View original document

The full text on this page is automatically extracted from the file linked above and may contain errors and inconsistencies.

H U N T ’S

No. III.


I n the present enlightened state of the world, and the powerful influ­
ence which Commerce exercises over every thing connected with national
politics and human affairs, it is an amusing and instructive pursuit to
trace the course of Commerce from its first dawning, as it were, upon the
world, to its present brightness and splendor.
In the earlier ages of the world, agriculture and arms were considered
the more honorable pursuits, and the ancients deemed Commerce as
ignoble. Hence we find Xenophon expressing a doubt whether Com­
merce could he of any advantage to the state, and Plato excluding it from
his imaginary commonwealth ; but, as time rolled on, in exact proportion
as Commerce was fostered and encouraged— as it acquired strength, and
was permitted an unfettered exercise of its powers, and a development
of the advantages it afforded— its value was better understood, and its
peaceful triumphs the more highly appreciated.
To pursue Commerce profitably, and to any extent, requires the posses­
sion of civil and political liberty: the freest countries are always the most
strongly commercial, and the most barbarous and enslaved the least. In
the former, we find an extraordinary degree of intelligence, and a freedom
from restraint discernible only in connexion with rational and well-defined
liberty; for the mind which has been accustomed to freedom of thought and
action in commercial pursuits, would spurn the idea of submitting its free
impulses to a tyrant’s will. Hence we find an interference with the course
of Commerce, commencing in illegal exactions, cost Charles the First his
kingdom and his head; and a following up of the same blind policy by his
successors, in regard to the colonies, ended in establishing the indepen­
dence of the United States of America, now admitted to be the freest, and
the most thoroughly imbued with the commercial spirit, of all the nations
of the earth. And, if we take the map of the world, we may trace, step by
step, the diminished amount of freedom enjoyed by the several nations,
according to its Commerce, the gradations fine, but yet clearly perceptible
and strongly marked, until, in despotic countries, we realize the presence
of arbitrary power by the total absence of commercial enterprise; for Comvol . i . — NO. III.


Rise and Progress o f Commerce.

merce and tyranny cannot exist together. The ascendency of the commer­
cial spirit establishes a new era in policy, and we find a new genius diffused
into the alliances of nations— the savage barbarity of war tenfpered, hu­
manized, and subdued, and man meeting his brother man on the wide plat­
form of reciprocity and equal rights. Commercial nations h£ve always
been the most distinguished. It was from the opulence derived from Com­
merce that Carthage so long and so successfully contended with Rome ;
and, as the principles of Commerce extended over the continent of Europe,
the manners became more polished, and according to the extent of their
Commerce was their political power and influence amongst the surround­
ing nations.
Among the earliest and most successful pursuers of Commerce, were
the Rhodians, the Egyptians, the Phoenicians, and the Carthaginians.
The Rhodians are justly entitled to the first place as a commercial and
maritime power; for, although Eusebius mentions the Cretans, the Lydi­
ans, and the Thracians, as maritime states, the first of whom flourished five
hundred years, the next two hundred, and the last about eighty years before
the Rhodians, yet it does not appear that any of these naval powers had
any defined system or code of maritime law for their own guidance, and
they certainly never communicated any to mankind. About the year 916
before the Christian era, Rhodes obtained the sovereignty of the sea, and
maintained her political power and importance, unimpaired, till the termi­
nation almost of the Roman republic. Many adventitious circumstances
combined to increase the wealth of Rhodes: among these maybe enumera­
ted the favorable position of the island for the purposes of navigation, in the
Mediterranean sea, a few leagues from the continent of lesser Asia; and the
richness and fertility of its soil has always been a favorite theme with poets
and historians. If we add to these the active and industrious habits of the
people, we can easily account for its long-maintained superiority— for the
richness of its inhabitants— the anxiety with which its alliance was court­
ed, though its general policy was a strict neutrality;— but its very riches,
by enervating the people, hastened its decline, and, at the period above
mentioned, the wealth and power of Rhodes began visibly to decline.
Next in order come the Egyptians, who are said to have opened a trade
between the Arabian Gulf and the Red Sea, and the western coast of the
great Indian continent, soon after the establishment of the Egyptian mon­
archy. The productions of the East were carried by land from the Ara­
bian Gulf to the banks of the Nile, and floated down that river to the
Mediterranean. Natural causes, however, were in operation, tending to
limit the attention of the Egyptians to Commerce, both in extent and in
duration. The necessaries and comforts of life were produced in such
profusion under the genial influence of their fertile soil and mild climate,
that, wanting nothing from foreigners themselves, it became an established
maxim with Egyptians, whose habits of thinking and national institutions
differed from those of other nations, to renounce foreign intercourse alto­
gether. Consequently, they remained at home— holding seafaring per­
sons as impious and profane,— and denied strangers admittance into their
harbors, which they fortified ; and it was not until the decline of their
power, when their veneration for ancient customs had greatly abated,
that they withdrew these restraints, by opening their ports and resuming
the trade with foreigners.
Exactly the reverse of the Egyptians were the Phoenicians, who, in
character and situation, in manners and institutions, had no distinguish­

Rise and Progress o f Commerce.


ing peculiarity. They had no intolerant or unsocial superstition— there
was nothing repulsive, or calculated to prevent an unscrupulous inter­
course with other nations. They looked to Commerce as the source of
opulence and power, for their territory was small and unproductive ; and
Tyre, of which we read so much in sacred and profane history, was built
on an ungrateful and barren soil; but its excellent sea-ports, and favorable
position for Commerce, more than counterbalanced the sterility of its soil,
and Commerce yielded to the industry of man what nature appeared
sternly to have denied; and a short reference to the Commerce of the Phtnnicians will sufficiently prove to what a height o_f glory, grandeur, and
riches, a nation may attain through the aid and instrumentality of Com­
Lebanon and the neighboring mountains furnished the Phoenicians
with excellent wood for ship-building, and in a short time numerous fleets
were ready to farther the spirit of enterprise by pursuing distant or
unknown voyages : and their liberal institutions and enlightened spirit,
encouraging foreign intercourse, drew together an immense influx of
strangers, and so rapidly did the population of Tyre increase, that they
were soon in a situation to send out colonies, and, among others, the
famous one of Carthage, which so long preserved the spirit of its settlers,
and proudly vied with Tyre itself in the extent of its commerce, while
it greatly surpassed it in dominion.
The report of profane writers of the glory and power of Tyre — the
amount of its commerce and navigation — would not be readily credited,
were it not that we find that the prophets themselves speak of it with yet
greater magnificence of language; and one of the most beautiful passages
in the prophecy of Ezekiel is that where a description is given of its
power and grandeur, the number of its vessels, the quantity of its mer­
chants and its merchandise ; and Isaiah speaks of Tyre as the common
city of all nations, and the centre of all commerce, as the queen of cities,
where its merchants were princes, and the traders the most illustrious
persons of the earth. Such was ancient Tyre, which resisted the arms
of Nebuchadnezzar, and stood a siege of thirteen years, during which
time it had fortified and prepared a neighboring island, where they estab­
lished the maritime forces, and to which the merchants removed their
merchandise, so that the loss of the capital, when they ultimately surren­
dered up the barren soil to the conqueror, did not destroy their empire of
the sea, or diminish the reputation of their Commerce. As Commerce
was the only source from which the Phoenicians derived opulence and
power, we find that the trade of Tyre and Sidon was more extensive and
enterprising than that of any state in the ancient world. The spirit of
their laws and the genius of their policy was strictly commercial, and they
may be briefly described as a people of merchants, whose object was the
empire of the sea, and who acquired and retained it through the medium
of Commerce. Their ships frequented all the ports of the Mediterranean,
and passed the ancient boundaries of navigation, the straits of Gades, visit­
ing the coasts of Spain and Africa, in many places planting colonies, and
communicating some improvement in knowledge and the arts to the rude
inhabitants. While extending their commerce on the north and west, the
more opulent and fertile regions of the south and east were not neglected:
they secured several commodious harbors towards the bottom of the Ara­
bian Gulf. Following the example of the Egyptians, they established a
regular intercourse with Arabia and the continent of India on one hand,


Rise and Progress o f Commerce.

and with the eastern coast of Africa on the other; drawing from these
resources many commodities unknown to the rest of the world, and
engrossing for a long period, without rival or competition, that most
lucrative branch of Commerce.
Under the prosperous reigns of David and Solomon, the Jews were
excited, by the reports of the great wealth acquired by the Phcenicians in
their monopoly of the commerce of the Red Sea, to aim at being admit­
ted to a participation, which they succeeded in obtaining, by conquest and
alliance,— the first, of Idumea, which stretches along the Red Sea, and
the second, with Hiram, king of Tyre, who furnished Phoenician pilots
to the fleets fitted out by Solomon, which sailed from the Red Sea for
Tarshish and Ophir, ports probably partly in India and Africa, which they
were accustomed to frequent, and from which the Jewish ships returned
with such valuable cargoes, as suddenly diffused wealth and splendor
throughout the kingdom in such abundance, that, as the Scriptures finely
express it, “ H e” (Solomon) “ made silver in Jerusalem as stones, and
cedar trees as sycamores that grow in the plains.” And when we reflect
that the return of one voyage only to Ophir produced four hundred and
fifty talents of gold, (about two and a half millions of pounds sterling,)
we cannot doubt of the immense profits yielded by this commerce. But
the peculiar national character of the Jewish people, impressed upon them
with a view of separating them from the idolatrous nations with which
they were surrounded, conspired to form an unsocial national character,
and to prevent that open and liberal intercourse with foreigners which
the spirit of Commerce requires; owing to which, and the disasters which
befel the kingdom of Israel, the spirit of Commerce spread slowly, and
was checked easily. Other reasons might be given, from profane history,
for the wonderful success of the Jewish commerce under Solomon, and
its early extinction; but we prefer confining our remarks to historical
facts, which are abundantly sufficient for our purpose, without travelling
beyond the record, or seeking to enlist faith or prejudice in support of
our conclusions.
It was the new city of Tyre which so daringly resisted the progress
of Alexander the Great in his career of victory, and interrupted the mas­
ter of one part of Asia, and delayed for a time his successful progress to
subjugate the other; and, in punishment of its temerity, was entirely
destroyed by the conqueror, its marine and commerce transferred to his
new city of Alexandria, which he had founded as the capital of the em­
pire of Asia, of which he then meditated the conquest, and intended con­
solidating into one gigantic kingdom; but observing the riches and power
produced by Commerce, as evidenced in the obstinate resistance offered
by Tyre to the progress of his arms, while with one hand he smote the
proud and powerful opponent, he was anxious with the other to make
Commerce his minister, and his ally in promoting th^ splendor of Alex­
andria ; but his early death prevented his being a witness of its success.
Commerce has always been opposed to the spirit of conquest and ag­
gression, from the time the first and the second Tyre resisted the arms
of Nebuchadnezzar and Alexander, down to the period when Great Brit­
ain contended, as it were, single-handed and alone, against the French
usurper, whose blows were levelled at her commerce, hut supported and
maintained by which she subsidized the continent of Europe, and eventu­
ally, on the field of Waterloo, established the freedom of Commerce, and
breathed fresh animation and renewed hope into the fainting form of liberty.

Rise and Progress o f Commerce.


