CONSIDERATIONS ON THE Impropriety of exporting RICE TO GREAT-BRITAIN. ADDRESSED TO The Provincial Congress OF SOUTH-CAROLINA, To meet on JANUARY 11th, 1775.


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UNION ought to be a grand object in all our proceedings. The permission to EXPORT RICE TO GREAT-BRITAIN, which surprizes, but not plea­ses, the generous planters of this colony, had ne [...] proved fatal to that Union in the Grand Con [...] Our accepting this indulgence will break [...] here—A noble refusal of the dangerous permiss [...], is the only way to preserve it.

Let this colony open its eyes. Let not their par­tiality for the worthy gentlemen who mistook them, lead a generous people to mistake themselves. We can heal the wound, if we are not obstinate in doing wrong.

I will take the liberty of throwing a few hints to­gether, which may cast light upon the subject, for their benefit who have not attentively viewed its parts; and hope to be happy in seeing the bone of contention removed, by the spirit of the colony.

Let it then be premised,

First. It is a matter universally agreed upon, that a non-exportation to Great-Britain, Ireland, and the West-India islands, is a necessary, an absolutely necessa­ry, part of the American plan of defence: that a meer non-importation, is too lame and ineffectual a measure.

Secondly. But to render such an agreement of real efficacy, it must extend to the staple commodity with which every colony trades to those places. Nothing can be more ridiculous, than to talk of a non-expor­tation, in which the grand staple of each colony is to [Page 4]be exported. Export rice and indico from South-Ca­rolina, and I believe the world will not call it a non-exportation agreement, though you should lay an em­bargo upon potatoes and oysters.

Thirdly. Almost equally ridiculous, would be the proposal of shutting up trade with all mankind, be­cause good policy demands to shut it up with Britain. I always suspect the man who proposes too much, as having a design to prevent any measures whatever. We may get a supply of necessary articles from other parts of the world, the want of which might possibly force us to break our resolves. The call for arms and ammunition in case of extremity, ought to keep up a trade with the Dutch. A vessel, once at sea, may go to Britain, it is true. There will be breaches of faith, but the amount of such pieces of infidelity, will not be so great, as to prevent the good effects of the agreement.

Fourthly. In any such agreement that can be form­ed, we cannot expect, that all the colonies should be upon an equal footing. You must give them all the same staples, the same trade; you must exactly assimilate their different climates, soils and produce, before you can put them exactly upon a level, as to the article of self-denial and suffering. That man is in a political delirium, who, in such a case, will make an exact equality the grand object; and to insist upon it, is to insist upon an impossibility. One part must expect to suffer more than another, and that in proportion, to the quantity of its staple, which is concerned in trade to the prohibited ports. This is an unavoidable evil. But if non-exportation is never to be attempted, un­til a plan of exact equality is hit upon, we shall never [Page 5]have one; and if the cause of these colonies must de­pend upon such an expedient, all is lost. The very proposal of such an equality, as a suspending term, I take to be, either highly frivolous, or highly insidious.

It appears frivolous—as the grand struggle is not, whether one colony shall have equal advantage with another, but whether all shall be free. If indeed there was a prospect, that the Northern colonies would gain by our loss: if they were like to take away our trade in future time, the supposed inequality might justly make us jealous. But, as this cannot be pre­tended, so to examine critically, whether there will be an exact equality in our losses, before we consent to measures confessedly necessary for our mutual sal­vation, is to trifle egregiously. It appears strange to me, that ever such a thought should be started by an honest man. The question to me seems not, whether we shall go equal loss and gain, to an ounce or a scruple? we are not merchants or apothecaries settling accounts: but whether the measure is necessary, to se­cure our freedom? if necessary, whether the grand ob­ject we are contending for, is worthy our suffering? whether we should be willing to submit to the pre­sent loss, rather than bear the curse of slavery? I think there is not one true Carolinian, untouched by the baneful poison of corruption, who can hesitate a moment. Nay, the man who represents us as unwil­ling to adopt any such self-denying measure, does the colony great injustice. The voice of the people, when they sent their members, was, for any, nay, the most self-denying, measures: they could scarcely be restrained from them at the time; and they did not commit their power to five men, in order to save them [Page 6]from suffering in common with their brethren; but to agree, if necessary, to the most vigorous measures. For this purpose, unlimited powers were demanded. For this purpose, unlimited powers were granted. They surely had no thought of suspending the union of the continent, of suspending the liberties of Ame­rica, upon an exact equality of losses.

