Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 7




Of the Motives for Establishing New Colonies.

The interest which occasioned the first settlement of the
different European colonies in America and the West Indies, was
not altogether so plain and distinct as that which directed the
establishment of those of ancient Greece and Rome.

All the different states of ancient Greece possessed, each of
them, but a very small territory; and when the people in anyone
of them multiplied beyond what that territory could easily
maintain, a part of them were sent in quest of a new habitation,
in some remote and distant part of the world ; the warlike
neighbours who surrounded them on all sides, rendering it
difficult for any of them to enlarge very much its territory at
home. The colonies of the Dorians resorted chiefly to Italy and
Sicily, which, in the times preceding the foundation of Rome,
were inhabited by barbarous and uncivilized nations; those of the
Ionians and Aeolians, the two other great tribes of the Greeks,
to Asia Minor and the islands of the Aegean sea, of which the
inhabitants sewn at that time to have been pretty much in the
same state as those of Sicily and Italy. The mother city, though
she considered the colony as a child, at all times entitled to
great favour and assistance, and owing in return much gratitude
and respect, yet considered it as an emancipated child, over whom
she pretended to claim no direct authority or jurisdiction. The
colony settled its own form of government, enacted its own laws,
elected its own magistrates, and made peace or war with its
neighbours, as an independent state, which had no occasion to
wait for the approbation or consent of the mother city. Nothing
can be more plain and distinct than the interest which directed
every such establishment.

Rome, like most of the other ancient republics, was originally
founded upon an agrarian law, which divided the public territory,
in a certain proportion, among the different citizens who
composed the state. The course of human affairs, by marriage, by
succession, and by alienation, necessarily deranged this original
division, and frequently threw the lands which had been allotted
for the maintenance of many different families, into the
possession of a single person. To remedy this disorder, for
such it was supposed to be, a law was made, restricting the
quantity of land which any citizen could possess to five hundred
jugera; about 350 English acres. This law, however, though we
read of its having been executed upon one or two occasions, was
either neglected or evaded, and the inequality of fortunes went
on continually increasing. The greater part of the citizens had
no land ; and without it the manners and customs of those times
rendered it difficult for a freeman to maintain his independency.
In the present times, though a poor man has no land of his own,
if he has a little stock, he may either farm the lands of
another, or he may carry on some little retail trade ; and if he
has no stock, he may find employment either as a country
labourer, or as an artificer. But among the ancient Romans, the
lands of the rich were all cultivated by slaves, who wrought
under an overseer, who was likewise a slave; so that a poor
freeman had little chance of being employed either as a farmer or
as a labourer. All trades and manufactures, too, even the retail
trade, were carried on by the slaves of the rich for the benefit
of their masters, whose wealth, authority, and protection, made
it difficult for a poor freeman to maintain the competition
against them. The citizens, therefore, who had no land, had
scarce any other means of subsistence but the bounties of the
candidates at the annual elections. The tribunes, when they had a
mind to animate the people against the rich and the great, put
them in mind of the ancient divisions of lands, and represented
that law which restricted this sort of private property as the
fundamental law of the republic. The people became clamorous to
get land, and the rich and the great, we may believe, were
perfectly determined not to give them any part of theirs. To
satisfy them in some measure, therefore, they frequently proposed
to send out a new colony. But conquering Rome was, even upon such
occasions, under no necessity of turning out her citizens to seek
their fortune, if one may so, through the wide world, without
knowing where they were to settle. She assigned them lands
generally in the conquered provinces of Italy, where, being
within the dominions of the republic, they could never form any
independent state, but were at best but a sort of corporation,
which, though it had the power of enacting bye-laws for its own
government, was at all times subject to the correction,
jurisdiction, and legislative authority of the mother city. The
sending out a colony of this kind not only gave some satisfaction
to the people, but often established a sort of garrison, too, in
a newly conquered province, of which the obedience might
otherwise have been doubtful. A Roman colony, therefore, whether
we consider the nature of the establishment itself, or the
motives for making it, was altogether different from a Greek one.
The words, accordingly, which in the original languages denote
those different establishments, have very different meanings. The
Latin word (colonia) signifies simply a plantation. The Greek
word (apoixia), on the contrary, signifies a separation of
dwelling, a departure from home, a going out of the house. But
though the Roman colonies were, in many respects, different from
the Greek ones, the interest which prompted to establish them was
equally plain and distinct. Both institutions derived their
origin, either from irresistible necessity, or from clear and
evident utility.

The establishment of the European colonies in America and the
West Indies arose from no necessity; and though the utility which
has resulted from them has been very great, it is not altogether
so clear and evident. It was not understood at their first
establishment, and was not the motive, either of that
establishment, or of the discoveries which gave occasion to it ;
and the nature, extent, and limits of that utility, are not,
perhaps, well understood at this day.

The Venetians, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries,
carried on a very advantageous commerce in spiceries and other
East India goods, which they distributed among the other nations
of Europe. They purchased them chiefly in Egypt, at that time
under the dominion of the Mamelukes, the enemies of the Turks, of
whom the Venetians were the enemies ; and this union of interest,
assisted by the money of Venice, formed such a connexion as gave
the Venetians almost a monopoly of the trade.

The great profits of the Venetians tempted the avidity of the
Portuguese. They had been endeavouring, during the course of the
fifteenth century, to find out by sea a way to the countries from
which the Moors brought them ivory and gold dust across the
desert. They discovered the Madeiras, the Canaries, the Azores,
the Cape de Verd islands, the coast of Guinea, that of Loango,
Congo, Angola, and Benguela, and, finally, the Cape of Good Hope.
They had long wished to share in the profitable traffic of the
Venetians, and this last discovery opened to them a probable
prospect of doing so. In 1497, Vasco de Gamo sailed from the port
of Lisbon with a fleet of four ships, and, after a navigation of
eleven months, arrived upon the coast of Indostan ; and thus
completed a course of discoveries which had been pursued with
great steadiness, and with very little interruption, for near a
century together.

Some years before this, while the expectations of Europe were in
suspense about the projects of the Portuguese, of which the
success appeared yet to be doubtful, a Genoese pilot formed the
yet more daring project of sailing to the East Indies by the
west. The situation of those countries was at that time very
imperfectly known in Europe. The few European travellers who had
been there, had magnified the distance, perhaps through
simplicity and ignorance ; what was really very great, appearing
almost infinite to those who could not measure it; or, perhaps,
in order to increase somewhat more the marvellous of their own
adventures in visiting regions so immensely remote from Europe.
The longer the way was by the east, Columbus very justly
concluded, the shorter it would be by the west. He proposed,
therefore, to take that way, as both the shortest and the surest,
and he had the good fortune to convince Isabella of Castile of
the probability of his project. He sailed from the port of Palos
in August 1492, near five years before the expedition of Vasco de
Gamo set out from Portugal; and, after a voyage of between two
and three months, discovered first some of the small Bahama or
Lucyan islands, and afterwards the great island of St. Domingo.

But the countries which Columbus discovered, either in this or in
any of his subsequent voyages, had no resemblance to those which
he had gone in quest of. Instead of the wealth, cultivation, and
populousness of China and Indostan, he found, in St. Domingo, and
in all the other parts of the new world which he ever visited,
nothing but a country quite covered with wood, uncultivated, and
inhabited only by some tribes of naked and miserable savages. He
was not very willing, however, to believe that they were not the
same with some of the countries described by Marco Polo, the
first European who had visited, or at least had left behind him
any description of China or the East Indies ; and a very slight
resemblance, such as that which he found between the name of
Cibao, a mountaim in St. Domingo, and that of Cipange, mentioned
by Marco Polo, was frequently sufficient to make him return to
this favourite prepossession, though contrary to the clearest
evidence. In his letters to Ferdinand and Isabella, he called the
countries which he had discovered the Indies. He entertained no
doubt but that they were the extremity of those which had been
described by Marco Polo, and that they were not very distant from
the Ganges, or from the countries which had been conquered by
Alexander. Even when at last convinced that they were different,
be still flattered himself that those rich countries were at no
great distance; and in a subsequent voyage, accordingly, went in
quest of them along the coast of Terra Firma, and towards the
Isthmus of Darien.

In consequence of this mistake of Columbus, the name of the
Indies has stuck to those unfortunate countries ever since; and
when it was at last clearly discovered that the new were
altogether different from the old Indies, the former were called
the West, in contradistinction to the latter, which were called
the East Indies.

It was of importance to Columbus, however, that the countries
which he had discovered, whatever they were, should be
represented to the court of Spain as of very great consequence ;
and, in what constitutes the real riches of every country, the
animal and vegetable productions of the soil, there was at that
time nothing which could well justify such a representation of

The cori, something between a rat and a rabbit, and supposed by
Mr Buffon to be the same with the aperea of Brazil, was the
largest viviparous quadruped in St. Domingo. This species seems
never to have been very nurnerous; and the dogs and cats of the
Spaniards are said to have long ago almost entirely extirpated
it, as well as some other tribes of a still smaller size. These,
however, together with a pretty large lizard, called the ivana or
iguana, constituted the principal part of the animal food which
the land afforded.

The vegetable food of the inhabitants, though, from their want of
industry, not very abundant, was not altogether so scanty. It
consisted in Indian corn, yams, potatoes, bananas, etc., plants
which were then altogether unknown in Europe, and which have
never since been very much esteemed in it, or supposed to yield a
sustenance equal to what is drawn from the common sorts of grain
and pulse, which have been cultivated in this part of the world
time out of mind.

The cotton plant, indeed, afforded the material of a very
important manufacture, and was at that time, to Europeans,
undoubtedly the most valuable of all the vegetable productions of
those islands. But though, in the end of the fifteenth century,
the muslins and other cotton goods of the East Indies were much
esteemed in every part of Europe, the cotton manufacture itself
was not cultivated in any part of it. Even this production,
therefore, could not at that time appear in the eyes of Europeans
to be of very great consequence.

Finding nothing, either in the animals or vegetables of the newly
discovered countries which could justify a very advantageous
representation of them, Columbus turned his view towards their
minerals; and in the richness of their productions of this third
kingdom, he flattered himself he had found a full compensation
for the insignificancy of those of the other two. The little bits
of gold with which the inhabitants ornamented their dress, and
which, he was informed, they frequently found in the rivulets and
torrents which fell from the mountains, were sufficient to
satisfy him that those mountains abounded with the richest gold
mines. St. Domingo, therefore, was represented as a country
abounding with gold, and upon that account (according to the
prejudices not only of the present times, but of those times), an
inexhaustible source of real wealth to the crown and kingdom of
Spain. When Columbus, upon his return from his first voyage, was
introduced with a sort of triumphal honours to the sovereigns of
Castile and Arragon, the principal productions of the countries
which he had discovered were carried in solemn procession before
him. The only valuable part of them consisted in some little
fillets, bracelets, and other ornaments of gold, and in some
bales of cotton. The rest were mere objects of vulgar wonder and
curiosity ; some reeds of an extraordinary size, some birds of a
very beautiful plumage, and some stuffed skins of the huge
alligator and manati ; all of which were preceded by six or seven
of the wretched natives, whose singular colour and appearance
added greatly to the novelty of the show.

In consequence of the representations of Columbus, the council of
Castile determined to take possession of the countries of which
the inhabitants were plainly incapable of defending themselves.
The pious purpose of converting them to Christianity sanctified
the injustice of the project. But the hope of finding treasures
of gold there was the sole motive which prompted to undertake it;
and to give this motive the greater weight, it was proposed by
Columbus, that the half of all the gold and silver that should be
found there, should belong to the crown. This proposal was
approved of by the council.

As long as the whole, or the greater part of the gold which the
first adventurers imported into Europe was got by so very easy a
method as the plundering of the defenceless natives, it was not
perhaps very difficult to ,pay even this heavy tax ; but when the
natives were once fairly stript of all that they had, which, in
St. Domingo, and in all the other countries discovered by
Columbus, was done completely in six or eight years, and when, in
order to find more, it had become necessary to dig for it in the
mines, there was no longer any possibility of paying this tax.
The rigorous exaction of it, accordingly, first occasioned, it is
said, the total abandoning of the mines of St. Domingo, which
have never been wrought since. It was soon reduced, therefore, to
a third; then to a fifth; afterwards to a tenth; and at last to a
twentieth part of the gross produce of the gold mines. The tax
upon silver continued for a long time to be a fifth of the gross
produce. It was reduced to a tenth only in the course of the
present century. But the first adventurers do not appear to have
been much interested about silver. Nothing less precious than
gold seemed worthy of their attention.

All the other enterprizes of the Spaniards in the New World,
subsequent to those of Columbus, seem to have been prompted by
the same motive. It was the sacred thirst of gold that carried
Ovieda, Nicuessa, and Vasco Nugnes de Balboa, to the Isthmus of
Darien ; that carried Cortes to Mexico, Almagro and Pizarro to
Chili and Peru. When those adventurers arrived upon any unknown
coast, their first inquiry was always if there was any gold to be
found there ; and according to the information which they
received concerning this particular, they determined either to
quit the country or to settle in it.

Of all those expensive and uncertain projects, however, which
bring bankruptcy upon the greater part of the people who engage
in them, there is none, perhaps, more perfectly ruinous than the
search after new silver and gold mines. It is, perhaps, the most
disadvantageous lottery in the world, or the one in which the
gain of those who draw the prizes bears the least proportion to
the loss of those who draw the blanks; for though the prizes are
few, and the blanks many, the common price of a ticket is the
whole fortune of a very rich man. Projects of mining, instead of
replacing the capital employed in them, together with the
ordinary profits of stock, commonly absorb both capital and
profit. They are the projects, therefore, to which, of all
others, a prudent lawgiver, who desired to increase the capital
of his nation, would least choose to give any extraordinary
encouragement, or to turn towards them a greater share of that
capital than what would go to them of its own accord. Such, in
reality, is the absurd confidence which almost all men have in
their own good fortune, that wherever there is the least
probability of success, too great a share of it is apt to go to
them of its own accord.

But though the judgment of sober reason and experience concerning
such projects has always been extremely unfavourable, that of
human avidity has commonly been quite otherwise. The same passion
which has suggested to so many people the absurd idea of the
philosopher's stone, has suggested to others the equally absurd
one of immense rich mines of gold and silver. They did not
consider that the value of those metals has, in all ages and
nations, arisen chiefly from their scarcity, and that their
scarcity has arisen from the very small quantities of them which
nature has anywhere deposited in one place, from the hard and
intractable substances with which she has almost everywhere
surrounded those small quantities, and consequently from the
labour and expense which are everywhere necessary in order to
penetrate, and get at them. They flattered themselves that veins
of those metals might in many places be found, as large and as
abundant as those which are commonly found of lead, or copper, or
tin, or iron. The dream of Sir Waiter Raleigh, concerning the
golden city and country of El Dorado, may satisfy us, that even
wise men are not always exempt from such strange delusions. More
than a hundred years after the death of that great man, the
Jesuit Gumila was still convinced of the reality of that
wonderful country, and expressed, with great warmth, and, I dare
say, with great sincerity, how happy he should be to carry the
light of the gospel to a people who could so well reward the
pious labours of their missionary.

In the countries first discovered by the Spaniards, no gold and
silver mines are at present known which are supposed to be worth
the working. The quantities of those metals which the first
adventurers are said to have found there, had probably been very
much magnified, as well as the fertility of the mines which were
wrought immediately after the first discovery. What those
adventurers were reported to have found, however, was sufficient
to inflame the avidity of all their countrymen. Every Spaniard
who sailed to America expected to find an El Dorado. Fortune,
too, did upon this what she has done upon very few other
occasions. She realized in some measure the extravagant hopes of
her votaries; and in the discovery and conquest of Mexico and
Peru (of which the one happened about thirty, and the other about
forty, years after the first expedition of Columbus), she
presented them with something not very unlike that profusion of
the precious metals which they sought for.

A project of commerce to the East Indies, therefore, gave
occasion to the first discovery of the West. A project of
conquest gave occasion to all the establishments of the Spaniards
in those newly discovered countries. The motive which excited
them to this conquest was a project of gold and silver mines; and
a course of accidents which no human wisdom could foresee,
rendered this project much more successful than the undertakers
had any reasonable grounds for expecting.

The first adventurers of all the other nations of Europe who
attempted to make settlements in America, were animated by the
like chimerical views; but they were not equally successful. It
was more than a hundred years after the first settlement of the
Brazils, before any silver, gold, or diamond mines, were
discovered there. In the English, French, Dutch, and Danish
colonies, none have ever yet been discovered, at least none that
are at present supposed to be worth the working. The first
English settlers in North America, however, offered a fifth of
all the gold and silver which should be found there to the king,
as a motive for granting them their patents. In the patents of
Sir Waiter Raleigh, to the London and Plymouth companies, to the
council of Plymouth, etc. this fifth was accordingly reserved to
the crown. To the expectation of finding gold and silver mines,
those first settlers, too, joined that of discovering a
north-west passage to the East Indies. They have hitherto been
disappointed in both.


Causes of the Prosperity of New Colonies.

The colony of a civilized nation which takes possession either of
a waste country, or of one so thinly inhabited that the natives
easily give place to the new settlers, advances more rapidly to
wealth and greatness than any other human society.

The colonies carry out with them a knowledge of agriculture and
of other useful arts, superior to what can grow up of its own
accord, in the course of many centuries, among savage and
barbarous nations. They carry out with them, too, the habit of
subordination, some notion of the regular government which takes
place in their own country, of the system of laws which support
it, and of a regular administration of justice; and they
naturally establish something of the same kind in the new
settlement. But among savage and barbarous nations, the natural
progress of law and government is still slower than the natural
progress of arts, after law and government have been so far
established as is necessary for their protection. Every colonist
gets more land than he can possibly cultivate. He has no rent,
and scarce any taxes, to pay. No landlord shares with him in its
produce, and, the share of the sovereign is commonly but a
trifle. He has every motive to render as great as possible a
produce which is thus to be almost entirely his own. But his land
is commonly so extensive, that, with all his own industry, and
with all the industry of other people whom he can get to employ,
he can seldom make it produce the tenth part of what it is
capable of producing. He is eager, therefore, to collect
labourers from all quarters, and to reward them with the most
liberal wages. But those liberal wages, joined to the plenty and
cheapness of land, soon make those labourers leave him, in order
to become landlords themselves, and to reward with equal
liberality other labourers, who soon leave them for the same
reason that they left their first master. The liberal reward of
labour encourages marriage. The children, during the tender years
of infancy, are well fed and properly taken care of ; and when
they are grown up, the value of their labour greatly overpays
their maintenance. When arrived at maturity, the high price of
labour, and the low price of land, enable them to establish
themselves in the same manner as their fathers did before them.

In other countries, rent and profit eat up wages, and the two
superior orders of people oppress the inferior one ; but in new
colonies, the interest of the two superior orders obliges them to
treat the inferior one with more generosity and humanity, at
least where that inferior one is not in a state of slavery. Waste
lands, of the greatest natural fertility, are to be had for a
trifle. The increase of revenue which the proprietor, who is
always the undertaker, expects from their improvement,
constitutes his profit, which, in these circumstances, is
commonly very great; but this great profit cannot be made,
without employing the labour of other people in clearing and
cultivating the land; and the disproportion between the great
extent of the land and the small number of the people, which
commonly takes place in new colonies, makes it difficult for him
to get this labour. He does not, therefore, dispute about wages,
but is willing to employ labour at any price. The high wages of
labour encourage population. The cheapness and plenty of good
land encourage improvement, and enable the proprietor to pay
those high wages. In those wages consists almost the whole price
of the land ; and though they are high, considered as the wages
of labour, they are low, considered as the price of what is so
very valuable. What encourages the progress of population and
improvement, encourages that of real wealth and greatness.

