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pared with other colonies possessing much inferior advantages, their progress would be slow. The French system although not entirely free from the prevalent error of exclusive companies, is thought by some to have been the least oppressive. Great Britain endeavored to monopolise the commerce of her North American possessions, and injudiciously thwarted their trade with the West Indies; a trade without which, it was impossible to pay her for the products which she furnished, as it would now be to discharge the balance against us, without the aid of the commerce wbich we carry on with different parts of the world. But when compared to the parent state, neither the colonies of France nor of England, bore the the same proportion as the Spanish colonies to Spain; and those countries moreover, were not absolutely incapable of supplying their colonies with articles of European manufacture, although the colonies could , not always find a market, at least the best market, for their products in the ports of the mother country. The establishments of the French, English, and Dutch were formed it is true, with different views from those of Spain; they calculated on seeking for articles of export on the surface of the earth, and not in its bowels.
Their value depended upon the market; commerce was therefore indispensable. The North American provinces and other colonies, although under distinct governments, were permitted to have a free and unconstrained intercourse with each other; while the Spanish American viceroyalties, stood upon the same. footing as if they were each a foreign nation. In our rupture with Great Britain, no one cause operated more powerfully on our minds, than the attempt to force
a monopoly of our commerce, as well as to make us dependent upon her alone for every article of European manufacture. It was not with satisfaction we saw the inhabitants of Great Britain, carrying their products wheresoever they could find a market, while we were not permitted to carry ours to other nations, or to receive their commodities but in a circuitous manner. It was a policy which produced heartburnings with freemen, who had lost nothing of the just sense of their rights by transplantation to America. T'he result proved how unwise this attempt to change the natural current of commerce. Since America has has been left free to engage in the competition so much dreaded, the trade of Great Britain has become infinitely more lucrative than it otherwise would have been, for the simple reason, that we have been able to purchase more from her by being able to sell more to others. No proposition can be more clearly proved, than that the prosperity of one nation is a general benefit to all, and it is unquestionable, that the prosperity of the colony adds to the prosperity of the parent state, not by the dominion and government of it, but by the market which a people of similar habits and wants must furnish for 'her products. Nearly the same sentiment is expressed by the enlightened statesman, Campillio. To illustrate the subject by a familiar comparison, what man in any kind of business, would not rather place himself in the midst of a hundred free and industrious families, than in the neighborhood of a planter the master of as many slaves? Such have been the leading principles of the Spanish colonial policy; they have undergone considerable changes at different periods; but these
changes were not the result of enlightened reflection, but brought about by circumstances which could not be resisted. A rapid survey of the commercial history of Spanish America will confirm the justice of the preceding observations.
The principle upon which the whole system wag built was simply this, that the colony existed only for the benefit of the inhabitants of the metropolis.* The colony being the property of the metropolis, its native inhabitants were in some measure regarded in the light of vassals to the natives of Old Spain. The object constantly in view in the system of colonial government, was to gather wealth in the hands of the Spanish merchants, to foster and enrich Spanish manufactures, to indulge favorites and parasites, to support military, civil, and religious functionaries, and finally, to furnish the means of carrying on wars in which the Indies had not the most distant concern. If all the items furnished by Spanish America were set down, they would furnish a curious account against the metropolis. One of these would be fifty millions of dollars for the palace of the escurial; another would be the expenses of a war of seventy
* The following is the acknowledgment of a Spanish writer, in a work as late as 1816—"Espagna con industria, fuerte y rica," page 123. Spain with industry strong and rich. En todas las naciones fuertes ha consistido el sistema colonial en el fomento de la metropoli, combinado, en lo parte possible, con el de las colonias. mismias. “In every powerful nation the colonial system has had for its object the benefit of the metropolis, and as far as is eompatible with this, that of the colonies theniselves.” What equality is there here? Is not this the language of a master to his slave? this is undoubtedly the foundation of all modern systems a just cause of resistance can therefore never be wanting.
years, carried on by Spain against the Netherlands. Almost every branch of industry, which would in any way interfere with those of Spain was strictly prohibited; while the inhabitants of Spain were freely permitted to pursue whatever might contribute to their wealth, comfort, or aggrandisement. America was forbidden to pursue those arts which are in some measure necessary to every civilized community. The insulting threat of an English minister, that he would not permit us to forge even a hob nail, was in Spanish America literally carried into effect. In the first instance, as gold and silver, and a few of the precious productions of the colonies unknown in Europe, were all that was wanted of them; they were so restricted in the manufactories and agriculture, as to be compelled to pro cure from the metropolis, cloths, household furniture, wines, oil, and even some kinds of provisions. In fine as a general rule, everything which could be procured in Spain, America was forbidden to cultivate or manufacture.
In order to secure to the Spanish merchant the whole benefit of the American commerce, the Amer. icans were not permitted to own a single ship. The domestic commerce between the different American viceroyalties, which would have tended so much to their mutual comfort and advancement, was in generalprohibited, or placed under such discouraging restrictions as to be productive of the same effect. No fo. reigner could enter the colonies without special license, no vessel of any foreign nation could be receiv. ed into their harbors, and no one was permitted to trade with them without permission, under the penalty of death. Those portions of South America, such as
Venezuela and La Plata, which were not possessed of mines, and depended on commerce entirely for the value of their products, were kept in the lowest state .. of misery and depression. Until a change in the sys. tem took place, they were regarded as the poorest of all the Spanish possessions, although they afterwards came to rank among the most valuable and important; they are now indeed the strong holds of liberty, and by them in all probability will the independence of South America be achieved..
It has already been stated, that at first the manufactures of Spain and her European dependences, in some measure sufficed to purchase the gold and silver, the cochineal, indigo, cocoa, Jesuits bark, sugar, cot
ton, and dye woods of America. During the reign . of Charles V. Spain was one of the most industrious, and therefore powerful and prosperous nations of Europe. The Spanish manufactures in wool, flax, silk, and iron, were not surpassed by those of any other nation; and yet these so early as the middle of the seventeenth century, had fallen into decay, so as to be insufficient to supply even the home consumption. This sad reverse has been attributed by able writers to the sudden influx of wealth, whose effects were rather to overturn the sober plans of industry, than to afford a natural and friendly stimulus. But the causes before enumerated, the bigotry of Charles II, and his successors, and the short sighted cupidity of the Spanish commercial monopolists, must be regarded as sufficient to account for the ruin of Spain. From that time, her importance in Europe was gradually declining, her population diminished, her agriculture decayed, and her naval and military force sunk into contempt. VOL. I.