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Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0115

A Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial

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19 April – [ca. 14 July] 1780

I. TO THE PRESIDENT OF CONGRESS, NO. 49, 19 APRIL 1780
II. TRANSLATION OF THOMAS POWNALL'S MEMORIAL [ ca. 8–14 JULY 1780]

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0115-0001

Editorial Note

John Adams' letter of 19 April 1780 to the president of Congress (No. I, below), constitutes his redaction of Thomas Pownall's pamphlet entitled A Memorial, Most Humbly Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe, on the Present { 158 } State of Affairs, Between the Old and New World, London, 1780. In July, Adams used his Letterbook copy to produce a manuscript (No. II, below) that, considerably revised from that of the letter, served as the text for two published versions: Pensées sur la révolution de l'Amérique-Unie, extraites de l'ouvrage anglois, intitulé mémoire, addressé aux souverains de l'Europe, sur l'état présent des affaires de l'ancien and du nouveau-monde, Amsterdam, 1780; and A Translation of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe upon the Present State of Affairs Between the Old and New World into Common Sense and Intelligible English, London, 1781.
The letter of 19 April and the revised, published versions of it are crucial to understanding the development of John Adams' views regarding an Anglo-American peace settlement, the Franco-American alliance, and the future position of the United States in European affairs. Almost without exception, his later writings on foreign policy and his actions as a diplomat reflect his reading of the Memorial. Adams testified to the impact of Pownall's thinking in his letter to Edmund Jenings of 18 July (below), and the truth of his assertion is evident in his published replies to speeches made in the House of Commons in early May by Gen. Henry Seymour Conway and Lord George Germain (to Edmé Jacques Genet, 17 and 28 May, both below); his “Letters from a Distinguished American,” published in 1782, but written in June and July 1780 ( [ante 14–22 July] , below); and his exchanges with the Comte de Vergennes in June and July over Congress' monetary policy, the exercise of his commissions, and the adequacy of French assistance to the American cause (below).
It is not an overstatement to say that the Memorial had more influence on John Adams' views of foreign policy than any other single published work. This does not mean that Pownall's pamphlet was the source of Adams' ideas concerning the relationship between the United States, Britain, France, and the European community in general. Those were the product of his evolution from a loyal subject of the British Empire to a revolutionary committed to independence and can be traced from his “Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” of 1765 (vol. 1:103–128) through his Plan of Treaties of 1776 (vol. 4:260–302) to his experience as a diplomat since 1778. Instead, the Memorial was the catalyst that brought together the diverse threads of Adams' thinking to form a coherent and unified theory regarding the proper course for the foreign policy of the United States that, with few exceptions, he adhered to for the rest of his life.
Thomas Pownall had extensive, practical experience in colonial administration. Between 1753 and 1760, he served successively as secretary to the governor of New York, lieutenant governor of New Jersey, secretary to the commander in chief of British forces in America, and governor of Massachusetts. As governor of Massachusetts from 1757 to 1760, the climactic years of the French and Indian War, Pownall proved to be an energetic and popular executive. He vigorously prosecuted the war and, in order to gain support for his efforts, courted the popular party. This alienated conservatives, such as Thomas Hutchinson, and ultimately their complaints as well { 159 } as the perception in London that Pownall was surrendering executive prerogatives to the assembly led to his recall ( DAB ; DNB ). Members of Massachusetts' popular party lamented Pownall's departure, and John Adams later described him as “a friend to liberty and to our constitution,” with “an aversion to all plots against either” (vol. 2:235). Thomas Pownall never again served in America as an administrator, but he drew on his experience there to produce the work for which he is most noted: The Administration of the Colonies (London, 1764, with five revised editions through 1777; Pownall presented Adams with a signed copy of the 1777 edition, Catalogue of JA 's Library ).
Pownall's Administration offered a prescription for solving Britain's problems in governing its American empire that was well reasoned and even farsighted. Its roots lay in the Albany Congress of 1754, at which Pownall had become convinced that some sort of colonial union was necessary. By the time he set to work on his Administration, Pownall believed that the existing system of colonial administration, unable to deal adequately with the growing economic strength of the colonies, had failed and a crisis existed.
In Administration, Pownall was clear about where he stood. Although he expressed sympathy for the colonists and confidence in their ultimate loyalty to the Crown and empire, which later led him to oppose ministerial efforts at taxation and coercion and even to advocate American seats in the House of Commons, there was no question in Pownall's mind that it was the mother country around whom the colonies revolved and for whose benefit they existed. Great Britain needed a unified system of administration to render the colonies an economic asset rather than a constant drain on its resources. It was “the precise duty of government at this crisis” to take “leading measures towards the forming all those Atlantic and American possessions into one Empire of which Great Britain should be the commercial and political center” (5th edn., 1774, p. 10).
The Memorial Addressed to the Sovereigns of Europe proceeded directly from The Administration of the Colonies, with much of the text of the Memorial's opening paragraphs taken from the Administration (No. I, see note 2, below). Like the earlier work, the Memorial sought to resolve the crisis produced by the growing economic importance of North America, that is, the United States. But in his Memorial, Pownall proposed that Britain recognize that the colonies were finally and irretrievably lost and had become a sovereign, independent state of great economic potential. Only by adopting the principles of free trade and forming a commercial relationship that would return Anglo-American trade to its normal channels could Britain avoid displacement as an economic power. Finally, since Pownall saw access to the American markets as a European problem, he called for the convening of a council of European nations that would provide for the orderly integration of the new nation into the existing economic and political order by lowering the barriers to free trade and liberalizing the law of nations.
Pownall cited and quoted from the works of several authors to support { 160 } his arguments. His views on the nature and power of the state were based on his reading of Francis Bacon's unfinished essay “Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain” (No. I, notes 6, 9, 11, and 21, below). Benjamin Franklin was the source for his statistics on the population and growth of the colonies (same, note 18), while his views on the future course of American foreign policy and the commercial and political relationship between the United States and Europe reflect those of Thomas Paine writing as “Common Sense” (same, notes 26 and 28). On the issue of trade regulation he turned to Sir Matthew Decker (same, note 50); and Henry IV's “grand design” to unify Europe, as expressed in the Memoirs of Maximilien de Béthune, was the model for his plan to achieve a unified European response to the emergence of the United States as an economic power (same, notes 44 and 52). But what most sets the Memorial apart from the Administration, as well as other works of the period, is the pervasive influence of Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations (2 vols., London, 1776). Pownall had given Smith's work an unfavorable review in 1776, largely because at that time he was still a vigorous defender of the colonial monopoly (Thomas Pownall, A Letter from Governor Pownall to Adam Smith, LLD, F.R.S. . . ., London, 1776, p. 7–8, 26–27). By 1780 his views had clearly changed, for on page 113 of the Memorial he cites Smith as the source for a quotation, and Smith's influence is evident throughout the Memorial, not only in those sections dealing with the workings of the economic system and free trade, but also in those touching on the relationship between the colonies and the mother country (No. I, note 39, below).
John Adams agreed wholeheartedly with much of the Memorial. He could have written those sections dealing with the rise of the United States as an economic and political power, the progress of American civilization, and the new nation's determination to trade with all nations while forming political connections with none, and in fact inserted those sections into the letter of 19 April (No. I, below) and the later published versions (No. II, below) virtually without change. Moreover, when Pownall wrote of the oppressive hand of the church and the nobility on European economic and political development he echoed John Adams' own words in the “Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” (vol. 1:103–128). This likely led Adams to write to Edmund Jenings on 20 April (below), requesting that he republish the “Dissertation” in England.
But the Memorial also differed fundamentally from other British proposals for settling the war with America. For the first time a British writer in whom Adams had confidence argued that Great Britain's economic self-interest demanded that it make peace and that it do so at once. Previous proposals had all been based on one or more of the following premises: the colonies would be exhausted by the war and sue for peace; the Anglo-American ties of language, religion, and culture would lead the Americans to renounce their French connection and return to the imperial fold; Britain would offer concessions acceptable to the Americans and the war would end. In each case it was assumed that the Americans would see that it was { 161 } in their self-interest to make peace because only disaster would result from continuing the war. Pownall, however, rejected those assumptions and argued that by declaring independence the United States had unilaterally repealed the navigation acts and opened its markets to Britain's commercial rivals, led by France. If Britain did not act, it risked permanent exclusion from those markets and thus from access to resources of the New World.
This was similar to Adams' thinking when he drafted the Treaty Plan of 1776. He believed then, and continued to believe even after the treaty of alliance was signed, that there was no need to offer France a political alliance because access to American markets formalized in a commercial treaty was incentive enough for French military and financial assistance (Plan of Treaties, 12 June–17 Sept. 1776, Editorial Note, 4:260–261). In the Memorial Adams found Pownall making a similar argument: that access to the American markets was incentive enough to force Britain to seek an immediate peace. The most compelling evidence of the Memorial's influence on John Adams is the fact that this position, as developed and refined by Pownall, formed the core of Adams' argument in his rebuttal of Joseph Galloway's Cool Thoughts in the “Letters from a Distinguished American” ( [ante 14–22 July] , below).
On only one issue did Adams clearly disagree with Pownall. This was over Pownall's call for the establishment of a council of European powers to resolve the issues raised by the American Revolution. Pownall saw the integration of the New World, with its new found economic and political power, into the existing European system as a crisis that could be resolved only by the agreement of the nations meeting in council. John Adams believed, however, that any problem resulting from the rise of the United States as a political and economic power was Britain's alone. The rest of Europe, led by France, was coming or already had come to terms with the new economic and political order. To resolve its problem, Britain needed only to recognize the United States as independent and sovereign, and form a commercial relationship with the new nation. This would bring it into step with the rest of Europe, end its isolation, and make it part of the new economic and political order of which Pownall wrote. Any council of sovereign states dealing even peripherally with political issues or setting conditions by which the United States would be integrated into the European system was unnecessary and even dangerous. This reflected Adams' long held belief, ably expressed by Pownall in his Memorial, that the United States should seek only commercial, not political, connections with Europe. The only sort of council acceptable to Adams was one that would remove trade barriers, such as the exclusion of foreign ships from the colonial trade in peacetime, or liberalize the law of nations by instituting such principles as free ships make free goods. John Adams, therefore, drastically revised the portion of Pownall's Memorial that called for a European council.
John Adams first learned of the Memorial from Thomas Digges' letter of 6 April (above, but see also Edmund Jenings' letter of 19 March, and note 3, above), in which Digges identified Pownall as the author. Digges also { 162 } indicated that he was sending a copy of the pamphlet to Benjamin Franklin, with a request that it be passed on to Adams when Franklin was finished Digges to Franklin, (6 April, Digges, Letters , p. 185–189). It seems likely, from Adams' reply of 15 April (above), that both letters of 6 April had arrived and that soon thereafter Adams borrowed the Memorial from Franklin, read it, and set to work, condensing Pownall's 127-page text to about half its size in just four days. This despite the fact that between 15 and 19 April, Adams wrote ten letters, four of them to the president of Congress, including that of 18 April in which the influence of the Memorial is clearly evident (No. 48, and note 1, above). There is no evidence that when Adams wrote his letter to the president, he had any plans to publish his text, although considering the time and effort he spent on it, such a thought may have been in the back of his mind.
The task of revising Pownall's Memorial was daunting, even if one considers only the time spent copying and recopying the text, not to mention the substantive textual changes that Adams made. The effort was necessary, however, because while Adams saw Pownall's arguments as important, he believed that the Memorial's turgid and idiosyncratic prose obscured them and diminished their impact. The letter to the president of Congress (No. I, below) fills thirteen closely written pages. The points at which Adams omitted significant blocks of the Memorial's text or made substantive changes in Pownall's prose are indicated in the notes. John Adams' Letterbook copy in John Thaxter's hand (Adams Papers) fills thirty-four pages and is identical to the recipient's copy except for Thaxter's copying errors and some insertions by Adams to correct them. No draft has been found and John Adams may have composed the letter to Congress directly from the Memorial.
In early July, John Adams decided to publish his revision of Pownall's Memorial. Using his Letterbook copy, he reworked and revised the manuscript (No. II, below) to produce a shorter and more clearly focused version. This became the text that appeared as Pensées and Translation of the Memorial. Adams removed material that he, upon reconsideration, thought extraneous or, in the case of Pownall's proposal for a European council, to more sharply emphasize his argument at the expense of Pownall's. It is noteworthy that Pownall's references to “the new World,” which were retained in the letter, became “America” in the manuscript and instead of “North America” being “a new primary planet,” it was the “Congress of the United States of North America,” that filled that role.
John Adams made two copies of the text that were ultimately published, but only that sent to Edmund Jenings has survived. A second copy sent by Adams to M. Addenet, a Parisian translator, has not been found, nor has the manuscript of Addenet's French translation that Jean Luzac used for Pensées. The surviving manuscript consists of five parts, each separately titled, that together fill nineteen pages. Edmund Jenings received the first four with Adams' letter of 8 July (Adams Papers), while the fifth likely was enclosed in Adams' letter of the 14th (below; but see Jenings' replies of 15 { 163 } and 21 July, both below). The manuscript, which Jenings sent off to London in mid-September (from Jenings, 14 Sept., below), contains emendations made by Jenings as he prepared it for publication and which appear in the Translation as published at London in 1781. These changes, which were editorial rather than substantive, do not appear in the text printed in this volume. Moreover, a comparison of Pensées with the manuscript indicates that the copy sent to Addenet was probably identical, with one possible exception indicated in the notes, to that sent to Jenings.
The only significant difference between the Pensées and the Translation, other than that imposed by language, was Jean Luzac's twenty-page preface. John Adams sent Luzac the manuscript in French translation on 5 Sept. and asked for his opinion (to Luzac, 5 Sept., below). Luzac replied that the work had great merit, but suggested that he act as editor and introduce the text with a preface designed to allay Dutch fears of an American threat to their commercial interests that might be aroused by the pamphlet's focus on the economic potential of the United States (see Luzac's letter of 14 Sept. and JA 's reply of the 15th, both below). Pensées was published at Amsterdam in November 1780.
Historians have virtually ignored John Adams' Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial and, indeed, have paid little attention to the Memorial itself. This has been due partly to a lack of information regarding both Adams' letter to the president of Congress and its later printed versions as well as to a thorough misunderstanding over the degree to which Adams' pamphlet differed from the Memorial. The letter has been available only in the Papers of the Continental Congress or in the Adams Papers, and few libraries hold the original pamphlets. Francis Wharton did not include the letter of 19 April in the Revolutionary Diplomatic Correspondence of the United States, and Charles Francis Adams printed neither the letter nor the Translation in the Works of John Adams. Moreover, after their publication in 1780 and 1781 respectively, Pensées and the Translation were not republished in Europe and there were no American editions.
John Adams, himself, did not inform Congress that the substance of his letter of 19 April had been published; nor is there any indication that he informed anyone of his effort to have Jenings publish the Translation in London or of the publication itself. Indeed, Adams' authorship of the Translation remains unrecognized, it being generally attributed to Edmund Jenings or even, in a contemporary review of the pamphlet in London's Monthly Review (64 [1781]:150), to Benjamin Franklin.
John Adams freely acknowledged his authorship of Pensées and widely distributed copies of it in the Netherlands. But over time, Adams' authorship of Pensées was forgotten (see DNB , 16:267). The lack of attention has been all the more unfortunate because there is no better source for John Adams' views on the rise of the United States as an economic and political power, the future conduct of American foreign policy, or his thoughts regarding an Anglo-American peace than this work.
Some explanation of the editorial treatment of the two documents pre• { 164 } sented below seems in order. The 19 April letter to the president of Congress (No. I, below) is more extensively annotated than John Adams' Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial (No. II, below). The notes to the letter deal with Adams' copying from the Memorial and seek to shed light on his decisions to include, exclude, or alter particular sections. They also consider Pownall's sources, translate Latin and French passages, and indicate major blocks of material in the letter that Adams deleted when he copied out his Translation of the Memorial. Because it is virtually identical to the published Translation, the annotation of the manuscript has been limited to matters unique to that document.

