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GREAT BRITAIN AND THE AMERICAN WAR.
The following proclamation, dated May 13, 1861, has been issued :
Victoria I.—Whereas, we are happily at peace with all Sovereigns, Powers and States, and whereas, hostilities have unhappily commenced between the government of the United States of America and certain States styling themselves the Confederate States of America, and whereas, we, being at peace with the government of the United States, have declared our royal determination to maintain a strict and impartial neutrality in the contest between the said contending parties : we, therefore, have thought fit, by and with the advice of our Privy Council, to issue this our royal proclamation. [The provisions of the Foreign Enlistment Act are here cited.] And we do hereby warn all our loving subjects, and all persons whatsoever entitled to our protection, that if any of them shall presume, in contempt of this our royal proclamation and of our high displeasure, to do any acts in derogation of their duty as subjects of a neutral sovereign in the said contest, or in violation or in contravention of the law of nations, as for example, more especially, by entering into the military service of either of the said contending parties as commissioned or non-commissioned officers or soldiers; or by serving as officers, sailors or marines on board any ship or vessel of war or transport of or in the service of either of the said contending parties; or by serving as officers, sailors or marines on board any privateer bearing letters of marque of or from either of the said contending parties; or by engaging to go or going to any place beyond the seas with intent to enlist or engage in any such services; or by procuring, or attempting to procure within her majesty's dominions, at home or abroad, otherwise to do so; or by fitting out, arming or equiping any ship or vessel to be employed as a ship of war or privateer or transport by either of the said contending parties; or by breaking or endeavoring to break any blockade lawfully and actually established by or on behalf of either of the said contending parties; or by carrying officers, soldiers, despatches, arms, military stores or materials, or any article or articles considered and deemed to be contraband of war, according to the law or modern usage of nations, for the use or service of either of the said contending parties. All persons so offending will incur and be liable to the several penalties and penal consequences by the said statute or by the law of nations in that behalf imposed and decreed.
And we do hereby declare, that all our subjects and persons entitled to our protection, who may misconduct themselves in the premises, will do so at their peril and of their own wrong, and that they will in nowise obtain any protection from us against any liabilities or penal consequences, but will, on the contrary, incur our high displeasure by such misconduct.
THE DUTY ON COFFEE.
Boston, June 13th, 1861. To the Editors of the Merchants' Magazine :
AGREEABLY to your request, at the time of our conversation about the effect of a duty on coffee, and the revenue to be derived therefrom, I now give you my views in writing, and more in detail, in relation to the same. The first and most important point to consider is, I think, the rate of duty that will give the most revenue at the least cost to the consumer and the country.
In order to come at this, we have next to consider the extent of consumption and the effect of price upon it. We have found the past year of 1860, that the range of prices for good and best qualities of Rio coffee, if 12 @ 14} cents per lb., say is 15 @ 20 per cent. above the average of the two or three previous years, has not decreased consumption to the extent of the rise in price against an average sale or consumption, as commonly estimated, for several years previous, of 220,000,000 @ 225,000,000 lbs. per year. We have sold, last year, about 190,000,000 lbs. from first hands. The stock remaining in second and consumers' hands, however, at the end of the year, being much smaller than usual, it follows that the actual consumption was more than 190,000,000 lbs. It is fair to assume, therefore, that, with a necessity for higher prices in the shape of a duty, and when once familiar with it, 14 @ 16 cents even would not check consumption beyond 10 @ 15 per cent. probably, if that, after the first year, which might, from obvious reasons, be more, especially as the first effect of a duty would be to raise the price more, probably, than it would rule at after supplies came regularly again from abroad. Looking at the ruling prices in Rio for the past few years, and in other producing countries, it is nearly certain, from past experience of the effect of duty on the cost in producing countries, that 5 cents duty could be borne without raising the price of Rio coffee here to over 14 @ 16 cents for good and best qualities, for an average of several years,
and probably less.
