended; and the Highlanders of Scotland have been so for many ages, by the greatest princes of Scotland and Britain. The wild Irish were able to give a great deal of disturbance even to Queen Elizabeth, and cost her more blood and treasure than her war with Spain. Canada, in the hands of France, has always stinted the growth of our colonies, in the course of this war, and indeed before it; has disturbed and vexed even the best and strongest of them; has found means to murder thousands of their people, and unsettle a great part of their country. Much more able will it be to starve the growth of an infant settlement. Canada has also found means to make this nation spend two or three millions a year in America; and a people, how small soever, that in their present situation can do this as often as we have a war with them, is, methinks, “an enemy to be apprehended.”
Our North American colonies are to be considered as the frontier of the British empire on that side. The frontier of any dominion being attacked, it becomes not merely “the cause” of the people immediately attacked, the inhabitants of that frontier, but properly “the cause” of the whole body. Where the frontier people owe and pay obedience, there they have a right to look for protection. No political proposition is better established than this. It is therefore invidious to represent the “blood and treasure” spent in this war as spent in “the cause of the colonies” only; and that they are “absurd and ungrateful,” if they think we have done nothing, unless we “make conquests for them,” and reduce Canada to gratify their “vain ambition,” &c. It will not be a conquest for them, nor gratify any vain ambition of theirs. It will be a conquest for the whole; and all our people will, in the increase of trade and the ease of taxes, find the advantage of it.
Should we be obliged at any time to make a war for the protection of our commerce, and to secure the exportation of our manufactures, would it be fair to represent such a war merely as blood and treasure spent in the cause of the weavers of Yorkshire, Norwich, or the West, the cuttlers of Sheffield, or the button-makers of Birmingham? I hope it will appear, before I end these sheets, that if ever there was a national war, this is truly such a one; a war in which the interest of the whole nation is directly and fundamentally concerned. Those who would be thought deeply skilled in human nature affect to discover self-interested views everywhere, at the bottom of the fairest, the most generous conduct. Suspicions and charges of this kind meet with ready reception and belief in the minds even of the multitude, and therefore less acuteness and address than the Remarker is possessed of would be sufficient to persuade the nation generally that all the zeal and spirit manifested and exerted by the colonies in this war was only in “their own cause,” to “make conquest for themselves,” to engage us to make more for them, to gratify their own “vain ambition.”
But should they now humbly address the mother country in the terms and the sentiments of the Remarker; return her their grateful acknowledgments for the blood and treasure she had spent in “their cause”; confess that enough had now been done “for them”; allow that “English forts, raised in proper passes, will, with the wisdom and vigor of her administration,” be a sufficient future protection; express their desires that their people may be confined within the mountains, lest, if they be suffered to spread and extend themselves in the fertile and pleasant country on the other side, they should “increase infinitely from all causes,” “live wholly on their own labor,” and become independent; beg, therefore, that the French may be suffered to remain in possession of Canada, as their neighbourhood may be useful to prevent our increase, and the removing them may “in its consequences be even dangerous”1 ;—I say, should such an address from the colonies make its appearance here (though, according to the Remarker, it would be a most just and reasonable one), would it not, might it not, with more justice be answered: “We understand you, Gentlemen, perfectly well; you have only your interest in view; you want to have the people confined within your present limits, that in a few years the lands you are possessed of may increase tenfold in value. You want to reduce the price of labor by increasing numbers on the same territory, that you may be able to set up manufactures and vie with your mother country. You would have your people kept in a body, that you may be more able to dispute the commands of the crown, and obtain an independency. You would have the French left in Canada to exercise your military virtue, and make you a warlike people, that you may have more confidence to embark in schemes of disobedience, and greater ability to support them. You have tasted, too, the sweets of two or three millions sterling per annum spent among you by our fleets and forces, and you are unwilling to be without a pretence for kindling up another war, and thereby occasioning a repetition of the same delightful doses. But, Gentlemen, allow us to understand our interest a little likewise; we shall remove the French from Canada, that you may live in peace, and we be no more drained by your quarrels. You shall have land enough to cultivate, that you may have neither necessity nor inclination to go into manufactures, and we will manufacture for you, and govern you.”
A reader of the Remarks may be apt to say: “If this writer would have us restore Canada on principles of moderation, how can we, consistent with those principles, retain Guadaloupe, which he represents of so much greater value?” I will endeavour to explain this; because, by doing it, I shall have an opportunity of showing the truth and good sense of the answer to the interested application I have just supposed. The author, then, is only apparently and not really inconsistent with himself. If we can obtain the credit of moderation by restoring Canada, it is well; but we should, however, restore it at all events; because it would not only be of no use to us, but “the possession of it (in his opinion) may in its consequences be dangerous.”1 As how? Why, plainly (at length it comes out), if the French are not left there to check the growth of our colonies, “they will extend themselves almost without bounds into inland parts, and increase infinitely from all causes; becoming a numerous, hardy, independent people; possessed of a strong country, communicating little or not at all with England, living wholly on their own labor, and in process of time knowing little and inquiring little about the mother country.”
In short, according to this writer, our present colonies are large enough and numerous enough; and the French ought to be left in North America to prevent their increase, lest they become not only useless, but dangerous to Britain. I agree with the gentleman, that, with Canada in our possession, our people in America will increase amazingly. I know that their common rate of increase, where they are not molested by the enemy, is doubling their numbers every twenty-five years, by natural generation only; exclusive of the accession of foreigners.1 I think this increase continuing would probably, in a century more, make the number of British subjects on that side the water more numerous than they now are on this; but,—
Not necessary that the American Colonies should cease being useful to the Mother Country. Their Preference over the West India Colonies stated.