The progress of many of the ancient Greek colonies towards wealth
and greatness seems accordingly to have been very rapid. In the
course of a century or two, several of them appear to have
rivalled, and even to have surpassed, their mother cities.
Syracuse and Agrigentum in Sicily, Tarentum and Locri in Italy,
Ephesus and Miletus in Lesser Asia, appear, by all accounts, to
have been at least equal to any of the cities of ancient Greece.
Though posterior in their establishment, yet all the arts of
refinement, philosophy, poetry, and eloquence, seem to have been
cultivated as early, and to have been improved as highly in them
as in any part of the mother country The schools of the two
oldest Greek philosophers, those of Thales and Pythagoras, were
established, it is remarkable, not in ancient Greece, but the one
in an Asiatic, the other in an Italian colony. All those colonies
had established themselves in countries inhabited by savage and
barbarous nations, who easily gave place to the new settlers.
They had plenty of good land; and as they were altogether
independent of the mother city, they were at liberty to manage
their own affairs in the way that they judged was most suitable
to their own interest.

The history of the Roman colonies is by no means so brilliant.
Some of them, indeed, such as Florence, have, in the course of
many ages, and after the fall of the mother city, grown up to be
considerable states. But the progress of no one of them seems
ever to have been very rapid. They were all established in
conquered provinces, which in most cases had been fully inhabited
before. The quantity of land assigned to each colonist was seldom
very considerable, and, as the colony was not independent, they
were not always at liberty to manage their own affairs in the way
that they judged was most suitable to their own interest.

In the plenty of good land, the European colonies established in
America and the West Indies resemble, and even greatly surpass,
those of ancient Greece. In their dependency upon the mother
state, they resemble those of ancient Rome; but their great
distance from Europe has in all of them alleviated more or less
the effects of this dependency. Their situation has placed them
less in the view, and less in the power of their mother country.
In pursuing their interest their own way, their conduct has upon
many occasions been overlooked, either because not known or not
understood in Europe; and upon some occasions it has been fairly
suffered and submitted to, because their distance rendered it
difficult to restrain it. Even the violent and arbitrary
government of Spain has, upon many occasions, been obliged to
recall or soften the orders which had been given for the
government of her colonies, for fear of a general insurrection.
The progress of all the European colonies in wealth, population,
and improvement, has accordingly been very great.

The crown of Spain, by its share of the gold and silver, derived
some revenue from its colonies from the moment of their first
establishment. It was a revenue, too, of a nature to excite in
human avidity the most extravagant expectation of still greater
riches. The Spanish colonies, therefore, from the moment of their
first establishment, attracted very much the attention of their
mother country; while those of the other European nations were
for a long time in a great measure neglected. The former did not,
perhaps, thrive the better in consequence of this attention, nor
the latter the worse in consequence of this neglect. In
proportion to the extent of the country which they in some
measure possess, the Spanish colonies are considered as less
populous and thriving than those of almost any other European
nation. The progress even of the Spanish colonies, however, in
population and improvement, has certainly been very rapid and
very great. The city of Lima, founded since the conquest, is
represented by Ulloa as containing fifty thousand inhabitants
near thirty years ago. Quito, which had been but a miserable
hamlet of Indians, is represented by the same author as in his
time equally populous. Gemel i Carreri, a pretended traveller, it
is said, indeed, but who seems everywhere to have written upon
extreme good information, represents the city of Mexico as
containing a hundred thousand inhabitants ; a number which, in
spite of all the exaggerations of the Spanish writers, is
probably more than five times greater than what it contained in
the time of Montezuma. These numbers exceed greatly those of
Boston, New York, and Philadelphia, the three greatest cities of
the English colonies. Before the conquest of the Spaniards, there
were no cattle fit for draught, either in Mexico or Peru. The
lama was their only beast of burden, and its strength seems to
have been a good deal inferior to that of a common ass. The
plough was unknown among them. They were ignorant of the use of
iron. They had no coined money, nor any established instrument of
commerce of any kind. Their commerce was carried on by barter. A
sort of wooden spade was their principal instrument of
agriculture. Sharp stones served them for knives and hatchets to
cut with; fish bones, and the hard sinews of certain animals,
served them with needles to sew with; and these seem to have been
their principal instruments of trade. In this state of things, it
seems impossible that either of those empires could have been so
much improved or so well cultivated as at present, when they are
plentifully furnished with all sorts of European cattle, and when
the use of iron, of the plough, and of many of the arts of
Europe, have been introduced among them. But the populousness of
every country must be in proportion to the degree of its
improvement and cultivation. In spite of the cruel destruction of
the natives which followed the conquest, these two great empires
are probably more populous now than they ever were before; and
the people are surely very different; for we must acknowledge, I
apprehend, that the Spanish creoles are in many respects superior
to the ancient Indians.

After the settlements of the Spaniards, that of the Portuguese
in Brazil is the oldest of any European nation in America. But as
for a long time after the first discovery neither gold nor silver
mines were found in it, and as it afforded upon that account
little or no revenue to the crown, it was for a long time in a
great measure neglected ; and during this state of neglect, it
grew up to be a great and powerful colony. While Portugal was
under the dominion of Spain, Brazil was attacked by the Dutch,
who got possession of seven of the fourteen provinces into which
it is divided. They expected soon to conquer the other seven,
when Portugal recovered its independency by the elevation of the
family of Braganza to the throne. The Dutch, then, as enemies to
the Spaniards, became friends to the Portuguese, who were
likewise the enemies of the Spaniards. They agreed, therefore, to
leave that part of Brazil which they had not conquered to the
king of Portugal, who agreed to leave that part which they had
conquered to them, as a matter not worth disputing about, with
such good allies. But the Dutch government soon began to oppress
the Portuguese colonists, who, instead of amusing themselves with
complaints, took arms against their new masters, and by their own
valour and resolution, with the connivance, indeed, but without
any avowed assistance from the mother country, drove them out of
Brazil. The Dutch, therefore, finding it impossible to keep any
part of the country to themselves, were contented that it should
be entirely restored to the crown of Portugal. In this colony
there are said to be more than six hundred thousand people,
either Portuguese or descended from Portuguese, creoles,
mulattoes, and a mixed race between Portuguese and Brazilians. No
one colony in America is supposed to contain so great a number of
people of European extraction.

Towards the end of the fifteenth, and during the greater part of
the sixteenth century, Spain and Portugal were the two great
naval powers upon the ocean ; for though the commerce of Venice
extended to every part of Europe, its fleet had scarce ever
sailed beyond the Mediterranean. The Spaniards, in virtue of the
first discovery, claimed all America as their own; and though
they could not hinder so great a naval power as that of Portugal
from settling in Brazil, such was at that time the terror of
their name, that the greater part of the other nations of Europe
were afraid to establish themselves in any other part of that
great continent. The French, who attempted to settle in Florida,
were all murdered by the Spaniards. But the declension of the
naval power of this latter nation, in consequence of the defeat
or miscarriage of what they called their invincible armada, which
happened towards the end of the sixteenth century, put it out of
their power to obstruct any longer the settlements of the other
European nations. In the course of the seventeenth century,
therefore, the English, French, Dutch, Danes, and Swedes, all the
great nations who had any ports upon the ocean, attempted to make
some settlements in the new world.

The Swedes established themselves in New Jersey; and the number
of Swedish families still to be found there sufficiently
demonstrates, that this colony was very likely to prosper, had it
been protected by the mother country. But being neglected by
Sweden, it was soon swallowed up by the Dutch colony of New York,
which again, in 1674, fell under the dominion of the English.

The small islands of St. Thomas and Santa Cruz, are the only
countries in the new world that have ever been possessed by the
Danes. These little settlements, too, were under the government
of an exclusive company, which had the sole right, both of
purchasing the surplus produce of the colonies, and of supplying
them with such goods of other countries as they wanted, and
which, therefore, both in its purchases and sales, had not only
the power of oppressing them, but the greatest temptation to do
so. The government of an exclusive company of merchants is,
perhaps, the worst of all governments for any country whatever.
It was not, however, able to stop altogether the progress of
these colonies, though it rendered it more slow and languid. The
late king of Denmark dissolved this company, and since that time
the prosperity of these colonies has been very great.

The Dutch settlements in the West, as well as those in the East
Indies, were originally put under the government of an exclusive
company. The progress of some of them, therefore, though it has
been considerable in comparison with that of almost any country
that has been long peopled and established, has been languid and
slow in comparison with that of the greater part of new colonies.
The colony of Surinam, though very considerable, is still
inferior to the greater part of the sugar colonies of the other
European nations. The colony of Nova Belgia, now divided into the
two provinces of New York and New Jersey, would probably have
soon become considerable too, even though it had remained under
the government of the Dutch. The plenty and cheapness of good
land are such powerful causes of prosperity, that the very worst
government is scarce capable of checking altogether the efficacy
of their operation. The great distance, too, from the mother
country, would enable the colonists to evade more or less, by
smuggling, the monopoly which the company enjoyed against them.
At present, the company allows all Dutch ships to trade to
Surinam, upon paying two and a-half per cent. upon the value of
their cargo for a license; and only reserves to itself
exclusively, the direct trade from Africa to America, which
consists almost entirely in the slave trade. This relaxation in
the exclusive privileges of the company, is probably the
principal cause of that degree of prosperity which that colony at
present enjoys. Curacoa and Eustatia, the two principal islands
belonging to the Dutch, are free ports, open to the ships of all
nations; and this freedom, in the midst of better colonies, whose
ports are open to those of one nation only, has been the great
cause of the prosperity of those two barren islands.

The French colony of Canada was, during the greater part of the
last century, and some part of the present, under the government
of an exclusive company. Under so unfavourable an administration,
its progress was necessarily very slow, in comparison with that
of other new colonies; but it became much more rapid when this
company was dissolved, after the fall of what is called the
Mississippi scheme. When the English got possession of this
country, they found in it near double the number of inhabitants
which father Charlevoix had assigned to it between twenty and
thirty years before. That jesuit had travelled over the whole
country, and had no inclination to represent it as less
inconsiderable than it really was.

The French colony of St. Domingo was established by pirates and
freebooters, who, for a long time, neither required the
protection, nor acknowledged the authority of France; and when
that race of banditti became so far citizens as to acknowledge
this authority, it was for a long time necessary to exercise it
with very great gentleness. During this period, the population
and improvement of this colony increased very fast. Even the
oppression of the exclusive company, to which it was for some
time subjected with all the other colonies of France, though it
no doubt retarded, had not been able to stop its progress
altogether. The course of its prosperity returned as soon as it
was relieved from that oppression. It is now the most important
of the sugar colonies of the West Indies, and its produce is said
to be greater than that of all the English sugar colonies put
together. The other sugar colonies of France are in general all
very thriving.

But there are no colonies of which the progress has been more
rapid than that of the English in North America.

Plenty of good land, and liberty to manage their own affairs
their own way, seem to be the two great causes of the prosperity
of all new colonies.

In the plenty of good land, the English colonies of North
America, though no doubt very abundantly provided, are, however,
inferior to those of the Spaniards and Portuguese, and not
superior to some of those possessed by the French before the late
war. But the political institutions of the English colonies have
been more favourable to the improvement and cultivation of this
land, than those of the other three nations.

First, The engrossing of uncultivated land, though it has by
no means been prevented altogether, has been more restrained in
the English colonies than in any other. The colony law, which
imposes upon every proprietor the obligation of improving and
cultivating, within a limited time, a certain proportion of his
lands, and which, in case of failure, declares those neglected
lands grantable to any other person; though it has not perhaps
been very strictly executed, has, however, had some effect.

Secondly, In Pennsylvania there is no right of primogeniture,
and lands, like moveables, are divided equally among all the
children of the family. In three of the provinces of New England,
the oldest has only a double share, as in the Mosaical law.
Though in those provinces, therefore, too great a quantity of
land should sometimes be engrossed by a particular individual, it
is likely, in the course of a generation or two, to be
sufficiently divided again. In the other English colonies,
indeed, the right of primogeniture takes place, as in the law of
England: But in all the English colonies, the tenure of the
lands, which are all held by free soccage, facilitates alienation
; and the grantee of an extensive tract of land generally finds
it for his interest to alienate, as fast as he can, the greater
part of it, reserving only a small quit-rent. In the Spanish and
Portuguese colonies, what is called the right of majorazzo takes
place in the succession of all those great estates to which any
title of honour is annexed. Such estates go all to one person,
and are in effect entailed and unalienable. The French colonies,
indeed, are subject to the custom of Paris, which, in the
inheritance of land, is much more favourable to the younger
children than the law of England. But, in the French colonies, if
any part of an estate, held by the noble tenure of chivalry and
homage, is alienated, it is, for a limited time, subject to the
right of redemption, either by the heir of the superior, or by
the heir of the family; and all the largest estates of the
country are held by such noble tenures, which necessarily
embarrass alienation. But, in a new colony, a great uncultivated
estate is likely to be much more speedily divided by alienation
than by succession. The plenty and cheapness of good land, it has
already been observed, are the principal causes of the rapid
prosperity of new colonies. The engrossing of land, in effect,
destroys this plenty and cheapness. The engrossing of
uncultivated land, besides, is the greatest obstruction to its
improvement ; but the labour that is employed in the improvement
and cultivation of land affords the greatest and most valuable
produce to the society. The produce of labour, in this case, pays
not only its own wages and the profit of the stock which employs
it, but the rent of the land too upon which it is employed. The
labour of the English colonies, therefore, being more employed in
the improvement and cultivation of land, is likely to afford a
greater and more valuable produce than that of any of the other
three nations, which, by the engrossing of land, is more or less
diverted towards other employments.

Thirdly, The labour of the English colonists is not only
likely to afford a greater and more valuable produce, but, in
consequence of the moderation of their taxes, a greater
proportion of this produce belongs to themselves, which they may
store up and employ in putting into motion a still greater
quantity of labour. The Eng1ish colonists have never yet
contributed any thing towards the defence of the mother country,
or towards the support of its civil government. They themselves,
on the contrary, have hitherto been defended almost entirely at
the expense of the mother country ; but the expense of fleets and
armies is out of all proportion greater than the necessary
expense of civil government. The expense of their own civil
government has always been very moderate. It has generally been
confined to what was necessary for paying competent salaries to
the governor, to the judges, and to some other officers of
police, and for maintaining a few of the most useful public
works. The expense of the civil establishment of Massachusetts
Bay, before the commencement of the present disturbances, used to
be but about 18;000 a-year ; that of New Hampshire and Rhode
Island, 3500 each; that of Connecticut, 4000; that of New York
and Pennsylvania, 4500 each; that of New Jersey, 1200; that of
Virginia and South Carolina, 8000 each. The civil establishments
of Nova Scotia and Georgia are partly supported by an annual
grant of parliament; but Nova Scotia pays, besides, about 7000
a-year towards the public expenses of the colony, and Georgia
about 2500 a-year. All the different civil establishments in
North America, in short, exclusive of those of Maryland and North
Carolina, of which no exact account has been got, did not, before
the commencement of the present disturbances, cost the
inhabitants about 64,700 a-year; an ever memorable example, at
how small an expense three millions of people may not only be
governed but well governed. The most important part of the
expense of government, indeed, that of defence and protection,
has constantly fallen upon the mother country. The ceremonial,
too, of the civil government in the colonies, upon the reception
of a new governor, upon the opening of a new assembly, etc.
though sufficiently decent, is not accompanied with any expensive
pomp or parade. Their ecclesiastical government is conducted upon
a plan equally frugal. Tithes are unknown among them; and their
clergy, who are far from being numerous, are maintained either by
moderate stipends, or by the voluntary contributions of the
people. The power of Spain and Portugal, on the contrary, derives
some support from the taxes levied upon their colonies. France,
indeed, has never drawn any considerable revenue from its
colonies, the taxes which it levies upon them being generally
spent among them. But the colony government of all these three
nations is conducted upon a much more extensive plan, and is
accompanied with a much more expensive ceremonial. The sums spent
upon the reception of a new viceroy of Peru, for example, have
frequently been enormous. Such ceremonials are not only real
taxes paid by the rich colonists upon those particular occasions,
but they serve to introduce among them the habit of vanity and
expense upon all other occasions. They are not only very grievous
occasional taxes, but they contribute to establish perpetual
taxes, of the same kind, still more grievous ; the ruinous taxes
of private luxury and extravagance. In the colonies of all those
three nations, too, the ecclesiastical government is extremely
oppressive. Tithes take place in all of them, and are levied with
the utmost rigour in those of Spain and Portugal. All of them,
besides, are oppressed with a numerous race of mendicant friars,
whose beggary being not only licensed but consecrated by
religion, is a most grievous tax upon the poor people, who are
most carefully taught that it is a duty to give, and a very great
sin to refuse them their charity. Over and above all this, the
clergy are, in all of them, the greatest engrossers of land.

Fourthly, In the disposal of their surplus produce, or of
what is over and above their own consumption, the English
colonies have been more favoured, and have been allowed a more
extensive market, than those of any other European nation. Every
European nation has endeavoured, more or less, to monopolize to
itself the commerce of its colonies, and, upon that account, has
prohibited the ships of foreign nations from trading to them, and
has prohibited them from importing European goods from any
foreign nation. But the manner in which this monopoly has been
exercised in different nations, has been very different.

Some nations have given up the whole commerce of their colonies
to an exclusive company, of whom the colonists were obliged to
buy all such European goods as they wanted, and to whom they were
obliged to sell the whole of their surplus produce. It was the
interest of the company, therefore, not only to sell the former
as dear, and to buy the latter as cheap as possible, but to buy
no more of the latter, even at this low price, than what they
could dipose of for a very high price in Europe. It was their
interest not only to degrade in all cases the value of the
surplus produce of the colony, but in many cases to discourage
and keep down the natural increase of its quantity. Of all the
expedients that can well be contrived to stunt the natural growth
of a new colony, that of an exclusive company is undoubtedly the
most effectual. This, however, has been the policy of Holland,
though their company, in the course of the present century, has
given up in many respects the exertion of their exclusive
privilege. This, too, was the policy of Denmark, till the reign
of the late king. It has occasionally been the policy of France ;
and of late, since 1755, after it had been abandoned by all other
nations on account of its absurdity, it has become the policy of
Portugal, with regard at least to two of the principal provinces
of Brazil, Pernambucco, and Marannon.

Other nations, without establishing an exclusive company, have
confined the whole commerce of their colonies to a particular
port of the mother country, from whence no ship was allowed to
sail, but either in a fleet and at a particular season, or, if
single, in consequence of a particular license, which in most
cases was very well paid for. This policy opened, indeed, the
trade of the colonies to all the natives of the mother country,
provided they traded from the proper port, at the proper season,
and in the proper vessels. But as all the different merchants,
who joined their stocks in order to fit out those licensed
vessels, would find it for their interest to act in concert, the
trade which was carried on in this manner would necessarily be
conducted very nearly upon the same principles as that of an
exclusive company. The profit of those merchants would be almost
equally exorbitant and oppressive. The colonies would be ill
supplied, and would be obliged both to buy very dear, and to sell
very cheap. This, however, till within these few years, had
always been the policy of Spain; and the price of all European
goods, accordingly, is said to have been enormous in the Spanish
West Indies. At Quito, we are told by Ulloa, a pound of iron sold
for about 4s:6d., and a pound of steel for about 6s:9d. sterling.
But it is chiefly in order to purchase European goods that the
colonies part with their own produce. The more, therefore, they
pay for the one, the less they really get for the other, and the
dearness of the one is the same thing with the cheapness of the
other. The policy of Portugal is, in this respect, the same as
the ancient policy of Spain, with regard to all its colonies,
except Pernambucco and Marannon; and with regard to these it has
lately adopted a still worse.

Other nations leave the trade of their colonies free to all their
subjects, who may carry it on from all the different ports of the
mother country, and who have occasion for no other license than
the common despatches of the custom-house. In this case the
number and dispersed situation of the different traders renders
it impossible for them to enter into any general combination, and
their competition is sufficient to hinder them from making very
exorbitant profits. Under so liberal a policy, the colonies are
enabled both to sell their own produce, and to buy the goods of
Europe at a reasonable price; but since the dissolution of the
Plymouth company, when our colonies were but in their infancy,
this has always been the policy of England. It has generally,
too, been that of France, and has been uniformly so since the
dissolution of what in England is commonly called their
Mississippi company. The profits of the trade, therefore, which
France and England carry on with their colonies, though no doubt
somewhat higher than if the competition were free to all other
nations, are, however, by no means exorbitant ; and the price of
European goods, accordingly, is not extravagantly high in the
greater past of the colonies of either of those nations.

