Richard Uniacke, British North American Colonies [Memorandum to Windham] (1806)
By: Richard Uniacke
Citation: Richard Uniacke Memorandum to Windham (1806).
BRITISH NORTH AMERICAN COLONIES
Memoir presented by Mr. Uniacke to Mr. Windham 10 Feby. 1806, respecting—the Commerce of the U. States with the West Indies—the State of the United States–the products of British America– the establishment of Free ports–and proposing various new regulations in the Government, and Trade of the British Colonies in America.
18 Feby. 1806
In reporting to you, that I had received permission from the Governor of Nova Scotia in November last to come to England on six months leave of absence, avail myself of the opportunity to submit to your consideration the following observations.
The objects of vast importance which so long have claimed the constant attention of His Majesty’s Councils, have compelled matters of less consideration to pass without notice; But it would be unpardonable in those, who have leisure to attend to subjects of public interest, to withhold from His Majesty’s confidential servants any information they may possess, having a tendency to promote the public good. Motives of this nature have induced me to commit to paper the following observations which I have made after a residence of upwards of thirty one yearn in America during which time I have visited the colonies in the West Indies, as well as most of those in North America; during 25 years I have had the honor to serve His Majesty in different high situations in the Colonial Governments; having been appointed in 1781, Solicitor Genl of the Province of Nova Scotia, in 1784 King’s Advocate, and in 1797 Attorney General; I have also been elected Speaker of the House of Assembly 3 different times and have filled that situation nearly 20 years. I should therefore deem myself guilty of neglect of duty were I to fail in submitting to the consideration of His Majesty’s Ministers, opinions deliberately formed on a subject which I consider highly interesting to His Majesty’s Government.
The consequences which already have attended the separation of the British Colonies from the parent state appear to be but ill understood and as little attended to. The transatlantic Republic has already increased in wealth and strength, so as to become an object of considerable importance in European politicks, and it requires much attention to form a just opinion of the consequences which its construction has already produced, and may still produce; it will also require much consideration to form correct ideas of the steps necessary to be taken by the parent state, to preserve to herself as far as possible, the advantage which neutral connection enables her to derive from those new States; and also to avoid those injuries which so important a change unless carefully guarded against may produce. British capital and talents are every day transferred to the pestilential & factious cities of America to which they are tempted by the advantages which the deranged state of European commerce has afforded. This circumstance is still more to be lamented when we consider that in America capital is every hour in danger of being swallowed up in the general confusion, which in the end must inevitably await a country, to which we can trace the evil principles which overturned the legitimate government of France, and opened a way to all the misfortunes which have since occurred. Those evils are now recoiling with double force on America. There all the seeds of the luxuries & vices of the old world have no sooner been sown than the crop has been fit to gather. There faction and intrigue flourish in every part with impunity, meeting with nothing to oppose them, but a weak & feeble government, agitated and divided by the ambition and self interest, which must attend a Government formed on democratic principles, where Power is solicited and sought for from the hands of a people whose principles are kept constantly agitated & fluctuating by the misrepresentations & intrigues of factious & designing men. The capital which British talents & industry have introduced into America is constantly employed in encroaching on the British fisheries and the trade of North America; in undermining our carrying trade in the West Indies; in stripping the mother country of her monopoly of the rich productions of the such islands; in wresting from England the valuable commerce of the East, and in giving unbounded protection and facility to the trade of our enemies; this System is proceeding with a rapidity which we must be blind not to perceive. The french agents in America uniformly unite with the Democrats, and now claim an ascendancy over the government of a country where their intrigues have enabled the democratic faction to wrest the power from the hands of the federalists. This influence enables France to pursue without interruption the great object which originally induced her to interfere in the controversy between Britain and America, and she is now more indefatigable than ever, in her exertions to ruin the commerce of England with America, & to raise her own. For this purpose two descriptions of agents have been chosen by the french government, with the greatest care & stationed in all parts of America; one set has been diligently employed to ascertain with precision, the cause why the Commerce of Great Britain flourishes in America to the exclusion of almost all other competitors; and the [other] set to gain an ascendancy over the American Government, in which it is to be lamented that they have succeeded to the extent of their most sanguine expectations. The french government finding that the people in America are accustomed to give a preference to all sorts of British Manufactures, from