—I am far from entertaining, on that account, any fears of their becoming either useless or dangerous to us; and I look on those fears to be merely imaginary and without any probable foundation. The Remarker is reserved in giving his reasons; as, in his opinion, this “is not a fit subject for discussion.” I shall give mine, because I conceive it a subject necessary to be discussed; and the rather, as those fears, how groundless and chimerical soever, may, by possessing the multitude, possibly induce the ablest ministry to conform to them against their own judgment; and thereby prevent the assuring to the British name and nation a stability and permanency, that no man acquainted with history durst have hoped for, till our American possessions opened the pleasing prospect.
The Remarker thinks that our people in America, “finding no check from Canada, would extend themselves almost without bounds into the inland parts, and increase infinitely from all causes.” The very reason he assigns for their so extending, and which is indeed the true one (their being “invited to it by the pleasantness, fertility, and plenty of the country”), may satisfy us that this extension will continue to proceed as long as there remains any pleasant, fertile country within their reach. And if we even suppose them confined by the waters of the Mississippi westward, and by those of St. Lawrence and the Lakes to the northward, yet still we shall leave them room enough to increase, even in the matter of settling now practised there, till they amount to perhaps a hundred millions of souls. This must take some centuries to fulfil; and in the mean time this nation must necessarily supply them with the manufactures they consume; because the new settlers will be employed in agriculture; and the new settlements will so continually draw off the spare hands from the old, that our present colonies will not, during the period we have mentioned, find themselves in a condition to manufacture, even for their own inhabitants, to any considerable degree, much less for those who are settling behind them.
Thus our trade must, till that country becomes as fully peopled as England (that is, for centuries to come), be continually increasing, and with it our naval power; because the ocean is between us and them, and our ships and seamen must increase as that trade increases.
The human body and the political differ in this: that the first is limited by nature to a certain stature, which, when attained, it cannot ordinarily exceed; the other, by better government and more prudent policy, as well as by the change of manners, and other circumstances, often takes fresh starts of growth, after being long at a stand, and may add tenfold to the dimensions it had for ages been confined to. The mother, being of full stature, is in a few years equalled by a growing daughter; but in the case of a mother-country and her colonies, it is quite different. The growth of the children tends to increase the growth of the mother, and so the difference and superiority are longer preserved. Were the inhabitants of this island limited to their present number by any thing in nature, or by unchangeable circumstances, the equality of population between the two countries might indeed sooner come to pass; but sure experience, in those parts of the island where manufactures have been introduced, teaches us that people increase and multiply in proportion as the means and facility of gaining a livelihood increase; and that this island, if they could be employed, is capable of supporting ten times the present number of people.
In proportion, therefore, as the demand increases for the manufactures of Britain, by the increase of people in her colonies, the number of her people at home will increase; and with them the strength as well as the wealth of the nation. For satisfaction in this point, let the reader compare in his mind the number and force of our present fleets with our fleet in Queen Elizabeth’s time,1 before we had colonies. Let him compare the ancient with the present state of our towns on or near our western coast (Manchester, Liverpool, Kendal, Lancaster, Glasgow, and the countries round them) that trade with any manufactures for our colonies (not to mention Leeds, Halifax, Sheffield, and Birmingham), and consider what a difference there is in the numbers of people, buildings, rents, and the value of land and of the produce of land; even if he goes back no farther than is within man’s memory. Let him compare those countries with others on the same island, where manufactures have not yet extended themselves; observe the present difference, and reflect how much greater our strength may be, if numbers give strength, when our manufactures shall occupy every part of the island where they can possibly be subsisted.
But, say the objectors, “there is a certain distance from the sea, in America, beyond which the expense of carriage will put a stop to the sale and consumption of your manufactures; and this, with the difficulty of making returns for them, will oblige the inhabitants to manufacture for themselves; of course, if you suffer your people to extend their settlements beyond that distance, your people become useless to you”; and this distance is limited by some to two hundred miles, by others to the Appalachian mountains.
Not to insist on a plain truth, that no part of a dominion from whence a government may on occasion draw supplies and aids both of men and money (though at too great a distance to be supplied with manufactures from some other part) is therefore to be deemed useless to the whole, I shall endeavour to show that these imaginary limits of utility, even in point of commerce, are much too narrow. The inland parts of the continent of Europe are farther from the sea than the limits of settlement proposed for America. Germany is full of tradesmen and artificers of all kinds, and the governments there, are not all of them always favorable to the commerce of Britain; yet it is a well-known fact, that our manufactures find their way even into the heart of Germany. Ask the great manufacturers and merchants of the Leeds, Sheffield, Birmingham, Manchester, and Norwich goods; and they will tell you that some of them send their riders frequently through France or Spain, and Italy, and up to Vienna, and back through the middle and northern parts of Germany, to show samples of their wares, and collect orders, which they receive by almost every mail to a vast amount. Whatever charges arise on the carriage of goods are added to the value, and all paid by the consumer.
If these nations, over whom we can have no government, over whose consumption we can have no influence but what arises from the cheapness and goodness of our wares, whose trade, manufactures, or commercial connexions are not subject to the control of our laws, as those of our colonies certainly are in some degree,—I say, if these nations purchase and consume such quantities of our goods, notwithstanding the remoteness of their situation from the sea, how much less likely is it that the settlers in America, who must for ages be employed in agriculture chiefly, should make cheaper for themselves the goods our manufacturers at present supply them with, even if we suppose the carriage five, six, or seven hundred miles from the sea as difficult and expensive as the like distance into Germany, whereas in the latter the natural distances are frequently doubled by political obstructions — I mean the intermixed territories and clashing interests of princes.1
But when we consider that the inland parts of America are penetrated by great navigable rivers, and there are a number of great lakes, communicating with each other, with those rivers, and with the sea, very small portages here and there excepted2 ; that the sea-coasts (if one may be allowed the expression) of those lakes only amount at least to two thousand seven hundred miles, exclusive of the rivers running into them, many of which are navigable to a great extent for boats and canoes, through vast tracts of country;—how little likely is it that the expense on the carriage of our goods into those countries should prevent the use of them. If the poor Indians in those remote parts are now able to pay for the linen, woollen, and iron wares they are at present furnished with by the French and English traders, though Indians have nothing but what they get by hunting, and the goods are loaded with all the impositions fraud and knavery can contrive to enhance their value, will not industrious English farmers, hereafter settled in those countries, be much better able to pay for what shall be brought them in the way of fair commerce?