In the exportation of their own surplus produce, too, it is only
with regard to certain commodities that the colonies of Great
Britain are confined to the market of the mother country. These
commodities having been enumerated in the act of navigation, and
in some other subsequent acts, have upon that account been called
enumerated commodities. The rest are called non-enumerated, and
may be exported directly to other countries, provided it is in
British or plantation ships, of which the owners and three
fourths of the mariners are British subjects

Among the non-enumerated commodities are some of the most
important productions of America and the West Indies, grain of
all sorts, lumber, salt provisions, fish, sugar, and rum.

Grain is naturally the first and principal object of the culture
of all new colonies. By allowing them a very extensive market for
it, the law encourages them to extend this culture much beyond
the consumption of a thinly inhabited country, and thus to
provide beforehand an ample subsistence for a continually
increasing population.

In a country quite covered with wood, where timber consequently
is of little or no value, the expense of clearing the ground is
the principal obstacle to improvement. By allowing the colonies a
very extensive market for their lumber, the law endeavours to
facilitate improvement by raising the price of a commodity which
would otherwise be of little value, and thereby enabling them to
make some profit of what would otherwise be mere expense.

In a country neither half peopled nor half cultivated, cattle
naturally multiply beyond the consumption of the inhabitants, and
are often, upon that account, of little or no value. But it is
necessary, it has already been shown, that the price of cattle
should bear a certain proportion to that of corn, before the
greater part of the lands of any country can be improved. By
allowing to American cattle, in all shapes, dead and alive, a
very extensive market, the law endeavours to raise the value of a
commodity, of which the high price is so very essential to
improvement. The good effects of this liberty, however, must be
somewhat diminished by the 4th of Geo. III. c. 15, which puts
hides and skins among the enumerated commodities, and thereby
tends to reduce the value of American cattle.

To increase the shipping and naval power of Great Britain by the
extension of the fisheries of our colonies, is an object which
the legizslature seems to have had almost constantly in view.
Those fisheries, upon this account, have had all the
encouragement which freedom can give them, and they have
flourished accordingly. The New England fishery, in particular,
was, before the late disturbances, one of the most important,
perhaps, in the world. The whale fishery which, notwithstanding
an extravagant bounty, is in Great Britain carried on to so
little purpose, that in the opinion of many people ( which I do
not, however, pretend to warrant), the whole produce does not
much exceed the value of the bounties which are annually paid for
it, is in New England carried on, without any bounty, to a very
great extent. Fish is one of the principal articles with which
the North Americans trade to Spain, Portugal, and the

Sugar was originally an enumerated commodity, which could only be
exported to Great Britain; but in 1751, upon a representation of
the sugar-planters, its exportation was permitted to all parts of
the world. The restrictions, however, with which this liberty was
granted, joined to the high price of sugar in Great Britain, have
rendered it in a great measure ineffectual. Great Britain and her
colonies still continue to be almost the sole market for all
sugar produced in the British plantations. Their consumption
increases so fast, that, though in consequence of the increasing
improvement of Jamaica, as well as of the ceded islands, the
importation of sugar has increased very greatly within these
twenty years, the exportation to foreign countries is said to be
not much greater than before.

Rum is a very important article in the trade which the Americans
carry on to the coast of Africa, from which they bring back negro
slaves in return.

If the whole surplus produce of America, in grain of all sorts,
in salt provisions, and in fish, had been put into the
enumeration, and thereby forced into the market of Great Britain,
it would have interferred too much with the produce of the
industry of our own people. It was probably not so much from any
regard to the interest of America, as from a jealousy of this
interference, that those important commodities have not only been
kept out of the enumeration, but that the importation into Great
Britain of all grain, except rice, and of all salt provisions,
has, in the ordinary state of the law, been prohibited.

The non-enumerated commodities could originally be exported to
all parts of the world. Lumber and rice having been once put into
the enumeration, when they were afterwards taken out of it, were
confined, as to the European market, to the countries that lie
south of Cape Finisterre. By the 6th of George III. c. 52, all
non-enumerated commodities were subjected to the like
restriction. The parts of Europe which lie south of Cape
Finisterre are not manufacturing countries, and we are less
jealous of the colony ships carrying home from them any
manufactures which could interfere with our own.

The enumerated commodities are of two sorts ; first, such as are
either the peculiar produce of America, or as cannot be produced,
or at least are not produced in the mother country. Of this kind
are molasses, coffee, cocoa-nuts, tobacco, pimento, ginger,
whalefins, raw silk, cotton, wool, beaver, and other peltry of
America, indigo, fustick, and other dyeing woods; secondly, such
as are not the peculiar produce of America, but which are, and
may be produced in the mother country, though not in such
quantities as to supply the greater part of her demand, which is
principally supplied from foreign countries. Of this kind are all
naval stores, masts, yards, and bowsprits, tar, pitch, and
turpentine, pig and bar iron, copper ore, hides and skins, pot
and pearl ashes. The largest importation of commodities of the
first kind could not discourage the growth, or interfere with the
sale, of any part of the produce of the mother country. By
confining them to the home market, our merchants, it was
expected, would not only be enabled to buy them cheaper in the
plantations, and consequently to sell them with a better profit
at home, but to establish between the plantations and foreign
countries an advantageous carrying trade, of which Great Britain
was necessarily to be the centre or emporium, as the European
country into which those commodities were first to be imported.
The importation of commodities of the second kind might be so
managed too, it was supposed, as to interfere, not with the sale
of those of the same kind which were produced at home, but with
that of those which were imported from foreign countries ;
because, by means of proper duties, they might be rendered always
somewhat dearer than the former, and yet a good deal cheaper than
the latter. By confining such commodities to the home market,
therefore, it was proposed to discourage the produce, not of
Great Britain, but of some foreign countries with which the
balance of trade was believed to be unfavourable to Great

The prohibition of exporting from the colonies to any other
country but Great Britain, masts, yards, and bowsprits, tar,
pitch, and turpentine, naturally tended to lower the price of
timber in the colonies, and consequently to increase the expense
of clearing their lands, the principal obstacle to their
improvement. But about the beginning of the present century, in
1703, the pitch and tar company of Sweden endeavoured to raise
the price of their commodities to Great Britain, by prohibiting
their exportation, except in their own ships, at their own price,
and in such quantities as they thought proper. In order to
counteract this notable piece of mercantile policy, and to render
herself as much as possible independent, not only of Sweden, but
of all the other northern powers, Great Britain gave a bounty
upon the importation of naval stores from America; and the effect
of this bounty was to raise the price of timber in America much
more than the confinement to the home market could lower it; and
as both regulations were enacted at the same time, their joint
effect was rather to encourage than to discourage the clearing of
land in America.

Though pig and bar iron, too, have been put among the enumerated
commodities, yet as, when imported from America, they are
exempted from considerable duties to which they are subject when
imported front any other country, the one part of the regulation
contributes more to encourage the erection of furnaces in America
than the other to discourage it. There is no manufacture which
occasions so great a consumption of wood as a furnace, or which
can contribute so much to the clearing of a country overgrown
with it.

The tendency of some of these regulations to raise the value of
timber in America, and thereby to facilitate the clearing of the
land, was neither, perhaps, intended nor understood by the
legislature. Though their beneficial effects, however, have been
in this respect accidental, they have not upon that account been
less real.

The most perfect freedom of trade is permitted between the
British colonies of America and the West Indies, both in the
enumerated and in the non-enumerated commodities Those colonies
are now become so populous and thriving, that each of them finds
in some of the others a great and extensive market for every part
of its produce. All of them taken together, they make a great
internal market for the produce of one another.

The liberality of England, however, towards the trade of her
colonies, has been confined chiefly to what concerns the market
for their produce, either in its rude state, or in what may be
called the very first stage of manufacture. The more advanced or
more refined manufactures, even of the colony produce, the
merchants and manufacturers of Great Britain chuse to reserve to
themselves, and have prevailed upon the legislature to prevent
their establishment in the colonies, sometimes by high duties,
and sometimes by absolute prohibitions.

While, for example, Muscovado sugars from the British plantations
pay, upon importation, only 6s:4d. the hundred weight, white
sugars pay 1:1:1; and refined, either double or single, in
loaves, 4:2:5 8/20ths. When those high duties were imposed,
Great Britain was the sole, and she still continues to be, the
principal market, to which the sugars of the British colonies
could be exported. They amounted, therefore, to a prohibition, at
first of claying or refining sugar for any foreign market, and at
present of claying or refining it for the market which takes off,
perhaps, more than nine-tenths of the whole produce. The
manufacture of claying or refining sugar, accordingly, though it
has flourished in all the sugar colonies of France, has been
little cultivated in any of those of England, except for the
market of the colonies themselves. While Grenada was in the hands
of the French, there was a refinery of sugar, by claying, at
least upon almost every plantation. Since it fell into those of
the English, almost all works of this kind have been given up;
and there are at present (October 1773), I am assured, not above
two or three remaining in the island. At present, however, by an
indulgence of the custom-house, clayed or refined sugar, if
reduced from loaves into powder, is commonly imported as

While Great Britain encourages in America the manufacturing of
pig and bar iron, by exempting them from duties to which the like
commodities are subject when imported from any other country, she
imposes an absolute prohibition upon the erection of steel
furnaces and slit-mills in any of her American plantations. She
will not suffer her colonies to work in those more refined
manufactures, even for their own consumption ; but insists upon
their purchasing of her merchants and manufacturers all goods of
this kind which they have occasion for.

She prohibits the exportation from one province to another by
water, and even the canriage by land upon horseback, or in a
cart, of hats, of wools, and woollen goods, of the produce of
America; a regulation which effectually prevents the
establishment of any manufacture of such commodities for distant
sale, and confines the industry of her colonists in this way to
such coarse and household manufactures as a private family
commonly makes for its own use, or for that of some of its
neighbours in the same province.

To prohibit a great people, however, from making all that they
can of every part of their own produce, or from employing their
stock and industry in the way that they judge most advantageous
to themselves, is a manifest violation of the most sacred rights
of mankind. Unjust, however, as such prohibitions may be, they
have not hitherto been very hurtful to the colonies. Land is
still so cheap, and, consequently, labour so dear among them,
that they can import from the mother country almost all the more
refined or more advanced manufactures cheaper than they could
make them for themselves. Though they had not, therefore, been
prohibited from establishing such manufactures, yet, in their
present state of improvement, a regard to their own interest
would probably have prevented them from doing so. In their
present state of improvement, those prohibitions, perhaps,
without cramping their industry, or restraining it from any
employment to which it would have gone of its own accord, are
only impertinent badges of slavery imposed upon them, without any
sufficient reason, by the groundless jealousy of the merchants
and manufacturers of the mother country. In a more advanced
state, they might be really oppressive and insupportable.

Great Britain, too, as she confines to her own market some of the
most important productions of the colonies, so, in compensation,
she gives to some of them an advantage in that market, sometimes
by imposing higher duties upon the like productions when imported
from other countries, and sometimes by giving bounties upon their
importation from the colonies. In the first way, she gives an
advantage in the home market to the sugar, tobacco, and iron of
her own colonies; and, in the second, to their raw silk, to their
hemp and flax, to their indigo, to their naval stores, and to
their building timber. This second way of encouraging the colony
produce, by bounties upon importation, is, so far as I have been
able to learn, peculiar to Great Britain: the first is not.
Portugal does not content herself with imposing higher duties
upon the importation of tobacco from any other country, but
prohibits it under the severest penalties.

With regard to the importation of goods from Europe, England has
likewise dealt more liberally with her colonies than any other

Great Britain allows a part, almost always the half, generally a
larger portion, and sometimes the whole, of the duty which is
paid upon the importation of foreign goods, to be drawn back upon
their exportation to any foreign country. No independent foreign
country, it was easy to foresee, would receive them, if they came
to it loaded with the heavy duties to which almost all foreign
goods are subjected on their importation into Great Britain.
Unless, therefore, some part of those duties was drawn back upon
exportation, there was an end of the carrying trade; a trade so
much favoured by the mercantile system.

Our colonies, however, are by no means independent foreign
countries; and Great Britain having assumed to herself the
exclusive right of supplying them with all goods from Europe,
might have forced them (in the same manner as other countries
have done their colonies) to receive such goods loaded with all
the same duties which they paid in the mother country. But, on
the contrary, till 1763, the same drawbacks were paid upon the
exportation of the greater part of foreign goods to our colonies,
as to any independent foreign country. In 1763, indeed, by the
4th of Geo. III. c. 15, this indulgence was a good deal abated,
and it was enacted, " That no part of the duty called the old
subsidy should be drawn back for any goods of the growth,
production, or manufacture of Europe or the East Indies, which
should be exported from this kingdom to any British colony or
plantation in America; wines, white calicoes, and muslins,
excepted." Before this law, many different sorts of foreign goods
might have been bought cheaper in the plantations than in the
mother country, and some may still.

Of the greater part of the regulations concerning the colony
trade, the merchants who carry it on, it must be observed, have
been the principal advisers. We must not wonder, therefore, if,
in a great part of them, their interest has been more considered
than either that of the colonies or that of the mother country.
In their exclusive privilege of supplying the colonies with all
the goods which they wanted from Europe, and of purchasing all
such parts of their surplus produce as could not interfere with
any of the trades which they themselves carried on at home, the
interest of the colonies was sacrificed to the interest of those
merchants. In allowing the same drawbacks upon the re-exportation
of the greater part of European and East India goods to the
colonies, as upon their re-exportation to any independent
country, the interest of the mother country was sacrificed to it,
even according to the mercantile ideas of that interest. It was
for the interest of the merchants to pay as little as possible
for the foreign goods which they sent to the colonies, and,
consequently, to get back as much as possible of the duties which
they advanced upon their importation into Great Britain. They
might thereby be enabled to sell in the colonies, either the same
quantity of goods with a greater profit, or a greater quantity
with the same profit, and, consequently, to gain something either
in the one way or the other. It was likewise for the interest of
the colonies to get all such goods as cheap, and in as great
abundance as possible. But this might not always be for the
interest of the mother country. She might frequently suffer, both
in her revenue, by giving back a great part of the duties which
had been paid upon the importation of such goods; and in her
manufactures, by being undersold in the colony market, in
consequence of the easy terms upon which foreign manufactures
could be carried thither by means of those drawbacks. The
progress of the linen manufacture of Great Britain, it is
commonly said, has been a good deal retarded by the drawbacks
upon the re-exportation of German linen to the American colonies.

But though the policy of Great Britain, with regard to the trade
of her colonies, has been dictated by the same mercantile spirit
as that of other nations, it has, however, upon the whole, been
less illiberal and oppressive than that of any of them.

In every thing except their foreign trade, the liberty of the
English colonists to manage their own affairs their own way, is
complete. It is in every respect equal to that of their
fellow-citizens at home, and is secured in the same manner, by an
assembly of the representatives of the people, who claim the sole
right of imposing taxes for the support of the colony government.
The authority of this assembly overawes the executive power ; and
neither the meanest nor the most obnoxious colonist, as long as
he obeys the law, has any thing to fear from the resentment,
either of the governor, or of any other civil or military officer
in the province. The colony assemblies, though, like the house of
commons in England, they are not always a very equal
representation of the people, yet they approach more nearly to
that character ; and as the executive power either has not the
means to corrupt them, or, on account of the support which it
receives from the mother country, is not under the necessity of
doing so, they are, perhaps, in general more influenced by the
inclinations of their constituents. The councils, which, in the
colony legislatures, correspond to the house of lords in Great
Britain, are not composed of a hereditary nobility. In some of
the colonies, as in three of the governments of New England,
those councils are not appointed by the king, but chosen by the
representatives of the people. In none of the English colonies is
there any hereditary nobility. In all of them, indeed, as in all
other free countries, the descendant of an old colony family is
more respected than an upstart of equal merit and fortune; but he
is only more respected, and he has no privileges by which he can
be troublesome to his neighbours. Before the commencement of the
present disturbances, the colony assemblies had not only the
legislative, but a part of the executive power. In Connecticut
and Rhode Island, they elected the governor. In the other
colonies, they appointed the revenue officers, who collected the
taxes imposed by those respective assemblies, to whom those
officers were immediately responsible. There is more equality,
therefore, among the English colonists than among the inhabitants
of the mother country. Their manners are more re publican; and
their governments, those of three of the provinces of New England
in particular, have hitherto been more republican too.

The absolute governments of Spain, Portugal, and France, on the
contrary, take place in their colonies; and the discretionary
powers which such governments commonly delegate to all their
inferior officers are, on account of the great distance,
naturally exercised there with more than ordinary violence. Under
all absolute governments, there is more liberty in the capital
than in any other part of the country. The sovereign himself can
never have either interest or inclination to pervert the order of
justice, or to oppress the great body of the people. In the
capital, his presence overawes, more or less, all his inferior
officers, who, in the remoter provinces, from whence the
complaints of the people are less likely to reach him, can
exercise their tyranny with much more safety. But the European
colonies in America are more remote than the most distant
provinces of the greatest empires which had ever been known
before. The government of the English colonies is, perhaps, the
only one which, since the world began, could give perfect
security to the inhabitants of so very distant a province. The
administration of the French colonies, however, has always been
conducted with much more gentleness and moderation than that of
the Spanish and Portuguese. This superiority of conduct is
suitable both to the character of the French nation, and to what
forms the character of every nation, the nature of their
government, which, though arbitrary and violent in comparison
with that of Great Britain, is legal and free in comparison with
those of Spain and Portugal.

It is in the progress of the North American colonies, however,
that the superiority of the English policy chiefly appears. The
progress of the sugar colonies of France has been at least equal,
perhaps superior, to that of the greater part of those of
England; and yet the sugar colonies of England enjoy a free
government, nearly of the same kind with that which takes place
in her colonies of North America. But the sugar colonies of
France are not discouraged, like those of England, from refining
their own sugar; and what is still of greater importance, the
genius of their government naturally introduces a better
management of their negro slaves.

In all European colonies, the culture of the sugar-cane is
carried on by negro slaves. The constitution of those who have
been born in the temperate climate of Europe could not, it is
supposed, support the labour of digging the ground under the
burning sun of the West Indies ; and the culture of the
sugar-cane, as it is managed at present, is all hand labour ;
though, in the opinion of many, the drill plough might be
introduced into it with great advantage. But, as the profit and
success of the cultivation which is carried on by means of
cattle, depend very much upon the good management of those cattle
; so the profit and success of that which is carried on by slaves
must depend equally upon the good management of those slaves ;
and in the good management of their slaves the French planters, I
think it is generally allowed, are superior to the English. The
law, so far as it gives some weak protection to the slave against
the violence of his master, is likely to be better executed in a
colony where the government is in a great measure arbitrary, than
in one where it is altogether free. In ever country where the
unfortunate law of slavery is established, the magistrate, when
he protects the slave, intermeddles in some measure in the
management of the private property of the master ; and, in a free
country, where the master is, perhaps, either a member of the
colony assembly, or an elector of such a member, he dares not do
this but with the greatest caution and circumspection. The
respect which he is obliged to pay to the master, renders it more
difficult for him to protect the slave. But in a country where
the government is in a great measure arbitrary, where it is usual
for the magistrate to intermeddle even in the management of the
private property of individuals, and to send them, perhaps, a
lettre de cachet, if they do not manage it according to his
liking, it is much easier for him to give some protection to the
slave; and common humanity naturally disposes him to do so. The
protection of the magistrate renders the slave less contemptible
in the eyes of his master, who is thereby induced to consider him
with more regard, and to treat him with more gentleness. Gentle
usage renders the slave not only more faithful, but more
intelligent, and, therefore, upon a double account, more useful.
He approaches more to the condition of a free servant, and may
possess some degree of integrity and attachment to his master's
interest ; virtues which frequently belong to free servants, but
which never can belong to a slave, who is treated as slaves
commonly are in countries where the master is perfectly free and

That the condition of a slave is better under an arbitrary than
under a free government, is, I believe, supported by the history
of all ages and nations. In the Roman history, the first time we
read of the magistrate interposing to protect the slave from the
violence of his master, is under the emperors. When Vidius
Pollio, in the presence of Augustus, ordered one of his slaves,
who had committed a slight fault, to be cut into pieces and
thrown into his fish-pond, in order to feed his fishes, the
emperor commanded him, with indignation, to emancipate
immediately, not only that slave, but all the others that
belonged to him. Under the republic no magistrate could have had
authority enough to protect the slave, much less to punish the

The stock, it is to be observed, which has improved the sugar
colonies of France, particularly the great colony of St Domingo,
has been raised almost entirely from the gradual improvement and
cultivation of those colonies. It has been almost altogether the
produce of the soil and of the industry of the colonists, or,
what comes to the same thing, the price of that produce,
gradually accumulated by good management, and employed in raising
a still greater produce. But the stock which has improved and
cultivated the sugar colonies of England, has, a great part of
it, been sent out from England, and has by no means been
altogether the produce of the soil and industry of the colonists.
The prosperity of the English sugar colonies has been in a great
measure owing to the great riches of England, of which a part has
overflowed, if one may say so, upon these colonies. But the
prosperity of the sugar colonies of France has been entirely
owing to the good conduct of the colonists, which must therefore
have had some superiority over that of the English; and this
superiority has been remarked in nothing so much as in the good
management of their slaves.