which, those of France are easily distinguished caused their agents to diligently select samples of every species of British Manufacture in use throughout America; those samples have been distributed among all the manufacturers of France and its Government has spared neither pains nor expense to have them so exactly imitated that few consumers can now discover the difference between those manufactured in France & in England; and to bring their manufactures into general use great encouragement has been given to French merchants to induce them to settle throughout America, who enjoy peculiar advantages in respect to the import & export duties of France, while they ship to that country in french shipping neutralized in America, the products of the States and of the french, Spanish & Dutch Colonies receiving in return the manufactures of france to be distributed for the consumption of America & the french colonies, as well as those of her allies. In addition to which, France through the medium of those agents, has shackled the freedom of American commerce and made it greatly subservient to her views, by subjecting all persons in America trading
to France or her colonies or those of her allies, to the immediate controul of her commercial agents; as all goods now imported into France Spain and Holland or their Colonies from America or any other country are made liable to confiscation, together with the ship, unless the goods so imported, are identified by the certificates of those agents. Thus the productions of French and also the Spanish & Dutch Colonies on their importation into America must be duly entered with the Agent, who grants a certificate of their identity without which no person in the American States would purchase them for exportation to Europe. This certificate must uniformly accompany the goods and by it, their admission together with the duties on importation into the french dominions are regulated; the duty on the productions of the french colonies being one third less than those imposed on the Colonial productions of her allies; so upon the export of the productions of france a duty is imposed, a certain part of which duty is returned upon the commercial agent in America certifying that such goods have been transshipped to the french Colonies and a drawback is likewise allowed on certain goods if transshipped to the spanish Colonies; by an artful policy of this sort, the ports of france are glutted with the productions of her own colonies and those of her allies, so much so that Colonial produce is now exported from France; her Colonies supplied almost without risk, & at the same time the neutral character is rendered almost exclusively subservient to the interests of France.
The extent of British capital which has gradually removed to America, for the purpose of India trade is perhaps little known or even suspected; yet this trade has been pushed to such a length, that all America, much of the West indies, and a considerable part of Europe both North and South, receive thro’ America their supplies of India productions; indeed the Dutch East India company for some years and at the present moment owe their existence to this trade as they are supplied through America with the teas and all other articles which enable them to continue their annual sales for the supply of Europe. This supply is effected by regular contracts which the Dutch company enter into, with merchants in America.
A mistaken policy on the part of Great Britain has led to the transfer of a vast British Capital to America. British subjects and seamen in numbers truly alarming daily follow it to seek in America the encouragement which their own country denies them; Even the carrying trade between the Continent of America & the West India Islands which gave annual employment to 5 or 000 sail at least of British Shipping is now exclusively in the hands of the Americans. The Ship masters & mariners who formerly navigated those vessels, have from necessity been obliged to become American Citizens and are totally lost to their country. Most of the owners of ships in this trade who, while it was confined to British bottoms, were compelled to reside in the British territory, have also been obliged to remove with their capitals to America & are also lost to their Country.
Thus from sources which we have laid open has America got such a hold of England, that she can almost regulate the pulse of the nation by her movements and Britain when she takes leisure to examine her affairs, will find to her astonishment that very much of her wealth & strength has been transferred to the United States; and placed under the controul of a Government which is influenced by factions and guided by the superior artifice of French intrigue. Those obvious and unexaggerated consequences should call the attention of government to our colonies; the situation & natural advantages of which if investigated & properly disposed of would find ample employment for all superfluous British capital as well as for that which has already been transferred to America. Those British subjects who have removed to that country for commercial advantages would soon be induced to remove to the British Colonies if pains were taken to make those colonies the seat of American commerce & to give to their governments a degree of permanent stability & security; By such a system the Colonies in North America would offer to capitalists the same if not superior advantages to those which at present are objects of such temptation in the United States; and would in a short time become to Great Britain an addition of wealth and strength. Whereas in their present state they form a point at which the British Nation is most exposed & liable to receive the most serious injury.
