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bandry, besides commission and insurance, we are to pay freight for it to Great Britain, and freight for it back again, for the purpose of supporting, not men, but machines, in the island of Great Britain. What Adam Smith, the father of the science of political economy, thought of such measures in relation to colonies is thus stated (book IV., chap. VII.) in his famous work on “The Wealth of Nations,” first published in 1776: To prohibit a great people, however, from making all they can of every part of their own produce, or from employing their stock and industry in a way that they judge most advantageous to
themselves, is a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind.
The slavish dependence forced in this arbitrary and heartless way upon the colonists was very galling. When, after many unsuccessful efforts, they discovered that their various attempts to obtain redress led only to additional and cumulative restraints, they yielded to feelings of insubordination; and, as their resentment at the injustice and monopoly control of the mother country became more and more exasperated, a growing disposition was manifested to retaliate for the wrongs suffered at her hands, by refusing to buy or consume British goods. At the outset, this patriotic resolve was limited to voluntary associations, which pledged their members to non-importation agreements. But, when the Continental Congress assembled (September 5, 1774) in Philadelphia, this mode of resistance had assumed, in the popular mind, the aspects of a principle of national action. A brief sketch of the proceedings of that body appears in the first volume of Elliot’s “Debates on the Federal Constitution,” in a preliminary paper,
entitled “Gradual Approaches toward Independence,” from which the following detached passages are quoted:
On the nineteenth of September (1774) it was unanimously resolved that the Congress request the merchants and others, in the several colonies, not to send to Great Britain any orders for goods, and to direct the execution of all orders already sent to be delayed or suspended until the sense of the Congress on the means to be taken for the preservation of the liberties of America should be made public. On the twenty-seventh of September the Congress unanimously resolved that, from and after the first of December, 1774, there should be no importation into British America, from Great Britain or Ireland, of any goods, wares, or merchandise exported therefrom ; and that they should not be used or purchased if imported after that day. On the thirtieth of September it was further resolved that, from and after the tenth of September, 1775, the exportation of all merchandise, and every commodity whatsoever, to Great Britain, Ireland, and the West Indies ought to cease, unless the grievances of America should be redressed before that time. On the sixth of October (1774) it was resolved to exclude from importation, after the first of December following, molasses, coffee, or pimento from the British plantations, or from Dominica; wines from Madeira and the Western Islands; and foreign indigo. On the twentieth day of October (1774) the non-importation, non-consumption, and non-exportation agreement was adopted and signed by the Congress. This agreement contained a clause to discontinue the slave trade, and a provision not to import East India tea from any part of the world. In the article respecting non-exportations, the sending of rice to Europe was excepted. In general, the association expressed a determination to suppress luxury, encourage frugality, and promote domestic manufactures. The agreement was dated the twenty-fourth of October. On the seventeenth of May (1775) it was unanimously resolved that all exportations to Quebec, Nova Scotia, the Island of St. John's, Newfoundland, Georgia (except the parish of St. John's), and to East and West Florida immediately cease, and that no provision of any kind, or other necessaries, be furnished to the British fisheries on the American coasts until it be otherwise determined by the Congress. At the same time (July 31, 1775), it was made the duty of a committee, in the recess of Congress, to inquire into the cheapest and easiest methods of making salt in the country, and to make inquiry after virgin lead and leaden ore, etc. On the first of August Congress adjourned to the fifth of September, 1775, having first passed a resolution declaring the non-exportation and non-importation association to comprise the islands of Jersey, Guernsey, Sark, Alderney, and Man, and every European island and settlement within the British dominions, as well as all the West India Islands, British and foreign, to whatever state, power or prince belonging, or by whomsoever governed; and also Somers's Islands, Bahama Islands, Herbicia, and Surinam, on the Main, and every island and settlement within the latitude of the southern line of Georgia and the equator. On the twenty-first of March (1776) Congress recommended to the several provincial assemblies to exert their utmost endeavors to promote the culture of hemp, flaa, and cotton, and the growth of wool, in the United Colonies; to take the earliest measures for erecting and establishing, in each colony, a society for the improvement of agriculture, arts, manufactures, and commerce; and forthwith to consider of the ways and means of introducing and improving the manufactures of duck, sail-cloth, and steel.
These extracts show very distinctly that industrial independence and political independence were regarded, even at that early day, as the vital halves of a consistent whole. The Revolutionary war was not fought out for the sole purpose of gaining political independence. Industrial considerations entered into that contest quite as fully as political considerations, and substantially involved the idea expressed by Thomas Jefferson in his letter to Benjamin Austin, in 1816: “Experience has taught me that manufactures are now as necessary to our independence as to our comfort.” It was the strong desire of the colonists to be set free from their helpless and debasing reliance on Great Britain for their manufactured supplies, so that they might manufacture their own raw materials without hindrance, and enjoy to the full the development of their native resources, which lay at the bottom of the great struggle. Here is to be found the germ of our protective system—a germ which became the creative principle in forming “a more perfect Union,” and in enacting the tariff of 1789, as measures of deliverance from industrial bondage to
The foreign trade of the American colonies had been almost entirely with Great Britain and her West India possessions, and consisted, with very few exceptions, in the exportation of raw materials and the importation of manufactures. Shipbuilding, however, had become an established and thrifty industry, in consequence of the abundance and cheapness of suitable timber in the new world. A considerable amount of tonnage had been sold every year in Europe. But the Revolutionary war, by arresting commercial intercourse with other countries, radically changed the former circumstances, and threw the colonists very largely upon their native resources for their necessary supplies. This long interruption of foreign trade operated with the force and effect of a protective tariff in developing the manufacturing powers of the people, so that, at the close of hostilities, the manufacture of indispensable articles had expanded to a remarkable degree in such of the States as possessed the requisite materials and skilled labor. Those great instrumentalities in science and mechanism which have revolutionized the industrial processes of the world had not then been discovered or invented. Machinery, therefore, was scanty in quantity and crude in kind. Almost all of the manufacturing was confined to the household, in the various branches of spinning, weaving, knitting, and dyeing. But, in addition to this diversified aggregate of fireside manual industry, there was a long list of the mechanic arts