Such have been the general outlines of the policy of the
different European nations with regard to their colonies.

The policy of Europe, therefore, has very little to boast of,
either in the original establishment, or, so far as concerns
their internal government, in the subsequent prosperity of the
colonies of America.

Folly and injustice seem to have been the principles which
presided over and directed the first project of establishing
those colonies; the folly of hunting after gold and silver mines,
and the injustice of coveting the possession of a country whose
harmless natives, far from having ever injured the people of
Europe, had received the first adventurers with every mark of
kindness and hospitality.

The adventurers, indeed, who formed some of the latter
establishments, joined to the chimerical project of finding gold
and silver mines, other motives more reasonable and more
laudable; but even these motives do very little honour to the
policy of Europe.

The English puritans, restrained at home, fled for freedom to
America, and established there the four governments of New
England. The English catholics, treated with much greater
injustice, established that of Maryland ; the quakers, that of
Pennsylvania. The Portuguese Jews, persecuted by the inquisition,
stript of their fortunes, and banished to Brazil, introduced, by
their example, some sort of order and industry among the
transported felons and strumpets by whom that colony was
originally peopled, and taught them the culture of the
sugar-cane. Upon all these different occasions, it was not the
wisdom and policy, but the disorder and injustice of the European
governments, which peopled and cultivated America.

In effectuation some of the most important of these
establishments, the different governments of Europe had as little
merit as in projecting them. The conquest of Mexico was the
project, not of the council of Spain, but of a governor of Cuba ;
and it was effectuated by the spirit of the bold adventurer to
whom it was entrusted, in spite of every thing which that
governor, who soon repented of having trusted such a person,
could do to thwart it. The conquerors of Chili and Peru, and of
almost all the other Spanish settlements upon the continent of
America, carried out with them no other public encouragement, but
a general permission to make settlements and conquests in the
name of the king of Spain. Those adventures were all at the
private risk and expense of the adventurers. The government of
Spain contributed scarce any thing to any of them. That of
England contributed as little towards effectuating the
establishment of some of its most important colonies in North

When those establishments were effectuated, and had become so
considerable as to attract the attention of the mother country,
the first regulations which she made with regard to them, had
always in view to secure to herself the monopoly of their
commerce; to confine their market, and to enlarge her own at
their expense, and, consequently, rather to damp and discourage,
than to quicken and forward the course of their prosperity. In
the different ways in which this monopoly has been exercised,
consists one of the most essential differences in the policy of
the different European nations with regard to their colonies. The
best of them all, that of England, is only somewhat less
illiberal and oppressive than that of any of the rest.

In what way, therefore, has the policy of Europe contributed
either to the first establishment, or to the present grandeur of
the colonies of America ? In one way, and in one way only, it has
contributed a good deal. Magna virum mater! It bred and formed
the men who were capable of achieving such great actions, and of
laying the foundation of so great an empire ; and there is no
other quarter of the world; of which the policy is capable of
forming, or has ever actually, and in fact, formed such men. The
colonies owe to the policy of Europe the education and great
views of their active and enterprizing founders; and some of the
greatest and most important of them, so far as concerns their
internal government, owe to it scarce anything else.


Of the Advantages which Europe has derived From the Discovery of
America, and from that of a Passage to the East Indies by the
Cape of Good Hope.

Such are the advantages which the colonies of America have
derived from the policy of Europe.

What are those which Europe has derived from the discovery and
colonization of America?

Those advantages may be divided, first, into the general
advantages which Europe, considered as one great country, has
derived from those great events; and, secondly, into the
particular advantages which each colonizing country has derived
from the colonies which particularly belong to it, in consequence
of the authority or dominion which it exercises over them.

The general advantages which Europe, considered as one great
country, has derived from the discovery and colonization of
America, consist, first, in the increase of its enjoyments ; and,
secondly, in the augmentation of its industry.

The surplus produce of America imported into Europe, furnishes
the inhabitants of this great continent with a variety of
commodities which they could not otherwise have possessed ; some
for conveniency and use, some for pleasure, and some for ornament
; and thereby contributes to increase their enjoyments.

The discovery and colonization of America, it will readily be
allowed, have contributed to augment the industry, first, of all
the countries which trade to it directly, such as Spain,
Portugal, France, and England; and, secondly, of all those which,
without trading to it directly, send, through the medium of other
countries, goods to it of their own produce, such as Austrian
Flanders, and some provinces of Germany, which, through the
medium of the countries before mentioned, send to it a
considerable quantity of linen and other goods. All such
countries have evidently gained a more extensive market for their
surplus produce, and must consequently have been encouraged to
increase its quantity.

But that those great events should likewise have contributed to
encourage the industry of countries such as Hungary and Poland,
which may never, perhaps, have sent a single commodity of their
own produce to America, is not, perhaps, altogether so evident.
That those events have done so, however, cannot be doubted. Some
part of the produce of America is consumed in Hungary and Poland,
and there is some demand there for the sugar, chocolate. and
tobacco, of that new quarter of the world. But those commodities
must be purchased with something which is either the produce of
the industry of Hungary and Poland, or with something which had
been purchased with some part of that produce. Those commodities
of America are new values, new equivalents, introduced into
Hungary and Poland, to be exchanged there for the surplus produce
of these countries. By being carried thither, they create a new
and more extensive market for that surplus produce. They raise
its value, and thereby contribute to encourage its increase.
Though no part of it may ever be carried to America, it may be
carried to other countries, which purchase it with a part of
their share of the surplus produce of America, and it may find a
market by means of the circulation of that trade which was
originally put into motion by the surplus produce of America.

Those great events may even have contributed to increase the
enjoyments, and to augment the industry, of countries which not
only never sent any commodities to America, but never received
any from it. Even such countries may have received a greater
abundance of other commodities from countries, of which the
surplus produce had been augmented by means of the American
trade. This greater abundance, as it must necessarily have
increased their enjoyments, so it must likewise have augmented
their industry. A greater number of new equivalents, of some kind
or other, must have been presented to them to be exchanged for
the surplus produce of that industry. A more extensive market
must have been created for that surplus produce, so as to raise
its value, and thereby encourage its increase. The mass of
commodities annually thrown into the great circle of European
commerce, and by its various revolutions annually distributed
among all the different nations comprehended within it, must have
been augmented by the whole surplus produce of America. A greater
share of this greater mass, therefore, is likely to have fallen
to each of those nations, to have increased their enjoyments, and
augmented their industry.

The exclusive trade of the mother countries tends to diminish, or
at least to keep down below what they would otherwise rise to,
both the enjoyments and industry of all those nations in general,
and of the American colonies in particular. It is a dead weight
upon the action of one of the great springs which puts into
motion a great part of the business of mankind. By rendering the
colony produce dearer in all other countries, it lessens its
consumption, and thereby cramps the industry of the colonies, and
both the enjoyments and the industry of all other countries,
which both enjoy less when they pay more for what they enjoy, and
produce less when they get less for what they produce. By
rendering the produce of all other countries dearer in the
colonies, it cramps in the same manner the industry of all other
colonies, and both the enjoyments and the industry of the
colonies. It is a clog which, for the supposed benefit of some
particular countries, embarrasses the pleasures and encumbers the
industry of all other countries, but of the colonies more than of
any other. It not only excludes as much as possible all other
countries from one particular market, but it confines as much as
possible the colonies to one particular market; and the
difference is very great between being excluded from one
particular market when all others are open, and being confined to
one particular market when all others are shut up. The surplus
produce of the colonies, however, is the original source of all
that increase of enjoyments and industry which Europe derives
from the discovery and colonization of America, and the exclusive
trade of the mother countries tends to render this source much
less abundant than it otherwise would be.

The particular advantages which each colonizing country derives
from the colonies which particularly belong to it, are of two
different kinds ; first, those common advantages which every
empire derives from the provinces subject to its dominion ; and,
secondly, those peculiar advantages which are supposed to result
from provinces of so very peculiar a nature as the European
colonies of America.

The common advantages which every empire derives from the
provinces subject to its dominion consist, first, in the military
force which they furnish for its defence; and, secondly, in the
revenue which they furnish for the support of its civil
government. The Roman colonies furnished occasionally both the
one and the other. The Greek colonies sometimes furnished a
military force, but seldom any revenue. They seldom acknowledged
themselves subject to the dominion of the mother city. They were
generally her allies in war, but very seldom her subjects in

The European colonies of America have never yet furnished any
military force for the defence of the mother country. The
military force has never yet been sufficient for their own
defence; and in the different wars in which the mother countries
have been engaged, the defence of their colonies has generally
occasioned a very considerable distraction of the military force
of those countries. In this respect, therefore, all the European
colonies have, without exception, been a cause rather of weakness
than of strength to their respective mother countries.

The colonies of Spain and Portugal only have contributed any
revenue towards the defence of the mother country, or the support
of her civil government. The taxes which have been levied upon
those of other European nations, upon those of England in
particular, have seldom been equal to the expense laid out upon
them in time of peace, and never sufficient to defray that which
they occasioned in time of war. Such colonies, therefore, have
been a source of expense, and not of revenue, to their respective
mother countries.

The advantages of such colonies to their respective mother
countries, consist altogether in those peculiar advantages which
are supposed to result from provinces of so very peculiar a
nature as the European colonies of America; and the exclusive
trade, it is acknowledged, is the sole source of all those
peculiar advantages.

In consequence of this exclusive trade, all that part of the
surplus produce of the English colonies, for example, which
consists in what are called enumerated commodities, can be sent
to no other country but England. Other countries must afterwards
buy it of her. It must be cheaper, therefore, in England than it
can be in any other country, and must contribute more to increase
the enjoyments of England than those of any other country. It
must likewise contribute more to encourage her industry. For all
those parts of her own surplus produce which England exchanges
for those enumerated commodities, she must get a better price
than any other countries can get for the like parts of theirs,
when they exchange them for the same commodities. The
manufactures of England, for example, will purchase a greater
quantity of the sugar and tobacco of her own colonies than the
like manufactures of other countries can purchase of that sugar
and tobacco. So far, therefore, as the manufactures of England
and those of other countries are both to be exchanged for the
sugar and tobacco of the English colonies, this superiority of
price gives an encouragement to the former beyond what the latter
can, in these circumstances, enjoy. The exclusive trade of the
colonies, therefore, as it diminishes, or at least keeps down
below what they would otherwise rise to, both the enjoyments and
the industry of the countries which do not possess it, so it
gives an evident advantage to the countries which do possess it
over those other countries.

This advantage, however, will, perhaps, be found to be rather
what may be called a relative than an absolute advantage, and to
give a superiority to the country which enjoys it, rather by
depressing the industry and produce of other countries, than by
raising those of that particular country above what they would
naturally rise to in the case of a free trade.

The tobacco of Maryland and Virginia, for example, by means of
the monopoly which England enjoys of it, certainly comes cheaper
to England than it can do to France to whom England commonly
sells a considerable part of it. But had France and all other
European countries been at all times allowed a free trade to
Maryland and Virginia, the tobacco of those colonies might by
this time have come cheaper than it actually does, not only to
all those other countries, but likewise to England. The produce
of tobacco, in consequcnce of a market so much more extensive
than any which it has hitherto enjoyed, might, and probably
would, by this time have been so much increased as to reduce the
profits of a tobacco plantation to their natural level with those
of a corn plantation, which it is supposed they are still
somewhat above. The price of tobacco might, and probably would,
by this time have fallen somewhat lower than it is at present. An
equal quantity of the commodities, either of England or of those
other countries, might have purchased in Maryland and Virginia a
greater quantity of tobacco than it can do at present, and
consequently have been sold there for so much a better price. So
far as that weed, therefore, can, by its cheapness and abundance,
increase the enjoyments, or augment the industry, either of
England or of any other country, it would probably, in the case
of a free trade, have produced both these effects in somewhat a
greater degree than it can do at present. England, indeed, would
not, in this case, have had any advantage over other countries.
She might have bought the tobacco of her colonies somewhat
cheaper, and consequently have sold some of her own commodities
somewhat dearer, than she actually does ; but she could neither
have bought the one cheaper, nor sold the other dearer, than any
other country might have done. She might, perhaps, have gained an
absolute, but she would certainly have lost a relative advantage.

In order, however, to obtain this relative advantage in the
colony trade, in order to execute the invidious and malignant
project of excluding, as much as possible, other nations from any
share in it, England, there are very probable reasons for
believing, has not only sacrificed a part of the absolute
advantage which she, as well as every other nation, might have
derived from that trade, but has subjected herself both to an
absolute and to a relative disadvantage in almost every other
branch of trade.

When, by the act of navigation, England assumed to herself the
monopoly of the colony trade, the foreign capitals which had
before been employed in it, were necessarily withdrawn from it.
The English capital, which had before carried on but a part of
it, was now to carry on the whole. The capital which had before
supplied the colonies with but a part of the goods which they
wanted from Europe, was now all that was employed to supply them
with the whole. But it could not supply them with the whole;
and the goods with which it did supply them were necessarily sold
very dear. The capital which had before bought but a part of the
surplus produce of the colonies, was now all that was employed to
buy the whole. But it could not buy the whole at any thing near
the old price ; and therefore, whatever it did buy, it
necessarily bought very cheap. But in an employment of capital,
in which the merchant sold very dear, and bought very cheap, the
profit must have been very great, and much above the ordinary
level of profit in other branches of trade. This superiority of
profit in the colony trade could not fail to draw from other
branches of trade a part of the capital which had before been
employed in them. But this revulsion of capital, as it must have
gradually increased the competition of capitals in the colony
trade, so it must have gradually diminished that competition in
all those other branches of trade ; as it must have gradually
lowered the profits of the one, so it must have gradually raised
those of the other, till the profits of all came to a new level,
different from, and somewhat higher, than that at which they had
been before.

This double effect of drawing capital from all other trades, and
of raising the rate of profit somewhat higher than it otherwise
would have been in all trades, was not only produced by this
monopoly upon its first establishment, but has continued to be
produced by it ever since.

First, This monopoly has been continually drawing capital from
all other trades, to be employed in that of the colonies.

Though the wealth of Great Britain has increased very much since
the establishment of the act of navigation, it certainly has not
increased in the same proportion as that or the colonies. But the
foreign trade of every country naturally increases in proportion
to its wealth, its surplus produce in proportion to its whole
produce; and Great Britain having engrossed to herself almost the
whole of what may be called the foreign trade of the colonies,
and her capital not having increased in the same proportion as
the extent of that trade, she could not carry it on without
continually withdrawing from other branches of trade some part of
the capital which had before been employed in them, as well as
withholding from them a great deal more which would otherwise
have gone to them. Since the establishment of the act of
navigation, accordingly, the colony trade has been continually
increasing, while many other branches of foreign trade,
particularly of that to other parts of Europe, have been
continually decaying. Our manufactures for foreign sale, instead
of being suited, as before the act of navigation, to the
neighbouring market of Europe, or to the more distant one of the
countries which lie round the Mediterranean sea, have the greater
part of them, been accommodated to the still more distant one of
the colonies; to the market in which they have the monopoly,
rather than to that in which they have many competitors. The
causes of decay in other branches of foreign trade, which, by Sir
Matthew Decker and other writers, have been sought for in the
excess and improper mode of taxation, in the high price of
labour, in the increase of luxury, etc. may all be found in the
overgrowth of the colony trade. The mercantile capital of Great
Britain, though very great, yet not being infinite, and though
greatly increased since the act of navigation, yet not being
increased in the same proportion as the colony trade, that trade
could not possibly be carried on without withdrawing some part of
that capital from other branches of trade, nor consequently
without some decay of those other branches.

England, it must be observed, was a great trading country, her
mercantile capital was very great, and likely to become still
greater and greater every day, not only before the act of
navigation had established the monopoly of the corn trade, but
before that trade was very considerable. In the Dutch war, during
the government of Cromwell, her navy was superior to that of
Holland ; and in that which broke out in the beginning of the
reign of Charles II., it was at least equal, perhaps superior to
the united navies of France and Holland. Its superiority,
perhaps, would scarce appear greater in the present times, at
least if the Dutch navy were to bear the same proportion to the
Dutch commerce now which it did then. But this great naval
power could not, in either of those wars, be owing to the act of
navigation. During the first of them, the plan of that act had
been but just formed; and though, before the breaking out of the
second, it had been fully enacted by legal authority, yet no part
of it could have had time to produce any considerable effect, and
least of all that part which established the exclusive trade to
the colonies. Both the colonies and their trade were
inconsiderable then, in comparison of what they are how. The
island of Jamaica was an unwholesome desert, little inhabited,
and less cultivated. New York and New Jersey were in the
possession of the Dutch, the half of St. Christopher's in that of
the French. The island of Antigua, the two Carolinas,
Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Nova Scotia, were not planted.
Virginia, Maryland, and New England were planted; and though they
were very thriving colonies, yet there was not perhaps at that
time, either in Europe or America, a single person who foresaw,
or even suspected, the rapid progress which they have since made
in wealth, population, and improvement. The island of Barbadoes,
in short, was the only British colony of any consequence, of
which the condition at that time bore any resemblance to what it
is at present. The trade of the colonies, of which England, even
for some time after the act of navigation, enjoyed but a part
(for the act of navigation was not very strictly executed till
several years after it was enacted), could not at that time be
the cause of the great trade of England, nor of the great naval
power which was supported by that trade. The trade which at that
time supported that great naval power was the trade of Europe,
and of the countries which lie round the Mediterranean sea. But
the share which Great Britain at present enjoys of that trade
could not support any such great naval power. Had the growing
trade of the colonies been left free to all nations, whatever
share of it might have fallen to Great Britain, and a very
considerable share would probably have fallen to her, must have
been all an addition to this great trade of which she was before
in possession. In consequence of the monopoly, the increase of
the colony trade has not so much occasioned an addition to the
trade which Great Britain had before, as a total change in its

Secondly, This monopoly has necessarily contributed to keep up
the rate of profit, in all the different branches of British
trade, higher than it naturally would have been, had all nations
been allowed a free trade to the British colonies.

The monopoly of the colony trade, as it necessarily drew towards
that trade a greater proportion of the capital of Great Britain
than what would have gone to it of its own accord, so, by the
expulsion of all foreign capitals, it necessarily reduced the
whole quantity of capital employed in that trade below what it
naturally would have been in the case of a free trade. But, by
lessening the competition of capitals in that branch of trade, it
necessarily raised the rate of profit in that branch. By
lessening, too, the competition of British capitals in all other
branches of trade, it necessarily raised the rate of British
profit in all those other branches. Whatever may have been, at
any particular period since the establishment of the act of
navigation, the state or extent of the mercantile capital of
Great Britain, the monopoly of the colony trade must, during the
continuance of that state, have raised the ordinary rate of
British profit higher than it otherwise would have been, both in
that and in all the other branches of British trade. If, since
the establishment of the act of navigation, the ordinary rate of
British profit has fallen considerably. as it certainly has, it
must have fallen still lower, had not the monopoly established by
that act contributed to keep it up.