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0115-0002

Author: Adams, John
Date: 1780-04-19

I. To the President of Congress, No. 49

[salute] Sir

A Pamphlet has been published, in England, under the Title of “a memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, on the present State of Affairs, between the old and new World.” It is Said to have been written by Governor Pownal, and, after an Acquaintance with his style, for more than twenty Years, I find So many quaint Words, and unintelligible Expressions, intermixed with so much Knowledge of America, and So many good Thoughts, which are all Characteristic, that I have no doubt, it is his. I will endeavor to give Congress an Account of it.
He begins with observing, very justly, that at the End of the last War, a new system was formed, both political and commercial, which is now, compleatly formed, that the Spirit of Commerce has become a leading Power, that at that Time the Center of this system was G. Britain, whose Government, might if it had been wise have preserved, the Advantage of being the Center, both of the Commerce and Politicks of the World: but being unwise they disturbed the Course of things, and have not only lost forever that Dominion which they had and might have held, but the external parts of the Empire are one after another falling off, and it will be once more reduced to its Insular Existence.
On the other hand, this new System of Power, moving round its own proper Center, which is the new World has dissolved, all the forces sent against it by the English, and has formed natural Connections with France and Spain, and other Countries. Founded in nature it is growing, by accellerated motions, into a great and powerful Empire. It has taken its equal station, among the nations of the Earth. Video Solem orientem in Occidente.1 N. America is a new primary Planet, which taking its Course in its own orbit, must have an Effect upon the orbit of every other, and shift the common Center
{ 165 } | view { 166 }
of Gravity of the whole system of the European World. She is de facto, an independant Power, and must be so, de Jure. The Politicians of Europe may reason or negotiate: the Powers of Europe may fight about it: but such Negotiations and Wars will have no Consequence on the right or the fact. It would be just as wise to fight or negotiate for the dominion of the moon, which has been long common to them all, and all may profit of her reflected light. The Independance of America is as fixed as fate: She is mistress of her own fortune, knows that she is so, and will manage that Power which she feels herself possessd of, to establish her own System and change that of Europe.2 Thus far I think Gov. Pownal Speaks like an oracle—he proceeds.
If the Powers of Europe, will see the state of Things, and act accordingly, the lives of thousands may be spared, the Happiness of millions secured, and the peace of the World preservd. If not, they will be plunged into a sea of Blood. The War, which is almost gorged between Britain and America, will extend itself to all the maritime Powers, and most probably afterwards to all the Inland Powers, and like the 30 years war, of the 16 and 17th Centuries, will not end, but by a general Resettlement of Interests, according to the Spirit of the new system which has taken Place. Why may not all this be done by a Congress of all Nations, before, as well as after the War?
Let me observe here to Congress, as I go along, that G. Pownal in this Paragraph, seems to be in that profound state of Ignorance, which all his Nation is manifestly in, of what is passing in the rest of the World. He seems to think that the maritime Powers will be divided upon the American Question, and go to War about it, whereas it is very certain that all the other maritime Powers, are unanimous about, in favour of one side, against England, and I cant think that he supposes England can maintain the 30 years War, against all the maritime Powers—G. Pownal proceeds.
The final settlement of Power, at a Peace, is never in proportion to the success of Arms. It depends upon the Interposition of Parties, who have not meddled in the War, but who come to the treaty for Peace, brought forward by Intrigue, with the Aid of Jealousy, and counteract, by negotiation the envied Effects of Arms.
The Britons have forced, the present system, into Establishment before its natural Season. They might have Secured the Attachment of their Plantations for years to come, as Spain by her caution will do: but it was a principal part of the plan, of the confidential Counsellors, in a general Reformation of the Kings Government, to reform the Constitutions of America. They were informed it would lead to { 167 } War, but they thought it would be a good measure to force the Americans to arms. Conquest, of which they were sure, would give them the Right of giving what Constitutions they thought fit, such as that to Quebec—little foreseeing what a War, it would prove,3 and still less suspecting, that France and Spain, and all the rest of the World, would interpose.
None of the Powers of Europe, and few of the most knowing Politicians, have considered, what Effect this Revolution will have on the general system of Europe. Here I believe Govr. Pownal is mistaken. Every Power in Europe, and every Politician in Europe, except those in G. Britain have digested this subject very well. The Govr. goes on. One thing is certain, that on whatever ground the War between Britain and Bourbon began, in whatever course it may take,4 however long they may continue it, to their mutual destruction, the Americans will never belong to either foedere inequale.5 Here I hope and trust in God Gover. Pownals Judgement is infallible. He goes on. The Powers of Europe, who will become Parties, before these affairs come to the Issue, will concur in no other settlement, than that these states are an independant sovereign Power, holding a free Commerce equally with all.
In order [to] shew, how these matters may, and finally will be settled, he proposes to lay before the Sovereigns, a View of the European and American Worlds; and point out what will be the natural Effects of the Seperation of them, and of the Independance of America, upon the commercial and political state of Europe, and finally to shew how the present Crisis, may by Wisdom and Benevolence, [be] wrought into the greatest Blessing of Peace, Liberty and Happiness, which the World hath yet seen.
He professes that he can look to the one and the other of these Worlds, with the same Philosophic Indifference, with which an Astronomer compares the Magnitude and Distances of Planets, free from all Habits, and Prejudices, that possess the Europeans.
He then proceeds to compare, the new and old World, in point of Magnitude, Spirit, and Power. He says6 that in measuring, the Magnitude of states too much is ascribed commonly, Extent of Territory, and fruitfulness of Soil.
That Extent of Dominion, which is most capable, of a Systematical Connection and Communication, has the most natural Greatness.
The three other Parts of the World, are naturally seperated from each other, and altho once under the dominion of the Romans, as this was an unnatural Exertion, beyond the Resources of human { 168 } nature it soon dissolved, and they seperated. Europe Asia and Africa, are not only seperated by their local Positions, but are inhabited by distinct Species of human Beings. North and south America, are in like manner naturally divided. North America, is possessed by Englishmen, and this natural Circumstance forms this division of America, into one great Society, the Basis of a great dominion. There is no where in Europe, So great and combined an Interest, communicating through so large a territory, as that in north America. The northern and southern Parts of Europe, are possessed by different nations, actuated by different Sovereignties and systems. Their Intercourse is interrupted, they are at perpetual Variance, Intercourse is difficult over Land, and by Sea. They are cutt off by intervening nations. On the Contrary, when N. America is examined, you find every thing united in it, which forms Greatness. The nature of the Coast and the Winds, renders Communication by navigation perpetual. The Rivers, open an inland navigation, which carries on a Circulation through the whole. The Country thus united, and one part of it, communicating with another, by its Extent of Territory and Variety of Climates, produces, all that nature requires, that Luxury loves, or that Power can employ. All these Things, which the Nations of Europe under every difficulty that a defect of natural Communication, under every obstruction that a perverse artificial System throws in their Way, barter for, are in N. America possessed, with an uninterrupted natural Communication and an unobstructed navigation, and an universal freedom of Commerce by one nation. The naval stores, Timber, Hemp, Fisheries, Salt Provisions of the north. The Tobacco, Rice, Cotton, silk, indigo, fruits and perhaps Wines, Resin and Tar of the South, form a reciprocation of Wants and supplies. The Corn, flour, Manufactures &c. of the middle states, fill up the Communion and compleat its system. They unite those Parts which were before connected, and organize the several parts into one whole.7
The Islands, are no doubt, naturally Parts of this North American Communion. The European Powers, may by Effects of Force, if they can agree, preserve the Property and Dominion of those Islands, for some years, perhaps an Age. But if they quarrell, about them, the whole of the Spanish, Dutch, Danish, French and British Islands, bound in Union, with North America, must become Parts of her system.8
Altho no Symptoms of Revolution at present appear in South America, yet it may be proper to inquire into those internal Circum• { 169 } stances of its natural and political system, by which it works to Independancy.
S. America is larger than North, and has more Variety of Climates, and further advanced to a natural Independance of Europe, and is growing into the largest Amplitude of Dominion that this Earth has ever yet Seen. Agriculture, has already produced, here not only an Abundance for home Consumption, but a surplus for Exportation. The Articles of Export, are Wheat, flour, barley, Wine, hemp, tallow, lard, Sugar, Cocoa, fruits, Sweetmeats, pickles, naptha, oil, cotton &c. This Progress of Agriculture has produced Manufactures and Trade. Cordage, Sail cloth of Cotton, Woolen and linnen cloth, hats, Leather, fiance, Instruments of husbandry, tools of Mechanicks &c. As the Population and Culture of Chili, shall increase, the produce of these higher Latitudes and cooler Climates, will enter into the great system, and will compleat the western Side of S. America, possessed by one nation into an object of as much greater magnitude of Wealth and Power, than the English nation possesses in N. America, as it is greater in the Variety and extent of its internal Communication, besides which it will have an uninterrupted Intercourse of East Indian Commerce. N. America has not as yet gone into an active State of manufactures, nor will it for many Years, yet N. America, is more independant in the Spirit of its People, and in Policy. It has only first Seperated from the old World. S. A. is not yet ripe for falling off, nor is it likely to be forced to a premature Revolt, as N. A. has been. As Long as the Ct. of S[pain] proceeds with the Temper, Address, and Wisdom, which it observes at present, an indolent, luxurious, and Superstitious People, not much accustomed to think of Politicks (tho much more than is generally suspected) will continue in subjection to Government, and commercial Restrictions. But the Natives increasing, beyond any proportion to the N[umber] of old Spaniards; having the executive Power, of all the inferiour Magistracies in their own hands, by their own Election of the magistrates, they have the Power of internal Government in their own hands, and the Government of the sovereign, by his Viceroys, Audiences, Clergy, Army &c., is a meer tenure at good Will. A great Country like this, so advanced in Agriculture, Manufactures, Arts and Commerce, is too large for any Government in Europe to manage by Authority, 4 or 5 thousand miles off. Bacon says, “there are two manners of Securing large territories: the one by the natural arms of every Province; and the other by the protecting arms of the principal State, in which later case commonly the provincials are disarmed. There are two dangers { 170 } incident to every State, foreign Invasion and inward Rebellion. These two Remedies of state, fall into these two dangers in case of remote provinces, for if such a state rest upon the natural Arms of the Province, it is sure to be subject to Rebellion, or Revolt: if upon protecting Arms it is sure to be weak against Invasion.”9 Spain as well as England found themselves under the necessity of repealing a Revenue Law which they had made, because they felt that they could not carry it into Execution, by Authority. The disputes between Spain and Portugal, about the Boundaries of the Brazils and the Spanish Provinces, arose from their not being able jointly, to carry into Effect a Pacification. S. America is growing too much for Spain to manage. It has Power to be independent and will be so in fact, when any Occasion shall arise. It will not be after the Manner of N. America, which has become a democratick or Aristocratic Republic. S. A. will be conducted by some injured and enterprizing Genius to Monarchy.10
He proceeds to consider, what he calls, from Ld. Bacon, the Amplitude and Growth of State11 in North America, and Says that Civilization, next to Union of System and Communication of Parts, constitute it. He compares the Civilization of America with that of Europe, and if I understand him, for he is almost unintelligible, his Conclusion, is true, and just (whatever, Smaller men than he may think of it) that the Civilization of North America is, Superior to that of Europe. When I say that this Conclusion is just I dont mean, that Architecture, Painting, Statuary, Poetry, in one Word the fine Arts, are so well understood, nor that the Mechanick Arts are so well understood and practised by any Individuals in America as they are by some in Europe, nor do I mean that the sciences those of Government and Policy particularly are so learnedly understood by any Individuals in America, as they are by some in Europe: by I mean and I say this, that Arts, sciences, Agriculture, Manufactures, Government, Policy, Commerce are better understood, by the collective Body of the People in America, than they are by that of Europe. And this is the only Way of stating the Comparison of Civilization, and in this Respect America is infinitely further removed from Barbarity than Europe.12
Governor Pownal proceeds. When the Spirit of Civilization began first in Europe, after the Barbarous Ages of the northern Invaders, the Clergy, were the blind leaders to light, and the feudal Lords, the Patrons of Liberty—what Knowledge! what Liberty!—the Instruction of the first, was more pernicious than Ignorance: the Patronage of { 171 } the last was the Benevolence of a Grazier, who fattens his Cattle, to profit of their Hides, and Bodies. The People held their Knowledge, as they did their Lands by a servile Tenure, which did not permit them to use it as their own. Such was the Source of Civilization in Europe!13
The first movement of Civilization, is the application of Labour to the Culture of the Earth, in order to raise that supply of Food which is necessary for Men in society. The Application of Labour to Architecture, Cloathing, Tools and Instruments is concommitant with this. Marketts, in which a Reciprocation of Wants and surplusses, is accomplished, succeeds. Hence arise, by a further Improvement Artificers and Manufacturers. And in succession a surplus is created beyond what is wanted by the Individuals, or the Community, which produces Commerce, by exchanging this surplus for articles of Conveniency, or Enjoyment, which the Country does not produce.
By the Violence of the military Spirit, under which Europe was a second time Peopled, the Inhabitants were divided into two Classes, Warriors and slaves. Agriculture was conducted by the latter, Wretches annexed to, not owners of the Soil, degraded Animals! Cattle, Property, not Proprietors! no Interest in their own Reasons, Labour, Time. They had neither Knowledge, nor Motive to make one Effort of Improvement.14 Improvement in Agriculture, was therefore, many hundred years at a Stand. Although in some Countries of Europe it may seem at present progressive, it is so slow that for Ages it can have no great Effect, except perhaps in England, yet even here the farmer, is absurdly and cruelly oppressed.
Manufactures, or the Labour of Men in Wool, Iron, Stone, or Leather, were held as the servile offices of Society, and fit only for slaves. These Artificers, were mere Machines of the most arrogant and ignorant Master. They would never make Experiments. So that Mechanicks and Arts, went on for Ages without Improvement.
Upon the dissolution of the Hanseatic League, the Sovereigns who had seen the Power, which arose from Manufactures and Trade, began to encourage their subjects and invite Strangers, to establish them. Civilization took a momentary start. But the Policy of the Sovereigns, held the Manufacturers, in wretched Condition, by many obstructing Regulations. The Same Policy, affecting to encourage Manufactures, gave them a false help, by setting assises in the produce of Land, which oppressed Agriculture. This Same system of Policy, confined Ingenuity, by making imposing Regulations and taxes on every Motion of Manufactures, on their coming from the Hand { 172 } of the Workman: on the Carriage: on the sale: on the Return whether in goods or Money. This Policy, was directed to draw into the Treasury of the state, all the Profit, beyond the Labourers subsistance. Commercial Legislation, was directed wholly, to make the subject sell but not buy: export Articles but import Money, of which the state must have the greatest share. Hence exclusive Property of certain Materials of Manufacture, which they called Staple Commodities—hence Monopolies—exclusive Priviledges of trade, to Persons, Articles and Places: exclusive Fisheries:—hence the notions of the ballance of Trade:—and hence the whole Train of Retaliations, restraints on Exportation, Prohibitions of Importation, alien duties, imposts—having thus rendered Communication among themselves almost impracticable, they were forced to look out for foreign settlements—hence Colonies, which might be worked like out farms for the Exclusive benefit of the metropolis, hence that wildest of wild Visions of Avarice and Ambition, the attempt to render the Ocean an Object of Property, a Claim of Possession in it, and Dominion over it. Thus Civilization was obstructed, improvement hindered, and the Light of Genius extinguished.15 Events may arise which may induce, Governors in Europe, to revise and reform, the hard Conditions of its Imprisonment, and give it Liberty.
In the new World, all the Inhabitants are free, and allow universal Naturalization to all that wish to be So, and a perfect Liberty of using any mode of Life they choose, or any Means of getting a Livelihood, that their Talents lead them to. Their Souls are their own: Their Reason is their own. They are their own masters: Their Labour is employed on their own Property, and what they produce is their own. Where every Man has the free, and full Exertion of his Powers, and may acquire any Share of Profit or Power, that his Spirit can work him up to; there an unabated Application, and a perpetual Struggle of Spirit sharpens the Wit, and trains the Mind. The Acquisition of Knowledge in Business, necessary to this Mode of Life, gives the Mind, a Turn of Investigation, which forms a Character peculiar to these People. This is called Inquisitiveness, which goes often to Ridicule, but is in Matters of Business and Commerce an usefull Talent. They are animated with the Spirit of the New Philosophy. Their Life is a Course of Experiments, and standing on as high ground of Improvement, as the most enlightened Parts of Europe have advanced, like Eaglets they commence the first Efforts of their Pinnions from a towering Advantage.
In Europe the poor Man's Wisdom is despised. The poor Mans { 173 } Wisdom, is not learning, but knowledge of his own picking up, from facts and nature, by simple Experience. In America, the Wisdom and not the Man is attended to: America is the Poor Mans Country. The Planters here reason not from what they hear but from what they see and feel. They follow what mode they like. They feel that they can venture to make Experiments, and the Advantages of their discoveries are their own. They therefore try, what the soil claims, what the Climate permits, and what both will produce to the greatest Advantage, in this way, they have brought into Cultivation, an Abundance, that no nation of the old World ever did, or could. They raise not only Plenty, and Luxury for their internal supply, but the Islands in the West Indies have been supplied from their Superabundance, and Europe, in many Articles has profited of it. It has had its fish from their seas: its wheat and flour from one part: its rice from another: its Tobacco and Indigo from another: its timber and naval stores from another: olives, oranges, Wines, are introducing by Experiments.
This spirit of Civilization, first attaches itself to Mother Earth, and the Inhabitants become Land workers. You see them labouring at the Plow, and the Spade, as if they had not an Idea, above the Earth; yet their Minds are all the while, enlarging all their powers, and their Spirit rises as their Improvements advance. Many a real philosopher, politician and Warrior, emerges out of this Wilderness, as the seed rises out of Ground.16
They have also made many improvements in Handicrafts, Tools, and Machines. Want of Tools, and the Unfitness of such as they had, have put these Settlers to their shifts and these shifts are Experiments. Particular Uses calling for some Alteration have opened many a new Invention. More new Tools and Machines, and more new forms of old ones, have been issued in the new than were ever invented in the old in the same space of time.
The new World hath not turned its labour, into Arts and manufactures, because, their labour employed in its own natural Way can produce those things, which purchase Articles of Arts and manufactures, cheaper, than they could make them, but tho it dont manufacture for Sale, the settlers find Fragments of Time, which they cannot otherwise employ, in which they make most of the Articles of personal Ware and household Use, for home Consumption. When the Field shall be filled with Husbandmen, and the Classes of Handicrafts fully stocked, as there are no Laws which impose Conditions, on which a Man is to become intituled to exercise this or that trade, or by which he is excluded from exercising the one or the other, in this or that { 174 } place: none that prescribe the manner in which, or the Prices at which he is to work, or that confine him even to the trade he was bred to: the moment that Civilization carried on in its natural Course is ripe for it: the Branch of Manufactures will take Root, and grow with an astonishing Rapidity.
