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THE RECIPROCITY AND COLONIAL SYSTEMS.
Two different principles have gov- is founded upon the principle, that our erned this country in their foreign own industry, whether at home or and colonial relations, from the ear- abroad is to obtain a decided preferliest time when it became a consider- ence over that of other nations; and able maritime power, down to these that in the benefits arising from the days. The first originated with the mutual interchange of productions Long Parliament and the bold saga- from distant parts of our own empire cious policy of the Protector Crom- with each other, we shall find a suffiwell; the last took its rise amidst the cient compensation for the commerliberal ideas and enlarged philan- cial rivalry or jealous hostility of thropy which arose in this country af- other states. The reciprocity system ter the glorious termination of the is founded on the principle, that the French Revolutionary war. The first great thing to be considered is, where system, which endured for 170 years, the commodities which we require reared up the greatest, the most ex- can be purchased cheapest ; that if tensive, and the most powerful mari. they can be got at a lower rate from time and colonial empire that ever ex. other states than our trans-marine isted on the face of the earth. The possessions, no hesitation whatever last has been in operation only for should be felt in preferring the cheap fifteen years, and it has already not merchant in foreign states; and that only brought imminent danger upon there is in reality no danger in such a the extremities of our colonial domin. proceeding, inasmuch as the principle ion, but weakened to an alarming common to all nations of buying degree the maritime resources by wherever they can cheapest, and sellwhich the authority of the parent ing dearest, will necessarily lead all state is to be supported and maintain. states to the great commercial empoed.
riurn of the world, if no undue restricThe two systems have now at length tions are imposed upon its foreign fairly come into collision. The inter- trade; and that foreign hostility or est of our foreign trade and our colo- jealousy need not be apprehended as nial possessions have long been decid- long as we can attract the ships of all edly' at variance, and the mongrel nations to our harbours by the durasystem of policy generated between ble bond of their common interests. them cannot much longer be maintain. We shall consider in the sequel which ed. We must make our election be- of these two systems is the better tween the two systems. Either we founded. At present the material must trust to our colonies, and consid- point to observe is, that the policy of er them as the main stay of our nation. The state must in the main be foundal strength, or we must throw them ed on the preference given to your overboard, and rely on the reciprocity own people, or the free admission of system to maintain an extensive com- strangers, but that it is impossible to mercial intercourse with foreign and reconcile both; for no great colonial independent nations. It is quite im- empire will continue its allegiance to possible we can maintain the advan- the parent state, unless in return for tages of both systems. Either we must their subjection to the rule of a disgive up our colonies and trust to the tant power, its members receive subgood-will and interests of foreign na- stantial advantages which would be tions for our trade, or we must adhere lost by its overthrow. to our colonies, and relying on the effi The vital point which separates cient protection, equitable rule, and mu- these two systems is, whether the tual interchange of good deeds which ruling power in the dominant state be they receive from us, become compari- the producers or the consumers. The tively indifferent to the competition, the producers, whether of grain, of butcher jealousy, or the hostility of the rest of meat, of manufactures, or of shipping, the world.
strenuously maintain that the great It is utterly impossible, we repeat, object of Government should be to give to enjoy at once the advantages of encouragement to your own industry,
The colonial system and prevent the rivalry or competi
tion of foreign states from encroach- attention to the support of our mari. ing upon or injuring your domestic time power, they not only at all times farmers and manufacturers. Under devoted a large portion of the public this system and by these ideas, the resources to the maintenance and incommercial policy of this country had crease of the royal navy, but by a been conducted for 170 years before steady system of policy, endeavoured 1820. The object of legislation in to give our own seamen an advantage all its branches was to secure to their over those of foreign nations in the own subjects the benefit of their own supply of the home market.
It was trade and manufactures and on this principle that the celebrated sumption, and to shut out as much as Navigation Laws of England were possible the competition of foreign founded, the leading objects of which states. As it was evident however, were to secure to our own ships and that the inhahitants of the British is- seamen exclusively the trade with our lands, taken by themselves, could not colonies, and between our colonies keep pace with the necessity for a and foreign states ; and to give greater vent arising from the extension of advantages to our own sailors than our manufactures, it became a leading those of other nations enjoyed, by im. object with Government to plant col posing a heavier duty on goods brought onies in many different parts of the in foreign vessels than in those which world, and to bend all the national ef- were built in our own harbours and forts towards the increase of that col. navigated by our own seamen.