But whatever raises, in any country, the ordinary rate of profit
higher than it otherwise would be, necessarily subjects that
country both to an absolute, and to a relative disadvantage in
every branch of trade of which she has not the monopoly.

It subjects her to an absolute disadvantage ; because, in such
branches of trade, her merchants cannot get this greater profit
without selling dearer than they otherwise would do, both the
goods of foreign countries which they import into their own, and
the goods of their own country which they export to foreign
countries. Their own country must both buy dearer and sell
dearer; must both buy less, and sell less; must both enjoy less
and produce less, than she otherwise would do.

It subjects her to a relative disadvantage; because, in such
branches of trade, it sets other countries, which are not subject
to the same absolute disadvantage, either more above her or less
below her, than they otherwise would be. It enables them both to
enjoy more and to produce more, in proportion to what she enjoys
and produces. It renders their superiority greater, or their
inferiority less, than it otherwise would be. By raising the
price of her produce above what it otherwise would be, it enables
the merchants of other countries to undersell her in foreign
markets, and thereby to justle her out of almost all those
branches of trade, of which she has not the monopoly.

Our merchants frequently complain of the high wages of British
labour, as the cause of their manufactures being undersold in
foreign markets; but they are silent about the high profits of
stock. They complain of the extravagant gain of other people; but
they say nothing of their own. The high profits of British stock,
however, may contribute towards raising the price of British
manufactures, in many cases, as much, and in some perhaps more,
than the high wages of British labour.

It is in this manner that the capital of Great Britain, one may
justly say, has partly been drawn and partly been driven from the
greater part of the different branches of trade of which she has
not the monopoly ; from the trade of Europe, in particular, and
from that of the countries which lie round the Mediterranean sea.

It has partly been drawn from those branches of trade, by the
attraction of superior profit in the colony trade, in consequence
of the continual increase of that trade, and of the continual
insufficiency of the capital which had carried it on one year to
carry it on the next.

It has partly been driven from them, by the advantage which the
high rate of profit established in Great Britain gives to other
countries, in all the different branches of trade of which Great
Britain has not the monopoly.

As the monopoly of the colony trade has drawn from those other
branches a part of the British capital, which would otherwise
have been employed in them, so it has forced into them many
foreign capitals which would never have gone to them, had they
not been expelled from the colony trade. In those other branches
of trade, it has diminished the competition of British capitals,
and thereby raised the rate of British profit higher than it
otherwise would have been. On the contrary, it has increased the
competition of foreign capitals, and thereby sunk the rate of
foreign profit lower than it otherwise would have been. Both in
the one way and in the other, it must evidently have subjected
Great Britain to a relative disadvantage in all those other
branches of trade.

The colony trade, however, it may perhaps be said, is more
advantageous to Great Britain than any other; and the monopoly,
by forcing into that trade a greater proportion of the capital of
Great Britain than what would otherwise have gone to it, has
turned that capital into an employment, more advantageous to the
country than any other which it could have found.

The most advantageous employment of any capital to the country to
which it belongs, is that which maintains there the greatest
quantity of productive labour, and increases the most the annual
produce of the land and labour of that country. But the quantity
of productive labour which any capital employed in the foreign
trade of consumption can maintain, is exactly in proportion, it
has been shown in the second book, to the frequency of its
returns. A capital of a thousand pounds, for example, employed in
a foreign trade of consumption, of which the returns are made
regularly once in the year, can keep in constant employment, in
the country to which it belongs, a quantity of productive labour,
equal to what a thousand pounds can maintain there for a year. If
the returns are made twice or thrice in the year, it can keep in
constant employment a quantity of productive labour, equal to
what two or three thousand pounds can maintain there for a year.
A foreign trade of consumption carried on with a neighbouring,
is, upon that account, in general, more advantageous than one
carried on with a distant country ; and, for the same reason, a
direct foreign trade of consumption, as it has likewise been
shown in the second book, is in general more advantageous than a
round-about one.

But the monopoly of the colony trade, so far as it has operated
upon the employment of the capital of Great Britain, has, in all
cases, forced some part of it from a foreign trade of consumption
carried on with a neighbouring, to one carried on with a more
distant country, and in many cases from a direct foreign trade of
consumption to a round-about one.

First, The monopoly of the colony trade has, in all cases,
forced some part of the capital of Great Britain from a foreign
trade of consumption carried on with a neighbouring, to one
carried on with a more distant country.

It has, in all cases, forced some part of that capital from the
trade with Europe, and with the countries which lie round the
Mediterranean sea, to that with the more distant regions of
America and the West Indies ; from which the returns are
necessarily less frequent, not only on account of the greater
distance, but on account of the peculiar circumstances of those
countries. New colonies, it has already been observed, are always
understocked. Their capital is always much less than what they
could employ with great profit and advantage in the improvement
and cultivation of their land. They have a constant demand,
therefore, for more capital than they have of their own ; and, in
order to supply the deficiency of their own, they endeavour to
borrow as much as they can of the mother country, to whom they
are, therefore, always in debt. The most common way in which the
colonies contract this debt, is not by borrowing upon bond of the
rich people of the mother country, though they sometimes do this
too, but by running as much in arrear to their correspondents,
who supply them with goods from Europe, as those correspondents
will allow them. Their annual returns frequently do not amount to
more than a third, and sometimes not to so great a proportion of
what they owe. The whole capital, therefore, which their
correspondents advance to them, is seldom returned to Britain in
less than three, and sometimes not in less than four or five
years. But a British capital of a thousand pounds, for example,
which is returned to Great Britain only once in five years, can
keep in constant employment only one-fifth part of the British
industry which it could maintain, if the whole was returned once
in the year; and, instead of the quantity of industry which a
thousand pounds could maintain for a year, can keep in constant
employment the quantity only which two hundred pounds can
maintain for a year. The planter, no doubt, by the high price
which he pays for the goods from Europe, by the interest upon the
bills which he grants at distant dates, and by the commission
upon the renewal of those which he grants at near dates, makes
up, and probably more than makes up, all the loss which his
correspondent can sustain by this delay. But, though he make up
the loss of his correspondent, he cannot make up that of Great
Britain. In a trade of which the returns are very distant, the
profit of the merchant may be as great or greater than in one in
which they are very frequent and near ; but the advantage of the
country in which he resides, the quantity of productive labour
constantly maintained there, the annual produce of the land and
labour, must always be much less. That the returns of the trade
to America, and still more those of that to the West Indies, are,
in general, not only more distant, but more irregular and more
uncertain, too, than those of the trade to any part of Europe, or
even of the countries which lie round the Mediterranean sea, will
readily he allowed, I imagine, by everybody who has any
experience of those different branches of trade.

Secondly, The monopoly of the colony trade, has, in many
cases, forced some part of the capital of Great Britain from a
direct foreign trade of consumption, into a round-about one.

Among the enumerated commodities which can be sent to no other
market but Great Britain, there are several of which the quantity
exceeds very much the consumption of Great Britain, and of which,
a part, therefore, must be exported to other countries. But this
cannot be done without forcing some part of the capital of Great
Britain into a round-about foreign trade of consumption.
Maryland, and Virginia, for example, send annually to Great
Britain upwards of ninety-six thousand hogsheads of tobacco, and
the consumption of Great Britain is said not to exceed fourteen
thousand. Upwards of eighty-two thousand hogsheads,
therefore, must be exported to other countries, to France, to
Holland, and, to the countries which lie round the Baltic and
Mediterranean seas. But that part of the capital of Great
Britain which brings those eighty-two thousand hogsheads to Great
Britain, which re-exports them from thence to those other
countries, and which brings back from those other countries to
Great Britain either goods or money in return, is employed in a
round-about foreign trade of consumption; and is necessarily
forced into this employment, in order to dispose of this great
surplus. If we would compute in how many years the whole of this
capital is likely to come back to Great Britain, we must add to
the distance of the American returns that of the returns from
those other countries. If, in the direct foreign trade of
consumption which we carry on with America, the whole capital
employed frequently does not come back in less than three or four
years, the whole capital employed in this round-about one is not
likely to come back in less than four or five. If the one can
keep in constant employment but a third or a fourth part of the
domestic industry which could be maintained by a capital returned
once in the year, the other can keep in constant employment but a
fourth or a fifth part of that industry. At some of the outports
a credit is commonly given to those foreign correspondents to
whom they export them tobacco. At the port of London, indeed, it
is commonly sold for ready money: the rule is Weigh and pay. At
the port of London, therefore, the final returns of the whole
round-about trade are more distant than the returns from America,
by the time only which the goods may lie unsold in the warehouse;
where, however, they may sometimes lie long enough. But, had not
the colonies been confined to the market of Great Britain for the
sale of their tobacco, very little more of it would probably have
come to us than what was necessary for the home consumption. The
goods which Great Britain purchases at present for her own
consumption with the great surplus of tobacco which she exports
to other countries, she would, in this case, probably have
purchased with the immediate produce of her own industry, or with
some part of her own manufactures. That produce, those
manufactures, instead of being almost entirely suited to one
great market, as at present, would probably have been fitted to a
great number of smaller markets. Instead of one great round-about
foreign trade of consumption, Great Britain would probably have
carried on a great number of small direct foreign trades of the
same kind. On account of the frequency of the returns, a part,
and probably but a small part, perhaps not above a third or a
fourth of the capital which at present carries on this great
round-about trade, might have been sufficient to carry on all
those small direct ones; might have kept inconstant employment an
equal quantity of British industry ; and have equally supported
the annual produce of the land and labour of Great Britain. All
the purposes of this trade being, in this manner, answered by a
much smaller capital, there would have been a large spare capital
to apply to other purposes; to improve the lands, to increase the
manufactures, and to extend the commerce of Great Britain; to
come into competition at least with the other British capitals
employed in all those different ways, to reduce the rate of
profit in them all, and thereby to give to Great Britain, in all
of them, a superiority over other countries, still greater than
what she at present enjoys.

The monopoly of the colony trade, too, has forced some part of
the capital of Great Britain from all foreign trade of
consumption to a carrying trade; and, consequently from
supporting more or less the industry of Great Britain, to be
employed altogether in supporting partly that of the colonies,
and partly that of some other countries.

The goods, for example, which are annually purchased with the
great surplus of eighty-two thousand hogsheads of tobacco
annually re-exported from Great Britain, are not all consumed in
Great Britain. Part of them, linen from Germany and Holland, for
example, is returned to the colonies for their particular
consumption. But that part of the capital of Great Britain which
buys the tobacco with which this linen is afterwards bought, is
necessarily withdrawn from supporting the industry of Great
Britain, to be employed altogether in supporting, partly that of
the colonies, and partly that of the particular countries who pay
for this tobacco with the produce of their own industry.

The monopoly of the colony trade, besides, by forcing towards it
a much greater proportion of the capital of Great Britain than
what would naturally have gone to it, seems to have broken
altogether that natural balance which would otherwise have taken
place among all the different branches of British industry. The
industry of Great Britain, instead of being accommodated to a
great number of small markets, has been principally suited to one
great market. Her commerce, instead of running in a great number
of small channels, has been taught to run principally in one
great channel. But the whole system of her industry and commerce
has thereby been rendered less secure; the whole state of her
body politic less healthful than it otherwise would have been. In
her present condition, Great Britain resembles one of those
unwholesome bodies in which some of the vital parts are
overgrown, and which, upon that account, are liable to many
dangerous disorders, scarce incident to those in which all the
parts are more properly proportioned. A small stop in that great
blood-vessel, which has been artificially swelled beyond its
natural dimensions, and through which an unnatural proportion of
the industry and commerce of the country has been forced to
circulate, is very likely to bring on the most dangerous
disorders upon the whole body politic. The expectation of a
rupture with the colonies, accordingly, has struck the people of
Great Britain with more terror than they ever felt for a Spanish
armada, or a French invasion. It was this terror, whether well or
ill grounded, which rendered the repeal of the stamp act, among
the merchants at least, a popular measure. In the total
exclusion from the colony market, was it to last only for a few
years, the greater part of our merchants used to fancy that they
foresaw an entire stop to their trade; the greater part of our
master manufacturers, the entire ruin of their business; and the
greater part of our workmen, an end of their employment. A
rupture with any of our neighbours upon the continent, though
likely, too, to occasion some stop or interruption in the
employments of some of all these different orders of people, is
foreseen, however, without any such general emotion. The blood,
of which the circulation is stopt in some of the smaller vessels,
easily disgorges itself into the greater, without occasioning any
dangerous disorder; but, when it is stopt in any of the greater
vessels, convulsions, apoplexy, or death, are the immediate and
unavoidable consequences. If but one of those overgrown
manufactures, which, by means either of bounties or of the
monopoly of the home and colony markets, have been artificially
raised up to any unnatural height, finds some small stop or
interruption in its employment, it frequently occasions a mutiny
and disorder alarming to government, and embarrassing even to the
deliberations of the legislature. How great, therefore, would be
the disorder and confusion, it was thought, which must
necessarily be occasioned by a sudden and entire stop in the
employment of so great a proportion of our principal

Some moderate and gradual relaxation of the laws which give to
Great Britain the exclusive trade to the colonies, till it is
rendered in a great measure free, seems to be the only expedient
which can, in all future times, deliver her from this danger ;
which can enable her, or even force her, to withdraw some part of
her capital from this overgrown employment, and to turn it,
though with less profit, towards other employments; and which, by
gradually diminishing one branch of her industry, and gradually
increasing all the rest, can, by degrees, restore all the
different branches of it to that natural, healthful, and proper
proportion, which perfect liberty necessarily establishes, and
which perfect liberty can alone preserve. To open the colony
trade all at once to all nations, might not only occasion some
transitory inconveniency, but a great permanent loss, to the
greater part of those whose industry or capital is at present
engaged in it. The sudden loss of the employment, even of the
ships which import the eighty-two thousand hogsheads of tobacco,
which are over and above the consumption of Great Britain, might
alone be felt very sensibly. Such are the unfortunate effects of
all the regulations of the mercantile system. They not only
introduce very dangerous disorders into the state of the body
politic, but disorders which it is often difficult to remedy,
without occasioning, for a time at least, still greater
disorders. In what manner, therefore, the colony trade ought
gradually to be opened ; what are the restraints which ought
first, and what are those which ought last, to be taken away ; or
in what manner the natural system of perfect liberty and justice
ought gradually to be restored, we must leave to the wisdom of
future statesmen and legislators to determine.

Five different events, unforeseen and unthought of, have very
fortunately concurred to hinder Great Britain from feeling, so
sensibly as it was generally expected she would, the total
exclusion which has now taken place for more than a year (from
the first of December 1774) from a very important branch of the
colony trade, that of the twelve associated provinces of North
America. First, those colonies, in preparing themselves for their
non-importation agreement, drained Great Britain completely of
all the commodities which were fit for their market ; secondly,
the extra ordinary demand of the Spanish flota has, this year,
drained Germany and the north of many commodities, linen in
particular, which used to come into competition, even in the
British market, with the manufactures of Great Britain; thirdly,
the peace between Russia and Turkey has occasioned an
extraordinary demand from the Turkey market, which, during the
distress of the country, and while a Russian fleet was cruizing
in the Archipelago, had been very poorly supplied ; fourthly, the
demand of the north of Europe for the manufactures of Great
Britain has been increasing from year to year, for some time
past; and, fifthly, the late partition, and consequential
pacification of Poland, by opening the market of that great
country, have, this year, added an extraordinary demand from
thence to the increasing demand of the north. These events are
all, except the fourth, in their nature transitory and
accidental; and the exclusion from so important a branch of the
colony trade, if unfortunately it should continue much longer,
may still occasion some degree of distress. This distress,
however, as it will come on gradually, will be felt much less
severely than if it had come on all at once ; and, in the mean
time, the industry and capital of the country may find a new
employment and direction, so as to prevent this distress from
ever rising to any considerable height.

The monopoly of the colony trade, therefore, so far as it has
turned towards that trade a greater proportion of the capital of
Great Britain than what would otherwise have gone to it, has in
all cases turned it, from a foreign trade of consumption with a
neighbouring, into one with a more distant country ; in many
cases from a direct foreign trade of consumption into a
round-about one; and, in some cases, from all foreign trade of
consumption into a carrying trade. It has, in all cases,
therefore, turned it from a direction in which it would have
maintained a greater quantity of productive labour, into one in
which it can maintain a much smaller quantity. By suiting,
besides, to one particular market only, so great a part of the
industry and commerce of Great Britain, it has rendered the whole
state of that industry and commerce more precarious and less
secure, than if their produce had been accommodated to a greater
variety of markets.

We must carefully distinguish between the effects of the colony
trade and those of the monopoly of that trade. The former are
always and necessarily beneficial ; the latter always and
necessarily hurtful. But the former are so beneficial, that the
colony trade, though subject to a monopoly, and, notwithstanding
the hurtful effects of that monopoly, is still, upon the whole,
beneficial, and greatly beneficial, though a good deal less so
than it otherwise would be.

The effect of the colony trade, in its natural and free state, is
to open a great though distant market, for such parts of the
produce of British industry as may exceed the demand of the
markets nearer home, of those of Europe, and of the countries
which lie round the Mediterranean sea. In its natural and free
state, the colony trade, without drawing from those markets any
part of the produce which had ever been sent to them, encourages
Great Britain to increase the surplus continually, by continually
presenting new equivalents to be exchanged for it. In its natural
and free state, the colony trade tends to increase the quantity
of productive labour in Great Britain, but without altering in
any respect the direction of that which had been employed there
before. In the natural and free state of the colony trade, the
competition of all other nations would hinder the rate of profit
from rising above the common level, either in the new market, or
in the new employment. The new market, without drawing any thing
from the old one, would create, if one may say so, a new produce
for its own supply ; and that new produce would constitute a new
capital for carrying on the new employment, which, in the same
manner, would draw nothing from the old one.

The monopoly of the colony trade, on the contrary, by excluding
the competition of other nations, and thereby raising the rate of
profit, both in the new market and in the new employment, draws
produce from the old market, and capital from the old employment.
To augment our share of the colony trade beyond what it otherwise
would be, is the avowed purpose of the monopoly. If our share of
that trade were to be no greater with, than it would have been
without the monopoly, there could have been no reason for
establishing the monopoly. But whatever forces into a branch of
trade, of which the returns are slower and more distant than
those of the greater part of other trades, a greater proportion
of the capital of any country, than what of its own accord would
go to that branch, necessarily renders the whole quantity of
productive labour annually maintained there, the whole annual
produce of the land and labour of that country, less than they
otherwise would be. It keeps down the revenue of the inhabitants
of that country below what it would naturally rise to, and
thereby diminishes their power of accumulation. It not only
hinders, at all times, their capital from maintaining so great a
quantity of productive labour as it would otherwise maintain, but
it hinders it from increasing so fast as it would otherwise
increase, and, consequently, from maintaining a still greater
quantity of productive labour.

The natural good effects of the colony trade, however, more than
counterbalance to Great Britain the bad effects of the monopoly ;
so that, monopoly and altogether, that trade, even as it is
carried on at present, is not only advantageous, but greatly
advantageous. The new market and the new employment which are
opened by the colony trade, are of much greater extent than that
portion of the old market and of the old employment which is lost
by the monopoly. The new produce and the new capital which has
been created, if one may say so, by the colony trade, maintain in
Great Britain a greater quantity of productive labour than what
can have been thrown out of employment by the revulsion of
capital from other trades of which the returns are more frequent.
If the colony trade, however, even as it is carried on at
present, is advantageous to Great Britain, it is not by means of
the monopoly, but in spite of the monopoly.

