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We are struck in this table* with the want of agreement between the partial data. The year 1778 and 1788 differ the most from those which immediately precede them, and yet these two years, in which trade does not appear to have followed its natural course, are cited by all the authors who treat of the beneficent influence of the regulation of the Count de Galvez on the progress of the national industry and prosperity of the colonies. The years 1784 and 1785 exhibit examples of an extraordinary commercial activity, because after the peace of Versailles, the productions of the colonies, which had been accumulating during the war, flowed all at once into Europe. The peace of Amiens recently exhibited a similar but still more remarkable phenomenon. In 1802 the port of Cadiz alonet received from the
* The result in this table for the five years preceding 1753 differs from that given by Raynal (vol. ii. liv. vi.), because that celebrated author did not enter into the account, the importations and exportations of the Spanish West India Islands. The balance of 1778 is taken from the Tableau de l'Espagne of M. Bourgoing, T. ii. p. 200. For 1784 and 1785 see Demeunier, Encycl, method., art. Espagne, p. 322. The imports and exports of 1784 are specified in the work of Page, T. i. p. 115, and 300. The exports from the ports of Spain to the colonies in national goods, were valued in 1789 at 7,220,000 piastres ; in 1790 at 5,100,000 piastres ; in 1791 at 5,800,000 piastres; and in 1792 at 13,500,000 piastres. (Laborde, T. iv. p. 383.).
† Cadiz in 1802 received 54,742,033 piastres in gold different ports of America in colonial produce and precious metals the value of 409,000,000 livres tournois* a som egral to the total importation of Englandt in 1790.
The tables which go by the deceitful denomination of balance of trade, consey no useful information, except when they contain averages of a great number of years. In this point of view the first result in the preceding table appears preferable to the rest ; and this result would even be of great importance for the history of American trade, if we were sure of the accuracy of an operation executed in the custom-house of Cadiz from the registers of six years between 1748 and 1753. .
The produce of the mines which annually Aows into Europe, and which is included in the objects of exportation from the colonies, may be divided into three portions; the first which is extremely small belongs to American colonists settled in Spain; the second from eight to nine millions of piastres, enters the royal treasury, as the net revenue of all the American colonies;
and silver both coined and in ingots, and colonial produce to the value of 27,096,814 piastres. .
* £16,693,874 sterling. Trans.
+ Commerce of England with all parts of the world, according to accounts laid before Parliament; Importation in 1790 18 millions sterling; in 1800 28 millions : exportation in 1790, 22 millions sterling ; in 1800 34 mil
and the third which is the most considerable, serves to pay the excess of the importations from Europe into the Spanish colonies. When we are informed that in 1785, America: sent into Spain precious metals and agricultural produce (en plata y frutos ), to the amount of 63 millions of piastres, and that she only received goods in return to the value of 38 millions of piastres, .we might be tempted to conclude that the net revenue of the king and the revenues of Spanish families possessing estates in the New Continent amount to 25 millions of : piastres per annum. Nothing, however, would be more false than such a conclusion; for the metallic wealth of the colonies not only serves to pay the debt contracted in Spain for the importation of European and Asiatic goods, which have been registered in that country, but it serves also to pay either at Cadiz or Barcelona English draughts for the balance of goods smuggled from Jamaica and Trinidad into the coasts of Mexico, Caracas, and New Grenada. · In general the registers of Spanish customs throw very little light on the great problem: what is the value of the goods and commodities of Europe and Asia, annually wanted by the Spanish colonies in the present state of civilization ? To throw light on this discussion, it is more important to know the extent of the
wants of America than to know accurately what active share the mother country has hitherto had in supplying the colonies. Besides the denomination of national goods which we find used in all the commercial tables of Spain, merely indicates that the merchants have succeeded in passing such or such a quantity of goods at the custom-house for the produce of the agriculture or manufactures of the Peninsula. The Spanish industry has made considerable progress in late years; but it would be a gross error to judge of the rapidity of that progress from the custom-house books.
To know as nearly as possible the value of the importations of Spanish America, I endeavoured to inform myself on the spot in each province, of the state of commerce of the principal ports ; I procured information relative to the goods registered, and those which were smuggled; and I turned in a particular manner my attention to those years, when, either from a free trade with neutrals, or from the sale of prizes, a province was glutted with European and East India commodities. After discussing with many intelligent merchants the tables of commerce which I have given above, and of which the most were formed under the care of the consulados, I deemed myself warranted in fixing on the following numbers, which seem to me to approach the nearest to the truth. .