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France and England, limits, evidently, its consumption, and we hear of no proposed alteration in this and many other duties in England.
Although the proposed alterations in the English corn laws deserve due praise, we ought not to overlook that Sir Robert Peel retains the protective duties on all articles which he yet deems necessary, as well as the English navigation laws, which secure exclusively British interests. Sir Robert Peel's proposed alterations have the appearance of great liberality, but they will not realize as liberal a commercial policy as that already existing in the German Zollverein, and in the other German States. If ever navigation laws are enacted by the American or German States, their true interest for an increase of direct commerce must insure forever an equal treatment of their vessels in the harbors of each country. Since there are not, and never can exist, serious conflicting interests between the Uni. ted States and Germany, they are likely to remain forever in peace, so that the German ports will be always open to American ships.
The central position of Germany, being in the heart of Europe, is highly favorable for commerce, and especially for transito trade. The German navigabie rivers, the Rhine, Weser, Oder, Weixchsel, Danube, etc., and the net of railroads intercepting, connect the commerce of the North Sea and of the East Sea with the Adriatic, the Black Sea, and the Mediterranean, and with the nations east and west of Germany. A country thus geographically situated, is formed by nature for the utmost extent of the transito trade. Nothing can be more clear, than that it is the interest of all the German States, Austria included, not to levy any duty on the transito trade ; for thousands of persons can gain by this business, if free and unmolested; whilst the duty would only stand on the paper, and yield no rev. enue. Even the slightest transito duty would drive the goods from the German rivers and railroads, and those goods would be sent by sea, or through the neighboring countries, if the freight should be cheaper than the freight and transito duty, direct through Germany. If this transito trade is not impeded by duties, it must necessarily enrich Germany in a similar manner as the inland trade on the rivers, canals, and railroads of New York, the most central American State, increases its industry and wealth. If all the German States will abstain from the levying of any transito duty on merchandise, the transito trade of Germany, not only, but industry and commerce in general, will gain increased and accelerated life, by the direct steam communication with the United States. All im. provements made in these respective countries, tend to benefit them mutu. ally. A sound commercial policy will always have to acknowledge that the commercial interests of the United States, and of the German States, should forever go hand in hand. The benefits of such an increased intercourse are incalculable for the interests of industry. The great activity in correspondence, business and speculation, existing in the seaport cities, before and after the arrival of the Atlantic steamers, is sufficiently known, and renders it needless to dwell on the commercial importance of those steamers. But it may be especially remembered that peculiar advantages will result to those nations, whose ports they connect. Thus, for instance, the English are, by means of their Atlantic steamers, enabled to execute orders in the shortest time, and to monopolize, in advance of all other nations, the market of the United States, with fancy articles, and generally, with those goods which contain much value in a small compass, which depend on fashion, and a speedy transmission of which is therefore desirable, before the market is overstocked from other quarters, leaving it to the latter to glut the markets by later arrivals. The profit is apparently with the English, who can monopolize this branch of the business by the steamers; and the loss is with the merchants of this and other nations, and with the consumers in the United States, who thus pay more than they would do, if greater competition existed.
It is certainly to be expected that the German States, and the other continental nations of Europe, with a true appreciation of their own interests, will cheerfully co-operate with the United States in promoting the successful establishment of a line of mail steamers.
The committee on the post-office and post-roads, to whom was referred a letter from the Postmaster-General, after mature consideration of that part of it which refers to the establishment of an Atlantic line of steamers for the transportation of the mail between the United States and foreign countries, made an interesting and satisfactory report, the substance of which we here annex :
It appears from a communication received from the Postmaster-General, under date of March 9, 1846, in answer to a resolution of the House of Representatives of the 3d instant, that, under the authority of an act of Congress, approved March 3, 1845, that officer proceeded to invite proposals for the transportation of the mails of the United States between New York, or any other Atlantic port of the United States, and some one of the important ports of Europe, fixing the 15th day of January, 1846, as the last day for the reception of bids.