It is rather for the manufactured than for the rude produce of
Europe, that the colony trade opens a new market. Agriculture is
the proper business of all new colonies; a business which the
cheapness of land renders more advantageous than any other. They
abound, therefore, in the rude produce of land ; and instead of
importing it from other countries, they have generally a large
surplus to export. In new colonies, agriculture either draws
hands from all other employments, or keeps them from going to any
other employment. There are few hands to spare for the necessary,
and none for the ornamental manufactures. The greater part of the
manufactures of both kinds they find it cheaper to purchase of
other countries than to make for themselves. It is chiefly by
encouraging the manufactures of Europe, that the colony trade
indirectly encourages its agriculture. The manufacturers of
Europe, to whom that trade gives employment, constitute a new
market for the produce of the land, and the most advantageous of
all markets ; the home market for the corn and cattle, for the
bread and butcher's meat of Europe, is thus greatly extended by
means of the trade to America.

But that the monopoly of the trade of populous and thriving
colonies is not alone sufficient to establish, or even to
maintain, manufactures in any country, the examples of Spain and
Portugal sufficiently demonstrate. Spain and Portugal were
manufacturing countries before they had any considerable
colonies. Since they had the richest and most fertile in the
world, they have both ceased to be so.

In Spain and Portugal, the bad effects of the monopoly,
aggravated by other causes, have, perhaps, nearly overbalanced
the natural good effects of the colony trade. These causes seem
to be other monopolies of different kinds: the degradation of the
value of gold and silver below what it is in most other countries
; the exclusion from foreign markets by improper taxes upon
exportation, and the narrowing of the home market, by still more
improper taxes upon the transportation of goods from one part of
the country to another ; but above all, that irregular and
partial administration of justice which often protects the rich
and powerful debtor from the pursuit of his injured creditor, and
which makes the industrious part of the nation afraid to prepare
goods for the consumption of those haughty and great men, to whom
they dare not refuse to sell upon credit, and from whom they are
altogether uncertain of repayment.

In England, on the contrary, the natural good effects of the
colony trade, assisted by other causes, have in a great measure
conquered the bad effects of the monopoly. These causes seem to
be, the general liberty of trade, which, notwithstanding some
restraints, is at least equal, perhaps superior, to what it is in
any other country ; the liberty of exporting, duty free, almost
all sorts of goods which are the produce of domestic industry, to
almost any foreign country; and what, perhaps, is of still
greater importance, the unbounded liberty of transporting them
from one part of our own country to any other, without being
obliged to give any account to any public office, without being
liable to question or examination of any kind; but, above all,
that equal and impartial administration of justice, which renders
the rights of the meanest British subject respectable to the
greatest, and which, by securing to every man the fruits of his
own industry, gives the greatest and most effectual encouragement
to every sort of industry.

If the manufactures of Great Britain, however, have been
advanced, as they certainly have, by the colony trade, it has not
been by means of the monopoly of that trade, but in spite of the
monopoly. The effect of the monopoly has been, not to augment
the quantity, but to alter the quality and shape of a part of the
manufactures of Great Britain, and to accommodate to a market,
from which the returns are slow and distant, what would otherwise
have been accommodated to one from which the returns are frequent
and near. Its effect has consequently been, to turn a part of the
capital of Great Britain from an employment in which it would
have maintained a greater quantity of manufacturing industry, to
one in which it maintains a much smaller, and thereby to
diminish, instead of increasing, the whole quantity of
manufacturing industry maintained in Great Britain.

The monopoly of the colony trade, therefore, like all the other
mean and malignant expedients of the mercantile system, depresses
the industry of all other countries, but chiefly that of the
colonies, without in the least increasing, but on the contrary
diminishing, that of the country in whose favour it is

The monopoly hinders the capital of that country, whatever may,
at any particular time, be the extent of that capital, from
maintaining so great a quantity of productive labour as it would
otherwise maintain, and from affording so great a revenue to the
industrious inhabitants as it would otherwise afford. But as
capital can be increased only by savings from revenue, the
monopoly, by hindering it from affording so great a revenue as it
would otherwise afford, necessarily hinders it from increasing so
fast as it would otherwise increase, and consequently from
maintaining a still greater quantity of productive labour, and
affording a still greater revenue to the industrious inhabitants
of that country. One great original source of revenue, therefore,
the wages of labour, the monopoly must necessarily have rendered,
at all times, less abundant than it otherwise would have been.

By raising the rate of mercantile profit, the monopoly
discourages the improvement of land. The profit of improvement
depends upon the difference between what the land actually
produces, and what, by the application of a certain capital, it
can be made to produce. If this difference affords a greater
profit than what can be drawn from an equal capital in any
mercantile employment, the improvement of land will draw capital
from all mercantile employments. If the profit is less,
mercantile employments will draw capital from the improvement of
land. Whatever, therefore, raises the rate of mercantile profit,
either lessens the superiority, or increases the inferiority of
the profit of improvement : and, in the one case, hinders capital
from going to improvement, and in the other draws capital from
it; but by discouraging improvement, the monopoly necessarily
retards the natural increase of another great original source of
revenue, the rent of land. By raising the rate of profit,
too, the monopoly necessarily keeps up the market rate of
interest higher than it otherwise would be. But the price of
land, in proportion to the rent which it affords, the number of
years purchase which is commonly paid for it, necessarily falls
as the rate of interest rises, and rises as the rate of interest
falls. The monopoly, therefore, hurts the interest of the
landlord two different ways, by retarding the natural increase,
first, of his rent, and, secondly, of the price which he would
get for his land, in proportion to the rent which it affords.

The monopoly, indeed, raises the rate of mercantile profit and
thereby augments somewhat the gain of our merchants. But as it
obstructs the natural increase of capital, it tends rather to
diminish than to increase the sum total of the revenue which the
inhabitants of the country derive from the profits of stock ; a
small profit upon a great capital generally affording a greater
revenue than a great profit upon a small one. The monopoly raises
the rate of profit, but it hinders the sum of profit from rising
so high as it otherwise would do.

All the original sources of revenue, the wages of labour, the
rent of land, and the profits of stock, the monopoly renders much
less abundant than they otherwise would be. To promote the little
interest of one little order of men in one country, it hurts the
interest of all other orders of men in that country, and of all
the men in all other countries.

It is solely by raising the ordinary rate of profit, that the
monopoly either has proved, or could prove, advantageous to any
one particular order of men. But besides all the bad effects
to the country in general, which have already been mentioned as
necessarily resulting from a higher rate of profit, there is one
more fatal, perhaps, than all these put together, but which, if
we may judge from experience, is inseparably connected with it.
The high rate of profit seems everywhere to destroy that
parsimony which, in other circumstances, is natural to the
character of the merchant. When profits are high, that sober
virtue seems to be superfluous, and expensive luxury to suit
better the affluence of his situation. But the owners of the
great mercantile capitals are necessarily the leaders and
conductors of the whole industry of every nation; and their
example has a much greater influence upon the manners of the
whole industrious part of it than that of any other order of men.
If his employer is attentive and parsimonious, the workman is
very likely to be so too; but if the master is dissolute and
disorderly, the servant, who shapes his work according to the
pattern which his master prescribes to him, will shape his life,
too, according to the example which he sets him. Accumulation is
thus prevented in the hands of all those who are naturally the
most disposed to accumulate; and the funds destined for the
maintenance of productive labour, receive no augmentation from
the revenue of those who ought naturally to augment them the
most. The capital of the country, instead of increasing,
gradually dwindles away, and the quantity of productive labour
maintained in it grows every day less and less. Have the
exorbitant profits of the merchants of Cadiz and Lisbon augmented
the capital of Spain and Portugal ? Have they alleviated the
poverty, have they promoted the industry, of those two beggarly
countries? Such has been the tone of mercantile expense in those
two trading cities, that those exorbitant profits, far from
augmenting the general capital of the country, seem scarce to
have been sufficient to keep up the capitals upon which they were
made. Foreign capitals are every day intruding themselves, if I
may say so, more and more into the trade of Cadiz and Lisbon. It
is to expel those foreign capitals from a trade which their own
grows every day more and more insufficient for carrying on, that
the Spaniards and Portuguese endeavour every day to straiten more
and more the galling bands of their absurd monopoly. Compare the
mercantile manners of Cadiz and Lisbon with those of Amsterdam,
and you will be sensible how differently the conduct and
character of merchants are affected by the high and by the low
profits of stock. The merchants of London, indeed, have not yet
generally become such magnificent lords as those of Cadiz and
Lisbon; but neither are they in general such attetitive and
parsimonious burghers as those of Amsterdam. They are supposed,
however, many of them, to be a good deal richer than the greater
part of the former, and not quire so rich as many of the latter:
but the rate of their profit is commonly much lower than that of
the former, and a good deal higher than that of the latter. Light
come, light go, says the proverb ; and the ordinary tone of
expense seems everywhere to be regulated, not so much according
to the real ability of spending, as to the supposed facility of
getting money to spend.

It is thus that the single advantage which the monopoly procures
to a single order of men, is in many different ways hurtful to
the general interest of the country.

To found a great empire for the sole purpose of raising up a
people of customers, may at first sight, appear a project fit
only for a nation of shopkeepers. It is, however, a project
altogether unfit for a nation of shopkeepers, but extremely fit
for a nation whose government is influenced by shopkeepers. Such
statesmen, and such statesmen only, are capable of fancying that
they will find some advantage in employing the blood and treasure
of their fellow-citizens, to found and maintain such an empire.
Say to a shopkeeper, Buy me a good estate, and I shall always buy
my clothes at your shop, even though I should pay somewhat dearer
than what I can have them for at other shops ; and you will not
find him very forward to embrace your proposal. But should
any other person buy you such an estate, the shopkeeper will be
much obliged to your benefactor if he would enjoin you to buy all
your clothes at his shop. England purchased for some of her
subjects, who found themselves uneasy at home, a great estate in
a distant country. The price, indeed, was very small, and instead
of thirty years purchase, the ordinary price of land in the
present times, it amounted to little more than the expense of the
different equipments which made the first discovery, reconoitered
the coast, and took a fictitious possession of the country. The
land was good, and of great extent; and the cultivators having
plenty of good ground to work upon, and being for some time at
liberty to sell their produce where they pleased, became, in the
course of little more than thirty or forty years (between 1620
and 1660), so numerous and thriving a people, that the
shopkeepers and other traders of England wished to secure to
themselves the monopoly of their custom. Without pretending,
therefore, that they had paid any part, either of the original
purchase money, or of the subsequent expense of improvement, they
petitioned the parliament, that the cultivators of America might
for the future be confined to their shop; first, for buying all
the goods which they wanted from Europe; and, secondly, for
selling all such parts of their own produce as those traders
might find it convenient to buy. For they did not find it
convenient to buy every part of it. Some parts of it imported
into England, might have interfered with some of the trades which
they themselves carried on at home. Those particular parts of it,
therefore, they were willing that the colonists should sell where
they could; the farther off the better; and upon that account
proposed that their market should be confined to the countries
south of Cape Finisterre. A clause in the famous act of
navigation established this truly shopkeeper proposal into a law.

The maintenance of this monopoly has hitherto been the principal,
or more properly, perhaps, the sole end and purpose of the
dominion which Great Britain assumes over her colonies. In the
exclusive trade, it is supposed, consists the great advantage of
provinces, which have never yet afforded either revenue or
military force for the support of the civil government, or the
defence of the mother country. The monopoly is the principal
badge of their dependency, and it is the sole fruit which has
hitherto been gathered from that dependency. Whatever expense
Great Britain has hitherto laid out in maintaining this
dependency, has really been laid out in order to support this
monopoly. The expense of the ordinary peace establishment of the
colonies amounted, before the commencement of the present
disturbances to the pay of twenty regiments of foot ; to the
expense of the artillery, stores, and extraordinary provisions,
with which it was necessary to supply them ; and to the expense
of a very considerable naval force, which was constantly kept up,
in order to guard from the smuggling vessels of other nations,
the immense coast of North America, and that of our West Indian
islands. The whole expense of this peace establishment was a
charge upon the revenue of Great Britain, and was, at the same
time, the smallest part of what the dominion of the colonies has
cost the mother country. If we would know the amount of the
whole, we must add to the annual expense of this peace
establishment, the interest of the sums which, in consequence of
their considering her colonies as provinces subject to her
dominion, Great Britain has, upon different occasions, laid out
upon their defence. We must add to it, in particular, the whole
expense of the late war, and a great part of that of the war
which preceded it. The late war was altogether a colony quarrel ;
and the whole expense of it, in whatever part of the world it
might have been laid out, whether in Germany or the East Indies,
ought justly to be stated to the account of the colonies. It
amounted to more than ninety millions sterling, including not
only the new debt which was contracted, but the two shillings in
the pound additional land tax, and the sums which were every year
borrowed from the sinking fund. The Spanish war which began in
1739 was principally a colony quarrel. Its principal object was
to prevent the search of the colony ships, which carried on a
contraband trade with the Spanish Main. This whole expense is, in
reality, a bounty which has been given in order to support a
monopoly. The pretended purpose of it was to encourage the
manufactures, and to increase the commerce of Great Britain. But
its real effect has been to raise the rate of mercantile profit,
and to enable our merchants to turn into a branch of trade, of
which the returns are more slow and distant than those of the
greater part of other trades, a greater proportion of their
capital than they otherwise would have done; two events which, if
a bounty could have prevented, it might perhaps have been very
well worth while to give such a bounty.

Under the present system of management, therefore, Great Britain
derives nothing but loss from the dominion which she assumes over
her colonies.

To propose that Great Britain should voluntarily give up all
authority over her colonies, and leave them to elect their own
magistrates, to enact their own laws, and to make peace and war,
as they might think proper, would be to propose such a measure as
never was, and never will be, adopted by any nation in the world.
No nation ever voluntarily gave up the dominion of any province,
how troublesome soever it might be to govern it, and how small
soever the revenue which it afforded might be in proportion to
the expense which it occasioned. Such sacrifices, though they
might frequently be agreeable to the interest, are always
mortifying to the pride of every nation; and, what is perhaps of
still greater consequence, they are always contrary to the
private interest of the governing part of it, who would thereby
be deprived of the disposal of many places of trust and profit,
of many opportunities of acquiring wealth and distinction, which
the possession of the most turbulent, and, to the great body of
the people, the most unprofitable province, seldom fails to
afford. The most visionary enthusiasts would scarce be capable of
proposing such a measure, with any serious hopes at least of its
ever being adopted. If it was adopted, however, Great Britain
would not only be immediately freed from the whole annual expense
of the peace establishment of the colonies, but might settle with
them such a treaty of commerce as would effectually secure to her
a free trade, more advantageous to the great body of the people,
though less so to the merchants, than the monopoly which she at
present enjoys. By thus parting good friends, the natural
affection of the colonies to the mother country, which, perhaps,
our late dissensions have well nigh extinguished, would quickly
revive. It might dispose them not only to respect, for whole
centuries together, that treaty of commerce which they had
concluded with us at parting, but to favour us in war as well as
in trade, and instead of turbulent and factious subjects, to
become our most faithful, affectionate, and generous allies; and
the same sort of parental affection on the one side, and filial
respect on the other, might revive between Great Britain and her
colonies, which used to subsist between those of ancient Greece
and the mother city from which they descended.

In order to render any province advantageous to the empire to
which it belongs, it ought to afford, in time of peace, a revenue
to the public, sufficient not only for defraying the whole
expense of its own peace establishment, but for contributing its
proportion to the support of the general government of the
empire. Every province necessarily contributes, more or less, to
increase the expense of that general government. If any
particular province, therefore, does not contribute its share
towards defraying this expense, an unequal burden must be thrown
upon some other part of the empire. The extraordinary revenue,
too, which every province affords to the public in time of war,
ought, from parity of reason, to bear the same proportion to the
extraordinary revenue of the whole empire, which its ordinary
revenue does in time of peace. That neither the ordinary nor
extraordinary revenue which Great Britain derives from her
colonies, bears this proportion to the whole revenue of the
British empire, will readily be allowed. The monopoly, it has
been supposed, indeed, by increasing the private revenue of the
people of Great Britain, and thereby enabling them to pay greater
taxes, compensates the deficiency of the public revenue of the
colonies. But this monopoly, I have endeavoured to show, though a
very grievous tax upon the colonies, and though it may increase
the revenue of a particular order of men in Great Britain,
diminishes, instead of increasing, that of the great body of the
people, and consequently diminishes, instead of increasing, the
ability of the great body of the people to pay taxes. The men,
too, whose revenue the monopoly increases, constitute a
particular order, which it is both absolutely impossible to tax
beyond the proportion of other orders, and extremely impolitic
even to attempt to tax beyond that proportion, as I shall
endeavour to show in the following book. No particular resource,
therefore, can be drawn from this particular order.

The colonies may be taxed either by their own assemblies, or by
the parliament of Great Britain.

That the colony assemblies can never be so managed as to levy
upon their constituents a public revenue, sufficient, not only to
maintain at all times their own civil and military establishment,
but to pay their proper proportion of the expense of the general
government of the British empire, seems not very probable. It was
a long time before even the parliament of England, though placed
immediately under the eye of the sovereign, could be brought
under such a system of management, or could be rendered
sufficiently liberal in their grants for supporting the civil and
military establishments even of their own country. It was only by
distributing among the particular members of parliament a great
part either of the offices, or of the disposal of the offices
arising from this civil and military establishment, that such a
system of management could be established, even with regard to
the parliament of England. But the distance of the colony
assemblies from the eye of the sovereign, their number, their
dispersed situation, and their various constitutions, would
render it very difficult to manage them in the same manner, even
though the sovereign had the same means of doing it; and those
means are wanting. It would be absolutely impossible to
distribute among all the leading members of all the colony
assemblies such a share, either of the offices, or of the
disposal of the offices, arising from the general government of
the British empire, as to dispose them to give up their
popularity at home, and to tax their constituents for the support
of that general government, of which almost the whole emoluments
were to be divided among people who were strangers to them. The
unavoidable ignorance of administration, besides, concerning the
relative importance of the different members of those different
assemblies, the offences which must frequently be given, the
blunders which must constantly be committed, in attempting to
manage them in this manner, seems to render such a system of
management altogether impracticable with regard to them.

The colony assemblies, besides, cannot be supposed the proper
judges of what is necessary for the defence and support of the
whole empire. The care of that defence and support is not
entrusted to them. It is not their business, and they have no
regular means of information concerning it. The assembly of a
province, like the vestry of a parish, may judge very properly
concerning the affairs of its own particular district, but can
have no proper means of judging concerning those of the whole
empire. It cannot even judge properly concerning the proportion
which its own province bears to the whole empire, or concerning
the relative degree of its wealth and importance, compared with
the other provinces; because those other provinces are not under
the inspection and superintendency of the assembly of a
particular province. What is necessary for the defence and
support of the whole empire, and in what proportion each part
ought to contribute, can be judged of only by that assembly which
inspects and super-intends the affairs of the whole empire.