As the second Tyre fell before the arms of the conqueror, Carthage, a
Tyrian colony, grew and strengthened by Commerce, and was enabled to
dispute with Rome herself the dominion and empire of the world. Car­
thage had early rivalled and soon surpassed Tyre in opulence and power,
but does not seem to have contended for any share in the commerce of
the Red Sea. The enterprise of the Carthaginians was exercised in another
direction, chiefly towards the west and north. Passing the straits of
Gades, as too circumscribed for their views of discovery, they visited the
coasts of Spain and of Gaul, and penetrated at last into Britain. Not
satisfied with their acquired knowledge in this quarter of the globe, they
turned their inquiries south, made some very considerable progress by
land into the interior provinces of Africa, trading with some, and subject­
ing others to their empire. Proceeding along the western coast of the
great continent of Africa almost to the Tropic of Cancer, they planted
several colonies with a view to civilization and Commerce. The Fortunate
Islands, now known as the Canaries, were discovered by them, and formed
the utmost boundary of discovery and navigation in the western ocean.
Rome, the great opponent, and eventually the conqueror of Carthage,
was supported by conquest, by robbery, and rapine. Carthage, on the
contrary, looked wholly to the peaceful returns of Commerce. While
Rome extended her dominion, and formed a hardy and veteran army,
Carthage, which Commerce had peopled with seven hundred thousand
inhabitants, had to look within herself, and to oppose her raw and undis­
ciplined recruits to the drilled forces of her opponents, and the city was
comparatively deserted to furnish soldiers for the arm y; their fleets, ac­
customed to the transportation of merchandise, were now loaded with sol­
diers and warlike stores, and their chiefs and generals, who made Rome
tremble, were selected from her wisest and most fortunate traders. The
history of the Roman and Carthaginian wars, and their fatal termination as
regarded Carthage, is so well known, that we have only to allude to the
fact that it required fifty years cruel and doubtful war before Carthage was
destroyed, during which, Rome was very nearly visited with that destruc­
tion which afterwards overtook her competitor for the mastery of the world.
We have already mentioned the city of Alexandria, to which the com­
merce and marine of the second Tyre had been transferred by Alexander
the Great. The Ptolemies, who after his death got Egypt for their part
of the spoil of conquest, took care to encourage and foster the infant trade
of Alexandria, and soon brought it to such perfection and extent as to sur­
pass Tyre and Carthage, and it seemed as if Alexandria had gathered to
itself the wealth and commerce of the world. To accomplish this, it pos­
sessed great natural advantages. On one side a free commerce with Asia
and the East by the Red Sea. The same sea and the Nile enabled her to
penetrate the vast and rich countries of Ethiopia— the rest of Africa and
Europe was open to her by the Mediterranean— and as a facility to the
interior commerce of Egypt, besides the Nile, and the canals, the almost
incredible work of the first Egyptians, the advantages of caravans, so con­
venient for the safety of merchants and the transportation of merchandise.
If to these we add a large and safe port, where foreign vessels arrived from
all parts, making Alexandria the depository of all the merchandise of the
East and West, and the store-house from whence vessels were constantly
loaded for Egypt, and for all parts of the known world, we shall have no diffi­
culty in accounting for its rapid growth, with surpassing wealth and power.
It was the immense riches which the commerce of Alexandria spread


Rise and Progress o f Commerce.

throughout Egypt, which enabled their kings to support themselves for
over a century against the Roman power, which tried from time to time
to bring them under subjection. Historians affirm that the customs on
imports and exports on the merchandise which passed through the custom­
house of Alexandria amounted to two hundred and seventy-four millions
of pounds sterling annually, although the imposts which the Ptolemies laid
upon the people were generally admitted to have been moderate enough.
Under the Grecian and Roman republics we discover traces of a culti­
vated Commerce. In several of the states of Greece, particularly Corinth
and Athens, Commerce flourished; but Athens was more particularly
celebrated for commercial knowledge and extensive trade; emulation
was encouraged by the public rewards and honors bestowed upon those
who attained to excellence in the useful arts, and its manufactures enjoyed
a high reputation. The many laws which the people have left to pos­
terity with regard to imports and exports, and contracts of bargain and
sale, the privileges extended to the mercantile interests, the erection of
tribunals to determine controversies between merchants and mariners;
the attention paid to the market, and the many officers concerned in that
department, evince an understanding of the principles of Commerce, and
leave a favorable impression of their judgment and liberality. But not­
withstanding all this, and the advantages of a numerous body of seamen,
which the produce of their mines enabled them to keep in pay, and the
influence which Athens exercised over the other cities of Greece, the
trade was not pursued as extensively as one would have anticipated.
Athens, and the other maritime states of Greece, possessed little or no
commerce beyond the limits of the Mediterranean sea, and their inter­
course was pretty much confined to the colonies planted by themselves
in lesser Asia, in Italy, and Sicily. Sometimes they visited the ports
of Egypt, the southern provinces of Gaul and of Thrace, or passing through
the Hellespont, they traded with the countries around the Euxine sea.
The Roman commerce was even less considerable than that of the
Greeks. Previous to the battle of Actium, the Romans had always found
in the spoils of the nations they had subjected means of filling the treas­
ury of the republic, and furnishing a sufficiency to carry out the plans
of universal monarchy, in which the republic habitually and constantly
indulged; and they regarded Commerce no farther than as an instrument
of conquest, in enabling them to subsidize valor and perfect discipline ;
and when the maritime states of the ancient world fell before the prow­
ess of their army, and Carthage, Greece, and Egypt, fell before them,
the Romans imbibed not the spirit of the conquered nations, and inter­
fered not with their commerce, satisfied that to Rome, as the capital of
the world and the seat of government, all the wealth and productions of
thp provinces would naturally flow. The amazing extent of the Roman
power, which reached over the greatest part of the then known world,
the vigilant inspection of the Roman magistrates, and the active and in­
telligent spirit of the government, gave additional security to and ani­
mated Commerce with new vigor. No national union was ever so close,
no intercourse so perfect, as that of the parts of this immense empire;
one superintending power moved and regulated this mass of human
industry, condensed its energies to a single point, employed the produce
of its efforts on a single point, unobstructed by the jealousy of rival states,
and freed from vexatious restrictions.
But while the Romans so freely tolerated commercial pursuits in oth­
ers, they did not hold it in respect among themselves ; on the contrary,

Rise and Progress o f Commerce.


in their manners, their constitution, and their laws, Commerce was
treated as a dishonorable employment, and the exercise prohibited to
persons of birth, rank, or fortune. The only honorable employment was
agriculture and arms, and traders and mechanics were deemed incapable
of succeeding to any public honors. Commerce — navigation— the me­
chanic arts— were abandoned to slaves, to freedmen, to provincials, and
to citizens of the lowest class.
The resources of conquest and rapine, however great, are soon exhaust­
ed ; but those of Commerce, when cultivated, are steady, equal, and uni­
form in their flow; hence Rome, having overrun, exhausted, and impo­
verished the world, had to look to the commercial provinces for the means
of replenishing her exhausted treasury, and the commerce of Egypt, by
its riches and its credit, secured the readiest means of supporting the
reputation and continuing the domination and empire of Rome.
From the period, therefore, when Augustus reduced Egypt to a Roman
province, he carefully endeavored to extend the commerce of Alexandria,
and to augment that carried on by the Egyptians in Arabia, the Indies, and
the remote parts of the East, by way of the Red S ea; and Alexandria,
become Roman, was only inferior to Rome in grandeur and population.
The magazines of Rome were filled with merchandise from the capital
of Egypt, and very soon Rome and all Italy subsisted on the corn and
other provisions brought by the Egyptian fleet. Josephus affirms (but
his statement may well be questioned for exaggeration) that Alexandria
yielded more riches to the treasury of Rome in one month, than all Egypt
in a year; and if Pliny is to be credited, the profits of the commerce of
Egypt amounted yearly for Rome to one hundred and twenty-five mil­
lions of crowns, which, estimated by Mons. Savary at 54d. sterling per
French crown, amounts to twenty-eight millions one hundred and twentyfive thousand pounds sterling, while the ordinary expenses of the Roman
government we find to have been only one million one hundred and fifty
thousand crowns, only one hundredth part of the revenue derived from
The great wealth derived from the commerce of Alexandria, made all
the other provinces of the empire to flourish ; and as it continued to aug­
ment, it attracted the attention of the senate to its importance to the pros­
perity of the empire, and created a determination to sustain it by estab­
lishing corporations at Rome for trade and tradings, adopting the laws
of the Rhodians for the commerce and navigation of the Mediterranean,
(laws which have since formed part of the laws of nations,) and charging
the magistracy with their execution, they affording full protection to all
engaged in Commerce through the whole extent of the Roman empire.
But this forced and unnatural state of things could not endure. Rome
had extended herself until she became unable to protect her provinces,
and Alexandria in her turn experienced the fate of Tyre and of Carthage.
She was founded by arms, and supported by Commerce, which was her
beauty and her strength. The Saracens, who seized on Egypt in the
reign of Heraclius, by their ferocity drove away the merchants, who love
peace and tranquillity ; and shorn, like Samson, of her strength, Alexan­
dria, which then held the first rank, after Rome and Constantinople, lost
its ancient splendor; and though it subsequently acquired some commer­
cial vigor under the Sultans, and now enjoys some considerable trade, it
is no longer to be recognised as that ancient Alexandria, once so renown­
ed as a mart of Commerce, and for so long a time the support and glory
of the Roman empire.


Advantages and Benefits o f Commerce.

T he occupation of the merchant is one of the most ancient, as it is one
of the most useful of human employments. It devolves on him to collect

the surplus products and fabrics of his native land, and exchange them
for such foreign articles of comfort or luxury as she may require. In this
way he gives substantial encouragement to agriculture and manufactures,
which, but for the markets which he supplies, might languish and decline.
It devolves upon him, too, in times of public scarcity, resulting from un­
favorable seasons and a failure of the home crops, to bring from abroad
the means of subsistence and the necessaries of life for a whole people.
Commerce, likewise, gives a spring to all arts and trades. Whilst en­
riching himself, the merchant furnishes employment to a vast number of
artisans and laborers, and thus helps to knit society together, and to pro­
mote among its members a feeling of mutual interest and good fellowship.
Just consider, for one moment, how many hands are constantly em­
ployed merely in that navigation which bears the merchant’s orders to
the ends of the earth. These orders are usually more punctually exe­
cuted than the edicts of the most absolute despot. In the remotest lands,
thousands stand ready to do his bidding and gratify his wishes. The
ocean groans beneath the weight of his argosies, tvhich from the farthest
climes bring riches and abundance, and lay them at his feet. The count­
ing-room of the merchant may be likened to the cabinet of a powerful
monarch, that sets the whole world in motion. He establishes the only
practicable and beneficial community of goods. He renders the produc­
tions, the fabrics, the discoveries of every nation, accessible to all the rest.
He brings the widely-scattered inhabitants of our globe into contact, es­
tablishes relations and facilitates intercourse among them, and enables
each country to enjoy, reciprocally, the peculiar blessings and advantages
of every other. “ He provides such facilities of intellectual communica­
tion between the remotest regions, that not a bright idea can spring up
in the brain of a foreign scholar, than it darts like lightning across the
Atlantic ; not an improvement obtains in the condition of one society, but
it is instantly propagated to every other. By this perpetual interchange
of thought, and this active diffusion of intellect, the most favorable op­
portunities are afforded for the dissemination of useful knowledge, and
especially for the extension of that most precious of gifts, the Gospel of
Jesus.” What could our missionaries do without our ships ?
Of the connexion that has, from the earliest ages, subsisted between
commerce and intellectual improvement, the records of the human race
bear ample and constant evidence. The perfection and happiness of our
nature arise, in a great degree, from the exercise of our relative and so­
cial feelings; and the wider these are extended, the more excellent and
accomplished will be the character that is formed. The first step to com­
mercial intercourse is rude and selfish, and consists of little more than an
interchange or barter of articles necessary to tbe accommodation of the
parties. But as this intercourse is extended, mutual confidence takes
place; habits of acquaintance, and even of esteem and friendship, are
formed; till it may, perhaps, without exaggeration, be asserted, that of all
the bonds by which society is at this day united, those of mercantile con­
nexion are the most numerous and the most extensive. The direct con­

Advantages and Benefits o f Commerce.


sequence of this is not only an increase of wealth to those countries where
commerce is carried on to its proper extent, but an improvement in the
intellectual character, and a superior degree of civilization, in those by
whom its operations are conducted. Accordingly, we find that in every
nation where commerce has been cultivated upon great and enlightened
principles, a considerable proficiency has been made in liberal studies and
pursuits. Without recurring to the splendid examples of antiquity, to
Tyre, and Sidon, and Corinth, and Carthage, it may be sufficient to ad­
vert to the effect produced by the Free Stales in Italy, and the Hanse
Towns in Germany, in improving the character of the age. Under the
influence of commerce, the barren islands of Venice, and the unhealthy
swamps of Holland, became not only the seats of opulence and splendor,
but the abodes of literature, science, and the arts; and vied with each
other, not less in the number and celebrity of their eminent men and
distinguished scholars, than in the extent of their mercantile concerns.
Such are the services and benefits of that ancient and honorable voca­
tion, which Gothic prejudices have attempted to brand with opprobrium,
eVen in the bosom of nations that owe their wealth and splendor chiefly
to commerce. In the old world generally, and even in England, till very
recently, the peaceful merchant was regarded with contempt by the stu­
pid soldier, who had not sense enough to perceive that without the aid
of the merchant he could neither clothe nor subsist his army. It was
her commerce and manufactures that enabled that country to bear up
against the tremendous power of the “ man of destiny,” and to form those
powerful coalitions, and support those vast armies, which she mustered
from all parts of continental Europe, to talce the field and fight the great
battles in whiclr her very existence was involved. It was this “ nation
of shopkeepers ” that humbled his pride, and crushed his power. Is not
this useful calling quite as honorable as the inglorious ease in w'hich so
many of the nobility and gentry of the old world wear out their unpro­
fitable lives ? Is not the merchant as respectable a member of the com­
munity as the luxurious planter, the time-serving politician, or the cring­
ing office-seeker ? How long will the foolish vanity of men lead them
to look down upon those from whom they receive the most important
benefits ? Shall honor be always awarded exclusively to the destroyers
and corrupters of our race? Ought it not to be conferred on those who
are employed in supplying the wants and promoting the comfort and
welfare of mankind ?
This unworthy and foolish prejudice against trade dates back to those
times of barbarism and ferocity, when the rising communities of men were
as yet unacquainted with the benefits which commerce confers. We are
told that in the republics of Greece, merchants were ineligible to public
office, and were excluded from the cares of state. From similar ignorance
the ancient Romans, who were solely occupied with agriculture and war,
regarded the occupation of the merchant as disreputable and degrading.
But time and necessity gradually disabused their minds of these ridicu­
lous prejudices, till at last the most distinguished persons in the state
were not ashamed of exercising a calling which they found so gainful
to themselves, and so advantageous to their country.
When the swarms of barbarous nations from the northern hive had
overrun the Roman empire, and parcelled it out among themselves, the
prejudice against trade revived. Europe was for ages plunged in gross
darkness and in perpetual warfare. The profession of arms was the only
vox., i.— no. in.