Altho, the Americans do not endeavour to force the Establishment of Manufactures; yet, following the natural progress of Improvement, they every Year produce a Surplus of Profit. With these surpluses and not with Manufactures they carry on their Commerce. Their fish, wheat, flour, rice, tobacco, indigo, live stock, barrel pork and beef (some of these being peculiar to the Country and staple Commodities) form their Exports. This has given them a direct Trade to Europe, and a circuitous Trade to Affrica and the West Indies.
The same Ingenuity in mechanicks, which accompanies their Agriculture, enters into their Commerce, and is exerted in Ship building: it is carried on, not only for their own freight, and that of the West Indies, but for sale, and supply a great part of the shipping of Britain; and if it continues to advance, will supply a great Part of the trade of Europe with ships, at cheaper Rates, then they can any where, or by any means, supply themselves. Thus their Commerce, altho under various Restrictions, while they were subordinate Provinces, by its advancing Progress in ship building, hath struck deep roots, and is now shot forth into an Active Trade, Amplitude of state and great Power.
An Objection. It will be said that the Ballance of Trade, has been at all times, against America, so as to draw all the Gold and silver from it, and for this Reason it cannot Advance in Commerce and oppulence. Answer. America, even while in depressed and restrained Provinces, has advanced its Cultivation to great oppulence, and constantly extending the Channells of its trade and increasing its shipping. Tis a fallacious Maxim to judge of the general Ballance of Profit in commerce by the Motions of one Article of Commerce, the prescious metals.
These metals, will always go to that Country, that pays the most for them. That Country, which on any sudden Emergency wants Money, and knows not how to circulate any other than silver and gold, must pay the most for them. The Influx of them therefore into a Country, instead of being a Consequence, of the ballance of trade being in its favor, or the Efflux being a Mark, of the Ballance being against it, may be proof of the contrary. The ballance of trade, reckoned by the import or Export of Gold and silver, may in many { 175 } cases, be said to be against England, and in favour of those Countries to which its money goes. If this Import or Export was the Effect of a final settled account, instead of being, only the transfer of this Article to or from an Account currant, as it commonly is, yet it would not be a mark of the Ballance of Trade. England, from the nature of its Government and the Extent of its Commerce, has established a Credit, on which, on any Emergency, it can give Circulation to paper money, almost to any amount. If it could not, it must, at any rate, purchase gold and silver, and their would be a great Influx of the prescious metals. Will any one say, that this is a Symptom of the ballance of trade being in its favour? but on the contrary, having credit, from a progressive ballance of profit, it can, even in such an Emergency, spare its Gold and silver, and even make a Profit of it, as an Article of Commerce exported. Here We see, the ballance of profit creating a Credit, which circulates as money, even while its gold and silver are exported. If any Event like the late Recoinage of the Gold in England, which called in the old Coin at a better Price than that at which it was circulating abroad, should raise the Price of this Article in England, it will, for the same reason, as it went out, be again imported into England, not as a ballance of Accounts, but as an Article of trade, of which the best profit could at that moment be made. The fact was, that at that Period, quantities of English gold coin, to a great amount, were actually imported into England in bulk; and yet this was no mark of any sudden change of a ballance of trade in favour of that Country.17
The ballance of trade, reckoned by this false rule, has been always said to be against N. America: but the fact is, that their Government profiting of a Credit arising from the progressive Improvements, and advancing Commerce of it <(which all the World sees as it is)>, hath by a refined policy, established a Circulation of Paper Money, to an Amount that is astonishing; that from the immense quantity it should depreciate, is nothing to this Argument; for it has had its Effect. The Americans therefore can spare their gold and silver, as well as England, and my Information says, there is now locked up in America more than three Millions, English Money, in gold and silver, which when their Paper is annihilated will come forth. The Efflux, therefore of gold and silver, is no proof of a ballance against them. On the contrary, being able to go on without gold and silver, but wanting other Articles, without which they could not proceed in their Improvements in Agriculture, Commerce, or War, the gold and silver is in part hoarded, and in part exported for these Articles. In fact, this { 176 } objection, which is always given as an instance of Weakness in America, under which she must Sink, turns out, in the true state of it, an Instance of the most extensive Amplitude and Growth of state. It would be well for England, if while she tryumphs over this Mote in her Sisters Eye, would attend to the Beam in her own, and prepare for the Consequences of her own paper Money.
From this Comparison of the Spirit of Civilization, applied to Agriculture, Mechanicks, and Commerce, extended through a large territory, having a free Communication, thro the whole, Governor Pownal asserts, that N. America has advanced, and is every day advancing, to a Growth of State, with a constant, and accellerating Motion of which there has never been any Example in Europe.
He proceeds to compare the two Countries, in the Progress of Population. In North America Children are a Blessing they are Riches and strength to the Parents. In Europe, Children are a Burden. The Causes of which have been with decided demonstration explained in the “Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, the Peopling of Countries &c.”18 which he confirms by Examples of the actual increase,—The Mass. Bay, had of inhabitants in the year 1722, 94,000—in 1742, 164,000, in 1751—when there was a great depopulation both by War and the Small Pox 164,484—in 1761, 216,000—in 1765, 255,500—in 1771, 292,000, in 1773, 300,000.19
In Connecticut, in 1756, 129,994—in 1774, 257,356. These numbers are not increased by strangers, but decreased by Wars and Emigrations to the Westward, and to other states. Yet they have nearly doubled in Eighteen Years.
In N. York in 1756, 96,776—in 1771, 168,007—in 1774, 182,251.
In Virginia in 1756, 173,316—in 1764, 200,000—in 1774, 300,000.
In S. Carolina 1750, 64,000—in 1770, 115,000. In R. Island, 1738, 15,000, in 1748, 28,439.
As there never was a Militia in Pensilvania, which authentic List of the Population,20 it has been variously estimated on Speculation. There was a continual Importation for many Years of irish and foreign Emigrants, yet many of these settled in other Provinces: but the progress of population, in the ordinary course, advanced in a ratio between that of Virginia, and that of Mass. Bay. The City of Philadelphia, advanced more rapidly. It had in 1749—2076 houses in 1753—2300 in 1760, 2969 in 1769, 4474, from 1749 to 1753 from 16, to 18,000 Inhabitants—from 1760 to 1769 from 31,318 to 35,000.
There were in 1754 various Calculations and Estimates made of the No. on the Continent. The sanguine, made the No. one million and { 177 } an half. Those who admitted less speculation into the Calculation, but adhered closer to Facts and Lists as they were made out, Stated them at one million two hundred and fifty thousand. The Estimate said to be taken in Congress in 1774 makes them 3,026,678—but there must have been great Scope of Speculation in that Estimate. Another, after two or three Years of War, is 2,810,000. Govr. P. thinks that 2,141,307 would turn out nearest to the real amount in 1774. But what an amazing Progress, which in 18 years has added a million to a million two hundred and fifty thousand, altho a War was maintained in that Country for seven years of the term. In this view one sees a Community, unfolding itself, beyond any Example in Europe.
But the Model of these Communities, which has always taken place, from the Beginning, has enrolled every subject, as a soldier, and trained a greater Part, or 535,326 of these People to Arms, which Number the Community has, not seperate from the civil, and formed into a distinct body of regular Soldiers, but remaining united in the internal Power of the society, a national Piquet guard, always prepared for defence. This will be thought ridiculous by the regular Generals of Europe: but experience hath evinced, that for the very Reason that they are not a Seperate body, but members of the Community, they are a real and effectual national defence. He concludes with Lord Bacon, that21 the true Greatness of a State consisteth essentially in Population <and breed of Men>, and where there is Valour in individuals, and a military disposition in the frame of the Community: where all, and not particular conditions and degrees only, make profession of Arms, and bear them in their countrys defence.22
This Country now is an Independant State, that hath taken its equal Station amidst the Nations of the Earth.23 It is an Empire, the Spirit of whose Government extends from the Center to the extream Parts. Universal participation of Council, creates Reciprocation of universal Obedience. The Seat of Government will be well informed of the State and Condition of the remote and extream parts which by participation in the Legislature, will be informed and satisfied in the reasons and necessity of the measures of Government. These will consider themselves as acting in every grant that is made, and in every tax imposed. This Consideration will give Efficacy to Government, that Consensus Obedientium, on which the permanent Power of Empire is founded. This is the Spirit of the New Empire in America. It is liable to many Disorders, but young and Strong, like the Infant Hercules it will strangle these serpents, in the Cradle. Its Strength { 178 } will grow with Years. It will establish its Constitution, and perfect Growth to Maturity. To this Greatness of Empire it will certainly arise. That it is removed 3000 miles from its Enemy: that it lies on another side of the Globe where it has no Enemy: that it is Earth born and like a Giant ready to run its Course, are not the only Grounds, on which a Speculatist may pronounce this. The fostering Care with which the Rival Powers of Europe will nurse it, ensures its Establishment, beyond all doubt or danger.
When a State is founded on Such Amplitude of Territory: whose Intercourse is so easy: whose Civilization, is so advanced: where all is Enterprize and Experiment: where Agriculture has made so many discoveries, of new and peculiar Articles of Cultivation: where the ordinary Produce of bread Corn has been carried to a degree, that has made it a Staple Export, for the supply of the old World: whose Fisheries are mines producing more Solid Riches than all the silver of Potosi: Where Experiment hath invented So many new and ingenious Improvements, in Mechanicks: where the Arts, Sciences, Legislation and Politicks, are Soaring with a Strong and extended Pinion: where Population has multiplied like the Seeds of the Harvest: Where the Power of these Numbers, taking a military Form, shall lift up itself as a young Lion;24 where Trade of extensive orbit, circulating in its own shipping, has wrought up these Efforts of the Community to an active Commerce: where all these Powers have united and taken the form of Empire: I may suppose I cannot err, or give offence to the greatest Power in Europe, when Upon a Comparison of the state of Mankind, and of the Powers of Europe, with that of America I venture to suggest to their Contemplation, that America is growing too large for any Government in Europe to manage as subordinate. That the Government, of North America, is too firmly fixed in the Hands of its own Community, to be either directed by other Hands, or taken out of those in which it is: and that the Power in Men and Arms, is too much to be forced, at the distance of 3000 Miles. Were I to ask an Astronomer, whether, if a satellite should grow, untill it could ballance with its Planet, whether that globe so increased, could be held any longer by any of the Powers of Nature, in the orbit of a satellite, and whether any external Force could hold it there, he will answer me, directly, No. If I ask a father, whether, after his son is grown up, to full strength of Body Mind and Reason, he can be held in Pupillage, and will suffer himself to be treated and corrected as a Child, he must answer No. Yet if I ask, an European Politician, who learns by Hearsay, and thinks by Habit, whether N. America will { 179 } remain dependent he answers, Yes. He will have a thousand reasons, why it must be so, altho fact rises in his face to the very contrary. Politicians, instead of being employed to find out reasons to explain facts, are often employed with a multitude about them, to invent and make facts, according to predetermined Reasonings. Truth, however, will prevail. This is not said to prove, but to explain the Fact, so that the Consequences may be seen. The present Combination of Events whether attended to or not, whether wrought by Wisdom into the system of Europe or not, will force its way there, by the Vigour of natural Causes. Europe, in the Course of its Commerce, and even in the internal order and Oeconomy of its Communities, will be affected by it. The Statesman cannot prevent its Existence, nor resist its Operation. He may embroil his own Affairs; but it will become his best Wisdom, and his Duty to his Sovereign and the People, that his measures coincide and cooperate with it.
The first of the Consequences is, the Effect, which this Empire, become a great naval power, will have on the Commerce, and by Changes in that, on the political system of the old World.
Whoever understands the Hanseatic League, and its progress, by possessing the commanding Articles of the Commerce of the World; the command of the great Rivers; its being the Carrier of Europe: in consequent active naval Power, that could attract, resist, and even command the landed powers; that it was made up of Seperate and unconnected Towns, included within the dominions, of other States; that they had no natural Communication, and only an artificial Union: whoever considers not only the commercial but naval and political Power, which this League established throughout Europe; will see, on how much more solid a Basis, the Power of North America, stands: how much faster it must grow, and to what an Ascendancy, of Interest, carrying on the greatest part of the Commerce, and commanding the greatest Part of the Shipping of the World, this great commercial and naval Power, must Soon arrive. If the League, without the natural Foundation of a political Body, in Land, could grow by Commerce and navigation to such Power: if, of Parts seperated by Nature, and only joined by Art and Force, could become a great political Body, acting externally with an Interest and Power, that took a lead, and even an Ascendancy in Wars and Treaties? What must N. America, removed at the distance of half the Globe, from all the obstructions of rival powers, founded in a landed Dominion, peculiarly adapted for Communication of Commerce, and Union of Power, rise to in its Progress? As the Hanseatick League, { 180 } grew to Power, Denmark, Sweeden, Poland, and France, Sought its Alliance (under the common Veil of Pride) by offers of becoming its Protectors. England also, growing fast into a commercial Power, had commercial Arrangements by Treaty with it. Just So now, will the Sovereigns of Europe, just so have, the Bourbon Compact, the greatest Power in Europe, courted the Friendship of America. Standing on Such a Basis, and growing Up, under Such Auspices, one may pronounce of America, as was said of Rome—Civitas, incredibile est memoratu, a deptà Libertate quantum brevi creverit.25 I mark what may be, by what has been.
In the Course of this American War, all the Powers of Europe, at least the maritime powers, will one after another, as some of the first leading Powers have already done, apply to the States of America, for a share in their trade, and for a Settlement of the Terms on which they may carry it, on with them. America, will then become the arbitress of the commercial (and perhaps as the seven United Belgic Provinces were in the Year 1647) the mediatrix of peace, and of the political business of the World.
If N: America follows the Principles on which Nature has established her; and if the European Alliances which she has already made do not involve her in, and Seduce her to, a Series of Conduct destructive of that System, which those Principles lead to; She must observe, that as Nature hath seperated her from Europe, and hath established her alone on a great Continent, far removed from the old World, and all its embroiled Interests and wrangling Politicks, without an Enemy or a Rival or the Entanglement of Alliances.26 1. That it is, contrary to her Interest and the nature of her Existence, that she should have any Connections of Politicks with Europe, other than merely commercial; and even on that ground, to observe inviolably27 the Caution of not being involved, in Either the quarrells, or the Wars of the Europeans. 2. That the real State of America is, that of being the common Source of supply to Europe in general; and that her true Interest is therefore that of being a free Port to all Europe at large; and that all Europe at large should be the common Market for American Exports. The true Interest, therefore of America, is, not to form any partial connections, with any Part to the Exclusion of the rest. If England had attended to her true Interest, as connected with that of America, she would have known, that28 it is the Commerce, and not the Conquest of America, by which she could be benefited; and if she would even yet, with temper listen to her true Interest, she would still find, that that Commerce would, in a great measure { 181 } continue with the Same benefit, were the two Countries as independent of each other as France and Spain, because in many Articles, neither of them can go to a better Market. This is meant, as under their present Habits and Customs of Life. Alienation may change all this.
The first great leading Principle will be, that N. America will become a free Port to all the nations of the World, indiscriminately; and will expect, insist on, and, demand, in fair Reciprocity, a free market in all those nations with whom she trades. This will, if she forgets not, nor forsakes her real nature, be the Basis, of all her commercial Treaties. If she adheres to this Principle, she must be, in the course of time, the chief Carrier of the Commerce of the whole World: because, unless the several powers of Europe, become to each other, likewise, free Ports and free marketts, America alone will come to and act there, with an ascendant Interest that must command every Advantage to be derived from them.29
The Commerce of N. America, being no longer the Property of one Country only: her Articles of supply will come freely, and be found now in all the markets of Europe: not only moderated by, but moderating the Prices of the like Articles of Europe. The Furs and Peltry, will meet those of the north East part of Europe; and neither the one nor the other can any longer be estimated by the Advantages to be taken of an exclusive Vent. Advantages of this Kind, on Iron, and naval Stores, have frequently been aimed at by Sweeden: and the monopoly in them was more than once used as an Instrument of Hostility against England, which occasioned the bounties on these Articles, the Growth of America, which gave rise to the Export of them from America: when they come freely to the European marketts, cooperating with the Effect which those of Russia have, will break that monopoly, for Russia, by the Conquest of Livonia,30 and the Advancement of her Civilization, has become a source of supply, in these Articles, to a great Extent. All Europe by the Intervention of this American Commerce, will find the good Effects of a fair Competition, both in Abundance of Supply, and in moderation of Price. Even England who hath lost the monopoly, will be no great loser on this score: she will find this natural Competition as advantageous to her, as the monopoly, which, in bounties, and other costs of protection she paid so dear for. Ship building and navigation, haveing made such progress in America, that they are able to build and navigate cheaper than any country in Europe, even than Holland with all her Aeconomy. There will arise a Competition in this branch of com• { 182 } merce. In this branch the dutch will find a powerful Rivalry, from that maritime people the Americans.31 They will also find, in the Marketts of Europe, a Competition in the branch of the Fisheries. The Rice and Corn, which the Americans have been able to export, to an Amount that Supplied, in the European market, the defect arising from England's withholding her Exports, will keep down depressed the Agriculture of Portugal and Spain, and in some measure of France, if the policy of those Countries does not change the Regulations, and order of their internal Oeconomy. The peculiar Articles, to be had as yet from America only, which Europe so much seeks after, will give the Americans the command of the market in those Articles, and enable them, by annexing assortments of other Articles, to produce these also, with Advantage in these marketts. The refuse fish, flour, Maize, meat, live stock, lumber &c., all carried in American shipping to the W. India Islands: the African slaves, carried by a circuitous trade, in American Shipping also to the W. India marketts: taking from thence the molasses: aiding those Islands with American shipping, in the Carriage of their produce, must ever command and have the Ascendency in the Commerce of that Part of the World, if this Ascendency even Stops here. The cheap manner, in which the Americans produce their Articles of Supply: the low rates at which they carry them to Europe, Selling also their shipping there: the small Profits at which their merchants are content to trade, must lower the price of the like Articles in Europe: oblige the European merchants to be content with less profit: occasion some Reform in the Oeconomy of Europe in raising and police in bringing to market, the native Articles of supply. But further the Americans, by their Principle of being a free port in America, and having a free market in Europe; by their Policy of holding themselves, as they are remote from all the wrangling Politicks, So neutral in all the Wars of Europe: by their Spirit of Enterprise in all the quarters of the globe, will oblige the Nations of Europe to call forth within themselves such a Spirit, as must entirely change its commercial system also.
