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No. I.


1 S 3 9.

A rt . I .— IN T R O D U C T IO N .
I n legal phrase, we would prefer being judged by our acts— and in.
commercial parlance, being credited with our performances— to making
promises in advance of our publication. But custom having rendered it
necessary, on the appearance of a new work, to accompany it with some
indication of the plan upon which it will be conducted, and the objects
it is intended to subserve, we comply with the requisition.
In the first place, as an excuse for its appearance at all, we may say,
that such a publication as the present is imperiously demanded by the
wants and wishes of the commercial part of the community, and we believe
that such a work, conducted upon enlarged and liberal principles, is cal­
culated to be eminently useful, and will prove highly acceptable, not only
to the Merchant, but to all who feel an interest in promoting information
on subjects deeply identified with the wealth, the greatness, and the hap­
piness of our common country. Commerce is not only a business, but a
. science, extremely intricate in some of its developments, and calculated
to elevate the mind, and enlarge the understanding, when pursued upon
legitimate principles, and with high and honorable views.
Essentially and practically a trading people, the commerce o f the Uni­
ted States has been pushed, by the enterprise o f her citizens, to every part
of the habitable globe — her ships penetrate every ocean, and her canvass
whitens every sea, bringing home the varied productions of every soil and
climate, and while rewarding individual enterprise and exertion, adding
to the storehouse of general knowledge, and increasing the prosperity of
the country.
The questions which arise in such extended intercourse with the world,
are multifarious and diversified. The knowledge and information neces­
sary to guide the adventures to a successful termination, is often complex
and difficult of solution ; the sources whence it is to be obtained are not
always accessible; and operations are often begun in a reckless spirit o f
speculation, and end, as might have been anticipated, in defeat, simply
VOL. i . —

no .





because some element necessary to success, or some piece of information
essential to the adventure, had, in the ardor of pursuit, been disregarded.
One of our prominent objects will be, to raise and elevate the commer­
cial character— to point out the requisites necessary to form the thorough
and accomplished merchant. An expensive education, and a long course
o f study, is necessary to form the statesman, the physician, or the com­
mon law yer; but every clerk seems to think he can at once assume the
practical merchant, and spring, ready armed and equipped, into the active
business of life, like Minerva from the head of J ov e; forgetful that as
pretenders in one case soon sink into oblivion and disgrace, he cannot
expect otherwise than loss and discomfiture, if wanting the elementary
information necessary to success.
W e shall, therefore, from time to time, point out the headlands in the
commercial chart, and endeavor to mark the quicksands where oftentimes
shipwreck has been made, not only o f property, but of probity, and that
high sense of honor, wanting which, however abounding in every thing
else, a man may assume the name, and be totally deficient in all that
forms the high and honorable merchant.
With these views, it will necessarily be inferred that we are the
strenuous friends and ardent supporters of the Mercantile Library Asso­
ciations of this and of our sister cities.
Wherever the minds of the young are to be formed, and an incentive
given to those who, after the present busy actors in our crowded marts
o f commerce are removed, are to occupy their places, they will find us
inspiriting them in their career, and doing all in our power to aid the
incipient merchant in his high and honorable avocation.
W e say high, because commerce is now the most honorable pursuit in
which a man of talent and enterprise can engage. Commerce is now the
lever of Archimedes; and the fulcrum which he wanted to move the
world, is found in the intelligence, enterprise, and wealth of the mer­
chants and bankers, who now determine the questions of peace or war,
and decide the destinies of nations. An adaptation to commercial pur­
suits does not, in our acceptation of the term, mean the mere accumula­
tion of dollars and cents, which may be gained without merit, or lost
without reproach, by disastrous reverses, which may baffle the most
sagacious and well directed operations, and the most skilful combina­
tions ; not that ingenuity or tact which is directed to overreaching and
circumvention, and to which the frank and the honorable oftentimes fall
victims; but a profession embracing and requiring more varied know­
ledge, and general information of the soil, climate, production, and con­
sumption of other countries — of the history, political complexion, laws,
languages, and customs of the world— than is necessary in any other;
and honorable, because a merchant, formed on our ideas o f commercial
character, would be fitted and qualified to act a part which would not
only do himself, but his profession and country, honor.
Inseparably connected with commerce, are its handmaidens, agricul­
ture and manufactures, and we shall endeavor to point out how they
mutually assist and sustain each other— Agriculture and manufactures
being the circular segment, and commerce, as it were, the keystone of
the arch, which renders every thing secure, and wanting which, they
would want the incentive to production.
With these objects and views, it will be seen that our plan is something
like that laid down by Chief Justice Blackstone for himself, in his admi-

— 1

Commerce, as cohnected with Civilization.


rable commentarie's on the law— with this difference, that ours will
require time before it can be fully developed, while his was at once laid
before the public perfect and complete. .
Every subject that can be interesting or useful to the merchant, will be
embraced from time to tim e; for it is our intention to render the Mer­
chant’s Magazine and Commercial Review a standard work on the sub­
jects to which it will be devoted, so that it may be referred to with
certainty and confidence, for counsel and direction in the various ques­
tions arising in commercial affairs. Currency, exchanges, banking,
commercial and marine law, partnerships, agencies, and statistical in­
formation, commercial and manufacturing, will have our special atten­
tion, as well as the domestic trade o f the United States; and we are
happy at being enabled to say, with confidence, that we have secured
able and talented assistance in the various departments o f our work,
and the whole will be under our immediate supervision.
W ell written communications will be received with pleasure, and
inserted as far as our limits will permit, reserving to ourselves the right
of abridging or excluding, as far as circumstances may render it neces­
sary ; and it will be at all times grateful to us, as proving an interest in
our success, to receive communications from practical and scientific men ;
for as by the collision of flint and steel light is extracted, so from the
intercourse between mind and mind, truth is elicited, an impulse given
to examination, and an incentive applied to research, which may produce
valuable results— for thought is the germ of action.




[We are satisfied that we cannot present our readers with any thing more acceptable
than the following able lecture, read before the “ Mercantile Library Association o f
New York,” on the 4th o f December, 1838, by the H o n . D an iel D . B a r n a r d , and
furnished by him, at the request o f the Association, for publication in our Magazine.
It needs no comment from us, in ushering it into the world; for the subject is so ably
treated, and so happily discussed, that it will be read with interest and advantage.
W e maybe permitted, however, to remark, that it is peculiarly gratifying to see so
many highly gifted minds turning their attention to commercial inquiries, and illus­
trating the importance o f trade. No nation on earth is as eminently qualified, as
the United States, by geographical position, internal resources, the spirit and indomi­
table enterprise of the people, for running a proud and successful career; and in pro­
portion to the attention paid to these advantages by those who wield the destinies,
and develop the resources o f our young, but giant republic, will be the impulse given
to our onward march in wealth and national greatness.]
T he subject with which it is proposed to occupy the present hour,
is— commerce, as connected with the progress o f civilization. And it
is proper, and perhaps necessary, to a right understanding of the sub­
ject, that I should begin with a word or two o f explanation.
What is civilization ? In its ordinary acceptation, it denotes a condition
o f society, freed from the rudeness and ignorance o f the savage or barbarous
state, instructed in the arts, and practising the rules and customs of regu­
lar and polished life. I mean this by the word, and I mean something
more. Besides the idea which it conveys, of settled homes, and regular
employments; of country, and government, and laws; of protection to life,
limbs, and liberty; of property, and its securities, and the comforts and


Commerce, as connected with Civilization.

conveniences which represent and result from property— besides all this,
I employ the word, at present, to denote a high degree of social prosperity,
abounding in wealth, without which the advance of any people in know­
ledge, in positive happiness, or in the exercise of the nobler qualities hnd
virtues of our nature, will be retarded and uncertain; a high degree of
personal refinement; superior cultivation, physical, intellectual, and moral;
a superior acquaintance with the art of living generously and well, with
all the accommodations thereto, “ the means and appliances to boot;” in
short, a condition of dignified enjoyment— of substantial happiness to the
human being— such as we know to be within the capabilities of his nature.
I suppose that, from the creation, mankind have been tending, on the
whole, towards excellence— towards the exaltation of the human charac­
ter, and the bettering of their earthly condition and prospects. A candid
appeal to history, I think, would demonstrate this fact. I suppose that the
world has been man’s school of improvement, furnished and fitted with
every requisite and means of culture, carefully adapted to his nature, and
affording precept upon precept, and lesson upon lesson, of instruction, and
varied according to his age and according to his progress. I suppose that
men always have been improvable, that they are so now, and probably
always will be. And I suppose that they have been actually improved
— that they have from the earliest ages made an actual, though not an
invariable, advance; and that that advance is not likely to be arrested,
but accelerated rather, so long as the means o f improvement on the one
hand, and the capability of improvement on the other, are found to remain
undiminished or unexhausted. On this topic, I rely upon facts, and I dis­
card all speculations. I believe what I see, and I make all the past a
credible and an accredited witness for the truth. I have no opinions, and
I indulge in no conjectures, about the perfectibility of human nature, or
o f human happiness. Progression, improvability, is all that I insist upon;
and this, I think, rests on the strongest proofs and the clearest demonstra­
tions. It is demonstrable, I think, as the existence of God is demonstra­
ble, from the evidences o f design and adaptation. It is shown as a
result, in the actual history of the race. And to the deep and contem­
plative student and observer o f events, it is plainly discernible in the
rise and fall of nations, and the wonderful way in which each has been
made to serve the cause of human instruction and improvement, in its
turn, and then to give place to its legitimate and appointed successor—
appointed to carry forward a work to which the other was no longer
competent; or perhaps to introduce a new system, or subject, of instruc­
tion and improvement, of which the other was ignorant, and must for­
ever have remained so ; and which, so far as we know, could have been
introduced in no other manner. O f course, I reject the fanciful and
atheistical notion, that nations start into accidental existence, mature,
grow old, and then fall into decay, all equally without cause and without
consequence. And I have as little faith in the idea entertained by some,
that there must needs be, after a general intellectual progress and advance,
a general decline, either periodical or otherwise. Such notions are con­
tradicted by abundant fact and abundant experience. I reject them all. I
look back, and I think I discover, bridging the long tract of time, since the
morning of man’s existence, a regular graded plain, of gentle and con­
stant, though not uniform ascent, along and upon which his pathway has
been made, and by which, almost without perceiving it, he has reached
already— at least, the van of the host has reached — a creditable and com­

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


manding elevation. And I look forward, through long and misty years
to come, and think I discover the same broad plain, stretching away into
the mighty future, rising gradually as it runs on, until it is lost in obscu­
rity, marking the way of man’s onward and upward tread in the sublime
and appointed track, whither time and destiny seem to call him.
But I have one word more to say on this subject. There is nothing so
true and indisputable, that some may not be found to doubt and cavil about
it; just as there is nothing so absurd and impossible, that some may not
be found to believe it. Happily for the object I have at present in view,
it is quite unnecessary that the faith of others, in regard to the progress
of civilization, past or to come, should square exactly with my own—
should be neither greater nor less than that which I entertain. There
is a common ground, on which we may all meet. Nobody doubts —
every one admits and understands, that there is a broad distinction be­
tween the savage, or barbarous state, and the civilized— as between the
Romans, in the fifth century, and the Northern hordes that swept over
and trampled them down ; and between our own Indian tribes, and the
swelling tide of white population, before which they are fast melting
away. As little is it doubted by any, that civilization admits of com­
parison and degrees— that one people may be more or less civilized than
another— just as civilization in the East, though once in advance of the
rest of the world, is at this day behind the civilization of Europe and
America. And there are none, I think, among us, at the present day,
who pretend to doubt that a state of civilization is the preferable state
for any people, and by the same rule, that the higher the degree o f
civilization, the better and the happier.
So far, then, we are all agreed, that civilization is a desirable thing, and
that it cannot be carried to too high a pitch, any more than it is possible
for this people to be too wise, too virtuous, too prosperous, and too happy.
It may be admitted, moreover, that we are already highly civilized— and
if this was the fourth day of July, instead o f the fourth day of December,
we might, without spoiling our present argument, one and all, admit and
insist, that the sun never shone on so glorious a country and people be­
fore, and never would again. So much, I say, we might admit and insist
upon, without spoiling our present argument; for still it would be true
that, as wise men, it would do us no harm to look a little to the sources
of our prosperity and glory;— that if we could do nothing to enhance
the advantages of our position, we might, at least, take care that we
should not begin to decline prematurely, and, by what we should do, or
omit to do, precipitate our own inglorious fall.
Every one must be aware, that there exists at this day, as in times past,
and in this country, as elsewhere, more or less distrust of commerce —
more or less prejudice against commercial operations and commercial men.
Ancient Egypt began to be civilized with beginning to be commercial.
Her merchants were the first who found their way to the great Indian con­
tinent, which they did by the way of the Red Sea; and with bringing in
the commodities of the East, they brought in also, and diffused, a taste for
the arts, and especially for that style of heavy and massive architecture,
which finally constituted about all there was of civilization in Egypt, and
which, I think, there can be no doubt, was borrowed from the models of
Indian architecture then existing, and of which some remarkable specimens
still remain. But it did not suit the policy of the political priests of Egypt,
to tolerate trade. They desired to encourage agriculture exclusively, and



Commerce as connected with Civilization.

they made their restrictive measures effectual, by fortifying their harbors,
forbidding strangers to enter, and teaching their own people that the sea,
to which their river flowed, was a monster, which only waited an oppor­
tunity to swallow up bodily their God, the Nile, and leave them a deserted,
ruined, and starving people. Now, some o f the prejudices excited against
commerce in modern times, have been worthy of this elder example.
Napoleon knew well enough where the strength of Samson la y ; but
when he wished to render England odious to a nation of soldiers, and
make his own continental system acceptable, or at least endurable, he
stigmatized the English as a nation of shop-keepers. The expression
had its effect; but the catastrophe which Napoleon had the sagacity to
dread, and which he endeavored to avoid, was not thereby averted. The
shops of England, in that most memorable controversy, eventually proved
too powerful for the military genius and resources o f the greatest captain
of any age. For to the eye o f the philosophic observer, it must be ap­
parent, that it was commerce that triumphed on the field o f W aterloo.*
That battle would probably never have been fought, much less won, as
it was, had it not been for the outpoured and exhaustless resources o f
England— resources which clearly had their foundation and their growth
in commerce. I shall not deem it necessary, nor would it be discreet, to
allude with any particularity whatever to the prejudices with which
rival interests sometimes, and mistaken views and opinions always, have,
to a greater or less extent, imbued and warped some minds amongst
ourselves, in regard to commerce— in regard to its interest, its objects,
its real character, and its mighty, but little understood operations and
influence. It is no part o f my business or purpose to vindicate the mer­
cantile interest from any petty aspersions, of which it may, at any time,
have been the subject. M y plan, I trust, is a broader and more compre­
hensive one. I desire to do what little can be done by me, and in so
brief an opportunity as this must be, towards placing commerce on its
true foundation — towards giving it that position o f importance and high
consideration which really belongs to it— especially in the estimation o f
mercantile men themselves, the younger and more inexperience!! mem­
bers of the class particularly. I desire that the first claims of commerce,
and of the class o f merchants, shall be understood and felt, at least by
themselves, if not by others; for out of this proper appreciation, it is
reasonable to hope, that some valuable results, as well to the country and
the world, as to themselves, may chance to flow. In short, I desire to
show that commerce always has been, that it now is, and always must
be, especially and most closely connected with the progress of human
improvement— that this is a capital element among the means and in­
struments of a thorough and complete civilization — and that it is quite
within the power, as it is both the interest and the duty, of those having
the charge of commerce, either conducting its affairs, or exercising any
control over it, to wield the vast influence which naturally belongs to it,
in a way to make it productive o f a much greater amount of benefit to
themselves, to the country, and to mankind, than could be expected from
ordinary, neglected, and accidental results only.
And in the first place, a brief recurrence to the well-known records o f
the rise and progress o f commerce, will show how exactly it has kept pace
* To say nothing of the nature and principal cause of the continued struggle be­
tween England and. France, — a war for mastery between the Colonial and the Con­
tinental systems.

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


•with the rise and progress of civilization — or rather, it will show, I think,
that civilization has followed almost uniformly in its train.
I have already alluded to the early incipient trade of Egypt, as having
lasted just long enough, before its suppression, to introduce, along with the
productions of the East, such an acquaintance with learning and the arts,
then existing in the East and nowhere else, and so much taste for them,
as enabled the Egyptians to maintain, through several centuries— in the
midst, however, of an essential barbarism in manners and morals— a de­
gree of intellectual cultivation, of which no other example was found, at
the time, among the western nations. The Egyptians cultivated the
natural sciences and architecture, and by colonizing Attica, lent to Greece
the torch-light of the knowledge possessed and cultivated by them.
The first example of an extended and flourishing commerce was set by
the Phmnicians and Tyrians ; and, for a long period, the whole Western
World was barbarian, compared with them. They traded with Asia, Africa,
and Europe, and with the Islands of the Atlantic. They made territorial
discoveries, and obtained a knowledge of geography, of which the Greeks
themselves were wholly ignorant at a much later period. They may be
said to have invented, rather than improved, ship-building; and they carried
the art to some degree of perfection. They discovered the manufacture of
glass, and that of woollen cloth; they prepared the inimitable purple dye;
and they executed mechanical works in great variety. They built cities,
which were enriched by trade, and refined by the arts. They cultivated
astronomy; and the invention of letters, and of arithmetic, and their in­
troduction into Greece, is commonly attributed to them. T hey were not
warlike, because their occupations were peaceful; and they extended a
peaceful dominion, by colonization and alliances, over a considerable part
o f the then known world ; much of it, indeed, known only to themselves,
or through themselves. Wherever they went, they carried with them
knowledge and the arts. The first notions of civil society in Greece
came from them. Asia Minor, several of the principal islands in the
Mediterranean, Carthage, and Cadiz, received their first population, and
their first impulse towards improvement and knowledge, from this com­
merce-loving people.
The spirit of commerce, and with it, that intellectual activity and enter­
prise which distinguised the Tyrians, were transmitted to the Cartha­
ginians. As the Phmnicians had engrossed the trade with India, the
Carthaginians struck out boldly into the Atlantic. Passing the gates o f
Gades, they pushed their adventures along the coast of Spain, and of
Gaul, and finally penetrated to Britain. Nor were the voyages o f this
people merely those of trade or private adventure. Voyages for dis­
covery only were made, and fleets were fitted out for the purpose by the
Republic, and at the public charge. That Carthage was a leading state
among the ancients in cultivation and civilization, we all know. O f her
wealth, her prowess, and her power, let her early conquests, her success­
ful commercial wars, and her commercial treaties, speak. She was finally
crushed beneath the ponderous weight of her great rival; but her over­
throw was only accomplished after she had been gradually stripped of
the best part of her possessions and her property, and reduced to poverty
and abjectness, by the interruption and destruction of her trade.
A fact which tends to show that both the Phoenicians and Carthaginians
had made a creditable advance in civilization, is this: that they were ena­
bled to establish and maintain their governments under republican forms.
And the Carthaginian constitution was very remarkable, for a period so



Commerce as connected with Civilization.

early, in one important particular— I mean the complete separation of
the civil and military power. It was the union of these that led to the
downfall of freedom in Rome.
Several of the states o f Greece pursued commerce with considerable
success; and her maritime and naval power was respectable, and even
formidable. But the Greeks were in no degree distinguished as a com­
mercial people. Their trade was confined almost entirely to the Medi­
terranean, and they knew little of the science o f navigation. The truth
is, that the Greeks seem to have had committed to them a peculiar trust
in regard to civilization. It was time that the human mind should begin
to be turned in upon itself, and opportunity afforded it to try the strength
and the elegance o f its own powers. It seems to have been put to the
Greeks, to show what the human being is capable of, when allowed,
under favorable circumstances, to devote himself to the culth%tion o f the
intellect and the taste. Hence, they contented themselves with being
shut up in almost total ignorance of the earth beyond their own narrow
precincts. They despised every other people, and every other language.
And they set themselves assiduously, and of course, successfully, to the
cultivation of letters, of philosophy, and the fine arts. Their mission
was an important, though a limited one, and it was most faithfully
executed; but it has been rathgr in opposition to them than through
them, against their exclusiveness and through other and very different
agencies, that the world has been put in possession of the results and
benefits of their labors. If the world had waited for the Greeks them­
selves to diffuse the light they kindled, it is hard to say when its general
illumination, through their means, would have commenced.
The Greeks were finally led forth to foreign conquests by Alexander;
and it was under him, the great Macedonian hero, and by the force of his
wonderful genius, that commerce began a new and splendid reign. It is
remarkable that Alexander, whose march through hostile countries was
scarcely impeded by his successive victories, was obliged, in bis rapid
career, to sit down for seven months before the peaceful city of T y re ; and,
finally, made a conquest o f her only after the most incredible exertions. It
was, probably, this very resistance on the part o f the Tyrians, with the vast
resources which they were enabled to command for their defence, which
first led the conqueror to comprehend something o f the superior advan­
tages of commerce ; and, finally, prepared the way for the foundation of
that great commercial emporium, in lower Egypt, which bore his name.
The city of Alexandria was founded and located expressly with a view
to its commercial advantages. It commanded the trade both of the East
and of the West, and it never lost its ascendency, at least not beyond
recovery, let what revolutions would come, as the centre and mart of
universal trade, until near the close of the fifteenth century, when the
Portuguese discovered, perhaps re-discovered, a new route to India, by
way of the Cape o f Good Hope.
But the city of Alexandria, be it remembered, became as much the cen­
tre of the arts and the learning o f the world, as it was the seat of com­
merce and dominion. This was the theatre of the learned labors of the
Hellenists; the seat of the celebrated academy and museum, where the
greatest scholars of the age lived, studied, and instructed ; and here was
collected that celebrated library, designed to preserve and perpetuate the
whole body of ancient learning, and embracing the entire circle of Grecian
and Roman literature. Elegantice regum cur tuque egregium opus.
The next great event in the order of time, to be regarded as affecting the

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


condition and advancement o f the race, was the accession o f Rome to uni­
versal dominion. In all the western world, there was one central empire;
every thing else was provincial only. Carthage was a province; Greece
was a province; Egypt was a province; all subject to the sway of impe­
rial Rome. Now, the proud and soldierly citizens of Rome despised com­
merce. Commerce, navigation, mechanical arts, and, indeed, for a consid­
erable time, and to a considerable extent, letters themselves, were regard­
ed by the haughty Roman as fit only to occupy the slave, the freedman,
or the provincial. His business was to follow the trade of glorious w ar;
the conquest of arms, and to delight himself with bloody pastimes. At a
later period, stimulated by the learning and the example of the conquered
Greek, the Roman cultivated letters successfully, and he carried one de­
partment of human learning, the department of law, to a noble and unex­
ampled perfection. And his haughty disdain of commerce, as a personal
employment, did not make him utterly blind to its merits and advantages
as a business in the state. Commerce was suffered to remain in original
hands; and it was so much the more active and successful, as it was now
every where under the control and direction of one central power, and was
freed from the injurious restrictions and obstructions to which it had been
before subject, from the mutual jealousies and hostilities o f rival states.
The city of Rome, as the seat of supreme power, and the capital of uni­
versal empire, was the grand point and reservoir to which the wealth of
the provinces, and the chief profits and productions of all their trade and
business, were made to flow. For this purpose, were these countries con­
quered ; for this purpose, they were made provinces. Commerce increased
the importance and the wealth of such o f them as had been, or were, mari­
time states, and made them, of course, the more desirable and valuable,
because richer subjects, to their imperial and plundering masters. Com­
merce, therefore, was fostered and encouraged by the Romans. They
were made richer by it; they were enabled to indulge in a growing taste
for the rare luxuries of the East; and they found in it a powerful ally
and coadjutor in their great business o f war and conquest.
Now, the agency which commerce, during all this period, had in fur­
thering human improvement, is evident enough. It was the means of
establishing and preserving an intercourse between Rome and her pro­
vinces, and between the various countries themselves subject to Rome,
on a footing very different from that which otherwise must have existed.
It was an intercourse, in some degree, o f reciprocal advantage; it softened
hostile feeling; it caused men to begin to regard each other as friends
and brothers, who might be better employed than in robbing and murder­
ing one another ; it enlarged, at once, the desires and the capacities of
men ; it improved their tastes, their manners, and their habits ; and, by
opening channels of more easy and general communication, it made an
extension and diffusion of knowledge and the arts, and of the light of
learning, possible, which was quite impossible without it.
But now the time was at hand, when Rome must fall. Her mission
had been fulfilled; her work was done, and she must give place to new
races of men, who, though at first o f most unpromising appearance, should,
in time, take up improvement where she should leave it, and carry it on
to a perfection which she was, and must forever have been, incapable of
giving it. The first effect of the great Northern inundation, which swept
over the Western Empire, was to quench, at once, the light of science, of
arts, of letters, and of civilization in Europe. Europe returned to primivol.

i.— no. i.




Commerce, as connected with Civilization.

tive barbarism. Her territory cut tjp and parcelled out into small states,
always independent and generally hostile; there was a sudden and utter
end of the union and intercourse which had existed under the Roman
power. Learning was despised, as leading to effeminacy; and universal
ignorance, rudeness, and barbarism prevailed. “ The names o f stranger
and of enemy,” says Robertson, “ became once more words of the same
import. Customs every where prevailed, and even laws were established,
which rendered it disagreeable and dangerous to visit any foreign coun­
try. Cities, in which alone an extensive commerce can be carried on,
were few, inconsiderable, and destitute o f those immunities which pro­
duce security or excite enterprise. The sciences, on which geography
and navigation are founded, were not cultivated. The accounts of an­
cient improvements and discoveries, contained in the Greek and Roman
authors, were neglected or misunderstood. The knowledge of remote
regions was lo st; their situation, their commodities, and almost their
names, were unknown.”
But, after some ages of settled gloom and darkness, symptoms of re­
vival began to appear; and it is worth remarking, that these symptoms
first showed themselves among those tribes of barbarians who had pos­
sessed themselves of Italy, and were favorably situated to commence ope­
rations in trade. Commerce had not been at any time wholly neglected
in the Greek empire. Constantinople had all the while preserved a taste
for the productions of the East, and kept up the intercourse necessary to
bring them in, even when compelled to resort to the tedious and difficult
route, inland, by way of the Indus, the Oxus, and the Caspian and Euxine
seas. These productions were also brought by way of the Persian gulf,
and the Euphrates and the Tigris, to several cities on the Syrian coast
of the Mediterranean. And the Arabians, in possession of Alexandria,
revived and carried on the old trade between that city and India, by the
route of the Arabian gulf and the Indian ocean. With all these marts
o f trade successively, the Italians established and maintained a commer­
cial intercourse. They began this intercourse so early as the age o f
Charlemagne, and by the time the Crusades commenced, several of their
cities had risen to considerable opulence, and already, through the chan­
nels of their trade, they had communicated to Spain, to France, to the
Low Countries, and to England, some valuable ideas of manufactures
and arts. The holy war, as it was called, gave a new impulse to the
trade and business of the Italian cities; and Venice, particularly, became
a powerful state, with great personal wealth, and extensive and valuable
territorial possessions. The profits of trade stimulated the Italians to at­
tempt the production and manufacture of various commodities, for which
they found a growing demand in every quarter of Europe. Companies
of Lombard merchants were settled in the various kingdoms, under the
immediate protection of the governments, and a special suspension made
in their behalf of the absurd customs and enactments against strangers,
for the purpose of receiving, vending, and distributing the productions o f
Italian trade or Italian skill. And it was through these means chiefly
that the European nations were first led to value or desire the useful
and elegant arts and luxuries of life.
Following the efforts and successes o f the Italians, the spirit of trade
and enterprise was aroused in the north. The famous Hanseatic League
was formed, and became a powerful and formidable association. The
eities of the League concerned themselves as well with politics as with
trade, and they conducted with equal skill and success the transactions

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


of commerce and the operations of war. Between them and the Lom­
bards, an active correspondence and exchange took place; supplies be­
came more regular and abundant, and had a more extended and general
distribution. In the mean time, a new spirit of industry was excited;
manufactures flourished, especially in the Netherlands.
through her trade in woollens, became populous and opulent. And
finally, England, by the wise conduct and policy of Edward III., follow­
ing the example of Flanders, and aided by Flemish artisans, adopted the
manufacture of woollens, and thus, by this simple beginning, set out in
a commercial career, which she has since run with unexampled credit,
advantage, and success.
The effects of the revival and prosecution of trade in Europe, were too
plain to be mistaken. It aroused, and liberalized the minds of men. It
subdued their mutual animosities. It softened their manners. Laws and
governments were greatly modified by it. It fostered the genuine spirit
of liberty and personal independence. It stimulated to activity, industry,
and enterprise. It produced wealth; and this led, first to indulgence, and
the adorning of life, then to ease, leisure, and finally, to study and intel­
lectual cultivation. The first attempts to revive literature were made in
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. They were begun in Italy, where
trade was begun ; and instruction was first derived from the Greeks at
Constantinople, and the Arabians at Alexandria, as commodities had been.
And when literature really revived, at a later period, it was still in Italy
that her light was kindled; and it is believed, that wherever the illu­
mination spread in Europe, commerce had preceded it.
I need not dwell on subsequent events, marking the grand outline of
the modern history of commerce. They are familiar to all. A safe and
intelligible path was found on the broad ocean, by the discovery of the
mariner’s compass. The Cape of Good Hope was discovered, and passed.
A new world was found.
“ The 17th century was the period in which the principles were adopt­
ed, and most of the establishments formed, which have contributed to ad­
vance the commerce of Europe to its present astonishing height. The
interests of nations became better understood than in any former age ;
the utility of commerce had become evident to every one, from the wealth
and power it had conferred on the states which had encouraged it ; and
commercial treaties became frequent between the different nations. Navi­
gation was improved, new settlements were formed, and many of those
before made were rising into importance; manufactures were advancing
in many parts of Europe ; shipping was increasing; and the intercourse
between distant places, from the accumulation of knowledge and experi­
ence, becoming more expeditious and secure.” *
Since the period just named, commerce has steadily gone on, improv­
ing, and enlarging, both in Europe and America; while, within the few
short years of the present century, it has acquired an actual increase, and
a prospective activity and advantage, which give to it a value and an impor­
tance which have never been felt as belonging to it before. Now in all the
progress it has made, in modern as well as in former times, it is impos­
sible not to see, that the enlightenment and civilization of mankind have
made a general and equal advance along with it. It is impossible not to
discover that its influence, on the whole, has been as salutary, as it has
been powerful and commanding. It is identified every where with im-

# Rees’ Cyclopedia.


Commerce, as connected with Civilization.

provement — improvement in mind and manners — improvement in arts
and letters— improvement in knowledge,in morals,in legislation,in laws,
in liberty, — and in all this improvement, it has led much more than it
has followed ; it has been the pioneer, much more than the fellow and
companion of human advancement and civilization.
But no adequate justice can be done to the claims and merits o f com­
merce— to the great influence it has exerted, and is destined to exert, on
human affairs,— without a recurrence to some particulars. It is impor­
tant to understand how commerce operates, and by what instruments and
agencies — what results it produces, or is capable o f producing, and by
what means it produces them — in order to comprehend, in any fit degree,
the Eminent service it has rendered, and may be expected to render, to
mankind. The limits of this occasion will not allow me to do more than
to glance, in a cursory and hurried manner, at some of these particulars.
The direct object o f commerce is the exchange of commodities. O f
course, there must be commodities to be exchanged; and the more of them
there may be, the more considerable will be the business and the profits
o f exchange. Commerce, then, is concerned to favor production, to favor
industry, to favor ingenuity and invention. She stands between the class
o f the producers and the class of consumers; and her interest is to en­
courage both production and consumption. T o encourage consumption,
she labors to create a taste for commodities ; she persuades her customers,
that their comfort will be promoted, and their happiness increased, by the
possession of these commodities. In the early periods o f commercial ope­
rations, whether the object be to sell, or to purchase, intercourse takes
place always between those who are in diverse or different states, in re­
gard to improvement, usually by the visits o f the more civilized to the
less civilized. The object is to induce the savage to exchange the skins
in which he wraps himself, for the coarse but more comfortable cloths of
the merchant — to induce the barbarian to give up his bow and arrow for
the rifle, and the rifle in turn for the plough and the sickle. As improve­
ment goes on, the articles of the trade improve in texture, in value, and in
variety; until, finally, nothing is satisfactory short of productions formed
o f the most costly and precious materials, and wrought with the most ex­
quisite skill and workmanship. Wants have been increased with the in­
crease of supplies, while the ability and means to satisfy them all, if cir­
cumstances have not been unfavorable, are certain to have increased faster
and faster still. Whatever can save or facilitate labor; whatever can
gratify the taste or the intellect; whatever can promote comfort, safety,
ease, enjoyment, is sought after and had for the asking and paying for.
And these very wants, and this very consumption, are indicative of re­
fined and polished life.
But while commerce has been creating all this taste, and all this desire,
for the arts, the conveniences, and luxuries of civilized life, she has of
necessity put in operation, or encouraged, other agencies o f human im­
provement, in order to enable her to meet the demands she has thus created.
The mechanic, the artisan, the agriculturist, and the manufacturer, have
been stimulated to new industry and new effort. Production has increased.
Division of labor has taken place. Invention and ingenuity have been at
work. The ocean and the earth have been explored for materials. A g ­
riculture has been roused to activity, to give subsistence to labor in other
departments. And thus, on the side of production, immense good has
been effected. Those who produce are enabled to consume; and the
more, the more they produce. As production swells, profits increase; the

