|This pamphlet was the first of three rejoinders and replies that seem to have been written by a single author in
response to John Colman's pamphlets. Though printed anonymously,
the author is thought to be Edward Wigglesworth. In this pamphlet
Wigglesworth takes issue with the policy prescriptions advocated by
Colman in his pamphlet, The
Distressed State of the Town of Boston.
To make the debate easier to follow, hyperlinks have been inserted into the text. An arrow of this kind links back to the passage from Colman's Distressed State that Wigglesworth is discussing. Arrows of this kind in Colman's pamphlet carry one forward to Wigglesworth's comments on the corresponding section.
The pamphlet has been reprinted by Andrew McFarland Davis in Colonial Currency Reprints, 1682-1751, Boston: The Prince Society, 1911, volume I, pp. 414-442.
One in the Country to his
Friend in Boston,
containing some Remarks
upon a late Pamphlet,
The Distressed State of the Town of Boston, &c.
T HE Papers and Pamphlets you lately sent me were a very acceptable Present, for which I return you hearty thanks. We that live more than half a hundred Miles from Boston, are apt to be very fond of knowing what's a doing among you; tho' sometimes after we know it, we find too much reason to lament it. So it hath happened in part to me. The pleasure of a Letter from my Friend, and of learning the Remarkable occurrences of the Town was considerably dampt by the concern which one of the Pamphlets gave me. I mean that Entitled, The Distressed State of the Town of Boston. Not that my Personal Interest is any more affected by the Notions in the Pamphlet, than that of almost any ordinary man in the Province. My Interest either doth already, or will very quickly (as you well know) lye chiefly the same way with the Interest of the Author of the Pamphlet, who is (I suppose) one of them that cast their Bread upon the Waters. But my trouble proceeded only from a Sincere Regard to the Publick Welfare, which I apprehend the Gentleman hath utterly mistaken, & even the true Interest of his own Town too; & yet he hath set his Mistakes (as I take ’em to be) in so plausible a light, as will be very likely to lead many others astray with him; And should the Government and Country fall into his measures, I am greatly deceived if we should ever see good Days again, so long as such measures should be pursued. Besides, the Gentleman hath represented things in such a smart and moving manner as (I fear) will tend much to stir & irritate men’s Passions and revive those Heats and Animosities, which have done us too much mischief already.
However, I don't imagine he did this with any design to disturb the publick Peace. I suppose these things lay much upon his Spirits; and therefore when he set himself to writing, his heart (unobserved by him) waxed hot within him, and that naturally and almost necessarily enlivened and sharpened his expression.
As to your desire of my Thoughts upon the subject, the place which I live in is so remote, that I cannot be informed of the certain truth of several matters of Fact, which might serve much to enlighten and direct me; but yet I am perswaded from the Reasons of things, that (as I said before) the Gentleman is utterly mistaken in his Notions of the true Interest of his Country. However, I am liable to mistakes as well as he; I must leave it therefore to you, and with any to whom you shall think good to communicate my thoughts, to judge of the justness of them, and whether my Reasons are sufficient to support them.
In setting down my thoughts, I shall take notice,
1. First, Of some ill Uses which have been made of our Province Bills, and some unhappy Consequences of making such evil uses of them. And
2. Secondly, I shall make some Remarks upon the most observable Passages in the Pamphlet it's self.
1. First then, concerning the ill Uses which have been made of our Province Bills, and the unhappy Consequences of such uses.
When the Government first issued out our Province Bills, the Trading Part of the Country found themselves furnished with a New Medium of Exchange, which would answer the ends of Trade well enough among our selves: Upon this they quickly improved the Advantage put into their hands to import foreign Commodities in far greater quantities than the produce of the Country would make Returns for; and therefore they soon began to export the Silver Mony passing among us to make Returns with; which Silver they bought up with the new Medium which the Government had put into their hands. When by this means Silver became a little scarce, they were obliged to give some considerable advance in Province Bills to purchase it. And this advance became greater still and greater in proportion as Silver grew more and more scarce. Besides, which I think some have remarked, that it received an observable Increase, upon the Postponing the Taxes, and the Emissions of Loan Mony once and again; so that it was lately at the rate of about Twelve Shillings an Ounce, and I suppose it continues thereabouts still.