But though it is frivolous, yet it is a popular argu­ment—it puts on the saint-like appearance of con­cern for the country.

I am aware of the dangerous power of jealousy. I know the effect which an artful harangue, upon this topic, is apt to have, upon those who do not see its tendency. If you can persuade the people here, that the Northern colonies are only scheming to preserve their trade, while you are duped to let yours suffer— you will do more by this stratagem, than by a thou­sand arguments. Make them believe this, and it is a wonder, if they are not ready even to give up their li­berties to a tyrant, rather than be thus outwitted. I do not pretend to vindicate the conduct of all the Nor­thern delegates; some of them are suspected of being snakes in the grass. But I am bold to say, that there is not the least evidence of such a design in the colo­nies in general. I defy the man who throws out the ungenerous insinuation. I view it rather as an insi­dious attempt to carry a cause, by exciting popular jealousy. It is agreed, that to stop our exports to Britain is absolutely necessary. The Arbiter of all has so ordered it, that our exports to Britain are greater than those of any other colony; but does it follow, that, therefore, the Northern colonies mean to dupe us? The argument is popular, but it is dishonest. [Page 7]All that justly follows, is, a possibility of our suffering more than some others in the glorious struggle. And where was ever a struggle for Liberty, in which the sufferings of every individual were exactly balanced? I believe you are convinced, that Boston suffers, in­nocently suffers already, more than you all.

The grand argument therefore, for our persisting in the exportation of Rice, concludes nothing, even if the premises were true. But,

I hope to make it appear to you, that they are not true—that we are upon a better footing than most of the other colonies, even if the exportation of Rice to Britain, &c. was prohibited: I hope to make it ap­pear, that the measure extorted from the Congress, is unnecessary, impolitic, impracticable, and ruinous.

1. The premises I think are not true. It is alled­ged, that we are not upon so good a footing as they, if Rice to Britain, &c. is prohibited. I think, on the contrary, we have equal, if not greater advantage, Let it be considered,

We may find vent for two thirds, if not for all our crop of rice, even if the trade to Britain and the West-India islands is not open. It is known, that the ports to the southward of Cape Finister are open by act of parliament, which will not expire until this struggle will probably be over. There is a legal way to carry rice to them, without touching in England. Lisbon, all the ports in the Mediterranean, the Azores and Canaries, are open, and take off now 30,000 tierces per annum. If the Portugueze, &c. knew, that the vent of rice through Britain was obstructed, they would gladly be your factors for 30,000 more, to [Page 8]the great injury of the English trade; as thereby the shipping of other nations would get the employ of theirs, and some hundreds of English and Scotch ships, and many thousand hands, whom this business sustains, would be out of bread.

Besides, we can ship our rice (though not directly hence) from the Northern colonies, in the same man­ner that the merchants of New-York and Philadel­phia now do, without touching in England; and by that means supply, in the Baltic, all the Danish, Swedish, and Russian ports, as well as the great marts of Holland, Hamburgh, &c. &c. This would take off not less than 40,000 tierces more. And even a novice in trade must see, that if the Dutch, and o­thers, had the least hint given, that they would be welcome as our carriers, the whole crop, though it was ever so large, would be gladly engaged. The English laws have hitherto rendered it not worthy their notice—these resolutions will alter the case.

For the above articles, I appeal to the men in trade—and from them to the whole province, whe­ther the resistance made to the non-exportation of rice to Great-Britain, &c. was not needless, to say no more—and, whether we are not upon a much better footing, as to our staple, than any one Nor­thern colony, even if those four pestilential words had never cursed the fourth article of the association?

As to the exports of the Northern colonies to Eu­rope, by the tenor of the association, every one knows that the principal articles will be, Fish, Wheat, and Flour: the others are scarcely worth mentioning.

Their fish will easily find a mart. But be it re­membered, that this is neither exported in English [Page 9]bottoms; the English merchants are not the factors of it, as they are of our rice landed in Britain; nor are the people of that country employed in it. Fish, for the most part, goes immediately to the Catholic do­minions, for the good people there to fast upon. Be it also remembered, that only three colonies have any thing to do with the fish trade; and not one fiftieth, I had almost said not one hundredth man, in those colonies, has any concern in it.

Unground Wheat goes mostly to Lisbon and the Madera's; but (if Canada is struck off the list) not one thirtieth bushel is exported in the whole grain.

