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governors in the West Indies gave, from time to time, permission for their importation, trusting to parliament for an indemnity. A law was passed in 1806 to render this intercourse legal. This, with slight variations, was the policy pursued for many years, subject only to interruption from the occurrence of war. But by a legislative act of the 3d of March, 1815, the American states resolved no longer to permit the importation of our rum and molasses, or to furnish provisions and lumber, unless a system of unrestricted intercourse were conceded without distinction or exclusion of American vessels. · Besides this declared necessity of the provisions and lumber, it is stated that the American market offers a great and ready vent for rum, a part of the produce of the West India estates, the quantity of which cannot be reduced consistently with undiminished cultivation, and which, without this vent, is accompanied with serious loss; and it is now accumulated in this country to an enormous extent and under great depreciation. Provisions can now be obtained in considerable abundance from the countries in South America recently become independent. Lumber is also procured from Canada.
It is a question of much difficulty; and among other considerations is the loss of employment for our shipping. The supplies from the neighbouring continent would necessarily be carried on by American shipping, notwithstanding the equal admission of our vessels in the trade. At present the whole navigation between the . British North American and West India settlements is carried on by British shipping. In 1909, it was a consideration whether a limited export of sugar and coffee should be allowed, but this degree of concession would not now satisfy the American legislature; their declared aim is a free intercourse without any reserve.
The articles of lumber and provisions are component parts of the cost of sugar, and any burdensome mode of procuring them must raise the price of sugar beyond the level prevailing in those countries which have access to cheaper supplies. Holding, as we 'do, that colonies should be placed as near as possible upon a footing of free trade, and especially that whatever enters imme diately into the cost of their produce should be within their reachi on the best terms, it is on such grounds alone, that this intercourse appears to us justifiable; and under this view, it seems incumbent on the colonists to make out a real case of necessity.
The abolition of the slave-trade in our possessions places us in a condition which ought to conciliate every state professing free
dom, and be a motive to facilitate our intercourse with both the new . and the older American governments. This traffic is still pursued without restraint by the other European nations holding transat
lạntic possessions, while our colonies rest upon their existing population. Whatever opposition might once be given by the West India interest to the measure of abolition, since the legislature has adopted it, those interests have faithfully carried it into effect, and have becoine the firm allies and supporters of the abolitionists. : To repeat the sum of our argument. We cannot approve the system which imposes forced and unnatural limitations on the intercourse of colonies with the parent state; neither can we go into the opposite extreme of removing all regulations, commit ourselves to the accidents of life, or be insensibly led into the channels of production and intercourse the inost dependent and least accordant with our permanent interests. The legislator will never forget the paramount necessity of binding all parts of the empire in ties of communication and dependence, and of keeping a general view on the course of production and commerce, in order to apply a direction gentle but sufficient to turn them into the channel of this country. We have deemed it useful to draw attention to some effects of these changes, the more especially now that every session of parliament gives birth to some important regulation of foreign and domestic commerce. Alterations in our system of policy succeed each other with imperceptible rapidity; imperceptible, because though under the observation of the classes immediately interested, the public take no special cognizance of them; yet are the remotest ramifications of society affected, and extensive variations occasioned in the nature of productive industry, the distribution of the wealth of the country.
Our ancestors were imperfectly grounded in some economical principles, yet in matters of general policy they had a correct view of the objects to be attained. In the preamble of a principal act regarding the plantations, it is expressed that—they being peopled by subjects of this kingdom—the intention proposed is to maintain a greater correspondence and kindness between them, to keep them in a firmer dependence, to render them more beneficial and advantageous, to make the navigation to and from the same more safe and cheap, and, that which comprehends all the rest, ' it being the usage of other nations to keep their plantations trade to themselves,' ' to make this kingdom a staple, not only of the commodities of those plantations, but also of the commodities of other countries and places for the supplying of them.'
The colonial possessions of this country, scattered over the whole world, are not to be considered only as resources of inexhaustible wealth and power; but as affording the opportunity, and imposing the duty, of meliorating the condition of humanity. MM 4
Having Having abolished the slave-trade, and standing as yet single in the discontinuance of it; Great Britain has made regions, which heretofore served as an arena where European nations carried on their contests, the scene for the civilization of a long despised but interesting portion of mankind. It yet remains to be seen how far a steady perseverance in this system of benevolence may shame other nations into following our example; and we may be assured that the ruin, or even the decay, of our West India colonies would
in addition to the other incalculable evils which it would bring upon the mother-country) be hailed by those nations who have obstinately refused to come into the policy of the abolition, as the undoubted consequences of a rash experiment, and would be a signal and encouragement for the indefinite extension of the slave-trade.
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