Alexander Hamilton Papers
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Enclosure: Footing of the Commerce of the United States with the Dominions of France and Great Britain in the Year 1790, [1792–1793]

Footing of the Commerce of the United States with the Dominions
of France and Great Britain in the Year 179087
Articles of the
United States
} France Great Britain & Ireland French America British
America
A A A
I Flour Duty ⅛ per Ct ad valorem Duty of 3d Sterling the
quarter when Price above
48/ but 24/3 when under
} prohibited Free A
B A
II Tobacco No duty but under
Monopoly
} Duty ⅓ per lb A prohibited
III Wood namely
Timber or
wood for
building except
Masts Spars
} Duty ⅛ per Ct. ad
valorem A
A Free A Duty 1 per Ct. ad valorem and local duties unknown if any B B Free A
Other wood
including
all called
Lumber
} Unknown but believed
to be free
} Free A Duty as above B Free A
IV Fisheries
Qr A A
Whale Oil 7 livres 10 sous per
barrel of 520 lbs
} Duty of £ 18. 3 Sterling
per Ton of 252 Gallons
Spermaceti   do   do 17/8 per Cwt.
Whale Fins 6 livres 13 sous 4d.
the Kent
 
A A C
V Salted Fish same duty as Hanseatic
Towns or other most
favoured Nation
said to be
} Prohibited except
Stockfish which is subject
to a duty of 2/1
sterling per 120 lb
Duty 5 livre tournois per Quintal
with a premium of 10 livre tournois
p Quintal on French
Fish equivalent to a
duty of 15 livre tournois per Kental
about 80 per Ct ad valorem
} Prohibited A Qr. Mr. Coxe88
A A B
VI Rice per Cent ad valorem 7/4 Stg per Cwt. duty 1 per Ct. ad valorem
& local duties if any
} Free A
VII Grain namely A
Wheat 6d Sterling when price
above 48/ per quarter
24/3 when under
} prohibited A Free A
A A A
Rice } per Cent ad Valorem 3d. when above 32/
& 22/ when under
{ prohibited B Free A
Indian Corn 1d when above 24/ per Qr
11/ when under
Duty 1 per Ct. and
local duties if any
} Free A
A }
Oats 2 when at or above 16/
per Quarter 6/7 when
under
Free A
 
A
VIII Pot & Pearl
Ash
per Cent ad valorem Free
B
IX Indigo 5 livres per Kental Free
B
X Live Animals Duty 1 perCt. ad
valorem & local
duties if any
} Free A
XI Naval Stores
  namely
B
Pitch } A 11/ Stg the Last
ditto—Q
} A Duty 1 per Ct. ad
valorem & local
duties if any
{ Free
A
Tar Duty 2½ per C ad
valorem
Turpentine per Cwt.
XII Salted Provisions B B
Beef Duty 5 livres per Kental Prohibited A
{ Duty 1 per C ad
valor & 3 livres
per Kental
} Prohibited A
B A
Pork Duty 5 livres per G
Kental some ports
& prohibited in
others
} Prohibited A Prohibited Prohibited A qr.
A
XIII Flax seed ⅛ per Cent ad valor Free A
 
XIV Iron B
Pig } Unknown free A Qr. Qr. Qr.
Barr free qr
Ships
When owned by French
subjects naturalized
}
partially subject B
Productions of the West Indies
Rum & Taffea Duty 1 per Ct. ad
Valorem
} Free from Jamaica
& Grenada—Duty
per Ct. ad
valorem on Sugars
from other Islands
} A
Sugar Prohibited D
Molasses Duty 1 per Ct. ad
valorem
Coffee Prohibited D
Cocoa Prohibited D
Ginger Prohibited D
Pimento Prohibited D
Salt ditto D Permitted from Turks
Island
other productions Prohibited D Prohibited
 