As to Flour, it mostly finds its vent in the West-India islands. It supplies that vast part of the Eng­lish, French, Danish, and Dutch dominions with bread. But all this immense market is shut up, and flour, a much more perishable article than clean rice; an article which always spoils in one season, is left to sour on their hands. The part of their crop which Lisbon, the Canaries, Azores, and a few Mediterra­nean ports take off, is but a small relief. It is well known, that the merchants have not found it profit­able, to embrace the permission to carry it to Great-Britain. So stands this grand staple of the Northern colonies obstructed, that they have not an equal chance to get it off, as we have to vend our rice.

But if you consider their other staple commodities, you will find, that they must suffer inexpressibly, if we may call it suffering, when we are only prevented getting rich. Their Iron, which has, of late, almost supplied all Britain and Ireland—their Copper—their Tobacco, which amounts to an immense sum—their Timber, which builds near all the houses in the islands, and freights multitudes of ships to England—their [Page 10] Staves and other Lumber, on which the West-India islands depend—their Pot-Ash, equal, perhaps more, in value, than our whole crop of indico—their Beef and Pork—their Flax Seed, upon which all Ireland depends—their Peltry, Hemp, and many other arti­cles—all which, collectively taken, infinitely exceed their Flour and Fish—all these, I say, they have con­sented to lay utterly aside.

It will appear, I think, to an unprejudiced mind, that, far from "skulking," as they are illiberally said to do in this contest, they will be the greatest sufferers. If there is any skulking, it is on the side of those, who demand a permission to export their chief staple to England. All that is wanted, or desired, is, to break off our exports to Britain. They have done that fully. We continue our chief export to Britain. We dissent from the united agreement of all America: and that, when we should have fared perhaps better than the rest, if we had come into the association in the ful­lest terms. In proportion to our numbers, we should perhaps have received more cash in remittance, than any one Northern colony. But we, as it were, break the sword of America—we cruelly dissent—we export to Britain, and give our enemies cause to despise us. I cannot but hope, that the argument of non-equali­ty will hereafter hide its serpent head, and no more delude this unhappy colony, into a betraying of the cause of freedom.

As for the pretence, that rice is a perishable arti­cle, it has no weight. Little of it need remain on hand. It will keep an hundred years, in the rough; some years, when clean: and if most of the rice plan­ters would spend one whole season in making im­provements, it would be of more service to them than [...]

[Page 11] But I argue farther,

2. That the demand of a free exportation of rice, was UNNECESSARY.

The spirit of the people here did not render it neces­sary, nor did their exigences require it. It is plain, that the rice planters did not desire—did not expect—were greatly surprized at it, when it came; nay, in general, have since, that wished the odious distinction had never existed. This colony boasts a spirit equal to any on the continent. They have the honour of being proverbial for patriotism. They plainly testified, that they de­sired no favours, at their general meeting. Had not this been the case, they never would have put it in the power of any men to bind them. They continue of the same mind still.

Our exigences do not require it. This appears in a striking light, from what has been said already: But let me ask, what exigency can we plead? One of three, no doubt: either that of remittance to mer­chants at home—or to procure us bread—or for negro cloathing. I make no reply to the first. It is stale. It has been answered a thousand times. Their righ­teous sufferings, as a criminal part of that nation which is forging chains for us, will ever be answer enough.

As to the necessity of exports to buy us food, none can pretend to this. We wallow in plenty of provi­sions, even while we export them. We shall not have the less, when this exportation is restrained.

As to negro cloth, I am sorry to hear it mentioned. Is there not cloth enough in the colony, with the old garments which they already have, to cloath the negroes comfortably for the next winter? Is not this a colo­ny that demands less cloathing than any other, at the [Page 12]same time that we may easily grow sufficient cotton in one season, to cloath us for five? Has not providence meerly innundated us with Weavers from Ireland, as though with a view to this very crisis, who only wait the word to come down from the back parts in swarms? There are more weavers now in the colony, than the cloathing of twice our number would require; and two seasons surely afford time enough for it. Nor can it be disputed, after the example of Virginia, so far to the North, that cotton is by much the best and cheap­est cloathing that can be made for them.

Not only unnecessary:—the exportation of rice to Britain and her isles, at the present time, is truly IM­POLITIC.