If it is asked, What can such farmers raise, wherewith to pay for the manufactures they may want from us? I answer, that the inland parts of America in question are well known to be fitted for the production of hemp, flax, potash, and, above all, silk; the southern parts may produce olive oil, raisins, currants, indigo, and cochineal; not to mention horses and black cattle, which may easily be driven to the maritime markets, and at the same time assist in conveying other commodities. That the commodities first mentioned may easily, by water and land carriage, be brought to the sea-ports from interior America, will not seem incredible, when we reflect that hemp formerly came from the Ukraine, the most southern parts of Russia, to Wologda, and down the Dwina to Archangel; and hence, by a perilous navigation, round the North Cape to England and other parts of Europe. It now comes from the same country up the Dnieper, and down the Duna, with much land-carriage. Great part of the Russian iron, no high-priced commodity, is brought three hundred miles by land and water from the heart of Siberia. Furs (the produce too of America) are brought to Amsterdam from all parts of Siberia, even the most remote—Kamtschatka. The same country furnishes me with another instance of extended inland commerce.
It is found worth while to keep up a mercantile communication between Pekin in China and Petersburg. And none of these instances of inland commerce exceed those of the courses by which, at several periods, the whole of the trade of the East was carried on. Before the prosperity of the Mameluke dominion in Egypt fixed the staple for the riches of the East at Cairo and Alexandria (whither they were brought from the Red Sea), great part of those commodities were carried to the cities of Cashgar and Balk. This gave birth to those towns, that still subsist upon the remains of their ancient opulence, amidst a people and country equally wild. From thence those goods were carried down the Amû (the ancient Oxus) to the Caspian Sea, and up the Wolga to Astrachan; from whence they were carried over to and down the Don, to the mouth of that river; and thence again the Venetians directly, and the Genoese and Venetians indirectly, by way of Kaffa and Trebisond, dispersed them through the Mediterranean and some other parts of Europe.
Another part of those goods was carried over land from the Wolga to the rivers Duna and Neva; from both they were carried to the city by Wisbuy in the Baltic (so eminent for its sea-laws); and from the city of Ladoga on the Neva, we are told, they were even carried by the Dwina to Archangel; and from thence round the North Cape. If iron and hemp will bear the charge of carriage from this inland country, other metals will, as well as iron; and certainly silk, since three pence per pound is not above one per cent. on the value, and amounts to twenty-eight pounds per ton. If the growths of a country find their way out of it, the manufactures of the country where they go will infallibly find their way into it.
They who understand the economy and principles of manufactures, know that it is impossible to establish them in places not populous; and, even in those that are populous, hardly possible to establish them to the prejudice of the places already in possession of them. Several attempts have been made in France and Spain, countenanced by government, to draw from us, and establish in those countries, our hardware and woollen manufactures, but without success.
The reasons are various. A manufacture is part of a great system of commerce, which takes in conveniences of various kinds: methods of providing materials of all sorts, machines for expediting and facilitating labor, all the channels of correspondence for vending the wares, the credit and confidence necessary to found and support this correspondence, the mutual aid of different artisans, and a thousand other particulars which time and long experience have gradually established. A part of such a system cannot support itself without the whole; and before the whole can be obtained the part perishes. Manufactures, where they are in perfection, are carried on by multiplicity of hands, each of which is expert only in his own part; no one of them a master of the whole; and, if by any means spirited away to a foreign country, he is lost without his fellows. Then it is a matter of the extremest difficulty to persuade a complete set of workmen, skilled in all parts of a manufactory, to leave their country together, and settle in a foreign land. Some of the idle and drunken may be enticed away; but these only disappoint their employers, and serve to discourage the undertaking. If by royal munificence, and an expense that the profits of the trade alone would not bear, a complete set of good and skilful hands are collected and carried over, they find so much of the system imperfect, so many things wanting to carry on the trade to advantage, so many difficulties to overcome, and the knot of hands so easily broken by death, dissatisfaction, and desertion, that they and their employers are discouraged together, and the project vanishes into smoke.
Hence it happens that established manufactures are hardly ever lost, but by foreign conquest, or by some eminent interior fault in manners or government—a bad police oppressing and discouraging the workmen, or religious persecutions driving the sober and industrious out of the country. There is, in short, scarce a single instance in history of the contrary, where manufactures have once taken firm root. They sometimes start up in a new place; but are generally supported, like exotic plants, at more expense than they are worth for any thing but curiosity, until these new seats become the refuge of the manufacturers driven from the old ones.
The conquest of Constantinople, and final reduction of the Greek empire, dispersed many curious manufacturers into different parts of Christendom. The former conquests of its provinces had before done the same. The loss of liberty in Verona, Milan, Florence, Pisa, Pistoia, and other great cities of Italy, drove the manufacturers of woollen cloths into Spain and Flanders. The latter first lost their trade and manufactures to Antwerp and the cities of Brabant; from whence, by persecution for religion, they were sent into Holland and England; while the civil wars, during the minority of Charles the First of Spain, which ended in the loss of the liberty of their great towns, ended too in the loss of the manufactures of Toledo, Segovia, Salamanca, Medina del Compo, &c. The revocation of the Edict of Nantz communicated to all the Protestant part of Europe the paper, silk, and other valuable manufactures of France, almost peculiar at that time to that country, and till then in vain attempted elsewhere.