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


elements are set to work, instead of m uscles; machinery comes in sub­
stitution of labor; wealth abounds ; leisure is gained ; and enjoyment,
refinement, and cultivation, follow.
This is the process, and this the progress, o f communities under the
lead of commerce. Production and commerce, as grand departments of
industry, are indeed interests of mutual and reciprocal advantage. But
there is that in the spirit o f commerce— in her activity, her daring, her
enterprise and energy, which puts her, almost always, on the advance.
She it is who points the way, and beckons skill and labor on. It was the
class of merchants who caused the manufacture of silk to be undertaken
in Italy, and that of sugar in Spain; whence it was transferred to our
own side of the Atlantic; and those of woollen and flax, in the Nether­
lands. Manufactures, as well as natural products, are their stock in trade,
the grand capital and basis of all their operations. The establishment of
particular manufactures, in particular localities, may sometimes be opposed
by portions of the mercantile interest, as when attempted under an unjust
application of the restrictive policy. Freedom o f trade is the motto of
the class. But, as a whole, the world cannot be too busy with manufac­
tures— with production— to suit the merchant. As long as a market
is left, or can be found, on the face o f the globe, to be supplied, he cries
to the producer and the manufacturer for more. He is never satisfied till
the world cries enough.
A service of incalculable importance which commerce renders to the in­
terest of production and manufactures, and thence to the cause o f human
improvement, is in making a territorial division of labor possible, which
would otherwise be impossible. B y the operations o f commerce, every
separate country, and each particular section o f every country, is enabled
to prosecute, with undivided attention and devotion, the peculiar business
for which it is exclusively or best fitted by position, soil, surface, or climate,
by the physical and mental condition or genius of its population, or by the
prevailing state of production, o f trade, or of markets, in other places and
other parts of the world. Through commerce, it becomes possible to de­
vote one region to the culture of tea, and another to coffee and sugar; for
one people to grow cotton, another rice, another wool, and another grain ;
for one community to engage in the manufacture of cloth, another o f leath­
er, and another of iron; for marble to be quarried in this mountain, and
coal dug out of that, and gold picked out of the earth that washes down
from a third. Indeed, without a territorial division of labor, there would
be a narrow and impassable limit, to the personal division of labor. And
if it were possible now to conceive of the sudden arrest, from any cause,
of the operations and business of commerce— the ceasing o f the now
ceaseless flow of commodities from one country to another, and between
different parts of the same country— we could not fail to see that pro­
duction must at once be arrested, and almost entirely cease over the
world, and that, of necessity, the world must return to a primitive con­
dition of simplicity, ignorance, rudeness and barbarism.
But as commerce deals with commodities, buys and sells and transports,
its constant desire and effort has been, as I have already intimated, to widen
and extend the sphere of its active operations. This has led to territorial
discovery and to colonization. The direct object has often been to find new
commodities and new markets for the uses o f trade; but, from the begin­
ning, as a general thing, commerce has pursued adventure with a liberal,
enlightened, and noble spirit— with a desire to enlarge the boundaries of
human knowledge, and spread the light and blessings of religion and civi­



Commerce as connected with Civilization.

lization over the broad earth. In obedience to a principle wisely planted
in our common natures, the first promptings to adventure and discovery, as
in the classic expedition to Colchis, have no doubt usually been the desire
and the prospect of obtaining possession of the golden fleece. The first
anticipation of some direct and substantial reward must usually be found
necessary to sustain and encourage adventure, where difficulties and perils
are to be encountered more dreadful and appalling than those which were
involved in the three memorable labors o f Jason. But, as in the very case
o f that bold and skilful navigator and hero, other and loftier motives and
aspirations are soon found to jningle themselves with the spirit of gain.
The adventurer finds himself engaged in an enterprise which, if successful,
must result in incalculable benefits to his country and his kind. His ima­
gination is kindled. There will be glory as well as gain in the achievement.
He becomes fired with that noblest atid strongest of all passions, vWien once
it takes possession of the human breast— the desire o f doing some great
good to his race — of working out some mighty and glorious result in human
affairs; and he expects, as he has a right to expect, that, as it happened to
the Argonauts, the time will come, when the very ship in which he sails
will shine as a constellation among those bright and light-giving objects
which men love to gaze and wonder at, and his name be enrolled with
those to which the earth pays a willing tribute o f veneration and praise.
The history of discovery and of colonization is nearly identical with the
history of commerce; and the march of improvement and civilization has
been, by an equal step, in company with discovery and colonization. It is
curious to observe how uniformly these important movements have had
their origin, or their chief conduct and agency, among commercial nations,
or with commercial men. W hen Necho, an Egyptian king, at a very early
period, sent out an expedition, with the view of ascertaining, if possible, the
form and termination of Africa, he was fain to trust its execution to Phoe­
nician navigators. It was the Tyrians who founded Carthage and Cadiz.
And it was Carthage, in her turn, that sent out Hanno, with sixty ships
and many thousands of emigrants, of both sexes, to pass the pillars of Her­
cules, to seek out new and unheard-of territories, and found new colonies.
Rome contented herself with making discoveries on land, and by the march
o f her conquering armies; and it was at once, perhaps, a cause and a
consequence of the want of commercial enterprise among the Romans,
that they religiously believed to the last, with Pliny the naturalist,
and the learned and philosophic Cicero at their head, that, of the zones
of the earth, two only, namely, the temperate zones, were habitable ; that
these two were antipodal, and all the communication between them for­
ever impassable, by the interposition of a tropical region, which was per­
petually burnt up with heated vapors and unquenchable flames ! Since
the period when extended navigation became possible, by the use of the
magnetic needle, discovery and colonization have been almost exclusively
in commercial hands. Portugal was a maritime state, and led the way.
The Spaniards, the Dutch, and the English, all engaged in these enter­
prises. The connexion of discovery with commerce is traceable, indeed,
in every direction. Americus Yespucius was a native o f Florence, where
he was thoroughly instructed in natural philosophy, astronomy, and ge­
ography— three branches of learning which engrossed attention at the
time in Florence, expressly on account of their importance to commerce.
John Cabot was a Venetian pilot, of great skill in navigation, and Sebas­
tian Cabot was his son. Columbus, too, had his origin in commercial
Italy. He was a native o f Genoa. So it is with discovery, and attempts

Commerce, as connected with Civilization.


at discovery, in more modern times. The hand of commerce is in it all.
The efforts to break through the ice of the poles, early began, long con­
tinued, and still persevered in ; and the formidable South-Sea expedi­
tions of our own times— the resolution to penetrate every sea and every
clime— to leave no portion o f the earth unexplored, or unvisited, by the
foot of civilized and Christian man,— all this is the work and the mis­
sion of commerce — comes o f commerce— belongs to commerce— and
will finally be accomplished by commerce.
But there is another department of human action and enterprise, in
which the agency of commerce has been, and must continue to be, exerted
with the happiest effect— leading, indeed, to results of the highest inter­
est, and of the last importance to mankind. I allude to the matter of the
improved and improving means and facilities of intercommunication, for
transit and for transport, whether by water or by land. I set down, with­
out hesitation, to the account and credit of commerce, about all that has
yet been done, and by anticipation all that may be done, in this sort of
improvement; because, without pretending that whatever has been
done in this way has always been begun and prosecuted by commerce
— yet commercial intercourse has always been the direct object in view
— and so it must be in future. The interests of trade are apt to be the
first to prompt to these improvements; and, whether that be so or not,
all other interests, agriculture, manufactures, mechanic arts, and trades,
with ten thousand incidental benefits, are favorably affected and promoted
by them, according as trade is advanced through their instrumentality.
In speaking of these improvements, I mean to include every thing that
affects navigation and transport by sea, or on rivers and canals, or car­
riage by land. The science of navigation itself, with the various sciences
and branches of learning more immediately connected with it— the art
of building ships, as well as the art of sailing them— the discovery o f the
magnetic needle, made by a navigator— the progress which has been made
in the knowledge of meteorology; o f climates, currents, winds, and storms
— the discovery and establishment o f channels, harbors, and roadsteads,
with the various artificial works relating to them— the method of propel­
ling vessels by steam, destined, no doubt, to effect new and mighty revolu­
tions yet in maritime and naval operations— the increased protection af­
forded to ocean navigation and to trade, not more by an adequate show o f
naval force, than bythe prevalenceof sentiments and doctrines at once more
humane and more just— the establishment and growth o f commercial tri­
bunals, conducted on the principles of equity, and the advance which has
been made in building up a system of international and commercial law,
on the foundations of justice. Add to all this, improved river navigation,
the construction and use of canals, road-making on new and improved plans,
and finally, the adoption of railways, with the employment of steam-power
upon them, for draft and for speed. Here is a most lame and imperfect enu­
meration of particulars, in regard to which, the agency and the interests
of commerce have been exerted and wielded, not for the purposes o f gene­
ral utility and advantage merely, but for the rapid and substantial advance
of the race of men in knowledge and wisdom, in civilization and power.
Improvements in the means, securities, and facilities of transports, con­
sidered in two principal divisions, have reference either to ocean naviga­
tion, or to carriage by way of the land. In regard to ocean navigation,
if any one would understand the progress it has made, and the progress
of mankind along with it, for want of a better mode of arriving at the
truth, and comprehending the whole of it, he might take a single instance


Commerce, as connected with Civilization.

or example. Let him look at a ship o f Grecian construction, and com­
pare it with some specimens o f modern naval architecture. Certainly one
of the most celebrated maritime expeditions in the world was that under­
taken hy the Greeks to Colchis— not, I suppose, by any means, wholly
fabulous. The ship in which the adventurers sailed was the Argo, de­
scribed as magnificent in her proportions, as well as exquisitely finished,
and altogether o f such worth as finally to attain the distinction of having
her name, as if for a perpetual memorial, written on the heavens among
the stars. This stately ship was forced to make a tedious circuit on her
return home, after the immediate objects of the voyage had been accom­
plished ; and it is remarkable, that a part o f this circuit was a journey on
solid ground, or over the mountains and valleys that lie between the Dan­
ube and the Adriatic. O f course, the carrying was equitably divided
between the parties to the enterprise. The ship bore the navigators by
water, and the navigators bore the ship by land. So, too, one of the most
famous naval battles recorded in history was the fight between the Greeks
and Persians at Salamis, into which the Greeks brought three hundred
and eighty ships— all, of course, mighty men-of-war, but not a deck, nor
a quarter of a deck, among them all. “ Look on this picture, and then on
this.” Think of the moving mountains o f wood and iron which compose
one of our ships o f war of the larger class— the Pennsylvania, for ex­
ample— her lofty decks, rising tier upon tier— her enormous length—
the fearful height between her top-mast and hold— the batteries she car­
ries, and the army o f men that musters within her walls. Or take an
instance from our commercial marine — one of our own beautiful liners,
for example— or, if you please, the Great Western, as a specimen of her
class, and. typifying the latest triumph of human skill and human power,
over those most formidable obstacles, which broad oceans, capricious
gales, and raging tempests, have always interposed to the intercourse of
distant nations and peoples, and thence to' the progress of mankind in
general cultivation and improvement.
But not to dwell on this point, and considering navigation as now in
the act of approaching all the perfection of which the imagination can
conceive it to be capable ; let us recur, for a moment, to the consideration
of the subject of internal improvements— of improved facilities for inter­
course and communication through or by way of the land.
The agency of commerce, in this department, has been conspicuous
from the beginning. W e have an instance or two, in its early history,
to illustrate the promptness with which it lays hold of the idea of inter­
nal improvements, as essential to the success of its own enterprises. To
say nothing of the celebrated canals of ancient Egypt, when Alexander
the Great had opened the trade of India to the Greeks, and the Europe­
ans generally, at the city of Alexandria, to be carried on by way of the
sea and the Arabian Gulf, his next concern was to open the same great
magazine of supplies, by some convenient route, to his Asiatic subjects,
situated about and above the sources of the Tigris and the Euphrates.
For this purpose, he commissioned his officer Nearchus, in command of
a competent fleet, to explore and examine the coastwise course of navi­
gation, between the mouth of the Indus and the entrance to the Persian
Gulf. One serious obstruction he knew existed in another part of the
proposed route, namely, at the mouth of the Euphrates, in the cataracts,
so called, which the jealous and narrow-minded Persians, in their time,
had caused to be constructed, as an effectual barrier against the approach
of strangers to their territory, in that direction. Now this obstruction


Commerce as connected with Civilization.


Alexander proposed and was prepared to remove, however difficult— the
first example, it is believed, on record, of a plan to free the channel o f a
river from impediments to its navigation, whether natural or artificial.
This was, comparatively, in the infancy o f the world, as well as of com­
merce. At a later period, after the race in Europe, which, in the lapse
o f time, had grown up to the stature of incipient, though uncouth and
awkward manhood, had been struck hack again into mere childishness,
ignorant, stupid, and ferocious; and when the first glimmerings o f return­
ing intelligence and civilization began to appear, another instance occur­
red of a grand conception for a work of internal improvement. This was
the conception of Charlemagne, who, by subduing, and uniting together,
under his own sway, a large number of hitherto independent, and jealous,
and jarring tribes and nations, prepared the way for a renewal o f the
intercourse and commerce between various points and places in Europe,
which had existed under the dominion of Rome. T o favor the interests
of commerce, and the improvement of his people still more, he formed the
magnificent project of opening a direct communication between the Ger­
man ocean and the Black sea, by uniting the waters of the Danube and
the Rhine. Unhappily, the low state of scientific attainment and skill
at that day would not allow o f the execution o f the work.
It cannot be necessary to allude to other cases o f the like kind, with
those just referred to, in ancient or early times, to show what was then
the tendency and spirit of commerce ; and this lecture has already been
drawn out to too great a length to admit of any thing more than a naked
reference to the wonderful progress which works of internal improvement
have made, and are making, in modern times, in all the civilized quarters
of the globe. The improvement o f natural river channels, and the con­
struction o f artificial ones; with the more recent device of reticulating the
broad surface of extended territories and districts of country with rail­
roads, are leading to consequences o f which the first and faintest effects
only are beginning to be felt; but which, in their ultimate and grand fea­
tures, have as yet been but most imperfectly imagined. Foreign commerce,
from the very necessity of things, is greatly dependent upon, and limited
by, domestic and internal trade. And as domestic and internal trade must
always depend, for its extent and its prosperity, on means and facilities
which can only be afforded by liberal and enlightened systems, and works
o f internal improvement; so may these systems and works be deemed
secured and guarantied to the world, by the very interests of commerce, as
well as by the generous and enterprising spirit which is commonly known
to actuate it. What has been already done in this matter in the several
countries of Europe, and in the United States— the more commercial com­
munities among them being always on the lead— is the pledge and earnest
o f the efforts and the successes which are certainly to follow. The com­
mand of Heaven to man, that he should subdue the earth, will never have
its answer in complete obedience, till he shall have conquered, and all but
annihilated, the spaces that intervene between the seas and the centres of
territories and continents, and between the various extremities o f the land,
and points of departure and approach, for the population and the business
that must swarm and swell upon its surface. That this consummation
must sooner or later be realized, it would be most unreasonable to doubt,
in the face of all the enterprise, activity, energy, and skill, which so emi­
nently characterize this age of the world. The human intellect is awa­
kened and aroused— and nowhere more thoroughly than among ourvol.

i. — no. i.




Commerce as connected with Civilization.

selves— its condition, in general, is becoming freer every day, and with
freedom, it gains power— a power which is learning to display itself in
acquiring a just dominion over material things, and asserting and vindicat­
ing a proud superiority and mastery over physical obstructions, difficulties,
and disabilities, placed, for obvious and wise reasons, in the plain pathway
of his advance towards that point of dignity and excellence, which is clear­
ly attainable, but only so through severe discipline and patient cultivation.
No one, I am sure, can be more sensible than I am, how very limited
and imperfect is the view I have presented of the advantages and influence
of commerce, and its connexion with the past, and the anticipated progress
of civilization. The subject, as all must have seen by this time, is quite
too vast and gigantic in its proportions to admit of compression, with any
show of justice, within the proper boundaries of a single occasion like the
present. There are several considefations of deep interest connected with
it, to which no allusion even has been made— while the topics which have
been touched upon, have only been touched, not handled. The influence
o f commerce, not only as it is the source o f liberal profits, and generally
of great aggregate wealth, to the class o f merchants themselves— the use
of which is always distinguished by singular generosity; but also as it
stimulates to industry and enterprise in the other grand departments of
business— opening the way and the only way to wealth in them, by open­
ing markets to them— by affording them a vent for surplus commodities,
without which there would be no surplus production, no profits, and no ac­
cumulation. The influence o f commerce, in enabling men to congregate
in large towns and cities, which otherwise could not possibly be subsisted
and sustained, leaving to the fields only such portions of the entire popula­
tion as are essential to their profitable cultivation, instead of crowding those
fields with herds which, without commerce, would occupy only to crop
them, as the beasts do, for a present and bare subsistence— enabling men,
I say, to congregate in cities, which, with all the vices and impurities that
necessarily yet belong to them, always have been, and must be, the chief
seats of refinement and civilization in every land where wealth aggregates
and centres— where literature, polite learning, and the fine arts flourish
— where manners are polished— where intellect is alive and active—
where sympathy and benevolence have an ample field for untiring exertion,
and in which exertion never tires— where virtue is of vigorous growth, be­
cause it is obliged to flourish in spite of the tainted atmosphere it dwells in,
or die — where morals have a strong cast, because they exist in the very
presence of seduction and crim e— and where piety, and faith, and honor,
and manhood, and nobleness, and generosity, all put on a positive and res­
olute bearing and quality, because they are called to occupy their spheres
and exercise themselves in the face of the boldest infidelity, and before the
sworn enemies of all the orderly, decent, and legal institutions and cus­
toms of civil society. A ga in ; the influence o f commerce in favor of hu­
man liberty, as its whole history, if examined, would show, in resisting the
exactions, and breaking down the artificial and oppressive distinctions of
the feudal system — in demonstrating, as it did in Italy, and in the free
cities of Germany, and elsewhere, the power and capacity of men to estab­
lish and maintain independent communities, to form confederacies, and to
govern themselves,— in raising up a new class in society— men who could
carve out fortunes for themselves without the sword— men who could
command without being born to command— men who were competent to
business, to public business, because they were brought up to business—
men who showed that there was some value in other things, as well as in


Commerce as connected with Civilization.


lands — that the lord of manors was no better or wiser than the lord of
ships, of money, and of merchandise, and that the world might be benefitted quite as much by industry and noble virtues, as by idleness and noble
blood— in short, that the world, after all, was not made for kings and bar­
ons, but for generations of free-born men to dwell in and to enjoy. And
again; the influence o f commerce, in favor of the gentle virtues and arts
of peace, and against the trade and the calamities o f horrid war, an influ­
ence which has been felt, first, in teaching men that they may have a bet­
ter and more profitable occupation, by turning their thoughts to productive
industry, and acquiring the means of surrounding themselves with the com­
forts, conveniences, and luxuries of quiet life; then, in rendering wars o f
territorial conquest or personal ambition, at least in countries highly com­
mercial, difficult if not impossible; then, in showing that negotiation is
better than blood in composing disputes, and that treaties and compacts
between nations are quite as rational and effectual a way of defining accu­
rately their mutual rights and obligations, and bringing them to a good un­
derstanding with each other, as ramparts and bristling cannon, lines of circumvallation, sorties and attacks, the tramp of armies, the shock of battles,
the desolation of homes, habitations, and countries; an influence, in short,
on the part of commerce, which, as it increases in power and importance,
and in an intelligent understanding of its own great interests, and the high­
er interests of government and society, is more likely than any thing else I
am acquainted with, short of the universal sway of the simple and unaffect­
ed spirit of Christianity, to put an end to all wars — such only excepted, per­
haps, as may be waged for the only cause that was ever worth fighting for
— the independence of nations, and the freedom of mankind. A ll these
topics, and others that might be adverted to, which are a part, and an essen­
tial part, of the subject in hand— all of which, it would be necessary to in­
vestigate and develop, in order to show how intimately and essentially com­
merce is connected with the progress o f civilization— all must be passed
by with the slight and very unsatisfactory notice of such as have been nam­
ed and referred to at all. I can do no more, in conclusion, than to commend
them all, with the whole subject, to such attention and thought as they may
seem to deserve. I think it must be seen, that commerce, while it has done
much, very much, already, to benefit the world, is still in commission as the
minister and apostle o f other benefits and higher advantages— that there is
not an interest in the whole range of life and society to which its influence
does not, or may not, reach, in one way or another, and to which it is not, or
may not, in some degree, be of essential service. Education, religion, free­
dom, morality— the diffusion o f wealth— the diffusion of the useful and or­
namental arts— the diffusion of knowledge— the dissemination of religious
light and truth— the extension and cultivation of taste and refinement—
a free, happy, and improving personal intercourse between country and city,
between different parts of the same country, and between different countries
— these things are all of them more or less within the province o f commerce
— at least.none of them are wholly beyond its power and influence. Let its
influence be felt, then, not as it must be in spite of itself, but as it may be by
exerting it. The carrying-trade of the world is in the hands o f commerce;
but let her carry as she has done, and more abundantly, other commodities
than those which are bought and sold— in her broad beak, let her carry the
olive, to drop it among men, wherever there are victors over moral degrada­
tion to be crowned, or wherever there is strife or contention to be healed;
and under her strong white wings, and in the volumes of vapor which she
breathes forth, let her bear ample stores o f ripe seeds, like the down which


Accumulation, Property, Capital, and Credit.

is borne on the wind, to scatter them broadcast wherever she m oves;
seeds which shall spring up in green plants, in bud and blossom, in
flower and fruit, to feed the growth of improvement in all forms— the
growth of virtue and intelligence, of taste and civilization, in all lands.
Nor are other departments of life and industry, as all are to participate
in the humanizing advantages of a growing and extended commerce, with­
out a deep interest in its successes and its prosperity. O f course, commerce,
as I have said, cannot flourish without their aid. That aid, however, is to
be supplied through increased activity and enterprise in their own proper
spheres. It is the beautiful order and arrangement of Providence, that
those who labor assiduously in their own callings promote in the end the
general advantage much more effectually than could be done by any di­
rect interference with the proper pursuits of others. The prosperity of a
community, and its advance in improvement and happiness, are not com­
mitted exclusively to single hands, or to particular classes. Every profes­
sion and every employment has its share assigned it in so great a work.
Eloquence has its share; instruction ha's its share; invention has its share;
literature has its share; and labor, in its thousand forms, has its full share.
The same great end is always in view, or it should be, to make men at
once wiser and happier. And, though he may not know it, the workman
with the hammer, and the smith that smites the anvil, labor effectively—
it may be in an humble degree — for this same cause of human advance­
ment; and the pale student and the learned doctor can do no more, and do
no better, than labor for the same cause. No people can become and con­
tinue refined and intellectual, unless their physical wants and comforts are
fully provided for; and hence, the very ditcher himself is no unimportant
actor in this universal drama. And, perhaps, there is no one lesson in
life more necessary to be learned than this : that men are every where
mutually dependent on each other, and so are trades and occupations; that
they deserve each other’s respect, however widely separated their spheres
o f action, and need each other’s sympathy, confidence, countenance, and
support; that all are embarked in the same broad bottom— borne on the
same heaving tide— the same bending sky over them all, and the same
port and haven forever before them all; that those who work the ship, and
those who command— those who tug at the ropes and set the sails, and
those who calculate her latitude and hold the tiller, are all, and equally,
indispensable to the success o f the voyage; and that the prosperity and the
happiness of the whole company will be promoted and secured, just in pro­
portion as all, in their own proper spheres, shall perform their own proper
duties, with resolution, with promptness, and with scrupulous fidelity.



III. — A C C U M U L A T IO N , P R O P E R T Y ,
C R E D IT .

C A P IT A L ,


A n Address, delivered before the Mercantile Library Association, at the
Odcon, in Boston, September 13th, 1838. B y E d w a r d E v e r e t t .
T he association, the celebration of whose eighteenth anniversary gave
occasion to this address, is, we believe, the oldest of the kind in our coun­
try, though, as might be expected, from the relative extent of the two cities,
inferior in its resources and in the number of its members to that which
has been so successfully established here. W e cannot allude to these
institutions, without expressing our admiration of the spirit and manly



Accumulation P roperty Capital, and Credit.


feeling to which they are indebted for their origin. Their purpose, and it
is an elevated one, is to withdraw the members from the influence of the
feeling and habits which are the natural result of the routine of all pro­
fessional pursuits; to illustrate those pursuits by philosophical observation
and inquiry; to take up the conduct of education at that stage o f its pro­
gress where our ordinary guides leave us at our own disposal. In the mer­
cantile profession the advantages of such institutions are more obvious than
in any other; under their influences, the merchant, if he be not numbered
among the princes of the earth, may become what is still loftier and better
— the intelligent friend of social advancement, the benefactor of his race.
W e are persuaded that we cannot better instruct and gratify our read­
ers, than by transferring to our pages the greater portion o f this admira­
ble discourse. No intelligent reader in our country would willingly con­
fess himself unacquainted with the writings of Mr. Everett, nor require
any description of the beautiful power by which he illuminates every sub­
ject that he touches. It is one of the finest characteristics o f his elo­
quence, that, fervid and lofty as it is, we never see it employed to throw
a seductive coloring over extravagant positions or wild theories; the
reader is not compelled to condemn what he admires; and if he won­
ders, it is only at the wide and various learning with which every topic
is treated, and. the originality which all assume beneath a master’s hand.
In this address Mr. Everett has done that for the science of political
economy, which its professors have too generally failed to do; he has
shown the direct, immediate, indispensable application of its principles to
the ordinary business of life. It will be well for those who have been
l.ed to regard this science as unsettled in its principles, and unsatisfactory
in its results, to study the illustration which is here given of the impor­
tance of those principles, in relation equally to the individual, and to the
society o f which he is a member. Many of them may be surprised to
find that what they have been in the habit o f regarding as fraught with
danger, or deserving only of reproach, is but the seeming evil from which
good may be educed.
In the beginning of the address, the author declares its object to be the
discussion of a few of the elementary topics connected with comm erce;
in reference to which, there are some prevailing errors, and on which it
is important to form correct judgments. These topics are, accumulation,
property, capital, and credit; and they are successively treated in a man­
ner which would be spoiled by an attempt at abbreviation. Certain we
are, that no reader will complain of the copiousness of our extracts.
X. Some attempts have been made o f late years to institute a comparison between
what have been called the producing and the accumulating classes, to the disadvan­
tage o f the latter. This view I regard as entirely erroneous. Accumulation is as ne­
cessary to farther production, as production is to accumulation; and especially is ac­
cumulation the basis o f commerce. If every man produced, from day to day, just so
much as was needed for the day’s consumption, there would o f course be nothing to
exchange ; in other words, there would be no commerce. Such a state o f things im­
plies the absence o f all civilization. Some degree of accumulation was the dictate of
the earliest necessity; the instinctive struggle o f man to protect himself from the ele­
ments and from want. He soon found— such is the exuberance o f nature, such the
activity of her productive powers, and such the rapid development o f human skill—
that a vast deal more might be accumulated than was needed for bare subsistence.
This, however, alone, did not create commerce. If all men accumulated equally
and accumulated the same things, there would still be no exchanges. But it soon ap­
peared, it the progress o f social man, that no two individuals had precisely the same
tastes, powers, and skill. One excelled in one pursuit, one in another. One was more
expert as a huntsman, another as a fisherman ; and all found that, by making a busi­


Accumulation, Property, Capital, a?id Credit.

ness o f some one occupation, they attained a higher degree o f excellence than was
practicable, while each one endeavored to do every thing for himself. With this dis­
covery, commerce began. The Indian, who has made two bows, or dressed two bear­
skins, exchanges one of them for a bundle of dried fish or a pair of snow-shoes. These
exchanges between individuals extend to communities. The tribes on the sea-shore
exchange the products o f their fishing for the game or the horses o f the plains and
hills. Each barters what it has in excess, for that which it cannot so well produce
itself, and which its neighbors possess in abundance. As individuals differ in their
capacities, countries differ in soil and climate ; and this difference leads to infinite
variety o f fabrics and productions, artificial and natural. Commerce perceives this
diversity, and organizes a boundless system of exchanges, the object of which is to sup­
ply the greatest possible amount o f want and desire, and to effect the widest possible
diffusion of useful and convenient products. The extent to which this exchange o f
products is carried in highly-civilized countries, is truly wonderful. There are pro­
bably few individuals in this assembly who took their morning’s meal this day, with­
out the use o f articles brought from almost every part o f the world. The table on which
it was served was made from a tree which grew on the Spanish Main or one o f the
West-India islands, and it was covered with a table-cloth from St. Petersburg or Arch­
angel. The tea was from China; the coffee from Java; the sugar from Cuba or Lou­
isiana ; the silver spoons from Mexico or Peru ; the cups and saucers from England
or France. Each o f these articles was purchased by an exchange of other products
— the growth of our own or foreign countries — collected and distributed by a succes­
sion o f voyages, often to the farthest corners of the globe. Without cultivating a rood
o f ground, we taste the richest fruits o f every soil. Without stirring from our fireside,
we collect on our tables the growth o f every region. In the midst of winter, we are
served with fruits that ripened in a tropical sun ; and struggling monsters are drag­
ged from the depths of the Pacific ocean to lighten our dwellings.
As all commerce rests upon accumulation, so the accumulation o f every individual
is made by the exchanges o f commerce to benefit every other. Until he exchanges it,
it is o f no actual value to him. The tiller of a hundred fields can eat no more, the
proprietor o f a cloth factory can wear no more, and the owner of a coal mine can
sit by no hotter a fire, than his neighbors. He must exchange his grain, his cloth,
and his coal, for some articles o f their production, or for money, which is the repre­
sentative o f all other articles, before his accumulation is o f service to him. The sys­
tem is one o f mutual accommodation. No man can promote his own interest without
promoting that o f others. As in the system o f the universe every particle o f matter
is attracted by every other particle, and it is not possible that a mote in a sunbeam
should be displaced without producing an effect on the orbit o f Saturn, so the minutest
excess or defect in the supply o f any one article o f human want, produces an effect
— though o f course an insensible one — on the exchanges o f all other articles. In this
way, that Providence which educes the harmonious system o f the heavens out o f the
adjusted motions and balanced masses of its shining orbs, with equal benevolence and
care furnishes to the countless millions of the human family, through an interminable
succession of exchanges, the supply o f their diversified and innumerable wants.
In order to carry on this system of exchanges, it is necessary that the articles
accumulated should be safe in the hands of their owners. The laws o f society for
the protection o f property were founded upon the early and instinctive observation of
this truth. It was perceived, in the dawn of civilization, that the only way in which
man could elevate himself from barbarism, and maintain his elevation, Was by being
secured in the possession of that which he had saved from daily consumption, this
being his resource for a time of sickness, for old age, and for the wants of those de­
pendent upon him, as well as the fund out o f which, by a system of mutually benefi­
cial exchanges, each could contribute to the supply o f the wants of his l'ellow-men.
To strike at the principle which protects his earnings or his acquisitions, — to destroy
the assurance that the field which he has enclosed and planted in his youth will re­
main for the support o f his advanced years — that the portion o f its fruits which he
does not need for immediate consumption will remain a safe deposit, under the pro­
tection of the public peace — is to destroy the life-spring o f civilization. ' The philoso­
phy that denounces accumulation, is the philosophy of barbarism. It places man
below the condition o f most of the native tribes on this continent. No man will vol­
untarily sow that another may reap. You may place a man in a paradise of plenty
on this condition, but its abundance will ripen and decay unheeded. At this moment,
the fairest regions of the earth — Sicily, Turkey, Africa, the loveliest and most fertile
portions o f the East, the regions that, in ancient times, after feeding their own nume­
rous and mighty cities, nourished Home and her armies— are occupied by oppressed
and needy races, whom all the smiles o f heaven and the bounties o f the earth cannot

Accumulation, Property, Capital, and Credit.


tempt to strike a spade into the soil, farther than is requisite for a scanty supply of
necessary food. On the contrary, establish the principle that property is safe, that a
man is secure in the possession o f his accumulated earnings, and he creates a para­
dise on a barren heath ; alpine solitudes echo to the lowing of his herds; he builds up
his dykes against the ocean, and cultivates a field beneath the level o f its waves, and
exposes his life fearlessly in sickly jungles and among ferocious savages. Establish
the principle that his property is his own, and he seems almost willing to sport with
its safety. He will trust it all in a single vessel, and stand calmly by while she un­
moors for a voyage o f circumnavigation around the globe. He knows that the sove­
reignty of his country accompanies it with a sort o f earthly omnipresence, and guards
it as vigilantly, in the loneliest island o f the Antarctic sea, as though it were locked
in his colfers at home. He is not afraid to send it ou f upon the common pathway
o f the ocean, for he knows that the sheltering wings o f the law o f nations will over­
shadow it there. He sleeps quietly, though all that he has is borne upon six inches
o f plank on the bosom o f the unfathomed waters; for even if the tempest should bury
it in the deep, he has assured himself against ruin, by the agency o f those institutions
which modern civilization has devised for the purpose o f averaging the losses o f indi­
viduals upon the mass.
It is usual to give the name o f capital to those accumulations of property which
are employed in carrying on the commercial, as w'ell as the other business operations
o f the community. The remarks already made will enable us to judge, in some degree,
o f the reasonableness of those prejudices, which are occasionally awakened at the
sound o f this word. Capital is property which a man has acquired by his industry,
or has, under the law o f the land, become possessed of in some other w a y ; and which
is invested by him in that form, and employed in that manner, which best suit his edu­
cation, ability, and taste. No particular amount o f property constitutes capital. In a
highly prosperous community, the capital o f one man, like the late Baron Rothschild,
at London, or o f Stephen Girard, at Philadelphia, may amount to eight or ten millions ;
the capital o f his neighbor may not exceed as many dollars. In fact, one o f these two
extraordinary men, and the father o f the other, passed from one extreme to the other
in this scale o f prosperity ; and the same law which protected their little pittance at
the outset, protected the millions amassed by their perseverance, industry, and talent.
Considering capital as the mainspring o f the business operations of civilized society
— as that which, diffused in proportionate masses, is the material on which enterprise
works, and with which industiy performs its wonders, equally necessary and in the
same way necessary for the construction o f a row-boat and an Indiaman, a pair of
shoes and a rail-road— I have been at some loss to account for the odium which at
times has been attempted to be cast on capitalists, as a class ; and particularly for the
contrast in which capital has been placed with labor, to the advantageous employ­
ment o f which it is absolutely essential.
I have supposed that some part o f this prejudice may arise from the traditions of
other times, and the institutions o f other countries. The roots o f opinion run deep
into the past. The great mass o f property in Europe, at the present day, even in Eng­
land, is landed property. This property was much of it wrested from its original own­
ers by the ancestors o f its present possessors, who overran the countries with military
violence, and despoiled the inhabitants of their possessions ; or, still worse, compelled
them to labor as slaves, on the land they had once owned and tilled as free men. It
is impossible that an hereditary bitterness should not have sprung out o f this rela­
tion, never to be mitigated, particularly where the political institutions of society re­
main upon a feudal basis. We know from history, that after the Norman invasion,
the Saxon peasantry, reduced to slavery, were compelled to wear iron collars about
their necks, like dogs, with the names of their masters inscribed upon them. At what
subsequent period, from that time to this, has any thing occurred to alleviate the feel­
ings growing out o f these events ? Such an origin of the great mass o f the property,
must place its proprietors in some such relation to the rest o f the community, as that
which exists between the Turks and Rayas, in the Ottoman empire, and may have
contributed to produce an hereditary hostility on the part o f the poor, toward the rich,
among the thousands who know not, historically, the origin of the feeling.
It is obvious, that the origin of our political communities, and the organization o f
society among us, furnish no basis for a prejudice o f this kind against capital. Wealth,
in this country, may be traced back to industry and frugality; the paths which lead
to it are open to a ll; the laws which protect it are equal to a ll; and such is the joint
operation o f the law' and the customs o f society, that the wheel o f fortune is in con­
stant revolution, and the poor in one generation furnish the rich of the next. The
rich man, who treats poverty with arrogance and contempt, tramples upon the ashes
o f his father or his grandfather; the poor man, who nourishes feelings of unkindness


