Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAP. XII.: Of the Freedom of Commerce. - Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws
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CHAP. XII.: Of the Freedom of Commerce. - Charles Louis de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu, Complete Works, vol. 2 The Spirit of Laws 
The Complete Works of M. de Montesquieu (London: T. Evans, 1777), 4 vols. Vol. 2.
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Of the Freedom of Commerce.
THE freedom of commerce is not a power granted to the merchants to do what they please: This would be more properly its slavery. The constraint of the merchant is not the constraint of commerce. It is in the freest countries that the merchant finds innumerable obstacles; and he is never less crossed by laws, than in a country of slaves.
England prohibits the exportation of her wool; coals must be brought by sea to the capital; no horses, except geldings, are allowed to be exported; and the vessels* of her colonies, trading to Europe, must take in water in England. The English constrain the merchant, but it is in favour of commerce.
[* ]Act of navigation, 1660. It is only in the time of war, that the merchants of Boston and Philadelphia send their vessels directly to the Mediterranean.