To be convinced, that it is not soil and climate, nor even freedom from taxes, that determines the residence of manufactures, we need only turn our eyes on Holland, where a multitude of manufactures are still carried on, perhaps more than on the same extent of territory anywhere in Europe, and sold on terms upon which they cannot be had in any other part of the world. And this too is true of those growths which by their nature and the labor required to raise them come the nearest to manufactures.
As to the commonplace objection to the North American settlements, that they are in the same climate, and their produce the same, as that of England. In the first place, it is not true; it is particularly not so of the countries now likely to be added to our settlements; and of our present colonies, the products—lumber, tobacco, rice, and indigo, great articles of commerce—do not interfere with the products of England. In the next place, a man must know very little of the trade of the world, who does not know that the greater part of it is carried on between countries whose climates differ very little. Even the trade between the different parts of these British Islands is greatly superior to that between England and all the West India Islands put together.
If I have been successful in proving that a considerable commerce may and will subsist between us and our future most inland settlements in North America, notwithstanding their distance, I have more than half proved that no other inconveniency will arise from their distance. Many men in such a country must “know,” must “think,” and must “care” about the country they chiefly trade with. The juridical and other connexions of government are yet a faster hold than even commercial ties, and spread, directly and indirectly, far and wide. Business to be solicited and causes depending create a great intercourse, even where private property is not divided in different countries; yet this division will always subsist where different countries are ruled by the same government. Where a man has landed property both in the mother country and the province, he will almost always live in the mother country. This, though there were no trade, is singly a sufficient gain. It is said that Ireland pays near a million sterling annually to its absentees in England. The balance of trade from Spain, or even Portugal, is scarcely equal to this.
Let it not be said we have no absentees from North America. There are many, to the writer’s knowledge; and if there are at present but few of them that distinguish themselves here by great expense, it is owing to the mediocrity of fortune among the inhabitants of the northern colonies, and a more equal division of landed property than in the West India Islands, so that there are as yet but few large estates. But if those who have such estates reside upon and take care of them themselves, are they worse subjects than they would be if they lived idly in England?
Great merit is assumed for the gentlemen of the West Indies,1 on the score of their residing and spending their money in England. I would not depreciate that merit,—it is considerable; for they might, if they pleased, spend their money in France; but the difference between their spending it here and at home is not so great. What do they spend it in when they are here, but the produce and manufactures of this country? and would they not do the same if they were at home? Is it of any great importance to the English farmer, whether the West India gentleman comes to London and eats his beef, pork, and tongues, fresh, or has them brought to him in the West Indies, salted? Whether he eats his English cheese and butter, or drinks his English ale, at London or in Barbadoes? Is the clothier’s, or the mercer’s, or the cutler’s, or the toyman’s profit less, for their goods being worn and consumed by the same persons residing on the other side of the ocean? Would not the profits of the merchant and mariner be rather greater, and some addition made to our navigation, ships, and seamen? If the North American gentleman stays in his own country, and lives there in that degree of luxury and expense, with regard to the use of British manufactures, that his fortune enables him to do, may not his example, from the imitation of superiors so natural to mankind spread the use of those manufactures among hundreds of families around him, and occasion a much greater demand for them than it would do if he should remove and live in London?
However this may be, if, in our views of immediate advantage, it seems preferable that the gentlemen of large fortunes in North America should reside much in England, it is what may surely be expected as fast as such fortunes are acquired there. Their having “colleges of their own for the education of their youth,” will not prevent it. A little knowledge and learning acquired increases the appetite for more, and will make the conversation of the learned on this side the water more strongly desired. Ireland has its university likewise; yet this does not prevent the immense pecuniary benefit we receive from that kingdom. And there will always be, in the conveniences of life, the politeness, the pleasures, the magnificence of the reigning country, many other attractions besides those of learning, to draw men of substance there, where they can, apparently at least, have the best bargain of happiness for their money.
Our trade to the West India Islands is undoubtedly a valuable one; but whatever is the amount of it, it has long been at a stand. Limited as our sugar planters are by the scantiness of territory, they cannot increase much beyond their present number; and this is an evil, as I shall show hereafter, that will be little helped by our keeping Guadaloupe.
The trade to our northern colonies is not only greater, but yearly increasing with the increase of the people; and even in a greater proportion, as the people increase in wealth and the ability of spending, as well as in numbers.1 I have already said, that our people in the northern colonies double in about twenty-five years, exclusive of the accession of strangers. That I speak within bounds, I appeal to the authentic accounts frequently required by the Board of Trade, and transmitted to that Board by the respective governors; of which accounts I shall select one as a sample, being that from the colony of Rhode Island1 ; a colony that of all the others receives the least addition from strangers. For the increase of our trade to those colonies, I refer to the accounts frequently laid before Parliament by the officers of the customs, and to the custom-house books; from which I have also selected one account, that of the trade from England, exclusive of Scotland, to Pennsylvania1 ; a colony most remarkable for the plain, frugal manner of living of its inhabitants, and the most suspected of carrying on manufactures, on account of the number of German artisans who are known to have transplanted themselves into that country; though even these, in truth, when they come there, generally apply themselves to agriculture, as the surest support and most advantageous employment.
By this account it appears, that the exports to that province have, in twenty-eight years, increased nearly in the proportion of seventeen to one; whereas the people themselves, who by other authentic accounts appear to double their numbers (the strangers who settle there included) in about sixteen years, cannot in the twenty-eight years have increased in a greater proportion than as four to one. The additional demand, then, and consumption of goods from England, of thirteen parts in seventeen, more than the additional number would require, must be owing to this: that the people, having by their industry mended their circumstances, are enabled to indulge themselves in finer clothes, better furniture, and a more general use of all our manufactures than heretofore.