Accumulation, Property, Capital, and Credit.

and bitterness against wealth, makes war with the prospects o f his children, and the
order o f things in which he lives.
A moment’s consideration will show the unreasonableness o f a prejudice against
capital, for it will show that it is the great instrument of the business movements o f
society. Without it, there can be no exercise on a large scale o f the mechanic arts,
no manufactures, no private improvements, no public enterprises o f utility, no domes­
tic exchanges, no foreign commerce. For all these purposes, a twofold use of capital
is needed. It is necessary, that a great many persons should have a portion o f capi­
tal ; as, for instance, that the fisherman should have his boat; the husbandman, his
farm, his buildings, his implements o f husbandry, and his cattle; the mechanic, his
shop, and his tools ; the merchant, his stock in trade. But these small masses o f capi­
tal are not alone sufficient for the highest degree o f prosperity. Larger accumula­
tions are wanted to keep the smaller capitals in steady movement, and to circulate
their products. I f manufactures are to flourish, a very great outlay in buildings, fix­
tures, machinery, and power, is necessary. I f internal intercourse is to diffuse its’
inestimable moral, social, and economical blessings through the land, canals, rail-roads,
and steam-boats, are to be constructed at vast expense. To effect these objects, capital
must go forth like a mighty genius, bidding the mountains to bow their heads, and
the valleys to rise, the crooked places straight, and the rough places plain. If
agriculture is to be perfected, costly experiments in husbandry must be instituted by
those who are able to advance, and can afiprd to lose the funds which are required for
the purpose. Commerce, on a large scale, cannot flourish without resources adequate
to the construction o f large vessels, and their outfit for long voyages, and the exchange
o f valuable cargoes. The eyes o f the civilized world are intently fixed upon the experi­
ments now making to navigate the Atlantic by steam. It is said that the Great West­
ern was built and fitted cut at an expense'of near half a million o f dollars. The suc­
cess of the experiment will be not more a triumph of genius and o f art, than o f capi­
tal. The first attempts at the whale-fishery, in Massachusetts, were made from the
South Shore and the island o f Nantucket, by persons who went out in small boats,
killed their whale, and returned the same day. This limited plan o f operations was
suitable for the small demands o f the infant population o f New England. But the
whales were soon driven from the coast; the population increased, and the demand for
the product o f the fisheries proportionably augmented. It became necessary to apply
larger capitals to the business. -Whale ships were now fitted out at considerable ex­
pense, which pursued this adventurous occupation from Greenland to Brazil. The
enterprise thus manifested awoke the admiration o f Europe, and is immortalized in the
well known description by Burke. But the business has grown, until the ancient fishing
grounds have become the first stations on a modern whaling voyage ; and capitals are
now required sufficient to fit out a vessel for an absence o f forty months, and a voyage
o f circumnavigation. Fifty thousand dollars are invested in a single vessel; she
doubles Cape Horn, ranges from New South Shetland to the coasts o f Japan, cruises in
unexplored latitudes, stops for refreshment at islands before undiscovered, and on the
basis, perhaps, of the capital o f an individual house, in New Bedford or Nantucket, per­
forms an exploit which, sixty or seventy years ago, was thought a great object to be
effected by the resources of the British government. In this branch of business, a capi­
tal o f twelve or fifteen million dollars is invested. Its object is to furnish us a cheap
and commodious light, for our winter evenings. The capitalist, it is true, desires an
adequate interest on his investment; but he can only get this by selling his oil at a
price at which the public are able and willing to buy it. The “ overgrown capitalist,”
employed in this business, is an overgrown lamplighter. Before he can pocket his six
per cent., he has trimmed the lamp o f the cottager, who borrows an hour from evening
to complete her day’s labor, and has lighted the taper o f the pale and thought-worn
student, who is 11outwatching the bear,” over some ancient volume.
In like manner the other great investments of capital — whatever selfish objects their
proprietors may have — must, before that object can be attained, have been the means
o f supplying the demand o f the people for some great article o f necessity, convenience,
or indulgence. This remark applies peculiarly to manufactures carried on by m ichinery. A great capital is invested in this form, though mostly in small amounts.
Its owners, no doubt, seek a profitable return; but this they can attain in no other way
than by furnishing the community with a manufactured article o f great and extensive
use. Strike out o f being the capital invested in manufactures, and you lay upon
society the burden of doing by hand all the work which was done by steam and water,
by fire and steel; or it must forego the use of the articles manufactured. Each result
would in some measure be produced. A much smaller quantity o f manufactured
articles would be consumed, that is, the community would be deprived o f comforts they


Accumulation Property, Capital, and Credit.


now en joy; and those used would be produced at greater cost by manual labor. In
other words, fewer people would be sustained, and those less comfortably and at great­
er expense. When we hear persons condemning accumulations o f capital employed
in manufactures, we cannot help saying to ourselves, is it possible that any rational
man can desire to stop those busy wheels,— to paralyze those iron arms, — to arrest
that falling stream, which works while it babbles ? What is your object ? Do you
wish wholly to deprive society o f the fruit o f the industry o f these inanimate but un­
tiring laborers ? Or do you wish to lay on aching human shoulders the burdens which
are so lightly borne by these patient metallic giants ? Look at Lowell. Behold the
palaces o f her industry side by side with her churches and her school-houses, the long
lines o f her shops and warehouses, her streets filled with the comfortable abodes o f an
enterprising, industrious, and intelligent population. See her fiery Samsons roaring
along her railroad with thirty laden cars in their train. Look at her watery Goliahs, not wielding a weaver’s beam like him o f old, but giving motion to hundreds and
thousands o f spindles and looms. Twenty years ago, and two or three poor farms
occupied the entire space within the boundaries o f Lowell. Not more visibly, I had
almost said not more rapidly, was the palace of Alladin, in the Arabian tales, con­
structed by the genius o f the lamp, than this noble city of the arts has been built by
the genius o f capital. This capital, it is true, seeks a moderate interest on the invest­
ment ; but it is by furnishing to all who desire it the cheapest garment ever worn by
civilized man. To denounce the capital which has been the agent o f this wonderful
and beneficent creation, — to wage war with a system which has spread and is spread­
ing plenty throughout the country, what is it but to play in real life the part o f the ma­
lignant sorcerer in the same eastern tale, who, potent only for mischief, utters the
baleful spell which breaks the charm, heaves the mighty pillars o f the palaee from
their foundation, converts the fruitful gardens back to their native sterility, and heaps
the abodes of life and happiness with silent and desolate ruins ?
It is hardly possible to realize the effects on human comfort o f the application of
capital to the arts o f life. W e can fully do this, only by making some inquiry into
the mode of living in civilized countries in the middle ages. The following brief
notices, from Mr. Hallam’s learned and judicious work, may give us some distinct ideas
on the subject. Up to the time o f Queen Elizabeth in England, the houses o f the far­
mers in that country consisted o f but one story and one room. They had no chimneys.
The fire was kindled on a hearth o f clay in the centre, and the smoke found its way
out through an aperture in the roof, at the door, and the openings at the side for air
and light. The domestic animals — even oxen — were received under the same roof
with their owners. Glass windows were unknown, except in a few lordly mansions,
and in them they were regarded as movable furniture. When the dukes o f North­
umberland left Alnwick castle to come to London for the winter, the few glass windows,
which formed one o f the luxuries o f the castle, were carefully taken out and laid away,
perhaps carried to London, to adorn the city residence. The walls o f good houses were
neither wainscoted nor plastered. In the houses of the nobility the nakedness o f the
walls was covered by hangings o f coarse cloth. Beds were a rare luxury. A very
wealthy individual would have one or two in his house: rugs and skins laid upon the
floor were the substitute. Neither books nor pictures formed any part o f the furniture
o f a dwelling in the middle ages; as printing and engraving were wholly unknown,
and painting but little practised. A few inventories o f furniture, dating from the fif­
teenth century, are preserved. They afford a striking evidence of the want o f comfort
and accommodation in articles accounted by us among the necessaries of life. In the
schedule o f the furniture of a Signor Contarini, a rich Venetian merchant living in
London in 1481, no chairs nor looking-glasses are named. Carpets were unknown at
the same period: their place was supplied by straw and rushes, even in the presence
chamber o f the sovereign. Skipton castle, the principal residence o f the Earls of
Cumberland, was deemed amply provided in having eight beds, but had neither chairs,
glasses, nor carpets. The silver plate o f Mr. Fermor, a wealthy country gentleman
at Easton, in the sixteenth century, consisted o f sixteen spoons, and a few goblets
and ale-pots. Some valuations o f stock-in-trade in England, from the beginning of
the fourteenth century, have been preserved. A carpenter’s consisted of five tools,
the whole valued at a shilling; a tanner’s, on the other hand, amounted to near ten
pounds, ten times greater than any other, — tanners being at that period the principal
tradesmen, as almost all articles o f dress for men were made o f leather.
We need but contrast the state o f things in our own time with that which is indi­
cated in these facts, to perceive the all-important influence on human comfort o f the
accumulation of capital, and its employment in the useful arts o f life. As it is out of
the question for the government to invest the public funds in the branches o f industry
V O L . I. —

N O. I .




Accumulation P roperty, Capital, and Credit.

necessary to supply the customary wants o f men, it follows that this must be done by
private resources and enterprise. The necessary consequence is, that the large capi­
tal required for these operations must be furnished by the contributions o f individu­
als, each possessing a portion of the stock, or by a single proprietor.
It is rather remarkable that the odium, of which all capital in large masses has
sometimes been the subject, should be directed more against the former,— namely,
joint-stock companies, — than against large individual capitals. This, however,
appears to be the fact. Some attempts have been made to organize public sentiment
against associated wealth, as it has been called, without reflecting, as it would seem,
that these associations are the only means by which persons o f moderate property are
enabled to share the profits o f large investments. Were it not for these associations
in this country, no pursuit could be carried on, except those within the reach of indi­
vidual resources; and none but very rich persons would be able to follow those
branches of industry, which now diffuse their benefits among persons of moderate for­
tune. In which part o f this alternative a conformity with the genius o f our political
institutions exists, need not be labored.
But whether the masses o f capital necessary to carry on the great operations o f
trade, are derived from the association of several, or from the exclusive resources o f
one, it is plain that the interest of the capital, however formed, is identical with that o f
the community. Nobody hoards, — every thing is invested or employed, and, directly
or indirectly, is the basis o f business operations.
It is true that when one man uses the capital of another, he is expected to pay some­
thing for this privilege. But there is nothing unjust or unreasonable in this. It is
inherent in the idea o f property. It would not be property, if I could take it from you
and use it as my own without compensation. That simple word, it is mine, carries
with it the whole theory o f property and its rights. If my neighbor has saved his
earnings, and built him a house with it, and I ask his leave to go and live in it, I
ought in justice to pay him for the use o f his house. If, instead of using his money
to build a house in which he permits me to live, he loans me his money, with which
I build a house for myself, it is equally just that I should pay him for the use of his
money. It is his, not mine. If he allows me to use the fruit o f his labor or skill, I
ought to pay him for that use, as I should pay him if he came and wrought for me
with his hands. This is the whole doctrine of interest. In a prosperous community,
capital can be made to produce a greater return than the rate of interest fixed by law.
The merchant who employs the whole of his capital in his own enterprises, and takes
all the profit to himself, is commonly regarded as a useful citizen; it would seem un­
reasonable to look with a prejudiced eye upon the capitalist, who allows all the profits
o f the business to accrue to others, asking only legal interest for his money, which
■they have employed.
Without, however, pursuing this comparison among different classes of capitalists,
let us farther endeavor, by an example, to illustrate the question, whether they ought
in any view to be regarded as exerting an unfriendly influence on the labors of the
community. Take, for instance, such a case as Mr. Stephen Girard, a great capitalist,
who united in his person the merchant and the banker, and who may be spoken o f
plainly, as he has passed away— the solitary man— and left no one to be grieved with
the freedoms which are taken with his memory. This remarkable person began life
without a farthing, and left behind him a property, whose actual value amounted to
seven or eight millions of dollars, and this acquired in the latter half of his life. He
told me himself, that at the age o f forty, his circumstances were so narrow that he
was employed as the commander of his own sloop, engaged in the coasting trade
between New York or Philadelphia and New Orleans; adding that on a certain occa­
sion, he was forty-five days in working his way up from the Balize to the city. Few
persons, I believe, enjoyed less personal popularity in the community in which he lived,
and to which he bequeathed his princely fortune. Tf this proceeded from defects of
personal character, it is a topic which we have no occasion to discuss here. W e are
authorized only to speak o f the effect upon the public welfare of the accumulation of
such a fortune in one man’s hands. While I am far from saying that it might not
have been abused by being made the instrument of a corrupt and dangerous influence
in the community, I have never heard that it was so abused by Mr. Girard; and, on
general principles, it may perhaps be safely said, that the class of men qualified to
amass large fortunes by perseverance and exclusive devotion to business, by frugality
and thrift, are not at all likely to apply their wealth to ambitious or corrupt designs.
As to the effect in all other points of view, I confess I see nothing but public benefit
in such a capital, managed with unrelaxing econom y; one half judiciously employed
by the proprietor himself in commerce; the other half loaned to the business commu­
nity. What better use could have been made o f it? Will it be said, divide it equally

Accumulation, Property, Capital, and Credit.


among the community; give each individual in the United States a share ? It would
have amounted to half a dollar each for man, woman, and child; and, of course,
might as well have been sunk in the middle of the sea. Such a distribution would have
been another name for annihilation. How many ships would have furled their sails,
how many warehouses would have closed their shutters, how many wheels, heavily
laden with the products of industry, would have stood still, how many families would
have been reduced to want, and without any advantage resulting from the distribution!
Let me not be misunderstood. I regard equality of condition and fortune as the
happiest state o f society, and those political institutions as immeasurably the wisest and
best, which tend to produce it. All laws which have for their object to perpetuate large
estates, and transmit them from generation to generation, are at war with the constitu­
tion of man. Providence has written a statute o f distributions on the face o f nature
and the heart o f m a n ; and whenever its provisions are contravened by political en­
actments, a righteous conjuration to subvert them springs up in the very elements of
our being. My proposition is only, that, in a country like this, where the laws forbid
hereditary transmission, and encourage equality o f fortune, accumulations of capital,
made by industry, enterprise, and prudence, employed in active investments, without
ministering to extravagance and luxury, are beneficial to the public. Their possessor
becomes, whether he wills it or not, the steward o f others; not merely, as in Mr. Gi­
rard’s case, because he may destine a colossal fortune after his decease for public
objects, but because, while he lives, every dollar o f it must be employed in giving life
to industry, and employment to labor. Had Mr. Girard lived in a fashionable part
o f the city, in a magnificent house ; had he surrounded himself with a troop o f livered
domestics; had he dazzled the passers-by with his splendid equipages, and spread a
sumptuous table for his “ dear five hundred friends,” he would no doubt have been a
more popular man. But in my apprehension he appears to far greater advantage, as a
citizen and a patriot, in his modest dwelling and plain garb; appropriating to his per­
sonal wants the smallest pittance from his princely income; living to the last in the
dark and narrow street in which he made his fortune, and when he died, bequeathing
it for the education o f orphan children. For the public, I do not know that he could
have done better: of all the men in the world, he probably derived the least enjoyment
from his property himself.
I have left myself scarce any room to speak on the subject o f credit. The
legitimate province o f credit is to facilitate and to clitfuse the use o f capital, and not to
create it. I make this remark with care, because views prevail on this subject exag­
gerated and even false ; which, carried into the banking system, have done infinite
mischief. I have no wish whatever to depreciate the importance o f credit. It has
done wonders for this country. It has promoted public and private prosperity ; built
cities, cleared wildernesses, and bound the remotest parts of the continent together
with chains of iron and gold. These are wonders, but not miracles; these effects
have been produced not without causes. Trust and confidence are not gold and silver ;
they command capital, but they do not create it. A merchant in active business has a
capital of twenty thousand dollars; his credit is good; he borrows as much more;
but let him not think he has doubled his capital. He has done so only in a very
limited sense. He doubles the sum on which for a time he trades; but he has to pay
back the borrowed capital with interest; and that, whether his business has been
prosperous or adverse. Still, I am not disposed to deny that, with extreme prudence
and good management, the benefit to the individual of such an application o f credit is
great; and when individuals are benefitted, the public is benefitted. But no capital
has been created. Nothing has been added to the pre-existing stock. It was in
being— the fruit o f former accumulation. If he had not borrowed it, it might have
been used by its owner in some other way. What the public gains, is the supetior
activity that is given to business by bringing more persons, with a greater amount
and variety o f talent, into action.
These benefits, public and private, are not without some counterbalancing risks ;
and with the enterprising habits and ardent temperament o f our countrymen, I should
deem the formation o f sound and sober views on the subject o f credit, one o f the most
desirable portions o f the young merchant’ s education. The eagerness to accumulate
wealth by trading on credit is the disease o f the age and country in which we live.
Something o f the solidity o f our character and purity o f our name has been sacrificed
to it. Let us hope that the recent embarrassments o f the commercial world will have
a salutary influence in repressing this eagerness. The merchants o f the country have
covered themselves with lasting honor abroad, by the heroic fidelity with which they
have, at vast sacrifices, fulfilled their obligations. Let us hope that hereafter they
will keep themselves more beyond the reach o f the fluctuations in business and the
vicissitudes o f affairs.


Accumulation, Property, Capital, and Credit.

But it is time to close these general reflections. W e live at a period when the com
merce o f the world seems touching a new era ; a development of energies before
unconceived. Columbus discovered a new continent; modern art has diminished by
one half its distance from the old world. The application of steam to the navigation
o f the ocean seems about to put the finishing hand to that system o f accelerated com­
munication, which began with steamboats along the coast, and canals and railroads
piercing the interior. The immediate effect o f this improvement must be a vast
increase o f the intensity o f international communication. The ultimate result can
be but dimly foreseen. Let us trust that it will give renewed vigor to the march o f
civilization; that it will increase the comforts o f those who now enjoy its blessings,
— and extend these blessings to the forlorn children o f the human family, who are
at present deprived o f them.
Whatever may take place in this respect; whether or not the navigation o f the
Atlantic ocean by steam vessels is to be generally adopted as the mode of communica­
tion, commerce, no doubt, in virtue o f other causes o f ascertained and unquestioned
operation, is on the eve o f acquiring an activity beyond all previous example. As in
all former ages it has been one of the most powerful agents in shaping the destinies
o f the human race, it is unquestionably reserved for still higher functions. I confess,
that 1 look myself for some great results, to be produced by the new fdrces in motion
around us. When we contemplate the past, we see some o f the most important phe­
nomena in human history intimately— I had almost said mysteriously — connected
with commerce. In the very dawn o f civilization, the art o f alphabetical writing sprang
up among a commercial people. One can almost imagine that these wonderfully
convenient elements were a kind o f short-hand, which the Phoenician merchants,
under the spur o f necessity, contrived for keeping their accounts ; for what could they
have done with the hieroglyphics o f the Egyptian priesthood, applied to the practical
purposes o f a commerce which extended over the known world, and of which we have
preserved to us such a curious and instructive description by the prophet Ezekiel ? A
thousand years later, and the same commercial race among whom this sublime inven­
tion had its origin, performed a not less glorious part as the champions o f freedom.
When the Macedonian madman commenced his crusade against Asia, the Phoenicians
opposed the only vigorous resistance to his march. The Tyrian merchants delayed
him longer beneath the walls of their sea-girt city, than Darius' at the head o f all
the armies o f the East. In the succeeding centuries, when the dynasties established
by Alexander were crumbling, and the Homans in turn took up the march o f universal
conquest and dominion, the commercial city o f Carthage,— the daughter o f Tyre,—
afforded the most efficient check to their progress. But there was nowhere sufficient
security for property in the old world, to form the basis o f a permanent commercial
prosperity. In the middle ages, the iron-yoke of the feudal system was broken by
commerce. The emancipation of Europe from the detestable sway of the barons,
began with the privileges granted to the cities. The wealth acquired in commerce
afforded the first counterpoise to that of the feudal chiefs who monopolized the land,
and in the space of a century and a half, gave birth to a new civilization. In the
west o f Europe, the Hanse towns; in the east, the cities o f Venice, Genoa, the ports of
Sicily and Naples, Florence, Pisa, and Leghorn, begin to swarm with active crowds.
The Mediterranean, deserted for nearly ten centuries, is covered with vessels. Mer­
chants from the Adriatic explore the farthest east; silks, spices, gums, gold, are dis­
tributed from the Italian cities through Europe, and the dawn o f a general revival
breaks on the world. Nature, at this juncture, discloses another of those mighty mys­
teries, which man is permitted from age to age to read in her awful volume. As the
fulness o f time approaches for the new world to be found, it is discovered that a piece
o f steel may be so prepared, that it will point a steady index to the pole. After it had
led the adventurers o f Italy, Spain, and Portugal, to the utmost limits o f the old world,
— from Iceland to the South o f Africa, — the immortal Discoverer, with the snows and
the sorrows o f near sixty years upon his head, but with the fire of immortal youth in
his heart, placed himself under the guidance o f the mysterious pilot, bravely followed
its mute direction through the terrors and the dangers o f the unknown sea, and called
a new hemisphere into being.
It would be easy to connect with this discovery almost all the great events o f modern
history, and, still more, all the great movements of modern civilization. Even in the
colonization of New-England, although more than almost any other human enterprise
the offspring of the religious feeling, commercial adventure opened the way and fur­
nished the means. As time rolled on, and events hastened to their consummation, com­
mercial relations suggested the chief topics in the great controversy for liberty. The
British Navigation Act was the original foundation of the colonial grievances. There
was a constant struggle to break away from the limits o f the monopoly imposed by

Commercial Travellers.


the mother country. The American navigators could find no walls nor barriers on the
face of the deep, and they were determined that paper and parchment should not shut
up what God had thrown open. The moment the war of independence was over, the
commercial enterprise o f the country went forth like an uncaged eagle, who, having
beaten himself almost to madness against the bars o f the prison, rushes out at length
to his native element, and exults as he bathes his undazzled eye in the sunbeam, or
pillows his breast upon the storm. Our merchants were far from contenting them­
selves with treading obsequiously in the footsteps even of the great commercial nation
from which we are descended. Ten years had not elapsed from the close o f the revo­
lutionary war, before the infant commerce of America had struck out for herself a cir­
cuit in some respects broader and bolder than that of England. Besides penetrating
the remotest haunts o f the commerce heretofore carried on by the trading nations o f
Europe — the recesses of the Mediterranean, the Baltic, and the White seas— she dis­
played the stars and the stripes in distant oceans, where the Lion and the Lilies
never floated. She not only engaged with spirit in the trade with Hindostan and China,
which had been thought to be beyond the grasp o f individual capital and enterprise,
but she explored new markets on islands and coasts before unapproached by mod­
ern commerce.
Such was the instantaneous expansion o f the youthful commerce of America. The
belligerent condition o f Europe for a time favored the enterprise of our merchants ;
wealth began to pour into their coffers ; and they immediately took that place in the
community to which events and the condition of the country called them. Independ­
ence found us, in a great measure, destitute o f public establishments ; the eyes o f the
people were unconsciously turned to the merchants, as the chief depositories of large
masses of disposable wealth; and they promptly stood forth as public benefactors.
It may certainly be said without adulation, that the merchants of Massachusetts have
sustained this character as honorably as their fellow-citizens in any part of the Union.
In all the great enterprises for public improvement, in all our establishments for reli­
gious, moral, literary, and charitable purposes, the genial patronage of commerce has
been steadily felt. Our merchants have indeed been princes, in the pure and only
republican sense of the word, in bestowing princely endowments on the public institu­
tions ; and to him who asks for the monuments of their liberality, we may say, as of
the architect o f St. Paul’s, “ Look around you.” In every part o f the old world,
except England, the public establishments, the foundations for charity, education, and
literary improvement, have been mostly endowed by the sovereign; and costly private
edifices are generally the monuments o f an opulence which had its origin in feudal
inequality. If displays o f wealth are witnessed in our cities, it is wealth originally
obtained by frugality and enterprise ; and o f which a handsome share has been ap­
propriated to the endowment of those charitable and philanthropic institutions, which
are the distinguishing glory o f modern times.

The address closes with a series of brilliant and beautiful sketches of the
city of Boston, at three different periods o f its h istory, drawn with a graphic
power, of which few such examples are elsewhere to he found. It is a
reviving spectacle, to see men of distinguished ability turn aside, for a mo­
ment, from the arduous engagements of political life, to devote their powers
to the task of instructing and improving others; and the portion o f this
address which we have cited, will abundantly show, that this task has
been, in the present instance, executed with admirable talent and success.

A r t . IV.— “ C O M M E R C IA L

T R A V E L L E R S .”

N ot an uninteresting feature o f the internal traffic of Great Britain, is
the system commonly styled commercial travelling. This institution,
though now in its wane, is still exercised to a very considerable extent
throughout the United Kingdom. Almost every commercial house there,
of any note, employs one or more agents, whose business it is to travel
about the country and procure custom for their principals. The com­
mercial traveller, (as the agent is denominated,) is generally a young and
very shrewd individual, possessing great suavity o f manner, and a re­


Commercial Travellers.

markable ability to suit himself readily to all the varied moods o f his very
various customers. Furnished by his principals with choice samples o f
their goods, he steps into his chaise or the stage, and with a light heart
commences his circuit. It is not considered unusual if nearly a year
elapses before he returns to his employers. At each town upon his route,
he tarries at the principal inn, where he is sure to find a hearty welcome.
After thus ensconcing himself in comfortable quarters, he arranges his
samples, and, if it be forenoon, puts them under his arm and issues forth
to visit the shopkeepers in the place. Wherever he goes, he is met with
cordiality. Like all travellers, he is full of anecdote, and has at his com­
mand the rarest news of the time. None are more glad to see him than
the shopkeepers’ wives and daughters. T o these he imparts the most
recent scandal and the latest fashions, and affords them subjects for gos­
sip until his next visit to the town. T o the tradesman he lauds his sam­
ples with all the eloquence and ingenuity o f which he is capable, and
seldom leaves them without making considerable bargains in behalf o f
his principals. He then collects moneys due on former purchases, and,
if in convenient shape, forwards the funds, together with his customers’
orders for goods, by mail, to his employers.
Nearly the whole of the country trade is managed by the commercial
travellers. Each has his list of customers, who recognise his house only
in him. O f them his 'principals are comparatively ignorant. T o the dis­
cretion of the agent, it is left to determine who shall have credit, and to
what amount that credit shall extend. B y personal acquaintance with
the men with whom he has to deal, and knowing how they stand in their
own community, the agent is enabled to do a safer business for his em­
ployers than they could by correspondence, as practised in the United
States. W e, here, do business very loosely in this regard. It is not
unfrequent that simple orders on our Northern merchants, from persons
at the West, for goods on long credit, are duly honored, and this without
the sellers having any security whatever of the ability and good faith o f
the purchasers. Some chances and risks are necessarily consequent on
trade, but this hap-hazard manner o f giving credit tends to characterize
trading as a species of gambling. It may, with truth, be said, that such
gross carelessness does not prevail to an extent that would warrant its
being called a characteristic of American trade ; still it is a trait, and one
that should be eradicated. Actual recklessness in giving credit is not a
common fault with us, but a lack of due carefulness certainly is. It should
be amended, if we would secure entire stability to the credit system. The
error, trivial as it may be considered by some, is a weapon in the hands
o f those who are opposed to this best principle o f commerce. Let us not
put arms into the hands of our opponents. In lauding the observance
o f caution in giving credit, I do not wish to be misunderstood. Caution
too often grows into cowardice. I have seen retailers refused credit by
wholesale merchants, because they possessed but little capital. The best
reputation for business-tact, industry and integrity, (a capital more to be
esteemed than one of dollars,) availed them nothing. This fault is to be
deprecated quite as much as the other. Honesty and close application
to business is, in the aggregate, better surety for the debtor’s faithful
discharge of the claims of the creditor, than any capital can be.
This is a trifling digression, natural enough, but not to be persisted in.
T o return to our subject. As Commercial Travelling has its benefits, so
also has it its evils ; and if its merits and demerits are weighed against
each other, the first will kick the beam. In the first place, it may be urged,

Commercial Travellers.


that it is not legitimately the province of the seller to carry his shop to the
buyer ; (as in truth he does when he sends to him his salesman and pat­
terns.) It is reversing the natural order o f things. It tends to demean the
seller, and to create an inequality between the parties, honorable to neither.
Another objection to this description of agency is, that it invests the
agents with undue control. The principals are necessarily obliged to
give them free rein, and cannot always check them at discretion. Every
travelling agent holds no inconsiderable portion of the funds, as well as
the credit and reputation of his house, at his beck, and his slightest derelic­
tion from the duty which he owes it, must, o f course, influence all these
unfavorably. As before stated, the customers know his house only in him,
and it would require but little adroitness, on his part, to transfer their pa­
tronage wherever he listed. This influence is oftentimes abused. The
natural, respective powers of principal and agent are confounded, and it is
too often the case that the latter is dictator to the former. It is unnecessary
to cite other objections to this description o f trade, as it must be evident al­
ready, that it is a departure from the natural course. It is a diverticle, too,
which is injurious to the character of commerce; tending, as it does, to de­
base it to the same estimation in which it was held in the feudal ages, and
to render the name of merchant and trader synonymous with terms of con­
tempt. In nowise can it be sanctioned by a clear-headed policy, and now
that the communication between town and city is made so easy by the
means of steam, there is no reason why it should not fall into entire disuse.
Notwithstanding this unfavorable opinion of commercial travelling, it
is not the purpose of the writer to decry the gentlemen who are the agents.
He could not do so with any justice. W ith a few exceptions, they are
an intelligent, conscientious, whole-souled company. Generous, conviv­
ial, and full of anecdote, the mercantile agent is a good companion, and
his conversation never fails to make glad and jocund the society of that
otherwise dullest of places, an English stage-coach. In his continuous
journeying about the country, he has mixed with all classes, and gleaned
information of varied kind— humorous and grave, light and substantial.
His temperament is mercurial, and he readily adapts himself to the com­
pany which he is in ; but if there be one place at which he feels more at
home than another, that place is at the dinner-table, where he meets his
professional fellows. There are generally as many as five or six, and
sometimes more than twice that number, o f commercial travellers, in every
town, tarrying only so long a time as will suffice them to accomplish their
business there. These stop at the same inn, and eat together in a room
apart from the ordinary. As the forenoon is devoted exclusively to busi­
ness, they take their ease after dinner, and linger over their wine. In the
evening, some of their customers drop in, a circle is formed, and the wan­
ing hours are forgotten in the recital o f story and anecdote, the cracking
of brittle jests, and the enjoyment of good wine and cigars. As none are
more cordially received than the mercantile agents, so are there none
who travel with more security. They frequently have considerable sums
of money about them when journeying, but instances of robbery being
committed upon them are very rare; and this in a country where high­
waymen have enacted so many feats, admits o f some surprise.
One of the very few cases of such felonious depredation, that have
come to my knowledge, is one in which a Mr. D ----- - , an agent for a
large house in London, connected with the coffee-trade, was the sufferer.
The affair was managed very ingeniously on the part of the robber, and
is deserving of a brief relation.


Commercial Travellers.