Several bids were made for this service, and it seemed to the Postmaster-General, upon examining them, that the proposal of Edward Mills, for a semi-monthly line between New York and Havre, at $300,000, was the most advantageous for the government. Controlling considerations, however, induced the PostmasterGeneral to believe that it was important to select some port in Germany for the termination of the line; and, upon a full examination of the subject, he determined to invite Mr. Mills to vary his proposal so far as to substitute Bremen in the place of Havre. The result of a free interchange of opinion upon this subject, between that officer and Mr. Mills, was the acceptance of a bid submitted by the latter, in which he offered to establish a line of steamships, for the conveyance of the mails semi-monthly from New York to Cowes, in England, and thence to BremenHaven, in Germany, and semi-monthly from Bremen-Haven, by Cowes, to New York; receiving, as a compensation for the service, $400,000 per annum; reserving, however, the privilege of running each alternate ship to and from Havre, instead of Bremen, at an annual reduction in the amount paid for the service, of $50,000.
The time has arrived for increasing our means of communication with Europe. The rapid and certain transmission of intelligence is of the highest importance to a commercial people; and instead of relying upon the steamships of Great Britain for the transportation of our mails, we should enter at once upon an enterprise to which we are invited by the most powerful considerations connected with our relations to the world, and which can no longer be neglected if we would keep pace with the movements of an enlightened age.
The route selected by the Postmaster-General for the line of steamships which will be employed in the transportation of the mails of the United States to and from Europe, is believed by the committee to combine important advantages. By touching at Cowes, a direct and rapid communication is secured both with England and with France. London may be reached in three hours, and Havre in less than nine.
Cowes is an accessible and safe port, (the only one on the British coast offering these advantages,) and the delay would be trifling to which a vessel wonld be subjected in entering it when on its course to Bremen. While from that point mails can be despatched in so short a time to the great emporium of British commerce, and to France and Belgium, they might also be forwarded to Spain
and Portugal. At Bremen, the mails for Germany are to be disembarked, and they will be rapidly spread overland through the neighboring kingdoms and states of that populous region, by means of railroads extending in various directions.
Starting, upon their return, from the most central port of commercial Europe, the steamships of the United States will receive there the letters and other communications of the people north of the Rhine and the Rhone, destined for this country; while at Cowes they will take in letters, pamphlets, and other publications from England and France, intended for distribution here.
It will thus be perceived that while a perfect communication is secured with England and France, Germany and other parts of Europe are reached with the least possible delay. These important advantages are secured at comparatively little expense. By reference to the letter from the Postmaster-General, and the documents which accompany it, it will be seen that the lowest bid which that officer received for carrying the mails to England was $385,000; while the expense of sending them to France would have been $300,000, and to Germany $400,000. The route determined upon, while it opens the communication with England and France just referred to, connects directly with Germany at an expense of $400,000 only; thus making the cost to the government $685,000 less than would have been required for the service if it had been contracted for separately.
It is believed that a line of mail steamers between New York and Bremen, making semi-monthly trips, and touching at Cowes, so far from becoming a charge upon the government, will almost immediately sustain itself, and will, in a short time after its complete and efficient organization, yield a profit to the Post-Office Department.
Independent of the advantage which this line will possess in commanding at Bremen the entire mail of Germany, and of the north of Europe, (containing a population of 120,000,000,) destined for this country, it will also receive the Asiatic mail, which, upon the completion of the continuous railroad under contract connecting that port with the Adriatic sea, can be disembarked at Trieste, and sent overland to Bremen in sixty hours. Our commercial relations with Germany are steadily becoming stronger and more important; and the business correspondence between that country and this will naturally increase with the additional frequency and certainty of communication which a line of steamships will afford. It is well known, too, that a large proportion of the emigrants who seek homes in our country come from Germany; and they would find, in this direct and rapid transmission of mails, a sufficient motive for keeping up a correspondence with their friends through that channel, instead of subjecting their letters to the delays and uncertainties to which they are exposed when sent by sailing vessels, or the increased and excessive charges which they must pay, if sent by the Cunard line, through England. From January, 1832, up to January, 1846, 181,819 emigrants embarked from Bremen, for the United States. The importance of this fact will at once be perceived, upon examining a statement of the number of emigrants who embarked from Bremen, compared with the number who embarked from other ports of the North Sea in the year 1845.