Now Silver having for this Reason been reserved for divers Years past to be sold for Exportation, by this means Paper gradually became almost the only Medium of Exchange among our selves: The very Counters which pass among us for Penies had like all to have been swept away: Many of the Traders sometime after the Emission of the Loan Mony (as I remember) buying them at considerable Advance in Province Bills to send away, tho' they pass but for half-pence in England; so vile were the Province Bills in the Eyes of the Men, who now cry, they shall be undone if they have not more of them, that they would lavish them away at the rate of Twelve Shillings for an Ounce of Silver, and give fourteen Pence (as I think I have been told) some of them did for a dozen Counters, which they knew would go but for half-pence apiece abroad! And I desire to know whether the very Men who turn poor Labourers and Tradesmen off with one half or Two Thirds Goods, can't still find Province Bills enough to purchase Silver at the rate of about Twelve Shillings an Ounce, whenever they hear of any to be sold? But this only by the By at present.
Now as the Value of Paper hath gradually sunk in comparison with Silver, so the Merchants have advauced upon their Goods in some proportion, and so the Price of the Couutry's produce hath been gradually rising also; save that thro' the abundant Blessing of God upon the Husbandry of the Land last Year, the plenty of Provisions hath lowered the Price of it for the present; but had it not been for the plenty, the price of it would have been as extravagant and the sale as quick as ever. some thing of the same nature may be said of our Oyl, which partly thro' the good Success of our Whale-men last Winter, but more especially by an Accident (which I forbear to mention) is said to be falling too. But as for other things which have not met with some such accidental alteration, as far as I can learn, their price continues as high as ever.
That this is a true account of the rising of all Commodities and Necessaries of Life to the extravagant price they have been at for some Years past, is evident, because any man might all along, and may still with Silver Mony, at seventeen peny weight, buy almost any Commodity or Necessary, at pretty near the same rate he might before our Province Bills were first issued out. I say almost any Commodity, &c. and at pretty near the same rate, &c. because I am sensible that in some things, at some times there hath been a difference (especially those things that are proper to be Exported to other Countries, as Fish, Oyl, &c.) for which there is another manifest Reason to be assigned, and that is this, That the Importation of foreign Commodities was for some Years so vast, that all the Silver our Merchants could procure, and the whole Produce of the Country besides, were not sufficient to answer for it. This obliged our Merchants to catch greedily at any thing that would serve to make Returns with, and this gave the Possessors of such things an advantage to raise the price of them, even above the difference which there was between Paper and Silver.
Thus the Trading part of the Country making an ill use of the advantage which the Emission of Province Bills gave them, by importing a vast quantity of needless foreign Commodities, have in the first place found themselves necessitated to buy up, and send off all our Silver and Gold to the perplexing and almost ruining the whole Country: and secondly because These and the whole Produce of the Country together were not enough to make Returns with, therefore they have catch'd eagerly at every thing fit to be exported, and by doing so have rais'd the price of such things: And this they have done to their own Confusion, for now the price of such things is so high that there is hardly any thing fit to be exported, that will turn to any account in other Countries; And so no man knows where to make an Adventure, to see a new peny for an old one: Not because there is not mony enough still to purchase all the produce of the Country fit for Exportation (for if there were not, and so these things lay upon the Producer's hands, I am sure they would soon be cheap enough) but because we value our Paper mony so little, and prize our Country's produce so high, that every thing costs more pence here among our selves, than it will fetch again abroad in Foreign Countries. Now whether Emitting more Bills be the way to encrease our Value for them, or to lower the price of our Country's Produce, I leave the World to judge.
But this Mischief of sending off our Silver and Gold, and raising the Country's produce to such an extravagant price, is not all, for before the Law for shortning Credit, the Gentlemen concerned in Trade (to clear their Warehouses and Shops of Goods the faster and make room for a new Store, and Enliven Trade) were very .fond of Trusting out great quantities of Goods, with almost any Body that would take them, And I doubt the same humour prevails two much still. Now we simple Country People being mightily pleas'd with fine things far fetcht and dear bought (so long as we could have goods without paying ready mony for them) made no scruple, many of us, to take up much more upon trust, than we earnt mony to pay for, hoping that a plentiful Crop of Corn or some other Smile of Providence would enable us to pay for all, one time or other. And since, when we have been dunn'd and worried by our Creditors, we have cry'd out for more mony too. Whereas the truth of the Case is, if there had been a Million of Province Bills Emitted, we could not have paid our Debts, unless Mony had been given us, or we had sold or Mortgaged our Lands to procure it, for we have had nothing to spare, which was worth mony, but what we have had and may still have mony for (unless it be Provision just at this time by reason of the present plenty of it) but all we could produce hath not been near enough to discharge the vast Debts we had foolishly contracted.
And now what shall be done in such unhappy Circumstances? Why, say the Traders, Do but two things and the Wheels will all be set a moving again, and every Body almost will have an opportunity to improve his Talent.