One cold night, in the January of 1816, the hospitably huge fire-place
o f the best room of the best inn in -------,was surrounded by a jovial com­
pany, composed of commercial travellers and their customers of the town.
The air of solid comfort which pervaded the scene was heightened by its
contrast with the cheerless aspect of the weather without, and the com­
placent manner with which each guest quaffed from his mug of flip, and
gave a bland reflection to his neighbor’s smile, told that the pleasantness
of the situation was not unappreciated. All were overflowing with jest
and story, hut the most amusing member of the party was a gentlemanlylooking person, rather smaller than the common size o f men, and frank
and open in his address. He gave his name as Morris, and (from remarks
thrown out, as if casually, by himself, and from that fact alone, for of those
present not one had ever seen him previous to that time) he was supposed
to be the agent of a new Liverpool house. There was a rich, racy hu­
mor, and a power of imitation and description, about the man, allied to
a knowledge of the light and dark spots in human nature, which lent to
the stories that he told a fascination winning entire attention. Identifying
himself for the moment with the character whose deeds and words he was
narrating, he would seem at times the artless Scotch lassie, the Yorkshire
lout, the rude sailor, the querulous beldame, and the blundering Irishman,
&c., changing from one to another with a chameleon-like facility; but his
chef d’aiuvre, in this kind of narration, was a story of a finished freebooter,
who accomplished much in his line o f business, by first insinuating him­
self into the confidence of his intended victims in the guise of a gentleman.
His personation of the easy impudence of the gentlemen of the road, was
characteristic and excellent. W hen he had concluded, however, his “ free­
booter ” was good-humoredly criticised by the Mr. D-------, (before alluded
to,) whose flip had made him flippant. He insisted that Morris had made
but a “ tame bird ” o f his hero, instead of a “ roystering, rough-handed,
ribald rogue,” as in nature, and swore with a laugh that he could enact
the highwayman better himself. Morris rejoined, in the same good-na­
tured way, that were it not so late, and the calls of Somnus less inviting,
he would try a little competition of the kind with him, and let the com­
pany then present decide which was the better of the two. However, he
professed to think that an opportunity might yet occur, as they should
probably meet again on the road at some time or another. The company
laughed heartily at the joke, and drinking sundry parting toasts, each of
which were denominated, as they were given, the very last, retired for the
night. Mr. D-------was fain to maintain his equilibrium by accepting the
arm of Morris to his bed-room. Before he bade the latter a good night,
he had, in drunken bravado, defied all the highwaymen in Christendom,
and in confidence pointed out to his new friend a secret pocket in his
coat, containing a brace o f small pistols loaded, and a considerable amount
of money in gold. In the morning, several o f the travellers departed in
their own vehicles. Mr. D-------was to take a seat in a stage, but being
invited by Morris to take a seat in his chaise, concluded to go with him,
as their routes were alike. During the ride of the first few miles, D-------’s
good opinion of his companion suffered no diminution, but it immediately
fell below par, when, in a lonesome part of the road, Morris presented a
pistol in juxtaposition with his head, and begged leave to borrow the funds
then in his possession. The altered mien and determined look o f the
man, as well as his own instinctive assurance that he was in earnest, left
no doubt in the mind of the poor agent o f the other’s character. He
determined, however, not to comply with the rascal’s request, without

Nathaniel Bowditch.


an effort to save his money for loans more profitable. W ith the pretence
of producing the desired funds, he seized one of his pistols from his pocket,
and snapped it at the head o f the robber. It flashed, but did not explode.
The quondam Morris laughed, and mockingly remarked, as the other
grasped at the remaining weapon, that he was obliged to him, but he was
sufficiently helped, and that the contents o f his pocket would be equally
acceptable, and much more effective, than those o f his pistols, inasmuch
as the last were empty ; which was not the case with the pocket, it being
well charged with gold. He explained the failure'of the weapons to dis­
charge, by saying that lest accident should befal the esteemed friend,
whom he had the pleasure o f addressing, he had availed himself of the
information given him on the evening previous, and drawn the charges
from both of the pocket pistols. In effecting this friendly measure, he
had noticed, with great satisfaction, that his friend had the wherewithal
to make him the loan, which he now desired receiving without delay.
As his fingers, he said, were rather tremulous, and the persuader, into the
muzzle of which his esteemed friend did him the honor to blink, had a
hair-trigger, he begged leave respectfully to suggest the expediency o f a
speedy delivery of all his funds. Mr. D-------cursed the other’s impu­
dence, and with an ill grace gave up his money. He also handed his
watch to the robber, but it was returned to him, with a petition that he
would keep it in remembrance o f the “ tame bird.” The poor, plucked
agent remembered his boasting o f the previous evening, and ground his
teeth with vexation. After he had alighted from the chaise, he was asked
by his eccentric acquaintance, whether or not he thought it would be neces­
sary to find referees to decide which was the better highwayman of the two.
Before he could answer, the robber was driving at a rapid rate towards the
London road, and he was left to pursue his journey on foot. It is need­
less to state, that poor D-------never again sought to rival a freebooter.



V .— N A T H A N IE L B O W D I T C H *

Op all the various branches of intellectual pursuit, that science which
explains the system o f the universe, and reveals the mechanism o f the
heavens, must always take the lead as the most sublime and marvellous;
and the foremost and most successful cultivators of this science will
always be classed among the greatest o f men. What, indeed, can be
more astonishing, than that a being like one o f us, endowed apparently
with no higher or different powers, should be able to obtain so minute
and accurate a knowledge o f those distant planets, and be as well ac­
quainted with their constitution, elements, and laws, as the geologist, the
chemist, the botanist, with the appropriate objects of their sciences? Noth­
ing gives us so exalted an idea o f the power of man, and the extent and
reach of his capacities, as his ability to calculate, with unerring precision,
the distances of those twinkling orbs, to determine their figures, magni­
tudes, and velocities, to measure their weight, estimate their relative
attractions and disturbing forces, delineate their orbits, register their
laws of motion, fix the times o f their revolution, and predict the periods
*This brief sketch has been condensed from the Rev. A le x a n d e r Y
lent Discourse on the Life and Character o f Dr. Bowditch.

von. i. —




oung ' s



Nathaniel Bowditch.

o f their return. T o a common mind, uninstructed in the science, there
is nothing that appears so much like divine wisdom. A Galileo, a Kep­
ler, a Newton, seem to him to belong to another race, a higher order of
beings. T hey appear to possess some additional faculties.
Nothing can he more certain than the doctrines o f astronomy. T hey
rest on impregnable foundations, on the demonstrations o f mathematical
evidence, than which nothing, except the evidence o f consciousness, can
be more satisfactory and conclusive. It was a science that early en­
gaged the notice of men, and, to its honor be it spoken, it has always
exerted a purifying and elevating influence on its votaries. Indeed, how
could it be otherwise ? W h o can look upon those brilliant points, and
not fancy them the spangled pavement of a divine abode ? There is
virtue as well as poetry and philosophy in them. They shed down a
healing and restorative influence upon their worshippers. They are the
symbols of endurance and perpetuity.
Death has recently deprived our country of one o f its noblest orna­
ments ; one who confessedly stood atjh e head o f the scientific men o f
this western continent. His position as a public man, the various posts
and offices he filled, and especially the value of his works to the advance­
ment of science, the improvement of navigation, and the security of com­
mercial enterprises, justify the notice which we now propose to take of
his life and character. There was much in that life instructive and
encouraging, particularly to the young, the friendless, the poor. There
was much in that character worthy of eulogy and imitation.
N a t h a n ie l B ow ditch was born at Salem, Massachusetts, on the 26th
day of March, 1773. He was the fourth child o f Habakkuk and Mary
Ingersoll Bowditch. His ancestors, for three generations, had been ship­
masters, and his father, on retiring from that perilous mode o f hard
industry, resumed his original trade o f a cooper, by which he gained a
scanty and precarious subsistence for a family of seven children.
W hen Nathaniel was two or three years old, his father’s family re­
moved to the neighboring town o f Danvers, where he attended a dame’s
school, and acquired the first simple elements of learning. Even at this
early period, he was observed to manifest those peculiar powers and
traits of character, by which, in after life, he was distinguished. The
sisters of his schoolmistress, who are still living, speak o f him as “ a
likely, clever, thoughtful boy, who learnt amazing fast, because his
mind was fully given to it; learning came natural to him.”
After leaving the dame’s school, the only other instruction he ever
received was obtained at the common schools of his native town, which
were wholly inadequate to furnish even the groundwork of a respectable
education. W e have heard it stated, on the authority of one of his school­
fellows, that the master of one o f these schools gave young Bowditch,
when he was about seven or eight years old, a very difficult sum in arith­
metic to perform. His scholar went to his desk, and soon afterwards brought
up his slate with the question solved. The master, surprised at the sud­
denness of his return, asked him who had been doing the sum for h im ;
and on his answering, “ nobody— I did it myself,” he was disposed to give
him a severe chastisement for lying, not believing it possible that he could,
o f himself, without any assistance, perform so difficult a question. This
indignity, however, he escaped by the interposition of his elder brother.
But the advantages of school, such as they were, he was obliged to forego
at the early age of ten years, “ his poverty, and not his will, consenting,”
that h e might go into his father’s shop and help to support the family.

Nathaniel Bowditch.


He was soon, however, transferred as an apprentice to a ship-chandler,
and afterwards became a clerk in a large establishment o f the same kind,
where he continued until he went to sea, first as clerk, afterwards as super­
cargo, and finally as master and supercargo jointly. It was whilst he was
an apprentice in the ship-chandler’s shop, that he first manifested that
strong bent, or what is commonly called an original genius, for mathe­
matical pursuits. Every moment that he could snatch from the counter,
was given to the slate. An old gentleman, who used frequently to visit
the shop, said to his wife, one day, on returning home, “ I never go into
that shop but I see that boy ciphering and figuring away on his slate, as
if his very life depended upon i t ; and if he goes on at this rate, as he
has begun, I should not at all wonder if, at last, in the course of time, he
should get to be an almanac-maker ! ” — this being, in his view, the sum­
mit of mathematical attainment. This expectation was speedily fulfilled;
for in the year 1788, when he was only fifteen years old, he actually made
an almanac for the year 1790, containing all the usual tables, calcula­
tions of the eclipses, and even the customary predictions of the weather.
From his earliest years, he seems to have had an ardent love of read­
ing, and he has been heard to say that, even when quite young, he read
through the whole of Chambers’s Encyclopedia, in two large folio vol­
umes, without omitting a single article.
It was my good fortune, says Mr. Young, some years since, in one of
those familiar interviews with him in his own house with which I was
favored, to hear him narrate, in detail, a history of his early life ; and I
remember, very distinctly, his relating the circumstance which led him to
take an interest in the higher branches of mathematical science. He told
me, that in the year 1787, when he was fourteen years old, his elder
brother, who followed the sea, and was attending an evening school for
the purpose of learning navigation, on returning home one evening, in­
formed him that the master had got a new way of doing sums and working
questions ; for, instead of the figures commonly used in arithmetic, he
employed the letters of the alphabet. This novelty excited his curiosity,
and he questioned his brother very closely about the matter; who, however,
did not seem to understand much about the process, and could not tell
how the thing was done. But the master, he said, had a book which
told all about it. This served to inflame his curiosity; and he asked
his brother whether he could not borrow the book o f the master and
bring it home, so that he might get a sight at it. (It should be remem­
bered, that, at this time, mathematical books o f all sorts were scarce in
this country. In the present multitude o f elementary works on the sub­
ject, we can hardly conceive o f the dearth that then prevailed.) The
book was obtained. It was the first glance he had ever had at algebra.
“ And that night,” said he, “ I did not close my eyes.” He read it, and
read it again, and mastered its contents, and copied it out from begin­
ning to end. Subsequently he got hold of a volume o f the Philosophical
Transactions of the Royal Society of London, which he treated pretty
much in the same summary way, making a very full and minute abstract
of all the mathematical papers contained in i t ; and this course he pur­
sued with the whole of that voluminous work. He was too poor at this
time to purchase books, and this was the only mode of getting at their
results, and having them constantly at hand for consultation. These
manuscripts, written in his small, neat hand, and filling several folio and
quarto volumes, are now in his library, and, in my opinion, are the most
curious and precious part o f that large and valuable collection.


Nathaniel Bowditch.

He began the study o f the Latin language, by himself, Jan. 4, 1790,
when he was seventeen years old. The first Latin book that he under­
took to read, was Euclid’s Geometry. He afterwards read, and made a
complete translation, o f Newton’s Principia; and subsequently acquired
the French, Spanish, German, and Italian languages.
On the 11th of January, 1795, at the age o f twenty-two, he sailed on
his first voyage as captain’s clerk, though nominally second mate o f the
sh ip; and continued to follow the sea for nine years, in the capacity of
supercargo and captain, till December 25, 1803; making, in all, five
voyages, four of which were to the East Indies. On his second voyage,
the ship touched at Madeira, where the captain and supercargo were
very politely received by Mr. Pintard, the American consul there, to
whose house the ship was consigned, and were frequently invited to dine
with his family. Mrs. Pintard had heard from another American ship­
master that the young supercargo was “ a great calculator,” and she felt
a curiosity to test his capacities. Accordingly, she said to him one day
at dinner, “ Mr. Bowditch, I have a question which I should like to have
you answer. Some years since,” naming the time, “ I received a legacy
in Ireland. The money was there invested, and remained some time on
interest; the amount was subsequently remitted to England, where the
interest likewise accumulated; and lately the whole amount has been
remitted to me here. What sum ought I to receive ? ” She of course
mentioned the precise dates of the several remittances, as she went along.
Mr. Bowditch laid down his knife and fork, said it was a little difficult,
on account of the difference o f currency and the number of the remit­
tances ; but squeezing the tips of his fingers, he said, in about two min­
utes, “ The sum you should receive is £843 15s. 6\d.” “ W ell, Mr.
Clerk,” said Mrs. Pintard to the head clerk of the house, an elderly per­
son, who was esteemed a very skilful accountant, “ you have been figur­
ing it out for me on paper; has he got it rig h t?” “ Yes, Madam,” said
the clerk, taking his long calculation out of his pocket, “ he has got it
exactly. And I venture to say, that there is not another man on the
island that can do it in two hours.”
In the course of these voyages, it was Mr. Bowditch’s practice to
interest himself in all the sailors on board, and to take pains to instruct
all who could read and write, in the principles of navigation; and he
never appeared so happy as when he could inspire the sailor with a
proper sense of his individual importance, and of the talents he possess­
ed, and might call into action. In this he was remarkably successful;
and at Salem, it was considered the highest recommendation of a sea­
man, that he had sailed in the same ship with Mr. Bowditch, and this
fact alone was often sufficient to procure for him an officer’s berth.
The quiet and leisure o f the long East India voyages, when the ship
was lazily sweeping along under the steady impulse o f the trade-winds,
afforded him fine opportunities for pursuing his mathematical studies, as
well as for indulging his taste for general literature. What he once
learned he ever afterwards remembered; and it m aybe mentioned as an
instance of the singular tenacity of his memory, that on reading Mr.
Prescott’s splendid History o f the Eeign o f Ferdinand and Isabella, he
remarked, that many of the incidents in it were quite familiar to him, he
having once read the great work of Mariana on the History o f Spain, in
the original language, in the course of one of his voyages. The French
mathematician, Lacroix, acknowledged to a young American, that he

Nathaniel Bowditch.


was indebted to Mr. Bowditch for communicating many errors in his
works, which he had discovered in these same long India voyages.
On the day previous to his sailing on his fourth voyage, in 1799, he
was called on by Mr. Edward M. Blunt, then a noted publisher of
charts and nautical books at Newburyport, and was requested by him to
continue the corrections which he had. previously commenced on John
Hamilton Moore’s book on navigation, then in common use on board our
vessels. This he consented to d o ; and in performance of his promise
he detected such a multitude of errors, that it led Jo the construction of
“ The New American Practical Navigator,’’ the first edition o f which he
issued in the year 1807 ; a work abounding with the actual results of
his own experience, and containing simpler and more expeditious formu­
las for working the nautical problems. This work has been of immense
service to the nautical and commercial interests of this country. Had
Dr. Bowditch never done any thing else, he would still, by this single
act, have conferred a lasting obligation upon his native land. Just con­
sider the simple fact, that every vessel that sails from the ports of the
United States, from Eastport to New Orleans, is navigated by the rules
and tables of his book. And this has been the case nearly ever since its
publication, thirty-seven years ago. It is, we are informed, extensively
used in the British and French navies. Notwithstanding the competi­
tion of other English and American works on the subject, the “ Practical
Navigator ” has never been superseded. It has kept pace with the pro­
gress of nautical science, and incorporated all its successive discoveries
and results; and the last edition, published in 1837, contains new tables
and other improvements, which will probably secure its undivided use
by our seamen for years to come.
The extraordinary mathematical attainments o f the young sailor soon
became known, and secured to him the notice of our most distinguished
men, and likewise the deserved, yet wholly unexpected, honors of the
first literary institution in the land. In the summer of 1802, his ship
lying wind-bound in Boston harbor, he went out to Cambridge to attend
the exercises of Commencement D a y ; and whilst standing in one o f the
aisles of the church, as the President was announcing the honorary
degrees conferred that day, his attention was aroused by hearing his
own name called out as a Master of Arts. The annunciation took him
wholly by surprise. He has been heard to say, that that was the proud­
est day of his life ; and that of all the distinctions which he subsequently
received from numerous learned and scientific bodies, at home and abroad,
(among which may be mentioned his election as a Foreign Member of
the Royal Society of London,) there was not one which afforded him
half the pleasure, or which he prized half so highly, as this degree from
Harvard. It was, indeed, his first honor, his earliest distinction ; it was
not only kindly meant, but timely done ; and it no doubt stimulated him
to perseverance in his scientific pursuits.
In the year 1806, Mr. Bowditch published his accurate and beautiful
chart of the harbors of Salem, Beverly, Marblehead, and Manchester, the
survey of which had occupied him during the summers o f the three pre­
ceding years. So minutely accurate was this chart, that the old pilots
said he had found out all their professional secrets, and had put on paper
points and bearings which they thought were known only to themselves.
On quitting the sea, in 1803, he became the President of a Marine
Insurance Company in Salem, the duties o f which he continued to dis­


Nathaniel Bowditch.

charge till the year 1823, when, on the establishment o f the Massachu­
setts Hospital Life Insurance Company, he was elected to the office o f
Actuary, being considered the person best qualified for this highly
responsible station, from his habits o f accurate calculation and rigid
method, and his inflexible integrity. Immediately on accepting the office,
he removed to Boston, at the age of fifty, and there spent the last
fifteen years of his life. It scarcely needs to be stated that he discharged
the duties of his high trust with the greatest fidelity and skill, and to the
entire satisfaction o f the Company. He managed its affairs with the
greatest ease, although it was the largest moneyed institution in NewEngland, having a capital equal to ten common banks, and usually hav­
ing a loan out of upwards of six millions o f dollars.
Dr. Bowditch’s fame, as a man of science, rests on his Translation and
Commentary on the great work of the French astronomer, La Place,
entitled “ Micanique Celeste,” in which that illustrious man undertakes
to explain the whole mechanism o f our solar system; to account, on
mathematical principles, for all its phenomena, and to reduce all the
anomalies in the apparent motions and figures of the planetary bodies to
certain definite laws. It is a work of great genius and immense depth,
and exceedingly difficult to be comprehended. This arises not merely
from the intrinsic difficulty o f the subject, and the medium of proof em­
ployed being the higher branches of the mathematics,— but chiefly from
the circumstance that the author, taking it for granted that the subject
would be as plain and easy to others as to himself, very often omits the
intermediate steps and connecting links in his demonstration. He jumps
over the interval, and grasps the conclusion as by intuition. Dr. Bowditch used to say, “ I never come across one o f La Place’s ‘ Thus it
plainly appears,’ without feeling sure that I have got hours of hard study
before me to fill up the chasm, and find out and show how it plainly ap­
pears.” It was in the year 1815, at Salem, that he began this herculean
task, and finished it in two years. The Commentary, which exceeds the
original in extent, kept pace with the Translation ; but whilst the publi­
cation was in hand, his alterations and additions were so numerous, that
it might almost be considered a new draft of the work.
Let it not be said, in disparagement of the labors of Dr. Bowditch, that
this was not an original work, but merely a translation. Suppose that
it had been so. W hat then? W as it not still a benefaction to this coun­
try and to Great Britain, thus to bring it within the reach and compass
o f the American and English mind ? It is truly said by an old writer,
“ So well is he worthy of perpetual fame that bringeth a good work to
light, as is he that first did make it, and ought always to be reckoned the
second father thereof.” But the fact is, it is more than half an original
commentary and exposition, simplifying and elucidating what was before
complex and obscure, supplying omissions and deficiencies, fortifying the
positions with new proofs, and giving additional weight and efficiency to
the old on es; and, above all, recording and digesting the subsequent
discoveries and improvements, and bringing down the science to the
present time. I have heard it said that La Place, to whom Dr. Bowditch
sent a list of errors which he had detected, once remarked, “ I am sure
that Dr. Bowditch comprehends my work, for he has not only detected
my errors, but has also shown me how I came to fall into them.”
The first volume o f the work was published in the year 1829, the
second in 1832, and the third in 1834, each volume containing about a

Nathaniel Bowditch.


thousand quarto pages. The fourth volume was nearly completed at
the time of his decease. He persevered to the last in his labors upon
it, preparing the copy and reading the proof-sheets in the intervals when
he was free from pain. The last time I saw him, says Mr. Young, a
few days previous to his death, a proof-sheet was lying on his table,
which he said he hoped to be able to read over and correct.
The publication of the book proved, as he anticipated, a very expensive
undertaking, it being one of the largest works and most difficult of exe­
cution ever printed in this country, and at the same time one o f the most
beautiful specimens of typography. Although it met with more purcha­
sers than the author ever expected, still the cost was a heavy draught on
his income, and an encroachment on his little property. Y et it was cheer­
fully paid; and besides that, he gladly devoted his time, his talents, and
may I not add, his health and his life, to the cause of science and the
honor of his native land. That work is his monument. He needs no other.
In delineating the character of Dr. Bowditch, it deserves to be men­
tioned, first o f all, that he was eminently a self-taught and self-made man.
He was the instructor o f his own mind, and the builder up o f his
own fame and fortunes. Whatever knowledge he possessed,— and we
have seen that it was very great,— was o f his own acquiring, the fruit
of his solitary studies, with but little, if any, assistance from abroad.
Whatever eminence he reached, in science or in life, was the product
of his untiring application and unremitting toil. From his youth up,
he was a pattern of industry, enterprise, and perseverance, suffering no
difficulties to discourage, no disappointments to dishearten him.
Dr. Bowditch combined, in a very remarkable degree, qualities and
habits of mind, which are usually considered incompatible and hostile.
He was a contemplative, recluse student, and, at the same time, an active
public man. He lived habitually among the stars, and yet, I doubt not,
he seemed to many never to raise his eyes from the earth. He was a
profound philosopher, and, at the same time, a shrewd practical man, and
one of the most skilful of financiers. Judging from his published works,
you would suppose that he could have no taste nor time for business of
the world ; and judging from the large concerns which he managed, and
the vast funds of which he had the supervision,— involving the most com­
plex calculations, and the most minute details,— you would say that he
could have no taste nor time for study. His example is a conclusive proof
and striking illustration o f the fact, that there is no inherent, essential,
necessary incompatibility between speculation and practice— that there
need be no divorce between philosophy and business. The man most
deeply engaged in affairs, need not be cut off from the higher pursuits of
intellectual culture; and the scholar need not be incapacitated by his
studies from understanding and engaging in the practical details o f com­
mon life. In fact, they should be blended, in order to make up the full,
complete man.
Dr. Bowditch was a remarkably domestic man. His affections clus­
tered around his own fireside, and found their most delightful exercise
in his own family. His attachment to home, and to its calm and simple
pleasures, was, indeed, one of the most beautiful traits in his character.
As Sir Thomas More says of himself, “ he devoted the little time which
he could spare from his avocations abroad, to his family, and spent it in
little innocent and endearing conversations, with his wife and children;
which, though some might think them trifling amusements, he placed


Nathaniel Bowditch.

among the necessary duties and business of life ; it being incumbent on
every one to make himself as agreeable as possible to those whom nature
has made, or he himself has singled out for, his companions in life.”
His time was divided between his office and his house ; and that must
have been a strong attraction that could draw him into company. W hen
at home, his time was spent in his library, which he loved to have con­
sidered as the family parlor. B y very early rising, in winter two hours
before the light, “ long ere the sound o f any bell awoke men to labor or
to devotion,” and in summer, like Milton, “ as oft with the bird that first
rouses, or not much tardier,” he was enabled to accomplish much before
others were stirring. “ T o these morning studies,” he used to say, “ I
am indebted for all my mathematics.” After taking his evening walk,
he was again always to be found in the library, pursuing the same
attractive studies, but ready and glad, at the entrance of any visiter, to
throw aside his book, unbend his mind, and indulge in all the gayeties
o f a light-hearted conversation.
There was nothing that he seemed to enjoy more than this free inter­
change o f thought on all subjects of Common interest. At such times,
the mathematician, the astronomer, the man of science, disappeared, and
he presented himself as the frank, easy, familiar friend. One could hardly
believe that this agreeable, fascinating companion, who talked so affably
and pleasantly on all the topics of the day, and joined so heartily in the
quiet mirth and the loud laugh, could really be the great mathematician
who had expounded the mechanism of the heavens, and taken his place,
with Newton, and Leibnitz, and La Place, among the great proficients in
exact science. T o hear him talk, you would never have suspected that
he knew any thing about science, or cared any thing about it. In this
respect, he resembled his great Scottish contemporary, who has delighted
the whole world by his writings. Y ou might have visited him in that
library from one year’s end to another, and yet, if you or some other
visiter did not introduce the subject, I venture to say that not one word on
mathematics would have crossed his lips. He had no pedantry of any
kind. Never did I meet with a scientific or literary man so entirely
devoid o f cant and pretension. In conversation, he had the simplicity
and playfulness and unaffected manners of a child. His own remarks
seemed rather to escape from his mind, than to be produced by it. He
laughed heartily, and rubbed his hands, and jumped up, when an obser­
vation was made that greatly pleased him, because it was natural for
him so to do, and he had never been schooled into the conventional pro­
prieties o f artificial life, nor been accustomed to conceal or stifle any o f
the innocent impulses o f his nature.
W ho that once enjoyed the privilege of visiting him in that library,
can ever forget the scene ? Methinks I see him now, in my mind’s eye,
the venerable man, sitting there close by his old-fashioned blazing wood
fire, bending over his favorite little desk, looking like one o f the old phi­
losophers, with his silvery hair, and noble forehead, and beaming eye, and
benign countenance; whilst all around him are ranged the depositories
of the wisdom and science o f departed sages and philosophers, who seem
to look down upon him benignantly from their quiet places, and sponta­
neously and silently to give forth to him their instructions. On enter­
ing this, the noblest repository of scientific works in the country, I almost
fancy I hear him saying with Heinsius, the keeper of the library at L ey­
den, “ I no sooner come into my library, than I bolt the door after me,

Nathaniel Bowditch.


excluding ambition, avarice, and all such vices; and, in the very lap of
eternity, amidst so many divine souls, I take my seat with so lofty a
spirit, and such sweet content, that I pity all the great and rich who
know not this happiness.”
Dr. Bowditch was a man of unsullied purity, o f rigid integrity, and
uncompromising principle. Through life, truth seems to have been at
once the great object of his pursuit, and his ruling principle of action.
“ F ollow T ruth ,” might have been the motto on his escutcheon. He
was himself perfectly transparent. A child could see through him. There
was no opaqueness in his heart, any more than in his intellect. It was as
clear as crystal, and the rays of moral truth were transmitted through it
without being refracted or tinged. In all his intercourse and transactions,
he was remarkably frank and candid. He revealed himself entirely. He
had no secrets. He kept nothing back, for he had nothing to conceal. He
lived openly, and talked freely, of himself, and of his doings, and of every
thing that was uppermost in his mind. He never hesitated to speak out
*vhat he thought on all subjects, public and private, and he avowed his
opinions o f men and things with the utmost freedom and unconcern. It
seemed to me that he never had the fear of man before his eyes, and that
it never checked, in the least, the free and full utterance of his sentiments.
Dr. Bowditch was perfectly fair and just in the estimate which he
formed of his own capacities and gifts. He did not, on the one hand,
overrate his talents; nor, on the other hand, did he, as some do, with a
sort of back-handed humility, purposely undervalue his powers in order
to enjoy the pleasure of being contradicted by those about him, and told
that he was really a much greater man than he seemed willing to admit.
“ People,” said he, “ are very kind and polite, in mentioning me in the
same breath with La Place, and blending my name with his. But they
mistake both me and him ; we are very different men. I trust I under­
stand his works, and can supply his deficiencies, and correct his errors,
and render his book more intelligible, and record the successive advance­
ments of the science, and perhaps append some improvements. But La
Place was a genius, a discoverer, an inventor ! And yet I think I know
as much of mathematics as Playfair.”
I have been informed, says Mr. Young, by a gentleman o f Boston,
that soon after his return from Europe, a few years since, he happened,
in a conversation with Dr. Bowditch, to mention to him incidentally the
high estimation in which he and his labors were held by men o f science
abroad, and told him that he had often heard his name spoken of in terms
of the strongest commendation, by persons in the most elevated walks of
society in England. Dr. Bowditch seemed to be sensibly affected by the
statement, so that the tears glistened in his eyes. But he immediately
remarked that, however flattering such testimonials might be, yet the
most grateful tribute of commendation he had ever received, was con­
tained in a letter from a backwoodsman of the West, who wrote to him
to point out an error in his translation o f the Mecanique Celeste. “ It
was an actual error,” said he, “ which had escaped my own observation.
The simple fact that my work had reached the hands of one on the outer
verge of civilization, who could understand and estimate it, was more
gratifying to my feelings than the eulogies of men of science, and the
commendatory votes o f academies.”
He was a singularly modest man. He made no pretensions himself,
and there was nothing that he so much despised in others. He was
VOL. i. —

no .




Nathaniel Bowditch.

remarkably simple in all his manners and intercourse with the world.
He put on no airs and assumed no superiority on the ground o f his in­
tellectual attainments, but placed himself on a level with every one with
whom he had any concern. He reverenced integrity and truth wherever
he found them, in whatever condition in life. He felt and showed no
respect for mere wealth or rank. He fearlessly rebuked, to his face, the
mean and purse-proud nabob, and “ condescended to men o f low estate.”
Dr. Bowditch was a truly conscientious man. He was always true to
his moral, as well as intellectual convictions, and followed them whither­
soever they led. He had great faith in the rectitude of his moral per­
ceptions, and in the primary decisions of his own judgment and moral
sense ; and he carried them forth and acted them out instantly. The
word followed the thought, and the deed the feeling, with the rapidity
o f lightning. This straight-forwardness and frankness were among the
secret causes of the remarkable influence which he confessedly exercised
over the minds and judgments of others. By his honesty, as well as by
his resoluteness and decision, he was the main-spring of every thing with
which he was connected. B y this moral influence, he controlled and
swayed all men with whom he was associated. As Ben Johnson says
o f Lord Bacon, “ he commanded where he spoke.”
Dr. Bowditch was a man o f ardent natural feelings, and of an impetu­
ous temperaipEttt, - A venerable lady, after her first interview with him,
saiiL'^JUijiebJthd£Ahfta>,for he is a live man.” He was strong in his
attachment'th men afjd to opinions, and was not easily turned from any
cotose o f spechMihn or hction, which he had once satisfied himself was
rigl^t, wise, and good. At the same time, he always kept his mind open
to evidence arrd-if“you brought before him new facts and arguments, he
would reconsider the subject,— deliberately, not hastily,— and the next
day, perhaps, would tell you that you were in the right, and that he had
altered his mind. He was sometimes quick, warm, and vehement, in
expressing his disapprobation of the character or conduct of an individual,
particularly if he thought that the person had practised any thing like
duplicity or fraud. In such cases, his indignation was absolutely scorch­
ing and withering. But he never cherished any personal resentments
in his bosom. He did not let the sun go down upon his wrath. His
anger was like a cloud, which passes over the disk of the moon, and
leaves it as mild and clear as before; or, as the judicious Hooker’s was
represented to be, “ like a vial of clear water, which, when shook, beads
at the top, but instantly subsides, without any soil or sediment of un­
I will relate an incident illustrative of this remarkable trait in his
character. Dr. Bowditch had been preparing a plan of the town of Sa­
lem, which he intended soon to publish. It had been the fruit of much
labor and care. B y some means or other, an individual in the town had
surreptitiously got possession of it, and had the audacity to issue propo­
sals to publish it as his own. This was too much for Dr. Bowditch to
bear. He instantly went to the person, and burst out in the following
strain : “ Y ou villain ! how dare you do this ? W hat do you mean by
it ? If you presume to proceed any farther in this business, I will prose­
cute you to the utmost extent of the law.” The poor fellow cowered
before the storm o f his indignation, and was silent, for his wrath was
terrible. Dr. Bowditch went home, and slept on i t ; and the next day,
hearing from some authentic source that the man was extremely poor, and
had probably been driven by the necessities of his family to commit this

Nathaniel Bowditch.


audacious plagiarism, his feelings were touched, his heart relented, his
anger melted away like wax. He went to him again, and said, “ Sir,
you did very wrong, and you know it, to appropriate to your own use
and benefit the fruit of my labors. But I understand you are poor,
and have a family to support. I feel for you, and will help you. That
plan is unfinished, and contains errors that would have disgraced you
and me had it been published in the state in which you found it.
I ’ll tell you what I will do. I will finish the plan; I will correct the
errors; and then you shall publish it for your ow a benefit, and I will
head the subscription list with my name.”
What a sublime, noble, Christian spirit was there manifested! This
was really overcoming evil with good, and pouring coals of fire upon the
poor man’s head. The natural feeling of resentment, which God has
implanted within all bosoms for our protection against sudden assault
and injury, was overruled and conquered by the higher, the sovereign
principle of conscience.
Dr. Bowditch was very familiar with the Scriptures, both of the Old
and New Testaments. He had read the Bible in his childhood, under
the eye of a pious mother, and he loved to repeat the sublime and touch­
ing language of Holy W rit. In his religious views he was a Unitarian.
His religion was an inward sentiment, flowing out into the life, and
revealing itself in his character and actions. It was at all times, and at
all periods of his life, a controlling and sustaining principle. He con­
fided in the providence and benignity of his Heavenly Father, as re­
vealed by his blessed Son, our Lord, and had an unshaken trust in the
wisdom and rectitude of all the divine appointments. He looked for­
ward with firm faith to an immortality in <the spiritual world.
Such had been the life, and such the character, of this distinguished
man ; and such was he to the last, through all the agonies o f a most dis­
tressing illness. In the midst of health and usefulness, in the full dis­
charge of the duties of life, and in the full enjoyment of its satisfactions,
the summons suddenly comes to him to leave it. And he meets the
summons with the utmost equanimity and composure, with the submis­
sion of a philosopher and with the resignation of a Christian. He cer­
tainly had much to live for— few have more— but he gave up all with­
out repining or complaint. He said he should have liked to live a little
longer, to complete his great work, and see his younger children grown
up and settled in life. “ But I am perfectly happy,” he added, “ and
ready to go, and entirely resigned to the will of Providence.” He
arranged all his affairs, gave his directions with minuteness, and dictated
and signed his last will and testament. W hile his strength permitted,
he continued to attend to the necessary affairs of his office, and on the
day previous to his death put his name to an important instrument. In
the intervals of pain he prepared, as I have already remarked, the
remaining copy, and corrected the proof-sheets of the fourth volume o f
his great work, the printing o f which was nearly finished at the time of
his death. It was gratifying to him to find that his mind was unenfee­
bled by disease and pain; and one day, after solving one o f the hardest
problems in the book, he exclaimed, in his enthusiastic way, “ I feel
that I am Nathaniel Bowditch still— only a little weaker.”
On the morning of his death, when his sight was very dim, and his
voice almost gone, like the patriarch Jacob, he called his children around
his bedside, and arranging them in the order o f age, pointed to and
addressed each by name, and said, “ Y ou see I can distinguish you all;


The State 'o f the Currency.

and I now give you all m y parting blessing. The time is come. Lord,
now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word.”
These were his last words.
Soon after this he quietly breathed away his soul, and departed.
“ And the end of that man was peace.” Such a death alone was want­
ing to complete such a life, and crown and seal such a character. He died
on the 16th day of March, 1838, having nearly completed his 65th year.
He has built his own monument, more enduring than marble ; and in
his splendid scientific name, and in his noble character, has bequeathed
to his country the richest legacy. The sailor traverses the sea more
safely by means o f his labors, and the widow’s and the orphan’s treasure
is more securely guarded in consequence of his care. He was the Great
Pilot who steered all our ships over the ocean; and though dead, he yet
liveth, and speaketh, and acteth, in the recorded wisdom o f his invaluable
book. The world has been the wiser and the happier that he has lived in it.
He has left an example, as was intimated in the beginning of this
Memoir, full of instruction and encouragement to the young, and espe­
cially to those among them who are struggling with poverty and diffi­
culties. He has shown them that poverty is no dishonor, and need be
no hinderance; and that the greatest obstacles may be surmounted by
persevering industry and an indomitable will.