In fact, the occasion for English goods in North America, and the inclination to have and use them, is, and must be for ages to come, much greater than the ability of the people to pay for them; they must therefore, as they now do, deny themselves many things they would otherwise choose to have, or increase their industry to obtain them. And thus, if they should at any time manufacture some coarse article, which, on account of its bulk or some other circumstance, cannot so well be brought to them from Britain, it only enables them the better to pay for finer goods, that otherwise they could not indulge themselves in; so that the exports thither are not diminished by such manufacture, but rather increased. The single article of manufacture in these colonies, mentioned by the Remarker, is hats made in New England. It is true, there have been, ever since the first settlement of that country, a few hatters there, drawn thither probably at first by the facility of getting beaver, while the woods were but little cleared, and there was plenty of those animals. The case is greatly altered now. The beaver skins are not now to be had in New England, but from very remote places and at great prices. The trade is accordingly declining there; so that, far from being able to make hats in any quantity for exportation, they cannot supply their own home demand; and it is well known that some thousand dozens are sent thither yearly from London, Bristol, and Liverpool, and sold cheaper than the inhabitants can make them of equal goodness.
In fact, the colonies are so little suited for establishing of manufacture, that they are continually losing the few branches they accidentally gain. The working braziers, cutlers, and pewterers, as well as hatters, who have happened to go over from time to time and settle in the colonies, gradually drop the working part of their business, and import their respective goods from England, whence they can have them cheaper and better than they can make them. They continue their shops indeed, in the same way of dealing; but become sellers of braziery, cutlery, pewter, hats, &c., brought from England, instead of being makers of those goods.
The American Colonies not dangerous in their Nature to Great Britain.
Thus much as to the apprehension of our colonies becoming useless to us. I shall next consider the other supposition, that their growth may render them dangerous. Of this, I own, I have not the least conception, when I consider that we have already fourteen separate governments on the maritime coast of the continent; and, if we extend our settlements, shall probably have as many more behind them on the inland side. Those we now have are not only under different governors, but have different forms of government, different laws, different interests, and some of them different religious persuasions and different manners.
Their jealousy of each other is so great, that however necessary a union of the colonies has long been, for their common defence and security against their enemies, and how sensible soever each colony has been of that necessity, yet they have never been able to effect such a union among themselves, nor even to agree in requesting the mother country to establish it for them. Nothing but the immediate command of the crown has been able to produce even the imperfect union, but lately seen there, of the forces of some colonies. If they could not agree to unite for their defence against the French and Indians, who were perpetually harassing their settlements, burning their villages, and murdering their people, can it reasonably be supposed there is any danger of their uniting against their own nation, which protects and encourages them, with which they have so many connexions and ties of blood, interest, and affection, and which, it is well known, they all love much more than they love one another?
In short, there are so many causes that must operate to prevent it, that I will venture to say a union amongst them for such a purpose is not merely improbable, it is impossible. And if the union of the whole is impossible, the attempt of a part must be madness, as those colonies that did not join the rebellion would join the mother country in suppressing it. When I say such a union is impossible, I mean without the most grievous tyranny and oppression. People who have property in a country which they may lose, and privileges which they may endanger, are generally disposed to be quiet, and even to bear much, rather than hazard all. While the government is mild and just, while important civil and religious rights are secure, such subjects will be dutiful and obedient. The waves do not rise but when the winds blow.
What such an administration as the Duke of Alva’s in the Netherlands might produce, I know not; but this, I think, I have a right to deem impossible. And yet there were two very manifest differences between that case and ours; and both are in our favor. The first, that Spain had already united the seventeen provinces under one visible government, though the States continued independent; the second, that the inhabitants of those provinces were of a nation, not only different from, but utterly unlike the Spaniards. Had the Netherlands been peopled from Spain, the worst of oppression had probably not provoked them to wish a separation of government. It might, and probably would, have ruined the country; but never would have produced an independent sovereignty. In fact, neither the very worst of governments, the worst of politics in the last century, nor the total abolition of their remaining liberty, in the provinces of Spain itself, in the present, have produced any independency in Spain that could be supported. The same may be observed of France.
And let it not be said that the neighbourhood of these to the seat of government has prevented a separation. While our strength at sea continues, the banks of the Ohio, in point of easy and expeditious conveyance of troops, are nearer to London than the remote parts of France and Spain to their respective capitals, and much nearer than Connaught and Ulster were in the days of Queen Elizabeth. Nobody foretells the dissolution of the Russian monarchy from its extent; yet I will venture to say the eastern parts of it are already much more inaccessible from Petersburg than the country on the Mississippi is from London,—I mean, more men, in less time, might be conveyed to the latter than the former distance. The rivers Oby, Jenessa, and Lena do not facilitate the communication half so well by their course, nor are they half so practicable as the American rivers. To this I shall only add the observation of Machiavel, in his Prince: that a government seldom long preserves its dominion over those who are foreigners to it; who, on the other hand, fall with great ease, and continue inseparably annexed to the government of their own nation; which he proves by the fate of the English conquests in France. Yet with all these disadvantages, so difficult is it to overturn an established government, that it was not without the assistance of France and England that the United Provinces supported themselves; which teaches us that—
The French remaining in Canada, an Encouragement to Disaffections in the British Colonies. If they prove a Check, that Check of the most barbarous Nature—
if the visionary danger of independence in our colonies is to be feared, nothing is more likely to render it substantial than the neighbourhood of foreigners at enmity with the sovereign governments, capable of giving either aid,1 or an asylum, as the event shall require. Yet against even these disadvantages, did Spain preserve almost ten provinces merely through their want of union; which, indeed, could never have taken place among the others, but for causes, some of which are in our case impossible, and others it is impious to suppose possible.