But will a people whose Empire Stands Singly predominant on a great Continent, who before they lived under their own Government, had pushed their Spirit of Adventure in Search of a N. West Passage to Asia, which as their own discovery, they meant to have claimed as their own peculiar Right, Suffer in their borders the Establishment of such a monopoly as the European Hudsons Bay Company? Will that Spirit which has forced an extensive commerce in the two bays of Honduras and Compeachy, and on the Spanish main, and who { 183 } have gone to Falklands Islands in search only of Whales, be stopped at Cape Horn, or not pass the Cape of good Hope? It will not be long after their Establishment as an Empire, before they will be found trading in the south Sea and in China. The Dutch will hear of them in Spice Islands, to which the Dutch can have no Claim; and which those Enterprising People will contest, on the very ground, and by the very Arguments, which the Dutch used to contest the Same Liberty against Portugal.32 By the Intercourse and Correspondence which there will be between Europe and America, it will be as well known, as Europe: by attention to the Winds, Currents, the Gulph Stream and its Lee Currents, the Passage will be better understood and become shorter: America will seem every day to approach nearer and nearer to Europe. When the Alarm which the Idea of going to a Strange and distant Country gives to a Manufacturer or Peasant, or even a Country Gentleman, shall be thus worn out; a thousand attractive motives respecting a settlement in America, will raise a Spirit of Adventure, and become the irresistable Cause of a general Emigration to that World. Nothing but Some, future, wise and benevolent <Spirit of> Policy in Europe, or Some Spirit of the Evil one, which may mix itself in the Policy of America can prevent it. Many of the most usefull enterprising Spirits, and much of the active property will go there. Exchange hath taught the statesmen of the World long ago, that they cannot confine money, and the Governments of Europe, must fall back to the feudal Tyranny, in which its own people are locked up, and from which all others are excluded, or Commerce will open a Door to Emigration.33
These Relations of Things—these Legesque et foedera rerum,34 are forming what Governor Pownal concieves to be the new System. The sublime Politician, who ranges in Regions of predetermined systems—the man of the World, narrowed by a selfish Experience, worse than Ignorance will not believe him: and it is but slowly, that Nations relinquish any System, which hath derived Authority from time and habit.35 Those Sovereigns of Europe, who have despised the Awkward Youth of America, and neglected to form Connections, and interweave their interests with those of these rising states, shall find the system of this new Empire, obstructing and superseding the old system of Europe, and crossing all their Maxims and measures, they will call upon their Ministers Come Curse me this people, for they are too mighty for me. The Spirit of Truth will answer, How shall I curse whom God hath not cursed? How shall I defy whom the Lord hath not defied? From the Top of the Rock I see them, from the Hills { 184 } I behold them. Lo! the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations.36 On the Contrary, those Sovereigns, who shall see things as they are, and form, if not the earliest, yet the most sure and natural Connection with America, as an Independant State, the Markett of, and a free Port to Europe: as that Being which must have a free markett in Europe, will become the principal leading Power in Europe, in regulating the Courses of the rest, and in settling the common Center of all.
England is the state that is in those Circumstances and in that situation. Similar Modes of living and thinking, manners and fashions, Language and Habits, all conspire naturally to a rejuncture by Alliance. If England, would treat America as what she is, she might still have the Ascendancy in trade and navigation: might still have a more solid and less invidious power than that magni nominis Umbra,37 with which she braves the whole World. She might yet have an active leading Interest among the powers of Europe. But she will not. As though the Hand of Judgment was upon her, England will not see the things which make for her peace. France, and other States will follow the Example, acknowledging these states to be what they are, has formed Alliances with them on terms of perfect Equality and Reciprocity.38 And behold the Ascendant, to which she directly arose, from that politick Humiliation. There never was a wiser or firmer Step taken by any established power, than that which the new states in America took, for their first footing in this Alliance: there never was more Address, Art, or Policy shown by any State, than France has given Proof of in the Same; when both agreed and became allied on terms, which exclude no other Power, from enjoying the Same Benefits, by a like Treaty. Can it be supposed that other States, conceiving that the exclusive trade of England, to America, is laid open, will not desire, and have their share? They certainly will. Here then are the Beginnings of changes in the European System.
There are two Courses in which, this general Intercourse of Commerce, between Europe and N. America, may come into operation: one, by particular Treaties of commerce: the other by all the maritime States of Europe, previous to their engaging in a War, or upon the general Settlement of a Peace, meeting in Some Congress to regulate among themselves, as well as with north America, the Free Port on one Hand, and the free Markett on the other; as also general Regulations of Commerce and navigation, Such as must Suit this free trader, now common to them all, indifferently, and without preference. Such Regulations, must exclude all Monopoly of this Source { 185 } of Supply and Course of Trade; and So far make an essential Change in the commercial System: such Regulations, not having Reference only to America, but reciprocal References between all the contracting Parties, trading now under different Circumstances, and Standing towards each other in different Predicaments, must necessarily change the whole of that System in Europe.
The American will come to market in his own ship, and will claim the Ocean as Common; will claim a navigation restrained by no Laws, but the Law of Nations, reformed as the rising Crisis requires: will claim a free Market, not only for his Goods but his ship, which will make a Part of his Commerce. America being a free Port to all Europe, the American will bring to Europe not only his own peculiar Staple produce, but every Species of his produce, which the market of Europe can take off: he will expect to be free to offer to Sale in the European markett, every Species of wrought materials, which he can make to answer in that markett: and further as his commerce subsists by a circuitous Interchange with other Countries and Regions, whence he brings Articles, not Singly for his own consumption, but as exchangeable Articles, with which to trade in foreign marketts; he will claim as one of the conditions of the free markett, that these foreign Articles, as well as his own produce shall be considered as free for him to import in his own shipping: to such markett. Those states who refuse this at first, Seeing others acquiesce in it, and Seeing also how they profit by having Articles of supply and Trade brought So much cheaper to them, will be obliged, in their own defence, and to maintain their ballance in the commercial World, to acceed to the Same Liberty. Hence again, even if the American should not, by these means, become the ascendant Interest in the Carrying Trade, and in shipping and Seamen, a most essential change must arise in the European System.
The American, raises his produce, and navigates cheaper than any other can: his Staples, are Articles which he alone can Supply: these will come to market assorted with others, which he thus can most conveniently supply; and unless the same freedom of trade which he enjoys, be reciprocally given and taken by the European powers, among each other, he will come to the European market on terms, which no other can, but Europe will be affected, benefited and improved by his manner of trading. The peculiar Activity of the American, will raise a Spirit and activity among those who come to the same market. That peculiar turn of Character, that Inquisitiveness, which in business animates a Spirit of investigation to every { 186 } extent, and the minutest detail, enables them to conduct their dealings, in a manner more advantageous, than is usually practiced by the European merchant. They acquire a Knowledge not only of the marketts of Europe, i.e. of the Wants and supplies, how they correspond, and of their relative values; but they never rest, till they are possessed of a knowledge of every Article of produce and manufacture, which comes to those marketts; untill they know the establishments, the operations and the prices of labour, and the profits made on each, as well, or even better, than merchants of the Country themselves. A little before the War, several of the American Merchants, especially those of Pensilvania, sending some of their own house to England, became their own factors, went immediately to the Manufacturers in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Sheffield; to the woolen manufacturers in Yorkshire and Lancashire: to those of Liverpool: and those in the west: and opened an immediate traffic with them at the first hand. This same Spirit of Investigation and Activity, will actuate their dealings in every other country of Europe. The Effect of this, instead of being disadvantageous, to those countries, will become a general blessing, by raising a more general competition, and diffusing a more proportional share of profit, between all ranks of the industrious. While trade is solely in the hands of the merchant, he bears hard on the purchaser, by his high profit, and oppresses the manufacturer, by the little share, he allows him. The merchant grows rich and magnificent, makes a great Bustle and figure. It can never be well, where Merchants are Princes. The more the merchant can make by high profit, the less quantity will he carry to market. Whereas, when Commerce shall be free, and by the mixture of this american Spirit, trade runs, with fair competition in a broad channell the merchant must make his Way by being content with small profit, and by doing a deal of business on those small profits. The consumer and manufacturer will come nearer together. The one will save an unreasonable Advance and the other obtain a more equal share of profit. More work will be done: the profits of Industry more equally distributed, the circulation will spread thro the lesser vessels, and Life Health and Growth promoted.
If these operations take this Course, it will be needless to point out to the shrewd Speculations of the Merchants what their conduct must necessarily be: but it will behove Statesmen, to be aware, that they do not Suffer the merchant to persuade them, that the Commerce is languishing, merely because there is not the same parade of Wealth, in such dazzling Instances. Let them look to the marketts { 187 } of supply, and see if there is not plenty. Next to the rude produce which is the Basis of manufactures, and enquire, whether, while more and more Industry is daily called forth, it is not employed and more adequately paid by a free and extended Vent? While the No. and ingenuity of manufacturers increases, they do not all live more comfortably, so as to have and maintain increasing families? Whether population does not increase. Let them, in future guard against the exclusive temper of Trade. The political founders of the old System, were totally ignorant of this principle of commerce. It was Wisdom with them to render their neighbours and customers poor. By a wretched System of taxation they effectually prevented the Stock of labour and profit from accumulating. But if the Statesmen of the present enlightened Age, will follow, where Experience, leads to truth and right, they will throw the Activity of Mankind into its proper course of productive labour. When man has the liberty of exerting his Industry and Ingenuity, as he can make them the most productive, finds a free Market, and his Share of profit, then is the ground duly prepared for Population, opulence, and Strength. Then will the Sovereigns of Europe find their Interest, and their Power in their Peoples Happiness.
If the Sovereigns of Europe, should find in the Example of England, that the System of Colonies in distant regions for the Purpose of Monopolies, is at an end, and turn their Attention, to give Exertion to their own internal powers like the police of China, cultivate their waste lands, improve Agriculture, encourage manufactures, abolish Corporations: as all the remnants of Barbarism, shall be removed, the powers of the Community will create those surpluses which will become the Source, and open the channells of commerce. If they should see in the Examples of Spain and England, the Disappointments of attempts to establish a Monopoly of navigation, by the force of laws, instead of creating or maintaining it, by the Spirit of an active commerce: that all the Prohibitions by which they labour to oppress their neighbours do but depress themselves, they may come to think, that giving Freedom and Activity to commerce, is the true System of every commercial Country. Suppose them, checked in their Career of War, hesitating on the Maxims of their old system: perceiving that the Oeconomical Activity in Europe, is on the Turn to take a new Course: feeling the force of an active commerce; finding themselves under the necessity of making Some reform, should begin to Speculate, how, amidst a Number of Powers of Trade, Shifting their Scale, an even ballance may be formed, and Secured. How amidst a number { 188 } of Interests, floating on the Turn of this great Tide in the Affairs of Men, an equal level may be obtained. If on a review of their old System, they should perceive how it is prepared for change—they may find that Commerce, which might have risen by Competition, Industry, Frugality and ingenuity, hath long been an exclusive, Scrambling rivalship. Instead of being an equal, Communication concentring the Enjoyments of all regions and climates, and a Consociation of all nations in one Communion of the blessings of Providence: when actuated as it has been by a selfish Principle, it hath been to the Nations an occasion of Jealousies; alternate depressions of each others Interests, and a never ceasing Source of Wars, perhaps they may also see that treaties, of Peace have been but truces, and guarrantees so many entangling preparations for future Wars. On the other hand, they should see with pleasure, that the manners of mankind, softening by degrees have become more humanized; their Police more civilized: and altho many of the old oppressive Institutions of Government, as they respect Husbandmen, Manufacturers, Merchants, Marketts and Commerce, have not yet been formally abolished; yet that Practice, by various Accommodations, have abrogated their most mischeivious operations. That the Activity of Man finds every day, a freer Course: that there are a thousand Ways, which altho pride will not open, prudence will connive at, through which the intercourse of Marketts finds every year, a freer vent: and that the active Spirit of commerce is like the Spirit of Life, diffusing itself through the whole Mass of Europe. They will find there is an End of all their monopolizing Systems. They will see that any one of the powers of Europe, who would aim to deal with the rest of Mankind with an unequal ballance; will only find, that they have raised among their neighbours, a Jealousy that shall conspire to wrest that false ballance out of their hands, and to depress them down again, to a level with the rest of the World. The Cities of Italy, the Low Countries, Portugal, Holland, England, have all, for their period, as commercial powers, arisen above the common Level, but pressing with a Weight which was felt as unequal by those below them; they have each in its turn found, even in the moment of their highest Elevation a general rising all around them, and themselves sinking to the common level. Statesmen must see, how much it is the interest of all, to liberate each other, from the Restraints, Prohibitions and Exclusions, by which they have aimed to depress each other. They will see,39 that the most advantageous Way, which a landed nation can take, to encourage and multiply Artificers, Manufacturers and { 189 } Merchants of their own, is to grant the most perfect freedom, to the Artificers Manufacturers and merchants of every other nation. That a contrary Practice, lowers the value of their own internal Productions, by raising the prices of all things which must be bought with them: and gives to the Artificers, Manufacturers and merchants a monopoly against their own farmers. Seeing this they will encourage Population, and an universal naturalization and liberty of Conscience. If nature has so formed man, and Policy, Society, that each labouring in his line, produces a surplus of Supply, it is both perfect Justice and Policy, that men and nations should be free, reciprocally to interchange it. This communion of nations, is a right which may be enjoyed, in its genuine spirit and utmost extent, except in time of War, and even then to a great degree, without interfering in the political and civil power of the World. The Spirit of those exclusive Laws of navigation will appear as the Spirit of piracy. The common ocean, incapable of being defined, or of a Special occupancy, or of recieving exclusively the labour of any Individual, Person or state, is incapable of becoming an Object of Property—never an object of Dominion: and that, therefore, the ocean, should in policy, as it is in fact, remain common and free. Pervium cunctis Iter.40 If it should be seen that the commercial system of Europe is changing, and in Wisdom and policy ought to be changed: that the great Commerce of North America emancipated from its provincial state, not only coincides with, but is a concurring cause of this change; that the present Combination of Events form a Crisis, which Providence with a more than ordinary Interposition hath prepared: and that Heaven itself Seems to call upon sovereigns to cooperate with its gracious Providence, if they should be convinced that there is nothing so absurd as Warring against each other about an object, which as it is Seperated from Europe, will have nothing to do with its Broils, and will not belong exclusively to any of them. If listening to this Voice, which as that of an Angel, announcing Peace and good Will to mankind, summons them to leave off the endless useless operations of War: to consider the present Crisis as an object of Council and not of War and therefore to meet in Communications and Intercourse of their reasoning Powers.41
The Maritime Powers, must, before Peace respecting America, and the mixed Interests of Europe and America, can be even treated of, convene by their Consuls, Commissioners or other Ministers, in order to consider the Several points on which the War broke out—the points in Claim, and in contest, the points on which they may { 190 } safely suspend Hostilities, and those which must form the Basis of Treaty, and which will enter into the future System, and on which Peace may not only made, but established among the nations of the Atlantic ocean.42
Will not, Reason and Benevolence, then, in which true Policy and their right and best Interest is included, Suggest to their Hearts; and actuate their Councils to convene a Congress before they are engaged in further Hostilities before the devastation of War extends Ruin and misery yet farther. Some such measure, as led the great trading Bodies of Europe to convene in a Congress, which gave rise to the Hanseatic League, is not out of the Course of public business but is, what the Nature of the present crisis, in a more than ordinary necessity, requires.43 Whether Some general council, on the model of that concerted between the great Henry of France and Elizabeth of England,44 two as noble Spirits and as wise Politicians as the World hath Since Seen, should not now be proposed, not indeed a Council of Administration, for regulating and conducting a general political system of all Europe, but a Council of Commerce, for Europe and N. America exclusive of every point of Politicks. As such it should remain, a standing perpetual Council of deliberation and Advice, and a seat of Judicial Administration common to all. Also a Great and General Court of Admiralty, to take Cognizance of Disputes, and offences, which shall be committed against the general laws of trade.
Such a Council might not only prevent, a most dreadful general War, which Seems to be coming on in Europe (by the Way a very great mistake) but might be forever a means of preventing, future occasions of War, from commercial quarulls, the present vague State of the marine Law of nations, seems to be such, as creates a necessity of such a measure. At present all Principle, Rule and Law, seems to be as much lost, as if the nations were fallen back to the old State of Piracy, under their old Barbarism. Europe cannot, even in War, go on under the present Abrogation of all treaties, and all the Laws of nations.45
The Cardinal Points which will come under deliberation will be 1. how far in Right and Policy, it may be best for all to establish, the Mare liberum:46 and how far each Nation (providing for the property and Dominion, which they hold in Bays and Harbours,) may acceed to this Establishment, as a law of nations. 2. how far the universal Jus navigandi47 may be established48 3. This will lead to deliberation on the Libertas universalis Commerciorum49 Free Ports and Free Marketts. Next Port Duties and Toll Marketts. It will be best by { 191 } degrees to abolish all Port duties, and raise their revenues by Exise, Tailles, &c. and other internal Sources of finance, immediately laid on the Consumer.50 This measure would make that Country which adopted it a free port a circumstance very desirable to every well Wisher to his Country.51 They will deliberate first, on the Nature and Extent of the conditional grants of Priviledges of Trade, which, Under the Air of Protection, they shall offer to America: Under this Idea, they must settle with her, and amongst each other quite new Arrangements of Tarifs, &c.