Commerce o f the East.

one that was accounted respectable and manly. The people, hemmed in
and kept down by an insolent soldiery, could have no communication with
one another. Commerce, which can never flourish without liberty, was
carried on solely by Jews and usurers, who were a continual prey to the
exactions of a thousand petty tyrants. Being thus engrossed by men
devoid of character and principle, it fell into disrepute. None but such
wretches, allured by the expectation of vast profits, would undertake to
pursue a calling environed with so many difficulties and dangers. Such,
undoubtedly, was the origin of that aversion and contempt with which
trade was for a long time regarded by what were called the higher orders
in the old monarchies of Europe.
In the mean time, some republics, taking advantage of their liberty,
engaged successfully in commerce, and by this means attained a degree
of wealth and power that excited the admiration and envy of other nations.
Venice, Genoa, Pisa, Holland, showed the rest of Europe the wonderful
effects that commerce can produce. Princes then began to encourage i t ;
the Cape of Good Hope was doubled; a new world was discovered ; and
the unexplored wealth of two hemispheres, the untold treasures of both the
Indies, aroused the cupidity of the nations. They all rushed into this new
source of aggrandizement, and the indifference with which they had hith­
erto regarded commercial adventure was changed into a universal enthu­
siasm, and they were soon found struggling with one another to secure
the monopoly of the most lucrative branches of trade. From that time com­
merce has firmly established itself as one of the most honorable of em­
ployments, and one of the principal sources of national opulence and power.


Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin China, Siam, and Muscat; in
the United States sloop o f war Peacock. By E dmund R oberts. New
York: 1838. Harper & Brothers.
U ntil within a very late period, there has not prevailed, among our
mercantile community, that degree of information upon the productions,
trade, and necessities of Asia, and the western coast of Africa, which our
extending commerce with that quarter of the world has imperiously
demanded; while, at the same time, our national government has been
strangely indifferent to the pursuit of those inquiries, and the effecting of
those treaties with Eastern powers, which would stimulate our merchants
to renewed energy in this branch of trade, and by increasing the facilities
for the accumulation of individual wealth, establish the more firmly the
bulwarks of national prosperity. Even at the present day, much remains
to be accomplished before American commerce with the East will be placed
upon a satisfactory footing; and we feel confident, that attention will be
readily and gladly directed to some remarks upon its present situation.
The extent and importance of this commerce may be estimated from
the fact, that during a single year, there arrived in two ports of Java one
hundred and one ships, the united tonnage of which amounted to thirtyeight thousand eight hundred and seventy tons ; and yet, although to this
demand for protection may be added the whale fishery on the Japanese
coast, until within a trifling modicum of time, not a single vessel of war

Commerce o f the East.


afforded the protective influence of the flag of our country, from the west
of Africa to the east of Japan, and our merchantmen trading to Java, Su­
matra, and the Philippine Islands, were totally unprotected; we are not
prepared to say that, even now, the appearance of vessels of war in that
direction is dependent on more than the execution of some particular
mission. But government has not of late years been wholly idle.
The afflictive circumstances attending the plunder of the ship Friend­
ship, of Salem, Massachusetts, and the barbarous murder of a great part
of her crew by the natives of Qualah Battoo, are impressed upon the memo­
ries of all, by the signal and salutary vengeance inflicted, by order of the
government, by the U. S. ship of war Potomac. This transaction in­
spired the executive to undertake sufficient and decisive measures to
obtain an understanding into the why and wherefore of the neglected
state of American commerce with certain Eastern princes, and of the dif­
ference of duties paid on English and American commerce, in favor of
the former; and to endeavor to effect treaties with the courts of Cochin
China, Siam, and Muscat, where these disadvantages were most signal
— which would place American commerce on a surer basis, and on an
equality with that of the most favored nations trading to those regions.
This result was of essential importance; for our commerce with Siam and
Muscat rested on the most precarious foundation, subject to every species
of imposition which could be the consequent of uncerta in protection. And,
furthermore, pecuniary extortions did not limit the liabilities of the Ameri­
can citizen. His person, in common with that of other foreigners, was
subject, by law, to the uncontrolled discretion of his creditors; for the
life, as well as the property of a debtor, was forfeit at the court of Siam.
Mr. Edmund Boberts, of Portsmoutb, N. H., was deputed by our gov­
ernment, as a special agent to carry into effect these new measures; and
we have been indebted to the interesting volume from his pen, published
a year or two since, by the Messrs. Harper, for many of our data. While
Mr. Roberts has labored to render his work subservient to the interests
of commerce, he has not neglected to gratify the curiosity of the general
reader; and has agreeably diversified his details of the accomplishment
of his special purpose, by highly interesting descriptions of the natural
scenery, productions, language, manners, ceremonies, etc., of the nations
he visited. His work, thus rendered pleasing to all, is entitled, “ Em­
bassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin China, Siam, and Muscat.”
We cannot better fulfil our purpose than in accompanying Mr. Roberts
in his progress, and presenting, in a condensed form, his observations,
and the success of his mission; combining therewith such information
as we have been able to glean from other sources, and such reflections
as may seem of advantage.
In October, of the year 1832, the Peacock ship of war, bearing Mr.
Roberts, anchored in the roadstead of Manilla. The hay of this city is
of noble extent, and of a great degree of safety. The city itself, which,
by a census taken in 1818, contained a population of upwards of six thou­
sand, exclusive of the military, lies on the south side of the river Pasig.
The commerce of the city is carried on at Binondo, St. Cruz, &c.,— towns
on the right bank of the river, with which Manilla is connected by a
bridge of stone. The Europeans in the island, including the military, do
not exceed seven hundred in number, while there are about seven thou­
sand Chinese; the remainder are Indians. The principal articles of ex­
port are, indigo, sugar, rice, hemp, or Manilla grass, cotton, cocoa-nut oil,


Commerce o f the East.

sulphur, bichos de mer, coffee, wax, and hides. Of the article bichos de
mer, a few words of explanation may he desirable. It is a fish, entitled
by the English, sea slug, or sea cucumber; balate, by the Philippine Is­
landers ; bichos de mer, by the Portuguese. When contracted, it resem­
bles a cucumber, and it is difficult to discover the eyes and mouth. It is
prepared in a variety of ways for food, and is very nutritive. No less than
eight hundred thousand pounds of this fish were shipped to Canton in 1831
from Manilla. Our attention was first directed to this article of commerce
by a highly intelligent and shrewd Irishman, named O’Connell, who had
been shipwrecked in the Indian seas, and whose very interesting and in­
structive adventures were some time since compiled by H. Hastings Weld,
Esq., of this city. The work did not obtain that attention which its intrin­
sic worth demanded. Mr. O’Connell was earnest in his belief, that, from
the great estimate placed upon the bichos de mer in China, a very lucra­
tive business might be carried on by exporting it from Manilla, or other
islands, in American bottoms, to Canton. Mr. Weld gives, if we remem­
ber aright, in the work referred to, entitled, “ O’Connell’s Adventures,”
a detail of the process of preparing it for market.
A large portion of the rice is exported to Canton by Americans, to save
the measurement duty; or to Lintin, when they proceed elsewhere to pur­
chase other than China goods. Occasionally, from scarcity or caprice,
the exportation is prohibited by the government. The Manilla hemp is
the fibrous bark of a wild banana, and grows abundantly in all the Phi­
lippine Islands. The cocoa-nut oil is mostly shipped to Singapore, and
from thence to England, where it is manufactured into candles. Wheat
is raised in abundance, and ship bread, of a very superior quality, is gene­
rally sold at from four to five dollars the hundred pounds.
The imports are British, India, and China goods, wines, sheathing
copper and nails, iron and steel, cocoa from Peru, &c. The import duty,
in foreign vessels, is fourteen per cent., Spanish; the export duty, three
per cent., excepting on hemp, which is free. The importations in 1831
amounted to nearly two millions of dollars; the exports for the same
period to a million and a half.
The Spanish government permits no foreigners to remain at Manilla,
even to this day, as permanent settlers ; they are liable to be ordered out
of the country by the governor at any moment, and this right is some­
times exercised.
Proceeding with Mr. Roberts, we arrive at Macao, from whence, some
eighteen miles, is Lintin, or Lingting, both places of much importance in
connexion with the Canton trade. This latter island was scarcely inhabit­
ed until 1814, when, in consequence of a dispute between the British and
Chinese, the East India Company’s ships remained here for some time.
Population increasing, supplies of beef and vegetables became plentiful,
and American and other ships were induced to make it a place of ren­
dezvous. But the chief impulse was given to Lintin by the prohibition
of the importation of opium both at Canton and Macao. The vessels
engaged in importing the article repaired to this anchorage, where they
found every facility, through Chinese boats, either to smuggle or purchase
it. This was the origin of the opium “ go-downs,” as they are techni­
cally called, or receiving ships, for this and other articles for the Canton
market. In 1832, there were seven or eight ships engaged in this illegal
traffic, among which was one American vessel, named the Lingting.
The contraband trade in opium has been steadily progressing, in defiance

Commerce o f the East.


of the Chinese laws, until, as is well known to the mercantile community,
it has resulted in the total stoppage of the foreign, trade. Most of the
foreigners in Canton, by latest advices, had been imprisoned, and the
foreign merchantmen in port captured and detained. The ship Omega,
which arrived July 31st, and brought this important intelligence, was
pursued, and barely escaped. The opium on board the English smug­
gling vessels had been seized, to the value of half a million of dollars,
and the crews were ordered to be hanged.
These circumstances, of so recent a date, invest the opium trade with
Canton with an interest which may authorize some more extended re­
marks upon it, and the objects of the Chinese government in its suppres­
sion. It scarcely attracted the attention of merchants previous to the year
1816. The Chinese authorities early adopted measures for its suppres­
sion, since it is one of the most destructive narcotics ever known. The
stern interference of the government in regard to it has been the more
necessary, from the collusion of the Chinese people with the smugglers,
being eager to possess and indulge in its use. Its dreadful effects may
be constantly observed in the streets of Canton, and a confirmed opium
smoker is, of all pitiable objects, apparently the most degraded and worth­
less. In the terse and vivid description by Mr. Roberts, “ when he has
once passed the Rubicon, reformation seems to be impossible; the sting
of death, which is sin, has seized upon him, his feet are already within
the precincts of the grave, and he has sunk, like Lucifer, never to rise
again. When the effect has subsided, an emaciated, nerveless wretch is
seen, with a cadaverous skin, eyes wildly protruding from their sockets,
the step faltering, the voice weak and feeble, and the countenance idiotic;
but, while under the influence of the narcotic, the visions of the opium
smoker are exquisite, brilliant, heavenly.”
An idea of the destructive tendency of this trade may be gathered from
a view of the alarming increase of the imports. In the season ending in
1817, three thousand two hundred and ten chests of Patna, Benares, and
Maloa opium, containing one hundred and forty pounds each chest, were
imported, which sold for the sum of upwards of three millions and a half
of dollars. In the season ending in 1833, fifteen thousand six hundred
and sixty-two chests, from India, were imported, which sold for nearly
fourteen millions of dollars; and the advices by the Omega inform us,
that, after the summary measures at Canton, opium to the value of twenty
millions of dollars had been put on board the ships in the harbor of Macao,
and six thousand boxes remained on shore. To this calculation, much
is to be added for the importation of Turkey opium, of which no regular
account can be obtained, and also for a quantity smuggled by Chinese junks
from Singapore. This drug has been vended openly by the foreign mer­
chants, but it is probable that a severe check has now been given to the trade.
Passing to Canton and its commerce, the first curious and well known
fact obtrudes itself upon our notice, that the policy of the Chinese gov­
ernment should have confined the commerce of the whole empire to this
one port; which fact is of incalculable disadvantage to it, since its most
distant provinces participate in the commerce of Canton, and there is hi
all of them a greater or less demand for foreign productions, which, how­
ever, is materially restricted by the difficulties attending their supply, and
the conveyance of domestic products across the empire in return. Nor
is this policy immaterial to the foreign trader. The com
on between
the expense of conveying black teas from Fuh-keen, the province in which


Commerce o f the East.