From Hamburg, the number of emigrants sailing for the United States was, within that year, 2,600. From Rotterdam, about 3,000. From Amsterdam, 1,600. From Antwerp, 5,041 ; while from Bremen, it amounted to 31,016. It may fairly be supposed that the amount of correspondence will bear some ratio to the number of emigrants; and if this should prove to be true, Bremen, in this single view, possesses advantages, as a point of communication, which are not to be found in other ports.
There are, however, other considerations connected with this subject, which ought not to be overlooked. Nothing can be regarded as unimportant which tends to develop our resources, and increase the facilities of commercial intercourse between the thirty millions of Germany, demanding every year a larger supply of our products, and the twenty millions of our own industrious and enterprising people, engaged in producing the articles which they require. The trade which we at present enjoy with that country, yields the most important advantages. Some of our products, which are burdened with heavy duties in England and in France,
enter Germany under light charges, and in some of the coast States, they pass almost free. Our tobacco pays, upon entering the British ports, a duty of seventytwo cents per pound : in France, the article passes at once into the hands of the government, which monopolizes the trade; while at Bremen, it is charged with a mere nominal duty of two-thirds of one per cent ad valorem. The tobacco trade with France is further embarrassed by a regulation recently adopted by the French government, which restricts the importation of that article to French ships ; thus excluding American vessels from all the benefits of carrying it. This regulation not only embarrasses the trade in tobacco, but subjects the article to increased charges, by diminishing competition for its transportation, and of course lessens the profits of the producer. The quantity of tobacco entering all the ports of France annually amounts to about twenty thousand hogsheads, while the single port of Bremen received last year forty-two thousand five hundred and fifty-one hogsheads. More than one-third of all the tobacco exported from the United States within the last twelve years, was imported into Bremen.
It appears, too, from an examination of tables recently prepared, that its importation into that port is steadily increasing ; for the quantity received there in 1845 exceeded, by five thousand nine hundred and ninety-two hogsheads, the importation of the preceding year.
The importance of the trade in tobacco will be seen more clearly by looking to the increased production of that article in the United States.
In 1840, it appears, by tables which accompany the census, that the tobacco crop of Ohio amounted to five million nine hundred and forty-two thousand two hundred and seventy-five pounds, and that of Florida to seventy-five thousand two hundred and seventy-four pounds. In 1845, the crop of Ohio increased, as it appears by actual inspection at Baltimore, to twenty-six million seven hundred and sixteen thousand pounds ; while that of Florida, sold in Bremen alone, reached two hundred and thirty-four thousand pounds; some of it competing with the Havana tobacco, and bringing as high as a dollar per pound. In some of the other States, the proportionate increase has been still greater. Nor are the advantages of our trade with that port confined to tobacco, for Bremen receives nearly as much whale oil as is imported into all the other ports of the North Sea ; and its importation of rice, exceeding that of any of these ports, is about equal to that of Havre. While we enjoy, under existing arrangements, this advantageous trade with the north of Germany, it is our obvious policy to bring that part of Europe still nearer to us by increased commercial facilities, such as would be afforded by a direct line of steamships. Some of our other products will find there a valuable market. The demand for our cotton is increasing; and, when certain changes now contemplated are made in the duties of the German Customs Union, the trade in that important staple will become direct, and must be greatly augmented.