The present moment perhaps is more favorable than almost any other, to recall British Capital and British subjects from the States of America. The speculative theories on which the Government of that country was formed, have now had sufficient time for experience to make a just estimation of its system it has received a trial which fully proves that it is unequal to contend with faction and intrigue. The most sanguine speculators in governmental systems are obliged to acknowledge that the fine spun theories on which the government of the American States were formed, afford in practice neither stability nor security. It has become a country so distracted with faction that every man of property views the uncertainty of his situation with fear and apprehension. He dreads the fraternal hug of liberty & equality. And all those who are friends to good government and seek for the repose and security which it is the object of every well formed system to provide, are well convinced that the government of the States is not the one under which those essential requisites to civil society can be enjoyed. The British subjects who emigrated to the States find that the evils which they wished to avoid in the old Country, are multiplied in the new, accompanied by a pestilential climate. The policy of the British government should be exerted, to regain all this description of people. I am confident that it would be effected by affording to them within the Colonies of North America a safe asylum under a firm & well established government, accompanied by the same advantages in trade, which can be gained by a residence in the American States; by a measure of this kind executed with judgement & discretion, Great Britain would enjoy every advantage which the commerce of America now affords without losing her native subjects, or deeply involving her capital in a country which has become foreign to her.
In accomplishing the regulations necessary to effect this object, Great Britain should reserve to its parliament the power of imposing in the colonies such duties on the export and import of goods as should be necessary, either for raising a revenue to defray the charges of supporting the colonial Government, or to regulate the trade of the Country from suffering by the commercial pursuits of the Colonies; under such regulations the North American Colonies should be suffered to trade in British Shipping to all parts of the world with the same freedom that the merchants in the American States now enjoy. Under such a general indulgence the mother country would run no risk, as the parliament by imposing certain duties on foreign productions, may secure at all times, a preference in the Colonies to such articles of British Manufacture as the interests of the mother country may require. And by reserving a right to the monopoly of all articles, the production of the Colonies in North America which may from time to time be considered as beneficial to the interests of Great Britain, she would enjoy as at present, the exclusive use of all the Colonial productions necessary for her consumption.
One port should be opened in Canada, two in Nova Scotia, and one in New Brunswick, into which foreigners in foreign vessels may be permitted to import all the natural productions of the American States, of the West Indies and of South America, subject to such exceptions, as the interests of the mother country may from time to time require; reserving the re-exportation of such commodities exclusively to British subjects & Ships; Foreigners so importing their productions, should be allowed to receive in exchange, any colonial productions not monopolized by the mother Country; or any articles imported into the Colonies in British shipping from any other Country, subject to a drawback of such duties so as to encourage the exchange. A commercial regulation of this sort would give to Great Britain within her own dominions, the command of all the productions of the States, of every other part of America & the West Indies, upon as good if not better terms than the same materials are now collected for exportation at any of the large towns in America, say Boston, Ne• York or Philadelphia, to which cities the productions of the 13 States as well as of all other Countries in America, are previously imported and there purchased for exportation, by the resident merchant or transient speculators.
I shall not dread contradiction when I say that some of the Ports in the British Colonies which I mention, are as convenient for importation in coasting vessels, the productions of the States, as either the ports of Boston, New York or Philadelphia; it would soon be found that the articles now exported from any of the large cities in the States would be collected for exportation in British Shipping, in the British Colonies in North America, with as much facility, in as great abundance and with as little expense, as they are now collected at the principal places from whence they are exported.
There is no obstacle from natural situation & the measure would be effected from the moment that merchants with sufficient capital & abilities were once drawn to the Colonies.
I do not hesitate to assert, without enumerating other advantages, that the supply of the B W Indies with the products of North America, by British Shipping would give to the ports established in the Colonies of North America, such a decided superiority over the commercial cities of the A: States, that it would be the interest of merchants to remove with their capitals, under the British government; where they would be enabled to afford a supply to the West Indies upon as good terms as the islands are now supplied by foreigners in foreign ships. If this object, alone, should be effected by the measure which I propose there can be little doubt. of its vast advantage to the British Empire. But we should soon see in addition, that the mercantile capital & abilities, which at present support the trade of those unhealthy cities, would seek that security in the climate & government of the British Colonies which the States do not afford.
The policy of the American States would thus be effectually counteracted; and the heavy tonnage duty as well as other exorbitant Port charges which that government imposes on British Shipping would be evaded. America would see without the possibility of a remedy that the productions which now supply the export trade of her overgrown commercial cities would be diverted into another channel; and Great Britain would deprive her of the revenue which she now enjoys; and
which arises from a trade, created & supported by British capital.
British Merchants, by this means would have an opportunity of exchanging within the British Dominions the products of Great Britain & her W. I. Islands for those of America. The profits of which, together with the revenue, would center in Great Britain; whereas the whole are at present enjoyed by a foreign nation.
