James Madison Papers
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Notes on Navigation and Trade, [ca. 13 May] 1790

Notes on Navigation and Trade

[ca. 13 May 1790]1


Massts. has 60 distilleries. (Sheffd. p. 108)3

In 1769.—3,580,144. galls. of French & Surinam,—and only 299,678 of British Molasses were imported into N. America—(Id. 109)

The Quantity of foreign Molasses imported into America, prior to the war, appears by the Custom house books to be greater than the quantity of rum imported there, altho’ the latter free from duty and molasses subject to a duty of more than 20 PerCt. on prime cost—and ⅓ may be reasonably added to the Custom house account. The undistilled consumption inconsiderable (Id. 111.)

⅓ more rum distilled than imported (p. 114)

ton Cwt qrs lb ton Cwt qrs lb
In 1773. imported into Engd. 61. 6. 2. 20. — Exported 7 — 6 — 3 — 244


N. England Rum preferred by the Canadians & lower ranks—is stronger & 25 Per Ct. cheaper (p. 110)

Rum greatly exceeds any other article of W. Indies brought into America. (p. 111.[)]

Rum from Sta. Cruz 3d or 4d. a Gallon cheaper than British5

In 1769. 2,834,752. Gallns. valued at ⅔ Ster: £318,909–12. imported into America (112)

In 1769. rum exported from America—to G. Britain 25,974
Ireland 2,020
South of Europe 13,871
Africa 322,683
W. Indies  12,027
376,575. Gallns.

In 1773. total rum imported into G. B. 2,138,681. } No. II6
exported from do 828,803.

N. Engld. Rum from 25 to 30 PerCt. cheaper than W. Inds. rum—(Sheffd.)

Rum imported into U. S—1785–86–87—cost 12,000,000 drs—Country rum ½ as much more. Morse 897


topsail sloops tonnage
No. of Vessels inward to America in 1770 21428 + 4919 = 7061 365,110.
do outward to do do 2271 + 5135 = 7406 385,446

N. B. deduct 60 or 70,000 tonnage for N.foundland—Canada, Nov. Scot: Floridas &c—

In 1774. total British comercial Tonnage 1,136,162

allowing 12 men to 200 tons—sailors, 68,228.9

an: 1581 in 1660 in 1700 in 1750. in 1774
English tonnage  72,450—95,266 —after navigation act in 15 years—up at 190,533.— 273,693—609,798—798,864
+ ⅓ unregistred 266,288 = 1,065,152 + Scotch 71,010 = 1,136,162 (Id. p. 136)

proportion of foreign to British tonnage cleared out, about 1600—¼—1700. less than ⅙—1725. 1/19—1750. 1/12—1774 less than 1/12. (Ibid)

Ships built and equipped in N. Engd. Sts from £7.10 to £8. Sterlg. per ton
do middle & S. Sts, from £8– to £8–10. Cost of timber & building £4. Most esteemed
do. live oak, S. Sts from £10. to £10.10. Cost of do £5.

Medium price in Thames for vessel of 300 tons compleatly finished £9. per ton with £150. for masts & yds.

Wages of Seamen in America 45/. Sterlg. per month—in Engd. 25/. to 30/.

U. Provs. of Holld. have 10,000 national seamen only—with abt. 25,000 from Germany & North of Europe.10

No. of coasting vessels entered at Custom-House of Philada. in 1785–was 567 all others 501 = 1068.

Exports of U. S. estimated by Mr. Jefferson at £3,000,00011—of which ⅓ might be advantageously interchanged with France under regulations mutually liberal & proper

formerly 6,000 seamen in Whale fishing—now free in France—

Rice gaining ground in France—probably whole of American rice may be consumed there—it employed 2500 sailors—

About 600 vessels enter & clear in ports of R. Island annually—Morse12

Annual amt. of Cod & other fish exported from N. England, including profits of Whalefishing about £500,000. Morse13

Connecticut prior to 1774. exports £200,000 lawful money. Morse14
in 1774. 180 vessels—10,317 tons—1162 seamen besides coasters—with 90 seamen
N York in 1774. 1075 vessels in her trade–40,81215

Vessl Vessls
Pennsylva. vessels entered 1786–910– 1787–87016

Exports of Va. rated by Mr. Jefferson at 2,800,000 Dollrs.17

do. of S. C. at £505,279. by Morse18

Pennsylva. tonage for 178819 British 21,240 } American 214 Ves. 22122
French 1428 New 13 do 1707
Dutch 1411 Coasters 376 20,260
Spanish 3186 603 44 089
Portuguese   3747 240 28,012
28,012 of 240 Vessels 843 72,101 tons
Penna. Imports20
England 411,889
Scotland 4,555
Ireland   93,504
W. Indies 134,506
America    3,368
Russia 10,060
Germany 10,060
Holland 79,509
Dutch W. Inds. 49,585
France 29,390
Fr: W. Inds. 20,538
Portugal 26,175
Fayal 11,507
Madeira 39,900
Teneriffe 14,667
Spain 38,235
& 7,366
Danish W. Inds. 96,849
Canton   37,710
1,119,383. 21
1785 Value of imports—1,018,578

Imports for 1 Year— ending
Coffee 967,680 lb.) 1788
Supr. Green tea 10,000
Inferr. do. 136,544
other teas 260,000
Sugar 5,624,000
refined 4,000
Spirits 840,000 Galls.
Molasses 543,900
Mada 68,000
Wines 298,000
Salt 400,000 Busls.

