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THE INCREASE OF MANKIND AND THE PEOPLING OF COUNTRIES.
WRITTEN IN PENNSYLVANIA, 1751.
In the year 1755 a political tract was published in Boston, entitled "Observations on the Late and Present Conduct of the French;" which was written by William Clarke, and dedicated to Governor Shirley. To this pamphlet the following paper was appended. Mr. Clarke says in his preface; " The Observations concerning the Increase of Mankind were written some years ago; but the ingenious author would never suffer them to be made public till now, when he has been prevailed upon to consent to it by some of his friends, who thought the publication of them would be of general benefit and advantage." In 1760 appeared Franklin's pamphlet, entitled "The Interest of Great Britain considered, with Regard to her Colonies," published in London, to which this paper was appended, with the following preliminary notice. "In confirmation of the writer's opinion concerning population, manufactures, &c, he has thought it not amiss to add an extract from a piece written some years since in America, where the facts must be well known, on which the reasonings are founded." This "extract" is all that has usually been included in the various collections of the author's writings. The whole piece is printed below, as originally contained in Mr. Clarke's pamphlet. — Editor.
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 labor for others that have it; when laborers 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. Europe is generally full 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 new comers, who did not much interfere with the natives in hunting, and furnished them with many things they wanted.
* Nor will tables, which are accurately calculated at one period, necessarily continue to be correct in the same country at another period. The chances of life have been ascertained to be greater in Europe during the last half century, than they were formerly.—W. Phillips.
6. Land being thus plenty in America, and so cheap as that a laboring 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 settied, labor will never be cheap here, where no man continues long a laborer 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
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Hence labor is no cheaper now in Pennsylvania, than it was thirty years ago, though so many thousand laboring people have been imported.
9. The danger therefore of these colonies interfering with their mother country in trades that depend on labor, 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; therefore Britain should not too much restrain manufactures in her colonies. A wise and good mother will not do it . To distress is to weaken, and weakening the children weakens the whole family.
11. Besides, if the manufactures of Britain (by reason of the American demands) should rise too high in price, foreigners who can sell cheaper will drive her merchants out of foreign markets; foreign manufactures will thereby be encouraged and increased, and consequently foreign nations, perhaps her rivals in power, grow more populous and more powerful; while her own colonies, kept too low, are unable to assist her, or add to her strength.
12. It is an ill-grounded opinion that, by the labor of slaves, America may possibly vie in cheapness of manufactures with Britain. The labor of slaves can never be so cheap here as the labor of workingmen 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 thirty pounds 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 by nature a thief, and compare the whole amount with the wages of a manufacturer of iron or wool in England, you will see that labor is much cheaper there than it ever can be by negroes here. Why then will Americans purchase slaves? Because slaves may be kept as long as a man pleases, or has occasion for their labor; while hired men are continually leaving their masters (often in the midst of his business) and setting up for themselves.—Sec. 8.
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 labor of the conquered, as will maintain them in their new establishment; and this, diminishing the subsistence of the natives, discourages their marriages, and so gradually diminishes them, while the foreigners increase. 2. Loss of territory. Thus, the Britons being driven into Wales, and crowded together in a barren country insufficient to support such great numbers, diminished till the people bore a proportion to the produce, while the Saxons increased on their abandoned lands, till the island became full of English. And, were the English now driven into Wales by some foreign nation, there would in a few years, be no more Englishmen in Britain, than there are now people in Wales. 3. Loss of trade. Manufactures exported draw subsistence from foreign countries for numbers; who are thereby enabled to marry and raise families. If the nation be deprived of