Voila tout ce qu'on peut raisonablement, exiger. Il n'est au pouvoir, de l'humanité, que de preparer, et agir. Le Succes est l'ouvrage d'un main plus puissante. Sulli. Liv. 30.52
Finis.
In a former Letter I have given Congress, some Observations on a Letter of Mr. H. This contains an Account of the substance of a Volume of Governor Pownall, which as the Book is not my own I cannot send to Congress as I wish to do.53 Both have Relation to the Object of my Mission. These two Gentlemen have both declared themselves, in Parliament for pacific measures, but from some sentiments in these Writings, it is not very likely they will succeed. Both seem to be wholly uninformed of the State of Europe. Both seem to suppose that the Powers of Europe, the maritime Powers will go to War, with the English against us and our Allies. Congress were fully informed last August54 that there was no danger of this. The late Declaration of the Ottoman Port, of the Empress of Russia, and the measures taking by the other maritime Powers demonstrate that the Information Congress then received was right, and the Imaginations of these Writers of general Wars are groundless. There may be indeed some danger, that the Pride and Obstinacy of the English, may involve every maritime Power, in a War as well as a league against them.
I have the Honour to be, with entire Respect and Attachment, sir your most obedient and humble servant.
[signed] John Adams
RC (PCC, No. 84, I, f. 479–494); docketed: “Letter from John Adams April 19. 1780 An account of governor Pownals pamphlet entitled 'A Memorial to the sovereigns of Europe on the present State of Affairs between the old and the New World' Recd. 19 Feby 1781.” LbC in John Thaxter's hand with corrections by JA (Adams Papers); notation by Thaxter: “49.” The text printed here should be compared with JA 's Translation (No. II, below), which is virtually identical to the Translation published at London in Jan. 1781.
{ 192 }
1. I see the sun rising in the west.
2. This and the preceding paragraph are an accurate digest of the first four and a half pages of the Memorial. As Pownall indicates in a note on page 1 of the Memorial, much of what he says in this section, some of it in quotation marks, was taken from his Administration of the Colonies (London, 1764, p. 1–10), although in the Memorial it is given a different twist. This is true of his statements regarding the evolution of a new system based on “the Spirit of Commerce,” as well as those regarding a new “Center of Gravity.” In both the Administration (p. 2) and the Memorial (p. 1), Pownall saw changed circumstances as creating a “Nascent Crisis,” but the two works presented fundamentally different solutions to the crisis. See Editorial Note (above).
3. To this point JA copied this paragraph from the Memorial (p. 8–9) with relatively few changes for the sake of style or clarity. The remainder of this sentence, however, with its explicit reference to the international consequences of waging the war in America is by JA .
4. In copying the remainder of this sentence from the Memorial (p. 9) JA made substantial changes that partially alter Pownall's meaning. In the Memorial the passage reads “however long, to their mutual ruin, they may continue the contest, by which they hope to decide, to which of them as allies, foedere inequali, the Americans shall belong, the Americans will belong to neither.”
5. As an unequal partner, a party to an unequal alliance.
6. In the Memorial (p. 11–12) Pownall attributes his views on the greatness of states to the writings of Sir Francis Bacon and then quotes (p. 12) from Bacon's unfinished work “Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain,” which formed the basis for his later essay “Of the True Greatness of Kingdoms and Estates.” The remainder of this sentence is JA 's reworking of the passage from Bacon to the effect “that in the measuring and balancing of greatness, too much is ascribed to largeness of territory on one hand, and on the other too much to the fruitfulness of soil, or abundance of commodities” (par. 2, sentences 1 and 3).
7. This and the preceding two paragraphs are JA 's condensation of approximately seven printed pages from the Memorial (p. 11–17). Some of JA 's deletions were to improve Pownall's style, but most were intended to keep the focus of the text on North America, specifically the British colonies, and to avoid digressions on the progress of civilization or colonization elsewhere.
8. This sentence is a much condensed version of a passage in the Memorial (p. 18) in quotation marks that was taken, with some revisions, from Administration (p. 7).
9. Francis Bacon, “Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain” (par. 5).
10. This and the preceding two paragraphs, which correspond to approximately ten printed pages in the Memorial (p. 17–27), constitute the largest block of text to be omitted from the Translation. JA 's motive for the omission was probably his belief that the references to the West Indies and South America were not relevant to his argument. Moreover, the discussion of the Spanish possessions in South America and their progress under Spanish rule would naturally raise the question of the impact of the American Revolution on the Spanish colonies. This at a time when the United States was seeking a treaty with a Spain already troubled by the implications of the American revolt.
11. Francis Bacon, “Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain” (par. 4).
12. Except for a word or two, this paragraph is wholly JA 's with no counterpart at this point in the Memorial (p. 27), but is a kind of prelude that is reprised later in much greater detail (Memorial, p. 45–51; see also note 42). JA likely had two reasons for inserting the paragraph. The first was stylistic, to provide a smoother transition to the paragraphs on the progress of civilization in America that follow, but the second was substantive. JA wished to emphasize from the beginning a major theme in both the Memorial and the Translation: that is, that American ingenuity, born of freedom from European restrictions, was creating a civilization and a viable economic system that would soon be equal or even superior to any in Europe and was progressing at a much faster pace than anyone would have expected.
13. This and the paragraphs that follow on the progress of civilization were likely derived and expanded from what Pownall had written in Administration (p. 3–4). But they should also be compared with JA 's “Dissertation on the Canon and the Feudal Law” (vol. 1:103–128). There JA had written of the effect that freedom from the archaic European social, religious, and political system had had on American development. It is likely that one reason that JA was drawn to the Memorial was the similarity between Pownall's senti• { 193 } ments and his own regarding the legacy of the “Clergy” and “feudal Lords.” Such a conclusion is supported by JA 's letter to Edmund Jenings on 20 April (below), in which he requested Jenings to obtain for him a copy of a previous English edition of the “Dissertation” and to seek its republication.
14. This paragraph is a condensation of approximately three pages of the Memorial (p. 31–33) and at this point JA entirely omitted from his copying a page and a half of text (p. 32–33). The section commented on the effect of the practices and reasoning of the “Lords” in the development of agriculture and was probably seen by JA as repetitious and a digression from the discussion of the farmer's condition.
15. This paragraph is a condensation of approximately eight pages of the Memorial (p. 34–42) and at this point JA entirely omitted from his copying two pages of text (p. 39–41). The section probably was omitted because it dealt with the reasoning behind the restrictive economic system's development, rather than with JA 's primary interest: its operation and ill effects.
16. This and the following paragraphs noting the impact of American ingenuity on the progress of civilization were taken with very little change from the Memorial (p. 45–51). For JA 's earlier celebration of this theme, see note 12.
17. Pownall's comments in this paragraph regarding gold and silver and the balance of trade should be compared with Adam Smith's in the Wealth of Nations, bk. 4, chap. 1.
18. By Benjamin Franklin, this piece first appeared as an appendix to [William Clarke], Observations On the late and present Conduct of the French, with Regard to their Encroachments upon the British Colonies in North America (London, 1755) and had numerous reprintings in both Great Britain and America. See also, Franklin, Papers , 4:225–234.
19. In the Memorial (p. 56–58) the text of this paragraph formed part of a much longer one that filled approximately two printed pages, three quarters of which were omitted by JA as a block. The missing text duplicated at length what was retained so that nothing of substance was lost by its omission.
20. At this point in copying from the Memorial (p. 60) JA omitted several words. In the Memorial the sentence reads “As there never was a regulated general militia in PENNSYLVANIA, which could enable those, whose business it was, to get accounts of the increase of population in that province, founded on authentic lists, it hath been variously estimated on speculation.”
21. In the Memorial (p. 65) the remainder of this paragraph was in quotation marks and was taken from Bacon's “Of the True Greatness of the Kingdom of Britain” (par. 3). Immediately preceding it in the Memorial, but not copied by JA , was another quotation from Bacon's essay to the effect that “The real greatness and strength of the State arises and consists in this 'that every common subject, by the poll, is fit to make a soldier, and not certain conditions and degrees of men only'” (par. 3).
22. In the Memorial (p. 65–67) this paragraph is followed by almost two pages of text that JA omitted as a block. The missing material was a discourse by Pownall on the inevitable loss of empire, regardless of its population or territorial extent, resulting from the absence of the necessary “spirit” to govern. JA presumably thought it irrelevant in view of the paragraph that follows and because he was far less concerned with the factors leading to the breakup of the British empire than to the reality that, for the United States, the dissolution was an established fact.
23. This paragraph and the nine that follow (see note 32) comprise approximately twenty pages of the Memorial (p. 67–86). They form the largest block of text copied by JA from the Memorial with no substantive changes in either Pownall's style or meaning.
24. In the Memorial the preceding eight words are in quotation marks and are from Numbers 23:24.
25. It is amazing to relate how quickly the state grew once it had acquired liberty (Salust Conspiracy of Catiline, 7. 3).
26. At this point in the Memorial there is an asterisk referring to a footnote citing “Common Sense” as the source for three quoted passages that follow (for the 2d and 3d, see note 28). The first passage, set off by quotation marks, was composed of two sentences designated I and II and a third ending with the words “exclusion of the rest” (p. 78–79). JA removed the quotation marks and inserted arabic numerals, but copied the three sentences almost verbatim. Although Thomas Paine's writings, particularly the section of Common Sense entitled “Thoughts on the Present State of American Affairs” (Phila., 1776, p. 29–60; Evans, No. 14954), clearly influenced Pownall's views regarding the future of American foreign policy and the com• { 194 } mercial and political relationship between the United States and Europe, the editors have failed to locate the passage quoted here in any of Paine's work. This may indicate that in this instance Pownall paraphrased and combined several of Paine's observations (see Common Sense, p. 37–38), but in any case, both here and later (see note 28), some modification of Paine's statements was necessary since Common Sense was written in 1776, prior to the Franco-American treaties and the outbreak of war between Britain, France, and Spain.
27. In the Memorial this word was “invariably.” JA 's substitution of “inviolably” makes it a much stronger commitment to neutrality.
28. The remainder of this paragraph, to the words “better Market,” formed a separate paragraph in the Memorial (p. 79), containing two passages in quotation marks. The first begins “it is the commerce” and ends with the word “benefitted,” while the second begins “that that commerce” and ends with the words “better market.” JA removed the quotation marks, but otherwise copied the entire paragraph almost verbatim. The quoted material, modified by Pownall, was taken from the “Appendix to Common Sense: The necessity of Independancy,” from Thomas Paine, Common Sense with the Whole Appendix (Phila., 1776, p. 126; Evans, No. 14966). As it appeared in Common Sense, the passage read “It is the commerce, and not the conquest of America, by which England is to be benefited, and that would in a great measure continue, were the countries as independant of each other as France and Spain; because in many articles, neither can go to a better market.”
29. In his letter to Edmund Jenings of 18 July (first letter, below), JA noted that one of the reasons that he was drawn to the Memorial was that it supported the very principles that had guided him when he had drafted the Treaty Plan of 1776 and which he continued to hold in 1780 (vol. 4:260–261). In fact, this and the preceding paragraph, both copied almost exactly as they appear in the Memorial (p. 77–80), constitute as definitive a statement of JA 's views on the correct course for American foreign policy as exists anywhere.
30. Ceded to Russia by Sweden in 1721 under the terms of the Treaty of Nystad, Livonia now forms parts of Latvia and Estonia.
31. This sentence does not appear in the Translation. JA probably decided to omit it because the Dutch feared precisely such an outcome from American independence (vol. 7:102, 128–129, 236; see also >Jean Luzac's letter of 14 Sept., and notes, below). See, however, the following paragraph for a reference to a possible Dutch-American rivalry in the Spice Islands that was retained.
32. At this point in the Memorial (p. 86), Pownall began a new paragraph and JA completed his largely verbatim copying of approximately twenty pages of text (see note 23).
33. At this point in the Memorial (p. 88) JA omitted approximately three quarters of a page. The omitted material consisted of a closing sentence for this paragraph, which was repetitive and added little to the discussion of emigration, and a long and ponderous opening to the following paragraph.
34. These laws and agreements of things.
35. At this point JA omitted one and a quarter pages from the Memorial (p. 90–91). The missing material was a discussion of the failure of European statesmen to learn from experience.
36. From “Come Curse me” to this point, Pownall paraphrased Numbers 23:7–9.
37. Shadow of her former self.
38. For the impact on JA of this sentence in the Memorial (p. 94), see his first letter to Jenings of 18 July (below). In the Memorial the sentence read “France on the contrary, already (and other States will follow this example) acknowledging those states to be what they are, has formed alliances with them on terms of perfect equality and reciprocity.”
39. In the Memorial (p. 113) the remainder of this sentence is in quotation marks and is preceded by an asterisk. JA removed the quotation marks, but copied the passage verbatim. The footnote indicated by the asterisk cites “Dr. Adam Smith” as the source for the quotation, which is taken from Smith's An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, 2 vols., London, 1778. In the second edition, London, 1778, the passage appears on 2:270.
40. An avenue, free and unlimited.
41. The remaining five paragraphs of JA 's abridgement correspond to the final ten pages of the Memorial (p. 118–127). A comparison of this letter and the Memorial (see notes 43, 45, 48, and 51) indicates that JA included less than fifty percent of the Memorial's text and, in fact, that the two paragraphs preceding “Finis” condense the final five pages of the Memorial. Moreover, when JA copied out the Translation for Jenings he made additional cuts (see notes 42 and 51) so that the Translation was an even greater abridgement of this section of the Memorial than this letter. For { 195 } the significance of the cuts, see note 42.
42. As printed here this paragraph very closely follows the text of the Memorial (p. 118–119), but should be compared with the corresponding paragraph in the Translation (at note 2) which was considerably altered by JA in preparing the Translation for Jenings. JA 's changes in this paragraph, his omission of portions of the Memorial's text from the remaining paragraphs of the letter to the president of Congress, and the further deletions he made when he copied out the Translation are important because they fundamentally changed the thrust of Pownall's argument calling for the establishment of a council of the sovereign states to resolve the issues raised by the American Revolution.
43. At this point JA omitted approximately three quarters of a page of text from the Memorial (p. 119–120). The section was an elaboration of Pownall's proposal to use the Hanseatic League as a model for his council, but see note 44.
44. This reference is presumably to Henry IV's “grand design” to unify Europe under his authority and leadership that was forestalled by his assassination in 1610, but with which Elizabeth I was reportedly in essential agreement. Pownall's borrowing of this as a model for his plan was probably due to his reading of bk. 30 of the Mémoires of Maximilien de Béthune, Duc de Sully, superintendent of finances under Henry IV. That work is the only known source for Henry's plan and the absence of any corroboration makes its existence debatable.
45. At this point JA omitted half a page of text from the Memorial (p. 123). The passage introduced the paragraph that follows and its omission served to tighten up the text. It ended, however, with the statement that the delegates to the council should come “with powers and instructions to form some general laws and establishment on the ground of Universal Commerce.” Taken with this paragraph and that which follows such a statement takes on some significance and to some extent explains JA 's decisions as to what material to retain or delete from the Memorial. As has been noted earlier in relation to Catherine II's declaration of an armed neutrality (to the president of Congress, 10 April, No. 40, note 3, above) there was no provision in the eighteenth century for a principle, such as free ships make free goods, to become part of the necessary law of nations simply because any number of nations agreed to a particular principle, since the necessary law had its source in natural law. A principle agreed to by two or more nations became part of the stipulative law and was not binding on those that did not agree. Thus JA likely saw this portion of Pownall's proposal as he did Catherine's declaration, an opportunity to change the foundation of the law of nations in favor of the United States at the expense of Great Britain, since it was likely that any general European council would accept the principle that free ships made free goods and other alterations of the law in favor of neutral trade in time of war.
46. Freedom of the seas.
47. Freedom of navigation.
48. At this point JA deleted the following text appearing in the Memorial (p. 124): “consistent with the present national claims of the several Maritime States, or how those may be accommodated, mutually and reciprocally, so as to lead to such establishment hereafter. On this ground they will naturally meet each other, in forming at least some general system of regulations and laws, common to all, under which this universal commerce may act and be protected: So that the exercise of this right may extend wheresoever the ocean flows and be as free as the air which wafts it over that ocean in all directions.” JA certainly was in accord with the aim expressed at the end of the passage, but was undoubtedly dubious of principles “established consistent with the present national claims of the several Maritime States,” since that would undermine what he sought for the United States: complete freedom of commerce.
49. Universal freedom of trade.
50. The following sentence, considerably altered, was part of a passage taken by Pownall, with only minor changes, from Sir Matthew Decker's essay: Serious Considerations on the Several High Duties which the Nation in General, (as well as its Trade in Particular) Labours Under . . ., London, 1743; 7th edn., London, 1756, p. 31. Decker was a prosperous London merchant, governor of the East India Company, member of Parliament, and sometime writer on trade regulation ( DNB ). The complete quotation in the Memorial (p. 125–126) read “Add to this that it would be a means of making that country which adopted this measure, A FREE PORT; a circumstance very desireable to every well wisher of his country. See then whether it does not deserve the care of every worthy patriot to make such a scheme (if it can be), feasible and practica• { 196 } ble.”
51. The remainder of this paragraph does not appear in the Translation. The decision not to include this passage meant that JA omitted from the Translation, except for the final French quotation, the text from the final two pages of the Memorial (p. 126–127). The portion initially omitted from this letter consisted of approximately a page and a quarter and concerned the difficulties faced by the European nations in integrating the United States into the system, difficulties that JA saw existing only in the English mind. The deletion of the passage from the Translation probably reflected JA 's belief that the right of the United States to trade with whomever it pleased belonged to it by right, rather than as a grant from some outside power.
52. This is all that can reasonably be demanded. Humanity can only plan and act. Success is the work of a hand more powerful. For Pownall's probable motive in quoting from bk. 30 of the Mémoires of Maximilien de Béthune, Duc de Sully, see note 44. This marks the end of both Pownall's Memorial and the Translation.
53. For JA 's analysis of David Hartley's letter of 21 March to the chairman of the Council of the County of York, see his second letter of 18 April to the president of Congress (No. 48, above).
54. JA probably means his own analysis of the European political situation in his letter of 4 Aug. 1779 to the president of Congress (vol. 8:108–120).