they are produced, to Canton, and of their conveyance to the port of Fuhchou, in Fuh-keen, exhibits, that admission to the latter port would save
the East India Company nearly £200,000 annually.
The English did not begin an intercourse with China until about the
year 1635. The whole number of English arrivals in 1832 was eightyseven, and the value of their imports and exports was as follows: imports,
twenty-two millions and a half of dollars; exports, eighteen millions and
a half. The American trade to China began after the revolutionary war.
In 1784 or 5, by the earliest information which can be obtained, two ships
were sent, laden, to Canton. In return, they carried to the United States
eight hundred and eighty thousand pounds of tea. In the following sea­
son, only one vessel was sent: in 1833 the number was fifty-nine. The
imports and exports of this latter period were as follows : imports, about
eight millions and a half of dollars; and the exports, some ten thousand
dollars greater. The whole China trade with all nations, in 1832 - 3,
employed, annually, one hundred and forty first-rate vessels, and a large
amount of capital. It is a very important branch of modern commerce,
yet it has ever existed, and is still carried on, under circumstances pecu­
liar to itself. No commercial treaties secure it, and it is regulated by no
stipulated rules; yet it lives, and, in spite of the overthrows which tempo­
rarily shackle it, must flourish.
Vessels intending to proceed to Canton, must obtain a permit and a
pilot at Macao. So soon as one arrives, before the cargo can be dis­
charged, the consignee is necessitated to obtain a security merchant, a
linguist, and a comprador. The former gives security to government
for the payment of duties on the ship; the linguist holds the rank of
interpreter, transacts all business at the custom-house, procures permits,
&c .; and the comprador provides stores and provisions for it while in
port. The security merchant must be a member of the co-hong, a com­
pany composed of twelve individuals, and usually called the hong mer­
chants. They rank among the most respectable and wealthy inhabitants
of Canton, and enjoy the great bulk of the foreign trade.
The port charges consist of measurement duty, cumshaw, pilotage, lin­
guist and comprador’s fees. The measurement duty varies; — on a vessel
of three hundred tons, it is about six hundred and fifty dollars; of thir­
teen hundred tons, three thousand dollars. Tonnage is not, however, an
unvarying criterion for measurement duties; but, for all ships, the cum­
shaw, pilotage, and comprador’s fees, amount to two thousand five hun­
dred and seventy-three dollars.
The Chinese weigh all articles, bought and sold, which are capable of
being weighed; as money, wood, liquids, &c. On this account, their
dealings are manifestly more simple than those of other nations who buy
and sell with more particular reference to the articles themselves. The
circulating medium between foreigners and the Chinese is broken Span­
ish dollars, the value of which is computed by weight. Mexican and
United States dollars are not received by the Chinese. Each individual
coin receives the mark of the person through whose hands it passes ; and
as these marks soon become numerous, it is speedily broken in pieces.
But the process of stamping still continues, until, finally, the fragments
become so small as to be paid away altogether by weight. The highest
weight used in reckoning money is the tale, which is about a dollar and
thirty-nine hundredths ; the next, the mace, equal to one tenth of a tale ;
next, the candareen, a hundredth of a tale ; and the least, the cash, of which

Commerce o f the East.


a thousand make a tale; this last, however, is the only Chinese coin,
and is made of six parts of copper and four of lead. The weights, be­
sides those of money, are, first, the pekul, equal to one hundred and six­
ty-two pounds and a fraction, (troy;) the catty, the hundredth part of a
pekul, and the tale, the sixteenth part of a catty.
We now accompany Mr. Roberts upon his immediate mission. He
first visited Cochin-China, coming to anchor in the fine harbor of Vunglam, about one hundred miles from Hue, the capital. We regret that we
are unable to record any successful results of his communication with the
government of this kingdom. While disposed, in compliance with the
demands of eastern etiquette, to sacrifice personal feeling to a degree, he
did not deem it proper or advantageous to compromise the dignity of his
country, or jeopardize her honor; and, since insulting formalities were
required efs preliminaries to a treaty, no alternative was left but that of
terminating a protracted correspondence, signalized throughout by the
grossest duplicity on the part of the official servants of the emperor.
At the same time, he was unable to obtain any accurate information
respecting the productions and government of the empire.
Weighing anchor, the Peacock conveyed Mr. Roberts to Siam; he being
charged with the first mission ever sent to that kingdom from the United
States. The respect and attention which he received were highly gratify­
ing, since they testified to the good feeling entertained towards the country
of which he was the representative. It is extraneous to our design to enter
upon the consideration of any inquiries and observations not of a commer­
cial character, or we could highly entertain our readers with some very hap­
py and interesting descriptions of the manners, customs, etc., of this sin­
gular people. We can only refer the reader to Mr. Roberts’ book, by the
perusal of which he will not fail to be equally instructed and amused.
Siam is a fertile country, and probably exceeds any other country to
the eastward of the Cape of Good Hope, in productions suited for foreign
trade. It is no less distinguished for its mineral than its vegetable pro­
ducts. Its exports for the year 1832 amounted to a sum not less than
four and a half millions of dollars. It would consume too much room
to enumerate all, or the most of the articles, which compose them ; the
most important are, pepper, sugar, tin, bar-iron, cotton, dried fish, sapanwood, teak-timber, rose-wood, barks, leather, iron-wood, pitch, wood oil,
palm sugar, rattans, cardamom, ivory, skins of various kinds, raw silk,
etc. etc. The imports consist of British piece goods, white and printed,
with some woollens ; India goods; China products in general; powder,
arms, cannon, glass ware and crockery, cutlery, arrack, wine, etc. Cot­
ton twist is increasing in demand. The dresses should be of star patterns,
as also prints, on bright grounds.
In March, 1833, Mr. Roberts effected a treaty with the government of
Siam, removing all obstacles to a lucrative and important branch of our
commerce. The merchant may now buy or sell of whom he pleases;
whereas, prior to this treaty, the American merchant was compelled to
purchase and sell of the king’s agent, that functionary claiming the exclu­
sive right so to monopolize the trade. In addition, the American merchant
was compelled to submit to extortion of various descriptions — he could
not sell for a fair value, nor purchase at fair rates — the duties and port
charges were not defined, and were immoderate ; and presents were ex­
acted, generally to the amount of a thousand dollars per ship. By the arti­
cles of the treaty, these irregularities are removed, making a difference of


Commerce with Japan.

not less than $30,000 on a cargo of $40,000. The king’s monopoly is
broken up, the price of sugar is fixed, as are the duties and charges, and
presents are no longer required. That an estimate of the commercial im­
portance of Siam may be made, we state, that the population of the capital
and Bang-kok, an adjacent city, is four hundred and fifty thousand souls.
We proceed with Mr. Roberts to Muscat; the sole object of his visit
to that kingdom being to effect a commercial treaty with his highness
the Sultan, and to obtain a reduction of the duties and port charges, so
as to place American commerce on a footing with other nations. This
was accomplished without delay. Previous to the conclusion of the
treaty, American vessels paid generally seven and a half per cent, upon
imports, and the same upon exports, with anchorage money and presents ;
government claiming the right of pre-emption in both cases, as in Siam.
By the treaty, the commerce of our country is burdened with but a sin­
gle charge, viz.,Jive per cent, on all merchandise landed; and it is freed
from the charge of pilotage.
The Sultan of Muscat is more powerful than any native prince from
the Cape of Good Hope to Japan; possessing a more efficient naval force.
His possessions in Africa stretch from Cape Delgardo to Cape Gardafui;
and in Arabia, from Cape Adento to the entrance of the Persian Gulf; and
the coast of the Persian Gulf is tributary to him. From his African ports
are exported gum-copal, aloes, gum-arabic, colombo-root, and other drugs,
ivory, tortoise-shell, hides, beeswax, cocoa-nut oil, rice, etc. The exports
from Muscat are, wheat, dates, horses, raisins, salt, dried fish, and drugs.
We have thus accompanied Mr. Roberts through the objects of his
mission, and presented to the reader the results of his investigations so
far as they are included in the scope of our intended inquiries. They
will be perused with interest, we doubt not, for the information they
convey, and the prospects they advance.


Notes o f the Voyage of the Morrison from Canton to Japan.
K ing. New York: 1839. E. French.

By C. W.

T he monopoly which the Dutch have enjoyed in commerce with Japan
for more than two centuries, to the almost entire exclusion of all other
European nations, has often arrested the attention and excited the wonder
of commercial men, while but few have taken the trouble to ascertain
how this important privilege was first obtained, or how it has been se­
cured till the present time. To Mr. King, a member of the highly re­
spectable house of Talbot, Olyphant, & Co., and the accomplished author
of the volume before us, the public, and particularly the commercial public,
are greatly indebted, for the new light which he has thrown upon an
important portion of Eastern Asia, in prosecuting a voyage, mainly dic­
tated by the most honorable feelings of humanity— prompted by a desire
to return to their native land several wretched exiles, some of whom had
been wrecked near the mouth of the Oregon upon our own coast. Not
the least entertaining and important part of Mr. King’s work, is the in­
troduction, containing a clear and well-digested account of the intercourse,
at different periods, of Europeans with the Japanese empire; and before

Portuguese Intercourse.


we proceed to detail an account of the voyage, we call the readers’ atten­
tion to a synopsis of this part of the book, compiled chiefly from Charle­
voix, Kaempfer, Krusenstern, and other writers, to whose works, from
their great scarcity, the public cannot easily obtain access.
Accident first brought the Portuguese in contact with the remote em­
pire of Japan. In the year 1542, Fernando Mendez Pinto, taking pas­
sage in a junk from China to Loochoo, was driven by a gale to one of
the western islands of the Japanese archipelago. In the same year, the
celebrated Xavier arrived at Goa, and began in India his apostolical
career, and at the same time a commercial intercourse began between
the western ports of Japan and Macao. In 1549, Xavier landed with two
companions and a Japanese convert at Kagosima, where, by permission
of the prince of Satsuma, he founded a church and preached the gospel,
and obtained many followers. Xavier was soon cut off by death, but he
had many successors, who had to contend with the constantly fluctuating
friendships of the princes andrulers. About the year 1566, the Portu­
guese traders first pointed out to the prince of Omura the advantages
of the harbor of Nagasaki over the ports they had been used to frequent.
“ Their suggestions,” says Mr. King, “ led to the formation of a settle­
ment, which, ere long, became an important city, and which retains an
unhappy celebrity down to our day. It may give some idea of the rapid
extension of Catholicism at this time, to add, that the successor of Xavier
di.ed in 1570, having founded fifty churches, and baptized more than
30,000 converts with his own hands. Yet, mingled with these successes,
we have accounts of the apostasy of one of the princes, and the persecu­
tions inflicted by order of another.”
In 1582, when Fide Yos'i, the famous Taico, began his reign, he found
himself under the necessity of favoring the Jesuits, many of his best offi­
cers being their friends. It is said that the monarch’s refusal to give up
his Harem was at this time the only reason that he was not himself bap­
tized. But Taico was ambitious and unprincipled, and soon came to an
open rupture with the missionaries, assigning as one reason for this un­
fortunate change, the refusal of the ladies of Christian families to share
the royal bed. In 1587, he issued his first edict for the banishment of
the Catholics; they were required to retire to Firando within twenty
days, and to depart from the country within six months, oil pain of death.
The crosses they had erected,” says Mr. King, “ were ordered to be
thrown down, and the churches razed. The Portuguese trade was permit­
ted to go on as before, but the merchants were forbidden to bring, any more
missionaries, or to speak on religious subjects with the Japanese. A hun­
dred and twenty missionaries left their stations, in submission to this edict,
and retired to Firando. An order then came for them all to embark in a
ship about to sail for India. This was the test. A few obeyed, but the
greater number refused to abandon their flocks, and once more scattered
themselves through the principalities of Omura, Arima, Bungo, &c.”
Under all the persecutions of various princes, the Jesuits retained a
strong foothold in Japan, and the Portuguese continued to carry on a profitablecommerce till the reign of Yeye Mitson. By his orders, the prison
of Desima, ofFNagasaki, was constructed, and in 1635 the Portuguese were
there confined, and the Dutch taken into partial favor. The patience of
the native Catholics became exhausted, and those of Arima and Simabara
flew to arms. “ Thirty-eight thousand of them,” we quote from Mr.
King, “ fortified themselves in the latter place. The besieging army,
VOL. x.— no . in .