Authorities as to France89 Authorities as to French West Indies
A Arret 29 Decr. 178790 A. Letters Patent of Oct 172794
B Mr. Jeffersons Table which is here followed & believed to be right91 B Arret 30 of Aug 178495
C Arrets of the 18th & 25 Sepr 178596
D Letters Patent of October 1727
Arret of 30 Aug 1784
Authorities as to Great Britain Authorities as to British W I.
A Proclamation 26 December 1783 explained by the following Statutes of A. Proclamation above cited explained by Statutes
Charles II Chap 2 20th. Ch 7
32 Ch 2
Georg 192 24 C 51
30 C 16
Geor 3 5 C 45
11 C 42
12 C 60
19 C 35
23 C 2993
25 C 81
26 C 41. 50. 52. 53. 60
27 C 13
Notes
I Flour This article by a Decree of the National Assembly of 31 of January 1791 is free of duty on its importation into France. The UStates have stood & now stand, on the same footing with other foreign Nations as to this Article.97
By an Act of parliament of  98
II Tobacco By the abovementioned decree this article is now subject to a duty of 25 livres per Kental if imported into France in Vessels of the UStates; & to a duty of 18 livres and 15 sous if imported in French Ships.99 In this respect the U States stand on the same footing with the Colonies of Spain and the Ukraine. The difference of duty amounts to a prohibition of carrying in Ships of the U States.
 
In Great Britain there is a difference of duty of 100 per cent in favour of the Tobacco of the UStates compared with that of Spain and Portugal which pays 3/6 per lb. The Ships of the U States carry on the same footing with those of G Britain.100
III Wood All the kinds of this Article which interest the UStates are by the decree of January 1791 admitted into France duty free; but so are the same kinds from other foreign Countries. In Great Britain a preference is given to the Wood of the United States by considerable duties on wood of the same kinds from other countries.101
Deal Boards of other Countries are rated from £12.2.2 Sterling down to £5.6 the 120.
Staves from 17/7 Stg to 4 the 120102
Masts spars & bowspritts also pay a higher duty if imported in the Ships of other countries & all nonemureated woods if brought from any part of Europe pay 33 per Cent ad valorem.
IV Salted fish Great Britain prohibits the Fish of all the world. The arrets of France of the 30th. of Aug 1784 18 & 25 Sepr 85 (which are the only ones known) admit foreign Fish into their Island on the conditions shewn on this Table; but the US enjoy no particular privilege. Their Fish & the Ships which bring it are exactly on the same footing with the Fish & the Ships of other Nations.103
A pamphlet published at Paris in 1791 by Mr. Commerè104 states that the duty on this article in the F W Indies is 3 livres with a premium of 12 on French Fish but no such regulation has appeared.
 
In Europe this article as a commodity of the United States was placed by the Arret of the 29 of December 1787105 on the same footing with the fish of the Hanseatic Towns or other favoured Nations.
The Decree of January 1791 imposes a duty on the Fish of the U States imported into France in common with all foreign Fish of 20 livres about 4 Dollars per Kental. No distinction in Favour of the UStates.106
V Fish Oil The decree of January 1791 imposes a duty of 6 livres per Kental on this Article imported into France being of the product of the Fisheries of the UStates very considerably lower than the British Duty.107 Introduced through the departments of the Upper and Lower Rhine, Meurthe & Moselle it is rated at 12 livers per Kental.
In other cases foreign Fish Oil is prohibited.
VI Rice Grain108
Pot & Pearl Ash109
The decree of January 1791 makes these Articles on their importation into France free of duty.
No distinction in favour of UStates.
An Act of Parliament prohibits the importation into Great Britain of
The UStates in respect to these Articles stand on the same footing with other Nations.
In respect to Pot & Pearsh Ash Great Britain makes a distinction in favour of the U States by a duty on the same articles brought from other foreign Nation of about 5 per Cent.110
VII Indigo
VIII Naval Stores The Decree of January 1791 lays a duty on Tar of 15 sous per Kental, on Pitch of 5 sous per Kental on Turpentine of 35 sous per Kental. No distinction in favour of the UStates.111
Great Britain makes a distinction upon Tar & Pitch in favour of the U States by about ⅓ more duty on the same articles brought from other countries.112
 