VI. — T H E S T A T E OF T H E C U R R E N C Y .

I t is now half a century, since the gfeat impulse given by the organi­
zation of an efficient system of general government to the commercial
energies of the United States, was first communicated. The period of
time which has elapsed has been full o f important public events; many
o f them by no means favorable to the full development of our prosperity.
There have been wars, embargoes, a depreciated paper currency, and an
irregular national policy, to contend with, in almost every country with
which we have had relations, as well as in our own. Yet, notwithstand­
ing all these obstacles, the progress of the United States, as a commer­
cial nation, has been almost uniform. The exports o f the country, which,
in 1790, hardly equalled in value the sum of $20,000,000, have gone on
increasing until they now amount to $100,000,000, annually. Our popu­
lation, which, at the former date, scarcely numbered 4,000,000 souls,
cannot at the present moment be estimated below 16,000,000; whilst
the wealth of the community, if it can be at all measured by the amount
o f the currency it sets in motion, must be allowed to have enlarged even
in a greater proportion still. All of this immense extension has been
carried on under the agency of a system which may emphatically be
denominated one of credit. The generation, in active business, has been
constantly running in advance o f the means actually possessed in its
efforts for improving its condition; and although, occasionally, the effect
of pushing the work a little too hard must be admitted to have been for
the moment injurious— yet, when we look back upon the field o f action
to observe results, when we consider how much has been done, and how
few and ill provided were those who had the work to do, we can scarcely
fail to wonder that a doubt should exist of the value that credit has been
to our community, or an idea should have been suggested that it has been
an obstacle to its advance.

The State o f the Currency.


The passage of time has, however, been attended with important
changes in our condition, not less in a positive than a relative point o f
view. It has raised us up, a new nation, to take a leading position in
the commercial affairs of the world, acting upon principles somewhat
peculiar to itself, and not altogether recognised by older and longer es­
tablished ones. These principles, as they go into operation upon a daily
expanding scale, are furnishing new materials for the observation of men,
and new results for the science of political economy. It is a peculiarity
of our countrymen in all departments of active lifer rarely to take for
granted that there is a limit to experiment. They are not satisfied with
any instrument in ordinary use, merely because it works well, but must
seek to find out whether it cannot be made to work better. This disposi­
tion has doubtless some occasional inconveniences, particularly in the fact
that it often causes experience to be purchased three or four times over—
but on the whole, it has advantages more than compensating. The great
want in this country, is the want o f power enough to develop its resources.
Whatever, then, is found in any degree to serve the purpose of supplying
it, whether it is a labor-saving machine, or a good substitute for capital,
must be considered as a useful invention. Mistakes may, and no doubt
do, often occur, and many contrivances come to be abandoned after
experience of their failure to yield the benefits expected of them ; but,
on the other hand, others which prove eminently advantageous are
retained, and go to enlarge the active resources of the community.
Thus has the country gone on, furnishing results often at variance with
the rules which abstract notions, drawn from the study o f books, decide
to be true, and at the same time a series of facts upon which, at some
future moment, new and more sound deductions may be made.
In the midst of the progress now referred to, one thing is strikingly
observable; and this is, that the subject of money, considered as a science,
is acquiring tenfold greater importance in the eyes of the American
public, than it has ever heretofore enjoyed. Just in proportion as themotive force becomes greater through the increase of the materials of
trade, the exchanges of which are always represented by money, do the
results of their movements become more palpable and astonishing to
every eye. Strange and unaccountable appearances present themselves
to the observation even o f the most experienced, which they desire to
explain. And extraordinary dangers are apprehended, to avoid or guard
against which, by a recurrence to some safe and well established princi­
ples of action, always applicable in such contingencies, becomes an im­
portant object to all. Neither is the study of our financial affairs con­
fined entirely to this side of the Atlantic. The fluctuations in our cur­
rency, and the stability of our moneyed institutions, excite interest abroad
as well as at home, and are observed almost as narrowly in the banking
parlors of London, the great money mart of the world, as they are upon
the exchange in our own city. The doors o f those very parlors are now
besieged by swarms of applicants from America, for the loan o f no little
of their superfluous money, which the States are anxious to apply to the
execution of vast schemes o f internal communication. T hey seek for it
to fill up valleys and cut down mountains, which thirty years ago would
have been regarded as the possible undertaking o f a tenth generation
later. When, in 1811, the state of New York was applying, through De
Witt Clinton and others, to the General Government at Washington, for
a little assistance in executing what was then thought the stupendous
work of the Erie Canal, who could have foreseen that in five and twenty



The State o f the Currency.

years afterwards it would seem a trifle, in comparison with what not
merely that state, hut others of not half her size and wealth, were under­
taking to do? W ho could then have supposed, that she who shrunk from
the proposal of applying five millions of dollars to the original plan, would
be considering whether eight times that sum was too much to be devoted
to the same and similar purposes ? It is the recollection o f such facts as
these, which brings to the mind o f foreigners, as well as natives, some­
thing like a feeble realization of the rapidity with which we advance.
The world has given no similar lesson in its history. Strong as the
expression may seem, yet it is no great exaggeration after all to say, that
time and space, those obstacles to industry, once regarded so impracticable
to deal with, stand nearly annihilated before the force o f our experience.
Y et it must be allowed that this amazing rapidity is calculated to con­
fuse and dizzy the head most calmly employed in observing it. W e can
take no note of distance but by its lo ss; and as to the scrutiny of every
particular wheel or spring that is set in motion, while all are in such con­
stant action, the attempt is vain and fruitless. Whatever danger there
may be in the path, must come, and must be met without any hope to
avoid its consequences; for the people of the United States have become
so habituated to swiftness-of motion in their career, that they are as little
conscious of it as they are of the daily revolution of the globe. W e know
not that the result would be greatly different, if they thought more about it.
The country is generally considered as destined to furnish illustrations of
the practical working of new theories in political economy as well as in
government. Things unattempted yet, are the great ends which we would
arrive at. And, inasmuch as the success of this policy has hitherto been
unexampled, we have no right to presume that it will not continue here­
after, when more extensively followed out. Our province in America is
not to dogmatise about any thing, but to observe ; not to strain and twist
facts into an arbitrary theory o f our own, but to let theory be drawn out
from the facts by that process of philosophical induction which ascends to
a general principle only over the steps formed by the study of particulars.
It may be affirmed that there have been three eras in the progress of
the United States, in wealth and resources. The first and longest was
that during which the organization of the financial system of the coun­
try took place, and efforts were making to release it from the embarrass­
ments incurred in establishing its independence. The second period
passed in opening the means of internal communication between the
States, and in attempts to develop the natural resources which they were
believed to contain. The third and last, which is even now barely begun,
appears to be likely to establish in its course the new principles by which
credit and currency are hereafter to be regulated. Until the expiration
o f the charter of the National Bank, in 1836, the system first recom­
mended by Hamilton, was, with a single brief interruption, that upon
which the stability of our circulating medium was made to rest. It was
then determined that the objections to a continuance o f this system were
too serious to compensate for the advantages it furnished, and accordingly
it was suffered to expire by its own limitation. The experiment was at
that moment first entered upon, of letting the currency take care o f itself,
the ultimate value of which, although it was extremely disastrous in its
first consequences to the community, remains still to be tested by the
result of a longer continued trial. The first effect of liberating the banks
throughout the Union from all idea of central control, was perceived in
an expansion o f their issue o f bills to an amount largely upon trebling

The State o f the Currency.


what it had before been. A rapid rise in price o f all commodities liable
to be affected by it, was the consequence, which stimulated gambling
speculation. Credit may accelerate the formation of capital, but it can
never itself be capital. This idea was not remembered in the hurry to
make m oney; and the consequence w'as, that the first application o f the
unerring test of exchange with foreign countries, which easily recognise
the difference between the two, brought on a convulsion. The hanks
suspended the payment of their obligations in cash, and the little gold
and silver in circulation instantly disappeared. A ll of these events fol­
lowed each other with extraordinary rapidity; the fluctuations incident
to them were all experienced in turn; the distress which they create was
suffered ; and yet here we are, in the year o f our Lord 1839, to all exter­
nal appearance, recovered from the effect of every injury. Coin has again
gone into circulation as money quite as much as it ever did, while the
paper bills of the banks still form the great medium for effecting the ex­
changes of the community, as much, if not more, than they have always
done— a convulsion of no ordinary character, in the estimation o f all
those who ever studied the subject from books, has actually passed away,
if not without leaving its marks upon the fortunes o f numberless private
individuals, at least, making no visible alteration in the prosperity of the
mass. Prices have not fallen in bringing round the change— the wages
o f labor are as high as ever— the returns from industry are as quickly
realized— the profits of business do not fall short.
Now, we must frankly confess at once, that there is something in this
very well calculated to make students of politico-economical treatises
stare. There is no such thing in the record, as the so rapid recovery
of a nation from an inconvertible paper money, upon so slight a previous
preparation, as was made by this one. The amount o f that paper dimin­
ished during the year that cash payments were suspended, far less than
it changed its character, particularly in those states where the hanks had
been prohibited from issuing notes under five dollars. The sum of debt
actually existing was diminished by bankruptcy far more than by pay­
ment. Property changed hands, hut it did not become the more availa­
ble as it went. And yet, notwithstanding the existence of these unfailing
indications of a deeply disordered pecuniary condition, most of the hanks
were enabled to re-assume, within a year from the time o f their suspen­
sion, the performance of their engagements, and that, as it proved, with
hardly a risk to themselves from the effort. And now we should like to
know, how many people can he found who take bank hills in payment,
the less willingly, because they have found out that they are not equally,
at all times, convertible into as much gold and silver as they represent?
It is impossible to come at any adequate explanation of this phenome­
non of recovery, without a close examination of all the resources to which
we may have had access to produce it. Perhaps the most effectual, as
it certainly was the most curious, was the extension of our credit in
foreign countries, in the midst of all our distress. It now appears clearly,
that whilst we at home were considering our case as very desperate, it
was viewed with different eyes from abroad. The punctual payment of
the interest and part of the principal of some of the loans negotiated by
the States, with a liberal allowance for the depreciation o f the paper me­
dium, sufficient to make up the full amount due in coin, was a pitch o f
heroism struggling against adversity, to which the experience o f London
bankers in Spanish bonds, or South American scrip, and even their ima­
gination, could furnish no ready parallel. There were indications in our


The State o f the Currency.

affairs, of a moment o f excessive exhaustion, from our undertaking to do
more than we were able to do, but not o f enduring prostration from which
no recovery could be reasonably hoped or expected. Reasoning o f this
kind had a tendency to raise rather than to depress the credit which the
States enjoyed; our resources became better known, as curiosity in­
creased to examine them, our punctuality better appreciated, our com­
mercial importance more fully established. And exactly in proportion
as these favorable opinions were forming or becoming more confirmed,
were the opportunities offering for testing them, by immediate invest­
ments in new American stocks. It is not easy from the data before us
exactly to specify the amount o f money raised in England, in this way,
since the year o f the suspension o f specie payments, but a good idea
may he formed o f it from the fact, that, out o f the sum of one hundred
and seventy millions o f dollars which the States now owe, one hundred
and eight millions, or about five eighths o f the whole debt, has been con­
tracted since the year 1835. This amount, drawn in three years, is twice
and a half greater than what was procured'in the same manner during
the five years immediately preceding, and nine times greater than in any
other five years before them. It would appear, then, that the United
States, commercially considered as one body, has been receiving from
Europe, during the last two or three years, a sum which, after all
deductions made, cannot be reasonably set down at less than twenty-five
millions'of dollars per annum, on account of the loans o f states. If to this
sum there be added what cannot well be estimated, although it is known
to he a considerable item— we mean the loans furnished to private cor­
porations, and investments in local stocks, such as that o f the United
States and other banks, Railroad and Trust Companies, &c. — it is clear
that, in this direction, we have been gaining a most important, although
temporary resource; indeed, one o f such magnitude as, when taken in
connexion with a year o f reduced importation, and a small curtailment
o f bank discounts, to he quite sufficient to account for our easy return to
cash payments again.
A concurrence of circumstances has enabled the growers o f the great
staple of cotton in the United States, to maintain the price of that article
in England, through the year, which has had no trifling effect in facili­
tating the re-establishment, as well as the restoration o f the currency.
W e may then take it for granted that that restoration is, for all present
purposes, tolerably complete ; and having thus examined the state of the
past, we can now go on to consider the present and the future. W e are
not aware that a single additional precaution in legislation has been the
result of the experience o f the year 1837, nor that in the states generally
there has been any very material modification of the erroneous system
of banking heretofore carried on. The national government stands in
no respect better secured against future danger of the currency, than it
did before the suspension. The soundness of hank paper depends now,
exactly as it did in 1836, upon the will of the banks themselves. They
may keep it good if they will listen to prudent counsels; and they may
depreciate it if they do again as they did before. W e have hopes of the
best, not entirely unmingled, it must be confessed, with fears for the worst.
The reasons for those fears may be very briefly enumerated thus:
The foreign loans, whilst they effectively answer the present purpose of
keeping the rates of exchange with foreign countries favorable, must
yet be remembered to carry with them the certainty of a heavy annual
burden for the future, in the shape o f interest, which will go to swell a

The State o f the Currency.


stream that may flow the other way. And although the application of
the funds thus procured to purposes o f internal improvement, may he
granted to be likely in the main to be beneficial to the country, it will
not prevent the absorption of the metallic medium, or that shape in which
they were conveyed to us, into the banking system, from which it can
never again be safely withdrawn; and the substitution o f paper, which
cannot answer to meet demands from abroad. W e are aware that this
very brief suggestion of the difficulty is not sufficient to explain the idea
it is meant to convey. And, although transgressing the limits we pro­
posed to occupy, without nearly terminating our views of the subject,
we must sacrifice the further expression o f them at present to the object
of developing it more fully.
Whatever may be the positive quantity o f gold and silver in the coun­
try, whether equal to $50,000,000, or to three times that amount, one
thing seems pretty clear, that a very small portion o f it can be used as
money of circulation, so long as the disposition exists in the banks to
issue their notes instead, and this disposition is attended with a corre­
sponding inclination on the part of the public to prefer them. The im­
mediate effect of increasing specie seems then to reduce itself to this,
that it furnishes ready means for increasing the quantity of bank notes,
until the proportion between them is arrived at, which, according to the
usual notions, is regarded as safe. If a sum of $40,000,000 of coin was
considered in 1835 as justifying an issue of $120,000,000 o f bills, there
is no reason why the receipt o f $40,000,000 more will not justify the
issue of at least $240,000,000 o f bills. So far as the United States is
concerned, there is no reason for supposing any limit to exist in the
amount of circulating medium, which may be used— the effect only
being that the prices of all commodities and. labor continue to graduate
themselves to the increase. The danger from such an operation arises
from the action of foreign countries, by creating a tendency to import
largely of their commodities, which must be paid for by m oney; and
that money must be gold and silver. This produces what is called an
unfavorable balance of trade. The rates of exchange become high— a
desire to procure gold and silver, in preference to paper, leads to an
attempt to convert the latter into the former at the banks, and this in its
turn involves them, and through them, the trading community, in con­
siderable embarrassment. In ordinary times, it may be said that the
great danger to the banking system is to be found in the demand which
may arise for the conversion o f bank notes into coin to send abroad.
And thus whenever the exchanges run up so high as to make it cheaper
to send coin than to send any thing else, and this state o f things contin­
ues for any length of time, the whole system of bank paper issues, which
we use as money, must be considered as in very great jeopardy.
Now the effect of borrowing so largely o f Great Britain and other
countries in Europe, as we have done during the past two or three years,
is to keep the exchange between us and them for the time in our favor;
and hence we are either receiving specie, or at any rate lire in no danger'
of losing what we have. But if we receive any more specie in this man­
ner, every body knows that it does not go into the circulation o f the
country, which is supplied by paper, but that it goes into the vaults of
new banks, which instantly set to work to increase the sum of that paper.
The effect of that increase is felt in prices, and these prices in turn hasten
the arrival of an unfavorable balance o f trade. W hen this happens,
VOL. i. —





Theory o f Money and Banks.

however, the gold and silver which came here So easily, cannot be sent
away with equal ease, because it has been made the basis o f a large
paper circulation, which cannot continue safely without it. And if the
loans have stopped in the interval, and no artificial means can be resorted
to of avoiding the crisis, it will then become necessary not merely to pay
in silver and gold the amount of the actual difference between the trade
o f the two parts of the world, but an amount of annual interest due upon
the sums theretofore borrowed superadded thereon. W hen it is consid­
ered that this article alone is probably equal in amount at this time to
twelve or fifteen millions o f dollars per annum, this view of the case may
not be entirely without its importance to commercial men.
That there is at this moment going on a very rapid expansion in the
issues of the banks throughout the country, can hardly be doubted. If
any evidence was needed, we could quote nothing more decisive than
the rise in prices of all domestic commodities. Perhaps the new experi­
ment now commenced in our state o f free banking, may be contributing,
in an important degree, to this effect. There is a disposition strikingly
manifest in many quarters, to adopt new theories and principles for bank­
ing, which must, in the absence o f all central control, have a very ex­
tensive operation upon the future condition of the currency. Perhaps
they may result in something good, and at any rate it is too early to
condemn them unequivocally yet. So long as the influx of foreign capi­
tal continues, it will be difficult for any body to go wrong. But in the
mean time, it may not be unadvisable for those large capitalists and
wealthy institutions, which now possess all the power left in the country
o f regulating the currency, to consider well what they do, and how far
it is expedient for them, by countenancing the spirit of speculation, to put
out o f their hands the means they may have of meeting a moment o f dan­
ger. New York is entitled to great credit in restoring us to a speciepaying condition; and this credit, gained under adversity, she must not
lose by any forgetfulness of her duty in moments of apparent prosperity.
W e originally proposed to furnish to our readers some views of the
nature of, and objections to, a few features of the general banking law
of the state, but having already exceeded the proper limit for a single
article, we must reserve what we have to say upon that subject for a
future number.

A rt . VII. — T H E O R Y OF M O N E Y A N D B AN K S.

The Theory o f Money and Banks investigated. By G eorge T u ck er ,
Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Virginia, and
Member of the American Philosophical Society. Boston: 1839.
Charles C. Little and James Brown.
A mong the many symptoms that are visible among us o f the increas­
ing estimate formed o f the subject o f money, considered as a science,
none is of a moire positive nature than the production o f such a work as
the one before us. Professor Tucker is already well known to the
public, first as having filled a seat in the house of representatives of the
United States from Virginia, then as a teacher o f moral philosophy in
the University of that state, and still more lately as the defender and
apologist o f the fair fame of Thomas Jefferson, somewhat compromised
by an injudicious, but very honest publication o f his manuscript papers.

Theory o f Money and Banks.


Yet, however respectably he may have acquitted himself in any or all of
these relations, we should hardly have expected them to fit him to appear
advantageously as a political economist. W e can scarcely define the
reason why, but the fact will admit o f little contradiction, that in the
particular department of money, the public in the United States has not
been in the habit of looking for sound practical judgments among the
leading minds of the state o f Virginia. So far as we know, since the
adoption of the constitution, although she has furnished more than her
proportion of distinguished public men, she has not yet produced a sin­
gle financier. The theory o f Mr. Jefferson, in many respects entirely
anti-commercial, and the fine spun metaphysical subtleties o f the strict
construction school, have been hitherto far more in accordance with the
temper of her population than statistical tables. Trade is in its nature
consolidating, because it will not recognise arbitrary geographical lines ;
it is creative of such strong common interests, wherever it once connects
people in relations with one another, that local jealousies, and all narrow
notions of exclusive independence, vanish before it. The ancient domin­
ion has been nourishing her prejudices for many years at the expense of
her power. It must be regarded as a sign that she is about to abandon
them, when a gentleman like Professor Tucker, who has been brought
up in the school of its straitest sect, is willing to avow the opinions upon
credit and banking which are to be found in this book. Forty years
have made a great change in the relative position o f the old states of
our Union; for whilst they have thrown forward most of its northern
members in population and resources immensely, they have left Virginia
not much better than they found her. It is time for her citizens to
awake to a true sense of their situation. A proof that they are stirring,
is to be found in the legislation of the last two or three years, as well
as in the work of Mr. Tucker.
W e do not propose, at the present moment, to go into an extended
notice of this book— more particularly o f the questions o f a debatable
character that it contains. W e are not aware that there is a single
absurd or unreasonable proposition maintained in it, which is saying a
great deal in this day o f new-fangled theories. The author is perfectly
candid, and always moderate. His plan is to sum up the argument in
favor and against any important point with great fairness, and to submit
his own opinion afterwards. This makes his work valuable as a text
book for elementary instruction, particularly as it contains few dogmas
which a scholar will have, in process o f time, and often at no small cost,
to unlearn. The first part, or that which treats of the precious metals,
as the material for money, contains little that will not at once command
assent; and if the second, which is devoted to credit and banking, con­
tains much that will be disputed, it is only because nothing is now
admitted upon those subjects, by every body in the United States, as
beyond question. The expediency of credit itself is denied by some
who, as the professor aptly remarks, would, if occasion required, equally
deny the value of steamboats in Mississippi navigation. There is one
thing which we like about the author, and that is, he takes no care
to conceal his opinions.
Although a Virginian, and of the Jefferson
school, he is clearly in favor of a banking system, and a national bank.
W e all see plainly enough that at this time there is no prospect
of the establishment of such an institution, but that is no reason why,
in a fair and full examination of our system of money dealings, the
propriety, and indeed the necessity of it, should not be freely displayed.




Theory o f Money and Banks.

Professor Tucker appears to be under no improper bias. He is not a
merchant, depending upon bank discounts, nor a politician, making
denunciation of banks as stock in trade, but a retired gentleman, reflect­
ing upon the combined lessons o f theory and experience, and drawing
his conclusions from his observation o f results.
It is difficult to make any extracts which shall do justice to the author,
inasmuch as he connects the sense in his paragraphs very closely.
But as the probable operation of the present law o f free banking in this
state is regarded with general interest, perhaps our readers will be most
curious to know what he has to say upon that. W e therefore have de­
cided to select the passage that treats of it as a specimen of his manner :
Another expedient which has been viewed with favor, both in this country and
England, for giving stability to banks of circulation, is to require every bank to
vest a part o f its capital in public stock, or, in lieu o f that, in mortgages, which, being
o f permanent value, would secure the creditors of the bank from loss under any supposable state o f pecuniary embarrassment in the country, or o f imprudence in the
bank. And the state o f New York has lately passed a general banking law, by which
the ordinary privileges of a corporation are extended to any voluntary association of
individuals, who are permitted to carry on the business o f banking, and to issue notes
to the extent that they have previously deposited stock, or mortgages, with the comp­
troller o f the state.
Assuredly, the less the banks lend, the less is their risk of loss; and if they keep a
part o f their capital employed, not in the business o f banking, but invested in the pub­
lic funds, or joint-stock companies, or land, they are, to that extent, exempt from the
hazards o f banking, but to the same extent they must forego its profits, and substitute
the dividends or profits derived from these permanent investments in their stead.
This exchange may give the public additional security, or it may not. If the stock
purchased was part o f a public debt to a government faithful to its engagements, it
would afford higher security than any loans on personal credit; but there may be no
national debt, as is now the case with the United States, and there may be no public
debt in the state where the bank is to be established. If, then, the money be vested in
the stock of canal, rail-road, insurance, or other joint-stock companies, as has been
sometimes proposed, there would be the same uncertainty o f profit, and the same
hazards encountered, as in the ordinary business of banking. The stockholders would
certainly prefer employing their capital in discounting such paper as they approved,
both for profit and safety, to vesting it in the stock of a company, over whose manage­
ment they had no control; and to the creditors of the bank, the security would be the
Let us, however, suppose that stock issued by the states could be procured ; although
the bank may be somewhat more safe, yet as its profits will be proportionally dimin­
ished, it may be doubted whether capitalists will be disposed to advance their money
for a bank, in which, to give greater security to the public, their means o f profit are
diminished, and their hazard of loss is increased. Let us see the operation of a bank
on the plan proposed in New York.
W e will suppose an association formed for the establishment of a bank with a capi­
tal o f 2,000,000 dollars, for the whole of which the members must provide approved
stock of the state to the same amount. As this is taken at its market value, it is the
same to the proprietors as furnishing so much cash. For this stock they are entitled
to receive notes for circulation, to the same amount, of the comptroller of the state.
But they must also provide a stock of specie. The law requires that the bank shall
have in specie not less than one eighth part of its notes in circulation. Besides, they
cannot get their notes into circulation without paying away a certain proportion of
specie. From the moment they begin to discount, a part o f their notes will be returned
to be converted into cash. What that proportion will be, nothing but experiment can
determine. Let us, however, suppose that, for every four dollars in paper, one in
silver has been required. Then to have lent out the $2,000,000, the sum o f $500,000
was required in specie, to which must be added one eighth of the notes issued, or
$250,000, to be retained in their vaults, agreeably to the requisition o f the law. In
that case, their profits would be as follows :
Interest on $2,000,000 stock, at 5 per ct...................................................... $100,000
Do. on $2,500,000, discounted at 6 per ct.................................................... $150,000


Commerce and Protection.


Which, on $2,000,000 stock and $750,000 specie, is something more than 9 per cent.,
from which, if we deduct 1 1-2 per cent, for expenses, would leave 7 1-2 per cent, for
the net profit on the whole capital invested. The expenses, it must, however, be
remembered, will be greater than in an ordinary bank, on account of its deposit stock,
both for legal advice, and in collecting the interest.
But, if the proportion o f specie required by the bank should exceed what has been
supposed, as it probably would, the dividends would be proportionally diminished. It
must be recollected, that the means o f circulating the notes have not been at all aided
by the stock, except so far as, by increasing the public confidence, it may have
extended their circulation. But this effect might be insignificant, and could not be
much. Bank notes do not circulate at all, unless the public have entire confidence in
the solvency o f the bank that issued them; but, whatever may be the confidence, they
will still be converted into specie for the various purposes o f being sent or taken to a
distance, o f being wrought into plate and jewelry, and of being placed in another bank.
It is then the $750,000 o f specie, in the case supposed, which has put and keeps in
circulation the notes. This was the real banking capital. But, to suppose that this
sum would be adequate to loans or discounts for $2,500,000, or more than three times
its amount, is against all experience. It might not be sufficient for more than two
thirds o f that amount; o f course, to put the whole $2,000,000 o f notes into circulation,
a much larger amount o f specie will be required.
Nor is this all. The proportion of 12 1-2 per cent, o f the notes in circulation for
the specie— the minimum required by the law — although it might be. sufficient for
country banks in prosperous times, is not enough for them in ordinary times, and not
enough for city banks at any time. The banks of the city of New York, on the 1st
of January, 1837, when their loans were unusually great, had $3,854,453 in specie, to
a circulation o f $8,155,883; that is, 47 per cent., nearly four times as much as we
have supposed. To be prepared, then, for the smallest fluctuations in the money
market, the bank would find it necessary to increase the amount o f its specie much
above 12 1-2 per cent., and, if it should resort to the sale o f its stock, in times of emer­
gency, the same pressure for money which has driven them to this expedient will
lower the market value o f stock, and they may lose in one sale the amount o f seven
years’ dividends. And, so far as real estate is substituted, the hazards o f loss, as well
as the expense o f management, Iwfll'be greatly enhanced; so that the plan does not
seem calculated to invite prudent andsnbsla-ntiai capitalists, wSiohaveuo other pur­
pose to serve than to make safe and profitable Investments^ in wM chp^e,-the public
must eventually find its best reliance is on a weU-organized bank, Witn a capital o f gold
and silver, placed under the management o f cautious, judicious, and experienced men.

W e shall probably take an occasion very soon to go more fully into an
examination of the present work, in the course./;[ tvhich we propose to
give some ideas of our own upon the effect o f;the free banking law, and
to controvert the opinion maintained by our author, o f the expediency
of more than one national bank. In the mean time, however, we freely
recommend it to all who are already interested in the subject, as a work
full o f excellent views, and to those who desire to make themselves
acquainted with it as a gootL giyd ^ mid authority. The author has
appended, also, several vflCfjietlpubl^ and convenient tables.




T E C T IO N .

[We insert with pleasure the following communication, as it is our object to present
to reflecting minds both sides of a vexed question; one which has extensively agitated
the country, and is destined to agitate it again ; but not to so great a degree as at the
time the Tariff Compromise Bill was passed by Congress, in 1833. In the interim,
both parties have had time for reflection, and ultraists on both sides are now, we be­
lieve, few and far between. The South has realized the value of a domestic market
for its cotton, on which it could fall back, when prices declined in Europe ; and manu­
facturers have become convinced that extravagant and unreasonable duties are not
the best protectives o f home industry.
W e are in favor o f a full and fair protection to our manufacturers and mechanics
— to every thing which can call out the skill, and develop the resources of our coun­


Commerce and Protection.

try, as contributing to our prosperity in peace, and our independence in a state of
warfare. But high duties act as encouragement to reckless and injurious competi­
tion in the branches o f industry they are meant to foster, and by the idea of extra­
ordinary profits, divert labor and capital from natural and healthful channels; and
the domestic productions of a country may be as injuriously increased by artificial
stimulants, as imports may be made to exceed our ability to pay for, by the reck­
lessness o f commercial men, grasping at shadows, and losing the reality. The
“ juste milieu” applies to all things.
The free trade system advocated by the English theorists, is, like the majority o f
their manufactures, intended for exportation, and not for home use,— other nations
are to furnish the raw material, but they are to have the profit on the manufactured
article. There, every thing that can stimulate production, is applied with unsparing
hand, until at last the system has become so complex and interwoven with the exist­
ence o f the government, that, like her national debt, and her privileged aristocracy,
an attempt at change might shake the whole social fabric to its foundation. Fortu­
nately for the United States, we are placed in a position in which we can select the
good and reject the evil. No one interest can be built up in our republic, at the
expense o f another; not only the spirit of the constitution forbids it, but the state of
things, as we find them, renders it impossible. The agriculturist, the manufacturer,
the merchant, and the mechanic, all the productive, as well as what economists call
the unproductive classes, are represented in Congress, by delegates generally chosen
specially by themselves. W e recognise no privileged order, but that o f industry,
intellect, and w orth; we bow to no supremacy but that of m ind; no law can be
passed, unless a majority o f the great interests represented shall agree that it is o f a
national and advantageous character. Our growth in some particular departments
may, in this way, possibly be retarded, but it is more natural and healthy. And if
the great national edifice progresses less rapidly, the foundation is surer, and the
proportions will be more just and beautiful.
W e do not believe in the opposition of commercial men to a just protection to home
industry. They have realized the value o f the internal trade— the deep root taken
by the manufacturing interest of the country— the importance of the coasting business
— and the vast impulse which these, united, give to domestic and foreign commerce.
The raising of a revenue for the sugpart; <Jf gcrrernment, by means of a Tariff, is
^he.teast- onerguj 14 all, indeed, t*is only
acdepteble to the genius o f the people,
Torvfirsct\ta^ajie!ti 5s*oijt pf the'questfen'flhrs’ point conceded, the only difficulty to
;b a “dfeposedtif"is l6e"amount of dp; be imposed on foreign commerce, commen­
surate to the, wan t^ » f *the government, and fully and fairly favoring the different
branches otdbmejtic; rpdjistrr; — this head we do not feel ourselves called on
to express flur opinitm at the present moment.
As we have before.saidr.She ultraists o f free trade are few and far between ; we
believe our talented fiiendhas engaged in a fanciful contest with imaginary oppo­
nents— but as he po'Ses'a sharp and polished lance, we have no objection to let
him throw it, and if he can find an ultraist anywhere, to let him hit him— we belong
to the “ juste milieu.” ]
I t lias ever been the special effort o f the foes of the protective system,
to enlist the mercantile interest, as such, in the support of their cause.
The merchants, as a body, are calculated on to furnish the vanguard of
the anti-protective army, and to supply it with the sinews o f war. How­
ever other classes may break or waver, they are expected to constitute an
immovable phalanx. Others may need argument and demonstration,
but their anti-tariff prepossessions are assumed as a matter of instinct.
T o be a^merchant, and to be hostile to laws for the protection of home
industry, are regarded as identical.
Not that merchants are known or believed to be, in fact, universally
hostile to protection. Every man’s observation teaches him the contrary.
It is well known to every writer on the subject, that many of the most
enlightened, able, and efficient advocates of protection, have been found
in the mercantile class. But the assumption of the free trade doctors
avers, that commerce is, in the very nature of things, hostile to the pro­
tective system ; that, though individuals may be induced to favor that
system, by personal and peculiar interests, these are but eddies in the
great stream of commercial feeling and interest, while the current bears

Commerce and Protection.