1. First, Let the Act for Limitation of Credit be repealed. If this be done, Country People will throng our Warehouses and Shops again, and take as much on trust as ever.
2. Secondly, Let a private Bank be established. This all honest well-meaning People will go and Mortgage their Estates to, for mony to pay us for the Goods we have trusted them with: We shall most of us be Bankers our selves, and by that means (first) we shall have mens Estates mortgaged to us. And then (in the next place) we our selves shall get the very mony again immediately for which those Estates were mortgaged. When we have gotten such a fine sum of mony, we shall snatch at everything fit for Exportation more briskly than ever. This will raise the price of such things higher than it hath been yet, and then it will turn to but little Account to send them elsewhere; and so we shall complain again, that no man knows where to make an Adventure to see a new peny for an old one: Unless (perhaps) those of us that are Bankers, should have our Mouths partly stopt with forfeited Mortgages, and the rest of us should take better Care than we used to do, to trust none but such as have good real Estates, which will pay for all at last.
I would not be understood to think, that the Author of the Distressed State, &c. and other Gentlemen in Trade, who wish to have the Limitation Act repealed and a private Bank established, do really say, or so much as think within themselves, that all the above mentioned pernicious consequences would follow thereupon. Far be it from me to imagine so vile a thing of them. My opinion is, that they are sensible that such a Repeal and such an Establishment would give them some present Relief, and that they have never look'd thoroughly into the Train of wretched Consequences which will ensue.
I have therefore mentioned these things only as Consequences which I apprehend will unavoidably follow from the natural operation of things, upon the Repeal of that Act, and the setting up of a private Bank, whether Men are sensible of it now or not. But I believe the Consequences will appear genuine to every disinterested Person (as soon as ever they are suggested to him) without any Argument to demonstrate them to be so.
2. I proceed now in the second place, to make some Remarks upon the most observable Passages of the Pamphlet it's self. In doing which I shall have frequent recourse to the Truths already advanced.
Boston, which was within these ten Years one of the most flourishing Towns in America, will within half so many more years be the most miserable Town, &c. page 1. The flourishing of Boston depends upon the flourishing of its Trade. The Distressed State of the Trade of Boston, is not owing to the want of Province Bills wherewith to purchase the produce of the Country to be exported on Adventures. All the produce of the Country is now bought up, and most of it at an extravagant price too; and all the Silver and Gold besides; as fast as it comes in, by our Authors own Acknowledgment, p. 3. The Difficulty is owing therefore to the high price of the Country's produce, that it won't turn to account to send it elsewhere. And this is a mischief the Merchants have brought upon themselves by the means abovementioned; and the emitting more Bills of Credit will rather encrease than lessen the evil, because it will occasion the Value of the Bills sinking yet lower, and the produce of the Country rising higher in proportion.
But if there were nothing of all this, yet I should not wonder that the Trade of Boston fails now considerably; and I believe it will continue to do so (at least for a time) more and more. For this I think I can give two good reasons.
1. First, Several other Towns in this and the neighbouring Provinces, which during the late French War, depended chiefly upon Supplies from Boston, and traded themselves but little, and some not at all to foreign Parts, are now getting more and more into a foreign Trade, to the supplying in good measure not of themselves only, but of the adjacent Country also.
2. Secondly, The extravagant Price foreign Commodities have been at for some years past, hath put Country People lately upon making more for themselves and buying less from abroad. And this I hope they will continue to do still more & more; for which reason I could almost wish, that the price of foreign Goods might yet continue as high as ever.
The Medium of Exchange is so exhausted, that in a little time we shall not have wherewith to buy our daily Bread, p. 1. Actions speak louder than Words, and with more truth and certainty. It is a certain Truth, that the greater want men feel of anything, the more they value it, and the more loath they are to part with it. Therefore I beg you, Sir, to inform me whether your Merchants can still find Province Bills to lavish away at the rate of Twelve Shillings an Ounce for Silver, whenever they can hear of any to be sold. If this be the Case (as I doubt it is, for our Author himself confesses,.p. 3. that Silver and Gold is bought up yet, as fast as it comes in) then 'tis certain, the Merchants have Medium enough to carry on the same Trade still, which hath hurt the Country and themselves too all along, by exporting not only all the produce of the Country bought at an extravagant Price, but also all the Silver and Gold they can get besides, in order to bring in a needless excessive quantity of foreign Commodities, or to pay for them which are already brought in. And whilst this Trade is driven, 'tis vain to look for better Times. For while more is imported from other Countries and consumed among us, than our own produce alone can ballance, we must continue growing poorer daily. And while there are so many Province Bills standing out, as that Merchants can find their Interest in buying Silver with them, most things will unavoidably continue dear, in proportion to the difference the Merchants make between Paper and Silver.
