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must add, that the charge of coining or making it is by no means proportionate to that of coining of metals ; nor is it subject to waste by long use, or impaired by adulteration, sweating, or filing, as coins may.
CONCERNING TRADE AND MERCHANTS.
1. WERE it possible for men, remote from each other, to know easily one another's wants and abundances, and practicable for them on all occasions conveniently to meet and make fair exchanges of their respective commodities, there would then be no use of the middle man or merchant; such a profession would not exist.
2. But, since that is not possible, were all governments to appoint a number of public officers, whose duty and business it should be to inform themselves thoroughly of those wants and abundances, and to procure, by proper management, all the exchanges that would tend to increase the general happiness, such officers, if they could well discharge their trust, would deserve honors and salaries equivalent to their industry and fidelity.
3. But, as in large communities, and for the more general occasions of mankind, such officers have never been appointed, perhaps from a conviction that it would be impracticable for such an appointment effectually to answer its purpose, it seems necessary to permit men, who for the possible profits in prospect will undertake it, to fetch and carry, at all distances, the produce of other men's industry, and thereby assist those useful exchanges.
4. As the persons primarily interested in these ex
changes cannot conveniently meet to make known their wants and abundances, and to bargain for exchanges, those who transport the goods should be interested to study the probability of these wants, and where to find the means of supplying them ; and, since there exist no salaries or public rewards for them in proportion to their skill, industry, and utility to the people in general, nor to make them any compensation for their losses arising from inexpertness or from accident, it seems reasonable that, for their encouragement to follow the business, they should be left to make such profits by it as they can, which, where it is open to all, will probably seldom be extravagant. And perhaps by this means the business will be better done for the general advantage, and those who do it more properly rewarded according to their merits, than would be the case, were special officers to be appointed for that service.
CONCERNING THE SUGAR ISLANDS.
Should it be agreed, and become a part of the law of nations, that the cultivators of the earth are not to be molested or interrupted in their peaceable and useful employment, the inhabitants of the sugar islands would come under the protection of such a regulation, which would be a great advantage to the nations who at present hold those islands; since the cost of sugar to the consumer in those nations consists, not only in the price he pays for it by the pound, but in the accumulated charge of all the taxes he pays in every war to fit out fleets and maintain troops for the defence of the islands that raise the sugar, and the ships that bring it home.
But the expense of treasure is not all. A celebrated philosophical writer remarks, that, when he considered the wars made in Africa for prisoners to raise sugar in America, the numbers slain in those wars, the numbers that, being crowded in ships, perish in the transportation, and the numbers that die under the severities of slavery, he could scarce look on a morsel of sugar without conceiving it spotted with human blood. If he had considered also the blood of one another which the white natives shed in fighting for those islands, he would have imagined his sugar not as spotted only, but as thoroughly dyed red.
On these accounts I am persuaded that the subjects of the Emperor of Germany, and the Empress of Russia, who have no sugar islands, consume sugar cheaper at Vienna and Moscow, with all the charge of transporting it, after its arrival in Europe, than the citizens of London and Paris. And I sincerely believe, that, if France and England were to decide by throwing dice, which should have the whole of their sugar islands, the loser in the throw would be the gainer. The future expense of defending them would be saved; the sugars would be bought cheaper by all Europe, if the inhabitants might make it without interruption ; and, whoever imported the sugar, the same revenue might be raised by duties at the custom-house of the nation that consumed it. And, on the whole, I conceive it would be better for the nations now possessing sugar colonies, to give up their claim to them, let them govern themselves, and put them under the protection of all the powers of Europe as neutral countries open to the commerce of all, the profit of the present monopolies being by no means equivalent to the expense of maintaining them.
OF THE PAPER MONEY
OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Much conversation having arisen lately on the subject of this money, and few persons being well acquainted with the nature of it, you may possibly oblige many of your readers by the following account of it.
When Great Britain commenced the present war upon the colonies, they had neither arms nor ammunition, nor money to purchase them or to pay soldiers. The new government had not immediately the consistence necessary for collecting heavy taxes; nor would taxes that could be raised within the year during peace, have been sufficient for a year's expense in time of war; they therefore printed a quantity of paper bills, each expressing to be of the value of a certain number of Spanish dollars, from one to thirty ; with these they paid, clothed, and fed their troops, fitted out ships, and supported the war during five years against one of the most powerful nations of Europe.
The paper thus issued, passed current in all the internal commerce of the United States at par with silver during the first year; supplying the place of the gold and silver formerly current, but which was sent out of the country to purchase arms, &c., or to defray expenses of the army in Canada; but the great number of troops necessary to be kept on foot to defend a coast of near five hundred leagues in length, from an enemy, who, being masters at sea, could land troops where they pleased, occasioned such a demand for money, and such frequent additional emissions of new bills, that the quantity became much greater than was wanted for the purposes of commerce; and, the commerce
being diminished by the war, the surplus quantity of cash was by that means also proportionally augmented.
It has been long and often observed, that when the current money of a country is augmented beyond the occasions for money, as a medium of commerce, its value as money diminishes. Its interest is reduced, and the principal sinks, if some means are not found to take off the surplus quantity. Silver may be carried out of the country that produces it, into other countries, and thereby prevent too great a fall of its value in that country. But, when by this means it grows more plentiful in all other countries, nothing prevents its sinking in value. Thus within three hundred years since the discovery of America, and the vast quantities of gold and silver imported from thence, and spread over Europe and the rest of the world, those metals have sunk in value four fifths, that is, five ounces of silver will not purchase more labor now than an ounce would have done before that discovery.
Had Spain been able to confine all that treasure within its own territories, silver would probably have been there of no more value by this time than iron or lead. The exportation has kept its value on a level with its value in other parts of the world. Paper money not being easily received out of the country that makes it, if the quantity becomes excessive, the depreciation is quicker and greater.
Thus the excessive quantities which necessity obliged the Americans to issue for continuing the war, occasioned a depreciation of value, which, commencing towards the end of 1776, has gone on augmenting, till at the beginning of the present year, fifty, sixty, and as far as seventy dollars in paper were reckoned not more than equal to one dollar in silver, and the prices of all things rose in proportion.