Commerce with Japan.

eight thousand strong, could not reduce the fortress; and the Dutch direc­
tor, Kockebecker, was summoned to its aid. The walls of Simabara were
battered by the Dutch cannon, and its brave defenders perished to a man,
fighting to the last. Some apology might again be made for this co-ope­
ration at the siege of Simabara, had its defenders been the countrymen of
Alva, or Requesens, or John of Austria, or Alexander Farnese. But truth
requires that the measures of Kockebecker should be regarded as the alter­
native, which he deliberately preferred to the interruption of the Dutch
Many false charges were preferred against the Portuguese; their ships,
when they arrived, were ordered away. On the receipt of this informa­
tion at Macao, great consternation prevailed, and four distinguished citi­
zens were sent to soften the rigorous proceedings of the government of
Japan. They arrived at Nagasaki in 1640, and were immediately put
under arrest, and sentenced to death for entering the country in violation
of the edict. The following impious inscription was placed on their
common grave: — “ So long as the sun shall warm the earth, let no
Christians be so bold as to come to Japan; and let all know, that the
king of Spain himself, or the Christian’s God, or the great Saca, if he
violate this command, shall pay for it with his head.”
Thus ended the valuable commerce of the Portuguese with Japan,
which at various times they vainly sought to renew. We now come to
the history of the D utch I ntercourse.
Our preceding remarks have chiefly related, necessarily to a full under­
standing of the subject, to ecclesiastical matters; the history of the Dutch
intercourse is strictly commercial in its details. The first ship belonging
to the Dutch that visited Japan, was one of the five vessels that left the
Texel, under command of Admiral Mahu, in 1588. Permission was
obtained to trade with Japan, but some years passed away before use
was made of it. On the arrival of Dutch ships in 1611, a formal edict
in favor of their trade was obtained. A decided preference was shown
to the Dutch nation by the reception of their envoy; while the Corean
and Portuguese ambassadors were turned away. About the year 1627,
an embassy from Batavia arrived in Japan, headed by the unfortunate
Nuits. Mr. King observes,
“ This envoy gave himself out as an accredited minister of the king of
Holland, and was received as such; but when the imposition was detect­
ed, when his credentials were found to date from Batavia, the royal reply
was withheld, and he was sent home. Appointed soon after governor of
the Dutch settlements on Formosa, and not having forgotten his uncere­
monious dismissal, he seized two Japanese junks by way of revenge.
After being detained on different pretexts for more than a year, the ex­
asperated crews armed themselves, surrounded the house of Nuits, and
made him prisoner, killing his guard. They then demanded their sails
and anchors, indemnification for all their expenses, and twenty-five thou­
sand pounds of silk, which they said they had advanced the money for
in China, and which was now lost in consequence of their having been
so long detained. The garrison, seeing their governor in danger, and
fearing to commit a violence which might be revenged on all the Dutch
at Firando, complied with these demands. The Japanese were dismis­
sed, and reported all to their government on their return home in 1631.
When their story reached the Kubo, he ordered the ships of the Dutch
Company, nine in number, to be seized, and the trade to be stopped.
No explanation was given, and all the efforts of the director to obtain

Dutch Monopoly.


any, or to adjust the difficulty, were in vain. The utmost influence of
the director could only effect that their merchandise in Firando, amount­
ing to a million of crowns, should be sold, and the proceeds retained.
“ The Dutch relations remained in this anomalous situation three years.
The non-arrival of vessels, and indirect reports, alarmed the authorities
at Batavia, and a private vessel was sent to ascertain the true state of
affairs. This vessel was permitted to discharge and receive a cargo, with
which she returned to Batavia; but her voyage threw no light on the
cause of these strange events. Meanwhile Nuits had been recalled to
Batavia from Formosa, and kept under arrest. The impression became
general that his detention of the Japanese junks was the outrage now
so severely visited on the Dutch. In vain the poor man begged that he
might be tried for his offence, and, if justice required, be put to death.
It was determined to sacrifice him as a sin-offering to the offended Kubo,
and in 1636 he was sent prisoner to Japan. On his landing, he was
given up to the authorities as the author of the outrage at Formosa, and
the mercy of the government besought on his behalf. The expiation was
now made, the trade was re-opened, but Nuits was still held in suspense.
An embassy came with rich presents the following year, the emperor
was again entreated in favor of the humbled prisoner, and he was then
released and permitted to return home. There are few instances in his­
tory of a more perfect execution of the lex talinnis,— of a more humili­
ating recoil of private revenge.”
“ The Dutch were now left in sole possession of the trade with Japan,
and since that time, it is well known, their monopoly has never been
disturbed. Their subsequent political intercourse has been limited to an
occasional mission from Batavia, and the visits of the Dutch chief of the
factory to Yeddo, formerly made annually, but now once in four years.
Charlevoix mentions embassies in 1644, 1656, and 1659. It was while
the second of these missions was at Yeddo, that two thirds of that city,
and one hundred thousand of its population, were destroyed by fire. It
remains to trace briefly the use the Dutch have made of the monopoly
to which they had so long aspired.
“ Of the assortment and value of their import cargoes, in the 17th cen­
tury, we have little or no account. Their returns had been in silver chiefly,
until 1641, when the directors of the company suggested returns in gold.
Japanese copper was at this time in little estimation in Europe, because
little known ; but afterward, on a rise in value, it became an important
return. The first order, for twenty thousand piculs, was sent out in 1655.”
As early as 1671, the drain of their gold, silver, and copper, began to
excite the fears of the Japanese; the export of silver was prohibited, but
copper and gold still remained free. The amount of the latter exported
by the Dutch in one year was one hundred thousand kobangs, and yielded
a profit of one million florins. The government becoming more and more
interested in the drain of their metals, at last laid heavy restrictions upon
their commerce, and limited the value both of exports and imports. In
1700, the limitation already laid upon the imports was extended to the
ships of the company, which were restricted to four per year; and as a
further trial of patience, the export of copper was limited, in 1714, to fif­
teen thousand piculs, and the number of annual vessels to two or three,
according to the quantity of copper in store. “ Under these circumstan­
ces,” says our author, “ the trade, which had yielded an annual profit of
five or six hundred thousand florins for the thirty years previous, would
no longer pay the charges.”


Commerce with Japan.

Relative to the reductions of the currency, Mr. King makes the fol­
lowing remarks:
“ The successive reductions of the currency, and restrictions on metal­
lic exports, were regarded by the Dutch as aimed entirely at them. But
on this point we agree with Sir T. S. Baffles, that the Japanese govern­
ment probably had higher aims. In fact, it seems clear that the enor­
mous export of gold and silver coin was felt as a great evil in a country
where paper money was not known. This drain is variously estimated
at from thirty to sixty million pounds sterling, in the sixty years when
the export was free. Now, if the influx of specie from the American
mines in the sixteenth century, at the rate of six million pounds per an­
num, speedily reduced the value of gold and silver in Europe to one third
what it was before, how probable it is that the circulating medium of a
country so small as Japan would be seriously diminished by so great a
' drain. In fact, with the views which the Japan ministers possessed, we
can only wonder that the export was permitted so long. The subject is
not one beyond the range of Asiatics. A comparatively trifling export
of silver, resulting from the opium trade, is at this moment engaging the
cabinet of Pekin, and has elicited very able memorials from Chinese
statesmen within the last twelve months. The love of gold and silver,
and the reluctance-to part with them, are no doubt indigenous every where,
even in China and Japan. The restrictions on the export of copper seem
to have arisen from similar fears of exhausting the mines. Many years
later, we find a pretended friend of the Dutch counselling that so much
only should be exported annually as the country would forever afford ;
‘because trade is the basis of the friendship of the Hollanders, and copper
is the support of the trade.’”
In 1811, when Holland fell under the French occupation, Great Brit­
ain took possession of the Javan Islands, and the Dutch residents at Na­
gasaki were' more than three years without communication with Europe.
It is not to be supposed that the Dutch monopolists will permit any tempt­
ing disclosures to be made relative to their profits; but, from their own mis­
management, they have probably not been great at any period since 1740.
It is hardly necessary to give a detailed account of the frequent at­
tempts made by England to open a commercial intercourse with Japan;
it will be sufficient to mention the last effort, which terminated in a failure.
In June, 1819, Captain Gordon touched at the bay of Yeddo, on his
way to Ochotsk, in a small brig; he forwarded to Yeddo, through some
government officers, a request to trade. The petition was rejected, and
thirty junks sent to tow the brig out of the bay.
In 1803, the Russians, desirous of opening an intercourse between
Kamtschatka and China, dispatched an expedition under the direction
of M. Resanoff. Long negotiations followed the arrival of the ambassa­
dor at Nagasaki, and the result of six months’ conference was, that the
letters and presents of the' emperor were rejected, and an edict issued,
that in future no Russian ship should approach the coasts of Japan. It
is worthy of being mentioned, that some shipwrecked Japanese, carried
home by the Russians, were immediately sentenced to imprisonment for
life, it being a law in Japan that no person shall leave the country and
return to it without death or imprisonment.
When that famous and extraordinary man, Colbert, took charge of the
deranged finances of France, he with wonderful foresight projected an
expedition to Japan, which, however, from causes that do not appear, was
never carried into execution.

English and Russian Intercourse.


The voyage of the Morrison commenced on the 3d July, 1836. We
have before mentioned that the principal object Mr. King had in view,
in prosecuting the voyage, was the laudable one of returning to their
native land several shipwrecked sailors. The whole memoranda of Mr.
King is highly interesting, and filled with romantic incidents, but we
must content ourselves with barely mentioning a few facts, relative to the
subject. After remaining a few days in the harbor of Napa, the Morri. son departed for the bay of Yeddo ; Yeddo, the reader need not be told,
is the capital, and as Mr. King hoped to be able to effect’some arrange­
ment by which American vessels might be permitted to enter the ports
of Japan, he concluded to proceed directly to that city. On arriving in
the harbor, Mr. King prepared a paper addressed to his imperial majesty,
from which the following is extracted:
“ The American vessels sail faster than those of other nations. If
permitted to have intercourse with Japan, they will communicate always
the latest intelligence.” *
“ Our countrymen have not yet visited your honorable country, but
only know that in old times the merchants of all nations were admitted
to your harbprs. Afterwards, having transgressed the law, they were
restricted or expelled. Now, we, coming for the first time, and not hav­
ing done wrong, request permission to carry on a friendly intercourse on
the ancient footing.”
On arriving at the bay of Yeddo, the Morrison was visited with a
large number of boats filled with Japanese, who were treated in the
kindest manner, and presented with ornamented pattern cards of British
goods, American five cent pieces, and other trifles, which they appeared
to value highly. Mr. King vainly endeavored to obtain a mandarin to
convey his .papers and presents to the capital, which lay at the head of
. the bay. “ We had inquired,” says our a u t h o r , o f the Japanese, how
their officers were distinguished ; whether they wore any badges besides
the ever-famous ‘two sabres.’ The answer was, i f you see a man come
on board that trembles very much, he is a mandarin.'”
The friendly intercourse maintained on the first day of Mr. King’s visit
gave strong hopes of a favorable issue of the undertaking; but at daylight
on the following morning a fire opened upon the Morrison, from a battery
which had been formed under cover of the night, and as the Morrison
carried no guns, she was obliged to depart without having accomplished
any thing.— not even permission to land the exiles. Mr. King proposed
to put the exiles on board one of the junks at sea, but they replied that
the crews on board all the junks are registered, so that even when one dies
on board, it is necessary to exhibit the body to the local officers on the ves­
sel’s return, to satisfy them that-there has been no evasion of the law in
this change in the original number. which prohibits a Japanese
to go abroad, and that which prohibits the arrival of strangers, are enforced
with equal rigor. In order to make one more effort to accomplish the
chief object of the voyage, Mr. King set sail for Kagosima, and on his
arrival there, prepared papers and presents for the prince of Satsuma,
which, however, were not received, and the Morrison returned to Macao,
and some of the exiles afterwards found their way to this country. For
the inferences drawn from the results of this voyage, we refer the reader
to the volume before us. There can be but little doubt but our govern­
ment, by the exhibition of a small naval force, could effect arrangements
with the Japanese government, highly advantageous to American com­

Banks and the Currency.