And onial empire, and the conquest of also in many instances to allow smallthose similar establishments of our er drawbacks upon articles exported enemies which might interfere with in foreign than those exported in Brit
The leading efforts ish ships. Whatever objections may of the British Cabinet during all the be stated on theory to this system, wars of the last century were to en- there can be no question that experilarge and protect our colonial empire. ence has demonstrated its practical Towards this object the bulk both of expediency, as it had raised the Britthe naval and military resources of the ish naval and colonial power in no nation was constantly directed, and very long period, from inconsiderable for this end continental operations beginnings to an unparalleled state were almost uniformly starved and neg- of grandeur and power, and laid the lected. Lord Chatham successfully foundation for the inevitable spread of prosecuted this system through all the British race and language through the glories of the Seven Years' War; every quarter of the habitable Lord North strove under darker aus- globe. pices to prevent it from being subvert The reciprocity system is founded ed during the disastrous contest against upon principles diametrically the reAmerican independence; and Mr. Pitt verse of these. The principle on re-asserted the same principles during which it rests is, that however advan. the Revolutionary war, and reared up tageous such a restrictive system might the greatest colonial empire that was have been when the other nations chose ever witnessed upon earth.
to submit to it, it nccssarily became To cement and secure this immense detrimental as soon as foreign states dominion, two principles were early resolved to assert their independence adopted and steadily acted upon by and threatened us with measures of rethe British Government. The first of taliation; and that the moment the these was
to maintain by the ut- resolution to adopt such measures most exertions of the national re. was seriously entertained and acted sources a great and powerful navy, upon by other states, there was no al. capable at all times of striking terror ternative but to embrace a genuine into our enemies, and affording a per- fair reciprocity system, or to submit to manent and effectual protection to the see ourselves excluded from the commost distant possessions of our colo- merce of the greater part of the civiliznial empire. Being well aware that ed world. this indispensable object could not be Mr. Porter,* in his late valuable gained without the greatest possible statistical publication, thus explains
* Porter's Progress of the Nation, II. p. 162.
the Reciprocity Acts, 4 Geo. IV. c. 77, under the name of the Navigation Act. and 5 Geo. IV. c. 1. · These acts au. -The foundation of this act was laid thorised his Majesty, by Order in Coun- during the Protectorate, and the syscil, to permit the importation and ex tem was perfected by the 12th Charles portation of goods in foreign vessels, II. chap. 18. This act provided that on payment of the same duties as were no merchandise of either Asia, Africa, chargeable when imported in British or America should be imported into vessels, in favour of all such countries Great Britain in any but English as should not levy discriminating duties built ships, navigated by an English upon goods imported into those coun- commander, and having at least threetries in British vessels; and further, fourths of their crew English. Besides to levy upon the vessels of such coun- this exclusive right imparted to British tries when frequenting British ports, shipping, discriminating duties were the same tonnage-duties as are charge. imposed, so that goods which might able on British vessels. A power was still be imported in foreign ships from on the other hand given to the Crown Europe were in that case more highby these Acts of Parliament, to impose ly taxed than if imported under the additional duties upon goods and ship. English flag. The system here deping against any countries which should scribed continued to be steadily and levy higher duties in the case of the pertinaciously maintained during more employment of British vessels in the than 160 years, and was looked upon trade with those countries. The con as a monument of wisdom and prucessions thus made met with only a dence, to which was mainly attributfeeble opposition, the principal act have able the degree of commercial greating passed the Commons by a majority ness to which we had attained.”of 5 to 1.
“ The earliest deviation from the Na. “ Under the authority of those Acts vigation Act that was sanctioned by of Parliament, reciprocity treaties have Parliament, arose out of the treaty been concluded with the following with the United States of America in countries :
1815. The States, soon after the esta
Concluded in blishment of their independence, had Prussia
1824 passed a navigation law in favour of Hanover
1824 their shipping, similar in all its main Denmark.
provisions to the English law; and it Oldenburg
1824 affords an instructive lesson, that the Mecklenburg
1825 practical carrying out of this restricBremen
1825 tive system to its fullest extent by the Hamburg
1825 two nations was found to be so unLubeck
1825 productive of all good effect as to call States of Rio de la Plata : 1825 for its abandonment. By this treaty Colombia
1825 the ships of the two countries were France
1826 placed reciprocally upon the same Sweden and Norway 1826 footing in the ports of England and Mexico
1826 the United States, and all discrimi. Brazil
1827 nating duties chargeable upon the Austria
1829"* goods which they conveyed were muIn order to illustrate the magnitude tually repealed. It adds greatly to of the change thus made, we shall sub- the value of this concession, that it was join the following statement by the made by no disciple of free-trade docsame author, of the principles of the trines, but was forced by the very restrictive system, so far as the Navi- consequence of the system itself, from gation Laws were concerned, and the a Government opposed to all change state necessity which it was conceived in the direction of relaxation. From rendered necessary to abandon that moment it was easy to foretell the
abandonment of all the most effective “ The part of our restrictive system parts of our long-cherished system of which was viewed with the greatest protection, since every country that favour among all classes, was embo- desired to remove the disadvantages died in the measure generally known under which we had placed its ship
ping had it thenceforward in its power, ing, as we shall immediately see, the by adopting our plans in the spirit of prodigious growth of our colonial trade retaliation, to compel us to a relaxation during the same period, the relative of our code. It is worthy of remark, proportion of foreign and British shipthat amidst all the complaints that have ping employed in carrying on been made by British ship-owners of trade has been totally changed ; that the abandonment of their interests by the former has doubled, while the lattheir Government, it has never been ter has only augmented hardly more attempted to question the propriety of than a fourth; that of the 3,500,000 the American treaty, nor to complain tons now employed in conducting Briof its results.” *
tish trade, no less than 1,000,000 beSuch were the expectations and pre. long to foreigners; and that if the dictions of the supporters of the recipro- same relative proportion shall continue city system. Let us inquire now, how between them for twelve years longer, far « experience, the great test of truth," the quantity of foreign shipping em. has established their principles or justi- ployed in conducting our own trade fied their anticipations.