It has been proposed, accordingly, that the colonies should be
taxed by requisition, the parliament of Great Britain determining
the sum which each colony ought to pay, and the provincial
assembly assessing and levying it in the way that suited best the
circumstances of the province. What concerned the whole empire
would in this way be determined by the assembly which inspects
and superintends the affairs of the whole empire ; and the
provincial affairs of each colony might still be regulated by its
own assembly. Though the colonies should, in this case, have no
representatives in the British parliament, yet, if we may judge
by experience, there is no probability that the parliamentary
requisition would be unreasonable. The parliament of England has
not, upon any occasion, shewn the smallest disposition to
overburden those parts of the empire which are not represented in
parliament. The islands of Guernsey and Jersey, without any means
of resisting the authority of parliament, are more lightly taxed
than any part of Great Britain. Parliament, in attempting to
exercise its supposed right, whether well or ill grounded, of
taxing the colonies, has never hitherto demanded of them anything
which even approached to a just proportion to what was paid by
their fellow subjects at home. If the contribution of the
colonies, besides, was to rise or fall in proportion to the rise
or fall of the land-tax, parliament could not tax them without
taxing, at the same time, its own constituents, and the colonies
might, in this case, be considered as virtually represented in

Examples are not wanting of empires in which all the different
provinces are not taxed, if I may be allowed the expression, in
one mass ; but in which the sovereign regulates the sum which
each province ought to pay, and in some provinces assesses and
levies it as he thinks proper ; while in others he leaves it to
be assessed and levied as the respective states of each province
shall determine. In some provinces of France, the king not only
imposes what taxes he thinks proper, but assesses and levies them
in the way he thinks proper. From others he demands a certain
sum, but leaves it to the states of each province to assess and
levy that sum as they think proper. According to the scheme of
taxing by requisition, the parliament of Great Britain would
stand nearly in the same situation towards the colony assemblies,
as the king of France does towards the states of those provinces
which still enjoy the privilege of having states of their own,
the provinces of France which are supposed to be the best

But though, according to this scheme, the colonies could have no
just reason to fear that their share of the public burdens should
ever exceed the proper proportion to that of their
fellow-citizens at home, Great Britain might have just reason to
fear that it never would amount to that proper proportion. The
parliament of Great Britain has not, for some time past, had the
same established authority in the colonies, which the French king
has in those provinces of France which still enjoy the privilege
of having states of their own. The colony assemblies, if they
were not very favourably disposed (and unless more skilfully
managed than they ever have been hitherto, they are not very
likely to be so), might still find many pretences for evading or
rejecting the most reasonable requisitions of parliament. A
French war breaks out, we shall suppose; ten millions must
immediately be raised, in order to defend the seat of the empire.
This sum must be borrowed upon the credit of some parliamentary
fund mortgaged for paying the interest. Part of this fund
parliament proposes to raise by a tax to be levied in Great
Britain ; and part of it by a requisition to all the different
colony assemblies of America and the West Indies. Would people
readily advance their money upon the credit of a fund which
partly depended upon the good humour of all those assemblies, far
distant from the seat of the war, and sometimes, perhaps,
thinking themselves not much concerned in the event of it ? Upon
such a fund, no more money would probably be advanced than what
the tax to be levied in Great Britain might be supposed to answer
for. The whole burden of the debt contracted on account of the
war would in this manner fall, as it always has done hitherto,
upon Great Britain; upon a part of the empire, and not upon the
whole empire. Great Britain is, perhaps, since the world began,
the only state which, as it has extended its empire, has only
increased its expense, without once augmenting its resources.
Other states have generally disburdened themselves, upon their
subject and subordinate provinces, of the most considerable part
of the expense of defending the empire. Great Britain has
hitherto suffered her subject and subordinate provinces to
disburden themselves upon her of almost this whole expense. In
order to put Great Britain upon a footing of equality with her
own colonies, which the law has hitherto supposed to be subject
and subordinate, it seems necessary, upon the scheme of taxing
them by parliamentary requisition, that parliament should have
some means of rendering its requisitions immediately effectual,
in case the colony assemblies should attempt to evade or reject
them; and what those means are, it is not very easy to conceive,
and it has not yet been explained.

Should the parliament of Great Britain, at the same time, be ever
fully established in the right of taxing the colonies, even
independent of the consent of their own assemblies, the
importance of those assemblies would, from that moment, be at an
end, and with it, that of all the leading men of British America.
Men desire to have some share in the management of public
affairs, chiefly on account of the importance which it gives
them. Upon the power which the greater part of the leading men,
the natural aristocracy of every country, have of preserving or
defending their respective importance, depends the stability and
duration of every system of free government. In the attacks which
those leading men are continually making upon the importance of
one another, and in the defence of their own, consists the whole
play of domestic faction and ambition. The leading men of
America, like those of all other countries, desire to preserve
their own importance. They feel, or imagine, that if their
assemblies, which they are fond of calling parliaments, and of
considering as equal in authority to the parliament of Great
Britain, should be so far degraded as to become the humble
ministers and executive officers of that parliament, the greater
part of their own importance would be at an end. They have
rejected, therefore, the proposal of being taxed by parliamentary
requisition, and, like other ambitious and high-spirited men,
have rather chosen to draw the sword in defence of their own

Towards the declension of the Roman republic, the allies of Rome,
who had borne the principal burden of defending the state and
extending the empire, demanded to be admitted to all the
privileges of Roman citizens. Upon being refused, the social war
broke out. During the course of that war, Rome granted those
privileges to the greater part of them, one by one, and in
proportion as they detached themselves from the general
confederacy. The parliament of Great Britain insists upon taxing
the colonies ; and they refuse to be taxed by a parliament in
which they are not represented. If to each colony which should
detach itself from the general confederacy, Great Britain should
allow such a number of representatives as suited the proportion
of what it contributed to the public revenue of the empire, in
consequence of its being subjected to the same taxes. and in
compensation admitted to the same freedom of trade with its
fellow-subjects at home; the number of its representatives to be
augmented as the proportion of its contribution might afterwards
augment ; a new method of acquiring importance, a new and more
dazzling object of ambition, would be presented to the leading
men of each colony. Instead of piddling for the little prizes
which are to be found in what may be called the paltry raffle of
colony faction, they might then hope, from the presumption which
men naturally have in their own ability and good fortune, to draw
some of the great prizes which sometimes come from the wheel of
the great state lottery of British politics. Unless this or some
other method is fallen upon, and there seems to be none more
ubvious than this, of preserving the importance and of gratifying
the ambition of the leading men of America, it is not very
probable that they will ever voluntarily submit to us; and we
ought to consider, that the blood which must be shed in forcing
them to do so, is, every drop of it, the blood either of those
who are, or of those whom we wish to have for our fellow
citizens. They are very weak who flatter themselves that, in the
state to which things have come, our colonies will be easily
conquered by force alone. The persons who now govern the
resolutions of what they call their continental congress, feel in
themselves at this moment a degree of importance which, perhaps,
the greatest subjects in Europe scarce feel. From shopkeepers,
trades men, and attorneys, they are become statesmen and
legislators, and are employed in contriving a new form of
government for an extensive empire, which, they flatter
themselves, will become, and which, indeed, seems very likely to
become, one of the greatest and most formidable that ever was in
the world. Five hundred different people, perhaps, who, in
different ways, act immediately under the continental congress,
and five hundred thousand, perhaps, who act under those five
hundred, all feel, in the same manner, a proportionable rise in
their own importance. Almost every individual of the governing
party in America fills, at present, in his own fancy, a station
superior, not only to what he had ever filled before, but to what
he had ever expected to fill; and unless some new object of
ambition is presented either to him or to his leaders, if he has
the ordinary spirit of a man, he will die in defence of that

It is a remark of the President Heynaut, that we now read with
pleasure the account of many little transactions of the Ligue,
which, when they happened, were not, perhaps, considered as very
important pieces of news. But everyman then, says he, fancied
himself of some importance ; and the innumerable memoirs which
have come down to us from those times, were the greater part of
them written by people who took pleasure in recording and
magnifying events, in which they flattered themselves they had
been considerable actors. How obstinately the city of Paris, upon
that occasion, defended itself, what a dreadful famine it
supported, rather than submit to the best, and afterwards the
most beloved of all the French kings, is well known. The greater
part of the citizens, or those who governed the greater part of
them, fought in defence of their own importance, which, they
foresaw, was to be at an end whenever the ancient government
should be re-established. Our colonies, unless they can be
induced to consent to a union, are very likely to defend
themselves, against the best of all mother countries, as
obstinately as the city of Paris did against one of the best of

The idea of representation was unknown in ancient times. When the
people of one state were admitted to the right of citizenship in
another, they had no other means of exercising that right, but by
coming in a body to vote and deliberate with the people of that
other state. The admission of the greater part of the inhabitants
of Italy to the privileges of Roman citizens, completely ruined
the Roman republic. It was no longer possible to distinguish
between who was, and who was not, a Roman citizen. No tribe could
know its own members. A rabble of any kind could be introduced
into the assemblies of the people, could drive out the real
citizens, and decide upon the affairs of the republic, as if they
themselves had been such. But though America were to send fifty
or sixty new representatives to parlimnent, the door-keeper of
the house of commons could not find any great difficulty in
distinguishing between who was and who was not a member. Though
the Roman constitution, therefore, was necessarily ruined by the
union of Rome with the allied states of Italy, there is not the
least probability that the British constitution would be hurt by
the union of Great Britain with her colonies. That
constitution, on the contrary, would be completed by it, and
seems to be imperfect without it. The assembly which deliberates
and decides concerning the affairs of every part of the empire,
in order to be properly informed, ought certainly to have
representatives from every part of it. That this union, however,
could be easily effectuated, or that difficulties, and great
difficulties, might not occur in the execution, I do not pretend.
I have yet heard of none, however, which appear insurmountable.
The principal, perhaps, arise, not from the nature of things, but
from the prejudices and opinions of the people, both on this and
on the other side of the Atlantic.

We on this side the water are afraid lest the multitude of
American representatives should overturn the balance of the
constitution, and increase too much either the influence of the
crown on the one hand, or the force of the democracy on the
other. But if the number of American representatives were to be
in proportion to the produce of American taxation, the number of
people to be managed would increase exactly in proportion to the
means of managing them, and the means of managing to the number
of people to be managed. The monarchical and democratical parts
of the constitution would, after the union, stand exactly in the
same degree of relative force with regard to one another as they
had done before.

The people on the other side of the water are afraid lest their
distance from the seat of government might expose them to many
oppressions ; but their representatives in parliament, of which
the number ought from the first to be considerable, would easily
be able to protect them from all oppression. The distance could
not much weaken the dependency of the representative upon the
constituent, and the former would still feel that he owed his
seat in parliament, and all the consequence which he derived from
it, to the good-will of the latter. It would be the interest of
the former, therefore, to cultivate that good-will, by
complaining, with all the authority of a member of the
legislature, of every outrage which any civil or military officer
might be guilty of in those remote parts of the empire. The
distance of America from the seat of government, besides, the
natives of that country might flatter themselves, with some
appearance of reason too, would not be of very long continuance.
Such has hitherto been the rapid progress of that country in
wealth, population, and improvement, that in the course of little
more than a century, perhaps, the produce of the American might
exceed that of the British taxation. The seat of the empire would
then naturally remove itself to that part of the empire which
contributed most to the general defence and support of the whole.

The discovery of America, and that of a passage to the East
Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, are the two greatest and most
important events recorded in the history of mankind. Their
consequences have already been great; but, in the short period of
between two and three centuries which has elapsed since these
discoveries were made, it is impossible that the whole extent of
their consequences can have been seen. What benefits or what
misfortunes to mankind may hereafter result from those great
events, no human wisdom can foresee. By uniting in some measure
the most distant parts of the world, by enabling them to relieve
one another's wants, to increase one another's enjoyments, and to
encourage one another's industry, their general tendency would
seem to be beneficial. To the natives, however, both of the East
and West Indies, all the commercial benefits which can have
resulted from those events have been sunk and lost in the
dreadful misfortunes which they have occasioned. These
misfortunes, however, seem to have arisen rather from accident
than from any thing in the nature of those events themselves. At
the particular time when these discoveries were made, the
superiority of force happened to be so great on the side of the
Europeans, that they were enabled to commit with impunity every
sort of injustice in those remote countries. Hereafter, perhaps,
the natives of those countries may grow stronger, or those of
Europe may grow weaker ; and the inhabitants of all the different
quarters of the world may arrive at that equality of courage and
force which, by inspiring mutual fear, can alone overawe the
injustice of independent nations into some sort of respect for
the rights of one another. But nothing seems more likely to
establish this equality of force, than that mutual communication
of knowledge, and of all sorts of improvements, which an
extensive commerce from all countries to all countries naturally,
or rather necessarily, carries along with it.

In the mean time, one of the principal effects of those
discoveries has been, to raise the mercantile system to a degree
of splendour and glory which it could never otherwise have
attained to. It is the object of that system to enrich a great
nation, rather by trade and manufactures than by the improvement
and cultivation of land, rather by the industry of the towns than
by that of the country. But in consequence of those discoveries,
the commercial towns of Europe, instead of being the
manufacturers and carriers for but a very small part of the world
(that part of Europe which is washed by the Atlantic ocean, and
the countries which lie round the Baltic and Mediterranean seas),
have now become the manufacturers for the numerous and thriving
cultivators of America, and the carriers, and in some respects
the manufacturers too, for almost all the different nations of
Asia, Africa, and America. Two new worlds have been opened to
their industry, each of them much greater and more extensive than
the old one, and the market of one of them growing still greater
and greater every day.

The countries which possess the colonies of America, and which
trade directly to the East Indies, enjoy indeed the whole show
and splendour of this great commerce. Other countries, however,
notwithstanding all the invidious restraints by which it is meant
to exclude them, frequently enjoy a greater share of the real
benefit of it. The colonies of Spain and. Portugal, for example,
give more real encouragement to the industry of other countries
than to that of Spain and Portugal. In the single article of
linen alone, the consumption of those colonies amounts, it is
said (but I do not pretend to warrant the quantity ), to more
than three millions sterling a-year. But this great consumption
is almost entirely supplied by France, Flanders, Holland, and
Germany. Spain and Portugal furnish but a small part of it. The
capital which supplies the colonies with this great quantity of
linen, is annually distributed among, and furnishes a revenue to,
the inhabitants of those other countries. The profits of it only
are spent in Spain and Portugal, where they help to support the
sumptuous profusion of the merchants of Cadiz and Lisbon.

Even the regulations by which each nation endeavours to secure to
itself the exclusive trade of its own colonies, are frequently
more hurtful to the countries in favour of which they are
established, than to those against which they are established.
The unjust oppression of the industry of other countries falls
back, if I may say so, upon the heads of the oppressors, and
crushes their industry more than it does that of those other
countries. By those regulations, for example, the merchant of
Hamburg must send the linen which he destines for the American
market to London, and he must bring back from thence the tobacco
which be destines for the German market; because he can neither
send the one directly to America, nor bring the other directly
from thence. By this restraint he is probably obliged to sell the
one somewhat cheaper, and to buy the other somewhat dearer, than
he otherwise might have done; and his profits are probably
somewhat abridged by means of it. In this trade, however, between
Hamburg and London, he certainly receives the returns of his
capital much more quickly than he could possibly have done in the
direct trade to America, even though we should suppose, what is
by no means the case, that the payments of America were as
punctual as those of London. In the trade, therefore, to
which those regulations confine the merchant of Hamburg, his
capital can keep in constant employment a much greater quantity
of German industry than he possibly could have done in the trade
from which he is excluded. Though the one employment, therefore,
may to him perhaps be less profitable than the other, it cannot
be less advantageous to his country. It is quite otherwise with
the employment into which the monpoly naturally attracts, if I
may say so, the capital of the London merchant. That employment
may, perhaps, be more profitable to him than the greater part of
other employments; but on account of the slowness of the returns,
it cannot be more advantageous to his country.

After all the unjust attempts, therefore, of every country in
Europe to engross to itself the whole advantage of the trade of
its own colonies, no country has yet been able to engross to
itself any thing but the expense of supporting in time of peace,
and of defending in time of war, the oppressive authority which
it assumes over them. The inconveniencies resulting from the
possession of its colonies, every country has engrossed to itself
completely. The advantages resulting from their trade, it
has been obliged to share with many other countries.

At first sight, no doubt, the monopoly of the great commerce of
America naturally seems to be an acquisition of the highest
value. To the undiscerning eye of giddy ambition it naturally
presents itself, amidst the confused scramble of politics and
war, as a very dazzling object to fight for. The dazzling
splendour of the object, however, the immense greatness of the
commerce, is the very quality which renders the monopoly of it
hurtful, or which makes one employment, in its own nature
necessarily less advantageous to the country than the greater
part of other employments, absorb a much greater proportion of
the capital of the country than what would otherwise have gone to

The mercantile stock of every country, it has been shown in the
second book, naturally seeks, if one may say so, the employment
most advantageous to that country. If it is employed in the
carrying trade, the country to which it belongs becomes the
emporium of the goods of all the countries whose trade that stock
carries on. But the owner of that stock necessarily wishes to
dispose of as great a part of those goods as he can at home. He
thereby saves himself the trouble, risk, and expense of
exportation ; and he will upon that account be glad to sell them
at home, not only for a much smaller price, but with somewhat a
smaller profit, than he might expect to make by sending them
abroad. He naturally, therefore, endeavours as much as he can to
turn his carrying trade into a foreign trade of consumption, If
his stock, again, is employed in a foreign trade of consumption,
he will, for the same reason, be glad to dispose of, at home, as
great a part as he can of the home goods which he collects in
order to export to some foreign market, and he will thus
endeavour, as much as he can, to turn his foreign trade of
consumption into a home trade. The mercantile stock of every
country naturally courts in this manner the near, and shuns the
distant employment : naturally courts the employment in which the
returns are frequent, and shuns that in which they are distant
and slow; naturally courts the employment in which it can
maintain the greatest quantity of productive labour in the
country to which it belongs, or in which its owner resides, and
shuns that in which it can maintain there the smallest quantity.
It naturally courts the employment which in ordinary cases is
most advantageous, and shuns that which in ordinary cases is
least advantageous to that country.

But if, in any one of those distant employments, which in
ordinary cases are less advantageous to the country, the profit
should happen to rise somewhat higher than what is sufficient to
balance the natural preference which is given to nearer
employments, this superiority of profit will draw stock from
those nearer employments, till the profits of all return to their
proper level. This superiority of profit, however, is a proof
that, in the actual circumstances of the society, those distant
employments are somewhat understocked in proportion to other
employments, and that the stock of the society is not distributed
in the properest manner among all the different employments
carried on in it. It is a proof that something is either bought
cheaper or sold dearer than it ought to be, and that some
particular class of citizens is more or less oppressed, either by
paying more, or by getting less than what is suitable to that
equality which ought to take place, and which naturally does take
place, among all the different classes of them. Though the same
capital never will maintain the same quantity of productive
labour in a distant as in a near employment, yet a distant
employment maybe as necessary for the welfare of the society as a
near one; the goods which the distant employment deals in being
necessary, perhaps, for carrying on many of the nearer
employments. But if the profits of those who deal in such goods
are above their proper level, those goods will be sold dearer
than they ought to be, or somewhat above their natural price, and
all those engaged in the nearer employments will be more or less
oppressed by this high price. Their interest, therefore, in this
case, requires, that some stock should be withdrawn from those
nearer employments, and turned towards that distant one, in order
to reduce its profits to their proper level, and the price of the
goods which it deals in to their natural price. In this
extraordinary case, the public interest requires that some stock
should be withdrawn from those employments which, in ordinary
cases, are more advantageous, and turned towards one which, in
ordinary cases, is less advantageous to the public; and, in this
extraordinary case, the natural interests and inclinations of men
coincide as exactly with the public interests as in all other
ordinary cases, and lead them to withdraw stock from the near,
and to turn it towards the distant employments.

It is thus that the private interests and passions of individuals
naturally dispose them to turn their stock towards the
employments which in ordinary cases, are most advantagenus to the
society. But if from this natural preference they should turn too
much of it towards those employments, the fall of profit in them,
and the rise of it in all others, immediately dispose them to
alter this faulty distribution. Without any intervention of law,
therefore, the private interests and passions of men naturally
lead them to divide and distribute the stock of every society
among all the different employments carried on in it; as nearly
as possible in the proportion which is most agreeable to the
interest of the whole society.

All the different regulations of the mercantile system
necessarily derange more or less this natural and most
advantageous distribution of stock. But those which concern the
trade to America and the East Indies derange it, perhaps, more
than any other ; because the trade to those two great continents
absorbs a greater quantity of stock than any two other branches
of trade. The regulations, however, by which this derangement is
effected in those two different branches of trade, are not
altogether the same. Monopoly is the great engine of both ; but
it is a different sort of monopoly. Monopoly of one kind or
another, indeed, seems to be the sole engine of the mercantile

In the trade to America, every nation endeavours to engross as
much as possible the whole market of its own colonies, by fairly
excluding all other nations from any direct trade to them. During
the greater part of the sixteenth century, the Portuguese
endeavoured to manage the trade to the East Indies in the same
manner, by claiming the sole right of sailing in the Indian seas,
on account of the merit of having first found out the road to
them. The Dutch still continue to exclude all other European
nations from any direct trade to their spice islands. Monopolies
of this kind are evidently established against all other European
nations, who are thereby not only excluded from a trade to which
it might be convenient for them to turn some part of their stock,
but are obliged to buy the goods which that trade deals in,
somewhat dearer than if they could import them themselves
directly from the countries which produced them.