W e have determined upon the publication entire of Mr. Hamilton’s
pamphlet on Banks and Currency, not because we agree with him in all
that he advances, so much as from a desire to present to the public what­
ever the times may produce of interest upon the subject. The author is
evidently a thinker. He perceives and points out many of the difficulties
which now attend the action of the pecuniary system of the United States,
and is at least ingenious in his suggestion of a remedy. We think there
is much in the letter that deserves attentive consideration even from those
who may disapprove its conclusions. New theories always require time
to make their way into the confidence of the community. The principles
upon which they rest, if really sound, are made better known after they
have been subjected to the examination of different minds, and tested by
opposite methods of analysis; and the difficulties which almost always
are found to obstruct any immediate successful adoption of them, are more
likely to be discovered and removed by discussion than in any other way.
The author starts with the proposition, that government, by which he
means the sovereign power, whether residing in the several or the United
States, has relinquished the control over the power to create money—
this act or omission is the cause of the embarrassment which is now felt in
the currency— hence no real remedy can be found excepting through the
recovery of the lost power. This is therefore the object of the plan which
he brings forward— a single bank of issues for each sovereign power.
We have no difficulty in conceding to the author that he has gone to the
root of the evil. We agree with him in believing that the present plan
of unlimited paper issues cannot be made safe to the community, and that,
theoretically, it would be better to have these confined to a single source.
But when we compare the state of things actually existing among us with
the remedy which he proposes, in the manner in which he presents it,
we confess ourselves to be doubtful of its beneficial operation. Mr. Ham­
ilton does not attempt to go beyond the state of New York. His letter
is addressed to the Legislature of this state only, and has reference to the
creation of a system which may not be extended beyond its limits. We
do not mean to be understood to say that he does not contemplate its pos­
sible adoption in other states, but that this is regarded only as a contin­
gency, the failure of which will not affect its successful operation in a
more confined sphere. This appears to us rather to evade the great diffi­
culty of the present question. That difficulty is to be found in the neces­
sity of concurrent legislation on the part of twenty-six separate and inde­
pendent sources. These twenty-six states have all, without exception,
exercised the right of authorizing the issue of paper money in the shape
of bank bills, and many of them derive a direct benefit from the sale of
that right, either by an annual tax on capital, or a large bonus, or they
own some of the stock of the banks created, or they guarantee the repay­
ment of the capital which has been borrowed abroad, which repayment
must be secured by the profit upon a paper circulation. Here are causes
of opposing legislation, various enough and powerful enough to destroy
all prospects of harmony. The evil which afflicts us is in the multitude
of the sources of power which leads to an abuse of it, and puts an end to
all hope of that unity of action regarded by us as indispensable to the
introduction of a better state of things. This evil is aggravated by the

Banks and the Currency.


connexion of interest which exists between the creatures and the creators,
and by the variety of local influences which may be brought to bear upon
the latter, through which good principles may often be undermined and
bad ones disseminated. Among so many discordant elements, it would
be as unreasonable to expect harmony, as if a musician should expect
his instrument to yield twenty-six notes precisely the same in sound,
notwithstanding it was constructed to give them different, was set in dif­
ferent keys, and. was subject to be put out of tune by all ordinary acci­
dents, as well as the changes in the weather and the season.
Under these circumstances, to propose to New York to begin upon a
scheme like this, without reference to the course of other states, seems
to us to be at best of very little use. The currency of a people speaking
the same language, having the same manners and habits, and subject to
the same vicissitudes, never can nor will recognise any conventional lines
of geographical distinction, nor any theoretical abstraction of state sove­
reignty. As a consequence of this, it has always been found that the
bank note money in circulation in any particular spot does not bear so
close a relation to the state authority under which it is issued, as to the
opinion entertained of the ability to redeem it, and the nearness of the
place, or other facility of redemption. So long as there is no uniformity
of action, New York cannot escape the effects of the policy of her neigh­
bors in counteraction of her own. She must he subject to the operation
of expansions or contractions of the currency growing out of their paper
issues, nearly as much as if she herself was concerned in producing them.
The credit which attaches to paper money is a subject which has not yet
met with the full and complete analysis which it deserves. It can be
arbitrarily destroyed just as little as it can he arbitrarily created. It is
the result in a great degree of opinion, which every body knows not to
be easily regulated in these days. Hence we are inclined to believe that
in a country like ours, where the supply of the precious metals for money
is acknowledged to be entirely unequal to the demand created by the
activity of the trading disposition of the people, paper resting upon credit
will he made to serve the turn; and inasmuch as the paper does rest
upon credit, or, in other words, upon the good opinion which the party
receiving it has of the solvency of the party that issues it, we think it
will find a circulation for itself wherever it is not positively forbidden.
And the extent of that circulation will depend upon other considerations
more than even upon the prohibition itself.
If our view of the matter is correct, then the proper method of execut­
ing the author’s plan can only he through the agency of the national power
in the first instance. Against the expediency of this, in an abstract view
of the case, we are not prepared to object— on the contrary, we incline
to the opinion that it would be a material improvement upon our past sys­
tem of legislation; but there is a practical difficulty in the way which
appears to us very serious. The whole theory upon which it rests runs
counter to the feelings and prejudices, and even the principles, of a ma­
jority of the people of these states. It is in its nature prohibitory of a
right which has been for fifty years exercised without restraint or ques­
tion, the surrender of which would involve the sacrifice of many private
interests built upon its continuance. It has also the appearance of giving
additional strength to the national power, deemed by many people to he
too strong already. The argument against all consolidating doctrines
has ever been received with favor by great numbers of persons in the
Union, and within proper limits may be allowed to be a safe and reason­


Banks and the Currency.

able one. We should therefore despair of ever making a project of this
kind generally acceptable. ■ In proposing schemes for the public good,
it is,as necessary for the statesman to consider the character of the people
for whom he is acting, as the value of the object he has in view. Their
habits, passions, and prejudices, require as much attention as their inte­
rests. The point always must be, not so much what might be best, as
what is most practicable. Many plans could be devised, which, consid­
ered in themselves, would be likely to be of great service if adopted in
this country, but which in the present state of public feeling it would be
idle even to discuss. We are inclined to think this one of a single bank
of issue must be ranked among the number of them. For however we
may be willing to admit that it has many things to recommend it, and
avoids many of the objections which exist against the present unregulated
state of the currency, there is one great difficulty in adopting it, which
we do not see our way to get over; and this is, that it is suited neither
to the character of our institutions nor to the prevailing notions of our
people ; for it creates a central power, not in accordance with the princi­
ples of government held to be sound by a very great majority of those
whose consent with us makes a necessary part of every law.
But even if the scheme were more likely to be popular than we suppose,
there is yet one portion of it which appears to us to be liable to objections
that should not be overlooked, even in so general a notice as this of ours.
Mr. Hamilton’s project can hardly be said to be entirely original with
him, but appears rather to be the result of the reflections which he, in
common with most of the late writers on the subject upon the other side
of the water, has made upon the evils of the present system. If we un­
derstand him rightly, he is for introducing into New York the idea which
has been heretofore suggested in the Edinburgh Review as fit to be acted
upon in England, namely, that the issue of paper to serve as money should
be confined to one body . This issuing bank is not to be either a bank
of discount nor deposite, but these sorts of business are to be left to an­
other class of institutions, which are to be in their turn denied the privi­
lege of circulating any paper of their own.
Now, if the issuing bank neither discounts notes nor receives money
in deposite, it will not possess either of the channels by which paper most
easily finds its way into circulation, but they will be in the hands of the
other class of institutions already alluded to. These must therefore be­
come, the great customers of the issuing bank for its bills. But if they
are, and give to her the security which she may deem to be sufficient in
exchange for those bills, they will not trouble themselves nor incur the
additional expense of keeping on hand any supply of the precious metals
with which to redeem them, but will always look to the issuing bank as
the source of that supply, which may enable them at any moment of
panic among their depositors to stand a run. Hence the bank of circu­
lation will almost unavoidably become involved to a considerable extent
in the good or bad fortune of the other banks; and she must always be
prepared to stand alone the brunt of every commercial difficulty that may
occur. This is found to be the constant effect of a partial adoption of
the system in Great Britain. The private bankers are always the first
to feel the effects of a convulsion, and to support themselves they imme­
diately look to the .Bank of England as the great reservoir of specie, from
which they seek to draw as much as their command of the notes of that
bank will enable them. Hence the run which begins upon the private
bankers, concentrates itself upon the Bank of England through their

Banks and the Currency.


agency. It is clear that results of the same kind would follow the adop­
tion of Mr. Hamilton’s plan here. Indiscretion on the part of the dis­
counting bankers would bring on a run from the depositors, to meet
which, the notes of the issuing bank will be amassed in quantities, and
returned upon it for immediate conversion into coin. This operation
would go on, too, with very little reference to the terms upon which those
notes were supplied, or to the goodness of the security which was given
in exchange for them. An inevitable consequence must be, that the issu­
ing bank, whether willing or unwilling, would be obliged to share largely
in the risk of the business of the private bankefs, and be exposed to bear
the whole of the burden of any pecuniary convulsion consequent upon
their mismanagement.
This difficulty is thought to have been removed in England by the in­
sertion of a provision in the new charter of the Bank of England, by
which its notes are made a legal tender in the hands of any one, except­
ing those of the bank itself. A private banker, therefore, who deals in
those notes, has no longer any anxiety about converting them into coin,
inasmuch as they are as good to him as coin for the purpose of releasing
himself from any demands that may be made upon him. Doubtless this
is a very convenient arrangement, and may, for aught we know, work
very w ell; but we must be permitted to doubt whether it rests upon any
sound principle of commerce, or, indeed, any thing but an arbitrary dis­
tinction. The measure seems to assume that as a fact which never can
be a fact— that paper is the same thing as coin. Knowing as we do the
history of paper money throughout the world, we have no right to pre­
sume that the notes of the Bank of England are an unfailing standard of
value. They are liable to be affected by political events to an extent which
can never be felt by coin, and any loss in their value would, as things now
stand, not merely he felt by the creditors of the Bank itself, but would ex­
tend to all contracts, however honestly entered into, with every private
banker who does not circulate his own notes throughout Great Britain.
While, therefore, they are, as a class, shielded from much danger by the
present provision, it is plain that the public incurs all that they are saved.
We are not, however, called at this time to go into any detailed exposi­
tion of our views upon this subject. Mr. Hamilton does not appear to con­
template any such measure in his plan, and, if he did, we very well know
that the adoption of it would not be possible consistently with the terms of
the constitution of the United States. We are very glad that it is not, on
many accounts, but most particularly on this, that a bar is put by it to the
possibility of making political conjunctures the apology for the issue of
irredeemable government paper, or of that which, originally professing to
be redeemable, would, in process of time, cease to be so. The. great dan­
ger of all national monied institutions, which do not rest upon private re­
sponsibility and commercial interests for their safe management, is to be
found in the abuses to which they are liable in moments of political crisis.
With all the difficulties attending our present system, we candidly confess
we would rather take our chance of the solvency of any of our honestly
managed commercial banks, than of government paper under a succes­
sion of partisan administrations. We fear that the tendency of much of
the doctrine of the present day respecting the currency, leads to some ex­
periment of this kind, imperceptibly even to the minds of those who advo­
cate it. To any such we cannot too earnestly give expression to our
opposition, as being in principle anti-republican, in practice eminently
vol . I .— no . in.


Hamilton on the Subject o f

unsafe, and disastrous to the public prosperity even in its remotest con­
But we will not longer detain our readers from the perusal of the pam­
phlet itself. Many of them may regard our objections as unsound and
valueless. We present them in no spirit of fault-finding, hut from a sim­
ple conviction of their importance. We lay no great stress upon them,
for the reason that in this age and country, and, above all, at this moment,
it does not become us to be dogmatical. For the same reason, although
entirely differing from the author in his view of the inexpediency of the
return to specie payments in 1838, we abstain from holding any argu­
ment upon the point. The question is now reduced to a mere difference
of opinion upon a theoretical principle, about which it is perfectly fair for
every person to think as he likes best.
A L etter by A lexander H amilton, o f New York-, on the subject o f B anks and the
Currency , proposing the Creation o f a State B ank o f Issues, and the Restriction o f
P rivate Banks to Circulation, Discounts and Deposites, addressed to the Honorable the
Legislature o f the State o f Nerv York.
G entlemen : — I f it will not be deemed obtrusive on the part of a private individ­
ual, I take the liberty to offer, for your consideration, a few remarks on the subject of
our currency, which, although they may not entirely meet your assent, cannot fail to be
respected as worthy of record for future reference. In the project I am about to sug­
gest, there will, perhaps, be found no other recommendation than an attempt to recon­
cile the ultra speculations of an exclusive metallic currency with one of a representa­
tive character, based on absolute responsibility, convertible into specie.
It may be asked why any effort should be made, at the outset of an experiment, the
advantages or defects of which could not have had an opportunity for development,
that a project, essentially changing the whole system, should be brought forward. To
this it may be replied, that it has ever been held the wisest policy in political as in
military tactics, always to be prepared with a corps de reserve, should necessity ren­
der it expedient to modify or change the position which may have been assumed. I,
however, contend, inasmuch as the general banking law is only on trial, it is the duty
of the legislature to have in view some substitute in the event of a failure, and not
be taken entirely by surprise at the moment of embarrassment. In the present ex­
periment, there is nothing of real novelty, except it be the extraordinary fact, that
government has relinquished the control over one of the most delicate attributes of
sovereignty,—the power to create money, and that, to an unlimited extent.
The door has been thrown wide open for the issue of a paper currency; the old sys­
tem and the new are in full operation, each dependent on the other for permanent exis­
tence, while, in fact, in their action, the several banks are heterogeneous, antagonist,
independent. There are no two institutions having a common interest, and none go­
verned with reference to the public welfare. The polar star of each is profit; this is
the guide, aim, and object of private banking, and the legitimate pursuit, when restrict­
ed to honorable and honest operations. It is, nevertheless, equally correct, that while
these associations ought to be unlimited in the use of their capital, and its intelligent
employment, they should never be entrusted with a power which, if abused, may
shake the national prosperity to its foundation. In accordance with the general im­
pression, our banks are sound, well managed, and, as monied institutions, entitled to
respect; if this be their true condition, then, with great deference, I apprehend this is
the precise period when any change, which may have a tendency permanently to se­
cure and preserve their usefulness, should be adopted—at least, discussed. Is not
the reason as powerful now as at the recent crisis it was represented to be, that one
of the chief causes of the embarrassment resulting in a suspension of specie pay­
ments, was the existence of an inconsiderate multitude of currency purveyors ? If
so, what is to be the influence of our general banking system ? Does it tend to cur­
tail or to expand the difficulty; or, has it, by some new light, been discovered that
the paper medium is more stable in proportion to the sources of its creation ? At any
other period than the present, these inquiries would be regarded as unmeaning, and
yet they are the incidental and natural considerations resulting from the policy, if
there was any governing principles, which induced the enactment of the general
banking law. There is now no check to the creation of these money m ints; any
body and every body, with or without character, has a right to enter the fair field of