will be equal to that of the whole BritLet us first inquire what has been ish empire: in other words, we shall the effect of the reciprocity system upon have nursed up in our own harbours, the maritime strength and resources of a foreign maritime force equal to our the empire, and then examine whether own. or not these effects have been counter In order still farther to illustrate balanced by the increase of foreign this important point of the stationary trade and commerce with the countries condition of the British commercial with whom reciprocity treaties have navy, we refer to two tables, showing been concluded.
the number of ships belonging to the One of Mr. Porter's Tables exhibits United Kingdom and its dependencies, the growth of our foreign trade and in Europe and our colonies, from 1803 shipping for every year from 1801 till down to the commencement of the rethe close of 1822, being the period ciprocity system in 1822, and from that when the change of policy was intro- period down to the present time.duced ; and from it it appears that From these tables, which every intelduring the period of twenty-two years, ligent reader must see to be of incalwhen the old system was in operation, culable importance, three things are the progress of our own shipping had evident. been rapid beyond all precedent in this 1. That under the Navigation Law or any other state, the foreign shipping system, the British shipping in Europe employed in conducting our trade had increased, in twenty years, from been altogether stationary, or rather 18,000 to 21,000 ships ; that is, by a declining: During that period the sixth. British ships and tonnage had about 2. That under the reciprocity sysdoubled, while the foreign ships and tem, the British ships declined, in twelve tonnage had declined; from 5,497 years, from 21,042 to 19,388, being ships and 780,000 tons, to 4,069 ships nearly a tenth. and 582,000 tons. Another table again 3. That the loss thus experienced shows the progress of British and fo- in the reciprocity system in Europe reign shipping from the year 1823, was counterbalanced, and more than when the reciprocity system came into counterbalanced by the extraordinary operation, to the close of 1836, and it growth in our colonial trade, during shows that during the twelve years the same period, to which the recithat the present reciprocity system has procity system did not apply, as it was continued, the British shipping has exclusively reserved, on the principle increased only from 11,733 vessels and of the Navigation Laws, to ourselves; 1,797,000 tons, to 14,347 vessels and the vessels engaged in that trade har2,500,000 tons, while the foreign ship- ing increased, during those twelve ping outwards has increased from years only, from 3,500 to 5,432, and 563,000 to 1,035,000 tons. It is clear their tonnage from 230,000 to 442,000. to demonstration, therefore, that under - It is not difficult in these circumthe reciprocity system, notwithstand- stances to see in what quarter the
* Porter's Progress of the Nation, II. 159, 160.
real strength and future hopes of the Table, showing the progress of the British empire are to be found.
trade of these countries, from 1822 to The same result is shown by another 1831, by which the relative progress Table, exhibiting the proportions in of the British and foreign trade with which the British and foreign seamen those countries where reciprocity are employed in the trade with Prussia, treaties have been concluded is clearly Denmark, France, Sweden, and Nor- demonstrated, and which is calculated way, with whom reciprocity treaties to shake the nerves of even the most have been concluded.
ardent supporters of the reciprocity It distinctly appears that under system. Under the operation of the the reciprocity system, the trade with reciprocity system, the British ships the Baltic States, Prussia, Sweden, employed in the trade with Sweden, Norway, and Denmark has, for the Norway, Denmark, and Prussia have most part fallen into the hands of declined; and the foreign shipping emforeigners. And as an illustration of ployed in the trade between those the way in which the foreign shipping countries and Great Britain has inhas grown up, so as to overshadow creased as follows:the British, we refer to another
British declined with Prussia from 539 ships to 270
Denmark, 57 ships to 16
Prussian ships, with Great Britain, increased from 253 to 903
44 to 624
558 to 785 Swedish,
71 to 250
And thus much for the reciprocity quently referred to, by the reciprocity system on the interests of our maritime partisans, as the strongest proof of the force in our intercourse with the Baltic justice of their principles; but in reali. trade.
ty, it is the strongest confirmation There is one country with whom, of those which we are now supportunder the reciprocity system com- ing. menced in 1816, that system has been The following Table exhibits the attended with remarkable advantages, progress of foreign trade between and that is the United States of North Great Britain and the United States, America. The example of the effect both in British and American bottoms, of this system with that country is fre- from the year 1822 to 1836.