But since the fall of the power of Portugal, no European nation
has claimed the exclusive right of sailing in the Indian seas, of
which the principal ports are now open to the ships of all
European nations. Except in Portugal, however, and within these
few years in France, the trade to the East Indies has, in every
European country, been subjected to an exclusive company.
Monopolies of this kind are properly established against the very
nation which erects them. The greater part of that nation are
thereby not only excluded from a trade to which it might be
convenient for them to turn some part of their stock, but are
obliged to buy the goods which that trade deals in somewhat
dearer than if it was open and free to all their countrymen.
Since the establishment of the English East India company, for
example, the other inhabitants of England, over and above being
excluded from the trade, must have paid, in the price of the East
India goods which they have consumed, not only for all the
extraordinary profits which the company may have made upon those
goods in consequence of their monopoly, but for all the
extraordinary waste which the fraud and abuse inseparable from
the management of the affairs of so great a company must
necessarily have occasioned. The absurdity of this second kind of
monopoly, therefore, is much more manifest than that of the

Both these kinds of monopolies derange more or less the natural
distribution of the stock of the society ; but they do not always
derange it in the same way.

Monopolies of the first kind always attract to the particular
trade in which they are established a greater proportion of the
stock of the society than what would go to that trade of its own

Monopolies of the second kind may sometimes attract stock towards
the particular trade in which they are established, and sometimes
repel it from that trade, according to different circumstances.
In poor countries, they naturally attract towards that trade more
stock than would otherwise go to it. In rich countries, they
naturally repel from it a good deal of stock which would
otherwise go to it.

Such poor countries as Sweden and Denmark, for example, would
probably have never sent a single ship to the East Indies, had
not the trade been subjected to an exclusive company. The
establishment of such a conpany necessarily encourages
adventurers. Their monopoly secures them against all competitors
in the home market, and they have the same chance for foreign
markets with the traders of other nations. Their monopoly shows
them the certainty of a great profit upon a considerable quantity
of goods, and the chance of a considerable profit upon a great
quantity. Without such extraordinary encouragement, the poor
traders of such poor countries would probably never have thought
of hazarding their small capitals in so very distant and
uncertain an adventure as the trade to the East Indies must
naturally have appeared to them.

Such a rich country as Holland, on the contrary, would probably,
in the case of a free trade, send many more ships to the East
Indies than it actually does. The limited stock of the Dutch East
India company probably repels from that trade many great
mercantile capitals which would otherwise go to it. The
mercantile capital of Holland is so great, that it is, as it
were, continually overflowing, sometimes into the public funds of
foreign countries, sometimes into loans to private traders and
adventurers of foreign countries, sometimes into the most
round-about foreign trades of consumption, and sometimes into the
carrying trade. All near employments being completely filled up,
all the capital which can be placed in them with any tolerable
profit being already placed in them, the capital of Holland
necessarily flows towards the most distant employments. The trade
to the East Indies, if it were altogether free, would probably
absorb the greater part of this redundant capital. The East
Indies offer a market both for the manufactures of Europe, and
for the gold and silver, as well as for the several other
productions of America, greater and more extensive than both
Europe and America put together.

Every derangement of the natural distribution of stock is
necessarily hurtful to the society in which it takes place;
whether it be by repelling from a particular trade the stock
which would otherwise go to it, or by attracting towards a
particular trade that which would not otherwise come to it. If,
without any exclusive company, the trade of Holland to the East
Indies would be greater than it actually is, that country must
suffer a considerable loss, by part of its capital being excluded
from the employment most convenient for that port. And, in the
same manner, if, without an exclusive company, the trade of
Sweden and Denmark to the East Indies would be less than it
actually is, or, what perhaps is more probable, would not exist
at all, those two countries must likewise suffer a considerable
loss, by part of their capital being drawn into an employment
which must be more or less unsuitable to their present
circumstances. Better for them, perhaps, in the present
circumstances, to buy East India goods of other nations, even
though they should pay somewhat dearer, than to turn so great a
part of their small capital to so very distant a trade, in which
the returns are so very slow, in which that capital can maintain
so small a quantity of productive labour at home, where
productive labour is so much wanted, where so little is done, and
where so much is to do.

Though without an exclusive company, therefore, a particular
country should not be able to carry on any direct trade to the
East Indies, it will not from thence follow, that such a company
ought to be established there, but only that such a country ought
not, in these circumstances, to trade directly to the East
Indies. That such companies are not in general necessary for
carrying on the East India trade, is sufficiently demonstrated by
the experience of the Portuguese, who enjoyed almost the whole of
it for more than a century together, without any exclusive

No private merchant, it has been said, could well have capital
sufficient to maintain factors and agents in the different ports
of the East Indies, in order to provide goods for the ships which
he might occasionally send thither; and yet, unless he was able
to do this, the difficulty of finding a cargo might frequently
make his ships lose the season for returning; and the expense of
so long a delay would not only eat up the whole profit of the
adventure, but frequently occasion a very considerable loss. This
argument, however, if it proved any thing at all, would prove
that no one great branch of trade could be carried on without an
exclusive company, which is contrary to the experience of all
nations. There is no great branch of trade, in which the capital
of any one private merchant is sufficient for carrying on all the
subordinate branches which must be carried on, in order to carry
on the principal one. But when a nation is ripe for any great
branch of trade, some merchants naturally turn their capitals
towards the principal, and some towards the subordinate branches
of it; and though all the different branches of it are in this
manner carried on, yet it very seldom happens that they are all
carried on by the capital of one private merchant. If a nation,
therefore, is ripe for the East India trade, a certain portion of
its capital will naturally divide itself among all the different
branches of that trade. Some of its merchants will find it for
their interest to reside in the East Indies, and to employ their
capitals there in providing goods for the ships which are to be
sent out by other merchants who reside in Europe. The settlements
which different European nations have obtained in the East
Indies, if they were taken from the exclusive companies to which
they at present belong, and put under the immediate protection of
the sovereign, would render this residence both safe and easy, at
least to the merchants of the particular nations to whom those
settlements belong. If, at any particular time, that part of the
capital of any country which of its own accord tended and
inclined, if I may say so, towards the East India trade, was not
sufficient for carrying on all those different branches of it, it
would be a proof that, at that particular time, that country was
not ripe for that trade, and that it would do better to buy for
some time, even at a higher price, from other European nations,
the East India goods it had occasion for, than to import them
itself directly from the East Indies. What it might lose by the
high price of those goods, could seldom be equal to the loss
which it would sustain by the distraction of a large portion of
its capital from other employments more necessary, or more
useful, or more suitable to its circumstances and situation, than
a direct trade to the East Indies.

Though the Europeans possess many considerable settlements both
upon the coast of Africa and in the East Indies, they have not
yet established, in either of those countries, such numerous and
thriving colonies as those in the islands and continent of
America. Africa, however, as well as several of the countries
comprehended under the general name of the East Indies, is
inhabited by barbarous nations. But those nations were by no
means so weak and defenceless as the miserable and helpless
Americans ; and in proportion to the natural fertility of the
countries which they inhabited, they were, besides, much more
populous. The most barbarous nations either of Africa or of the
East Indies, were shepherds; even the Hottentots were so. But the
natives of every part of America, except Mexico and Peru, were
only hunters and the difference is very great between the number
of shepherds and that of hunters whom the same extent of equally
fertile territory can maintain. In Africa and the East Indies,
therefore, it was more difficult to displace the natives, and to
extend the European plantations over the greater part of the
lands of the original inhabitants. The genius of exclusive
companies, besides, is unfavourable, it has already been
observed, to the growth of new colonies, and has probably been
the principal cause of the little progress which they have made
in the East Indies. The Portuguese carried on the trade both to
Africa and the East Indies, without any exclusive companies; and
their settlements at Congo, Angola, and Benguela, on the coast of
Africa, and at Goa in the East Indies though much depressed by
superstition and every sort of bad government, yet bear some
resemblance to the colonies of America, and are partly inhabited
by Portuguese who have been established there for several
generations. The Dutch settlmnents at the Cape of Good Hope and
at Batavia, are at present the most considerable colonies which
the Europeans have established, either in Africa or in the East
Indies; and both those settlements an peculiarly fortunate in
their situation. The Cape of Good Hope was inhabited by a race of
people almost as barbarous, and quite as incapable of defending
themselves, as the natives of America. It is, besides, the
half-way house, if one may say so, between Europe and the East
Indies, at which almost every European ship makes some stay, both
in going and returning. The supplying of those ships with every
sort of fresh provisions, with fruit, and sometimes with wine,
affords alone a very extensive market for the surplus produce of
the colonies. What the Cape of Good Hope is between Europe and
every part of the East Indies, Batavia is between the principal
countries of the East Indies. It lies upon the most frequented
road from Indostan to China and Japan, and is nearly about
mid-way upon that road. Almost all the ships too, that sail
between Europe and China, touch at Batavia; and it is, over and
above all this, the centre and principal mart of what is called
the country trade of the East Indies; not only of that part of it
which is carried on by Europeans, but of that which is carried on
by the native Indians; and vessels navigated by the inhabitants
of China and Japan, of Tonquin, Malacca, Cochin-China, and the
island of Celebes, are frequently to be seen in its port. Such
advantageous situations have enabled those two colonies to
surmount all the obstacles which the oppressive genius of an
exclusive company may have occasionally opposed to their growth.
They have enabled Batavia to surmount the additional disadvantage
of perhaps the most unwholesome climate in the world.

The English and Dutch companies, though they have established no
considerable colonies, except the two above mentioned, have both
made considerable conquests in the East Indies. But in the manner
in which they both govern their new subjects, the natural genius
of an exclusive company has shewn itself most distinctly. In the
spice islands, the Dutch are said to burn all the spiceries which
a fertile season produces, beyond what they expect to dispose of
in Europe with such a profit as they think sufficient. In the
islands where they have no settlements, they give a premium to
those who collect the young blossoms and green leaves of the
clove and nutmeg trees, which naturally grow there, but which
this savage policy has now, it is said. almost completely
extirpated. Even in the islands where they have settlements, they
have very much reduced, it is said, the number of those trees. If
the produce even of their own islands was much greater than what
suited their market, the natives, they suspect, might find means
to convey some part of it to other nations; and the best way,
they imagine, to secure their own monopoly, is to take care that
no more shall grow than what they themselves carry to market. By
different arts of oppression, they have reduced the population of
several of the Moluccas nearly to the number which is sufficient
to supply with fresh provisions, and other necessaries of life,
their own insignificant garrisons, and such of their ships as
occasionally come there for a cargo of spices. Under the
government even of the Portuguese, however, those islands are
said to have been tolerably well inhabited. The English company
have not yet had time to establish in Bengal so perfectly
destructive a system. The plan of their government, however, has
had exactly the same tendency. It has not been uncommon, I am
well assured, for the chief, that is, the first clerk or a
factory, to order a peasant to plough up a rich field of poppies,
and sow it with rice, or some other grain. The pretence was, to
prevent a scarcity of provisions; but the real reason, to give
the chief an opportunity of selling at a better price a large
quantity of opium which he happened then to have upon hand. Upon
other occasions, the order has been reversed ; and a rich field
of rice or other grain has been ploughed up, in order to make
room for a plantation of poppies, when the chief foresaw that
extraordinary profit was likely to be made by opium. The servants
of the company have, upon several occasions, attempted to
establish in their own favour the monopoly of some of the most
important branches, not only of the foreign, but of the inland
trade of the country. Had they been allowed to go on, it is
impossible that they should not, at some time or another, have
attempted to restrain the production of the particular articles
of which they had thus usurped the monopoly, not only to the
quantity which they themselves could purchase, but to that which
they could expect to sell with such a profit as they might think
sufficient. In the course of a century or two, the policy of the
English company would, in this manner, have probably proved as
completely destructive as that of the Dutch.

Nothing, however, can be more directly contrary to the real
interest of those companies, considered as the sovereigns of the
countries which they have conquered, than this destructive plan.
In almost all countries, the revenue of the sovereign is drawn
from that of the people. The greater the revenue of the people,
therefore, the greater the annual produce of their land and
labour, the more they can afford to the sovereign. It is his
interest, therefore, to increase as much as possible that annual
produce. But if this is the interest of every sovereign, it is
peculiarly so of one whose revenue, like that of the sovereign of
Bengal, arises chiefly from a land-rent. That rent must
necessarily be in proportion to the quantity and value of the
produce; and both the one and the other must depend upon the
extent of the market. The quantity will always be suited, with
more or less exactness, to the consumption of those who can
afford to pay for it; and the price which they will pay will
always be in proportion to the eagerness of their competition. It
is the interest of such a sovereign, therefore, to open the most
extensive market for the produce of his country, to allow the
most perfect freedom of commerce, in order to increase as much as
possible the number and competition of buyers ; and upon this
account to abolish, not only all monopolies, but all restraints
upon the transportation of the home produce from one part of the
country to mother, upon its exportation to foreign countries, or
upon the importation of goods of' any kind for which it can be
exchanged. He is in this manner most likely to increase both the
quantity and value of that produce, and consequently of his own
share of it, or of his own revenue.

But a company of merchants, are, it seems, incapable of
considering themselves as sovereigns, even after they have become
such. Trade, or buying in order to sell again, they still
consider as their principal business, and by a strange absurdity,
regard the character of the sovereign as but an appendix to that
of the merchant ; as something which ought to be made subservient
to it, or by means of which they may be enabled to buy cheaper in
India, and thereby to sell with a better profit in Europe. They
endeavour, for this purpose, to keep out as much as possible all
competitors from the market of the countries which are subject to
their government, and consequently to reduce, at least, some part
of the surplus produce of those countries to what is barely
sufficient for supplying their own demand, or to what they can
expect to sell in Europe, with such a profit as they may think
reasonable. Their mercantile habits draw them in this manner,
almost necessarily, though perhaps insensibly, to prefer, upon
all ordinary occasions, the little and transitory profit of the
monopolist to the great and permanent revenue of the sovereign;
and would gradually lead them to treat the countries subject to
their government nearly as the Dutch treat the Moluccas. It is
the interest of the East India company, considered as sovereigns,
that the European goods which are carried to their Indian
dominions should be sold there as cheap as possible; and that the
Indian goods which are brought from thence should bring there as
good a price, or should be sold there as dear as possible. But
the reverse of this is their interest as merchants. As
sovereigns, their interest is exactly the same with that of the
country which they govern. As merchants, their interest is
directly opposite to that interest.

But if the genius of such a government, even as to what concerns
its direction in Earope, is in this manner essentially, and
perhaps incurably faulty, that of its administration in India is
still more so. That administration is necessarily composed of a
council of merchants, a profession no doubt extremely
respectable, but which in no country in the world carries along
with it that sort of authority which naturally overawes the
people, and without force commands their willing obedience. Such
a council can command obedience only by the military force with
which they are accompanied ; and their government is, therefore,
necessarily military and despotical. Their proper business,
however, is that of merchants. It is to sell, upon their master's
account, the European goods consigned to them, and to buy, in
return, Indian goods for the European market. It is to sell the
one as dear, and to buy the other as cheap as possible, and
consequently to exclude, as much as possible, all rivals from the
particular market where they keep their shop. The genius of the
administration, therefore, so far as concerns the trade of the
company, is the same as that of the direction. It tends to make
government subservient to the interest of monopoly, and
consequently to stunt the natural growth of some parts, at least,
of the surplus produce of the country, to what is barely
sufficient for answering the demand of the company,

All the members of the administration besides, trade more or less
upon their own account; and it is in vain to prohibit them from
doing so. Nothing can be more completely foolish than to expect
that the clerk of a great counting-house, at ten thousand miles
distance, and consequently almost quite out of sight, should,
upon a simple order from their master, give up at once doing any
sort of business upon their own account abandon for ever all
hopes of making a fortune, of which they have the means in their
hands; and content themselves with the moderate salaries which
those masters allow them, and which, moderate as they are, can
seldom be augmented, being commonly as large as the real profits
of the company trade can afford. In such circumstances, to
prohibit the servants of the company from trading upon their own
account, can have scarce any other effect than to enable its
superior servants, under pretence of executing their master's
order, to oppress such of the inferior ones as have had the
misfortune to fall under their displeasure. The servants
naturally endeavour to establish the same monopoly in favour of
their own private trade as of the public trade of the company. If
they are suffered to act as they could wish, they will establish
this monopoly openly and directly, by fairly prohibiting all
other people from trading in the articles in which they choose to
deal; and this, perhaps, is the best and least oppressive way of
establishing it. But if, by an order from Europe, they are
prohibited from doing this, they will, notwithstanding, endeavour
to establish a monopoly of the same kind secretly and indirectly,
in a way that is much more destructive to the country. They will
employ the whole authority of government, and pervert the
administration of Justice, in order to harass and ruin those who
interfere with them in any branch of commerce, which by means of
agents, either concealed, or at least not publicly avowed, they
may choose to carry on. But the private trade of the servants
will naturally extend to a much greater variety of articles than
the public trade of the company. The public trade of the company
extends no further than the trade with Europe, and comprehends a
part only of the foreign trade of the country. But the private
trade of the servants may extend to all the different branches
both of its inland and foreign trade. The monopoly of the company
can tend only to stunt the natural growth of that part of the
surplus produce which, in the case of a free trade, would be
exported to Europe. That of the servants tends to stunt the
natural growth of every part of the produce in which they choose
to deal; of what is destined for home consumption, as well as of
what is destined for exportation; and consequently to degrade the
cultivation of the whole country, and to reduce the number of its
inhabitants. It tends to reduce the quantity of every sort of
produce, even that of the necessaries of life, whenever the
servants of the country choose to deal in them, to what those
servants can both afford to buy and expect to sell with such a
profit as pleases them.

From the nature of their situation, too, the servants must be
more disposed to support with rigourous severity their own
interest, against that of the country which they govern, than
their masters can be to support theirs. The country belongs to
their masters, who cannot avoid having some regard for the
interest of what belongs to them; but it does not belong to the
servants. The real interest of their masters, if they were
capable of understanding it, is the same with that of the
country; {The interest of every proprietor of India stock,
however, is by no means the same with that of the country in the
government of which his vote gives him some influence. - See book
v, chap. 1, part ii.}and it is from ignorance chiefly, and the
meanness of mercantile prejudice, that they ever oppress it. But
the real interest of the servants is by no means the same with
that of the country, and the most perfect information would not
necessarily put an end to their oppressions. The regulations,
accordingly, which have been sent out from Europe, though they
have been frequently weak, have upon most occasions been well
meaning. More intelligence, and perhaps less good meaning, has
sometimes appeared in those established by the servants in India.
It is a very singular government in which every member of the
administration wishes to get out of the country, and consequently
to have done with the government, as soon as he can, and to whose
interest, the day after he has left it, and carried his whole
fortune with him, it is perfectly indifferent though the whole
country was swallowed up by an earthquake.

I mean not, however, by any thing which I have here said, to
throw any odious imputation upon the general character of the
servants of the East India company, and touch less upon that of
any particular persons. It is the system of government, the
situation in which they are placed, that I mean to censure, not
the character of those who have acted in it. They acted as their
situation naturally directed, and they who have clamoured the
loudest against them would probably not have acted better
themselves. In war and negotiation, the councils of Madras and
Calcutta, have upon several occasions, conducted themselves with
a resolution and decisive wisdom, which would have done honour to
the senate of Rome in the best days of that republic. The members
of those councils, however, had been bred to professions very
different from war and politics. But their situation alone,
without education, experience, or even example, seems to have
formed in them all at once the great qualities which it required,
and to have inspired them both with abilities and virtues which
they themselves could not well know that they possessed. If upon
some occasions, therefore, it has animated them to actions of
magnanimity which could not well have been expected from them, we
should not wonder if, upon others, it has prompted them to
exploits of somewhat a different nature.

Such exclusive companies, therefore, are nuisances in every
respect; always more or less inconvenient to the countries in
which they are established, and destructive to those which have
the misfortune to fall under their government.

Adam Smith

Sorry, no summary available yet.