Banks and the Currency.


competition. The amount of corporate bank capital has no limits, and for the wants
of the country the currency will prove equally redundant. The whole wealth of the
community, in money, ingenuity, contrivance, and chicanery, will soon be monopo­
lized by these prolific paper-money creating concerns ; every species of disguise will be
resorted to; and some, not less contemptible than the miserable trick of that respectable
institution, the Delaware and Hudson, of issuing notes payable on D e m a n d , six months
after date, “ Demand ” in conspicuous letters, the residue scarcely legible, a fraud
without any more honest motive than the gratification of a successful imposition on
the unwary. The times are not quite propitious for a full development of the dan­
gerous fallacy of the present system ; the new institutions have to move cautiously ;
public confidence must, for a time, be coquetted w ith; but when the buoyant day of
prosperity shall arrive, obliterating the recollection of past troubles, the inflated bub­
ble will burst, producing a re-action that will subvert the landmarks of “ meurn and
tuum,” civil and political liberty. Such are my deliberate anticipations; the present
calm is but the precursor to a storm that will most certainly wreck the ship of state
if preparations be not speedily made to take in sail, and change the bearings of her
financial course.
It is not in the state of New York alone that the fascinating project of free banking
is to be experimentally essayed; the speculative example has been infectious, and
while the anomalous absurdity of unrestrained paper issues is preserved perfect, the
modes of giving full effect to the scheme will be as varied as the capriciousness of
legislative fancies shall dictate.
It seems never to have entered into the consideration of our fiscal statesmen, that
since the general peace of 1815, the mass of population and property has immensely
increased, while the amount of the precious metals has received from the mines no
corresponding addition. If this be correct, of which there is no question, then must
money become more valuable, whether we refer abstractly to specie, as such, or to
what, based on it, is intended to be its representative ; or, on the other hand, the alter­
native is mathematically certain, that the present prices of property cannot be main­
tained. Villages, towns, and cities, have not only been improved, but multitudes
have sprung into existence; in whatever direction we turn our attention, w'hether
towards E urope or in America, the scene presents a most gratifying state of prosperity;
in private and public expenditure there appear to be no bounds, wrhile gold and silver
have not increased in the ratio of general improvement, but have been essentially
absorbed in ministering to luxurious enjoyment. Is not this a true picture of the
state of the world; and does it not present strong grounds for apprehension of a seri­
ous conflict between money and property, of which specie is the measure, and that
the credit system is fast advancing to a plethora?
May it not be asked, whether there is not already a perceptible increased value in
specie ; or, what is equivalent, a general decreased confidence in credit ? The price
of the precious metals in Europe has materially advanced ; by the last accounts they
were becoming more immediately active in settling exchanges, and thus employed,
curtailing their expanding uses as a basis of a paper circulation. According to the
established practice of the Bank of England, and other well-regulated institutions, the
amount of paper put in circulation is as three to one of specie ; consequently, if spe­
cie be employed as the immediate medium of exchange, the curtailment of paper
currency must be in the inverse ratio ; and if to this should be added, under any
alarm, a demand for specie for the purpose of hoarding, it must be apparent that
confidence will be impaired, and the credit fabric exposed to danger.
Entertaining these views, I am induced to suggest a premonitory modification of
our banking system, which, although radical, as it curtails the money creating powers
of the banks, is nevertheless essentially established on the known and intelligent prin­
ciples that have heretofore, in a different shape, proved so successful an auxiliary in the
progress of our great national prosperity. The project I propose is, to preserve the
good, and discard, as far as is compatible with prudence, a feebleness in our currency,
which has, unfortunately, in some measure become identified with our established
experience in fiscal economy. In my estimation, it would be absolutely impolitic,
and equally pernicious, altogether to repudiate a paper currency, if such a measure
were practicable; it is, notwithstanding, imperatively important that the public should
resume the supervisory government of this subject. The superintendence of a power
of such immense and vital consequence to the integrity, stability, and permanent in­
terests of the public, as that of money-making, ought not, in the very nature of its
operation, to be legislatively lodged in the exclusive hands of individuals. The value
of no man’s property, much less that of a community, should ever be placed at the
capricious will of private cupidity and speculation. The ebbs and flows, the contrac­
tions and expansions of the currency, are inconsistent, if the result of fictitious move-



Hamilton on the Subject o f

merits, with the principles of sound government; and if we are not already apprized
of the causes which produce the sudden changes we experience, would it not be a
primary and cardinal duty of legislation immediately to investigate the origin of the
irregularity ? As it is, all admit the error, but none dare venture on the remedy. To
effect a permanent change, the private banks must be gradually shorn of their im­
provident and unconstitutional powers, before the public mind can settle down into
any intelligent knowledge of its pecuniary responsibilities.
In order to effect this object, and, at the same time, preserve the harmony of our
fiscal operations, the legislature ought to establish a state bank of issues, and simul­
taneously convert the private banking associations into simple banks of circulation,
discount, and deposit.
In referring to the report of the secretary of the treasury of the United States, it
will be found that there were in 1830 about 320 banks, with an aggregate capital of
$145,192,263, with a circulation of $61,324,000 ; which, by January, 1837, were in­
creased to 973 banks, with the immense capital of $324,240,293, sustaining a paper
circulation of $185,782,506 ; to which the state of New York has, within one year, un­
der the general banking system, prospectively added more than $200,000,OOOofcapital.
If we compare our condition with that of Great Britain, the contrast will present a
most extraordinary contradiction. The national debt of that great and powerful na­
tion is eighteen times larger than the entire public indebtedness of this country. In
referring to official statements, the amount of our public stocks, exclusive of the
$6,000,000 treasury notes of the federal government, are estimated at $200,000,000;
while the sum due by Great Britain is about $3,600,000,000 ; and, on the other hand,
her paper circulation does not exceed $140,000,000,* while ours has been expanded
to more than $190,000,000. What must be the conclusion from this exhibition? Does
it not exhibit an inconsistency fatal to the permanency of our currency? The solu­
tion of the enigma resolves itself into the fact, that in proportion as we create bank
capital, we expand an artificial currency without, increasing the wealth or accommo­
dation of the public.
When we remark that it has not been possible for the enlightened finance states­
men of Great Britain to' guard against destructive panics, with their comparatively
contracted currency, what reasonable hope can we entertain, in our disjointed ar­
rangements, to resist the torrent whenever adverse exchanges shall create distrust ?
In the course of a very brief period, ,we shall have every cause to apprehend a most
calamitous revulsion in our monetary affairs, a . catastrophe in progress by the
prospective rapid decline of our most valuable staple product, and will be realized
when the large shipments of cotton, made in anticipation of war prices shall bear on
the European markets. The southern banks having been deeply engaged in monopo­
lizing the cotton market, will first feel the reaction ; when those of the north, gov­
erned by the natural reflective consequences, will have to encounter the raging fury
of the storm, with about as much ballast as fits them to the bland influence of sum­
mer zephyrs.
In the event o f a renewed embarrassment, it is to be hoped that the suicidical course pur­
sued by the banks in the spring o f 1837, may not be re-enacted. The commercial commu­
nity will not again submit to be annihilated ; there w ill be no discrimination between banks
and merchants, the whole will be involved in a common chaos.

Was it not a most mistaken policy to adopt measures of shiftless expediency to
guard a miserable pittance of $1,250,000 of gold and silver, at the risk of destroying
millions of responsible assets ? If the banks had been governed by a liberal foresight,
and a moderate degree of moral firmness, the commercial bankruptcies would have
been very limited, while the suspension of specie payments would have come without
the calamitous terrors which were anticipated. When the overthrow was inevitable,
the extended relief became an ill-graced movement, evincing the folly and timidity of
former counsel, and the entire loss of public confidence. The. recollection of that
eventful crisis ought to teach some wisdom to those who are immediately connected
with the currency, and will, it is to be anticipated, give rise to a lucid examination
of this most important subject!
It has often been the subject of surprise, that the Bank of England, with the limited
circulation of that country, is unable to control the currency; but on examination, it
will be found that every precautionary measure on the part of the bank is invariably
counteracted by the increased expansion of the competitor institutions—the latter, con­
fiding in the management of the bank for the successful termination of their reckless
improvidence, eventually find a heavy requisition on the specie in their own vaults,
* By the average of the last quarter, the specie of the Bank of England was reduced
to about £7,000,000; and in March it did not exceed £5,000,000.

Banks and the Currency.


when they are compelled to adopt an active and injurious curtailment. The same
inherent disease is common to both countries; but, as with' us there is less real
money capital, the malady does not so soon create alarm, — the speculative genius
of our people always looking forward to the bright sunshine of prosperity.
It requires but a moment’s reflection, on such data, to anticipate the possibility of
another explosion under the present system. It is to prevent this sad paralyzing con­
sequence, the occurrence of which would deprive the United States of a credit system
which has heretofore been so prolific in its results, that I am induced to propose a
change. In the plan I refer to, a full currency will be preserved, which, being, more
permanent and undoubted, will give greater facility and security to business ; it will
be the olive branch of peace to conflicting opinions ; the public mind will repose with
confidence, and, knowing the true state of the currency, with a ready ability to com­
prehend the natural causes of occasional changes, every individual, will see when to
contract or enlarge his operations- with intelligence. As we are now situated, no man
can form any just calculation to govern his commercial operations for the future, from
.past or present experience.
If our political statesmen had expanded their views to the substantial cause of the
suspension of specie payments when the banks were entirely -within the power of
legislative discretion, the patchwork policy which ensued would never have disgraced
the legislative records, and the community might now be.realizing the advantages
of a sound currency.
If the extraordinary position of our financial affairs, having no comprehensible
foundation for security, at all times insusceptible of estimate, and when an expansion
is .only known by its redundancy, with its baneful consequences, a general suspension
of specie payment, o ra contraction so sudden and violent as to paralyze, if not destroy,
the best concerted arrangements, create no fearful alarms for the permanency of our
republican liberties, we boast in vain of the conservative influence of public opinion.
Is it riot totally inconsistent With the vital spirit of free government that a privileged
order, a monied power, should be tolerated, clothed with and assuming the dangerous
prerogative of coining money at pleasure, and with it, the illegitimate right and ability
to exercise an arbitrary sway over its expansions and contractions ? This is, neverthe­
less, the anomalous condition of the people of the United States; already are one thou­
sand private banks, vested with the exclusive possession of the most influential, deli­
cate, and important attribute of sovereignty, untrammelled and unrestrained, admin­
istering. to the public wants and necessities, as may seem to them most expedient and
profitable to their separate coffers.
The banking system of the United States has broken from its moorings; there ought
to be no more confidence placed in. its usefulness under the existing organization. A
change must and inevitably will come, whether we are prepared or not to meet the
In my estimation, the recent resumption of specie payments was an entire fallacy;
the country was indebted on an expanded and. fictitious currency, and should have
been allowed gradually to have settled its affairs on the same basis -— and not, by a Vio­
lent contraction, for the pride of appearance, grind the very substance from' the in­
debted. The whole community has been leeched to sustain the claims of the few.
It is not my intention to insinuate the slightest disrespect to the gentlemen who con­
duct these institutions; on tile contrary, I have no doubt they entertain the same con­
victions of the imperfections of the whole currency system; as they find the law, they
are governed by it, but do not consider it prudent or expedient, in their peculiarly deli­
cate position, to suggest or advise any change: While these views are introduced as
the emanations of a speculative opinion, they apprehension, and will be re­
jected if impracticable and Utopian ; but, on the other hand., whatever merit they may
possess will gradually and usefully mine its way into the favorable consideration of
reflecting statesmen.
In order more clearly and perfectly to explain the system I advocate, I will nowpresent, by way of exemplification, a project of a bank of'issues, adapted to the state
of New York, to be known and distinguished as