The Romans well understood that policy, which teaches the security arising to the chief government from separate States among the governed, when they restored the liberties of the States of Greece (oppressed but united under Macedon) by an edict that every State should live under its own laws.1 They did not even name a governor. Independence of each other and separate interests (though among a people united by common manners, language, and I may say religion; inferior neither in wisdom, bravery, nor their love of liberty to the Romans themselves) were all the security the sovereigns wished for their sovereignty.
It is true, they did not call themselves sovereigns; they set no value on the title; they were contented with possessing the thing. And possess it they did, even without a standing army. What can be a stronger proof of the security of their possession? And yet, by a policy similar to this throughout, was the Roman world subdued and held, a world composed of above a hundred languages and sets of manners, different from those of their masters.2 Yet this dominion was unshakable, till the loss of liberty and corruption of manners in the sovereign State overturned it.
But what is the prudent policy inculcated by the Remarker to obtain this end—security of dominion over our colonies? It is, to leave the French in Canada to “check” their growth; for otherwise, our people may “increase infinitely from all causes.”1 We have already seen in what manner the French and their Indians check the growth of our colonies. It is a modest word, this check, for massacring men, women, and children! The writer would, if he could, hide from himself, as well as from the public, the horror arising from such a proposal, by couching it in general terms. It is no wonder he thought it a “subject not fit for discussion” in his letter, though he recommends it as “a point that should be the constant object of the minister’s attention!”
But if Canada is restored on this principle, will not Britain be guilty of all the blood to be shed, all the murders to be committed, in order to check this dreaded growth of our own people? Will not this be telling the French in plain terms, that the horrid barbarities they perpetrate with Indians on our colonists are agreeable to us; and that they need not apprehend the resentment of a government with whose views they so happily concur? Will not the colonies view it in this light? Will they have reason to consider themselves any longer as subjects and children, when they find their cruel enemies hallooed upon them by the country from whence they sprung; the government that owes them protection, as it requires their obedience? Is not this the most likely means of driving them into the arms of the French, who can invite them by an offer of security their own government chooses not to afford them? I would not be thought to insinuate that the Remarker wants humanity. I know how little many good-natured persons are affected by the distresses of people at a distance, and whom they do not know. There are even those who, being present, can sympathize sincerely with the grief of a lady on the sudden death of a favorite bird, and yet can read of the sinking of a city in Syria with very little concern.
If it be, after all, thought necessary to check the growth of our colonies, give me leave to propose a method less cruel. It is a method of which we have an example in Scripture. The murder of husbands, of wives, of brothers, sisters, and children, whose pleasing society has been for some time enjoyed, affects deeply the respective surviving relations; but grief for the death of a child just born is short and easily supported. The method I mean is that which was dictated by the Egyptian policy, when the “infinite increase” of the children of Israel was apprehended as dangerous to the State.1 Let an act of Parliament then be made, enjoining the colony midwives to stifle in the birth every third or fourth child. By this means you may keep the colonies to their present size. And if they were under the hard alternative of submitting to one or the other of these schemes for checking their growth, I dare answer for them, they would prefer the latter.
But all the debate about the propriety or impropriety of keeping or restoring Canada is possibly too early. We have taken the capital indeed, but the country is yet far from being in our possession; and perhaps never will be; for, if our ministers are persuaded by such counsellors as the Remarker, that the French there are “not the worst of neighbours,” and that, if we had conquered Canada, we ought, for our own sakes, to restore it, as a check to the growth of our colonies, I am then afraid we shall never take it. For there are many ways of avoiding the completion of the conquest, that will be less exceptionable and less odious than the giving it up.
Canada easily peopled without draining Great Britain of any of its Inhabitants.
The objection I have often heard, that, if we had Canada, we could not people it without draining Britain of its inhabitants, is founded on ignorance of the nature of population in new countries. When we first began to colonize in America, it was necessary to send people, and to send seed-corn; but it is not now necessary that we should furnish, for a new colony, either the one or the other. The annual increment alone of our present colonies, without diminishing their numbers, or requiring a man from hence, is sufficient in ten years to fill Canada with double the number of English that it now has of French inhabitants.1 Those who are Protestants among the French will probably choose to remain under the English government; many will choose to remove, if they can be allowed to sell their lands, improvements, and effects; the rest in that thin-settled country will in less than half a century, from the crowds of English settling round and among them, be blended and incorporated with our people both in language and manners.
The Merits of Guadaloupe to Great Britain overvalued, yet likely to be paid much dearer for, than Canada.
In Guadaloupe the case is somewhat different; and though I am far from thinking2 we have sugar-land enough,3 I cannot think Guadaloupe is so desirable an increase of it, as other objects the enemy would probably be infinitely more ready to part with. A country, fully inhabited by any nation, is no proper possession for another of different languages, manners, and religion. It is hardly ever tenable at less expense than it is worth. But the isle of Cayenne, and its appendix, Equinoctial France, having but very few inhabitants, and these therefore easily removed, would indeed be an acquisition every way suitable to our situation and desires. This would hold all that migrate from Barbadoes, the Leeward Islands, or Jamaica. It would certainly recall into an English government, in which there would be room for millions, all who have before settled or purchased in Martinico, Guadaloupe, Santa Cruz, or St. John’s; except such as know not the value of an English government, and such I am sure are not worth recalling.