, 63

unequivocally and powerfully in a contrary direction. This question o f
fact is one of lesser moment; but that of absolute interest and policy is
one of vital importance. For, be it known to all, the great controversy o f
protection versus free trade, is by no means at an end. Suspended in 1833,
by a nine years’ truce, it will be renewed after 1842, with an intensity
equal to any that this country has ever yet experienced. It must, in the
nature of things, be so. The free traders, flushed by an advantage achiev­
ed for them in 1S33, mainly, if not solely, by the force o f circumstances
wholly extraneous from the proper controversy, are running into the wild­
est ultraism. They are disporting their fancies in a region never adven­
tured upon by them in the earlier stages of the controversy. Hitherto the
clamor on that side has been for a reduction of imposts to a revenue basis
— to the measures of the fiscal wants of government. W e have already
reached that point— nay, gone beyond it— and the cry is still onward.
Free trade now strikes at the root o f revenue duties also. No tariff— no
imposts— absolute freedom of importation, is now the demand. Throw
open your ports, tear down, or convert to other uses, your custom-houses
— banish the very idea of customs— raise your revenue by direct taxation.
Such are the present modest demands of the free trade theorists. How
soon they may be extended to require the government to furnish ships for
the importation, free of cost, of such foreign products as the country may
prefer to its own, is a question rather out of the scope of the present essay.
Suffice it that in its present shape, the doctrine o f free trade strikes at
the existence of all duties on imports whatever. It will be satisfied with
nothing short of this. Abolish all discriminating duties, (which was the
extent of its earlier demand,) and we still have a revenue impost which,
in view of the largely increased expenditures of the federal government,
can hardly be estimated below twenty, certainly not below fifteen per cent.
This still operates, to its extent, as a protection and stimulus to domestic in­
dustry. It is still an eyesore and an abomination to free trade. Mordecai
the Jew still sits in the king’s gate, and the wrath o f Haman is unsated.
Nothing less than the abolition of customs and custom-houses, and the
overspreading o f our whole land with a locust tribe of tax-gatherers, will
satisfy its urgent aspirations.
Thus, then, stands the question between the free trade theorists and
the advocates of protection; and we are now prepared to consider to which
side the interests of commerce should incline its votaries. Is it commer­
cially expedient that the great producing interests o f the country be fos­
tered and stimulated to their highest possible activity and force, or that
they be left entirely to take care of themselves, and in each department to
encounter the depressing and disastrous rivalry of whatever portion of the
globe may be able to undersell our productions in its particular staple ?
Shall our producers of grain be exposed to an equal competition for their
own market, with the serfs of Russia, who are content to labor for a supply
o f the coarsest necessaries of life ? Shall our cities be supplied mainly
with the potatoes of Ireland, because the Irish laborer is thankful for a shil­
ling a day, while the American receives five or six ? Shall the vast manu­
facturing interest of this country, which gives direct employment to one
fourth of its commerce and navigation, and consumes the surplus products
of one half its agriculture, be exposed to certain prostration and ruin, in a
competition with the older and wealthier manufacturing interests of Eng­
land, France, and Germany, backed by an unlimited command o f capital,
at four or five per cent, per annum, and of labor at ten to forty cents a day ?


Commerce and Protection.

Is it possible that the interests of American commerce can be subserved
by a general recklessness and wreck of all other American interests?
But it is asked, why cannot American skill and industry, like American
valor and enterprise, sustain themselves in an equal competition with those
o f Europe ? The question is based on an entire misapprehension of the
subject. They can sustain themselves in an equal contest; and it is for
that very equality we plead. T hey cannot engage in the combat with
naked limbs and empty hands, against a mailed and armed adversary.
T hey cannot successfully struggle, while infantile and unprotected,
against the well established and protected rivalry o f their most favored
competitors. The peace of 1815 found American manufactures in a state
o f great activity, prosperity, and progress. In three years thereafter, Brit­
ish rivalry, most desperately pursued, had wrought their entire ruin.
Protection then came to their relief, and they again revived and prospered.
A few years found them, not only supplying the home market, at prices
o f unprecedented cheapness, but rivaling their old antagonist and former
vanquisher, in the markets o f South America, of China, and wherever else
a fair competition was attainable. This they are still enabled to do, to the
great benefit of American commerce and navigation, and will continue to
do, so long as they shall enjoy a just preference and protection in the
supply of the home market. But deprive them of this— place them in
unequal and disadvantageous competition for foreign markets, against
their rivals of Great Britain, France, and Germany, which have an exclu­
sive home market as an assured basis for their operations, and they must
inevitably wither. Human skill and management cannot withstand the
double advantage thus afforded to our rivals in the command of labor at
half price, and a protected market against competitors who have neither.
The overthrow of protection must be a signal for the recommencement of
the great national tragedy of 1 8 1 5 -1 9 .
But let us keep in view the interests o f commerce. What is the first
element of commercial prosperity? Is it not notoriously national wealth
and home production ? Isolated cities have, indeed, risen suddenly to
commercial eminence on the enjoyment of a lucrative carrying trade be­
tween foreign nations; but such prosperity is of necessity extremely preca­
rious, and usually of brief duration. Its decline is as sudden as its growth.
A war, an embargo, a revolution, the discovery of a cheaper channel of
communication, of a new instrument of navigation, even— and Petra,
Tyre, Carthage, Venice, is hurled from the summit o f its fortune and its
glory, leaving but crumbling ruins and desolate streets to mark the
former site of commercial greatness. A flourishing and stable commerce,
mainly based upon an interchange of commodities between foreign na­
tions, is a reverie unsuited to this age of the world.
N o — it is on a simple traffic o f the surplus products o f its own country
for those of other lands, and on the exchange of commodities between
different sections o f our own country, that American commerce must
mainly rely. Obviously, then, it becomes an object of primary solicitude
with our commercial interest, that the amount of our country’s productions
be as large as possible, and that every consistent means be employed to
increase that amount. For, let the necessities and desires of our people
be ever so urgent, it is evident that goods can only be purchased — at any
rate, can only be paid fo r—-t o the extent of the surplus products of the
country. For a single year, we might bowl merrily onward on the strength
o f our credit abroad ; another year’s deficiency might be eked out by the
exportation o f our stock of the precious metals, &c.; and then the game

Commerce and Protection.


would be ended. After the intervention of two or three years of pros­
tration and distress, commerce might resume its former course, subject to
the feebleness and exhaustion which a succession of excess and paralysis
would be sure to induce. During the virtual suspension of commercial
vitality, the consumers will have learned to dispense with or produce
many articles o f foreign origin for which they had formerly trusted to
commerce; and the revival of trade would be marked by a sensible di­
minution of its value and vigor, as compared with its earlier prosperity.
The highest possible incentive to home industry— the utmost practicable
stimulus to domestic production— is then as essential to the well being
of commerce as of any other great national interest. It is the idlest folly
to fear that our country will produce so much and so variously that she
will want to purchase little or nothing. Even were our wide expanse of
territory made to supply abundantly all the varieties of agricultural and
manufactured products of which it is capable, it is doubtful if the foreign
trade o f the country would be thereby reduced, while it is certain that the
domestic interchange of commodities, which already forms the basis of the
larger half of our commercial transactions, would be very greatly increased.
Man is so constituted, that his wants increase and amplify at least in pro­
portion to his ability to gratify them. W ere all our present requirements
to be henceforth supplied by domestic production, while we should retain
the ability to purchase largely from foreign nations, our fancies would
soon seek out new gratifications, and find different necessities, until the
amount of our imports should speedily equal the measure o f our abilities.
In an enlarged and enlightened view, therefore, every addition to or
new development of the internal resources o f the country is certain to
redound to the substantial and permanent advantage o f commerce, and
should be hailed with gladness, and fostered if need be by its votaries.
In the narrow view too commonly taken, if the United States should hence­
forth produce twenty-five millions’ worth of silk per annum, instead o f
importing it, there would be a loss of so much to commerce. But practi­
cal men know that the reverse of this is true ; that such production would
largely increase and stimulate the mercantile business of the country, at
least to the extent of the value produced, by increasing at once the ability
of our citizens to pay for foreign products, and the amount of their own
commodities to be interchanged through the medium of commerce. If, by
any line of policy, any new incentives to industry and enterprise, the
amount of our country’s aggregate productions could be increased one
half or one fourth beyond the increase o f its population, its commercial
activity and prosperity must be increased in far more than an equal ratio :
for the first hundred millions’ worth of annual production is doubtless con­
sumed in supplying the merest and most absolute wants of the producers
themselves, without entering at all into the elements of comm erce; but
whatever rises above that, being appropriated to the comforts and the luxu­
ries of life, begins at once to circulate through the channels of trade ; and
if the present annual production of the country may be estimated at three
hundred millions, the addition of one hundred millions more to that pro­
duction would probably double the commercial business o f the country.
The day when protection could be made a bugbear— at least in this
part of the country— is over. W e have tested by experience the falsity of
the original foreboding, that the adoption o f the protective system would
destroy our commerce — at any rate, our foreign commerce— altogether.
All the free trade forebodings of the early stages of this controversy have
VOL. i. — n o . i.


Mercantile Law.

signally failed. It is not yet twenty years since a doleful anticipation
was widely entertained, that a resort to the protective policy would dry
up the springs of commerce entirely, and (most melancholy to contem­
plate !) require the imposition of Direct Taxes for the support of the
Federal Government. Now the support of government exclusively by
such taxes is regarded as the perfection of national policy by the theorists
of the same school. Their fears of a destruction or signal decline of
commerce under the influence o f the protective policy have been shown
to be utterly delusive. Take the ten years when that policy was pre­
dominant— from 1824 to 1834— and its friends may safely defy its oppo­
nents to show any ten successive years when commerce was so uniformly,
generally, and onwardly prosperous. The revulsion o f 1825 belonged
to the earlier period, and was the direct result o f an excess of importa­
tion over production under the auspices of “ free trade.” Under an effi­
cient protective tariff it could never have been incurred, though it might
have happened under any system, as the yellow fever caught in New
Orleans might be experienced in the most healthful locality.
It is high time that the commercial interest should realize more fully
its intimate sympathy with the agriculture, manufactures, and production
generally of the country. If these are not prosperous— nay, if they are
not encouraged, and stimulated to their highest attainable activity and
vigor— it will be idle to hope for and expect that commerce can flourish.
T hey form the heart from which the life-blood must be supplied; let
that be torpid, and the vital functions must cease altogether.


I X .— IN S U R A N C E — C O N S U L S — C O M M ISSIO N M E R ­
C H A N T S — M IS R E P R E S E N T A T IO N A S T O T O N N A G E .


T he mercantile law is founded in principles which are simple in them­
selves, and few in number; but in their application to the business o f
life, the details o f cases vary so m uch— the circumstances of each are
so different, and those differences are often of so minute a character, that
a most distressing uncertainty hangs over many parts of the subject, and
litigation is constantly increasing among a class, the members o f which
have little or no bitterness of feeling towards each other, but who submit
to courts of justice the determination of their rights, from a sincere desire
to ascertain what they are.
This branch of the law is of peculiar interest, because mercantile
causes often exhibit the best pictures that exist of the manners, customs,
habits, and modes of life o f distant communities. They are also valua­
ble for historical facts, ascertained in the best possible manner, by tribu­
nals erected for the express purpose o f eliciting the truth.
It is not our purpose to present labored essays on this subject, except
occasionally: but an attempt will be made to present, as they occur, the
more important and interesting decisions, on subjects o f interest to the
merchant. Those who wish to investigate particular subjects of mer­
cantile law, can easily do so by other means. Our immediate object is
to present notices o f recent decisions, not contained in the books, conse­
quently not generally known to gentlemen of the bar even. As our arti­
cles on this subject will be compiled by legal gentlemen, and as our
information will be as authentic as it is recent, it may be valuable to
professional gentlemen, as well as merchants.

Insurance — Collision.


C ollision. — An interesting case on this subject was decided a short

time since in Boston, in the Circuit Court of the United States. It was
an action brought by John Peters and others, against the Warren Insu­
rance Company of Boston, to recover on a policy of insurance on the ship
Paragon, dated March 15, 1836. It appeared, that in November, 1S36,
the ship sailed from Gottenburg, in ballast, to procure a cargo of iron for
the United States.
Whilst proceeding down the Elbe, with a pilot on board, she came in
contact with a galiot, called the Franc Anna, and sunk her. The Para­
gon lost her bowsprit, jiboom, and anchor, and sustained other damages,
which obliged her to go into Cuxhaven, a port at the mouth of the Elbe,
and subject to the jurisdiction of Hamburg, for repairs.
Whilst lying there, the captain o f the galiot libelled the Paragon in the
marine court, alleging, that the loss of the vessel was caused by the
carelessness or fault of those on board the Paragon. The ship was arrest­
ed, but subsequently released, on security being given by the agents of
the owners to respond to such damages as should be awarded by the court.
The captain of the Paragon, in his answer, denied the charges o f care­
lessness or fault on the part of those on board of his ship; and the court,
after hearing the parties, and their proofs, decided, that the collision was
not the result of fault or carelessness on either side, and that therefore,
according to article first, title eight, o f the marine law o f Hamburg, the
loss was a general average loss, and to be borne equally by each party.
That is, the Paragon was to bear one half o f the expense o f her own re­
pairs, and to pay one half of the value of the galiot,— and the galiot was
to bear the loss of one half of her own value, and to pay one half of the
expense of the repairs of the Paragon. In conformity with this decision,
a general average statement was drawn up by Mr. Oldermann, the Depacheur of Hamburg, an officer appointed by law, and by whom alone such
statements can be prepared, and the captain of the Paragon was obliged
to pay $2600, which amount the owners claimed to recover of the insurers.
The defence was placed principally on the grounds, that the rule o f
law in existence at Hamburg being different from what exists in this
country, the underwriters were not bound by it ; that this was not properly
a case o f general average, or o f a loss by the perils insured against, but
it was a loss by the peculiar and absurd provision o f the laws of Hamburg,
that in case of a collision between two vessels, the loss shall be apportion­
ed between them, although there is no pretence of fault on either side.
After an elaborate argument of the points of law, Judge Story decided,—
1. That when a case of general average occurs, if it is settled in the
foreign port of destination, or in any other foreign port, where it right­
fully ought to be settled, the adjustment there made will be conclusive as
to the items, as well as the apportionment thereof upon the various inter­
ests, although it may be different from what our own law would have made,
in case the adjustment had been made on a like collision in our own ports.
2. The judge gave it as his opinion, that this was not a case o f gene­
ral average, but one of particular average. But the principal point in his
mind was, whether the collision was a peril o f the sea, or whether it was
a mere consequential injury, for which the underwriters were not liable ;
and on this point he decided,—
3. That where a collision between two ships accidentally takes place
within the dominions of a foreign power, and by the laws of that foreign


Mercantile Law.

power all damages occasioned thereby are to be borne equally by the
two vessels, such a collision is a peril o f the seas, within the meaning of
the common policy of insurance; and the underwriters are liable not
only for the direct damage done to the ship insured by them, but also for
the charge apportioned on such ship, as her contributory share towards
the common loss, not as a general average, but as properly a part o f the
partial loss occasioned by the collision.
This decision being unsatisfactory to the defendants, and there being
a general wish among the underwriters in Boston that the question should
be settled by the highest tribunal in the country, the cause was carried
up to the Supreme Court of the United States at Washington, last winter,
where the decision of Judge Story was affirmed. The grounds of the
decision we do not know, as it has not yet been published.
G eneral A verage . On the subject o f Average, several important
decisions have recently been made, overruling, in some respects, opinions
which have hitherto been received as correct.
In the case of P otter v. The Ocean Insurance Company o f Boston,
which was decided by Judge Story, in the Circuit Court o f the United
States, at the October term, 1837, it was held, that the wages, provisions,
and other expenses of the voyage to a port o f necessity, for the purpose
o f making repairs, constitute a general average. It makes no difference
in the application of the principle to policies of insurance, that there hap­
pens to be no cargo on board, so that there is, in fact, no contribution to
be made by cargo or by freight; for general average does not depend upon
the point whether there are different subject matters to contribute, but
whether there is a common sacrifice for the benefit o f all, who are, or
m ay be, interested in the accomplishment of the voyage. Neither does
it make any difference in the application o f the principle, that the insu­
rance, on which the question arises, is not for a particular voyage, but
on time.
In the case of Loring v. Neptune Insurance Company, which was de­
cided in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts at the March term,
1838, it was held, that a general average adjustment made in the port of
destination, fairly and according to the laws of that place, is conclusive on
all parties interested in the ship, cargo, and freight. This same principle
was fully recognised by Judge Story in the case of Peters v. Warren
Insurance Company, an account of which we have given above.
In the course of the trial of Loring v. Neptune Insurance Company,
several singular provisions of the law of Hamburg respecting general
average were proved. It appeared, that by a law of the city, first published
by the senate in 1731, all goods contribute in general average accord­
ing to the invoice, with the charges till on board, except the premium.
Each bill of lading is looked upon as a whole, and has to contribute
according to the full invoice amount, without reference to any part being
in a damaged state or totally destroyed. It is only when the whole
contents of a bill of lading are destroyed, or so much damaged that the
consignee refuses to receive them, that no contribution takes place. A ll
goods contribute according to the full invoice value, provided they be
received at all, and the receipt o f any part of a bill of lading is tanta­
mount to having received the whole.
In the above case, the bark Stag (the policy being on property on board)
sailed from Matanzas for Hamburg, with a cargo of 2125 boxes of sugar,
and 78 bags of coffee. Three hundred and fifty boxes of sugar were the



property of the plaintiff, and were equal in value to the amount insured.
On the passage, the bark sustained damage from the perils of the sea,
and 88 boxes of sugar belonging to the plaintiff were totally destroyed.
Fifty-two boxes were damaged over 50 per cent, o f their value. The
vessel having been compelled by the damages sustained to put into Ber­
muda for repairs, an adjustment o f a general average contribution was
made on her arrival at Hamburg, and the plaintiff was assessed on the
invoice value of his sugars, without any deduction or allowance made on
account o f that lost or damaged, as above stated; and the amount so
assessed was paid by his agent, and this action was brought to recover it
of the underwriters. The underwriters paid the plaintiff the value of
the sugars which were totally lost, and sixty per cent, of the value of the
damaged parcel, hut refused to pay the amount claimed in this action, on
the ground, that the adjustment at Hamburg was incorrect, and ought to
be revised. But the court decided, that although the adjustment was
a singular one, yet as it was fairly made, and according to the laws of
the port of destination, it was binding upon the underwriters.
S eaworthiness . — In the case of Copeland v. New England Marine
Insurance Company, which was tried in the Supreme Judicial Court in
Boston in April last, it appeared, that after the vessel insured (the brig
Adams, Capt. Gillespie, o f Wilmington, N. C . ) reached Jamaica, the cap­
tain, who had been taken sick on the outward voyage, acted in a most
singular manner. He was a man o f good reputation for skill and sobriety,
but at that port, his conduct was very boisterous and strange; he quar­
relled with his physician and his mate, and was almost constantly intoxi­
cated. He took charge of the vessel, however, on her return voyage to
Wilmington, and she was lost on the Isle o f Pines. The defendants con­
tended, that the vessel was unseaworthy, and that the loss was fraudulent
on the part of the master. Judge W ilde instructed the jury, that if the
master of a vessel becomes incompetent to the command before the vessel
sails from her outward port, the mate ought to take command, or have
the matter inquired into by the American Consul, or the consignee or
agent of the vessel; and if the vessel sails under the command o f a cap­
tain who is incompetent from any cause, and if she might have been lost
from such incompetency, the underwriters are excused, even though a
loss should happen from a cause which had no relation to the captain's
incompetency. But if the master is competent when the ship sails, but
afterwards becomes incompetent, and the ship is lost from that incompe­
tency, the underwriters are not excused. In this case, the Jury returned
a verdict for the defendants. The plaintiff moved for a new trial, on the
ground that the Judge misdirected the Jury, and the question will pro­
bably be argued before the whole court, at the next March term.

Judge Hopkinson, of the District Court of the United States, in a recent
trial o f a claim for the wages of a seaman, expressed his disapprobation,
in strong terms, of the practice o f putting our seamen into foreign jails
and dungeons, at the mercy of the police officers, for offences by no
means requiring this severe and extreme remedy. For ordinary miscon­
duct, or insubordination, the law gave the master of a vessel power suffi­
cient to enforce obedience, and maintain discipline onboard his vessel—
that it is only in cases of extraordinary violence that a man should be taken
on shore and thrown into a prison. The judge said he would take this


Mercantile Law.

occasion to repeat what he had more than once said before, and to correct
an error into which captains continue to fall. They seem to believe that if
they can get the order or consent o f the consul for their proceedings, it will
be full justification for them when they come home. He wished them to
understand that he would judge for himself, after hearing both parties and
their evidence, of the legality and necessity o f these summary incarcera- tions; and the part the consul may have taken in them would have but
little weight with him. He said he had never known an instance in
which a consul had refused the application of a captain to imprison a sea­
man ; furnishing him with a certificate, duly ornamented with his official
seal, vouching for the offence o f the victim, o f which, generally, he knew
nothing but from the representations of the captain or officers of the vessel.
The judge said he never suffered their certificates to be read ; that they
were weaker than ex parte depositions. He then made some remarks
that may be worthy of the attention o f our government. He said, our
consuls, unfortunately, are merchants depending entirely upon the profits
o f their commercial business for their living, especially upon consign­
ments from the United States; that it is, therefore, o f a primary impor­
tance to them to have the good will o f the masters of vessels, that they
may make a good report of them to their owners. He said, that an
American gentleman of high intelligence, who has travelled much, and
known many of our consuls, has, in the book he has published, expressed
his regret that they are not supported by salaries from the public treasury.
As they now are, these important appointments are placed exclusively
in the hands of merchants, who, he says, “ are under strong inducements
to make their offices subservient to their commercial business.”
In the case o f the William Harris, decided by Judge Ware, of the
District Court of the United States, in Portland, Maine, in 1837, the same
doctrine was laid down ; and he held, that an American consul had no
right to imprison seamen in a foreign port, and that a master who procured
his men to be imprisoned without good cause, is not exempted from his
liability to them for damages, by showing that the imprisonment was
ordered by the consul.
The case of Theodore D. Parker, of Boston, v. Brancher, Delius, Sp
Co., merchants, o f Hamburg, was an action in which the plaintiff claimed
damages of the defendants for selling certain coffee, consigned to them
by Parker, below the limit prescribed by the consignor. It appeared,
that in 1832, Parker consigned to the defendants 1,640 hags of coffee, on
which the latter made a large advance. Parker sent a letter o f instruc­
tions limiting the sale at a certain price therein named. Afterwards,
Brancher, Delius, & Co. commenced a suit against Parker, to recover the
amount of their advances. W hen that suit was commenced, the coffee
had not been sold, but having been sold pending the suit for a sum less
than the advances and expenses and interest, credit was given by Brancher,
Delius, & Co. for the net proceeds, and they recovered for the balance.
The coffee having been sold for a sum much below the limit fixed by
Parker, when he consigned it, he commenced the present action, and
claimed to recover o f the defendants : 1. For not selling the coffee at the
limit, in 1833 ; 2. For afterwards selling it below the limit. At the trial,
in Boston, Chief Justice Shaw instructed the Jury, that a commission
merchant, having received goods to sell at a certain price, and made

Commission Merchants.


advances upon such goods, had a right to reimburse himself, by selling
such goods at the fair market price, though below the limit, if the con­
signor, upon application, and after a reasonable time, refused to repay
the advances.
The Jury found for the defendants, and the plaintiff moved for a new
trial, on the ground that the instructions of the Judge were wrong. The
full court decided, in April last, that the rule laid down by the Chief
Justice was correct, and they awarded judgment on the verdict.
At a very recent trial, in Boston, the question arose, whether the con­
signee o f goods was limited to the invoiced prices, if nothing was said
by the consignor. Judge W ilde said, this would depend altogether on
custom among commission merchants; and that the party who set up
the custom must prove it to be universal.
A most interesting case, involving a perversion o f property on the part
of the agents, and subjecting them, in the result, to heavy damages, was
lately decided in the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts, on an
action o f assumpsit, brought by Robert C. Hooper, of Boston, against
Messrs. Casamajor, Nuiry, & Co., merchants in St. Jago de Cuba, in
the West Indies, to recover damages for a breach o f contract, by which
the defendants had agreed to load the bark Lydia, chartered by the plain­
tiff, with sugar and coffee in Cuba, and despatch her for St. Petersburgh,
in Russia. It appeared in evidence that the arrangement was made at
Boston in March, 1837, with the late John S. Gibson, one o f the defend­
ants— after which Gibson sailed for Cuba. A letter addressed to John
S. Gibson was put in evidence, and the part of the letter on which the
parties contended for a different construction is given in italics; the
defendants contending that it limited the sugar to nine reals, and that if
they had purchased above this rate the plaintiff, if the adventure proved
unprofitable, could have thrown it upon them, and the plaintiff thought it
contained no such limitation, but left it discretionary; in which opinion
we concur from the phraseology and character o f the letter.
B oston , March 3,1837.
John S. Gibson, Esq.
o f Messrs. Casamajor, Nuiry, & Co.
Dear Sir-— I have been induced, from the favorable representations yon have made
to me o f your market at St. Jago de Cuba and Trinidad, and from the confidence
which I place in the good judgment of your highly esteemed house, to charter the
fine Swedish bark Lydia, for the purpose o f loading her at St. Jago, with a cargo of
white sugar for St. Petersburg.
This vessel I presume will carry about 1400 boxes, and will sail from here m the
course o f a week. I f prices o f sugar should be more favorable for purchasing at Trin­
idad than at St. Jago, I trust you will (as you have informed me it will be quite as
convenient to your house) send the bark there to load, as the only expense I can incur
thereby will be the port fees at Trinidad.
You are aware how depressed the sugar market is in Europe, and that a loss appears
certain unless you can buy this cargo at not exceeding nine reals per aroba. I hope that
your expectations of getting them at less, and o f selling the exchange at a good premium,
will be realized.
I would call your attention to the importance o f selecting perfectly dry and strong
grained sugars, and as white as possible. It is also important to get large boxes, on
account o f the tares in Russia.
To provide funds for this cargo, I shall send you a letter of credit on London for
.£6,000 sterling, which sum you are of opinion will be sufficient for the purposes of
loading the vessel. I f unexpectedly you are unable to procure a full cargo o f white
sugars within the lay days stipulated in the charter party, you may ship, to fill her
up, 300 boxes o f good, dry, strong grained, yellow sugars, to be landed at Copenha­


Mercantile Law.

gen, the hills of lading to be filled accordingly. This is the commencement o f a
correspondence which will continue, I trust, a long while, and lead to mutual confi­
dence and profit. If the market at St. Jago should be as favorable as we anticipate,
please to advise me immediately on your arrival, as it is my intention in that case to
send another vessel to your house.
When the cargo is shipped on board the Lydia, please to ship me some 20 boxes
o f sugar out o f the parcel she has been loaded with, and your draft on me shall meet
due honor.
Wishing you a pleasant passage, I am, dear sir, yours, respectfully and truly,

On the 15th March the Lydia sailed, and hy her Mr. Hooper forwarded
a letter of credit for £7,000 sterling, on Messrs. Morrison, Cryder, & Co.,
Bankers in London, stating in his letter,
It was Mr. Gibson’s opinion, that £6,000 would be ample for the purpose o f load­
ing a cargo o f white sugars, and you will please, therefore, to use this credit to such
extent for sugars as may be necessary, and invest the balance in green coffee, suitable
for the St. Petersburg market.

On the 21st of March, and again on the 8th o f April, the defendants
wrote to the plaintiff, that they deemed it very doubtful whether they
should he likely to load the Lydia at any thing like his ideas, and that
they should probably accept a freight for her.
On the 11th of April, the Lydia arrived at St. Jago. By the charter
party her lay days were to commence on the 21st of April, and continue
thirty days.
On the 12th of April the defendants wrote the plaintiff, that little or
nothing was doing in sugars, and that they had written to Trinidad to
inquire what could be done there. “ In the mean time,” they say, “ if we
can execute here at ten reals, we shall do so, as the extent o f your ideas
as mentioned in the conversation with the writer.”
On the 25th of April, after stating that their advices from Trinidad
were equally discouraging for getting sugars at fair prices, they say, “ un­
der these circumstances, taken in connexion with what you say under date
o f March 3d, &c., we cannot believe that your interest would be studied,
were we to load the Lydia at over nine reals, although your conversation
with Mr. Gibson authorizes us so to do.”
The Lydia was not loaded for the plaintiff, but was let to freight to one
Sanchez, and sailed from St. Jago for Trinidad on the 2d of May, and
sixteen days afterwards the defendants wrote the plaintiff as follow s:
In conformity to our last advices, we have let Don Victoriano Sanchez have the
Lydia, at the same charter you were to pay, to load here and at Trinidad a cargo o f
coffee and some sugar for Europe. Her wooden and foul bottom were serious objec­
tions, and we were very glad to get her off our hands as well as we have done,
although we did our best to obtain for you something more. Your letter o f credit for
£7,000, you will o f course consider null and void.

Evidence was given that Don Victoriano Sanchez was the clerk o f the
defendants, that his assumed ownership was fictitious, and that the cargo
shipped was the property of the defendants, who were, at the time, largely
indebted to Messrs. Morrison, Cryder, & Co., and that the cargo was
intended for them ; that on the 22d April they wrote to Morrison, Cryder,
& Co., that in consequence of the great scarcity o f vessels, they were
prepared to see unusually low prices for the remaining two thirds o f an
abundant crop ; that they could find no bills to remit, and they were there­
fore compelled to send sugars instead of bills, while they had the letter
o f credit, of the plaintiff, on Morrison, Cryder, & Co., for £7,000 sterling,

Commission Merchants.


bills against which would have'been every way satisfactory and unex­
On the 21st of April, the day the Lydia’s lay days commenced at St.
Jago, they wrote to Booring & Overbeck, at Trinidad, that in all proba­
bility the Lydia would go there, and take the sugars B. & 0 . held for
the defendants ; that their agents had purchased 500 boxes good sugars
at 7 and 9 reals — that they had reason to believe that sugars would
decline; and yet, before the first lay day commenced, they had deter­
mined to load the Lydia for their own account, and actually sent her
away before the lay days had half expired ; that she was never offered
to freight, except to one person, of whom they asked £ 5 10s., while she
was nominally let to Sanchez, but in reality appropriated to themselves,
at £ 3 9s. per ton ; that instead o f a cargo of coffee and some sugars,
the Lydia was loaded with a cargo o f sugars and some coffee, precisely
the cargo ordered by the plaintiff, for the St. Petersburg market; that
Sanchez wrote to Booring & Overbeck, that he was the owner o f the
sugars they held, having purchased them from Messrs. Casamajor, Nuiry, & Co., and ordered them to ship them by the Lydia, which he had
chartered for that purpose, and that he forwarded them copies of the
identical instructions sent out by Mr. Hooper, to Messrs. Casamajor,
Nuiry, & Co., as to selections o f sugars, &c., which he said he had re­
ceived from a friend of great experience in the Russia trade.
No new charter was ever made to Sanchez, and the captain o f the
Lydia learned for the first time, in St. Petersburg, that Mr. Hooper had
no interest in the cargo. The plaintiff contending that the whole transac­
tion on the part of the defendants was fraudulent— their advices of the
prices o f sugars deceptive— that they had intentionally abused his confi­
dence, and appropriated to their own advantage an adventure which he
had planned with much care, and from which he expected large returns.
The defendants insisted, and offered evidence to prove, that the whole
transaction was perfectly fair and honorable, and their conduct through­
out was intended to be that of faithful agents, acting for the best interest
o f their employer, and in supposed accordance with his wishes; that the
letter of 3d March limited the sugars to nine reals, and that if they had
purchased above, they would have transcended their authority, and ren­
dered themselves responsible to the plaintiff, who might have thrown the
whole loss on them, if loss had accrued, and that it was impossible for them
to have purchased the sugars at the prices named by the plaintiff, and being
unable to do so, they did the best they could to save the plaintiff harmless
on his charter party. That it was true that Sanchez was their clerk, and
the cargo shipped on board the Lydia was their o w n ; it had, however,
no connexion with Mr. Hooper, and was simply a precaution on their
part, o f shipping in the name o f another, because o f the great excitement
in the commercial world, and to protect themselves from loss, by failing
in L ond on ; and as it had no bearing on Mr. Hooper’s interest, it was a
precaution they had aright to use, and o f which he had no right to com­
plain. That there was great difficulty in foreign bills at the time, and
that they were unable to dispose of the plaintiff’s funds satisfactorily.
On the question o f damages, there was some diversity o f opinion; Mr.
S. T . Williams estimated the sum actually made by the defendants at
about $6,000, and that if the sugars had been purchased at nine reals,
and sold as directed by the plaintiff, at St. Petersburg, the profit would
VOL. i . — n o . i .