The trade & navigation of the States would soon settle to their natural level; and British seamen instead of seeking employment in a course of trade to which the States have no pretensions, would be under the Necessity of returning to the service of their country; the fisheries of the Colonies would flourish the moment that the West India market was secured to British subjects: The fish caught by the fisheries of the A: States, if it were found necessary, would be exported in British Ships. British fishermen wd. soon be obliged to return & bring with them many of the American fishermen, who would be glad to engage in the British fisheries, which alone would obtain support. Great Britain would see the decline of the American Cities, and the rapid increase of those in her own colonies. To enumerate all the advantages which would result from drawing so large a share of American commerce to the British Colonies, requires little argument to prove the necessity of opening commercial resources for British trade in the American Colonies; a measure which offers the only means of preventing a foreign country from enjoying as it does at present, the whole of this extensive trade. While Great Britain possesses a country in all respects more conveniently situated for commanding the trade of America than any port of the American States.
The situation of the two Canadas, New Brunswick Nova Scotia & their dependencies are such, that [it] is impossible under the present system to preserve them as Colonies of Great Britain. They are joined to the A: States & the people of that Country have a right to navigate upon the great lakes, the River St. Lawrence and all the harbours & Bays of Nova Scotia, N: Brunswick and the gulph St. Lawrence. It requires little reasoning to shew that it is impossible to execute the ancient commercial system in Colonies which are so situated. The fur trade which is the most valuable part of the Canadian Commerce has already begun to find its way, to the A: States, and returns for the same in East India productions and those of other countries are easily made by the Lakes & River St. Lawrence: The A: States may be said to possess almost a monopoly of the natural productions of the provinces of N. Brunswick, N. Scotia and their dependencies and to supply in return a very large share of the articles, which are necessary for the consumption of the inhabitants of those Countries ;–the most vigilant officers could not put a stop to the trade.
There is but one choice left to Great Britain; either to make her Colonies the successful rivals of the A. States or to be as she is at present, at the whole expense of supporting them for the profit & advantage of a foreign country. By the one mode G.B. will draw to her dominions, a large share of the Commerce & revenue of the A. States; By the other she leaves the whole commerce & revenue of a very valuable part of her territories at the disposal of America. If those possessions were at a distance from the A. States, the measure which I now propose would be a subject of prudential consideration but, in the present situation of Colonial affairs it appears to me a measure of absolute necessity.
The Province of New Brunswick, the islands of Prince Edward, Cape Breton, together with the province of N. Scotia, the whole of which territory was formerly comprehended & governed under the name of Nova Scotia, are Countries but little known, but at the same time are of more importance to the interests of Great Britain, than any other foreign possession belonging to the crown. The vast extent of the Sea coast, the innumerable Bays harbors & rivers, give to it advantages for Navigation & fishery, which are unequalled. The facility of its defence from its almost insular situation, the healthiness of its climate & fertility of the soil; the commanding position in which it stands, as it respects the coast of the A. States, the gulf of St. Lawrence, the fisheries of Newfoundland & the islands in the West Indies, point out this country as of the first importance to G Britain, either as a military or commercial station. Independent of its other mines, it exclusively possesses coals & Gypsum which are articles in the greatest demand throughout America, and if properly supplied would give employment to British Shipping to a great extent.
A military force stationed in Nova Scotia would protect the whole of the British possessions North America & the West Indies. If it became necessary G Britain from this position could menace the whole coast of America & the West Indies either to Windward or Leward. The assemblage of a military force in a healthy climate & commanding station like the province of Nova Scotia, would distract the attention of an Enemy either in the W. Indies or any part of America.
He would find himself under the necessity of providing for the defence of every spot subject to all the ruinous consequences of an unhealthy climate, while the British force would enjoy the advantage of as healthy a climate as any in the world, and could strike a sudden blow against any part of the West Indies or America before the enemy could possibly collect his force or form the least previous conjecture as to the place which is intended to be attacked. Without pretending to any knowledge of military matters, but knowing the expedition with which a passage can be made at all seasons of the year from the province of Nova Scotia to any part of the West Indies or South America, I am convinced that 100 soldiers placed in Nova Scotia, would oblige the Enemy to distribute 1000 for the security & defence of those Countries. Even with that vast disproportion of force he must remain in a state of perpetual alarm while our soldiers would rest, improving in discipline until the pestilential climate of those Southern Countries had reduced the enemy to an equality. I do not exaggerate when I say that in six months actual service in the West Indies, 90 out of every 100 men would be expended, while during the same time in Nova Scotia, the loss would not amount to one man out of 100. It is evident that a vast advantage would result to G. Britain, by having the standing Garrisons of the West Indies composed of black soldiers which joined to the militia of the Country would be sufficient for the temporary security of the Islands, while a body of British soldiers kept in Nova Scotia would always be
ready for immediate service, could be transferred to any given spot in the W Indies, in a passage of a few days, and after they had performed the destined service could return to N Scotia before their health had been injured by the Southern Climate.
