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THE INTEREST OF CITY and COUNTRY To Lay No DUTIES: OR A short Discourse shewing that Duties on Trade, tend to the Impoverishing City and Country.

ALSO, How the Government may be easier and better Supported than by Duties.

New-York: Printed and Sold by J. Peter Zenger near the City-Hall. 1726. (Pr. 4d.)

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THE INTEREST OF City and Country To lay No DUTIES.

WHEREAS there has been of late much Dis­course concerning the Du­ties on Merchandize, for Support of Government; some being for having Duties continu­ed, and some not; some being for continuing some Duties, and taking off others, and laying some New, &c.

[Page 4]I think it may not be amiss for me to communicate my Thoughts con­cerning this Affair, which, I am satis­fied, would be for the Good and Ad­vantage of City and Country, if put in Practice, and no ways detrimental to the Government: For, considering the great Benefits that we enjoy, by a well regulated and happy Govern­ment, I think we should be very Ungrateful, if we did not take Care sufficiently to support the same; which I hope we shall all agree to. And therefore all the Question is, How or after what Manner this may best be ac­complished, for the Benefit and Ease of the City and Country in general, and with the least Burthen to the People, and with the least Prejudice to Trade and Industry.

In the first Place I shall shew How that the Laying Duties on Merchandize is very much to the Disadvantage of both City and Country, as is found by Experience: And that, on the Con­trary, The taking them off, and having Trade free, would be greatly to the Ad­vantage [Page 5] and for the Interest of both.

I believe that it will be readily granted, that Trade and Commerce is that which conduces much to the Prosperity and Enriching of both Ci­ty and Country; and, that whatever hinders and discourages Trade, hurts both City and Country: For as the City cannot subsist without the Coun­try, so the Country cannot well sub­sist nor thrive without the City, which they depend on for the taking of their Produce, and furnishing them with many Necessaries, which they cannot well be without: So that whatever hinders the Country from Selling their Produce for a good Price, and likewise is a Cause of their Pay­ing dearer for what they buy, must needs be very Prejudicial to them. And that the Duties on Merchandize is a Cause of both these Evils, I think is undeniable, and can be very easily proved, in general and in particular. For although some Duties do more affect the Country than others, yet (with Submission to better Judgments) [Page 6] I think all are Hurtful. For if we consider Things rightly, we shall find that the Country pays most of the Duties, though oftentimes insensibly. For though it is true the Merchant pays it first, yet he generally takes Care afterwards to sell his Goods for a Price accordingly: And most of the Goods that are Imported and pay Duty, being sold to, and expended in, the Country, consequently the Coun­try pays it, by paying so much dear­er than otherwise they need to do; which I suppose very few, if any, will deny. But if any should, it is very easily proved in the general, and in divers Particulars, which I shall consider anon. And also Du­ties in General are very Prejudicial to the Country, on Account of their selling the Produce they raise; so that if there was a Free Trade, they might sell what they raise at a better Price than otherwise they can Expect to do; for as it is well known that the Duties have oftentimes been a Cause of driving Trade and Business [Page 7] from this Province to our Neighbours, and discouraging our Neighbours from coming to trade with us, it must needs be hurtful to us in General.