Imports in 1785
W. I Rum 760,000 Gal: @  3/4 £ 121,829
Contl. do. 326,896  2/6 40,862
Brandy 51,175  3/4 8,529
Ginn 11,956  5/. 2,889
Mada. Wine 27,621 10/. 13,810
other Wine 282,850 47,645
Sugar 645,716 45/. 145,284
Coffee 855,680 15d. 53,480
Molasses 432,000 gs. 22½d 40,500
Bohea tea 150,000 @  2/6 18,750
other do. 75,000  6/8 25,000
Non-enumerated    500,000
£ 1,018578

Ms (DLC). In JM’s hand. Undated, but see n. 1. Listed under date of 14 May 1790 in Index to the James Madison Papers.

1Although undated, this document is obviously related to JM’s speeches of 13 and 14 May 1790. The Ms is a single sheet written on both sides. As preserved in JM’s papers the recto consists of the notes on navigation, with the statistics on Pennsylvania tonnage and imports inserted at the bottom of the page; the verso contains the notes on molasses and rum. The notes on navigation were undoubtedly used by JM during the May 1790 debate on discriminatory tonnage duties. Those on molasses and rum are also relevant to this debate but may have been originally drawn up for the 1789 tariff debate (see n. 2). In the text presented here the editors have placed these notes first to accord with the probable order in which JM compiled them. This ordering is also consistent with his citations of Lord Sheffield. At the beginning of the section on molasses, he mentions “Sheffd. p. 108” as his authority. The first citation under navigation, however, is “Id. p. 136,” suggesting that these notes are a later addition to those on molasses and rum.

2JM may have used these notes in his speech of 28 Apr. 1789 (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , XII, 114–18).

3John [Baker Holroyd] Lord Sheffield, Observations on the Commerce of the American States … (new ed., much enlgd.; London, 1784). For JM’s reaction to this work upon its first appearance in 1783 as a pamphlet, see PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , VII, 295–96. Six editions had been published by 1784. Although the sixth edition was available to JM, his page-number citations prove that he used the earlier “new edition, much enlarged” (also published in Dublin, 1784).

4These statistics are from Table III in the appendix to Sheffield’s Observations.

5Sheffield, Observations, p. 128.

6Ibid., Appendix, Table II.

7Jedidiah Morse, The American Geography … (Elizabeth Town, [N.J.], 1789). JM’s entry from Morse is inserted at the bottom of the page and may have been added at a later time. It is uncertain when JM first saw a copy of this work, which was published sometime during the spring of 1789. Morse petitioned Congress for a copyright on 12 May (DHFC description begins Linda Grant De Pauw et al., eds., Documentary History of the First Federal Congress of the United States of America (3 vols. to date; Baltimore, 1972—). description ends , III, 56–57).

8JM copied from the wrong column; this figure should be 3299. These statistics are from Sheffield, Observations, Appendix, Table VII.

9Ibid., p. 136.

10The preceding information (beginning with the cost of New England ships) is from ibid., pp. 139–40 n.

11This is Jefferson’s estimated value of U.S. exports to Europe (Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date; Princeton, 1950—). description ends , XIX, 136–37). At the top of his copy of Jefferson’s estimate, JM wrote “Estimate (by Mr. Jefferson 17) of the annual exports of the U. States, those of the American Traveller (1769) taken as the basis but corrected. This statement refers to the exports prior to the Revolution.” For a comparison of Jefferson’s figures with those in Alexander Cluny, The American Traveller … (London, 1769), see Boyd, Papers of Jefferson description begins Julian P. Boyd et al., eds., The Papers of Thomas Jefferson (19 vols. to date; Princeton, 1950—). description ends , XIX, 138 n. In addition to Jefferson’s estimate of exports, JM also copied Jefferson’s estimate of American imports and an extract from Jefferson’s remarks on Sheffield’s Observations (ibid., XIX, 127–31, 135). JM’s copies of these documents are in a notebook that JM apparently put together late in life when arranging his papers (DLC [Series 6, Madison’s Notes on Exports and Navigation]).

12Morse, American Geography, p. 203.

13Ibid., p. 149.

14Ibid., p. 216.

15Ibid., p. 263.

16Ibid., p. 336.

17Jefferson, Notes on Virginia (Peden ed.), p. 167.

18Morse, American Geography, p. 437.

19JM had cited Pennsylvania’s tonnage statistics in his speech of 5 May 1789. His source on that occasion was a memorandum listing the tonnage figures for five states (PJM description begins William T. Hutchinson et al., eds., The Papers of James Madison (vols. 1–10, Chicago, 1962–77; vols. 11—, Charlottesville, Va., 1977—). description ends , XII, 101 n. 1, 135).

20JM inserted these statistics laterally on the lower margin.

21The preceding statistics are also recorded in a separate memorandum, filed at the end of 1784 in the bound Madison Papers volumes at the Library of Congress. Written in an unknown hand, this document is headed: “The Whole Imports into Pensylvania in 1784. Valued— £1,119,383.”

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