Adams Papers

John Adams to Unknown, 10 Dec. 1785

Grosvenor Square Decr. 10 1785.

Dear Sir

I have received from Paris an <Ordinance> Arret Du Conseil D’Etat Du Roi de France of the 18th. of September last, to this Purpose vizt “The King having judged, fit, for assuring and facilitating the Importation of Subsistances into his Colonies of America, to permit Foreigners to introduce, there dry Fish, by means of certain Duties; and his Majesty, not intending that this Liberty Should be prejudicial to the national Fisheries, which he will always consider as worthy of his Special Protection, he has resolved to Grant to French Merchants who apply themselves to this Fishery a Bounty of Encouragement capable of exciting their Zeal, and which may put them in a condition to sustain, without any Disadvantage every Kind of Rivalry of Foreigners.

Art 1. There shall be grant, to French Merchants, for five Years from the 1st. of October a Bounty of Ten Livres a Quintal of dry Fish which they shall transport, whether from the Ports of France, or whether from the Places where they Shall have carried on their Fishery, into the Windward or Leward Islands, upon Condition that the said dry Fish Shall be of the French Fishery, and imported by French Ships.

I have recd also another Arret Du Conseil D’Etat Du Roi of the 25th. of september last.

“Experience having caused to be felt the Necessity of procuring for the Blacks of the Windward Islands, a Sure Subsistance in the Rivalry of the Fish of foreign Fisheries, with those of the French Fisheries, it had been at first established by a Tax of Eight Livres a Quintal afterwards by one of five Livres only, upon the Introduction which might be there made of this Article by Foreigners to the End to compensate, as much as possible, the Difference of [Expence] Price of the one and the other Furniture: From that time the King having acknowledged that it was convenient to authorize the Same Rivalry at st. Domingo reducing nevertheless to a smaller scale the Tax which Should be imposed upon foreign Importations into his Several Colonies of America, His Majesty by the Arrêt of his Council of the 30. August. 1784, has permitted to Foreigners to introduce there, dry Fish, Solely by the Free Ports (Ports d’entrepot) marked out, upon payment of a duty of three Livres per Quintal, the amount of which should repaid out in Bounties of Encouragement for the Introduction of Salt Fish, of the national Fisheries. These Successive Dispositions had been calculated upon the Produce of these last, which did not offer, but [a] moderate surplus beyond the Consumption of the Kingdom. But the Sensible Augmentations which they have taken, Since the Return of Peace, the Emulation which reigns in this respect, among the Merchants of Several Ports of the Kingdom, the Hope of Arriving, in a little time to Results still more Satisfactory, if they were excited by the Efforts of Government: all these Motifs have determined his Majesty to facilitate, by new Advantages, the Sale of Fish of the French Fishery, in his Windward and Leward Colonies.

RC (MHi: Adams Papers).

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