Mercantile Law.

have been about $18,000. Gen. Tyler estimated the profit at about
$9,000, supposing the cargo to have been laid in at 9 reals.
The cause was tried at great length, commencing on Wednesday, and
terminating on Saturday. On Monday morning, Judge Dewey charged
the Jury, the counsel on both sides submitting the construction to be put
on the letter of the 3d o f March to the direction o f the Judge.
He instructed the Jury, that all agreements and conversations prior to
the 3d March were to be disregarded, as a contract in writing could
not be affected by what had previously taken place, — it was conclusive
on the parties; any conversation or agreement afterwards, which went
to vary or control the letter, was proper matter for the Jury. T hey
had to take into consideration— Firstly, the legal effect of the plaintiff’s
letter of the 3d March, whether it contained a restriction on the defen­
dants not to purchase at a higher rate than therein mentioned; and, sec­
ondly, whether that letter had been varied or controlled by subsequent
acts or conversations, and in what respect.
If, on reflection, the Jury were satisfied that the defendants were limited
to nine reals, then it was incumbent on the plaintiff to show that the
sugars could have been obtained at his lim it; or, secondly, that subsequent
arrangements had enlarged the contract of 3d March, or the plaintiff could
not recover, whatever the motives o f the defendants might have been in
applying the vessel to their own purposes.
If, on the other hand, the Jury were satisfied that by the intention o f
the parties a discretionary power was vested in the defendants to purchase
or not, they could then consider whether they had acted fairly and faith­
fully, or had intentionally appropriated the ship to their own purposes,
and violated their faith towards the plaintiff.
The Jury, after an absence of an hour and a half, returned with a
verdict for the plaintiff, for $12,000: Choate & Russell for the plaintiff;
C. G. Loring for the defendant.

OF T O N N A G E .

In the Circuit Court o f New York, before Judge Edwards. — Louis
De Valier and Edward Lamont vs. John B. Woodgate. This was an
action on a charter party entered into by the parties in July, 1836, by
which the defendant chartered of the plaintiffs a schooner called the
Margaret, to proceed from Nassau, N. P., to the island of Mayagua,
there to take the cargo from the wreck of the stranded brig Victor, deliver
it at Jamaica, take in a cargo at that island, and return to this port.
She was guaranteed to be 600 barrels tonnage, and the consideration of
the charter party was $700.
The Margaret proceeded on her voyage, the defendant accompanying
her, took a quantity o f staves from the wreck of the Victor, delivered them
at Jamaica, took in a cargo o f pimento, and returned to this c ity ; and
this action was brought for the recovery of the $700 which the defendant
agreed to pay for such service.
Payment was contested on the ground that the Margaret did not take
on board as much from the wreck of the Victor as she should have taken
if her tonnage was equal to what it was guaranteed to be in the charter
party; and, if her tonnage did not equal that guaranty, and the plaintiffs
had deceived the defendant as to her tonnage, they were not entitled to
payment at all.

The Principles o f Copartnership.


Judge Edwards charged the Jury, that it was not pretended hy the
defendant that the Margaret did not perform her voyage, and complete
it, pursuant to the terms of the charter, and that the plaintiffs were con­
sequently entitled to recover the sum stipulated in that instrument.
Whether she had or had not taken from the wreck o f the Victor as much
cargo as she should have taken, has no bearing upon the merits of this
suit. If the defendant has been aggrieved by any such neglect, or was
imposed upon in relation to the tonnage of the plaintiffs’ vessel, he cannot
use such neglect or imposition as a set-off to the claim under the charter
party, hut must bring his separate action for damages. Verdict for the
plaintiffs, for the whole amount claimed, with interest and costs.
With all due submission to the learned judge, we dissent from his
interpretation of the law. According to the French ordinance, the mas­
ter who uses deception in representing the burthen of his vessel, provided
it exceed the fortieth part, shall answer the merchant in damages ; but
the better understood and more equitable decision o f the English law is,
if a ship be freighted by the ton, and found of less burthen than expressed,
the payment shall be only for the real burthen; thus, if a ship be freighted
for two hundred tons or thereabouts, it is commonly reduced to five tons
more or less. Now this vessel was guaranteed to carry six hundred
barrels, and deduction ought to have been made for her deficient bur­
then, unless it was so trifling as to be unimportant; but to drive the
merchant to a suit for damages against the master, is not simplifying or
administering justice, but rendering the process tedious and oftentimes
unattainable. The objection of the charterer that her . tonnage being
unequal, they were not entitled to any payment at all, was, to say the
least of it, extremely frivolous.

A rt. X . — PO PU LAR


[The following is the first of a series of Lectures on Commercial Law, delivered
before the “ Mercantile Library Association,” by our fellow-citizen, D an iel L ord , J r .,
Esq., so well known and so highly esteemed as a Commercial Lawyer. These Lec­
tures are original in our work, having never before been published. The first illus­
trates the “ condition of copartners towards the public,” with the method, fidelity, and
minuteness for which Mr. Lord is so remarkable. To our commercial readers they
must prove highly acceptable ; and to those about entering into copartnership, many
Of the suggestions will be eminently useful.]
U nion constitutes strength. Man singly, although endowed with
reason, and thus made lord of the creation, is nevertheless weak, and
incapable of effecting great results : it is by his propensity to associate, to
unite with others, to multiply his individual powers by judicious combi­
nations, that all his great works are accomplished.
This principle, so essential to the great results in the history of man,
exerts its influence also in the smallest and most elementary combina­
tions of human effort: and in the advancement o f private wealth, the
union of individual enterprise, capital, influence, knowledge, or skill, is
a no less powerful and successful means.
Hence arises the relation of mercantile copartnership; individuals
agree together to unite their efforts and advantages, and to act thus
united as one and for the common benefit: this relation, its origin and
consequences, are to be the subject o f our present remarks.


The Principles o f Copartnership.

Partnership is the union, by mutual agreement, o f two or more per­
sons for some commercial purpose, to be pursued for the common gain
and loss of the parties. It is in some instances the mere union of capa­
cities to transact business, without any property in either o f the parties ;
whose whole means o f action are their skill, their perseverance, and their
industry. In some instances, it is a union of capital to capital chiefly;
as in the instances o f private banking copartnerships, which are conducted
wholly by agencies. In some instances it is the union o f the industry,
skill, and integrity of one, with the wealth, the business reputation, and
organized establishment of others. It is sometimes a union for a sin­
gle adventure, sometimes for a series o f adventures o f a particular kind,
sometimes for all kinds of business at a particular place, or at all places,
for a specified or for an indefinite term. W hile the extent of this rela­
tion of copartnership is- exceedingly various, yet in all its shapes it is
subject to almost entirely the same principles and rules.
The object of the copartnership union, is to give to all the combining
parties the benefit o f the individual acts of each : these acts therefore
are performed in the name o f all, and this name is usually styled the
“ firm,” the name of their union, or the union of their names.
The acts o f each in this name o f union are therefore in the eye of the
world to be deemed the acts of all, and all the combining parties are held
responsible for them : and as the combining, the uniting, the holding up
to the public of such a union, is what gives to it the great advantage of
the confidence o f a ll; as it is a declaration in effect by each party of the
trustworthiness of the whole, and as the public can only judge by the
external signs which the union presents, the public have a right to treat
this ostensible union as a copartnership, although by private agreement
the contrary be stipulated among the parties themselves. It is therefore
always to be borne in mind, in considering whether a partnership exists,
that it may exist as to the public at large, by reason of the ostensible
conduct of the parties; while it may be prevented from existing, and
from giving to the parties partners’ rights, by private stipulations ; stipu­
lations invalid it is true towards uninformed strangers, but binding
between those who have agreed to them.
Copartnership holds out each copartner as authorized to act for the
others; to bind them by his dispositions o f property, and by his contracts.
The extent and the limitations of this authority, its commencement,
progress, and termination, form the body o f the law o f partnership.
A partnership is formed by the mutual agreement of the parties to
enter into the union of effort and interest above described. It is always
supposed to be a voluntary union. One cannot be a copartner with
another, without the mutual consent of all the copartners. Hence, one
copartner, by selling out his interest, does not enable the purchaser to
stand in his stead, and claim the benefits of his place in the union. For
this, the consent of the others is required. The rights which copartner­
ship confers, and the powers it bestows, are too extensive and too
confidential to be thus bargained for. If one o f several adventurers in
a private joint speculation, being insured, and the property meeting loss,
abandon it to the insurers, the latter, who take because the law throws
the ownership on them and they cannot avoid it, do not thereby become
subject to the obligations, nor to the interference of the other joint own­
ers. The mutual assent therefore of all the parties is essential to create
the copartnership.
But while this assent is essential, yet it is sometimes implied and in­

The Principles o f Copartnership.


ferred, where it has never in fact been given ; and this upon the principle
o f ethics, that we are not only bound by what we actually declare, but by
what we, by our acts or neglects, induce others to believe. Consequently,
by holding out to the world such signs and evidences of a copartnership,
as do, by their necessary effect upon the minds o f others, persuade them
o f its existence, a party may subject himself as copartner, who has never
contemplated receiving any o f its benefits, or coming under any o f its
obligations. Thus, should a father see notes in his son’s hand-writing,
using the firm of '■‘■himself and son,” and accredit such notes, either by
endorsing them, or receiving them, or in any manner giving them cur­
rency, he would give the world reason to believe himself a copartner.
So, by permitting a sign to be put up of a similar firm, and trading at,
and frequenting the store, without complaint, or causing such complaint
to be made public, he might be made responsible as copartner, without,
in fact, having made any agreement for it, or intended the same in any
manner. It is on this principle also that copartners often remain liable
after the dissolution of their copartnerships : having by the copartnership
union held out to the world the assurances o f copartnership, the world
has a right to continue to believe these assurances, not only while the
agreement itself exists, but long after its termination, and after every
party to it has lost all right to act under it, until the public has been
apprized by the parties o f the discontinuance of the union.
This wholesome principle o f implying an agreement, from a man’s
acts, without his positive assent, is one to be constantly kept in view.
It is one of perfect justice, operating to enforce the most entire frankness
and openness of conduct, and exacting a diligence to prevent error; and
is alike honorable to the law, and profitable to the state. It is a principle
o f evidence, however, and does not violate the position, that consent is
essential to a copartnership; it only forces the presumption of consent;
it is consent against one’s w ill; a consent not the.less advantageous, how­
ever, nor in the eye of the law less real. Words are acts, and expressive
on es; but other acts may often be far more expressive of the truth.
This consent will also be implied in another case, to an extent greatly
beyond the design of the parties. Whenever there is an agreement be­
tween two or more persons to share the eventual loss or gain, or to par­
ticipate in the profit or loss of an adventure or business, although it be
also agreed that this shall not constitute a copartnership, and although
the whole agreement be unknown to those who deal, in relation to the
adventure, with one of the parties, yet such participation constitutes
them partners, renders them liable for all debts and liabilities growing
out of the acts of either in relation to the business. Here other princi­
ples o f liability come into v ie w : the parties have not held each other
out to the world as copartners at a ll; they have invited no one’s confi­
dence ; they have conduced to mislead no m an; they have hung out no
signs of consent; and they have also never consented in fact to be bound
by the partnership obligations, but have stipulated together to the con­
trary. Upon what principle then, in this case, does this assumed con­
sent, this forced liability, rest ?
It is to be remarked, that by consenting to a participation in the profit,
the consenting parties have agreed to take all the benefit of the transac­
tion ; they are benefited by all contracts and acts bearing upon the
adventure, either to increase its productiveness, or to diminish its ill
success : all such acts are therefore done for their benefit. Next, consider
by whom are such acts or contracts induced ? They are by ostensible


The Principles o f Copartnership.

persons necessarily conducting this adventure for the advantage o f the
secret participators o f profit. W e then have these two elements o f re­
sponsibility ; the acts are done for the benefit o f the parties held liable,
and are invited or directed by persons necessarily acting in their business.
Is there then any plainer principle, than that one whom I direct or invite
to make a bargain, or to do any act in pursuance of my enterprises, which
act is to be for my advantage, is to all intents my agent, whatever I may
choose to call him ? Are not his acts my acts ? Ought not I, who am
to receive the benefit of them, to bear their burthen ? B y this consent,
therefore, to take the benefit of a transaction, I do make those necessa­
rily employed my agents. I cannot, by miscalling them, by pretending a
different relation, or by provisoes irreconcilable with the true character
o f the affair, render them any less than my agents. And as they are my
agents by reason of my join t interest in their acts, they are my copart­
ners ; and by connecting myself thus with them in interest, my acts have
consented that I should be bound by their conduct.
Interesting questions upon this subject have arisen : it has been urged,
that as the crediting parties did not rely upon the belief of a copartner­
ship, they could only claim the benefit of the agreement as it actually
was ; resembling the case o f one acting in his own name for another, but
exceeding his authority, whereas the agency neither actually nor ostensi­
bly existed, liability might be rejected. Y et courts, (with the wisdom
and firmness which the common law exacts, both from its priests and
from its disciples,) have adhered to the principle, that the acts constitute
an agency of joint owners; and that acts should continue to be heard
in preference to words, however pretending.
Summing up the preceding observations, it results, that copartnership
always imports mutual agreement to such union; that such agreement
is, first, directly made; second, implied from ostensible acts, even against
actual private dissent; and, third, implied from participation o f profits,
without other actual or ostensible consent.
It is fit to add here, what constitutes copartnership by participation of
profits : merely receiving pay for services by a commission or per centage
upon the amount sold, or receiving the amount which an adventure may
yield over a certain sum, or certain per centage of profit, or receiving in­
terest out of profits, or an annuity, not depending upon profits, for the
good will of a firm by a retired partner, is not a participation of profits
within the rule. The party in none of these cases stands in the place
and with all the consequences to himself of the character of ow ner; the
acts done do not to the same extent affect his interest; he is not, in fact,
owner. And, although the application o f the principle sometimes com­
pels us to use the microscope in discovering distinctions, yet they can be
discovered by those who are obliged to try. The rule may be plainly
laid down, that, to render one a partner in consequence of his receipts
from a business, such receipts must be based upon no more nor less
than a simple participation o f its profits.
W hile, however, this participation renders the participators partners,
and so, liable to the world, it does not give them partners’ rights as be­
tween each other ; they cannot claim the equal right to take the custody
o f the property, nor to dispose o f it as copartners, nor otherwise than
according to their joint agreement. Their own private arrangement
must go into effect between themselves who consented to i t ; no reasons
exist to force a different liability upon them, nor to prevent the operation
o f that they have chosen.

The Principles o f Copartnership.


It is to be added here, that young men should be cautious in deciding
upon these offers of participation of profits instead of salary, or in addi­
tion to it. Generally, the offers are made without the expectation, on
either side, that losing or ruinous liabilities accrue; they are generally
advantageous offers, designed simply to reward assiduous industry, to
attach a valuable assistant, or to lay hold of useful business connexions.
But they are too often accepted with the impatient eagerness o f youth,
showing off the spirit of the young horse, feeling his strength, activity,
and fire, panting and neighing for the dangers of the field, without the
training for its duties, or a knowledge o f its dangers. Such offers are
often embraced, because the youth would feel himself beginning business,
interested in the profits ; because he wishes, in his moments of vanity, to
boast among his companions o f being member of such a great house. He
may be induced, too, by motives the most generous, involving the better­
ing o f the condition o f a dependent mother, sisters, or wife. Thousands
of motives— not even suspicious, and adapted to his every virtue and
every vice— recommend his acceptance of such offers. Let him, how­
ever, examine well his steps. Let him judge without illusion. Let him
here remember, that he becomes a partner so far as that relation can be
disastrous, while he may in fact be a mere clerk so far as it might be
advantageous. Such offers are not to be lightly declined, nor suspiciously
received, but they are to be coolly considered; and here the wisdom o f
age, the advice o f cautious friends, become indispensable guides; and
patience, not to be too eager to get rich, a necessary virtue. Such offers
are very often openings to wealth, character, and influence; also are
they sometimes avenues in early life to irretrievable ruin.
Having thus considered the creation of a copartnership, our next in­
quiry is, what the partners are authorized by it to do.
This requires a consideration o f the public or actual objects of the co­
partnership. Usually these are wholly commercial and mercantile ; they
are to transact the business o f buying and selling, or an agency business ;
a joint adventure to some other p lace; the navigating of ships for the
common profit and loss o f the owners. The legal authority o f the part­
ners takes its form and shape from the ordinary scope and objects of the
partnership business, and is limited to their contracts; and acts done by
each copartner in the ordinary or fair prosecution of the ostensible business
of the firm, are obligatory on i t ; beyond this they are not binding on the
partnership; they are unauthorized, and can only be made to affect the
copartnership by showing the actual consent o f all its members. Thus,
a house dealing in dry goods would not ordinarily be bound by the pur­
chase, by one of its partners, of a ship, unless the purchase were sanction­
ed by his copartners. So, a house running a line of packets to another
port, would not ordinarily be bound by a purchase of hardware by one
o f its partners. A house dealing in hardware would not be bound by
a purchase of dry goods, nor would any mercantile firm be charged
with stock speculations.
The principle is, that by openly pursuing a specific kind of business,
the copartnership limits are announced, and the copartners are not to be
deemed authorized to transact other kinds on the credit o f their firm.
The common purpose o f the union being specific, the acts and contracts
o f the parties having reference to this purpose, must conform to the con­
templation of the parties, nor have the public reason to hold it otherwise.
This principle is one which, followed, would save many losses and dis­
appointments to persons indiscreetly giving credit to the members of


The Principles o f Copartnership.

creditable houses, speculating on private account, and often using the
credit of their firms for this purpose. Persons giving such credit, and
finding the acts disavowed by the firm, often complain of the hardships
of their case, that having credited the partner of a firm who had the use
o f its name, they are not entitled to its responsibility. But the true source
o f their complaint lies in their ignorance o f this principle : the copartner
is member of a union, only in a specific business ; he has the name o f the
firm only for the purposes o f that business. And the crediting party,
when a copartner is acting out o f the copartnership line, must inquire o f
the other copartners if the act he sanctioned : if for delicacy’s sake, or
for the sake o f an advantageous bargain, he forbears this precaution, then
he must, in the event o f a disavowal by the firm, charge his loss to his
own false delicacy or over eagerness for gain, and not complain of the law.
A more general knowledge o f this principle, and more caution in giving
credits,— the certainty that inquiries would be made into the authority for
out of the way speculations, would prevent many members of copartner­
ships from being tempted to violate their integrity and loyalty, by the sup­
posed possession of a power to pledge the established credit of their firms :
a violation which, in the unauthorized use o f the names o f others, has in it
all the moral guilt of forgery, and differs from it only in legal impunity.
Another limitation of the power of a copartner is, that no copartner is
authorized to pledge the credit o f his firm for his own debt. The debt being
of the individual, the payment of that debt clearly has no ordinary con­
nection with the purposes of the joint copartnership, but the contrary:
and however much it may add to a man’s rank or standing to belong to
a respectable copartnership, yet no one has a right to presume the copart­
nership to have placed their credit at his disposal for his own private
advantage. The very object and purpose of a copartnership imports a
postponement of the individual purposes and engagements of the parties
to the advancement of the joint interests : and no one can rightly suppose
that copartners intend to allow their joint property to be charged with
engagements, not promoting the common purposes, but, by burdening,
tending to defeat it. In such cases, therefore, upon every principle, the
firm is not bound. Such obligations are often attempted in the mutual
bad faith of the giver and taker of the obligation : they both know what
the purpose of the obligation is, and they can only forbear asking the
express sanction of the copartners from the belief that it will be refused;
they therefore attempt to create an obligation in secrecy and in fraud,
and the failure o f the attempt ought always to be extolled as a triumph
o f the law, and needs not to be justified as one of its salutary hardships.
In like manner, as the copartnership’s name cannot he pledged for the
individual use o f a copartner, much less can it be pledged for the debt or
purposes of a stranger. A ll suretyships and accommodation paper by a
copartner, in the firm’s name, for the benefit of others, are void as to the
firm, unless sanctioned by all the copartners. Pledging the responsibility
of the union for the mere benefit of strangers to it, is clearly, and in the
understanding of all men, not within the ordinary scope o f the copartner­
ship business : nor does the circumstance that a commission is paid to the
copartner thus using the name o f his house vary the matter : for unless
the business be a guaranty business, such a transaction is without its
line : insuring the solvency o f a stranger is as much out o f the circle of
a mere trading house, as insuring ships or buildings; it is therefore not
authorized either actually or ostensibly, and does not bind the firm.


The Principles o f Copartnership.


If however the business of guaranty or engaging for the payment of
the debts of others be a part of the business of the house, as in case of
auction and general commission houses, then guaranties made by either
copartner, in the ordinary course of its business, but not otherwise nor
farther, bind the copartnership. Even in these cases, therefore, caution
must be used, as well as fairness and good faith, on the part of the creditor,
before he relies upon the name of the firm taken upon a suretyship or
obligation for the benefit o f others.
And in all these cases, (negotiable paper excepted,) the burden of proof
does not lie on the copartnership to exonerate itself f but, as the affair is
not within the ordinary range of its ostensible business, the burden of
proof will lie upon him who seeks to charge the firm. He must always
show that the engagement was made for the ostensible objects of the co­
partnership, or that it has received the sanction of the copartners. And
he must prove the sanction of a ll; that o f a'majority will not suffice; for
as their only joint control and authority is given for the common purpose,
when that common purpose is abandoned, no authority in any one to bind
the others is conceded, and a majority are as powerless as an individual.
In all such cases, where the copartnership name is improperly used, a
disposition of the copartnership property for the same object would be
equally invalid: If he cannot create an obligation to be enforced hereafter
upon the common property, the copartner cannot effect an immediate
transfer for a similar purpose. The possession of the property is only
joint possession; individual possession is understood to be for all, and
therefore is no evidence of right of property or authority, except for the
common or joint purposes of the firm.
W hile, however, the copartnership power is thus confined to the joint
objects ostensibly pursued, yet in the promotion of these objects it is wholly
unlimited. Thus, although a dry goods firm in Pearl street cannot, without
their express consent, be bound for the contract of their copartner for ten
shares of stock, they may be bound by purchases of dry goods to any
amount, however unwarranted by their actual plans, purposes, or instruc­
tions to their copartner, and however ruinous. The public know the
general business of the house, but do not, and cannot, know its private
purposes or secret restrictions; as to these, by uniting together they have
trusted their all to their mutual good faith. Nor are the persons, dealing
in the faith of such contracts within the scope of ordinary business, at all
affected by any abuse of authority or fraud in the subsequent disposal of the
property: it is only their duty to see that the contract is originally well war­
ranted ; it is the duty of the copartners themselves to see to all afterwards.
In the modern course of business, negotiable paper is universally used
in the pursuit of their affairs, by all partnerships and individuals indis­
criminately ; and the purposes of commerce requiring that the circulation
of these obligations should be protected, every such obligation appearing
on its face to be in the name o f the firm, is presumed to be for the pur­
poses of the firm ; except it can be shown to have been taken by the actual
claiming holder for purposes not warranted by its business. Hence, ne­
gotiable paper made by a copartner in the name of his firm, is the usual
mode o f attempting to create improper charges upon i t ; and, to a great
degree, it is a successful one. Although in the hands of him who accepts
or takes the paper, thus unwarrantably made, knowing its improper pur­
pose, it is void ; yet the moment it passes into the hands o f men, taking
it fairly for what it purports to be, and parting with property on the faith
VOL. i . — n o . i .


The Principles o f Copartnership.

o f it, it becomes valid from the policy o f the la w ; the firm must meet it,
seeking such remedy as they may against those who illegally combined
originally to put the paper into circulation.
One copartner cannot execute sealed instruments in the name o f his
firm, or of his other copartners : the giving of such obligations is no part
o f ordinary commercial business; and besides, to make a sealed instru­
ment the solemn deed o f any man, requires, by the common law, either his
own delivery of it, or a delivery by his attorney, authorized under seal.
But a copartner may execute the release o f a debt, owing to his firm, by
sealing in the name of his firm, or in his own name : and here the name
o f the firm, not taking any greater effect than his own name, is allowed
the same, and is a good release. It has also been held that a charter
party letting a ship to freight to a firm, executed by only one of the firm
as party, but carried into effect, and the vessel used in the business o f the
copartnership, should be deemed as sealed by a ll; the law here has
passed by the form, and seated itself upon the substance.
Summing up this branch of our subject then, it appears that the authori­
ty o f a copartner to pledge the credit, or dispose o f the property of his
firm, is limited to the ostensible and actual business of the firm, to the
exclusion of the debts or purposes of the individual copartner, and also of
those o f strangers; that all such acts are void ; but that within the range
o f the business of the firm, the authority o f the copartners is, as to the
trading public, unlimited; and that in relation to negotiable paper, it is also
unrestrained, when found in the hands o f holders taking it in good faith.
In making claims against a copartnership, strangers are always obliged
to prove the union of the parties under this relation. It is evident that
the copartnership agreement itself, (which being the most perfect and ex­
act evidence, would, in all other cases, be the only evidence allowed o f the
fact,) being in the keeping of the partners, and not capable o f being re­
corded in any public office, could be withheld, and no easy means left of
showing its contents. Yielding to this necessity, and also to the princi­
ple, that the terms of this written contract, if produced, would not avail
against the open acts o f the parties, the law allows a copartnership to be
proved by a common reputation of its existence, a reputation supposed to
arise from general observation o f the acts o f the partners. Ordinarily,
the reputation o f a thing is not regarded; common safety requires that
facts should be proved by those who have seen and known them, so that
they can swear to them. But in relation to this subject, as the reputation
o f copartnership must ordinarily arise from those who deal with it, who
have therefore an interest to know the truth, and who are in a condition,
from observing open acts, to form a correct belief, such reputation is per­
mitted to be shown. It is, however, not conclusive, and is subject to close
examination, both as to its grounds and its extent; and if a true explana­
tion can be shown, reconcilable with the actual facts, and with the non­
existence o f the alleged copartnership, the reputation may be counterbal­
anced. But in such cases, it is always a matter for the decision of a
jury, a tribunal less certain in the uniformity o f its estimate of matters
than the ju d g es; and as in commercial places juries are exceedingly dis­
posed to stretch the point, and fix a liability upon all who may by any con­
struction appear to have been the means of inducing a credit, however inad­
vertently, it becomes incumbent on the creditor and the credited to see
that their acts strictly conform to the requirements of the law, that the
one may not give, or the other derive, any undue or fictitious credit.

Statistical Tables.


T able o f the principal Gold Coins o f the Countries and States with
which the United States have commercial intercourse; their W eig h t;
the quantity o f pure Metal they contain ; their Value in the Money
o f account o f those Countries, and their Value in Dollars and Cents ;
according to Assays made at London and Paris, and published in
Kelly's Cambist.





Value in Money of





Gold mohur
Ducats, specie
Star pagoda
H alf Johannes
Ounce, 1751
Pistole, 1801


Rusp ne
Sequin fonducli




3 33
6* florins
2 29
41 florins
10 florins
3 1
8 16
16 sicca rupees
2 25
21 rix dollars
2 25
14 marks 12 skil.
5 09
1 pound 1 s.
4 86*
1 pound = 20 s.
3 85
20 francs
15 40
96 lire
2 26
6 marks banco
2 29
5 florins 5 stivers
6 04
14 florins
1 79
42 fanams
2 50
3 ducats
4 36
6,400 rees
3 97
5 rix dollars
7 82
10 rubles
9 44
25 lire
2 50
30 tari
16 47
320 reals
3 88
80 d.
94 skil’ s or 1 rix dol2 22
lar 48 skil’s
171 160.4 40 lire
6 91
131 lire
2 29
51 53.3
42.25 7 piastres
1 82
2 29
53.3 22 lire
1 43
91 33.15 14 lire

The following foreign coins, when o f required fineness, are a legal tender in the
United States, at the following rates :


1. Those of Great Britain, Portugal, and Brazil, of 22 carats fineness, at 94.8 per dwt.
2. Those o f France, 9-10 fine,
3. Those of Spain, Mexico, and Columbia, o f the fineness of 20 carats
3 7-16 grains,



1. Dollars of Mexico, Peru, Chili, and Central America, and those re­
stamped in Brazil, weighing 415 grains, and o f the fineness o f 10
ounces 15 pennyweights of pure silver in a troy pound,

at 100
cents each.

2. Five franc pieces o f France, o f the fineness o f 10 ounces 16 penny­
weights in the troy pound, and weighing 384 grains,

at 93
cents each.


Statistical Tables.
o f the principal Silver Coins o f the Countries and States with
which the United States have commercial intercourse ; their W eigh t;
the quantity o f pure Metal they contain; their Value in the Money
o f account o f those countries, and their Value in Dollars and Cents ;
according to Assays made at London and Paris, and published in
Kelly's Cambist.




D W T . GR.







Rix dollar
Rixsbank dollar
Crown, new
Five franc p.
Scudo, 1796
Rix dollar
Guilder or florin
Rupee, 1818
Ducat, 1818
Crusado, 1809
Rix dollar convention
Ruble, 1802





18 17
Rix dollar
Piastre, 1818
6 64
Francesco Leopoldoni 17 134
14 6




2 florins
3 florins
20 sous = 100 cts.
16 annas
640 rees
14 rix dollar current=
96 gr’ts.
7 marks 6 skill’ s.
8 marks = 96 sk.
5 sh. or 60 pence
100 sous
7 lire 12 soldi
3 marks
20 st. 2 f. 10 cts.
16 annas
10 carlini or 100 grani
480 rees
24 good groschen
100 copecks
24 lire or 10 reali
12 tari
8 reals mex. pi. 20 reals vallon
48 skillings
40 paras.
10 paoli or 64 lire
12 lire 8 soldi

1 19


Rix dollar convention
Florin, 1816
Sicca rupee
Pataca, 1801
Rix dollar specie


Value in Money of


1 06
1 044
1 084
1 23
1 07
1 044
1 04


As recommended by the Chamber o f Commerce, giving the value o f a
pound sterling in federal money.

5 per cent. premium, is . . . ■ $4 66 At 84 per cent. premium, is . . . .$4 83
is . . . . 4 67 At 9
is . . . . . 4 84
is . . . . 4 68 At 94
is . . . . 4 85
is . . . • 4 70 At 94
is . . . . 4 86
is . . . . 4 71 At 94
is . . . . 4 87
is . . .. 4
is . . . . 4 88
is . . . . 4 73 At 104
is . . . . 4 90
is . . . . 4 74 At 104
is . . . . 4 91
is . . . . 4 75 At 104
is . . . . 4 92
is . . . . 4 76 At 11
is . . . . 4 93
is . . . . 4 77 At 114
is . . . . 4 94
is . . . . 4 95
is . . . . 4 78 At 114
is . . . . 4 96
is . . . . 4 80 At 114
81 At 12
is . . . . 4 97
is . .
is . . . . 4 82

The existing value o f the pound sterling in New York, is f 4 86, (94); which is
in a language every body can understand.



L iverpool P ackets . — A comparative Table o f the Passages o f the dif­

feren t Ships o f the several Lines o f Liverpool Packets.

From 1st Nov. 1837, to 1st Nov. 1838.
Sailed. Arrived. No. days.
Nov. 1 Nov. 17
16 Dec. 4
Cambridge, Dec. 3
16 Jan. 4
N. America., J a n .2
16 F e b .12
Columbus, Feb. 1
17 March 7
S. America,
England, March 3
19 April 9
Cambridge, April 2
16 May 10
N. America, May 1
16 June 9
Columbus, June 2
S. America,
16 July 7
July 2
19 Aug. 6
Cambridge, Aug. 1
20 Sept. 11
N. America, Sept. 1
19 Oct. 15
Columbus, Oct. 1
S. America,
20 Nov. 8

hom ew ard


Dec. 17
Jan. 2
Feb. 1
N. America,
March 1
S. America, April 3
May 2
June 2
N. America,
July 2
S. America, Aug. 4
Sept. 7
Oct. 8
N. America,
Nov. 12
S. America, Dec. 8

Arrived. No. days.
Jan. 25
March 8
Aptil 1
May 2
June 11
July 4
Aug. 11
Sept. 5
Oct. 14
Nov. 1
33Dec. 4
Jan. 9

Average passage out, a fraction over 21 days. The shortest passage out is by the
England, in 16 days; and the longest by the Europe, in 27 days.
Average homeward time, 36 days. The shortest passage homeward is by the
England, in 20 days; and the longest by the Orpheus, in 65 days. The shortest
average of the three voyages is by the England, both out and home.