And indeed if Province Bills were become so scarce, that the Merchants could not catch at the produce of the Country so eagerly as to hold up the Extravagant Price of it, and so had no occasion, nor indeed possibility of sparing them to buy Silver, I don't see that any body would be put to much greater difficulties than they are now. For if it were once come to this, that the Merchants could not find their interest in exchanging Province Bills at any advance for Silver, then our Province Bills would be equally prized, and would purchase as much as Silver at seventeen peny weight, as indeed they ought: And so the price of all things would fall in proportion.
Now if by lowering of the price of other things, Twenty Shillings will purchase me as much a while hence as Forty will now, then when such time comes, I shall be able to shift as well with Twenty, as I can now with Forty. So that the growing Scarcity of our Province Bills, seems to be the only means to raise the Value of them, & to lessen the price of the Country's produce. And when once our Bills are valued as high as Silver, then the Silver and Gold, which our Author himself ackowledges comes in, will be sure to stay among us; and not before. Then also the cheapness of things fit to be exported, would soon teach our Merchants where to make Adventures to see something more than a new peny for an old one.
Next comes a complaint of the vast number of Lawsuits, of Writs out against honest Housekeepers, who can't raise mony to pay their Debts, unless they will sell their Houses at half value. And this because they are obliged to work for half or two thirds Goods. With us in the Country Estates are near as high in Value as ever. No man hath Houses or Lands to sell, but what may have Mony for them if he be reasonable in his Demands. If Estates are sunk near half the value in Boston, I desire to be informed, whether Numbers of Tradesmen and Labourers have not removed thence into the country within these few Years? And whether by this means Tenements and Houses have not been emptied of their Inhabitants ? If this be the case, 'tis no wonder their price is fallen; for who that hath a House to live in himself, would buy one (for ought he knows) to stand empty? Or who that has no House of his own, would give a great price for one, when enough others stand empty ready to receive him for an easy Rent?
I desire also to be informed what it was that drove these Labourers and Tradesmen out of Boston? Whether it was not being turn'd off with half Goods, by them that sav'd their Bills to buy Silver, that they might send for more Goods, and so pay their Labourers again after the same manner? If this be so, the case of your Labourers is much to be pitied, and they would consult their own Interest if more of them would remove into the Country. We want their Labour, and should be glad to give them their Wages. We can't make the improvement of our Lands which we desire, for want of Labourers: Labourers think us obliged to them, if they will work for us at almost any rate.
The Law which was made about Twenty Months since to shorten Credit, happened to be very ill timed &c. I also am of the same Opinion but for a very different reason; And I will add, not so effectual as were to be wished neither, I think not so effectual, because so long a time as two Years was allow'd for trusting; and so people have not been sufficiently discouraged from running needlessly into Debt. Whereas had the time been limited to but a quarter or half a Year, far the greatest part of the Debts, which our Author complains men are now arrested for, had never been contracted. And I think it was ill timed, because it was not made many Years ago: If it had, and had been made so strict as to have utterly prevented trusting one another in Trade, I am sure the Silver and Gold could never have been swept away, nor any of the Calamities we are now groaning under been brought upon us. For it is easie to see, that if we had never trusted one another, the worst Husbands of us all could not have spent more than we earnt ; for when we must pay ready Mony for every thing we buy, we can't buy more than we earn Mony to pay for; unless we borrow Mony at Interest to support our Extravagance; a thing which but few would have been so foolish as to have done. Indeed when Debts are already contracted, Do but set up a Bank to borrow of, and we have found from sad experience already, that men will be ready enough to mortgage their Estates for mony to pay their Debts. But (I say again) where Debts were not before contracted, few men would have been so foolish, as to borrow Mony at Interest to provide needless Fineries and Gew-Gaws for their Families. The Folly of so few could not have affected the Country. Now as none of us could have spent more than we earnt, had we not trusted one another, so doubtless many people in the Country would have been so prudent as not to spend so much. And had some earnt more than they spent, and none been in a capacity to spend more than they earnt, I am sure the Country in general must have been on the thriving hand: It could not have consumed so much in foreign Commodities, as it would have raised of it's own Produce. The Exportation therefore would have been greater than the Importation of foreign Commodities; and so Silver and Gold, instead of being exported at the rate it hath been, would have been continually coming in to make the Ballance.