This country while in the possession of G Britain is to the A. States, an object of the greatest jealousy; they dread the day when the English Government shall turn its thoughts to N Scotia, well knowing that if the same commercial liberties which are enjoyed by the United States, were extended to the Provinces of Canada & Nova Scotia; they would soon command a large share of the coasting trade of America, which would be followed by commercial capital; and they are sensible that merchants would be glad to remove from their pestilential cities to the healthy & plentiful province of N. Scotia. G Britain would soon command in her own territory one of the greatest markets in America, in which the productions of the A States would be exchanged for the productions & manufactures of Great Britain, the East & West Indies, with as much facility & upon as good terms as it is effected at present in any of the great commercial cities of the A. States & with the advantage of a large revenue and without the least danger of G Britain being rivalled by foreigners in the trade of a market which would be under the controul of her Parliament.
The Newfoundland fishery is an object of great national importance; it is thought to be one of the first to a maritime country like G Britain, & can only be managed by a system of Laws peculiar to its situation. The rules & regulations for the government of those employed in the fishery should be as concise & clear as possible and should be executed by a mode both simple & expeditious. Such a system is absolutely necessary to a country situated like Newfoundland; which very properly is exclusively reserved for the fishery and which contributes to the maritime strength of G Britain.
It is fortunate for the Mother Country that Newfoundland is placed at some distance from the A States and may be easily preserved from any intercourse with that country; which if it were allowed would be ruinous to the great object of its establishment as a nursery for seamen. On this account the connection between the Mother Country & Newfoundland should be kept as close as possible and the whole fishery Comprehended within the same jurisdiction. The coast of Labradore together with the shores of N. Britain & Davis’ Streights, should be placed under the jurisdiction of the Governor of Newfoundland.
G Britain while she is busied as she now is in an arduous contest will find that great advantages are taken of her want of attention to lesser objects. The injury which the fishery has suffered from the war has
caused vast numbers of the fishermen to emigrate to America where they make an increase of strength to a foreign nation already too successful as rivals in our fishery. No establishments should be made on the soil of this country more permanent than are necessary for the fishery. At present the fishing stations & those for carrying on the fur trade upon the Labrador coast, are leased by the government of Lower Canada & have been so managed by the lessors, that they are now almost exclusively become subservient to the interests of the Americans, who have nearly excluded British subjects from any participation in this most valuable trade. Traders from America resort every summer in great numbers to the Labrador Shore & have already found a way to penetrate into the Country; numerous tribes of Indians, described as the Mountain tribes who formerly resorted to Hudson’s Bay, are now drawn to the coast to trade with the Americans; who carry away every year from that shore, vast quantities of furs, Skins, feathers, salmon, codfish & oil; I can safely assert that during the last summer there were not less than 900 sail of American vessels engaged in trading & fishing upon our shores from Davis’ Streights thro’ the streights of Belleisle and up as far as the isle of Anticosti; and if they are suffered to pursue the present system much longer, it is most probable that Newfoundland & Hudson’s bay will soon be in the same state. If Government should think proper to open markets in the Colonies of Canada & Nova Scotia for the exchange of the productions of America; any of those articles necessary for the fishery may be obtained in British Shipping from those places as cheap as from the A States which would preserve the fishery from any direct intercourse with the Americans, and keep all those concerned in it under the immediate jurisdiction of British Government.