Docno: ADMS-06-09-02-0115-0003

Author: Adams, John
Recipient: Pownall, Thomas
DateRange: 1780-07-08 - 1780-07-14

II. Translation of Thomas Pownall's Memorial

A Translation of the “Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe,” into common Sense and <plain> intelligible English
A Pamphlet has been published in England, under the Title of “A Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe, on the present State of Affairs, between the old and new World.” It is said to have been written by Governor Pownal:2 and there are So many quaint Words, and dark Expressions, intermixed with So many good Thoughts and So much Knowledge of America that it seems worth translating. <into common Sense and plain English.>
The Memorialist begins, with observing very justly, that at the End of the last War, a new System was begun, both political and commercial, which is now compleatly formed: that the Spirit of Commerce has become a leading Power: that at that time, the Center of this System was Great Britain, whose Government might, if it had been wise, have preserved the Advantage of continuing the Center both of the Commerce and Politicks of the World: but being unwise, they disturbed the Course of Things, and have not only lost, forever, that dominion, which they had and might have held, but the extirnal Parts of the Empire are, one after another falling off, and it will be once more reduced to its insular Existence.
On the other hand, this new System of Power, moving round its own proper Center, which is, America, has dissolved all the Forces { 197 } Sent against it by the English. and has formed natural Connections, with France and Spain, and other Countries. Founded in Nature, it is growing, by accellerated motions, into a great and powerfull Empire. It has taken its equal Station among the nations of the Earth. Video Solem orientem in Occidente. <North America> The Congress of3 The United States of North America is a new primary Planet, which taking its Course in its own orbit, must have an Effect upon the orbit of every other, and Shift the common Center of Gravity of the whole System of the European World. The are De Facto, an independant Power, and must be so de Jure.
The Politicians of Europe, may reason; and the Powers of Europe may negotiate or fight: but such Reasonings, Negotiations, and Wars, will have no Consequence on the Right or the Fact. It would be just as wise to fight or negotiate for the dominion of the moon, which is common to them all; and all may profit of her reflected Light. The Independence of America, is as fixed as Fate. She is Mistress of her own Fortune; knows that She is So; and will manage that Power which She feels herself possessed of, to establish her own System, and change that of Europe.
If the Powers of Europe, will See the State of Things, and act accordingly, the Lives of Thousands may be Spared, the Happiness of millions Secured and the Peace of the World preserved: if not, they will be plunged into a Sea of Blood. The War, which is almost gorged, between Britain and America, will extend itself to all the maritime Powers, and most probably afterwards to all the Inland Powers, and like the thirty years War of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, will not end, but by a general Resettlement of Interests, according to the Spirit of the new System, which has taken Place. Why may not all this be done, by a Congress, of all Nations, before, as well as after the War?
The final Settlement of Power, at a Peace, is never in Proportion to the Success of Arms. It depends upon the Interposition of Parties, who have not meddled in the War, but who come to the Treaty of Peace, brought forward by Intrigue, with the Aid of Jealousy, and counteract by Negotiation the Envied Effects of Arms.
The Britons have forced the present system into Establishment, before its natural Season. They might have Secured the Attachment of the Plantations for years to come: but it was a principal part of the Plan of the confidential Counsellors, in a general Reformation of the Kings Government, to reform the Constitutions of America. They were informed it would lead to War, but they thought it would be a { 198 } good measure to force the Americans to Arms. Conquest of which they were sure, would give them the right of giving what Constitutions they thought fit, Such as that of Quebec, little foreseeing what a War it would prove, and Still less Suspecting, that France and Spain, and all the rest of the World, would interpose.
None of the Powers of Europe, and few of the most knowing Politicians have considered, what Effect this Revolution will have on the general System of Europe. (Note. Here it Should Seem, Governor Pownal is mistaken. Every Power in Europe, and every great Politician in Europe, except those in Great Britain, have digested this Subject.)
One Thing is certain, that on whatever Ground the War between G. Britain and Bourbon began, whatever course it may take, however long they may continue it, to their mutual destruction, the Americans will never belong to either Foedere inaquali. The Powers of Europe who will become Parties, before these affairs <come> shall have been brought to the Issue will concur, in no other Settlement, than that these States are an independant Sovereign Power, holding a free Commerce equally with all.
In order to Shew how these matters will finally be Settled, he proposes to lay before, the Sovereigns, a View of Europe and America, and point out, what will be the natural Effects of the Seperation of them, and of the Independence of America, upon the commercial and political State of Europe; and finally to Shew how, the present Crisis, may be, by Wisdom and Benevolence, wrought into the greatest Blessing of Peace, Liberty and Happiness, which the World hath yet Seen.
He then proceeds to compare, the new and old World, in Point of Spirit, Magnitude and Power. In measuring the Magnitude of States too much is commonly ascribed, to Extent of Country and Fertility of Soil. That Extent of Dominion, which is most capable of a Systematical Connection and Communication, has the most natural Greatness. The three other Parts of the World, are naturally Seperated from each other, and altho, once under the dominion of the Romans, as this was an unnatural Exertion, beyond the Resources of human nature, it Soon dissolved, and they Seperated. Europe, Asia, and Africa, are not only Seperated by their local Positions but are inhabited by distinct Species of the human Being. North and South America, are, in like manner naturally divided. North America is possessed, by Englishmen, and this natural Circumstance forms this division of America into one great Society, the Basis of a great { 199 } Dominion. There is nowhere in Europe So great and combined an Interest, communicating through So large a Territory, as that in North America. The northern and Southern Parts of Europe, are possessed by different nations, actuated by different Sovereignties and Systems. Their Intercourse is interrupted: they are at perpetual Variance. Intercourse is difficult over Land, and by Sea. They are cutt off, by intervening nations. On the contrary, when North America is examined, you find every Thing united in it, which forms Greatness. The nature of the coast and the Winds renders communication by navigation perpetual. The Rivers open an Inland navigation, which carries on a Circulation through the whole. The Country thus united, and one part of it, communicating with another, by its Extent of Territory, and Variety of Climates, produces all that nature requires, that Luxury loves, or that Power can employ. All those Things, which the Nations of Europe, under every difficulty, that a defect of natural communication, under every Obstruction that a perverse artificial System throw in their Way, barter for; are in North America possessed, with an uninterrupted natural Communication, an unobstructed navigation and an universal Freedom of Commerce, by one Nation. The naval Stores, Timber, Hemp, Fisheries, and Salt Provisions of the North; the Tobacco, Rice, Cotton, Silk, Indigo, Fruits and perhaps Wines, Resin and Tar, of the South, form a Reciprocation of Wants and Supplies. The Corn, Flour, Manufactures &c. of the middle States, fill up the Communication and compleat its System. They unite those Parts, which were before connected, and organize the Several Parts, into one whole.
Civilization, next to Union of System and Communication of Parts constitute, what Lord Bacon calls, the Amplitude and Growth of State. The Civilization of America, may be compared to that of Europe. It is Superiour to that of Europe. Architecture, Painting, Statuary, Poetry, oratory, and the mechanick Arts are not So well understood and practiced nor are the Sciences, those of Government and Policy particularly, So learnedly mastered by any Individual in America, as they are by Some in Europe. But Arts, Sciences, Agriculture, Manufactures, Government, Policy, War, and Commerce, are better understood by the Collective Body of the People in America than they are by that of Europe, or any nation in it. And this is the only Way of Stating the Comparison of Civilization, and in this Respect America is infinitely further removed from Barbarity, than Europe.
{ 200 }
Translation of the Memorial to the Sovereigns of Europe upon the present State of Affairs between the old and the new World, into common Sense, and intelligible English, continued.
When the Spirit of Civilization began first in Europe, after the barbarous Ages of the northern Invaders; the Clergy were the blind Leaders to Light, and the feudal Lords, the Patrons of Liberty. What Knowledge! What Liberty! The Instruction of the first was more pernicious than Ignorance. The Patronage of the last was the Benevolence of the Grazier, who fattens his Cattle for the Profit of their Hides and Tallow. The People held their Knowledge, as they did their Lands, by a servile Tenure, which did not permit them to Use it as their own. Such was the Source of Civilization in Europe.
The first movement of Civilization, is the application of Labour to the Culture of the Earth, in order to raise that Supply of food, which is necessary for Men in Society. The application of Labour to Architecture, Cloathing, Tools and Instruments is concomitant with this. Marketts, in which a Reciprocation of Wants and surplusses, is accomplished, Succeed. Hence arise by a farther Improvement Artificers and Manufacturers: and in succession, a surplus is created beyond what is wanted by the Individuals or the Community, which produces Commerce, by exchanging this surplus for Articles of Conveniency, or Enjoyment, which the Country does not produce. By the Violence of the military Spirit, under which Europe was a second Time peopled, the Inhabitants were divided into two Classes, Warriours and Slaves. Agriculture, was conducted by the latter; Wretches annexed to, not owners of the Soil; degraded Animals! Cattle! Property! Not Proprietors! They had no Interest in their own Reason, Labour or Time. They had neither Knowledge nor Motive to make an Effort of Improvement. Improvement in Agriculture, was therefore many hundred Years at a Stand. Altho in Some Countries of Europe it may Seem at present progressive, it is so slow, that for Ages, it can have no great Effect, except perhaps in England, yet even here the Farmer is absurdly and cruelly oppressed. Manufactures, or the Labour of Men, in Wool, Iron, Stone, or Leather, were held as the Servile offices of Society, and fit only for Slaves. These Artificers were mere Machines of the most arrogant and ignorant Masters. They would never make Experiments—so that Mechanicks and Arts went on for Ages without Improvements.
Upon the Dissolution of the Hanseatick League, the Sovereigns, { 201 } who had Seen the Power, which arose from manufactures and Trade, began to encourage their Subjects and invite Strangers, to establish them. Civilization took a momentary Start. But the Policy of the Sovereigns, held the Manufacturers in a wretched Condition, by many obstructing Regulations. The same Policy affecting to encourage Manufactures, gave them a false help, by Setting assizes on the Produce of Land, which oppressed Agriculture. This Same System of Policy, confined Ingenuity, by making imposing Regulations, on every motion of Manufactures, on their coming from the Hand of the Workman; on the Carriage; on the Sale; on the Return, whether in goods or Money. This Policy was directed to draw into the Treasury of the State, all the Profit beyond the Labourers Subsistance. Commercial Legislation was directed wholly, to make the subject Sell, but not buy: export Articles, but import money of which the State must have the greatest share. Hence exclusive Property of certain materials of manufacture, which they called Staple Commodities—hence monopolies—exclusive Priviledges of Trade, to Persons, Articles and Places; exclusive Fisheries; hence the notions of the Ballance of Trade: and hence the whole Train of Retaliations, Restraints on Exportation; Prohibitions of Importation; alien Duties, Imposts. Having thus rendered Communication among themselves almost impracticable, they were forced to look out for foreign Settlements. Hence Colonies, which might be worked like out Farms for the exclusive Benefit of the Metropolis. Hence that wildest of all the wild Visions of Avarice and Ambition, the Attempt to render the Ocean an Object of Property; the Claim of Possession in it, and dominion over it. Thus Civilization was obstructed, the Spirit of Improvement checked, and the Light of Genius extinguished. Events may arise, which may induce, the Rulers of Europe, to revise and reform the hard Conditions of its Imprisonment, and give it Liberty.
In America, all the Inhabitants are free, and allow universal naturalization to all that wish to be so, and a perfect Liberty of using any mode of Life they choose, or any means of getting a Livelihood, that their Talents lead them to. Their Souls are their own. Their Reason is their own. Their Time is their own. They are their own Masters. Their Labour is employed on their own Property, and what they produce is their own. Where every man has the free and full Exertion of his Powers, and may acquire any Share of Profit or Power that his Spirit can work him up to, there is an unabated Application; and a perpetual Struggle of Spirits, sharpens the Wit, and trains the Mind. The Acquisition of Knowledge in Business, necessary to this mode of { 202 } Life, gives the Mind a Turn of Investigation, which forms a Character peculiar to these People. This is called Inquisitiveness, which goes often to ridicule, but is in matters of Business and Commerce an usefull Talent. They are animated with the Spirit of the New Philosophy. Their Life is a Course of Experiments; and Standing on as high Ground of Improvement as the most enlightened Parts of Europe have advanced, like Eaglets commence the first Efforts of their Pinnions from a Towering Advantage.
In Europe the poor mans Wisdom is despized. The poor mans Wisdom is not Learning but Knowledge of his own Picking up, from Facts and nature, by Simple Experience. In America, the Wisdom and not the Man is attended to. America is the Poor Mans Country. The Planters there reason not from what they hear, but from what they See and feel. They follow what mode they like. They feel that they can venture to make Experiments, and the Advantages of their Discoveries are their own. They therefore try what the Soil claims, what the Climate permits, and what both will produce to the greatest Advantage. In this Way, they have brought into Cultivation, and Abundance of what no Nation of the old World ever did, or could. They raise not only plenty and Luxury for their internal Supply, but the Islands in the West Indies have been Supplied from their Superabundance, and Europe, in many Articles has profited of it. It has had its Fish from their Seas: its Wheat and Flour from one Part: its Rice from another part: its Tobacco and Indigo from another: its Timber and naval Stores from another. Olives, oranges and Wines are introducing by Experiments.
This Spirit of Civilization first attaches itself to mother Earth, and the Inhabitants become Land Workers. You See them labouring at the Plough and the Spade, as if they had not an Idea above the Earth yet their minds are all the while enlarging all their Powers, and their Spirit rises as their Improvements advance. Many a real Phylosopher, Politician and Warriour, emerges out of this Wilderness, as the Seed rises out of the Ground.
They have also made many Improvements in Handicrafts, Tools and machines. Want of Tools and the Unfitness of Such as they had, have put these Settlers to their Shifts, and these shifts are Experiments. Particular Uses calling for Some Alteration, have opened many a new Invention. More new Tools and machines, and more new Forms of old ones, have been invented in America than were ever invented in Europe in the Same Space of Time. They have not turned their Labour into Arts and manufactures, because their Labour em• { 203 } ployed in its own natural Way can produce those Things which purchase Articles of Arts and manufactures, cheaper, than they could make them. But tho they dont manufacture for Sale, they find Fragments of Time which they cannot otherwise employ, in which they make most of the Articles of personal Ware and Household Use, for home Consumption. When the Field shall be filled with Husbandmen and the Classes of Handicraft fully Stocked, as there are no Laws, which impose Conditions, on which a Man is to become intituled to exercise this or that Trade, or by which he is excluded, from exercising the one or the other, in this or that Place: none that prescribe the manner in which or the Prices at which he is to work, or that confine him even to the Trade he was bred to; the moment that Civilization carried on in its natural Course, is ripe for it, the Branch of Manufactures, will take root, and grow with an astonishing Rapidity. Altho they do not attempt to force the Establishment of manufactures, yet, following the natural Progress of Improvement, they every Year produce a Surplus of Profit. With these Surplusses, and not with manufactures, they carry on their Commerce. Their Fish, Wheat, Flour, Rice, Tobacco, Indigo, Live Stock, Barrell Pork and Beef, Some of these being peculiar to the Country and Staple Commodities, form their Exports. This has given them a direct Trade to Europe and a circuitous one to Africa and the West Indies. The Same Ingenuity, in mechanicks which accompanies their Agriculture, enters into their Commerce, and is exerted in Ship building. It is carried on, not only for their own Freight, and that of the West Indies, but for Sale, and to Supply a great Part of the Shipping of Britain; and if it continues to advance will Supply a great Part of the Trade of Europe with Ships, at cheaper Rates, than they can any where, or by any means Supply themselves. Thus their Commerce, altho under various Restrictions, while they were Subordinate Provinces, by its advancing Progress, in Shipbuilding, hath Struck deep Roots, and is now Shot forth into an active Trade, Amplitude of State and great Power.
It will be objected, that the Ballance of Trade has been at all Times against America So as to draw all the Gold and Silver from it, and for this Reason it cannot advance in commerce and opulence. It will be answered, that, America, Even while in depressd and restrained Provinces, has advanced its Cultivation to great Opulence, and constantly extending the Channells of its Trade, and increasing its Shipping. Tis a fallacious Maxim to judge of the general Ballance of Profit in Commerce, by the motions of one Article of Commerce, the { 204 } prescious metals. These metals will always go to that Country that pays the most for them. That country, which on any Sudden Emergency wants Money, and knows not how to circulate any other than Silver and gold, must pay the most for them. The Influx of them, therefore, into a Country, instead of being a Consequence of the Ballance of Trade being in its Favour, or the Efflux being a Mark of the Ballance being against it, may be a Proof of the Contrary. The Ballance of Trade, reckoned by the Import or Export of Gold and Silver, may in many Cases be Said to be against England and in Favour of the Countries to which its Money goes. If this Import or Export, was the Effect of a final Settled Account, instead of being only the Transfer of this Article to or from an Account currant (as it commonly is) yet it would not be a Mark of the Ballance of Trade. England, from the Nature of its Government, and Extent of its Commerce, has established a Credit, on which, in any Emergency, it can give Circulation to Paper Money, almost to any Amount. If it could not, it must at any Rate, purchase gold and Silver, and there would be a great Influx of the prescious Metals. Will any one Say, that this is a Symptom of the Ballance of Trade being in its favour! But, on the contrary having Credit, from a progressive Ballance of Profit, it can, even in Such an Emergency, Spare its Gold and Silver, and even make a Profit of it, as an Article of Commerce exported. Here We See, the Ballance of Profit creating a Credit, which circulates as money, even while its gold and Silver are exported. If any Event like the Recoignage of the Gold in England which called in the old Coin at a better Price, than that at which it was circulating abroad, Should raise the Price of this article, in England, it will for the Same reason, as it went out, be again imported into England, not as a Ballance of Accounts, but as an Article of Trade, of which, the best profit could at that moment be made. The Fact was, that at that period, Quantities of English Gold Coin, to a great Amount, were actually imported into England in bulk; and yet this was no mark of any Sudden Change of a Ballance of Trade in favour of that Country. The Ballance of Trade reckoned by this false Rule, has been always Said to be against North America: but the Fact is, that their Government, profiting of a Credit arising from the progressive Improvements, and advancing Commerce of the Country hath, by a refined Policy, established a Circulation of Paper money, to an Amount that is astonishing. That from the immense quantity, it should depreciate, is nothing to this argument, for it has had its Effect. The Americans therefore can Spare their Gold and Silver as well as England, and { 205 } Information Says, there is now locked up in America, more than three millions of English money, in Gold and Silver, which when their Paper is annihilated, will come forth. The Efflux, therefore of Gold and Silver, is no Proof of a Ballance against them: on the contrary, being able to go without Gold and Silver, but wanting other Articles without which they could not proceed in their Improvements, in Agriculture, Commerce, or War, the Gold and silver is, in Part hoarded, and part exported for these Articles. In Fact, this objection, which is always given as an Instance of Weakness in America, under which, she must Sink, turns out, in the true State of it, an Instance of the most extensive Amplitude and Growth of State. It would be well for England, if, while She tryumphs over this mote in her Sisters Eye, She would attend to the Beam in her own, and prepare for the Consequences of her own Paper Money.