And as, if we had never fallen into the way of Trusting, we should -never have come into the Difficulties we now labour under, so, if we could all agree to leave it quite off, it would immediately begin to turn the Scales in our Favour For when no man can consume more than the yearly product of his Husbandry, Manufacture, Fishery, &c. will furnish him with mony to pay for, if at the same time there be a number of People who wont spend all their yearly produce for foreign Commodities; then it is plain, that the Yearly produce of the Country must be more than the Consumption of it; and if the yearly produce of the Country be more than it's Consumption, then there will be yearly a Surplusage of the Produce of the Country to be exported. For this overplus (part of our Export) it will be to no purpose to bring in foreign Commodities, because the Country will not consume such a quantity: Therefore our Merchants must have their Returns for this Surplusage of our Produce in Gold or Silver, Immediately, unless they have Debts to pay first in foreign countries. All this (I think) is as plain and certain as a Mathematical Demonstration, and I challenge any man to confute it. I don't therefore see need of any other Project. Do but wholly leave off trusting, this alone will do the Business, and make all things begin to go well quickly. If you object, That it is impracticable to contrive a Law so as to put an utter end to Trusting; I am perswaded that is a Mistake. I think if I had time to enter upon the Argument, I could easily tell how an effectual Stop might be put to trusting by a Law, in such a natural and necessary way, as that hardly any body would ever come to suffer the Penalty of it and then certainly, no body hath any reason to fear it.
Upon the whole, it is the duty of Civil Rulers to consult the Welfare of the Publick. Our Legislators saw the Door, at which all our Calamities have broke in upon us, standing wide open: They have pusht it partly to; and so have in some measure checkt the madness of the People, who without Fear or Wit were running into Debt, to their own Ruin, and the Ruin of them that trusted them, and of the whole Country. And now whether what our Legislators did, was inconsistent with justice and Mercy, let the World judge. I am only sorry that the Door was not close shut and barr'd. If it had been so, we shou'd have felt the comfortable effects of it before now. There would have been no opportunity for the Oppression complained of p. 2. And the Mercy of the Government in hindering inconsiderate People from doing themselves harm, would have prevented the need of Private Persons extending their compassion and forbearance to them whom they had dealt much more kindly with, if they had refused to trust them.
I shall add one thing more, with reference to the Limitation of Credit, which I dont remember that any of the Writers about our present difficulties have taken any notice of. Nothing is more certain, than that a Trade may be gainful (at least for a time) to Merchants, which yet may prove ruinous to their Country. It is said the Trade with France would ruin England by draining it of its Mony, if the dangerous Importations from France were not discouraged by excessive Duties in England. England, being a Sovereign State, may secure it's self in that way; but we who are a poor dependent Province, may not discourage some Importations which we may think injurious to us, by incumbering them with heavy Duties. The only way we have to secure our selves, is to put an end to Trusting, or to allow but a very short time for it. For if People may not only law out all the Mony they earn for foreign Goods, but may also run as mnch into Debt as they please besides; and if they are gotten very mnch into the way of doing so, then it is very likely that as the Merchants have already carried off all our Silver, so they will in a short time make themselves Masters of most of our Lands also for Book Debts. Since we have lost our Silver, it concerns us to look well to our Lands.
I believe by this time every Body's Belly is full of the Publick Bank, &c. I wish it were so; but I fear this is not the case. I know no good that it hath done: But if I am not mistaken, it hath prolong'd our Miseries, divided the Country into Parties, and given many men an Opportunity to involve themselves worse than they were before.
Many of the Borrowers of the Loan Mony, and of such as have a mind to borrow, are become so vain as to fancy, that that Mony will at last be paid by the Province, or else that it will never be paid at all. And truly I can't tell what might be done of that nature, if Borrowers should generally have the doing of it. However, I hope I shall make it evident, that it is every Man's Interest, who is not a Borrower to consent to neither of these Things.
For the First, I am sure it is not just that my Estate should be taxed to help pay a Debt which my Neighbour voluntarily, and it may be needlessly run himself into.
As for the Second, the not paying these Bills in at all, This every Man that hath any of them in his possession is concerned to look to, whether he knows it or not. And for this reason; It is not the Governments saying, This indented Bill of so much, shall be in value equal to Mony, and so turning it into the world, which really gives it it's value (as some perhaps fondly imagine) but because we know that we must all pay Taxes, and these Bills will enable us to pay these Taxes as well or better than any thing else; therefore it is that we value the Bills yearly emitted, for defraying the Charges of the Government, and if these Taxes had never been postponed, the demand the Bills would have been in for paying Taxes, would have made us esteem them at an higher rate than we do now.