Now as to the particular Duties that are paid, we may consider the Hurt that each does to the City and Country in particular. And first as to Wine, which does not so much affect the Country as City, yet it is not all Drunk in the City, the Coun­try has some Part of it, and so con­sequently pays some Part of the Du­ty: Now if some Duties must be continued, I think this on Wine may as well or better than any other; be­cause it is to be supposed, that, ge­nerally speaking, those that drink the most of it are pretty able, both in City and Country; and so may be best able to pay towards the Support of Government, which it is intended for; and does not fall on the Poorer sort of People that are not able to bear it, as some other Things do. Neither will the Discouragement of [Page 8] that be so hurtful to the Country o­therwise as some other Things are: so I shall say the less against it, and proceed to Rum, which more affects the Country, the greatest Part of it being used there (whether well used or a­bused, I think not pertinent to my present Purpose to discourse of) for certain it is that the Country will have it, whether cheap or dear; so that consequently they pay the Duty that Drink it, almost in general, both Rich and Poor: For when there is no Duty on it, the Merchant can sell it cheaper, and when he pays Duty he must and does sell it dearer, as Experience proves; so to talk of dis­couraging it, by a Duty, is in vain. Besides it would be a Contradiction, for such as will have the Duty to help support Government, to talk of Dis­couraging it; for if it should do so, pray how would it answer the End for which the Duty is laid? viz. Sup­port the Government: So that if the Duty should discourage the Importa­tion, we must seek for another Way [Page 9] for Support of Government, which we may do without it, as I shall after make appear. Now, it may be considered, that it would not be any Advantage to the Country to hinder the Importation of Rum, considering that we purchase it with the Produce of the Country, without Money, and thereby encourage Manufacture, Na­vigation, and many Trades that de­pend on it, which would Suffer if we discouraged the Importation and Trade of Rum, Molossus and other Things from the West-Indies: How could we expect they would trade with us, if we refuse to take of the Produce of those Countries, partly in lieu for our Flour, Bread, Bacon, &c.

If any should say, Why, bring back Money in Return for our Flour, &c. and so make Money plenty here.

I say, that we do, in Part, already enough to make Money plenty here, if we had not another Way for it; and it may be as much as they can well spare us; so that if we should insist on having our Returns all in [Page 10] Money, it might destroy our Trade. And as for the Notion of discoura­ging Vice by it, I think it frivolous, as not being sufficient to do it; for those that love strong Drink, will have it one Way or another: so that there will need some other Method for that of discouraging Vice, which I think not proper to discourse of here.

Now as to the Duty on Molossus, I think that it is a Hardship, that falls mostly on the Poorest Part of the City and Country who mostly use it, and that for very necessary Uses (and not to encourage Vice) and they could not well do without it, for Honey is scarce here and what Sweets might be made of Cyder I know not, but I believe little in Comparison of the Molossus the Country expends, nor so good nor suitable neither. So that it would certainly be a great Hard­ship on the Country to discourage the Importation, as well as it is some Hardship to make them pay dearer for it than they need to do, were Trade free without any Duties.

[Page 11]Next as to Salt, it is generally agreed on all Hands, That it were better to have no Duty on that, so I shall say the less to it, we having so lately had plentiful Experience to confirm it to general Satisfaction.

Another considerable Branch of Re­venue is the Duty on Negroes, which, it is very certain, the Country in general payes the most of viz. all those that Buy them. For it must be the same by them as other Things, in that Respect, that though the Mer­chant payes it first, he, when he sells them, advances the more on the Price. If any should say, It may be well to discourage the Importation of them, there be­ing enough in the Country already. I say, then let the Duty be so great as to answer that End, otherwise the Ob­jection is frivolous, and then if so, it answers not the End for which it has been laid, viz. Support of Govern­ment, which we are now upon.

The Duty on Cocoa is another Ar­ticle which is paid by all those that buy and spend Chocolate, which though [Page 12] it mostly affects the City, yet the Coun­try is also partly concerned in it.

Another is the Duty of 5 per Ct. or 7 and an half per Ct. on British Goods imported from the Neighbour­ing Plantations, and not directly from Great Britain, which some have thought to be for the Advantage of this Pro­vince, but I am of another Mind: For what does it concern the greatest Part of the People in this Province (especially the Country) how the Goods are imported hither, whether directly or round about, provided they can have them as cheap as if they all came directly. And if they could not be afforded as cheap when they come from other Places to us, as those that come directly, then that of it self would discourage the Trade, without any Duty being laid on them. But I can make it appear that it would be better for this Province in general not to discourage such Importation, be­cause what we have so imported does not cost us Money, whereas our Impor­tation from Great Britain drains this [Page 13] Province of Money which otherwise might be plenty. Now let us consider, par­ticularly Boston and other Parts of New-England, takes off largely of the Produce of this Country, but finds it difficult to make us Returns; Money they have not, nor but little else that we want, but are often forced to pay us in British Goods, notwithstanding the Duty. Now it is easy to con­ceive that if that were taken off, it would encourage our Trade with them. But then it may be objected, That would lessen our Trade with Great Bri­tain. I say, Let it be so, the better for the Country; for it would not lessen our Exportation thither, but only our Im­portation, which would save our Money. So by what is abovesaid, without en­larging, it plainly appears that it would be better for this Province to take off that Duty.