From this Comparison of the State of Civilization, applied to Agriculture, Mechanicks and Commerce, extended through a large Territory, having a free Communication through the whole, it appears, that North America has advanced, and is every day advancing, to a Growth of State, with a constant and accellerating motion, of which there has never been any Example in Europe.
To be continued.
Translation of the Memorial to the Souvereigns of Europe, continued.
The two Countries may be compared, in the Progress of Population. In North America Children are a Blessing. They are Riches and Strength to the Parents. In Europe, Children are a Burden. The Causes of which have been explained in the observations concerning the Increase of Mankind, the Peopling of Countries &c. Take a few Examples. The Massachusetts Bay, had, of Inhabitants in the Year 1722 Ninety four Thousands. In 1742 one hundred Sixty four Thousands. In 1751 when there was a great depopulation both by War and the Small Pox one hundred and Sixty four Thousand, four hundred and Eighty four. In 1761, 216,000. In 1765 255,500. In 1771 292,000. In 1773 300,000. In Connecticutt, in 1756 129,994. In 1774 257,356. These Numbers are not increased by Strangers, but decreased by Wars and Emigrations to the Westward, and to other States, yet they have nearly doubled in Eighteen years.
In N. York in 1756—96,776—in 1771—168,007. In 1774—182,251. In Virginia in 1756—173,316. In 1764—200,000. In 1774—300,000. In S. { 206 } Carolina in 1750—64,000. In 1770—115,000. In R. Island in 1738—15,000. In 1748—28,439.
As there never was a militia in Pensilvania, with authentic Lists of the Population, it has been variously estimated on Speculation. There was a constant Importation for many years of Irish and foreign Emigrants, yet many of these Settled in other Provinces: but the Progress of Population, in the ordinary course advanced in a Ratio, between that of Virginia and that of Massachusetts Bay. The City of Philadelphia advanced more rapidly. It had in 1749—2076 Houses. In 1753—2300. In 1760—2969. In 1769—4474. From 1749 to 1753 from 16 to 18,000 Inhabitants; from 1760 to 1769 from 31,318 to 35,000. There were in 1754 various Calculations and Estimates made of the Numbers on the Continent. The Sanguine made the Numbers, one million and an half. Those who admitted less Speculation into the Calculation, but adhered closer to Facts and Lists, Stated them at one million, two hundred and fifty thousand. The Estimate Said to be taken in Congress in 1774 makes them 3,026,678. But there must have been great Scope of Speculation in that Estimate. Another after two or three years of War is Two Million Eight hundred and Ten Thousand. 2,141,307 would turn out nearest to the real amount in 1774. But what an Amazing Progress, which in 18 years has added a million to a million two hundred and fifty thousand, altho a War was maintained in that country for seven years of the Term. In this View one sees a Community unfolding itself beyond any Example in Europe.
But the Model of these Communities, which has always taken Place, from the Beginning, has enrolled, every Subject as a Soldier, and trained a greater Part or 535,326 of these People to Arms, which number the Community has, not Seperate from the civil, and formed into a distinct Body of regular Soldiers, but remaining united in the internal Power of the Society, a national Piquet Guard, always prepared for defence. This will be thought ridiculous by the regular Generals of Europe: But Experience hath evinced, that for the very Reason, that they are not a Seperate Body, but members of the Community, they are a real and effectual Defence. The true Greatness of a State consists in Population, where there is Valour, in Individuals, and a military Disposition in the Frame of the Community: where all, and not particular Conditions and degrees only, make Profession of Arms, and bear them in their Country's defence.
This Country is now an independent State, and has been avowedly and compleatly so, for more than four Years. It is indeed Six years, Since it was so in Effect. It hath taken its equal Station among the { 207 } Nations. It is an Empire, the Spirit of whose Government, extends from the Center to the extream Parts. Universal Participation of Council, creates Reciprocation of universal Obedience. The Seat of Government, will be well informed of the State and Condition of the remote and extream Parts, which by Participation in the Legislature, will be informed and Satisfied in the Reasons and necessity of the Measures of Government. These will consider themselves as acting in every Grant that is made, and in every Tax imposed. This Consideration will give Efficacy to Government, that Consensus Obedientium, on which the permanent Power of Empire is founded. This is the Spirit of the new Empire in America. It is liable to many disorders, but young and Strong, like the Infant Hercules it will Strangle these Serpents in the Cradle. Its Strength will grow with Years. It will establish its Constitution and perfect Growth to Maturity. To this Greatness of Empire, it will certainly arise. That it is removed Three thousand miles from its Ennemy; that it lies on another Side of the Globe, where it has no Ennemy: that it is Earth born and like a Giant ready to run its Course, are not the only Grounds, on which a Speculatist may pronounce this. The fostering Care with which the Rival Powers of Europe will nurse it, ensures its Establishment, beyond all doubt or danger.
When a State is founded on such Amplitude of Territory; whose Intercourse is So easy; whose Civilization is So advanced; where all is Enterprize, and Experiment: where Agriculture has made So many discoveries of new and peculiar Articles of Cultivation: where the ordinary Produce of Bread Corn, has been carried to a degree, that has made it a Staple Export, for the Supply of the old World: whose Fisheries are mines, producing more Solid Riches than all the Silver of Potosi: where Experiment hath invented so many new and ingenious Improvements in mechanicks: where the Arts, Sciences, Legislation and Politicks, are Soaring with a Strong and Extended Pinion; where Population has multiplied like the Seeds of the Harvest: where the Power of these numbers, taking a military Form, shall lift itself up as a young Lion: where Trade of extensive orbit, circulating in its own Shipping, has wrought these Efforts of the Community to an active Commerce: where all these Powers have united and taken the Form of Empire; I may Suppose I cannot err, or give offence to the greatest Power in Europe, when upon a Comparison of the State of Mankind and of the Powers of Europe, with that of America, I venture to Suggest to their Contemplation, that America is growing too large for any Government in Europe to manage as subordinate. { 208 } That the Government of Congress and the States is too firmly fixed in the Hands of their own Community to be either directed by other Hands, or taken out of those, in which it is. And that the Power in Men and Arms is too much to be forced, at the distance of Three Thousand miles. Were I to ask an Astronomer whether, if a Satellite Should grow, untill it could ballance with its Planet, whether it could be held any longer, by any of the Powers of nature in the orbit of a Satellite, and whether any external Force could keep it there, he will answer me directly, no. If I ask a Father, after his Son is grown up to full Strength of Body, Mind and Reason, whether he can be held in Pupillage, and will Suffer himself to be treated and corrected as a Child, he must answer, No. Yet, if I ask an European Politician, who learns by Hearsay and thinks by Habit, whether North America will remain dependent, he answers, Yes. He will have a Thousand reasons why it must be So, altho Fact rises in his Face to the very contrary. Politicians, instead of being employed to find out Reasons to explain Facts, are often employed with a Multitude about them, to invent and make Facts according to predetermined Reasonings. Truth, however, will prevail. This is not Said to prove, but to explain the Fact, So that the Consequences may be Seen. The present Combination of Events, whether, attended to or not, whether wrought by Wisdom into the System of Europe or not, will force its Way there, by the Vigour of natural causes. Europe, in the course of its commerce, and even in the internal order and Oeconomy of its communities, will be affected by it. The Statesman cannot prevent its Existence, nor resist its operation. He may embroil his own Affairs, but it will become his best Wisdom, and his duty to his Sovereign and the People, that his measures coincide and cooperate with it.
The first Consequence of this Empire, is, the Effect it will have as a naval Power on the Commerce, and political System of Europe.
Whoever understands the Hanseatic League, and its Progress, in naval Power, by possessing the commanding Articles of the Commerce of the World; the command of the great Rivers; its being the Carrier of Europe; that it could attract, resist and even command the landed Powers; that it was made up of Seperate and unconnected Towns, included within the dominions, of other States; that they had no natural communication, and only an artificial Union: whoever considers, not only the commercial but naval and political Power, which this League established throughout Europe, will See, on how much more Solid a Basis, the Power of North America Stands; how much faster it must grow, and to what an Ascendancy of Interest, { 209 } carrying on the greatest Part of the Commerce, and commanding the greatest Part of the Shipping of the World, this great commercial and naval Power must Soon arrive. If the League, without the natural Foundation of a political Body, in Land, could grow by commerce and navigation to such Power: if, of Parts Seperated by nature and only joined by Art and Force, they could become a great political Body, acting externally with an Interest and Power, that took a lead and even an Asendancy, in Wars, and Treaties. What must North-America, removed at the Distance of half the Globe, from all the Obstructions of Rival Powers, founded in a landed Dominion peculiarly adapted for Communication of Commerce, and Union of Power, rise to in its Progress? As the Hanseatic League grew up to Power, Denmark, Sweeden, Poland, and France, Sought its Alliance, under the common Veil of Pride, by offers of becoming its Protectors. England also growing fast into a commercial Power, had commercial Arrangements, by Treaty, with it. Just so now, will the Sovereigns of Europe; just so have, the Bourbon Compact, the greatest Power in Europe, courted the Friendship of America. Standing on Such a Basis, and growing up under Such Auspices, one may pronounce of America, as was said of Rome Civitas incredibile est memoratu, adepta Libertate, quantum brevi creverit.
In the Course of this American War, all the Maritime Powers of Europe, will one after another, as Some of the leading ones have already done, apply to the States of America, for a Share, in their Trade, and for a Settlement of the Forms, on which they may carry it, on, with them. America, will then become, the Arbitress of the Commercial, and perhaps as the Seven united Belgic Provinces were in the Year 1647 the Mediatrix of Peace, and of the political Business of the World.
If North America follows the Principles on which nature has established her; and if the European Alliances Which She has made do not involve her in and Seduce her to, a Series of Conduct, destructive of that System, which those Principles lead to, She must observe, that as nature hath Seperated her from Europe, and established her alone on a great Continent, far removed from the old World, and all its embroiled Interests, and wrangling Politicks, without an Ennemy or a Rival or the Entanglement of Alliances.—1. that it is contrary to her Interest, and the Nature of her Existence, that She Should have any Connections of Politicks with Europe, other than merely commercial; and even, on that Ground, to observe inviolably the caution of not being involved, in either the Quarrells, or the Wars of Euro• { 210 } peans. 2. That the real State of America is, that of being the common Source of Supply to Europe in general, and that her true Interest is therefore, that of being a free Port to all Europe at large, and that all Europe, at large, Should be the common market for American Exports. The true Interest therefore of America, is, not to form any partial Connections with any Part, to the Exclusion of the rest. If England had attended to her true Interest, as connected with that of America, She would have known that it is the Commerce, and not the Conquest of America by which she could be benefited: and if She would even yet, with temper listen to her true Interest, She would Still find, that that Commerce, would in a great measure continue, with the Same benefit, were the two Countries as independent of each other as France and Spain, because in many Articles, neither of them can go to a better market. This is meant as under their present habits and Customs of Life. Alienation may change all this.
The first great leading Principle will be that North America, will become a free Port to all the nations of the World, indiscriminately; and will expect, insist on, and demand, in fair Reciprocity, a free market in all those nations with whom She trades. This will, if She forgets not, nor forsakes her real nature, be the Basis of all her commercial Treaties. If She adheres to this Principle, She must be in the course of Time, the chief Carrier of the commerce of the whole World, because unless the Several Powers of Europe, become to each other, likewise free Ports and free marketts, America alone will come to and act there, with an ascendant Interest, that must command every Advantage to be derived from them.
The Commerce of North America, being no longer, the Property of one Country only, her Articles of Supply will come freely, and be found now in all the Marketts of Europe: not only moderated by, but moderating the Prices of the like Articles of Europe. The Furs and Peltry will meet those of the North East Parts of Europe; and neither the one nor the other can any longer be estimated by the Advantages to be taken of an exclusive Vent. Advantages of this Kind, on Iron and naval Stores, have frequently been aimed at by Sweeden: and the Monopoly in them was more than once used as an Instrument of Hostility against England, which occasiond the Bounties on those articles, the Growth of America, which gave rise to the Export of them from America. When they come freely to the European Market co-operating with the Effect which those of Russia have, will break that monopoly. For Russia, by the Conquest of Livonia, and the Advancement of her Civilization has become a Source of Supply in { 211 } these Articles, to a great Extent. All Europe by the Intervention of this American Commerce, will find the good Effects of a fair Competition, both in Abundance of Supply, and in moderation of Price. Even England who hath lost the Monopoly, will be no great Looser. She will find this natural Competition as advantageous to her, as the Monopoly, which in Bounties and other Costs of Protection, She paid so dear for.
Translation &c. continued.
Ship building and navigation having made Such Progress in America, that they are able to build and navigate cheaper, than any Country in Europe, even than Holland with all their Oeconomy, there will arise a Competition in this Branch of Commerce. There will also be a Competition in the marketts of Europe, in the Branch of the Fisheries. The Rice and Corn, which the Americans have been able to export, to an amount that Supplied in the European Markett, the defect arising from Englands withholding her Exports will, when, that Export Shall again take Place, keep down depressed, the Agriculture of Portugal and Spain and in Some measure of France, if the Policy of those countries does not change the Regulations, and order of their internal Oeconomy. The particular Articles, to be had as yet from America only, which Europe So much Seeks after, will give the Americans the Command of the Markett in those Articles, and enable them, by annexing assortments of other Articles, to produce those also, with Advantage in these marketts. The Refuse Fish, Flour, Maize, Meat, Live Stock, Lumber &c. all carried in American Shipping to the West India Islands: the African Slaves, carried by a circuitous Trade, in American Shipping also to the West India Marketts: taking from thence the Molasses: aiding those Islands with American shipping in the Carriage of their produce, must ever command, and have the Ascendancy, in that Part of the World, if this ascendency even Stops here. The cheap manner, in which the Americans produce their Articles of Supply: the Low Rates, at which they carry them to Europe, Selling also their shipping there: the Small profits at which their Merchants are used to Trade, must lower the Price of the like Articles in Europe: oblige the European Merchants to be content with a less Profit: occasion Some reform in the Oeconomy of Europe, in raising and Police in bringing to Markett, the active Articles of Supply. But further, the Americans by their principle of being a free Port in America and having a free Markett { 212 } in Europe; by their Policy of holding themselves, as they are remote from all the wrangling Politicks, So neutral in all the Wars of Europe: by their Spirit of Enterprize, in all the quarters of the Globe, will oblige the nations of Europe to call forth within themselves Such a Spirit, as must entirely change its commercial System also.
But will a People whose Empire Stands Singly predominant, on a great Continent, who before they lived, under their own Government, had pushed their Spirit of Adventure in Search of a North West Passage to Asia, Suffer in their Borders the Establishment of Such a Monopoly as the European Hudsons Bay Company? Will that Spirit which has forced an extensive Commerce in the two Bays of Honduras and Campeachy, and on the Spanish main, and which has gone to Falkland's Islands in Search only of Whales, be Stopped at Cape horn, or not pass the Cape of Good Hope? It will not be long, after their Establishment as an Empire, before they will be found trading in the South Sea and in China. The Dutch will hear of them in Spice Islands, to which the Dutch can have no Claim, and which those Enterprizing People will contest, on the very ground, and by the very Arguments, which the Dutch used to contest the Same Liberty against Portugal. By the Intercourse and correspondance, which there will be between Europe and America, it will be as well known, as Europe. By Attention, to the Winds, Currents, the Gulph Stream and its Lee Currents, the Passage will be better understood, and become shorter. America will Seem every day to approach nearer and nearer to Europe. When the Alarm which the Idea of going to a Strange and distant Country, gives to a Manufacturer or Peasant, or even a Country Gentleman, Shall thus be worn out; a thousand Attractive motives respecting a Settlement in America will raise a Spirit of Adventure, and become the irresistable Cause of a general Emigration to that World. Nothing but Some future, wise and benevolent Policy in Europe, or Some Spirit of the Evil one, which may mix itself in the Policy of America can prevent it. Many of the most usefull Enterprizing Spirits, and much of the active Property will go there. Exchange hath taught the Statesmen of the World long ago, that they cannot confine money: and the Governments of Europe, must fall back to the Feudal Tyranny, in which its own People are locked up, and from which all others are excluded, or Commerce will open a Door to Emigration.