Again, because we know that there are good real Estates laid in Pawn for all the Bills emitted by way of Loan, and because we know that within a certain Term of Years, if we have any of these Bills in our hands, the borrowers must certainly buy them of us at their full value to redeem their Mortgages: Therefore it is that we accept the Loan Bills, and esteem them as Mony. Now if this be the truth of the Case, then, if ever it should be enacted that these Bills should never be call'd in, they would at once lose all their value, and be worth no more to them that have them in their keeping, than so many bits of Blank Paper.
Or if the calling in of these Bills should be deferred beyond the set time, it will make men doubt whether they will ever be call'd in or not, and so their value will sink in proportion to the Jealousie men have about it, which will likewise be to the Loss of the Possessors of them; so that it is plainly the Interest of every man in the Province that is not a Borrower, and hath any of these Bills in his keeping, that they should be called in precisely at the time appointed, to redeem the Estates that are laid in Pawn for them. For nothing else but this, when the time is once expired, can make them as good as Mony to those in whose hands they shall be at that time.
There will be more than Threescore Thousand Pounds to pay, and nothing to pay it with; for the Bills come in for the Interest: How then shall the Principal be Paid? This is putting men on impossibilities.
This is all a great mistake; and yet it is a mistake almost every Man I meet with has fallen into, and is concerned about. If any man would clear up the difficulty, and publish it to the World, it would tend much to quiet the Minds of the People, and so do good Service. However, I cannot but wonder a little that those Gentlemen who are not able to solve the difficulty themselves, shou'd imagine the General Assembly cou'd all be so much in the dark as not to see so very obvious and Objection as this, and provide against it. Sir, I have neither Law-book nor Votes of the House by me, and therefore I fear I shall not be able to solve the Difficulty so clearly as otherwise I cou'd. However, I remember that the Act for emitting the £100000 Loan, expressly provides, That the Profits (that is the Interest) be applyed for & towards the support of the Government, as the General Court shall from time to time direct. Now the Interest of the Loan Mony is but £5000 a Year, whereas, the General Court (if I mistake not) hath for some Years past granted at least £10000 to defray the Charges of the Government; now this is the whole Interest of the Loan Mony and as much more emitted yearly. If it be objected, that when £10,000 is granted yearly for the support of the Government, there is also at the same time a Tax granted to his Majesty in some Year to come, for calling in these Bills again. I answer, that this will create no difficulty to the Borrowers of the Loan Mony; because these yearly Emissions for the Support of the Government must continue till the ten Years for the standing out of the Loan Money are expired: And the Taxes granted for calling in these Bills, are set at several Years distance (the number of Years I dont now certainly remember,) so that the very last Year of the Loan Mony, there will be Bills enough standing out, to pay not only the Interest, but also the whole Principal.
But there is another answer easier to be understood than this. Some years ago, the Tax for bringing in our Province Bills was Two and Twenty Thousand Pounds a Year. At length the Government thought fit to ease the People of so great a Burthen, and so reduced the Tax to but Eleven Thousand Pounds a Year, and Proposed to bring in the other half by Impost, Excise, &c. After the Emission of the Loan Mony the Tax was again reduced (to what Sum I don't now remember) and the Interest of the Loan Mony was added to the Impost and Excise, to help make up the Two and Twenty Thousand Pounds, which should have been brought in by the Tax alone. So that every Year that Five Thousand Pounds is paid as Interest of the Loan Mony, at the same time Five Thousand Pounds which would otherwise have been brought in by Tax, is left standing out. And therefore at the Ten Years end, there will be Fifty Thousand Pounds standing out, which had it not been for the Interest of the Loan Mony, would have been paid in by that time by Tax. And this the Borrowers of the Loan Mony will have to pay that part of their Principal with, which hath been drawn in by Interest.
I hope this comes fully up to the Difficulty, and is plain enough for any Man that will but set himself a thinking, to understand; and will clear the Government of the unjust Imputation of being worse than the Egyptian Taskmasters.
We are told we must expect no more Bills, and Silver and Gold is bought up for the Factors as fast as it comes in, and Shipt home, &c. p. 3.
And so it always will be, while we have such plenty of Bills that the Merchants and Factors can find Advantage in doing so. But I should think it prudence for the men who drive this Trade, not to lisp so much as a word about the miseries of poor People in Boston. I believe other Folks will think of these miseries often enough, and of the true reason of them, without being put in mind, by the Men that cause them. If our own Merchants are not guilty, but they are the Foreign Factors only that drive this Trade, let not our own Merchants join with them in a Cry for more Province Bills, and make the miseries of poor people in Boston a Plea for it; but let them tell the World the plain Truth, That these poor People are paid in Goods for their Labour, not for want of Province Bills, but because Factors save their Province Bills to buy up Silver and Gold, as fast as it comes in, that they may ship it home to their Principals, and so procure more Goods to pay Labourers and Tradesmen with: Let them tell the World, that it is by this means that Honest, Industrious People in Boston are brought to such Extremities, as to sell their Pewter and Brass to buy Food.