Rice is the most important export from America to Great-Britain. The value of our crop landed there is perhaps more than a million and an half currency. Now, they have the profit, of being factors for this great sum—they have the advantage of employing be­tween two and three hundred vessels in the trade to America, and to different parts of Europe, in trans­porting this bulky article—they have the benefit of giving business to thousands of hands, who, without this, would perhaps want their bread:—besides, the continual imports of rice into Britain, keeps down the price of provisions there, in proportion as it is consumed—and much more is actually consumed, than the advocates for the usual exportation are wil­ling to allow, upon the present occasion. Great quan­tities are consumed in the single article of Starch. Rice supplies the navy with a part of its provision, as well as merchant men on their voyages. This finds the English merchant the best article of foreign trade. This is also part of the provision for the slave trade, which [Page 13]still goes on to the islands. In short, I am much in­clined to believe, that the single article of rice pre­vented from landing in Britain and the islands, will more affect their trade, than all other articles of North-American exports together, only excepting Tobacco and Indico.

And while we have so good a prospect of a vent for our crop elsewhere, shall we, in this very crisis of our affairs, act so very impolitic a part, as to give the nation all these advantages against us, when we have in our hands so great a weight to throw into the scale of American freedom? I would blush for my coun­trymen, if I thought them so far divested of the com­mon principles of prudence.

Not only unnecessary and impolitic—the plan pro­posed is IMPRACTICABLE; and I fear the conse­quences will be ruinous.

Impracticable, I do not fear to assert the plan pro­posed, as a sugar-pill to the indico planters, viz. to exchange rice for indico. Perhaps the difficulty will be at least as great, to gain the consent of individuals to this, as to a qualified non-exportation. But how is it to be executed? Where are the numerous commit­tees to be found, who, unpaid, shall take the endless task of inspecting every barrel of rice, and every pound of indico, that comes down to market, and to ascer­tain its specific value? Where is the court, daily to preside over the constant Barter, and to decide the nu­merous disputes which must arise between man and man? Where are the open offices in which all this vast business is to be transacted? Where are the free stores, in which the produce must lay after the deci­sion? Or, must the indico men from Ninety-Six have the trouble first, to send down their crop—then to [Page 14]have it inspected—then appraised; — then sell their proportion of rice;—then carry home that part of their indico which they are obliged to keep, or else leave it here under the care of others? And who can ensure the rice planters, that the same indico shall not be brought a second and a third time, and re-claim rice, until it is all expended? A scheme of such intricacy, needs whole years to adjust it. It needs a complete new set of officers to execute it. Endless disputes—unavoida­ble division, must be foreseen, by those who know any thing of mankind. How much more simple— how much more eligible, the plan of equality, as to all exports to Britain and her islands?

Not only impractible, is the proposed plan of ex­porting rice—but I fear it is RUINOUS,

Not to the pockets of the merchants here—not to the merchants in England— but RUINOUS

To the peace, harmony and mutual confidence of the colonies; who are distressed, that their most faithful friends of Carolina seem, in this, to have de­serted them. A confidence which, I know, the rice planters would spill their blood to secure and cultivate, and which they never desired should suffer injury on their accounts. RUINOUS

To the peace and harmony of this province itself. I dread the gathering cloud. I dread the effects of jealousy, lowering from the West and North. By one act of noble generosity, you may dispel it, in spite of the devil himself. RUINOUS, I fear,

To the whole system of our commercial struggle. Ruinous to all our plans of defence. Ruinous to pant­ing hunted Liberty herself. How must it discourage our suffering brethren, when they find their most spi­rited supporters shrinking, like cowards, from the [Page 15]shadow of a little self-denial! How must it make the ministry chuckle, to find the seeds of so luxuriant a jealousy sown among us, and their only hope confirm­ed! How must it envigorate their declining spirits, to find our association so burlesqu'd, so crippled, where they expected it to prove the most robust and active! How must it blast the expected fruit of popular cla­mour in England, to find that, by our parsimony, they are delivered from feeling much of the effects of a boasted non-exportation. Give them rice, and you do much to silence and make them easy under the bungling tyranny of the present court. God forbid, that you should accept of the extorted gratuity, upon such ignoble, such ruinous terms!

But, what a stroke!—what a master-stroke of po­licy, as well as patriotism! to REFUSE to export rice, and exhibit an instance of firmness and love to our country, which must damp the ardour of the ministerial assassins, confirm the tottering confidence of all America, prove the death of our intestine jea­lousy, and, in the end, hasten the conclusion of this glorious, this divine struggle, for the rights of men and of Britons.

I would therefore humbly propose, that, without seeming to overset the compelled agreement of the Congress, we should only declare it to be the sense of this colony, that the permission TO EXPORT RICE TO EUROPE, SHALL BE UNDERSTOOD, AS EXCLUD­ING GREAT-BRITAIN, AND HER DEPENDANT ISLANDS.

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