The System of colonial government of N. Scotia was formed too much upon the plan of N. England and I believe experience has proved that, the constitution formed for Lower Canada has not attained the end proposed. To make an efficient government in Canada: Upper Canada should be incorporated with the Lower Canada, by which means English interest and influence would soon preponderate over the French and one general system prevailed [sic] through the whole; in like manner N. Brunswick, Prince Edward’s island & Cape Breton should be reunited to N Scotia and the whole placed under one government & one Legislature. There should be a Governor & a Lieut. Gov: in Canada & the same in N Scotia. The Lieut. Gov. of Canada should reside in the district of Upper Canada, to assist the chief governor. The Lieut. Gov: of N Scotia should reside in the district of N Brunswick for the same purpose. One of His Majesty’s Provincial Council should reside in P. Edward’s Island & Cape Breton to perform the same services in those
districts. So many petty states as now exist in the Colonies, having the power of legislation ill defined & as badly executed, govern’d by persons whose small salaries and emoluments are inadequate to support the dignity of the Kings representatives or to uphold the authority of the Mother country, together with the dependence of most of the Officers of Government on the Colonial assemblies for their salaries, diminishes [sic] the authority of the British Government & place those who should support it in a state of dependence. The officers of the crown should be independent of all authority save that of the King, at whose will they should hold their situation and from whom they should all receive their salaries, being held responsible to him alone for their conduct, and amenable to such judicial tribunals as are competent to take cognizance of their misconduct. Nothing had a greater effect in producing the Revolution in America, than the dependent state, in which the Officers of the crown were held by the colonial assemblies; it was in vain for Great Britain to expect the execution of Laws that were resisted by factious assemblies which held those officers in a state of dependence whose duty it was to give effect to the Laws. The mode in which the legislative Council has heretofore been constituted in the Colonies has very much weakened the hand of Government. His Majesty’s Council has hitherto composed one branch of the Legislature, which has confined its influence merely to certain Officers of Government & other principal persons resident near the seat of Government. This has prevented the Governor having in his Privy Council some of the ablest men in the province, who were members of the House of Assembly, & likewise deprived Government of the support which it would have received in the Legislative Council from the influence of some of the first people in the Country, whose distant residence prevented them having a seat in His Majesty’s Council. This system should be changed and at every new election of the House of Assembly, a number of persons of the first fortune, influence & abilities equal to one half the number of the Lower House, should be summoned by the King’s writ to serve as a Legislative Council. This branch of the Legislature so constituted at the will of the crown would bring to its support all the property & influence of the country; the weight & power of which would always be sufficient to
controul any factious disposition which may appear in the Lower House & would keep the Government from being involved in personal controversy with the H of Assembly which at present is an event that too often happens. The administration of justice which has the most powerful effect in forming the habits & manners of a people should in all the Colonies be as near as possible to the practice of the Mother Country. The Governor should exercise no judicial power but the office of Chancellor should be discharged by the Sec: of the Province who should be a person regularly bred to the law. The incorporating all the small Governments into two large ones would require such an alteration in the supreme court, as would make the administration of justice uniform thro’ut the whole & yet would not require so many judges as at present. The powers of Colonial legislation should be so exactly defined that the difficulties which so frequently occur might be removed and His Majesty’s instructions to the Governors should be revised and made conformable to the alterations proposed.
Thus forming in North America, two powerful Governments enjoying commercial advantages superior to those which merchants now seek for in the A. States; we should soon find a people under the dominion of G Britain who would rival the Americans and secure to England all the advantages resulting from their trade without the danger of having it deranged when either the interests or the hostility of the American Government may dispose it to change or impede the freedom of intercourse by B. Subjects in B. Ships. A trade thus established by the authority of Parliament & subject to its controul would open new sources of commerce & revenue from countries which at present are productive of little solid advantage to the North.