The Gentlemen who are against emitting more Bills, think we have Mony enough; that there are two hundred thousand pounds out in all the Provinces. A wonderful Cash to manage the Trade of the four Governments ! &c. p. 3.
I am myself at present in no Capacity to conjecture the Sum of the Bills standing out in the four Provinces; but let it be what it will, I think I am capable of proving, that there are enough of them to carry on a Trade as large, as it is for the Interest of the Provinces to have carried on. And I hope I shall do this with an Argument that every man can understand. There are Province Bills enough to buy up, at a reasonable rate, all that can be spar'd of the Product of the Husbandry, Fishery, &c. of the whole Country. Let them that have any of these things to sell, offer them but at any thing near the rate they used to sell them for some Years ago for Silver, and I am certain they will soon find Buyers, and Mony enough. Nothing will ly upon their hands, except there be something not fit to be exported, which great plenty hath made a Drug of.
Now if there be Mony enough to buy, at a reasonable rate, all the Produce of the Country that can be spared, then every man that raises any thing to make Mony with, may turn it into Mony, and lay out all that Mony with Traders for foreign Commodities, if he pleases. So that it is a plain Case, that we have Bills enough still to enable every Man in the Province (if they were all minded to be so much of Simpletons) to spend all that he can earn in the Year, on Traders for foreign Commodities. And what wou'd the Traders have more? Must Men spend more than they earn? Must publick & private Banks be established, that so when People have spent all they have earnt, they may know where to go and borrow more, to lay out for things they have no need of? And must the Lands of the Country groan under Taxes and Mortgages to uphold these Fooleries? All this must be done forsooth! Not for fear Trade should not be large enough still, but for fear it should not be so large as it hath been for many Years past, to the impoverishing and almost ruining the Country. I have read but little in the History and the Customs of other Countries: Pray, Sir, inform me, whether the Governments of other Countries, use, when Traders have fool'd away all their Silver and Gold, to be so very careful to provide another Medium for them to play the Fool with again? I am apt to guess, that the Care in such Cases hath commonly been, to lay Trade under such Restraints, as that it can't be carried on, but to the Advantage of its Country.
Our own Bills are hoarded up, with what noble Design I know not, but it gives room to suspect the worst, &c. p. 4.
This Cry I have observed frequently to be made at some convenient Seasons; but why Mony should be hoarded just at such Times, or why men should hoard Mony now, that have not always made it their Custom to do so, I never could well imagine. It is commonly accounted a true Saying, that Interest will not lye; therefore I can't think that any let their Mony lye by them unimproved, in hopes of getting their Neighbours Lands at half Value; because I see no likelihood that such a thing will ever be effected. When once our Province Bills are by their Scarcity become equal in value to Silver, If the Government will but admit Taxes to be paid, and Mortgages to be redeemed with Silver, or the produce of the Country, those that have hoarded up Province Bills, will be glad to break up their Hoards, and get rid of them as fast as they can, lest they should become useless to them. Indeed if any Gentlemen that employ a great number of Labourers, do (at some Seasons when it will serve a Turn to have a Clamour raised) turn off their Workmen with two thirds instead of one half Goods, or make them wait a great while for their Mony part, and tell them they can't help it, the Bills are hoarded, when it may be at the same time they are buying Silver with them; (I say if any do so) it is plain there may be advantage in it; and so there is room to suspect the worst; tho' I don't know that any such thing as this hath been practiced.
The Gentlemen that cry, no more Bills, are only Usurers, and men who live on Salaries, Officers of the Courts and Lawyers, &c. p. 4. I will add all understanding Husbandmen, that I meet with, who have been so good Husbands as not to entangle their Estates.
It is not sinking the Bills of credit that will bring in Silver, &c. If he had said sinking the Credit of the Bills it had been very just. It must be done by going on Manufactures, &c. No great matters will or ever can be done at Manufactures while Labour is so dear; and Labour will always be dear, while Bills are cheap. Necessity is the Mother of Invention, and will teach men more Projects as well as more Industry and Good Husbandry than the Emission of more bills. I desire to be informed what Project, what Manufacture hath been set on foot to any purpose, by the 50 and 100 Thousand Pounds lately emitted? The mony hath been generally Borrowed (as far as I can learn) to pay Debts contracted before, by virtue of long Credit. And if an hundred Thousand Pounds more were emitted it would quickly go the same way.
