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An extra official Communication with regard to the Canada
Trade. A MEMORIAL has been presented to lord Holland and lord Auckland, on the part of the Canada merchants, setting forth a variety of injuries which they complain of having sustained from the government and servants of the United States, and praying that their complaints may be attended to, and redress obtained for them in the discussions which are at present pending between the American and British commissioners.
The injuries brought forward on their memorial may be reduced to the three following heads :
1st. Their exclusion from Louisiana.
2d. Their being made to pay higher duties for the goods they import into the United States from Canada, than the duties payable by the citizens of the United States on the importation of the same goods in American vessels into the Atlantick ports of the United States.
3d. Certain minor grievances which they contend to be in like manner contrary to the letter and spirit of the treaty of 1794.
By the 3d article of the treaty of 1794, it is agreed that it shall at all times be free to his majesty's subjects, and to the citizens of the United States, freely to pass and repass, by land or inland navigation, into the respective territories and countries of the two parties on the continent of America, and to navigate all the lakes and waters thereof, and freely to carry on trade with each other.
But notwithstanding this express stipulation, which secures to his majesty's subjects without limitation or reservation the right of commercial intercourse by land or in- , land navigation with all the territories of the United States, on the continent of America, the governour of Louisiana has thought proper to exelude them from the commerce of that extensive province, unless they abjure their allegiance to his majesty and take an oath of allegiance to the United States ; and the same governour has also taken it upon him to prohibit the introduction of any goods or merchandise, which are not the property of citizens of the United States.
This arbitrary proceeding, besides being a direct violation of the treaty of 1794, is highly detrimental to the private interests of the Canada merchants, for it excludes them from a country where they have been carrying on trade successfully for many years, without interruption from the Spaniards, having latterly pushed their commercial posts even to the banks of the Missouri, and augmented the sale of their goods in Louisiana, to the amount of about £40,000 or £50,000 annually.
By the second paragraph of the 3d article of the treaty of 1794, it is agreed, that all goods and merchandise, whose importation into the United States shall not be wholly prohibited, may freely, for the purpose of coinmerce, be carried into the same, in the manner aforesaid, by his majesty's subjects, and such goods or merchandise shall be subject lo no higher duties than those payable by citizens of the United States, on the importation of the same in American vessels into the Atlantick ports of the said states.
But notwithstanding this stipulation, that the duties on goods imported into the United States from Canada shall be no higher than the duties paid for the same goods when imported in American vessels into the Atlantick ports of the United States, the custom house officers of the inland ports practise a mode of estimating the duties on goods imported from Canada, which has the effect of raising the duty on the prime cost of these goods to £ 22 per cent. instead of £16 10 per cent. which is the amount of the duty payable on the same goods, when imported in American ves- sels into the Atlantick ports of the United States.
As these goods are destined ultimately for the Indian market, this difference gives a decided advantage in that conmerce to the citizens of the United States over the subjects of his majesty, contrary to the spirit and obvious meaning of the treaty of 1794, the basis of which, in all its stipulations with regard to the Indian trade, were impartiality, equality, and reciprocity of advantages.
The manner in which this evasion of the treaty is effected, will appear from the account given of it by the Canada merchants, in their memorial above referred to.
They state, “ that by the revenue laws of the United States, all goods imported into their territory, not charged with a particular duty, pay a duty of fifteen per cent. ad valorem, excepting goods from the Cape of Good Hope, and from the countries beyond it; that in calculating this duty, 10 per cent. is first added to the prime cost of the goods, and the duty afterwards calculated on the amount in the following manner :
Prime cost . . . - £100
£110 15 per cent. duty on £110 - 16 10 But that in estimating the duty on goods imported from Canada, the custom house officers add 10 per cent. not to the prime cost, but to their value at Montreal, where it is the custom for merchants to add 83 per cent. to the prime cost in Europe, as an equivalent for the expense and risk of transporting them so far, and that proceeding on this principle, the duties on goods imported into the United States from Canada are calculated in the following manner :
Prime cost in Europe . - £100
33 6 8
Additional 10 per cent.