The opening of free ports in the West India Islands, if persisted in , will before long produce very serious consequences; it introduces into the Islands a species of lawless & unprincipled men, who may be said to yield allegiance to no Government, and who are ready to engage in any act that promises immediate profits; the West India Islands are places which afford strong temptations to intriguing & enterprising men. In those Countries it is easy for people of this description to find materials to act upon and with the Spoils which insurrection would afford are Baits too alluring for them to resist. It is no difficult matter to foresee that if the system of free ports in West Indies be continued, the interests of G.B. will receive a blow in that Country which is little expected. The intriguers in America look with great impatience to revolutionize Jamaica. Every exertion at this day is making in Hispaniola to effect that purpose; free negroes bred in America who understand the English language, of a daring spirit, have been selected & sent to Hispaniola; great pains are taken to instruct the french negroes in the English language, contracts are made with Americans who are to furnish Dessalines with 20,000 men slaves from Africa, to replace the cultivating slaves who are taken into his army; this contract is now executing & payments are made to the contractors in Coffee; independent of this supply Dessalines employs American agents who purchase slaves in Jamaica to be sent from that island under a false destination for the
Havannah but who are landed in Hispaniola; it is a fact well known that many of the most refractory & turbulent slaves in Jamaica have been purchased by Dessalines& are now employed in his army; his magazines are abundantly supplied with arms, ammunition, and all sorts of war-like stores which are furnished by the Americans who resort to that island with squadrons of armed Ships and are engaged in a petty warfare with the french who had possession of the Spanish part of the Island. This practice the American Government at the instance of the french has made some efforts to restrain but that Government is too feeble to prevent the Americans from engaging in any pursuit if it only affords the prospect of making a rapid fortune. GB has everything to fear in the West Indies from the Americans; they have already obtained such a footing in the English Islands, that an American Consul resides at Jamaica for the purpose of facilitating the intercourse between the two Countries. The same plans which are carrying on to revolutionize Jamaica & the B.W.I. are proceeding with the same activity to revolutionize both old & new Mexico. The Americans have at length got access to that Country, in which the progress of this system has become so rapid that Spain has no alternative left for the preservation of her dominions but to go to war with America. This event which would only hasten the revolution, France uses her utmost exertion to prevent, know[in]g that while she is engaged in war with GB it would be out of her power to prevent old & New Mexico being revolutionized, in which case one of her most favored projects for obtaining Colonies would be defeated, as a war between Spain and America would inevitably produce that consequence& is an event which France wishes to delay until she is at peace with this country; she will then be able & willing to lend her friendly assistance to relieve Spain from the burthen of governing the most valuable commercial territory in the World. If the two Mexicos were once revolutionized, which wd be effected in a year’s warfare between Spain & America, the powers of France united with that of Spain would never be able to bring that country under the dominion of an European Power.
During the short time that the french government was established in Louisiana, enough of their plans were disclosed to shew that their grand object was the possession of Mexico; and I am confident in the opinion from the best information to be had in America, that if France was at peace with GB., shew d. in a year be in possession of Cuba, the Floridas, & all Spanish America, at least to the isthmus of Darien. Those are the Colonies which Bounaparte wants;—commerce & Ships will soon follow–So anxious is France from the fear of losing this highly favored object by the continuance of the war, that I am convinced it is one of Bounaparte’s principal inducements to wish for a peace almost upon any terms, at least until he can establish his country in that power. In such case it is not improbable that she wd. leave the black empire to flourish in Hispaniola, as the surest means by which he could destroy the B. Possessions the W.I. and extend the effects of negro revolution to Georgia the two Carolinas, Virginia & probably to Maryland. If he should accomplish the revolution of the Southern States by a negro revolution, he would have little difficulty in regaining the Mississippi, when he would have the immediate command of the Western States thro’ which he wd unite with the french in Lower Canada. GB. Is the only obstacle that lies in his way and whether the present war is to continue till one side or the other yield it is not for me to say, but it is natural for every well wisher to his country, to contemplate the practicability of peace being effected on terms safe & honorable.
One event has happened which is favourable to GB, that is the reestablishment of an arbitrary Government in France. GB at present is the only country in Europe where commercial capital can seat itself with security. While that is the case, her trade and manufactures must flourish; But if a limited monarchy had established freedom & security for property & person in France, she would have become a dangerous rival to GB. and the loss of her commercial capital wd. soon have been regained by the transfer of part of ours. This wd have been followed by our Artists & manufacturers. But under the present Government the restoration of the commercial capital of France must be the work of ages, during which her trade must depend on the facilities of intercourse with GB., the capital of which will always be found necessary to its support. It is true that much capital during the troubles of Europe has withdrawn itself to America much of it may now be drawn to the B. Colonies and if the peace of the world was once restored a great part of what remained wd return to Europe. But I do not think that the commerce of France wd receive any great support thro that channel. It appears to me to be the interest of GB to draw the attention of France to commerce & Colonies; she wd. then become more of a dependent on England than a successful rival. The present situation of France leaves her little to negociate about so far as respects territory but very much in regard to Commerce. The permanence of any treaty to be made with France must depend more upon the establishment of a commercial intercourse between the two countries than upon the extent of territory that the one may yield to the other.