I am sorry to see the Ministers of the Town so Silent &c. p. 5. If any of these Gentlemen can by writing set the true Interest and Duty of the Country (at such a day as this) in a clear light, they will do God and their Country excellent Service: but I hope they will be very cautious what they deliver in the name of God from the Pulpit, about these matters of doubtful Disputation which perplex the Government.
The Gentlemen who oppose the Schemes for Emitting more Bills on Land Security never propose any other, &c. p. 5.
No Projects will serve the turn, without Industry, Frugality and good Husbandry. Do but leave off Trusting, or shorten Credit as much as possible, and this will make us all Industrious, Frugal, and Prudent, whether we will or not, And I believe in the way we are now in nothing else will.
Most certainly it was a very wrong step to crush the private Bank, &c. I can't but hope that it will still be crush't. And that for the following Reasons.
1. Because such an Emission of Bills will keep their Credit always low, and that will make the produce of the Country porportionably high, that it wont turn to Account to send it elsewhere, and so our Merchants will always be at the same Loss they are now, where to make Adventures. It will also make Labour always dear, so that we shall never make any great Improvement in Husbandry or Manufactures. And at this rate Silver and Gold will always be one of the best things that we can make Returns with, and therefore will be bought up and Shipt off as fast as it comes in, and so we shall never get through our Difficulties.
2. Because we have found by the unhappy Experience of the Publick Bank, that if there be but a Bank to run and borrow at, the Ill Husbandry, Vanity and Folly of the People is such; that in a short time most of the Estates in the Country would become involved; and I think it much more for the Strength, Safety, and Interest of the Country both Civil and Religious, that the Estates should continue as at present in many mens hands, than that a few Gentlemen should be Landlords, and all the rest of the Country become Tenants.
If you ask me why these Ill consequences will follow upon a Bank in this Country rather than in England? I answer, because as I observ'd before, We are not a Sovereign State. We may not check an extravagant Importation and. Consumption of some foreign Commodities, by heavy Duties. The only way of doing this is, by shortning Credit, so that People may not be able to consume more than they earn: And by not suffering a Bank for People to run to, and undo themselves by borrowing.
3. I am against a private Bank, because that when the Province Bills which are now out, shall once be drawn in, all the Cash of the Country will then be at the direction of the Bankers. And it is easy to foresee this Consequence, that whatever Project they may have in their heads, how inconsistent soever it may be with the publick Welfare, they wont want means to bring it to pass. Nothing will be restrained from them.
Fortifying our exposed Settlements would encourage Peoplt to Sit down and till the Earth. This would bring down the prices of Linen, Canvas, Provisions. p. 8. I am inclined to think on the contrary, that one Reason of the great scarcity of Provisions we have been afflicted with of late years, was that so many People have gone into new Plantations where they have not yet been able to raise their own provisions. It would conduce more to the bringing down Provisions, to have the Land already taken up, better Improved by more Labourers upon it, than to have new unsubdu'd Lands enter'd upon.
But if our Author indeed desires, that the price of these things should be brought down, why does he tell us Country People in the next Page that the want of mony will lower the price of all our produce, that he may excite us also to joyn with him in a cry for more Mony ? The falling of our Provisions will enable him to export them to the Islands as in former times. If there was a Bridge, &c. The Poor who want Imployment, would do better service, to disperse themselves in Country and till the Ground.
I hope our Friends will send men spirited for our Relief, to represent them, &c. I hope also Men of a Publick Spirit, and heartily concerned for the Welfare of their Country, will be sent. Not Sheriffs and Lawyers &c. I will add, not Men in difficult Circumstances, who have involved themselves by their own Indiscretion. They that can't order their private Affairs with Discretion, will make but poor Managers for the Publick. Besides whatever shall be proposed for the Publick Good, Men in a needy Condition will be sure to consider it in the first place how it will affect themselves, and if it be likely to increase their Straitness and Difficulty a little, (tho' but for a time) they had need be Men of great Integrity to give their Consent to it.
Thus, Sir, I have given you my Thoughts with a sincere aim at the Good of my Country; and without prejudice or affection to any Man, or Party of men. If you think they may be of Publick Service, you have leave to make them as publick as you please. If they are just, no man bath reason to be angry; If they are Mistakes, I shall be heartily sorry for it. If the Mistakes are dangerous, I hope the Gentlemen who think them so, will be so just to their Country as to warn it of them.
I have written these things in the utmost Hurry imaginable, for fear of losing the Opportunity to convey them. If you meet with any thing out of Place, or expressed too sharply or too obscurely, impute it to my great Hast, which wont allow me to correct and alter.
I am, &c.
April 23, 1720
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