But should we keep Guadaloupe, we are told it would enable us to export £300,000 in sugars. Admit it to be true, though perhaps the amazing increase of English consumption might stop most of it here, to whose profit is this to redound? To the profit of the French inhabitants of the island; except a small part, that should fall to the share of the English purchasers, but whose whole purchase-money must first be added to the wealth and circulation of France. I grant, however, much of this £300,000 would be expended in British manufactures. Perhaps, too, a few of the land-owners of Guadaloupe might dwell and spend their fortunes in Britain, though probably much fewer than of the inhabitants of North America. I admit the advantage arising to us from these circumstances, as far as they go, in the case of Guadaloupe, as well as in that of our other West India settlements. Yet even this consumption is little better than that of an allied nation would be, who should take our manufactures and supply us with sugar, and put us to no great expense in defending the place of growth.
But, though our own colonies expend among us almost the whole produce of our sugar,1 can we, or ought we to promise ourselves this will be the case of Guadaloupe? One £100,000 will supply them with British manufactures; and supposing we can effectually prevent the introduction of those of France, which is morally impossible in a country used to them, the other £200,000 will still be spent in France, in the education of their children and support of themselves; or else be laid up there, where they will always think their home to be.
Besides this consumption of British manufactures, much is said of the benfit we shall have from the situation of Guadaloupe; and we are told of a trade to the Caraccas and Spanish Main. In what respect Guadaloupe is better situated for this trade than Jamaica, or even our other islands, I am at a loss to guess. I believe it to be not so well situated for that of the Windward coast, as Tobago and St. Lucia; which in this, as well as other respects, would be more valuable possessions, and which, I doubt not, the peace will secure to us. Nor is it nearly so well situated for that of the rest of the Spanish Main as Jamaica. As to the greater safety of our trade by the possession of Guadaloupe, experience has convinced us that in reducing a single island, or even more, we stop the privateering business but little. Privateers still subsist, in equal if not greater numbers, and carry the vessels into Martinico which before it was more convenient to carry into Guadaloupe. Had we all the Caribbees, it is true, they would in those parts be without shelter.
Yet, upon the whole, I suppose it to be a doubtful point, and well worth consideration, whether our obtaining possession of all the Caribbees would be more than a temporary benefit; as it would necessarily soon fill the French part of Hispaniola with French inhabitants, and thereby render it five times more valuable in time of peace, and little less than impregnable in time of war, and would probably end in a few years in the uniting the whole of that great and fertile island under a French government. It is agreed on all hands, that our conquest of St. Christopher’s, and driving the French from thence, first furnished Hispaniola with skilful and substantial planters, and was consequently the first occasion of its present opulence. On the other hand, I will hazard an opinion, that, valuable as the French possessions in the West Indies are, and undeniable as the advantages they derive from them, there is somewhat to be weighed in the opposite scale. They cannot at present make war with England, without exposing those advantages, while divided among the numerous islands they now have, much more than they would were they possessed of St. Domingo only; their own share of which would, if well cultivated, grow more sugar than is now grown in all their West India Islands.
I have before said I do not deny the utility of the conquest, or even of our future possession, of Guadaloupe, if not bought too dear. The trade of the West Indies is one of our most valuable trades. Our possessions there deserve our greatest care and attention. So do those of North America. I shall not enter into the invidious task of comparing their due estimation. It would be a very long and a very disagreeable one, to run through every thing material on this head. It is enough to our present point, if I have shown that the value of North America is capable of an immense increase, by an acquisition and measures that must necessarily have an effect the direct contrary of what we have been industriously taught to fear; and that Guadaloupe is, in point of advantage, but a very small addition to our West India possessions; rendered many ways less valuable to us than it is to the French, who will probably set more value upon it than upon a country [Canada] that is much more valuable to us than to them.
There is a great deal more to be said on all the parts of these subjects; but as it would carry me into a detail that I fear would tire the patience of my readers, and which I am not without apprehensions I have done already, I shall reserve what remains till I dare venture again on the indulgence of the public.1
[1 ]When the war with France was drawing to its close, the question whether Canada was to be given up to the French or retained as a set-off for acquisitions in the West Indies was much and warmly debated. The Earl of Bath published a Letter to Two Great Men (Pitt and Newcastle), recommending the retention of Canada as the more valuable; and shortly afterwards Remarks on the Letter to Two Great Men, attributed by some to Edmund Burke, and by some to William Burke, appeared,—the writer preferring Guadeloupe to Canada.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 6.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 7.
[2 ]Ibid., p. 7.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 19.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 19.
[2 ]Page 30 of the Letter, and p. 21 of the Remarks.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 28.
[1 ]Dr. Clarke, in his Observations on the Late and Present Conduct of the French, etc., printed at Boston, 1755, says:
[1 ]Remarks, p. 25.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 25.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 26.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 25.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 25.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 27.
[1 ]Remarks, pp. 50, 51.
[1 ]Remarks, pp. 50, 51.
[1 ]The reason of this greater increase in America than in Europe is, that in old settled countries, all trades, farms, offices, and employments are full, and many people refrain from marriage till they see an opening, in which they can settle themselves, with a reasonable prospect of maintaining a family: but in America, it being easy to obtain land, which, with moderate labor will afford subsistence and something to spare, people marry more readily and earlier in life, whence arise a numerous offspring and the swift population of those countries. It is a common error, that we cannot fill our provinces, or increase the number of them, without draining this nation of its people. The increase alone of our present colonies is sufficient for both those purposes.—F.
[1 ]Namely forty sail, none of more than forty guns.
[1 ]This was before the consolidation of Europe by the Bonapartes, and when, as Sir C. Whitworth asserts in his State of Trade “Each state in Germany is jealous of its neighbours, and hence, rather than facilitate the export or transmit of its neighbour’s products or manufactures, they have all recourse to strangers.”
