« ZurückWeiter »
sylvania, for ten pounds per hundred acres, which, after twenty years, when the settlements had been extended far beyond them, sold readily, without any improvement made upon them, for three pounds per
The acre in America is the same with the English acre, or the acre of Normandy.
Those who desire to understand the state of government in America, would do well to read the constitutions of the several States, and the articles of confederation which bind the whole together for general purposes, under the direction of one Assembly, called the Congress. These constitutions have been printed, by order of Congress, in America; two editions of them have been printed in London; and a good translation of them into French, has lately been published at Paris.
Several of the princes of Europe having of late, from an opinion of advantage to arise by producing all commodities and manufactures within their own dominions, so as to diminish or render useless their importations, have endeavoured to entice workmen from other countries, by high salaries, privileges, &c. Many persons pretending to be skilled in yarious great manufactures, imagining that America must be in want of them, and that the Congress would probably be disposed to imitate the princes abovementioned, have proposed to go over on condition of having their passage paid, lands given, salaries appointed, exclu. sive privileges for terms of years, &c. Such persons, on reading the articles of confederation, will find that the Congress have no power coinmitted to them, or money put into their hands for such purposes; and that, if any such encouragement is given, it must be by the government of some separate State. This, however, has rarely been done in America; and when it has been done, it has rarely succeeded, so as to establish a manufacture, wbich the country was not yet so ripe for as to encourage private persons to set it up; labour being generally too dear. difficult to be kept together, every one desiring to be a master, and the cheapness of land inclining many to leave trades for agriculture. Some indeed have met with success,
and are carried on to advantage; but they are gene. rally such as require only a few hands, or wherein great part of the work is performed by machines. Goods that are bulky, and of so small value as not well to bear the expenses of freight, may often be made cheaper in the country than they can be imported; and the manufacture of such goods will be profitable wherever there is a sufficient demand. The farmers in America produce indeed a good deal of wool and flax, and none is exported—it is well worked up; but it is in the way of domestic manufacture, for the use of the family. The buying up, quantities of wool and fax, with the design to employ epinners, weavers, &c. and form great establishments, producing quantities of linen and woollen goods for sale, has been several times attempted in different provinces; but these projects have generally failed, goods of equal value being imported cheaper. And when the governments have been solicited to support such schemes by encouragements, in money, or by imposing duties on importation of such goods, it has been generally refused, on this principle, that if the country is ripe for the manufacture, it may be carried on by private persons to advantage; and, if not, it is folly to think of forcing nature. Great establishments of manufacture require great numbers of poor to do the work for small wages; those poor are to be found in Europe, but will not be found in America, till the lands are all taken up and cultivated, and the excess of people who cannot get land want employment. The inanufacture of silk, they say, is natural in France, as that of cloth in England, because ench country produces in plenty the first material; but if England will have a manufacture of silk as well as that of cloth, and France of cloth as well as that of silk, these unnatural operations must be supported by mutual prohibitions, or high duties on the importations of each others goods; by which means the workmen are enabled to tax the home consumer by greater prices, while the higher wages they receive makes them neither happier nor richer, since they only drink more and work less. Therefore the government in America do nothing to encourage such
projects. The people hy this means are not imposed on either by the merchant or mechanic; if the merchant demands too much profit on imported shoes, they buy of the shoemaker; and if he asks 100 high a price, they take them of the merchant: thus the two professions are checks on each other. The shoe. maker however has, on the whole, a considerable profit on bis labour in America, beyond what he had in Europe, as he can add to his price a sum nearly equal to all the expenses of freight and commission, risk or assurance, &c. necessarily charged by the merchant. And the case is the sanie with the workman in every other mechanic art. Hence it is, that the artisans generally live better and more casily in America than in Europe; and such as are good economists, make a comfortable provision for age, and for their children. Such may, therefore, move with advantage to America.
In the old long-settled countries of Europe, all arts, Trades, professions, farms, &c. are so full, that it is difficult for a poor man who has children to place them where they may gain, or learn to gain, a decent livelihood. The artisans, who fear creating future rivals in business, refuse to take apprentices, but upon conditions of money, maintenance, or the like, which the parents are unable to comply with.-Hence the youth are dragged up in ignorance of every gainful art, and obliged to become soldiers, or servants, or thieves, for a subsistence. In America the rapid increase of inhabitantstikes away that fear of rivalebip, and artisans willingly receive apprentices from the Trope of profit by their labour, during the remainder of the time stipulated, after they shall be instructed. Hence it is easy for poor families to get their children instructed; for the artisans are so desirous of apprentices, that many of them will even give money to the parents, to have boys from ten to fifteen years of age bound apprentices to them, till the age of I wenty-one; and many poor parents haye, by that ineung, on their arrival in the country, raised money enough to buy land sufficient to establish themselves, and to subsist the rest of the family by agriculture.
These contracts for apprentices are made before, a magistrate, who regulates the agreement according to reason and justice; and, having in view the formation of a future useful citizen, obliges the master 10 engage by a written inuenture, not only that, during the time of service stipulated, the apprentice shall be duly provided with meat, drink, apparel, washing and lodging, and at its expiration with a complete new suit of clothes, but also, that he shall be taught to read, write, and cast accounts; and that he shall be well'instructed in the art or profession of his master, or some other, by which he may afterwards gain a livelihood, and be able in his turn to raise a family. A copy of this indenture is given to the apprentice or his friends, and the magistrate keeps a record of it, to which recourse may be hau, in case of failure by the master in any point of performance. This desire among the masters to have more hands employed in working for them, ipduces them to pay the passage of young persons of both sexes, who, on their arrival, agree to serve them one, two, three, or four years: those who have already learned a trade, agreeing for a shorter.term, in proportion to their skill, and the consequent immediate value of their service; and those who have none, agreeing for a longer term, in consideration of being taught an art their poverty would not permit them to acquire in their own country.
The almost general mediocrily of fortune that prevails in America, obliging its people to follow some business for subsistence, those vices that arise usil. ally from idleness, are in a great measure prevented. Industry and constant employment are great preservatives of the morals and virtue of a nation. Hence bad examples to youth are more rare in America, which must be a comfortable consideration to parents. To this may be truly added, that serious religion, under its various denominations, is not only Tolerated, but respected and practised. Atheism is unknown there; and infidelity rare and secret; so that persons may live to a great age in that country without having their piety shocked by meeting with
bither an athiest or an infidel. And the Divine Being seems to have manifested his approbation of the mutual forbearance and kindness with which the different sects treat each other, by the remarkable prosperity with which he has been pleased to favour the whole country.
THOUGHTS ON COMMERCIAL
Of Embargoes upon Corn, and of the Poor.
In inland high countries, remote from the sea, and whose rivers are small, running from the country, and not to it, as is the case withi Switzerland; great distress may arise from a course of bad harvests, if public graneries are not provided, and kept well stored. Anciently, too, before navigation was so general, ships so plenty, and commercial transactions so well established; even maratime countries might be occasionally distressed by bad crops. But such is now the facility of communication between those countries, that an unrestrained commerce can scarce ever fail of procuring a sufficiency of any of them. If indeed any government is so imprudent as to lay its hands on imported corn, forbid its exportation, or compel its sale at limited prices, there the people may suffer some famine from merchants avoiding
But wherever commerce is known to be always free, and the merchant absolute master of his commodity, us in Holland, there will always be a reasonable supply.
When an exportation of corn takes place, oceasioned by a higher price in some foreign countries, it