Another Thing to be considered is The Tunnage on Vessels not built in this Pro­vince, which seems more difficult to de­termine than any of the Rest: But I am entirely of the Mind that it is best to [Page 14] have Trade free and to have no Duties at all. So I think it best to take off this Duty also. And although there may be considerable Reasons advanced in favour of this Duty; yet I think I can advance as good against it. The most considerable Arguments for it are, That it keeps the Trade of Building in our own Province. This I must own considerable to the Ship-Carpenters, Smiths and some other Trades-men, but does not affect the greatest Part of the City, nor the Country hardly at all.

Another Reason is, It keeps out Foreigners, especially the Bermudians, who come here to get what they can, and there is little to be got by them, &c. This I also own to be a considerable Plea, but I think it chiefly concerns the Builders and some owners of Ves­sels, and not the Country in general. But I am of Opinon. That the En­couraging the Bermudians, and all o­thers, by a Free Trade, would be for the general Good of City and Country, (though not of every par­ticular [Page 15] Person) as I will endeavour to make appear. But by the Way I think it may not be amiss to explain what I mean by a Free Trade, which is on­ly with the Subjects of the King of Great Britain, and not any Foreigners in­deed, that is People of other Nations or Kingdoms. For I think that the Word Foreigners is improper to the Bermudians, or any of our Neighbours and fellow Subjects, though belonging to different Provinces and Plantations or Governments. And now though the Bermudians, as abovesaid, come to get, &c. yet they generaly bring us plenty of Salt, and did afford it us cheap, before they were discouraged by the Tunnage and Duty on Salt, which has much hindred them and others of late; and it is well known we have paid for it since, which has affected the Country in ge­neral, which ought to be more re­garded than the Advantage of a few particular Persons. Besides it very of­ten hinders our Trade in the Expor­tation of the Produce of the Country, [Page 16] which is undeniably prejudicial to the whole in several Respects.

I will give you one Instance there­of, to make it appear plain, and that is, Last Year here came a Ship into this Harbour, loaden with Salt, which we very much wanted, and would have Traded with us for Wheat and Staves, &c. but by Reason of the Tunnage and Duty being so heavy, went away to Am­boy, (and for no other Reason,) which was a considerable Disadvantage to City and Country. And thus our Duties and Impositions drive Stran­gers and Trade from us to our Neigh­bours, who are Gaping for it, and may well Laugh at us for our Pains, seeing they could no ways get it from us, did not we give it them. By what is above said, with much more that might be said, we may observe, that it is a groundless No­tion which some have entertained, viz. That when the Government is Support­ed by Duties on Trade, that it falls on the Merchants and City, and that the Country pays little of it: For it will, [Page 17] I doubt not, appear plain to those that rightly consider it, That the Coun­try pays the most of it, and the Discou­ragement of Trade, which is, and must be the Effects of it, if continued, affects the Country more than some of them are aware of.

Now considering that our Neigh­bouring Provinces are Free Ports, and Support Government other ways, for to draw Trade thither, is it not high­ly Reasonable for us to be Wise and Prudent in this Matter, by taking of all Obstructions and Hindrances that are already on Trade, and by being carefull of Incouraging it for the future. We may consider how that in the next Province they are continually con­triving and making Laws to increase Trade in their own Province, and to draw it from us; which has already proved Effectual several times, some­thing of which is above observed. And shall we be so far wanting to our selves, as not to consider our own Interest in endeavouring to pre­vent it, which as yet we may easily [Page 18] do, but if we do not do it in time, I doubt we shall repent when it is too late; and I am fully of the Mind that there is no other way to pre­vent it, but by making our Port as Free as theirs. They can Support Government without Duties and Im­positions on Trade, and why may not we; I am satisfied we are as well a­ble as they.