IX Beef & Pork The decree of January 1791 lays a duty of 5 livres per Kental on these Articles imported into France from the U States as well as other foreign countries. No distinction in our favour.
G B prohibits them in respect to all foreign countries. No distinction to our prejudice.
X Flax & Flax Seed
XI Pig & Bar Iron The Decree of January 1791 lays a duty of 1 livre per Kental on bar Iron but leaves Pig free.113 No distinction in favour of the UStates.
G Britain makes a considerable difference in favour of the U States by a duty on Russian Bar Iron of £3.9.1 per Ton on the bar Iron of other countries of £.2.16.2 on Pig Iron of other countries of 5/6 per Ton.114
XII Vessels built in the UStates & belonging to French subjects were capable of being naturalized in France. This distinction in our favour is now done away.115 In England Ships built in the U States have been & are intitled to be recorded & being recorded & owned by B subjects enjoy the same ⟨pri⟩vileges as B. built ⟨sh⟩ips in the Trade between the U S & Britain.
XIII A general distinction in favour of the U States runs through the regulations of G B in this particular that most articles of foreign Countries brought in foreign Ships pay a higher Duty than if brought in British Ships; but not so of the same Articles if brought in Ships of the UStates.
 
XIV In the West India Trade of France the U States stand upon the same footing with other foregn Nations; in one instance perhaps upon a worse as it regards the operation of the thing namely as to salted beef which though foreign if brought from France in French Ships is exempted from the duty which is paid on the same article carried from the UStates directly to the Islands. The proximity of Ireland to France seems to render this an advantage to her over the U States.
In the West India Trade of G B the United States have the peculiar advantage of their commodities being introduced upon the same footing as if brought from the B Dominions in America except as to the Article of   carrying in Ships of the United States. Here is a distinction in favour of the U States & none against them.
Note116 The Notes (g) and (h) of Mr. Jeffersons Table117 refer to an arret of 9th of May 1789 as making certain alterations in the trade of the U States with the French W Indies.
But this Arret (which is merely an Ordinance of the Governor General of St Domingo) is confined wholly to the South part of the Island of St. Domingo on very special reasons relative to the improvement of that particular spot and with very severe restrictions to prevent an extension. It is no part of the permanent system of France, no part of the general system of the West Indies & is not known to have received the sanction of the King.118 It was besides past at a Moment of Revolution.

87AD, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

John Church Hamilton substituted for the table printed above a table entitled “Comparative Footing of the United States with the Dominions of France and Great Britain prior to the pending Revolution of France” (JCHW description begins John C. Hamilton, ed., The Works of Alexander Hamilton (New York, 1851–1856). description ends , V, 92–95). A copy of this statement in the Oliver Wolcott Papers, Connecticut Historical Society, Hartford, is endorsed as follows: “This Statement was prepared for Wm. Smith Esqr of So. Carolina upon which data his Speeches against Mr Madisons resolutions for restraining & regulating Commerce were founded.” The table also appears at the end of the version of Smith’s speech which was printed as a pamphlet in 1794 (Smith, The Speeches of Mr. Smith, of South-Carolina, Delivered in the House of Representatives of the United States, in January, 1794, on the Subject of Certain Commercial Regulations, Proposed by Mr. Madison, in the Committee of the Whole, on the Report of the Secretary of State [Philadelphia: Printed by Thomas Dobson, at the Stone House, No. 41, South Second-Street, 1794]).

88Concerning these and other matters which H queried in this document, see H to Tench Coxe, January 1, 1794, and Coxe to H, January 3, 1794.

89In the space above the words “Authorities as to France” H wrote the following words: Breads & biscuits prohibited French Is. Free B.”

90See note 58. A printed copy of this arrêt may be found in Papers of the Continental Congress, National Archives.

