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PRINCIPLES OF TRADE.
Freedom and protection are its best support; industry the only means to render manufactures cheap.
Commerce is generally understood to be the basis, on which the power of this country hath been raised, and on which it must ever stand. Tous les sujets doivent leurs soins, et leurs lumières, à l'état.
THE account given of this tract by William Temple Franklin is as follows. "It was originally published in 1774, and is the joint work of George Whatley and Dr. Franklin. The original work was indeed written by the former, and communicated to the latter. The corrections and additions, which were made by Dr. Franklin, produced an amicable controversy between them, who had the best claim to call himself the author of it, which closed by a determination to publish it without any name, but under this designation, By a Well-wisher to the King and Country." The parts contributed by each might perhaps be separated by a careful inspection, but the whole tract is too valuable to be marred by such an attempt; and moreover it may be presumed, from the circumstances of the case, that all the principles contained in it were approved by Dr. Franklin. In a letter ten years afterwards to Mr. Whatley, written at Passy, he requests of him a copy of his "excellent little work, The Principles of Trade," and adds; "If your bookseller has any quantity of them left, I should be glad he would send them to America. The ideas of our people there, though rather better than those that prevail in Europe, are not so good as they should be, and that piece might be of service to them." Mr. Vaughan has brought together detached parts of this paper under the title of POLITICAL
FRAGMENTS, and it is probable that the passages selected by him are those, which were written by Franklin.
This essay abounds in sound doctrines of political economy, and is characterized throughout by originality, comprehensiveness, and justness of thinking. - EDITOR.
To all those, who have the welfare and prosperity of these kingdoms at heart, the following essay, containing, we hope, useful and incontrovertible principles on the subjects treated of, is very heartily and affectionately inscribed.
It is a vain imagination that we exist only for ourselves, or our particular country. The all-wise Creator has ordered that a mutual dependence shall run through all his works; and though our limited capacities will not admit us fully to comprehend the nature and end of this connected chain of things, yet we may, and indeed ought, to inquire into and consider every thing, which relates to our mutual dependence upon one another, and the springs and principles of our actions.
By this investigation we shall find, that our wants, whether real or ideal, our passions, and our habits, are the springs of all our actions, and indeed the movers of the general intercourse and commerce between one man and another, one country and another.
Most writers upon trade have made it their business to support and explain some particular branches of traffic, or some favorite hypothesis. We shall, in the ensuing essay, use our best endeavours to remove from the friends of trade, and mankind in general, some prevailing prejudices; and to treat, in a concise manner, upon
a few self-evident principles and general maxims; under a persuasion, that, if such maxims and principles are just, all deductions and discussions whatever may be tried by their standard.
Some very respectable friends have indulged us with their ideas and opinions. It is with the greatest pleasure we, in this second edition, most gratefully acknowledge the favor; and must add, that, should the public hold this performance in any estimation, no small share belongs to those friends.
Definition of Trade.
1. Trade, or commerce, is the intercourse, as well between nation and nation, as between one man and another; by which we acquire whatsoever may be thought, or understood to be, of use or delight, whether real or ideal.
Gain the End of Trade.
2. The spring or movement of such intercourse is, and ever must be, gain, or the hopes of gain; as neither the public, nor the individual, would intentionally pursue any unprofitable intercourse or commerce.
3. Gain being the principle of trade, the whole mystery of trade must therefore consist in prosecuting methods, whereby gain or advantage may be obtained.
In transactions of trade, it is not to be supposed, that, like gaming, what one party gains the other must lose. The gain to each may be equal. If A has more corn than he can consume, but wants cattle, and B has more cattle, but wants corn, an exchange is gain to each; hereby the common stock of comforts in life is increased.
Freedom and Protection the best Support of Trade. 4. Freedom and protection are most indisputable
principles whereon the success of trade must depend, as clearly as an open, good road tends towards a safe and speedy intercourse; nor is there a greater enemy to trade than constraint.*
5. Governments, which have adopted those plain, simple principles, have been greatly benefited.
6. Were princes, in general, to abolish all sorts of prohibitory laws, trade in general would flourish most in those countries, where the happy situation, the mildness of the climate, the activity and industry of the inhabitants, would furnish means for a speedy and useful intercourse, reciprocally to supply any real or ideal
When princes make war by prohibiting commerce, each may hurt himself as much as his enemy. Traders, who by their business are promoting the common good of mankind, as well as farmers and fishermen, who labor for the subsistence of all, should never be interrupted or molested in their business; but enjoy the protection of all in the time of war, as well as in the time of peace.
This policy those we are pleased to call barbarians have, in a great measure, adopted; for the trading subjects of any power, with whom the Emperor of Morocco may be at war, are not liable to capture, when within sight of his land, going or coming, and have otherwise free liberty to trade and reside in his dominions.
As a maritime power, we presume it is not thought
*This maxim and the following to the tenth section coincide with the doctrines of Adam Smith, promulgated the year following in the "Wealth of Nations." They are now universally received as general doctrines of political economy. It is universally admitted, at the same time, that they are subject to exceptions. The great difficulty is to determine on the principles and grounds, on which exceptions are to be made; and also to determine on what principles, in what manner, and to what extent, protection is to be extended to trade. W. PHILLIPS.
right, that Great Britain should grant such freedom, except partially; as in the case of war with France, when tobacco is allowed to be sent thither under the sanction of passports.
7. We are no more to expect this, than that the whole world should be governed by the same laws. In our opinion, however, no laws, which the art of man can devise, will or can hinder, or entirely stop the current of, a profitable trade; any more than the severest laws could prevent the satisfying of hunger, when any chance or opportunity offered to gratify it.
8. Nevertheless, so far as it is possible, according to the different modes and constitutions of each state, freedom and protection should be ever had in view by its respective government.
9. For whatever law is enacted, abridging a freedom or liberty, which the true interest of the state demands, or which does not grant protection where it may be wanted, must clearly be detrimental.
10. We are well aware, that in many cases individuals may endeavour at an intercourse or trade, whereby the public, in one particular point, may seem injured; and yet it may be out of the power of the state to hinder it, without breaking in upon the freedom of trade; so that the Dutchman, who, when Antwerp was besieged, furnished arms, ammunition, and provisions to the Spaniards, and gloried in it, though a chief magistrate of Amsterdam, was not so very wrong in his principles in general, as at first sight might appear. For this Dutchman ran the risk of losing his ammunition, &c., which, if taken, would have been indeed his loss, but a gain to the captors, his countrymen; and, if sold and delivered to the enemy, brought profit to him, and in consequence to the state of which he was a member. This man, to evince how much he held freedom in trade to be