Sailed. Arrived. No. days.
Sailed. Arrived. No.days.
Pennsylvania, Dec. 26 Feb. 2
Pennsylvania, Nov. 8 Nov. 23
Independence, Dec. 8 Dec. 25
Independence, Jan. 24 March 9
G. W ashington, Mar. 26 April 22
Jan. 8 Feb. 1
G. Washington,Feb.8 March 5
Pennsylvania, April 25 May 19
Pennsylvan., Mar. 10 April 5
Independence, May 24 June 17
Independence, April 9
May 3
June 24 July 31
May 8
June 2
G. Washington, July 24 Aug. 29
G.Washingt’n,June 8
Pennsylvania, Aug. 25 Sept. 29
Pennsylvania, July 7 July 28
Independence, Sept. 25 Oct. 13
Independence, Aug.7
Aug. 30 23
Oct. 25 Nov. 25
Sept. 7 Sept. 28
J a n .1
G.Washington.Oct. 9 Oct. 27
The average outward passage is a fraction over 2 1 id a y s; and the homeward
passage a little over 32 days.
The shortest outward passage is by the Pennsylvania, in 15 da ys; and the longest
by the same ship, in 26 days.




hermit ’ s


Sailed. Arrived. No.days.
Sailed. Arrived. No.days.
St. Andrew, Nov. 24 Dec. 16
St. Andrew,
Jan. 9 March 7
Dec.26 Jan. 22
27 Virginian, Feb. 10
Jan.24 Feb. 14
21 Sheffield,
March 9 April 13
United States, Feb.24 March 17
21 U. States,
April 9 May 6
St. Andrew, March 25 April 15
St. Andrew,
May 8 June 7
April27 May 23
26 Virginian,
June 8 July 13
May 26 June 16
July 11 Aug. 15
U- States,
June25 July 16
21 U. States,
Aug. 9 Sept. 14
St. Andrew,
July 14 Aug. 5
St. Andrew,
Sept. 2
Oct. 8
Aug. 13 Sept. 11
29 Virginian,
Oct. 2
Sept.14 Oct. 12
Nov. 4 Dec. 6
U. States,
U. States,
Dec. 5 Jan. 5
Average outward passage o f these four ships, 23 days. The United States made
the shortest outward passage, in 16 days; the Virginian the longest, in 29 days.
Average homeward passage, 35 days.
edw ard k . collin ’ s lin e .


_Sailed. Arrived. No.days.
Sailed. Arrived. No.days.
Nov. 1 Nov. 17
16 Garrick,
Dec. 17 Jan. 25
Dec. 2 Dec. 21
19 Shakspeare, Jan. 16 March 8
Jan. 2 Jan. 27
25 Siddons,
Feb. 16
Feb. 1 March 5
32 Sheridan, March 18 April 15
March 3
April 20 May 12
22 Garrick,
Shakspeare, April 2 April 25
23 Shakspeare, May 16 June 12
May 1 May 24
23 Siddons,
June 16 July 19
June 2 June 20
July 21 Aug. 25
18 Sheridan,
Aug. 16 Sept. 20
July 3 July 20
18 Garrick,
25 Aug. 19
25 Shakspeare, Sept. 15 Oct. 22
Aug. 25 Sept. 14
Oct. 21 Nov. 22
Nov. 14 Dec. 27
Sept. 25 Oct. 19
24 Sheridan,
Average outward passage, a fraction over 22 days. The Garrick made the short­
est outward passage, in 16 days; the Sheridan the longest, in 32 days.
Average homeward passage, 341 days.

Lisbon, 11th o f April, 1839.

A rt . 1. All foreign ships entering the ports o f this kingdom in ballast, and loading
a full cargo o f salt, shall be free from the tonnage duty. Sec. — foreign ships enter­
ing any o f the ports o f this kingdom in ballast, and sailing out again, to take a full
cargo o f salt at another o f our ports, are equally free from the tonnage duty.
A rt . 2. All foreign vessels entering the ports o f this kingdom under Franquia, in
order to complete their cargoes with salt, shall pay the duty o f 100 reis per ton.

A rt . 3. All foreign vessels entering the ports of this kingdom to discharge cargoes
of merchandise, and here load a full cargo of salt, shall pay the duty of 100 reis per
A rt . 4. All foreign vessels which (having paid the duty in one o f the ports o f this
kingdom) sail in ballast to another port o f the kingdom, in order there to take a full
cargo o f salt, are entitled to receive back the duty paid in the first port, with the
deduction merely o f 100 reis per ton, on presenting to the competent authority a legal
certificate of said payment.
A rt . 5. The disposition o f article 7th o f the Royal Decree of the 14th o f Novem­
ber, 1836, relative to the payment of tonnage duty on Portuguese vessels, are appli­
cable to articles 2, 3, and 4 o f the actual law.
A r t . 6. All former legislation, contrary to the present law, is hereby revoked.

Commercial Regulations and Treaties.



The following regulation, under the signature o f Ross D. Mangles, officiating
Secretary to the Government of India, published in ihe Singapore Free Press o f the
1st o f February, 1838, has been communicated to the Department o f State by J.
Balestier, Esq., United States Consul at Singapore :
Foreign ships, belonging to any state or country in Europe or in America, so long
as such states or countries respectively remain in amity with her Majesty, may freely
enter the British seaports and harbors in the East Indies, whether they come directly
from their own country or from any other place, and shall be there hospitably received.
And such ships shall have liberty to import into such seaports, from their own respec­
tive countries, goods, the produce o f their countries ; and to export goods from such
seaports to any foreign country whatever, conformably to the regulations established,
or to be established, in such seaports : Provided, that it shall not be lawful for the
said ships, in time o f war between the British government and any state or power •
whatsoever, to export from the said British territories, without the special permission
o f the British government, any military or naval stores, saltpetre, or grain, nor to
receive goods on board at one British port of India to be conveyed to another British
port o f India, on freight or otherwise; but, nevertheless, the original inward cargoes
o f such ships may be discharged at different British ports, and the. outward cargoes
o f such ships may be laden at different. British ports, for their foreign destinations.

We. find the following in the Canton Register, for January, 1839, addressed by the
Hong Merchants to the Chamber o f Commerce, in the shape, o f a circular, with a
request that they would give it publicity. W e give below a copy o f the Regulations,
and the Bond to be given by the Captain and Consignee.
“ Should any vessels at Whampoa bring up opium or smuggle out sycee, (silver,)
the trade o f such vessels will, on a discovery and seizure being made, be instantly
stopped, and she be driven out o f the port without a moment’s delay. (Her owner)
will be mulcted in $10,000, to be appropriated to the liquidation o f the foreign claims.
“ Should any vessel at Whampoa engage in smuggling any other kind o f goods,
her trade will, on discovery and seizure being made, be instantly stopped : the smug­
gled goods will be sold, the proceeds confiscated, and the owner mulcted in half their
value, to be appropriated to the liquidation o f the foreign claims.
“ No vessel at Whampoa must employ decked boats on penalty o f her trade being
stopped immediately the fact is discovered. On the boat being given up to our
Chamber for destruction, we will petition that her trade may again be opened.
“ The master and consignee o f any vessel condemned to leave the port for her
misbehavior, must, nevertheless, pay up her port charges ; they must not, on the plea
o f the ship being driven out, endeavor to evade the payment, on penalty o f the most
rigorous prosecution.
“ Should the captain and consignee o f any vessel demur paying any just mulct,
their security merchants must inform the other merchants thereof, who will deduct
the amount from the prices o f any goods belonging to the parties.
“ The bond to be worded as follows: — ‘ A bond given as proof. W e (A ) master,
and (B ) consignee o f the (flag) Ship (name) which has come from her port with a
cargo of (C), to trade at Canton, do hereby guarantee, that she has no opium or other
prohibited goods on board. Should she have decked boats, she shall not employ
them in smuggling our sycee, (silver,) o f other goods : but should any such doings
be discovered, we will cheerfully submit to be dealt with according to the regulations,
which we dare not endeavor to evade. In witness whereof, we have, signed our
names to this bond, to be held by you as proof.’ ”
S. FEARON, Chinese Interpreter g . c . e.

The following is extracted from an official document, recently received at Pniladelphia, by Charles Pigot, Consul o f the Roman States.
“ The products o f North and South America, furnished with a clean bill o f health,


Commercial Regulations and Treaties.

and the customary papers for navigation, shall be admitted freely into the ports of
the Roman States, provided they are accompanied with a certificate o f health from
the Consul for Rome residing in the place of lading, or, in want o f such a Consul,
from any other European Consul, declaring that at the period o f lading and before
that period there existed no yellow fever or any contagious disease in the port of
clearance and its vicinity; and in the absence of such a certificate, they shall not
enjoy said privilege.
“ The vessels or products o f said countries, furnished with a doubtful Bill o f Health,
(Patente Tocca,) accompanied with said Consular certificate, shall be admitted to a
quarantine of 12 days, with the landing in the Lazaretto o f passengers and articles
susceptible o f contagion or infection.
“ Finally, the vessels furnished with afoul Bill o f Health, (Patente. Brutta.,) shall
be admitted only in the port o f Ancona, to a quarantine o f from 14 to 21 days, ac­
cording to the nature of their cargo, with the landing in the Lazaretto o f their pas­
sengers and articles susceptible o f contagion or infection.”

The Treaty of Commerce as concluded between Holland and the United States,
dated at Washington, late in January last, and since ratified by the Dutch govern­
ment, embraces the following provisions :
That all goods, without reference to their origin, imported into any o f the ports of
Holland, or the United States, or exported from any o f the ports of these countries for
the other, in Dutch or American bottoms, shall not pay higher duties than those fixed
on board of national vessels. If one o f the two contracting parties grants premiums,
restoration o f duties, or other advantages, for the importation or exportation in national
vessels, the same advantages shall be granted, if the importation or exportation takes
place directly between the ports of the two countries in vessels of the other contracting
party. The second article provides that Dutch and American vessels are not to pay
respectively in the ports o f either o f the two states, any tonnage, salvage, quarantine,
or pilot-dues, except those established for national vessels. Perfect equality is to be
established between the consuls and vice-consuls o f both countries, in the exercise of
rights and privileges, and the protection and assistance usually given, especially in the
case o f deserters from the navy of both countries. Both countries consider as belong­
ing to the other, vessels provided with passports, or sea-letters, by the competent
authorities. In shipwrecks or disasters at sea, both parties engage to afford to the
merchant or war vessels of the other, the same assistance as in the case o f its own
navy. The new treaty is to remain in force for ten years, and longer, should no
complaints be made.

A late number o f the Havana Diario contains an order o f the Captain General of
Cuba. The purport o f this order i s : that on the representation of the American
Consul, and o f one Daniel Warnen, no sailor can be admitted or employed under any
pretence, nor be permitted to remain on board of any American vessel in the port o f
Havana, unless the Captain o f such vessel shall be perfectly assured that the sailor
has been legally discharged from the vessel in which he arrived, and with the know;
ledge and consent o f the American Consul. That for every sailor employed in viola­
tion of said regulation, the Captain employing him shall be fined fifty dollars, and
should the vessel, in which said sailor is found, have obtained clearances, the fine
shall be doubled. The said Daniel Warnen is appointed Commissioner for the strict
enforcement of these regulations, and report offenders to the captain of the port—
a third part of the fines to go to the informer, the rest to the chamber of justice.

W e have been requested to state, says the Boston Daily Advertiser, for the infor­
mation o f persons writing to Havana, Matanzas, and othSr places in the island of
Cuba, that the addition of the word 1Cuba/ to the superscription o f letters, has an
effect altogether unexpected by the writer, and inexplicable to those unacquainted
with the postoffice affairs in that island. ‘ Cuba’ is understood throughout the island
to mean St. Jago de Cuba, and the clerks in the several postoffices where the letters
are first received from abroad, looking only at the last place mentioned in the super­
scription, forward letters and newspapers having ‘ Cuba’ upon them to St. Jago.

Statistics o f Trade and Manufactures.



A Statement o f the Stock in Liverpool, at the close o f the years 1837 and 1838.
3,220 West India,
Sea Islands,
1,330 Carthagena,
Stained ditto,
68,860 Bourbon,
17,640 Manilla,
98,950 Laguira
Mobile, &c.,
8,230 Bengal,
Bahia, &c.,
9,050 Smyrna,
100 Madras,
Minas and Paras,
840 Egyptian,
Demerara and Berbice, 710
Total bales
The table o f imports into Great Britain, compared with the preceding year, shows
an increase o f 280,000 American, 20,500 Brazil, 1,600 West India, & c .; and a decrease
o f 11,500 Egyptian, &c., 38,000 East India., being a total increase o f 252,600 bags.
The average weekly consumption of Great Britain we estimate at 23,204 bales,
consisting of 5,505 Upland, 11,742 Orleans and Alabama, and 317 Sea Island— total,
17,564 American, 2,400 Brazil, 781 Egyptian, &c., 1,760, East India, 639 West India,
&e. ; being an increase upon the consumption o f last year o f 2,871 bags per week.
The average, weekly quantity taken by the trade from the ports, is 5,693 Upland,
12,542 Orleans and Alabama, 337 Sea Island—total, 18,277 American, 2,555 Brazil,
781 Egyptian, &c..; 1,875 East India, and 676 West India, & e ,; total, 25,164 bags.
The average weight of the import we calculated at 332 lbs. per bag for Upland, 406
for Orleans and Alabama, 320 Sea Island, 174 Brazil, 220 Egyptian, 350 East India,
and 146 West India, &e., making the total import in lbs. weight 501,010,000, being
an increase, upon last year o f 92,760,000 lbs. weight.
It appears by the tabular statement, that the weekly consumption has increased in
packages at the present average weight, from 4,930 bags in the year 1816, to 23,204
bags in the present year.

In 1791, only 188,316 lbs. cotton were exported from theU. States ; in 1798 it was
less than 1,900,000; in 1802 the amount was 27,501,075 lbs.; in 1819 it was 87,997,045
lbs.; in 1820 it was 127,860,152 ; in 1830 it amounted to 298,459,102 lb s .; in value
129,675,883. This amount in value was less by ®7,000,000 than in 1825, when the
quantity was less by 122,000,000 lb s .; the price in the latter year being more than
double that o f the former. The amount exported during the year ending with Sep­
tember, 1838, was upwards o f 639,000,000 lbs., leaving o f that year’s crop, including
nearly 8,000,000 lbs. o f stock the previous year, which remained on hand, upwards of
98.000. 000 lbs. for home consumption ; the year’s crop in round numbers, exceeding
720.000. 000 pounds.

A large proportion o f our fellow-citizens are ignorant o f the deep root which domes­
tic manufactures have taken in our country, and. the vast impulse which home indus­
try is already giving to commercial affairs, and the certain and steady market they
afford to the southern planter for the great, staple article o f Cotton. Take Lowell,
only one manufacturing village, for instance, and we find an investment o f nine
millions o f capital, twenty-eight Mills in active operation, exclusive of Print Works,
163,404 Spindles, and 5,094 Looms, requiring eight hundred and ninety bales of
cotton per week, or 46,280 bales per annum ; manufacturing weekly 1,061,250 yards
o f goods o f various descriptions, 255,000 of which are printed, and giving employ­
ment to 2,077 males, 6,470 females, and furnishing to the farmers in the neighbor­
hood a ready market, where their products are convertible to cash; for the hands
are always paid off in money once a month, at least. The principal establishments

I. — NO. I.



Statistics o f Trade and Manufactures.

are the Merrimack, Tremont, Suffolk, Lawrence, Appleton, Hamilton, Lowell, and
Boott Mills ; to the above may be added the extensive Powder Mills o f 0 . M. Whip­
ple, E s q .; the Lowell Bleachery ; Flannel M ills; Card and Whip Factory : Planing
Machine; Beed Machine ; Flour, Grist, and Saw M ills; together, employing above
three hundred hands, and a capital o f $300,000. And in the immediate vicinity,
Glass Works, and a Furnace supplying every description o f castings for Machinery
and Engines for Kail Roads.
The Locks and Canals Machine Shop, included among the twenty-eight Mills, can
furnish machinery complete for a Mill o f 5,000 Spindles in four months, and lumber
and materials are always at command, with which to build or rebuild a Mill in that
time, if required. When building Mills, the Locks and Canals employ, directly and
indirectly, from ten to 1,200 hands.
One hundred pounds o f Cotton will produce eighty-nine pounds o f Cloth. Average
wages o f Females, clear o f board, $2 per week. Average wages o f Males, clear of
board, 80 cts. per day. Medium produce o f a Loom on No. 14 Yarn, forty-four to
fifty-five yards per day. Medium produce o f a Loom on No. 30 Yarn, thirty yards
per day. Average per Spindle, 1 1-0 yard per day. Persons employed by the Com­
panies are paid at the close o f each month. Average amount o f wages paid per
month, $145,000. A very considerable portion o f the wages is deposited in the
Savings Bank. Consumption of Starch per annum, 600,000 lbs. Consumption o f
Flour for Starch in the Mills, Print Works, and Bleachery, per annum, 3,000 bbls.
Consumption o f Charcoal per annum, 500,000 bushels.
When we consider that these establishments were only commenced in 1822, no one
can resist the conclusion, that, interrupted as it may be for a time, the United States
is destined to prove a great manufacturing nation, and the thousand establishments
for manufacturing and mechanical purposes, with which the face o f the earth is dot­
ted all over, proves that it has taken a firm footing in the soil, and Legislation may
control or impede, but cannot prevent its growth. W e say nothing, at the present
moment, o f other establishments, o f which we propose, hereafter, to famish statistical
information; but this astonishing progress o f one manufacturing settlement in Massa­
chusetts alone, awakens our admiration, but cannot withhold our meed o f praise.

The value o f property cleared at Buffalo, going towards tide water, is as follow s;
$2,304,785 12
4,870,473 86
Tolls received on the same :
$128,028 21
202,410 66
The property chiefly consisted o f flour, wheat, and other grains, peltries, scantlings,
lard, butter, &c.
The following is a statement o f property arriving at Buffalo, coming from tide
w ater:

The Report o f a Committee o f the Southern Convention, which was held last April,
in Charleston, furnishes the following table, showing the comparative progress o f
Commerce at the North and South.
The statistics o f the United States enable us to present the following statements,
exhibiting, at one view, the rise, progress, and decay o f Southern commerce. They
are extracted from one of the documents formerly published by this Convention, and
show that the time was, when the people of the South were the largest importers in
the country.
In 1769, the value o f the imports o f the several colonies were as follows ;
£851,140 sterling.
New England States,
New York,
South Carolina,

Statistics o f Trade and Manufactures.


The exports were in about the same proportion: Virginia exporting nearly four
times as much as New Y o r k ; and South Carolina nearly twice as much as New
York and Pennsylvania together; and five times as much as all the New England
States united.
The same relative proportion o f imports is preserved until the adoption o f the
Federal Constitution, when we find them to be in the year 1791 as follows :
New York,
South Carolina,
There is no data to show the imports into the several States from the year 1791 to
1820, but the general fact may be assumed, that the import trade of New York and
other Northern States has been constantly progressing, while that of Virginia and
South Carolina has as regularly diminished. From 1821 to the present time, we have
sufficient data, and they exhibit the following as the state o f the import trade :
S. Carolina.
New York.
Thus, the import trade o f New York has gradually increased from £189,000 ster­
ling, about $840,000, in the year 1769, and from about three millions o f dollars in
1791, to the enormous sum, in 1832, of fifty-seven millions o f dollars! While Vir­
ginia has fallen off in her import trade from two and a half millions o f dollars in
1791, to $375,000 in 1829, and 550,000 in 1832, not a great deal more than the freight
o f half a dozen ships!
From these calculations, a few curious facts appear. The imports o f New York
were, in 1832, seventy times as great as they were in 1769, and nearly twenty times
more than they were in 1791. Virginia, on the other hand, imported in 1829 about
one eleventh o f what she did in 1769, and about one seventh of what she did in 1791.
In a period, too, o f eight years, the aggregate imports o f New York amounted to
<«hree hundred and eleven millions o f dollars; those of South Carolina to about six­
teen millions, and those o f Virginia to about five millions! New York imported,
therefore, in 1832, eleven times as much as Virginia did in eight years preceding,
and nearly four times as much as South Carolina did in eight years preceding.
Again, New York imported in one year, (1832) nearly fifty times as much as South
Carolina in the same year, and about 110 times as much as Virginia.
The following is the quantity o f Coal shipped from the different regions in 1837
and 1838:

Schuylkill .................
L e h ig h .......................___ 192,595
L ackaw ana............... . . . .115,387
Beaver Meadows . . .___ 33,617
Laurel H ill ...............



Decrease in 1838.. .
consumption o f Coal, as near as can be ascertained, was in
Annual increase.


. . .177,000
. . .329,000 .................. ------150,000
. . .413,000 .................. ___ 84,000
. . .456,000 .................. ____41,000
. . .556,000 .................. ____100,000
. . .682,090 .................. ____126,000
. . .664,000 ...................


Statistics o f Trade and Manufactures.

The following are the official average prices of Wheat in France for the month o f
November in each year, during the under-mentioned twenty years, from 1819 to
1838, the whole reduced into English measure and money :
Per Hectolitre.
Per Quarter.

1820 ..........
1822 ..........
1823 .........
1824 .........
1825 ..........
1826 .........
1827 .........
1828 .........
1829 ..........
1830 .........
1832 ..........
1833 ..........
1834 ..........
1835 ..........
1836 . . . .
1837 .........
1838 ..........

......... 15f.
......... 15
......... 15
......... 15
......... 15
......... 20
......... 22
......... 21
......... 22
......... 17
......... 14
......... 14


equal to



.......... 21
The average o f the whole period is 17f. 81c. p_,er hectolitre, which is equal to 40s,
9d. per quarter ; and it will be farther remarked—
1. That the return o f 1835 is the lowest o f the whole period.
2. That the return o f 1828 is the highest of the whole period.
3. That the return o f the present year exceeds the return of the preceding year by
9s. 7d. per quarter.
4. That the return o f the present year exceeds by 9s. 6d. per quarter the return
o f the whole period.
To compare the average prices o f wheat in France with those o f England and
Wales, it is necessary to add 20 per cent to the latter, for difference in the quality o f
the wheat, and the difference in the mode of taking averages; and it then appearing
that the average price o f wheat in England and Wales, for the six weeks ending the
3d ult. is 71s. 6d. the quarter, this, with the addition o f 20 per cent, makes 85s. lOd.;
and the average price o f wheat in France, for the same period, being 50s. 3d., it fol­
lows that wheat is 41.46 per cent lower in France than in England.
The average price o f wheat at Paris, for the preceding month o f November, is 23f,
63c. per hectolitre, which answers to 54s. Id. per quarter.


An Abstract o f the last official Annual Statement of the Commerce and Navigation o f the
United States.
Imports for the Year ending September 30, 1838.
Total amount,
O f which were imported in American vessels,
In foreign vessels,
Total amount,
O f which were domestic produce,
Foreign produce,
Domestic Articles.
Exported in American vessels,
Exported in foreign vessels,
Foreign Articles,
Exported in American vessels,
Exported in foreign vessels,

Mercantile Miscellanies.


American shipping entered the ports o f the United States
for the year ending September 30, 1838,
Ditto cleared from ditto,
Foreign shipping entered during the same period,
Ditto cleared from ditto,
Registered tonnage, as corrected September 30,1838,
Enrolled and licensed,
Fishing vessels,


Total tons,
Employed in the Whale Fishery,
Shipping built in the United States during the year ending Sept. 30, 1838 :
The imports of the previous year, ending 30th o f September, 1837, amounted to
$140,989,217, and the exports to $117,419,376. It will be observed that while the
imports of 1837-8 are less by $27,000,000 than in 1836-7, the exports are less by only
$9,000,000 more. This looks like getting out of debt. The tonnage o f American ship­
ping which entered in 1837-8 is greater than in 1836-7, by 3,254 tons, while the foreign
tonnage is less by 173,593 tons. This, again, is a favorable indication. The actual
tonnage owned in the United States has increased within the year from 1,896,685 tons,
to 1,994,798; or 98,113 tons. Rather less tonnage was built in 1837-8, than in 1836-7.


An improved species of cotton has been discovered in Alabama. The Southern
Agriculturist says that it grows much taller than the common plant, and bears a num­
ber o f short lateral branches, only four or five inches in length, and bearing twin pods
or clusters o f 6 or 7 pods on each branch. The cotton is finer than any other kind
o f short staple, commands 4 or 5 cents more, and the product is very much more
abundant. The plant, with leaves like other cotton, resembles the okra in other
respects, and in rich land will reach a height of 8 or 9 feet. The seed is not yet in
general use, and the small quantity to be had sells at very high prices. It ripens
earlier than the other cotton, and stands a better chance, therefore, o f escaping the worm,
which is very destructive to late crops in the south-west.
The Director of the Mint, Dr. Patterson, has made his annual report of the opera­
tions o f the Mint and its branches for the year 1838, from which wre extract the fol­
lowing particulars, viz. :
1. Whole amount o f gold coinage is $1,809,595, o f which there was coined—
At Philadelphia.................................................$1,622,515
Charlotte, N. C............................................
Dahlonega, Ga.............................................
New O rlea n s..............................................

Of the above quantity, 7,200 pieces were in eagles ; 286,588 pieces were in half
eagles ; and 47,030 pieces were in quarter eagles.
O f the bullion deposited, there was supplied from the mines o f the United States—
At Philadelphia.................
Charlotte.......................................................... 127,000
Dahlonega........................................................ 135,700
New Orleans...................................................

Total native bullion.



Mercantile Miscellanies.

2. The whole amount o f silver coined is $2,333,243, o f which the whole was coined
at Philadelphia, except $40,243, in dimes, at New Orleans, the otlffer branch mints
bejng not yet authorized to coin silver, the bill which passed the Senate to authorize
them to coin silver change having not passed the House o f Representatives, and
being now in the Senate.
O f the silver coined at the mint in Philadelphia, there was
In half dollars...........................................................11,773,000
d im e s....................................................................
half dim es.............................................................
Add dimes at New Orleans...............


From this it will be seen that the total coinage of the mint and branches, in gold
and silver, is $4,142,838. Besides this, the copper coinage amounted to $63,702;
making a totality o f $4,206,540.
Statement o f the Annual Amounts o f Deposites o f Gold for Coinage at the Mint o f the
United States, Philadelphia, from the Mines of the United States.
N. Carolina.
S. Carolina.
1824 .
1825 .
1826 .
2 0 ,0 0 0
2 0 ,0 0 0
1827 .
2 1 ,0 0 0
2 1 ,0 0 0
1828 .
1829 . . $2,500
1830 . . 24,000
$ 2 1 2 ,6 6 0
1831 . . 26,000
2 2 ,0 0 0
1832 . . 34,000
1833 . . 104,000
6 6 ,0 0 0
8 6 8 ,0 0 0
1834 . . 62,000
1835 . . 60,400
1836 . . 62,000
1837 . . 52,000
1838 . . 55,000
6 6 ,0 0 0
1,799,900 5,298,200
Of the $5,298,200, the sum o f $ 13,900 was from Tennessee since 1831, and the
sum o f $13,400 from other sources since 1831.
Statement exhibiting the Value o f Bullion and Specie imported and exported from the 1st
o f July, 1834, to the 30th September, 1838.
Gold Imported.
1834, 1st July to 30th Sept.
1835, year ending30th Sept.
1836, year ending30th Sept.
1837, year ending30th Sept.
1838, year ending30th Sept.
Gold Exported.

1st July to 30th Sept.
year ending 30th Sept.
year ending 30th Sept.
year ending 30th Sept.
year ending 30th Sept.








Mercantile Miscellanies.



The following incidental notice o f the richest of the long race o f wealthy Salem
merchants, is from the pen o f Capt. J. S. Sleeper, the able editor o f the Boston Mer­
cantile Journal, who formerly sailed in the service o f the distinguished man whose
character he describes. It is our intention, from time to time, to furnish biographical
sketches of eminent merchants— of men who, by their enterprise, industry, and integ­
rity, have amassed princely fortunes, and by their liberality and benevolence in the
endowment of splendid charities, and the more private acts o f humanity, shed a lus­
tre over the mercantile character.
“ The late William Gray, by his successful mercantile career, well illustrated the
truth o f the homely adage, 1Honesty is the best policy.’ His ships were found in
every sea, deeply laden with the products o f every country." Although bold in his
speculations, he was prudent in his calculations— and fortune smiled upon his under­
takings. But William Gray was, emphatically, an honest man. Not a dollar o f his
immense wealth was acquired by violating, directly or indirectly, the laws o f any
country. Having, on a number of occasions, had charge of large amounts of property
belonging to him, we have had abundant opportunities o f knowing the manner in
which he transacted his commercial operations — and we have often had occasion to
admire the stem integrity which formed a prominent feature in his character.
“ The agents or shipmasters, whom he employed, were always cautioned, in the
plainest language, against infringing, in the slightest degree, upon the revenue laws
of any nation— and if it came to his knowledge that his orders, in this particular, had
not been strictly obeyed, even if the departure from the straight line o f rectitude had
been dictated solely by the desire of the captain or supercargo to promote the interest
o f his employer, the offender was promptly dismissed with disgrace from his service.
And this was but a part of the system of integrity which entered into all his actions—
and which should always constitute the basis of the character of a mercantile man.”

The life of T h e o d o r e L y m a n , Esq., recently deceased at Waltham, (Mass.,) was,
throughout, a beautiful illustration of pure benevolence and Christian charity. As a
merchant, he ranked among the earliest, wealthiest, and most distinguished in Boston;;
but it is to his enlarged and comprehensive exertions in the cause of charity — to the
comfort which he carried to the abode o f the poor and destitute — to the warmth
which he communicated to the cheerless hearth of the widow and the fatherless— to
the aid he gave to the suffering and the dying,— that we turn with the most unmingled
satisfaction, and the sincerest admiration. He seemed to consider himself an almoner
for the Alm ighty; and, in the city of Boston, five hundred widows, and four hundred
fatherless children, can testify to his liberality, which enabled the Trustees o f the
Fatherless and Widows’ Society to extend their assistance wherever the aid of the
society was needed or invoked. To thirty destitute widows, in the city o f Boston,
Mr. Lyman has, for two years past, sent a daily supply o f m ilk ; and all can estimate
the advantages o f this supply, where, as in many instances, it formed the principal
food o f small children. Of the Seaman’s Aid Society, he has, for three successive
winters, purchased bed coverings, to be distributed in his walks o f charity; thus,
while relieving human destitution with one hand, stimulating honest industry and
assisting meritorious institutions with the other.
The records of the institution of the Children’s Friend Society, in Boston, enrolls his
name as its largest benefactor. This charity embraces fifty small children, saved from
the contamination o f evil example, some o f them surrendered to the Trustees by their
dying mothers, that their departing spirits might find peace and happiness in the cer­
tainty that they would be carefully, kindly, and religiously brought up, and be pro­
tected, not only from the abuse, but from the vicious example of careless or intem­
perate fathers.
And this man has gone to his reward, preceded by the prayers of the sick, the desti­
tute, and the dying, and as encouragement to our enterprising merchants, who, in the
ardent pursuit o f gain, too often lose sight of that charity which “ never faileth.”
He died rich. Hear it, ye anxious seekers after wealth. He died rich in this world
— with a large investment made in heaven. It may be laid down as a maxim, that
no man ever reduced himself, or impoverished his estate, by an intelligent and active
charity, but, on the contrary, that his benefactions to the poor have, even in this world,
been returned “ ten fold into his bosom.” W e do not mean that ostentatious charity
which blazons itself forward, and requires excitement and public display to urge it on
to action, but that pure and spontaneous benevolence, that free-will offering o f the
heart, which, as in the case of Mr. Lyman, sought out those who shrunk, oftentimes,


Mercantile Miscellanies.

with decent pride, from the exposure o f want, and required to be searched for to be
relieved ; and among the number whose prayers arose with the most fervency in his
behalf, may be mentioned those who, depressed in spirit, and almost prostrated by
the pressure o f poverty, were relieved and saved by some o f the methods he was
daily devising to extend the circle o f his charities.
To all, and more especially to our merchants, who read this brief notice o f Theo­
dore Lyman, we say “ go and do likewise.”

h its a t

the t im e s .”

W e make the following extract from an admirable volume recently published by Lea
and Blanchard o f Philadelphia, entitled, “ The Little Frenchman and his Water Lots,
with other Hits at the Times, by George P. Morris,” which is already nearly out o f
print. Our mercantile readers will recognise the portraits contained in these sketches.
Want o f Confidence. — A little Frenchman loaned a merchant five thousand dollars
when times were good. He called at the counting-house a few days since, in a state
o f agitation not easily described.
“ How do you do ? ” inquired the merchant.
“ Sick — very sick,” replied monsieur.
“ What is the matter ? ”
“ De times is de matter.”
“ Detimes ? — what disease is that?”
“ De malaide vat break all de merchants, ver much.”
“ Ah — the times, eh? — well, they are bad, very bad, sure enough; but how do
they alfect you ?”
“ Vy, monsieur, I lose de confidence.”
“ In whom ?”
“ In everybody.”
“ Not in me, I hope ?”
“ Pardonnez moi, monsieur; but I do not know who to trust a present, when all de
marchants break several times, all to pieces.”
“ Then I presume you want your money ? ”
“ Oui, monsieur, I starve for want of Vargent.'"
“ Can’ t you do without it ? ”
“ No, monsieur, I must have him.”
“ You must?”
“ Oui, monsieur,” said little dimity breeches, turning pale with apprehension for
the safety o f his money.
“ And you can’ t do without it ?”
“ No, monsieur, not von other leetle moment longare.”
The merchant reached his bank book— drew a check on the good old Commercial
for the amount, and handed it to his visiter.
“ Vat is dis, monsieur?”
“ A check for five thousand dollars, with the interest.”
“ Is it bon ?” said the Frenchman, with amazement,
“ Certainly.”
“ Have you de l’argent in de bank ? ”
“ Yes.”
“ And is it parfaitement convenient to pay de sum ?”
“ Undoubtedly. What astonishes you ? ”
“ Vy, dat you have got him in dees times.”
“ Oh, yes, and I have plenty more. I owe nothing that I cannot pay at a moment’s
The Frenchman was perplexed.
“ Monsieur, you shall do me one leetle favor, eh ?”
“ With all my heart.”
“ Veil, monsieur, you shall keep de Vargent for me some leetle year longer.”
“ Why, I thought you wanted it.”
“ Tout au contraire. I no vant de Vargent—- I vant de grand confidance. Suppose
you no got de money, den I vant him ver much— suppose you got him, den I no
vant him at all. Vous comprenez, e h? ”
After some further conference, the little Frenchman prevailed upon the merchant
to retain the money, and left the counting-house with a light heart, and a countenance
very different from the one he wore when he entered. His confidence was restored,
and, although he did not stand in need o f the money, he wished to know that hisproperty was in safe hands.
This little sketch has a moral, if the reader has sagacity enough to find it out.