You will see by this that I assume that the producing country will pay one-third to one-half the duty, which has usually been found to be the case with any considerable duty, not to say invariably; and it is but reasonable and necessary that it should be so, more or less, as a little consideration will prove, viz. : The effect of duty is to check importations, and also consumption. This reduces the demand and competition to buy in the producing country, and thus reduces the cost. I think it is quite clear, therefore, that we should in all probability have coffee at not over 2 or 3 cents per lb. additional cost to the country, with a duty of 5 cents per lb., taking an average of several years together. The present duty in Great Britain is 3 @ 6 cents per lb., which is less than formerly, and, compared with tea, a low duty, as tea pays 1s. 5d., or 33 to 34 cents per lb.
The duty of 5 cents on coffee, I judge, would give nearly as much revenue as any higher duty at present, unless, from increase of growth
VOL. XLV.NO. I.
or abundant crops, the price should fall so low as to bear a higher duty equally well. A lower rate of duty, as it would effect consumption less, and offer less check to free importations, would, I conceive, be borne in a larger proportion by the consumer; so that, if the object is the most revenue at the least cost, about 5 cents, I should judge, at present range of prices, would be nearest right. If a higher rate would give more, it would become onerous to many, or cut off many consumers; whereas, at 21 @ 3 cents additional cost per lb., as I have assumed, it is very little upon an average consumption of 7 lbs. per head per annum for the total white population of the country. Assuming that the consumption will range from 180,000,000 @ 200,000,000 lbs. per annum for some years, upon an average, which is very safe, I think, a duty of 5 cents will give $9,000,000 to $10,000,000 revenue, at a cost, actually, of about $5,000,000 to $6,000,000 only to the country, probably.
The same facts and reasoning applies to tea, sugar and molasses. The duty on tea, I should suppose, would not be in the same proportion to coffee as the English duty, which is nearly six times that of coffee. The reason for this may be because England consumes very largely of tea, viz., nearly double the number of pounds of tea that she does of coffee, and with a view to obtaining the most revenue ; whereas, with us it is exactly opposite--we consume seven to eight times the amount of coffee that we do of tea. The average cost of tea is three to four times that of coffee ; and if three times be taken and 15 cents per lb. on tea be fixed upon as the duty, it would be a fair proportion, I should say, and give $4,000,000 @ $4,500,000 revenue, I judge.
The present sugar duty of c. can be doubled, and not much exceed, if any, the previous duty of 24 per cent. ad valorem. Upon these four leading articles we may estimate the revenue as follows, to take a low estimate, in quantities, for the whole country, as it has been :
Coffee, 180,000,000 lbs. per year, at 5 cents duty per lb.,.. $9,000,000 Теа, 30,000,000 “
4,500,000 Sugar, 700,000,000 “
foreign import, at 1! cents per lb., 10,500,000 Molasses, 30,000,000 galls. at 4 cents per gall. duty........ 1,200,000
Present sugar and molasses duty, one-half the above,....
If my data and reasoning are nearly correct, therefore, about $20,000,000 additional revenue can be easily raised upon these four articles, and at a cost to the country of about two-thirds that amount, the balance being paid by the cheaper cost in producing countries. I should have remarked, that the duty on sugar in England is 12s. to 13s. per cwt. on brown and yellow sugars, or nearly double the rate of 14 cents per lb. fixed upon above.
This mode of raising money by duties is certainly not only a great saving to the country, compared with direct taxation, which is attended with additional expense in the collection, and objectionable on many accounts, but is especially free from the annoyance and irritation often to individuals, growing out of direct taxation. Yet, as nearly all consume these articles, and more or less according to their means, the amount to each is very small, and equitably distributed.
OF THE MERCHANTS' MAGAZINE AND COMMERCIAL REVIEW.