It appears, from the documents which accompany the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, that the value of our exports to France for the year ending the 30th of June, 1845, was sixteen million one hundred and forty-three thousand nine hundred and ninety-four dollars; while to the Netherlands, including Belgium, (for the old classification of kingdoms seems to be adhered to in the statement,) their value for the same time was three million six hundred and ten thousand six hundred and two dollars, and to the Hanse Towns four million nine hundred and forty-five thousand and twenty dollars. Our imports, for the same time, from France, amounted to twenty-two million sixty-nine thousand nine hundred and fourteen dollars; from the Netherlands, stated as above, they amounted to one million eight hundred and ninety-seven thousand six hundred and twenty-three dollars; and from the Hanse Towns, their value was two million nine hundred and twelve thousand five hundred and thirty-seven dollars. It is but fair to accompany this statement of our trade with the Netherlands, with the additional fact, that of our exports to that country, a considerable proportion passes into Germany. It is impossible to appreciate the advantages of this growing trade with Germany, or to comprehend the importance of cultivating it, without comparing its results with those which we derive from our trade with other parts of Europe.
In our exchange of commodities with France, amounting to thirty-eight million two hundred and sixty-two thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight dollars, the balance against us is six million eight hundred and seventy-five thousand nine hundred and seventy dollars ; while an exchange of commodities with the Netherlands, amounting to five million five hundred and eight thousand two hundred and twenty-five dollars, leaves a balance in our favor of one million seven hundred and twelve thousand nine hundred and seventy-nine dollars; and our trade with the Hanse Towns, amounting to seven million eight hundred and fifty-seven thousand five hundred and fifty-seven dollars, results in a balance for us of two million thirty-two thousand four hundred and eighty-three dollars. The importance, then, of encouraging our trade with Germany, of which Bremen is the principal port for the commerce of the United States, sufficiently appears from facts already stated; but we may add, that of the three hundred and fifty-nine vessels which cleared, during the year 1845, from the five north seaports, directly for the United States, two hundred and fourteen were from Bremen. It is our policy to multiply the means of intercourse with a people who have already met us in a liberal spirit, and whose demands for our products are steadily increasing.
Commerce, to enjoy permanent prosperity, ought to yield mutual benefits. By the rapid and direct communication which we are about to establish with Bremen, we shall not only extend our commerce more widely through Germany, but we shall invite a more frequent and active intercourse with the north of Europe generally. As their means of intercommunication multiply, some of them stretching from the North Sea to the Adriatic, and traversing Prussia and Austria, while others penetrate Russia, it is to be expected that the people of those extensive regions will seek a connection with us through our line of steamships, touching reg. alarly at one of their own northern ports. Independent of the advantage which our commerce generally would derive from this extension, our cotton would find new markets. The depression which is so often experienced in the sale of that great staple, can only be remedied by increasing the demand for it, and by creating new markets which may compete with those already established, and which sometimes combine to control prices.
Germany, already regarding us kindly, carrying on with us a valuable and growing trade, sending to our shores every year large bodies of industrious emigrants, who become useful citizens, will recognize in this new enterprise, an earnest effort, on our part, to make the means of communication between us more direct, certain, and frequent; and, responding to it in a national spirit, will cooperate with us to make it successful.
Correspondence multiplies with the increase of facilities. A letter weighing not more than half an ounce, mailed at Boston, and sent, by a British steamer, to Bremen, is charged about forty-three cents upon its delivery. The postage charged upon a newspaper of the ordinary size, sent by the same conveyance, amounts to sixty-one cents. These heavy charges, if they do not restrict the advantage of the speedy communication afforded by the steamers almost exclusively to Great Britain, greatly embarrass our correspondence with the continent of Europe. Impressions of our country are received from England; the British press, transmitting intelligence received from our shores by British steamers, sends out with it comments upon our affairs which must influence public sentiment. But through our own line of steamers, a direct and cheaper correspondence with the people of continental Europe may be carried on, while its amount will greatly increase with reduced rates of postage.
In looking over the map of Europe, it will be seen that Bremen is most favorably situated as a point of departure for a steamer bearing intelligence from different parts of the world to the United States.
It would, at its departure, receive intelligence from St. Petersburg, the capital of Russia, brought to Bremen within sixty-eight hours ; from Vienna within thirty-six hours, and from Berlin within fourteen hours; besides the mails from the smaller neighboring kingdoms and states. Touching at Cowes, it would take on board the French mail, with dates from Paris but sixteen hours old, and the English mail forwarded from London on the same day, and within three hours of its departure for the United States.