133 6 8 13 6 8
146 13 4 Duty of 15 per cent. on £146 13 4 amounts to £22 : so that the same goods which pay a duty of only 16s. 8d. when imported by an American dealer, pay a duty of £22 when brought to the same market by a British dealer, contrary to the obvious spirit and meaning, and to the express stipulation of the treaty of 1794.
Under the third head of minor grievances are to be classed the following: 1st. Though British şubjects are entitled, in the terms of the treaty of 1794, " freely to pass and repass by land or inland navigation into the jerritones of the United States," yet they are obliged to pay $6 for a license to trade with the Indians within the boundaries of the United States by the servants of the States; and when they arrive at the American ports in the interiour, they are often compelled to dismiss their canoe men, and to hire others at a great expense and inconvenience.
2d. Though it is agreed in the treaty 6 that no duties shall be payable on any goods which shall merely be carried over any of the portages, or carrying places, on either side, for the purpose of being immediately re-embarked and carried to some other place or places," yet various attempts have been made to collect such duties at the American portages, which have at length compelled the British traders to abandon the grand portage, and to establish a new portage at Kiminesti, within the British line.
Though the arrangement of the Indian trade by the treaty of 1794 was "intended to render in a great degree the local advantages of each party common to both, and thereby to promote a disposition favourable to friendship and good neighbourhood," yet the revenue officers of the United States, without considering the difficulty of observ. ing in the lakes and rivers of Canada those regulations with regard to the approach to shores and ports, which are applicable to the ports of the ocean, have, in many instances, and in particular in the case of the two batteaux stopped at Michilimackinac, manifested a disposition to harrass and impede the trade of British merchants on pretences the most frivolous and unfounded, and in a manner equally vexatious and injurious to them.
London, April 22, 1807. Sir -We had the honour to receive your letter of Feb. 3d, on the 6th instant, and are now to give you a detail of the measures we have pursued in obedience to the instructions it communicated.
To enable you to form a just idea of those measures, it will be proper to state concisely what had occurred at the time of receiving your letter, aster the departure of Mr. Purviance with the treaty, and our despatch of the 3d of January.
Soon after that date we resumed our conferences with the British commissioners, as we intimated it was our intention to do, and had nearly digested with them the project of a supplemental convention upon the principal 10picks alluded to in the last paragraph of that despatch,
when an entire change took place in the British ministry: ford Grenville and his associates being compelled to retire in favour of the friends of the late Mr. Pitt. This change, of course, suspended the farther progress of the business, and in that state it still remains.
Before this change in the administration, we had presented to the British commissioners, according to an agree-, ment which accompanied the signature of the treaty, an antedated note on the subject of indemnity, and another to lord Howick on the same subject, previously seen and approved by the British commissioners. With these papers, (of which copies are now transmitted) the British commissioners not only expressed their perfect satisfaction, but assured us then, as they have frequently done since, that the just confidence with which that agreement had inspired us, in regard to its object, would not be disappointed.
We had many conferences with the British commissioners, previous to the late change, upon the subject of impressments, in which they invariably declared to us, that ihe practice of their government would be strictly conformable to the spirit of the article which they had settled with us, and which was afterwards rejected by the cabinet. They stated, that the prejudice of the navy, and of the country generally, was so strong in favour of their pretension, that the ministry could not encounter it, in a direct form ; and that, in truth, the support of parliament could not have been relied on in such a case. It was their idea that, by discontinuing the practice in the mode proposed by them, which might be done without giving any shock to the publick feeling, this prejudice might be gradually overcome, and an arrangement by treaty on this very delicate and difficult subject rendered ultimately practicable. The United States would in the interim enjoy the security they sought, without any abandonment of their rights, and be induced to yield in return, as their confidence increased, the equivalents which we had offer. ed in our project. .
The footing upon which the note of the British commis. sioners (which is and must be considered as equally obligatory as if actually inserted in the treaty) left this point, was supposed to be the less liable 10 exception on our part, because, while it affords a pledge, unquestionably intended to secure the substance of our object, and con