These Relations of Things; these Leges et Foedera Rerum are forming the new System. The Sublime Politician, who ranges in Regions of predetermined Systems—the Man of the World, narrowed { 213 } by a selfish Experience, worse than Ignorance, will not believe: and it is but Slowly, that nations relinquish any System, which hath derived Authority from Time and Habit. These Sovereigns of Europe, who have despized the awkward Youth of America, and neglected to form Connections, and interweave their Interests with these Rising States, will find the System of this new Empire, obstructing and Superseding the old System of Europe, and crossing all their maxims and measures. They will call upon their Ministers Come curse me this People, for they are too mighty for me. The Spirit of Truth will answer How shall I curse, whom God hath not cursed? How shall I defy, whom the Lord hath not defied? From the Top of the Rock, I See them, and from the Hills, I behold them. Lo! the People shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations. On the contrary those Sovereigns, who Shall See Things as they are, and form, if not the earliest, yet the most Sure and natural Connections with America, as an independent State; as the Market of and a free Port to Europe: as that being which must have a free Markett in Europe, will become the principal leading Powers in Europe, in regulating the Courses of the rest, and in Settling the common Center of all.
England is the State in those Circumstances, and in that Situation. Similar modes of living and thinking, Manners, and Fashions, Language and Habits, all conspire naturally to a Rejunction by Alliance. If England would treat America, as what She is, She might Still have the ascendency in Trade and navigation: might Still have a more Solid and less invidious Power than that Magni Nominis Umbra with which she braves the whole World. She might yet have an active leading Interest among the Powers of Europe. But She will not. As though the Hand of divine Vengeance was upon her, England will not See the Things which make for her Peace! France, who will be followed by other nations, acknowledging these States to be what they are, has formed Alliances, with Terms of perfect Equality and Reciprocity. And behold the Ascendant to which She directly arose, from that politick Humiliation. There never was a wiser or a firmer Step taken by any established Power, than that which the new States took for their first Footing in this Alliance. There never was more Address, Art, or Policy Shewn by any State, than France has given Proof of, in the Same, when both agreed and became allied on Terms, which exclude no other Power, from enjoying the Same Benefits by a like Treaty. Can it be Supposed that other States, conceiving that the exclusive Trade of England to America is laid open, will not desire, and have their { 214 } Share? They certainly will. Here then are the Beginnings of Changes in the European System.
There are two Courses, in which this general Intercourse of Commerce, between Europe and North America, may come into operation: one, by particular Treaties of Commerce the other by all the maritime States of Europe, previous to their engaging in a War or upon the general settlement of a Peace, meeting in Some Congress, to regulate among themselves as well as with north America; the Free Port, on one Hand, and the free Markett on the other, as also general Regulations of Commerce and navigation, Such as must Suit this free Trader, now common to them all, indifferently, and without Preference. Such Regulations, must exclude all Monopoly of this source of Supply and course of Trade, and So far make an essential Change in the commercial system. Such Regulations, not having Reference only to America, but reciprocal References, between all the contracting Parties, trading now, under different Circumstances, and standing towards each other in different Predicaments, must necessarily change the whole of that System in Europe.
The American will come to Markett in his own ship, and will claim the Ocean as common: will claim a navigation restrained by no Laws, but the Laws of nations, reformed as the rising Crisis requires: will claim a free Markett, not only for his Goods but his ship, which will make a Part of his Commerce. America being a free Port to all Europe, the American will bring to Europe not only his own peculiar Staple Produce, but every Species of his produce which the Markett of Europe can take off: he will expect to be free to offer to Sale in the European Markett, every Species of wrought materials, which he can make to answer in that markett: and further as his Commerce Subsists, by a circuitous Interchange with other Countries, whence he brings Articles not Singly for his own Consumption, but as exchangeable Articles, with which he trades in foreign Marketts; he will claim as one of the Conditions of the free Markett, that these foreign Articles, as well as his own Produce, Shall be considered as free for him to import in his own shipping to such Market. Those States who refuse this at first, Seeing others acquiesce in it, and Seeing also how they profit by having Articles of Supply and Trade, brought so much cheaper to them, will be obliged, in their own defence, and to maintain their Balance in the commercial World, to accede to the Same Liberty. Hence again, even if the American should not, by these means, become the ascendant Interest in the carrying Trade and in { 215 } shipping and Seamen, a most essential Change, must arise in the European System.
The American raises his produce and navigation cheaper, than any other can: his Staples are Articles which he alone can Supply. These will come to market assorted with others, which he thus can most conveniently Supply; and unless the Same freedom of Trade which he enjoys, be reciprocally given and taken by the European Powers, among each other, he will come to the European market, on Terms, which no other can: but Europe will be affected, benefited, and improved by his manner of trading. The peculiar Activity of the Americans, will raise a Spirit and Activity among those, who come to the Same market. That peculiar Turn of Character, that Inquisitiveness, which in Business animates a Spirit of Investigation to every Extent, and the minutest detail, enables them to conduct their dealings in a manner more advantageous, than is usually practised by the European Merchant. They acquire a Knowledge not only of the Marketts of Europe, that is of the Wants and Supplies, how they correspond, and of their relative Values; but they never rest, till they are possessed of a Knowledge of every Article of Produce and Manufacture, which comes to those Marketts; untill they know the Establishments, the operations and the Prices of Labour, and the Profits made on each, as well, even better, than the Merchants of the Country themselves. A little before the War, Several of the American Merchants, especially those of Pensilvania, Sending some of their own Houses to England, became their own Factors, went immediately to the Manufacturers in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, and Sheffield; to the woolen Manufacturers in Yorkshire, and Lancashire: to those of Liverpool, and those in the West: and opened an immediate Trafick with them at the first hand. This Same Spirit of Investigation and Activity, will activate their dealings in every other Country of Europe. The Effect of this, instead of being disadvantageous to those Countries, will become a general Blessing; by raising a more general Competition, and diffusing a more proportional Share of Profit, between all Ranks of the industrious. While Trade is Solely in the Hands of the Merchant he bears hard on the Purchaser, by his high Profit, and oppresses the Manufacturer by the little share he allows him. The merchant grows rich and magnificent, makes a great Bustle and Figure. It can never be well where Merchants are Princes. The more the Merchant can make by high Profit, the less quantity will he carry to markett. Whereas when Commerce Shall be free, and { 216 } by the Mixture of this American Spirit, trade run with fair Competition in a broad Channell, the Merchant must make his Way by being content with small profit, and by doing a deal of Business, on those Small Profits. The Consumer and Manufacturer will come nearer together—the one will Save an unreasonable Advance, and the other obtain a more equal Share of Profit. More Work will be done: The Profits of Industry more equally distributed—The Circulation will Spread through the lesser Vessells, and Life, Health, and Growth be promoted.
If these operations take this Course, it will be needless to point out to the Shrewd Speculations of the Merchants, what their Conduct must necessarily be. But it will behove Statesmen, to be aware that they do not Suffer the Merchant to perswade them, that the Commerce is languishing merely because there is not the Same Parade of Wealth, in such dazzling Instances. Let them look to the Marketts of Supply, and See if there is not plenty. Next to the rude produce, which is the Basis of manufactures, and enquire, whether, while more and more Industry, is daily called forth, it is not employed, and more adequately paid, by a free and extended Vent? While the Numbers and Ingenuity of Manufacturers increase they do not all live more comfortably, so as to have and maintain increasing Families? Whether Population does not increase? Let them in future guard against the exclusive Temper of Trade. The political Founders of the old System, were totally ignorant of this Principle of Commerce. It was Wisdom with them to render their neighbours and Customers poor. By a wretched System of Taxation they effectually prevented the Stock of Labour and Profit from accumulating. But if the Statesmen of the present enlightened Age, will follow, where Experience leads to Truth and Right, they will throw the Activity of mankind into its proper Course, of productive Labour. When Man has the Liberty of exerting his Industry and Ingenuity as he can make them the most productive; finds a free market, and his share of Profit; then is the Ground duely prepared for Population, Opulence and Strength. Then will the Sovereigns of Europe find their Interest and their Power, in their Peoples Happiness.
Translation &c
If the Sovereigns of Europe, Should find, that the System of Colonies in distant Regions, for the Purpose of monopolies, is at an End, and turn their Attention, to give Exertion to their own internal { 217 } Powers, like the Police of China, cultivate their waste Lands, improve Agriculture, encourage manufactures, and abolish Corporations: as all the Remnants of Barbarism Shall be removed, the Powers of the Community will create those Surplusses which will become the Source, and open the Channels of Commerce. If they Should See the Dissappointments of attempts to establish a monopoly of navigation by the Force of Laws, instead of creating or maintaining it, by the Spirit of an active Commerce; that all the Prohibitions by which they labour to oppress their neighbours do but depress them Selves, they may come to think that giving Freedom and Activity to commerce, is the true System of every commercial Country. Suppose them checked in their Career of War, hesitating on the maxims of their old Systems, perceiving that the Oeconomical Activity of Europe, is on the Turn to take a new Course, feeling the Force of an active Commerce, finding themselves under the Necessity of making Some Reform, Should begin to Speculate, how amidst a Number of Powers of Trade, Shifting their Scale, an even Ballance may be formed and Secured; how amidst a Number of Interests, floating on the Turn of this great Tide in the affairs of Men, an equal Level may be obtained, if, on a Review of their old System they should perceive how it is prepared for Change, they may find, that Commerce, which might have risen by Competition, Industry, Frugality, and Ingenuity, hath long been an exclusive Scrambling Rivalship. Instead of being an equal Communication, concentring the Enjoyments of all Regions and Climates, and a Consociation of all nations, in one Communion of the Blessings of Providence; when actuated as it has been by a Selfish Principle, it hath been to the nations an occasion of Jealousies, alternate depressions of each others Interests, and a never ceasing Source of Wars, perhaps they may also See that Treaties of Peace have been but Truces and Guarrantees so many entangling Preparations for future Wars. On the other Hand they Should See with Pleasure, that the manners of Mankind, Softening by degrees, have become more humanized; their Police more civilized; and altho many of the old oppressive Institutions of Government, as they respect Husbandry, Manufactures, Merchants, Marketts and Commerce, have not yet been formally abolished; yet that Practice, by various Accommodations, has abrogated their most mischievous operations; that the Activity of Man finds every day, a freer Course; that there are a Thousand Ways, which although Pride will not open Prudence will connive at; through which the Intercourse of Marketts finds every Year, a freer Vent; and that the active Spirit of Commerce is { 218 } like the Spirit of Life, diffusing itself through the whole Mass of <Life> Europe. They will find there is an End of all their monopolizing Systems: They will See that any one of the Powers of Europe, who would aim to deal with the rest of mankind, with an unequal Ballance, will only find, that they have raised among their Neighbours a Jealousy, that will conspire to wrest that false Ballance out of their Hands, and to depress them down again to a level with the rest of the World. The Cities of Italy, the low Countries, Portugal, Holland, England, have all, for their Period, as commercial Powers, arisen above the common Level, but pressing, with a Weight which was felt as unequal by those below them, they have each in its Turn found, even in the moment of their highest Elevation, a general Rising all around them, and themselves Sinking to the common Level. Statesmen must See, how much it is the Interest of all, to liberate each other, from the Restraints, Prohibitions, and Exclusions, by which they have aimed to depress each other. They will See, that the most advantageous Way, which a landed nation can take, to encourage and multiply Artificers, Manufacturers and Merchants of their own, is to grant the most perfect Freedom, to the Artificers, Manufacturers, and merchants of every other nation. That a contrary Practice lowers the Value of their own internal Productions, by raising the Prices of all Things, which must be bought with them; and gives to the Artificers, Manufacturers and Merchants a monopoly against their own Farmers. Seeing this, they will encourage Population, and an universal Naturalization, and Liberty of Conscience. If Nature has so formed man and Policy, Society, that each labouring in his Line, produces a Surplus of Supply, it is both perfect Justice and Policy that Men and nations Should be free, reciprocally to interchange it. This Communion of nations is a Right, which may be enjoyed in its genuine Spirit and utmost Extent, except in Time of War, and even then to a great degree, without interfering in the political and civil Power of the World. The Spirit of those exclusive Laws of navigation will appear as the Spirit of Piracy. The common Ocean, incapable of being defined, or of a Special Occupancy, or of receiving exclusively the Labour of any Individual, Person, or State, is incapable of becoming an Object of Property, never an Object of Dominion: and therefore the Ocean, Should in Policy, as it is in Fact, remain common and free. Pervium cunctis Iter. If it should be Seen, that the commercial System of Europe is changing, and in Wisdom and Policy ought to be changed: that the great Commerce of North America, emanci• { 219 } pated from its provincial State, not only coincides with, but is a concurring Cause of this Change: that the present Combination of Events form a Crisis, which Providence, with a more than ordinary Interposition hath prepared: and that Heaven itself Seems to call upon Sovereigns to co-operate with its gracious Providence: if they should be convinced, that there is nothing so absurd, as warring against each other about an Object, which as it is Seperated from Europe, will have nothing to do with its Broils, and will not belong exclusively to any one of them: if listening to this Voice, which as that of an Angel, announcing Peace and good Will to Mankind, Summons them to leave off the endless, useless operations of War; to consider the present Crisis as an Object of Council and not of War, and therefore to meet in Communication and Intercourse of their reasoning Powers.
The maritime Powers must before Peace respecting America, and the mixed Interests of Europe and America, can be Settled, convene, by their ministers, in order to consider the Points on which they may Safely Suspend Hostilities, and those which must form the Basis of Treaty, and which will enter into the future System and on which Peace may not only be made, but established among the nations of the Atlantic Ocean.4
Will not Reason and Benevolence, then, in which true Policy, and their Right and best Interest is included, Suggest to their Hearts, and actuate their Councils to convene a Congress, before they are engaged in further Hostilities; before the devastation of War, extends Ruin and Misery yet farther. Some Such measure, as led the great trading Bodies of Europe to convene in a Congress, which gave rise to the Hanseatic League, is not out of the Course of public Business but is what the nature of the present Crisis, in a more than ordinary Necessity requires. Whether Some general Council, on the Model of that concerted between the Great Henry of France and Elizabeth of England, two as noble Spirits and as wise Politicians as the World hath Since Seen, Should not now be proposed; not indeed a Council of Administration, for regulating and conducting a general political System of all Europe but a Council of Commerce for Europe and North America, exclusive of every Point of Politicks.
Such a Council might prevent future Occasions of War, from commercial Quarrells. The present vague State of the marine Law of Nations, Seems to be Such, as creates a necessity of Such a measure. At present, all Principle, Rule, and Law, Seem to be as much lost as { 220 } if the nations were fallen back to the old State of Piracy under their old Barbarism. Europe cannot, even in War, go on under the present Abrogation of all Treaties, and all the Laws of Nations.
The Cardinal Points which will come under Deliberation, will be 1. how far, in Right and Policy, it may be best for all to establish the Mare liberum. And how far each nation, providing for the Property and Dominion, which they hold in Bays and Harbours, may accede to this Establishment, as a Law of Nations. 2. How far the universal Jus navigandi, may be established. 3. This will lead to Deliberation on the Libertas universalis Commerciorum; free Ports; and free Marketts. It will be best by degrees to abolish all Port Duties, and raise their Revenues by Excise, Tailles &c. and other internal Sources of Finance, immediately laid on the Consumer. This Measure would make that Country which adopted it a free Port, a Circumstance very desirable to every well wisher to his Country.
Voila tout ce qu'on peut, raisonablement, exiger. Il n'est au Pouvoir de l'humanité, que de preparer, et agir. Le Succés est l'ouvrage d'un main plus puissantt. Sully Liv. 30.
Finis5
MS (Adams Papers); notation by Edmund Jenings on final page: “The Manuscript must be preserved about 54 pages”; filmed at [5 Sept. 1780], Adams Papers, Microfilms, Reel No. 352. The text presented here represents the editors' attempt to present the Translation as it appeared when JA sent it off to Edmund Jenings, and thus it does not contain editorial changes made by either Jenings or his printer, John Stockdale. Substantive changes made by JA as he prepared the manuscript are indicated in the text or notes, but annotation has been limited to matters unique to this document. For JA 's preparation of the manuscript, its dispatch to Jenings, and its editorial treatment, see the Editorial Note (above). For the issues raised in the manuscript, see the notes to JA 's letter of 19 April to the president of Congress (No. I, above).
1. These dates are derived from JA 's letters to Edmund Jenings of 8 July (Adams Papers), with which were enclosed the first four sections of the manuscript, and of 14 July (below), with which the final section was sent; but see also Jenings' replies of 15 and 21 July (both below). The division of the manuscript into five sections, each with its own title, may indicate that JA expected his Translation to be published in the form of newspaper essays, rather than combined in a pamphlet.
2. “Pownall” appears throughout the published Translation as “P——l.” In Pensées, however, “Pownall” is retained throughout and at this point is followed by a passage identifying him as the former lieutenant governor of New Jersey and governor of Massachusetts.
3. Here JA canceled “North America,” replaced it with “The United States of North America,” and then decided to begin the sentence with “The Congress of.” The changes focused the reader's attention on the new nation, but they also substantively changed the meaning. This is particularly so of the second with its implication that United States sovereignty resided in Congress rather than in the states, probably the prevailing view in 1780.
4. Compare this paragraph with that in the letter to the president of Congress (at note 50, No. I, above).
5. The text ends in the middle of the third { 221 } page of the fifth section, but is followed by a canceled sentence that reads in part, “Dont you think the Translation has a [ . . . ] of [ . . . ].”