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ESSAYS AND LETTERS
COMMERCIAL AND POLITICAL SUBJECTS.
OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING THE INCREASE OK MANKIND, PEOPLING OF COUNTRIES, &c.
Written in Pennsylvania, 1751.
1. Tables of the proportion of marriages to births, of deaths to births, of marriages to the number of inhabitants, &c. formed on observations made upon the bills of mortality, christenings, &c. of populous cities, will not suit countries ; nor will tables, formed on observations made on full settled old countries, as Europe, suit new countries, as America. 2. For people increase in proportion to the number of marriages, and that is greater, in proportion to the ease and convenience of supporting a family. When families can be easily supported, more persons marry, and earlier in life.
3. In cities, where all trades, occupations, and offices are full, many delay marrying till they can see how to bear the charges of a family; which charges are greater in cities, as luxury is more common: many live single during life, and continue servants to families, journeymen to trades, &c. Hence cities do not, by natural generation, supply themselves with inhabitants; the deaths are more than the births.
4. In countries full settled, the case must be nearly the same, all lands being occupied and improved to the height; those who cannot get land, must labour for others that have it; when labourers are plenty, their wages will be low; by low wages a family is supported with difficulty; this difficulty deters many from marriage, who therefore long continue servants and single. Only, as the cities take supplies of people from the country, and thereby make a little more room in the country, marriage is a little more encouraged there, and the births exceed the deaths.
5. Great part of Europe is fully settled with husbandmen, manufacturers, &c. and therefore cannot now much increase in people. America is chiefly occupied by Indians, who subsist mostly by hunting. But as the hunter, of all men, requires the greatest quantity of land from whence to draw his subsistence, (the husbandman subsisting on much less, the gardener on still less, and the manufacturer requiring least of all) the Europeans found America as fully settled as it well could be by hunters; yet these, having large tracts, were easily prevailed on to part with portions of territory to the newcomers, who did not much interfere with the natives in hunting, and furnished them with many things they wanted.
6. Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap, as that a labouring man that understands husbandry, can, in a short time, save money enough to purchase a piece of new land, sufficient for a plantation, whereon he may subsist a family; such are not afraid to marry; for if they even look far enough forward to consider how their children, when grown up, are to be provided for, they see that more land is to be had at rates equally easy, all circumstances considered.
7. Hence marriages in America are more general, and more generally early, than in Europe. And if it is reckoned there, that there is but one marriage per annum among one hundred persons, perhaps we may here reckon two; and if in Europe they have but four births to a marriage, (many of their marriages being late), we may here reckon eight, of which, if one half grow up, (and our marriages are made, reckoning one with another, at twenty years of age) our people must at least be doubled every twenty years. ..
8. But notwithstanding this increase, so vast is the territory of North America, that it will require many ages to settle it fully; and till it is fully settled labour will never be cheap here, where no man continues long a labourer for others, but gets a plantation of his own; no man continues long a journeyman to a trade, but goes among those new settlers, and sets up for himself, &c. Hence labour is no cheaper now in Pennsylvania, than it was thirtyyears ago, though so many thousand labouring people have been imported from Germany and Ireland.
9. The danger therefore of these colonies interfering with their mother country, in trades that depend on labour, manufactures, &c. is too remote to require the attention of Great Britain.
10. But, in proportion to the increase of the colonies, a vast demand is growing for British manufactures; a glorious market, wholly in the power of Britain, in which foreigners cannot interfere, which will increase, in a short time, even beyond her power of supplying, though her whole trade should be to her colonies. * * * • •' •
12. It is an ill-grounded opinion, that, by the labour of slaves, America may possibly vie in cheapness of manufactures with Britain. The labour of slaves can never be so cheap here as the labour of working men is in Britain. Any one may compute it. Interest of money is in the colonies from six to ten per cent. Slaves, one with another, cost 30/. sterling per head. Reckon then the interest of the first purchase of a slave, the insurance or risk on his life, his clothing and diet, expenses in his sickness, and loss of time, loss by his neglect of business, (neglect is natural to the man who is not to be benefited by his own care or diligence) expense of a driver to keep him at work, and his pilfering from time to time, (almost every slave being, from the nature of slavery, a thief,) and compare the whole amount with the wages of a manufacturer of iron or wool in England, you will see that labour is much cheaper there than it ever can be by negroes here. Why then will Americans purchase slaves? Becanse slaves may be kept as long as a man pleases, or has occasion for their labour, while hired men are continually leaving their master (often in the midst of his business) and setting up for themselves.
13. As the increase of people depends on the encouragement of marriages, the following things must diminish a nation; viz. 1. The being conquered; for the conquerors will engross as many offices, and exact as much tribute or profit on the