Bounaparte has openly declared Commerce to be the object of his pursuits. If GB meets him upon that ground it seems to me that the Commercial relations of the two Countries may be adjusted upon principles of mutual interest and advantage. At the same time the foreign possessions of both countries may be so arranged that there wd be no reasonable grounds to fear that the interest of the two Countries’ wd interfere. Formerly we had just cause to dread an intimate intercourse with a people professing the principles which the french did. There is not much at present to apprehend on that score. If we restore to France her East India possessions, we must expect immediate trouble to be the consequence. On the contrary France will not agree to our holding an exclusive interest in India without receiving an equivalent. This can only be had in America, there let france balance our possessions in India by an equal extent of territory. Beginning (where if left to herself she will begin without our consent) at the Isthmus of Darien comprehending the whole coast of the gulf of Florida & extending to the Northward as high on the Western coast as may be agreed on, all to the Southward of the Isthmus belonging to Spain shd. be left with her and she wd. then retain more territory than her weak Government can rule. In addition to this England must for her own interest countenance France in recovering the Dominions of Hispaniola. It is likewise of importance that North America shd. feel the necessity of a close and intimate connection with Great Britain. For this purpose France shd. be brought in contact with the Southern States which might be effected by assenting to her obtaining possession of the two Floridas, together with the Islands of Cuba. GB wd. have to restore to France, the Islands in the West Indies taken from her. By an arrangement of this sort France would have Colonies & Commerce without any danger of her Interests clashing with those of England, and if accompanied by stipulations for a mutual exchange of commodities in Europe, settled upon fair principles, such a treaty wd be the basis of a peace which wd. afford a reasonable hope
that it wd. be the interest of both Nations to maintain it. England having assented to guarantee to France such a vast extent of territory wd. have a right to expect that France wd. guarantee all her possessions in India. To make the security of them effectual, France shd. assent to England’s holding Malta & obtaining of Egypt. She shd. also give to the Dutch, the Isles of France & Bourbon, as an equivalent for the Cape of Good Hope, which shd. remain with England. As to any aggrandizement which France may wish on the side of Turkey, England may safely assent to it, for the sooner the two greatest military powers in Europe, namely, France & Russia, come in contact with each other the better. It is the interest of GB to support Persia so as to prevent the Russians approaching her possessions in the East; this wd be effectually accomplished whenever France & Russia are brought in contact with each other in the Dominions of Turkey. Should France once effect
a peace with England upon the principles which have governed former treaties, she will in a short time after, accomplish what I have here detailed without the consent of GB and without Britain receiving any equivalent unless she renews the war, which she wd. be obliged to do, with every disadvantage, the same as after the last peace.
France well knows that she cannot while at war with England, carry her views as to Commerce into effect. England shd. let her know & make her feel that she understands what those views are and that she will never consent to them without receiving such an equivalent as shall place her in a state of security both as to her territorial possessions and her commercial relations. A Peace made on any other principles wd leave GB as to expense in a perfect state of warfare.
In negociating with France able Merchants shd. be consulted as persons most competent to define the principles on which a commercial treaty could be entered into with safety. The commerce of the world is at present thrown into such a state of confusion that it would be the height of madness in GB. to give up what may be called the War commerce of the world which she now holds, without having the principles which are to regulate her commerce in Peace most clearly & explicitly defined. A commercial treaty with France existed before the Revolution and during its short continuance proved beneficial to both Countries. If France is sincere in wishing for peace and if any dependence is to be placed in the declarations of Bounaparte that the world is wide enough for both countries. If all he wants is commerce & colonies (for ships would follow the possession of the other two) I seen no difficulty in arranging territory and commerce in such a way that peace between the two countries may be permanent. The territories I point out as forming suitable Colonies for France will exhaust all the commercial spirit of that Country for ages to come; without materially interfering with British Interests. As to Commerce, France at present has none but what England permits her to enjoy. But if GB. should be forced to exert the power she possesses she may easily prevent France from carrying on the exchange which she does at present thro’ the medium of neutrals. And may without much difficulty become to France as despotic a ruler over the sea, as Bounaparte is over the Land. This is an extremity to which I shd. be sorry to see England driven; hitherto she has refrained from exerting the power she possesses to such an extent as to make every individual within the dominions of France feel it; But if driven to it, the Laws of self preservation wd. justify a measure which Bounaparte’s ideas of right & wrong, wd. not have prevented him from pursuing towards England if he had the power. I have the honor etc etc etc