[2 ]From New York into Lake Ontario, the land-carriage of the several portages altogether amounts to but about twenty-seven miles. From Lake Ontario into Lake Erie, the land-carriage at Niagara is but about twelve miles. All the lakes above Niagara communicate by navigable straits, so that no land-carriage is necessary to go out of one into another. From Presqu’ Isle on Lake Erie there are but fifteen miles land-carriage, and that a good wagon-road, to Beef River, a branch of the Ohio, which brings you into a navigation of many thousand miles inland, if you take together the Ohio, the Mississippi, and all the great rivers and branches that run into them.—F.
[1 ]Remarks, pp. 47, 48, &c.
[1 ]The writer has obtained accounts of the exports to North America and the West India Islands, by which it appears that there has been some increase of trade to those Islands, as well as to North America, though in a much less degree. The following extract from these accounts will show the reader, at one view, the amount of the exports to each, in two different terms of five years; the terms taken at ten years’ distance from each other, to show the increase, viz.:
By these accounts it appears that the exports to the West India Islands, and to the northern colonies, were in the first term nearly equal (the difference being only £122,930 10s. 4d.), and in the second term, the exports to those islands had only increased £404,504 2s. 1d. Whereas the increase to the northern colonies is £3,927,789 3s. 1d., almost four millions.
Some part of this increased demand for English goods may be ascribed to the armies and fleets we have had both in North America and the West Indies, and so much for what is consumed by the soldiery, their clothing, stores, ammunition, &c., sent from hence on account of the government, being (as is supposed) not included in these accounts of merchandise exported, but, as the war has occasioned a great plenty of money in America, many of the inhabitants have increased their expense.
N. B.—These accounts do not include any exports from Scotland to America, which are doubtless proportionably considerable; nor the exports from Ireland.—F.
Certain discrepancies in the above figures are hereby given as originally printed.—Editor.
Copy of the Report of Governor Hopkins to the Board of Trade, on the Numbers of People in Rhode Island.
In obedience to your Lordship’s commands, I have caused the within account to be taken by officers under oath. By it there appears to be in this colony at this time 35,939 white persons, and 4,697 blacks, chiefly negroes.
In the year 1730, by order of the then Lords Commissioners of Trade and Plantations, an account was taken of the number of people in this colony, and then there appeared to be 15,302 white persons, and 2,633 blacks.
Again in the year 1748, by like order, an account was taken of the number of people in this colony, by which it appears that there were at that time 29,755 white persons and 4,373 blacks.
Stephen Hopkins.Colony of Rhode Island, Dec. 24, 1755.
N. B.—The accounts for 1758 and 1759 were not then completed, but those acquainted with the North American trade know that the increase in those two years had been in a still greater proportion, the last year being supposed to exceed any former year by a third, and this owing to the increased ability of the people to spend, from the greater quantities of money circulating among them by the war.
[1 ]The aid Dr. Franklin alludes to must probably have consisted in early and full supplies of arms, officers, intelligence, and trade of export and of import, through the river St. Lawrence, on risks both public and private, in the encouragement of splendid promises and a great ally, in the passage from Canada to the back settlements being shut to the British forces, in the quiet of the great body of Indians, in the support of emissaries and discontented citizens; in loans and subsidies to Congress, in ways profitable to France, in a refuge to be granted them in case of defeat, in vacant lands, as settlers, in the probability of war commencing earlier between England and France, at the Gulf of St. Lawrence (when the shipping taken were rightfully addressed to Frenchmen) than in the present case. All this might have happened as soon as America’s distaste of England had exceeded the fear of the foreign nation; a circumstance frequently seen possible in history, and which the British ministers took care should not be wanting.
[1 ]“Omnes Græcorum civitates, quæ in Europâ, quæque in Asiâ essent, libertatem ac suas leges haberent,” etc.—Liv., lib. xxxiii., cap. 30.
[2 ]When the Romans had subdued Macedon and Illyricum, they were both formed into republics by a decree of the Senate, and Macedon was thought safe from the danger of a revolution, by being divided into a division common among the Romans, as we learn from the tetrarchs in Scripture. “Omnium primum liberos esse placebat Macedonas atque Illyrios; ut omnibus gentibus appareret, arma populi Romani non liberis servitutem, sed contra servientibus libertatem afferre; ut et in libertate gentes quæ essent, tutam eam sibi perpetuamque sub tutelâ populi Romani esse, et, quæ sub regibus viverent, et in presens tempus mitiores eos justioresque respectu populi Romani habere se, et, si quando bellum cum populo Romano regibus fuisset suis, exitum ejus victoriam Romanis, sibi libertatem, allaturum crederent. . . . . In quatuor regiones describi Macedoniam, ut suum quæque concilium haberet, placuit, et dimidium tributi, quàm quod regibus ferre soliti erant, populo Romano pendere. Similia his et in Illyricum mandata.”—Liv., lib. xlv., cap. 18.
[1 ]Remarks, pp. 50, 51.
[1 ]“And Pharaoh said unto his people. Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come on, let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. And the king spake to the Hebrew midwives,” etc.—Exodus, ch. i.
[1 ]In fact, there have not gone from Britain itself to our colonies, these twenty years past, to settle there, so many as ten families a year, the new settlers are either the offspring of the old, or emigrants from Germany or the north of Ireland.
[2 ]Remarks, pp. 30, 34.
[3 ]It is often said, we have plenty of sugar-land still unemployed in Jamaica, but those who are well acquainted with that island know that the remaining vacant land in it is generally situated among mountains, rocks, and gullies, that make carriage impracticable, so that no profitable use can be made of it; unless the price of sugars should so greatly increase, as to enable the planter to make very expensive roads, by blowing up rocks, erecting bridges, &c., every two or three hundred yards.
[1 ]Remarks, p. 47.
[1 ]Dr. Franklin is reported to have said that in writing this pamphlet he received considerable assistance from a learned friend, who, it is stated, on the authority of William T. Franklin, was Richard Jackson.