London, May 31st, 1861. To the Editors of the Merchants' Magazine :
Public attention has been intensely directed, during this month, to the struggle unfortunately pending in the United States; and the action of the executive towards either party has been closely watched lest any disagreement might occur on any point. And well may it be so, when we consider how important are the relations of commerce with the United States; how dependent are our manufacturers on the supply of cotton, the first of our raw materials, and how extensive is the American market for British manufactures. The proclamation issued by the British govcrnment warning British subjects from taking any part, or receiving any commission from either party, the same being illegal under the Foreign Enlistment Act, has been commented upon, as it seems to acknowledge the belligerent right of the Confederate States to issue letters of marque. But it is scarcely liable to such a construction. It is quite certain that by international law the State alone has power to commission national vessels to assist in carrying on the war; and that unless the privateer assumes for the time a national character, it must be considered as a pirate. Are the Confederate States to be considered as sovereign States or as rebel provinces ? It is certainly premature for the British government to express an opinion on the subject, though it has been the policy of this government to recognise any new arrangement as a matter of fact; on the reasons of which it has no business to enter. It is much to be regretted that the United States government did not concur in the declaration of the European powers at the Congress of Paris, in 1856, respecting privateering, though the demand that private property at sea should be respected in war was most just and proper.
The British legislature has been for a considerable time engaged in discussing the Budget, and more especially the policy of abolishing the paper duty. The debate was long and vigorous, but a majority of fifteen saved the government, and the measure is safe.
We need not expect this year any untoward stoppages in the IIouse of Lords. Although their right to consider, accept, reject or alter all bills, whether financial or otherwise, is incontestable, and they were glad to exercise such right last year, when the condition of public finances really justified their interposition against the abandonment of a large sum of revenue, there is nothing this year that will in the least countenance such a course, and the bill will pass safely. I send you the bill as it now stands before the House.
The bankruptcy bill, however, which has been remitted to a committee of the House of Lords, has undergone a searching scrutiny, and many of the most important clauses have been struck out. The bill has just been laid before the House, as amended, but is not yet printed to en
able me to send it to you. What may be the fate of the measure it is difficult to say.
The Chambers of Commerce and all public bodies were quite satisfied with it as it was, at least in its main features, and it will depend on the nature of the changes made in it whether it will pass or not this session.
The trade marks bill has passed the House of Lords and is now before the House of Commons. Considerable opposition has, however, been raised to it, principally by those who are in the habit of using the trade marks of other manufacturers to give currency to their own goods. That such a practice must be stopped by making it criminal, is quite clear; and I sincerely hope the government may be strong enough to pass it.
I send you this day several public documents of interest, such as the Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom, a paper full of commercial information of great value; the correspondence with the United States government respecting the blockade, and the reports on the conveyance of mail between Galway and America. From the last of these documents it appears that the Galway contract is to terminate, but Viscount Palmerston stated in Parliament that the British government are not unwilling to encourage the most direct communication between the United Kingdom and America, but any proposal must be founded on open competition.
I send you also a return on the consumption of tea, showing the wonderful increase in the quantity consumed. The committee on the income and property taxes is still sitting. The bill on copyright in works of art has been remitted to a committee. There is a bill before the House of Commons to introduce into Ireland the same summary procedure on bills of exchange as it now exists in England and Wales.
You will have observed that the value of the exports of British produce and manufacture to the United States in the quarter ending 31st March, 1861, was £4,147,019, against £5,886,357 in the similar period in 1860, and £6,271,993 in 1859. A division is now made in the Board of Trade accounts in our exports to the United States, viz. : ports on the Atlantic, northern ; ports on the Atlantic, southern ; ports on the Pacific.
The total exports in the four months ending 30th April, 1861, amounted to £38,574,462, against £41,834,347 in the similar period in 1860, and £41,851,524 in 1859.
Among the important combinations lately formed to promote the import of cotton from other countries into England, the following will show that secession has defeated its own object, i. e., the supremacy of Southern commerce.
1. The British Cotton Company, Manchester. 2. The Manchester Cotton Company, Manchester; capital $5,000,000; chairman, Thomas BARZLEY, Esq., M. P. from Manchester. Sphere of operations, India and Australia, &c. 3. The East India Company; capital $1,250,000, London. 4. The Jamaica Cotton Company, London; capital $100,000; chairman, SAMUEL GURNEY, Esq., M. P. 5. The Coventry Cotton Company, Coventry; capital $250,000.
These are among the first results of the alarm now felt as to the cotton supply in England. There are, in addition to these, two societies with wide reach, which will soon tell powerfully upon the question. One is the Cotton Supply Association, of Manchester, which is now actually stimulating cotton production in India, Australia, Africa, the West Indies