91H is referring to a table prepared by Jefferson in December, 1791, as a comparative study of British and French trade policies toward the United States. This table is printed in Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , V, 412–13. A manuscript copy of the table is in the Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

92The reference should be to George II.

93The reference should be to chapter 39.

94“Lettres-Patentes du Roi, en forme d’Edit, concernant le Commerce étranger aux Isles et Colonies de l’Amérique” (Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises description begins Médéric Louis Elie Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises de l’Amérique sous le Vent (Paris, 1784–1790). description ends , III, 224–36).

95Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises description begins Médéric Louis Elie Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises de l’Amérique sous le Vent (Paris, 1784–1790). description ends , VI, 561–66.

96Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises description begins Médéric Louis Elie Moreau de St. Méry, Loix et Constitutions des Colonies Françoises de l’Amérique sous le Vent (Paris, 1784–1790). description ends , VI, 847–52, 863–65.

97See note 46.

98See note 49.

99See note 53.

100See note 54.

101See note 67.

10227 Geo. III, C. 13 (1787).

103See note 43.

104See notes 41 and 42.

105See note 58.

106This duty on foreign salted fish was imposed by the Tarif Général March, 1791 (Archives Parlementaires description begins Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (Paris, 1868– ). description ends , XXIII, 616–17).

107See notes 57 and 58.

108See notes 69 and 70.

109See note 74.

110Under the Consolidating Act of 1787 other foreign nations paid a duty of two shillings threepence per hundredweight on potash and pearlash (27 Geo. III, C. 13).

111These duties were incorporated into the Tarif Général of March, 1791 (Archives Parlementaires description begins Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (Paris, 1868– ). description ends , XXIII, 610, 619).

112See note 79.

113See Tarif Général of March, 1791 (Archives Parlementaires description begins Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (Paris, 1868– ). description ends , XXIII, 609).

11427 Geo. III, C. 13 (1787).

115Under the Tarif Général of March, 1791, the importation of foreign-built ships into France was prohibited (Archives Parlementaires description begins Archives Parlementaires de 1787 à 1860 (Paris, 1868– ). description ends , XXIII, 623). See also note 45.

116This note was written on a separate page and obviously was intended to be distinct from the notes that preceded it.

117See note 91. Note “g” in Jefferson’s table states: “There is a general law of France prohibiting foreign Flour in their Islands, with a suspending power to their Governors, in cases of necessity. An Arret of May 9, 1789, by their Governor makes it free till 1794, August; and in fact it is generally free there.” Note “h” reads as follows: “The Arret of Sept. 18, 1785, gave a premium of 10 livre tournois the Kental on fish brought in their own bottoms, for 5 years, so that the law expired Sept. 18, 1790. Another Arret, passed a week after, laid a Duty of 5 l. the kental on fish brought in foreign vessels, to raise money for the premium before mentioned. The last Arret was not limited in time; yet seems to be understood as only commensurate with the other. Accordingly an Arret of May 9, 1789, has made fish in foreign bottoms liable to 3 l. the kental only till Aug. 1, 1794.” (Ford, Writings of Jefferson description begins Paul Leicester Ford, ed., The Writings of Thomas Jefferson (New York, 1892–1899). description ends , V, 412–13). See also note 43.

118The “Ordonnance Concernant La Liberté du Commerce pour la Partie du Sud de Saint-Domingue” of May 9, 1789, which granted liberal concessions to foreign shipping, is printed in Saintoyant, La Colonisation Française pendant la Revolution, I, 452–53. It was annulled on July 2, 1789, by the “Arret du Conseil d’Etat du Roi Cassant et Annulant L’Ordonnance du Gouverneur Général de Saint-Domingue du 9 Mai 1789, Laquelle Accordait aux Etrangers la Liberté du Commerce pour la Partie Sud de Saint-Domingue” (Saintoyant, La Colonisation Française pendant la Révolution description begins J. Saintoyant, La Colonisation Française pendant la Révolution, 1789–1799 (Paris, 1930). description ends , I, 453).

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