The next Thing to be considered is, how Government shall be Supported without the Duties, and that both bet­ter and easier for both City and Country in general; and that is by a general Tax on Mens Estates, in both City and Country, which is the most just and equal Way that has yet been Practised, that I know of, for this is no Obstruction to Trade nor Manu­facture. Nor has it any of those In­conveniencies attending it, that, more or less, attend, or may attend, all other ways that have or can be proposed. This way the Burthen does not lie on the City alone, nor on the Coun­try alone, but each bears an equal [Page 19] Proportion, according to their Abili­ties. Neither does the Burthen fall heavy on the Poor, for they that have little, will pay but little: So there will be no just cause of Complaint either in City or Country, by Poor, Rich or those in a middle Station: Whereas most other ways fall heavy on some, while others that are better able, go quite free, nay oftentimes make a Gain by their Neighbours Los­ses, which I think needful to be pre­vented as much as possible. This way of raising a Support for Government, is also much easier and better than by Duties, on several Accounts; for the Money is raised with much less Charge and Trouble then the other, and will be more certain, the others having often failed of▪ raising the Sums ex­pected, and so fallen short in answer­ing the End proposed, partly by rea­son of the Difficulty and Charge at­tending the gathering of them in; so that I believe we may safely con­clude, That two Thousand Pounds, rai­sed by Tax, will bring as much Money, [Page 20] or more, into the Treasury clear, as three Thousand Pounds raised by Duties.

Now, is it not much better for the Province to pay two Thousand Pounds than three Thousand, if it will as well answer the End? And is it not as good and as well for the Govern­ment to be supported one Way as the other, provided it be as sufficient and more certain? Nay we may very well afford a larger Supply this Way than the other, and yet be great Gainers by it.

If it should be objected, That the Legislature of Great Britain have, by long Experience, found that it is the best Way to support Government by Duties, and that it is the Practice of other Na­tions also. I say, Suppose we allow that, yet it will not prove it to be so here; our Case differs vastly from theirs, considering we are only a small Province, scituate in the midst of several others, which are free of these Duties; and so we are continually in Danger of loosing our Trade to them, as is already observed. It must be owned, that if our neighbouring Pro­vinces [Page 21] paid the like Duties as we, it would not be so inconvenient for us to do the same, but seeing their Ports are Free, ours ought to be so too.

And I hope our Superiours will take this into Consideration, and that the Country will be sensible that they have been under a Mistake, in thinking That if the Government be supported by Duties, it is the City does it; and that if by a general Tax, they do it: For, by what I have said, they may very easily see it is otherwise. And they actually pay a large Share of it when it is paid by Duties, and no more than their Share when by a general Tax on all our Estates: For if the City be so much richer than the Country, as is said, they will be to pay so much the more.

If any should object and say, This Way of Supporting Government by a general Tax will fall heavy on some Men that have large Estates in land that is unimproved, and so bring in little or no Profit, whilst other Men that have great Incomes by Money at Interest, &c. may pay but little.

[Page 22]I answer as to the first, The Re­medy is in their own Hands, they may dispose of their Land, or let others im­prove it if they cannot do it themselves. Besides I am of Opinion that it may be well to discourage such Engrosers of great Tracts of Land and not improv­ing them, it being a Wrong to both King and Country. As concerning the other whose Estates lie chiefly in Cash, &c. and not visible to the Assessors It may be well to have it ordered for them (and others too) to give an Account of their own Estates. And indeed if all Men were to give an Account of their own Estates to the Assessors, it might be more equal than it often times now is: For can it be supposed that the Assessors can know what all Men's Estates are, in a Town or Ward (if they were always impar­tial;) which may be the Reason that there is often such Complaints, That some are over rated, and others under ra­ted; whereas if every Man gives a true Account of his own Estate, or as near as he can well, and be rated accor­dingly, [Page 23] it might prevent such Com­plaints, and be more equal and just.

But if, notwithstanding all that can be said, our Legislature should think good to continue some Duties, though not all, then let them continue the Duties on Wine and Negroes imported, these being least prejudicial to the Trade of the Country, and by all Means take off all other, and make it up by a general Tax. But by no Means lay any Pole-tax on Negroes al­ready in the Province, for that would be very hard on some and not at all affect some others better able.

Thus I have, in short, given my Sentiments concerning these Things, which, I am satisfied, may be for the Good of City and Country, if well considered and accordingly prac­tised.

FINIS.

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