1. The capital of the state bank to be $30,000,000, to be increased whenever deemed
expedient by the legislature, at stated periods and under precautionary limitations;
but not to be reduced b.elow the original amount of capital. The state to subscribe
one third of the capital, for which permanent securities are to be issued, and the resi­
due to be made up from private banks, or individual subscriptions.
2. The state bank to be the fiscal agent of the government, and, in its financial busi­
ness and operations to be restricted and confined to negotiations in exchange, loans


Hamilton on the Subject o f

on stocks, and the exclusive employment of providing a sound and legitimate cur­
3. The state bank to be prohibited from discounting or purchasing promissory
notes, and from receiving money on deposit, except specie for safe keeping or trans­
mission ; and in neither case, without some charge, that no interference should con­
flict with the legitimate business of well-regulated private banking.
4. The state bank to be invested with the exclusive power to issue bank notes or bills,
payable on delivery, and drafts or certificates issued by other banks or individuals to be
alone negotiable when payable to order, and at special periods, carrying interest: and
all such drafts and certificates to be cancelled when due, and, if not discharged, the
holder to be entitled to twelve per cent, interest from the time of presentation.
5. The state bank to have authority to issue notes and bills of any denomination,
not less than one dollar, and those under five may include any fractional parts of a
dollar; and in order to equalize the currency, its bills and notes are to be made paya­
ble in specie in the city of New York, as the chief place of business ; except those
of ten dollars and under, which, at the option of the holder, may be made redeemable
at the principal branches.
6. The state bank to be located in the city of New York, with authority to establish
branches or to employ agencies, as may be deemed most advisable; but under no
circumstances shall it be compulsory on the bank to establish branches, except at Al­
bany, Utica, Hudson, Troy, Rochester, Loekport, Owego, Buffalo, and Oswego.
7. The state bank, in order to circulate its bills and notes, will be authorized to pur­
chase bills of exchange, to make loans on stocks, and to open credits to individuals and
private banks, corporate and incorporate, at a charge of not less than three per cent, per
annum, and in such amounts and with such security as maybe deemed expedient.
8. The paper circulation of the state bank, payable on demand, to be limited to the
amount of a moiety of its capital ■ and the bank at all times to have in the city of
New York one dollar in specie for every five in circulation.
9. The state bank to be limited in its dividends, the surplus profits, after discharg­
ing all incidental expenses, to be held subject to legislative appropriation for the dis­
semination of useful knowledge, or the advancement of internal improvements.
10. The state bank to be required to make public monthly reports of its aggregate
paper circulation, and public quarterly reports of bills and notes under ten, twenty,
and fifty dollars, distinguishing the amount in each class.
11. The legislature to have and exercise a constant supervision over the affairs of
the state bank, and annually, or oftener if it be deemed expedient, to make a full and
complete investigation into its operations, either by a legislative committee, or com­
missioners specially appointed for the purpose ; and biennially to direct a committee
of the stockholders, in which the directors shall not be included, to make a thorough
examination, and report the same to the legislat ure.
12. The state bank to be under the direction of fifteen private and five public di­
rectors, with a president and vice-president; — the president to be appointed by the
governor, by and with the consent of the senate, from a list of five names to be pre­
sented to him by the board of directors, and selected from among the private directors ;
or to be chosen by the private directors from the public directors, who are to be ap­
pointed by joint ballot of the legislature ; the vice-president to be appointed exclu­
sively by the board of directors, without limitation. The duty of the president of the
state bank shall be to superintend the general operations of the bank, and to advise
and consult with the state treasurer on all fiscal subjects pertaining to the public in­
terest. The duty of the vice-president to take charge of the details, and to attend to
the ministerial transactions of the corporation.
It will be apparent that a bank, established on such principles, must, or can be
made to afford a circulation of undoubted character; and if, from any irresistible
causes, it should ever be compelled to refuse to redeem its notes in specie, its cur­
rency would still, for all purposes of domestic business, be as useful, in the inter­
changes and transfers of property, as the same amount of gold and silver. As the
acknowledged currency of the state, predicated on its responsibility, independent in
position, and entirely free from the entanglements of commercial excitements, there
could be no supposable state of things, other than a political convulsion, that could
impair public confidence in its solidity. The notes would be received by, and paid
out of the public treasury; the quantum of issues always known to the community,
and limited in amount. The whole subject is placed under the supervision of the
government and an unbiassed committee of the stockholders, and so simple in con­
struction, as to be within the understanding of every individual.
The mystery which now overshadows the circulation, and the sudden changes to
which its imbecility renders it inherently liable, would immediately cease to exist j

Banks and the Currency.


the currency would be uniform throughout the state, and payments could be then
made in correspondence with the true principles of commercial equality.
A bank, not subject to deposit drafts, and free from all rivalry, can sustain a larger
circulation, on a less amount of specie, than can be steadily supported, on a wider ba­
sis, by a multitude of conflicting competitors. It is the apprehension of irresponsi­
bility, generally the result of a want of information in the public, that gives rise to
“ runs” on banks, in order to convert paper into specie ; which a bank, thus consti­
tuted, can never be liable to. In fact, no instance was ever known, where a general
suspension of specie payment has taken place through the direct influence of the billholders only ; and as the state bank is to take no deposites, it cannot be subjected to
a drain from any other source than its notes in circulation ; but, inasmuch as a de­
mand for specie has a direct tendency to absorb a portion of the paper currency, its
natural consequence, by the contraction, would be to enhance the value of the resi­
due, and thus effectually to counteract any serious result.
The issues of the state bank are to be guaranteed by ten millions of state stock, one
dollar in specie for every five in paper ; with the balance of the capital invested in
stock loans and regular business exchange. As an additional satisfaction to the pub­
lic, the nature, amount, and character of the securities, are, at all times, subject to legis­
lative inspection; while the direction is composed of intelligent gentlemen, represent­
ing the public and private interests; thus concentrating all the essential ingredients
to unite and exhibit a state of responsibility beyond all possible cavil or jealousy.
This is based on the true federal principle, that the best security of our republican
institutions is in the virtue and intelligence of the people ; while no policy can be more
fatal to the harmony of our political movements than the adoption of measures cater­
ing to public prejudices. In our fiscal concerns, we seem now to be governed by a
contrary doctrine. If any attempt be made to lift the veil which shrouds their mys­
teries, the war-cry is, sacrifice the intruder ; and yet, there is no subject so important
to the general welfare as a correct understanding of the condition of the currency.
With the nature of our government and the mode of legislation, we are all familiar ;
but of the operations of the money power we are essentially ignorant; or, perhaps, it
might be more correctly stated that our information is superficial, extending only to
the conclusion that there is a labyrinth too intricate for the wisest to penetrate with
success. The subject of currency has either become too refined, or too much of a
humbug, to admit of elucidation.
The legitimate patronage of a republican government is to diffuse knowledge as
widely as possible, and then, with well-established revenue laws, the commercial
world want no other protection. Has our legislation been governed by these wise
principles in reference to our currency ? Is not the whole subject a perfect chaos;
and can any person, not excepting the official dignitaries of the banks, give any esti­
mate, from day to day, of its probable variations ? Situated as we now are, appre­
hension and alarm are constantly agitating the money m arket; the slightest demand
for specie immediately creates dismay and embarrassment. There are too many
contriving heads employed in regulating the exchanges, and very few who look be­
yond the walls of their own institutions for motives of action.
I submit to the most intelligent of our merchants, the inquiry, whether any of them
are governed, in their operations, with any dependence on the consistency of the con­
duct of the banks. The fluctuations in the circulation are not periodical; they are at
constant variance with the natural movements of commerce, they tend to bias, rather
than to aid, its developments, and vary without any apparent cause. The conclusion
seems irresistible, from such an uncertain state, that we must either resort to an ex­
clusive metallic currency, or adopt some substitute better adapted to the exigencies
of the times, leaving mercantile credit to regulate itself.
If such a bank of issues as has been proposed were established, would it not afford
a substitute less liable to causeless changes than that currency which is dependent upon
innumerable caprices? There would be then no deleterious influences in the money
market, no inconsistent contraction when trade and commerce require an expanded
currency. The trade of the interior with the commercial depots would be carried on
by bills of exchange, instead of country bank notes. The corporate bank associations
would assume their legitimate character of private bankers, and, confined to the ne­
gotiation of real exchange, would, in co-operation with the state bank of issues, soon
restore credit to its legitimate limits. That such a change is necessary, no man, con­
versant with the fictitious construction of our credit fabric, can doubt; for to him it
must be apparent that a very large portion of our indebtedness arises from the crea­
tion of most of our corporate capital, to establish a vicious circulation on the credulity
of the public; while the real, substantial, bona-fide wealth' of the country stands
appalled at the inflated credit, and becomes useless to the public.


Hamilton on the Subject o f

A farther recommendation to legislative action in favor of a responsible bank of is­
sues, would be the inevitable tendency to defeat any successful attempts at forgery.
In a currency familiar to the public, it would be much more difficult to circulate a
spurious emission, than when the issues are of innumerable and unknown institu­
tions. A degree of skill in the community to detect impositions would almost intui­
tively assume the place of ignorance. The genuine characteristics of bills and notes
would be so well known, from constant observation, that-every individual, and espe­
cially those most subject to deception, would be protected.
The records of our courts of justice would essentially cease to be blackened with
the crime of forgery, and its attendant consequences of deeper villany. While I ap­
peal to the intelligence of our enlightened judiciary to sustain this position, could it
not be wished that the force of their experience might be. enlisted in attracting public
attention to this important subject ?
It is impossible to estimate the cost to the industry of. the community, occasioned
by the facilities afforded by the present extensive system of forgery. There is scarce­
ly a day passes without some new caution or notice to the public; and permit me to
ask, on whom does the loss most seriously fall ? I f for no other cause, this calamity
is almost sufficient to create an insuperable prejudice to a paper currency; and does
it not therefore become the duty of those who believe in the system, to endeavor to
introduce some more simple medium, less liable to be counterfeited?
With reference to the administration of the state bank : —
In our experienced community it would seem superfluous to explain the important
advantages incident to a direction composed of the delegates of the political interest,
and those who represent the immediate intelligence, wants, and necessities of the
people, abstractly. The influence of the first protects-the. public object in creating
the bank; while that of the latter gives an influence and judicious vitality, essential
to the prosperity of a commercial community. As merely a public institution, acting
under the sole administration of public officers, it would be deficient in intelligence,
vigor, and promptitude ; thus operating without the stimulus of direct profitable re­
muneration ; the direction would' be remiss, arrogant, and soon become wedded to
crude notions of financial policy.
As the government agent, to collect, keep, and transmit the public revenue, can
there be any question that such a bank would be most fitted for the employment ? It
would not only be a responsible depository, but fully competent to perform the duty
assigned i t ; and might eventually supersede the necessity, expense, and inexperience
of a canal fund commission.
In reference to the limitation of the business of the state bank to special objects :—
Independent of the motive for guarding the bank of issues from participating in the
business of discounting promissory notes, as tending to embarrass its supervisory con­
trol over the currency, is the fiscal propriety of preserving the legitimate business of
private bankers in their fullest usefulness, that they maythe more effectually contribute
to the accommodation of trade and commerce. It is the avowed experience of the Bank
of England, and pre-eminently known to the intelligent merchants of this country, that
the commercial world is much more liberally and efficiently aided and assisted by pri­
vate bankers of real capital, than public institutions of any description can possibly
afford. The same objeet has also governed my views in wishing to exclude private
deposites from the bank of issues, as tending more effectually to keep .the money of the
country in constant active circulation. The deposits now lying idle and useless in
our corporate banks are enormous, and will continue to be so while the banks are
engaged in tampering with the currency, to the great injury of the public, and do not
allow interest on balances. Is it not also true, that when our banks shall be confined
to discounts and deposits, much of the expense attendant on their present operations
would be reduced, and ultimately cheapen the price of loans ?
The competency of the bank of issues to supply an adequate amount of currency
with security:—
Among those conversant with the essential ingredients of a paper medium, it is an
admitted truth, that a single bank, with respectable capital, can expand the circula­
tion with a less metallic basis than when the employment devolves on several; con­
sequently, with this admission, there can be no doubt, that an institution can be so
organized as to respond to the necessities of any reasonable contingency.
In the existing system there is no prospective knowledge; the responsibility of guard­
ing against difficulty is the peculiar duty of none, and even when suspected to be on the
approach, it is esteemed invidious to anticipate the necessity of making preparation to
meet the event. To this want of a premonitory understanding, the consequence inva­
riably has been, and ever will be, that the banks, anxious for their own security, essen­
tially contribute to increase embarrassment when they ought legitimately to afford re-

Banks and the Currency.


lief. There is this peculiar and paramount advantage possessed by a bank, essentially
established as a bank of issues, that, being restricted from engaging in any commer­
cial entanglements beyond its necessities, in regulating the state currency by the nego­
tiation of exchange, it must always be prepared to meet the exigencies of the money
market, and will not be compelled to contract its circulation in periods of commercial
distress. A bank thus organized cannot be hastily required to withdraw its accom­
modation from the public ; and even when the necessity for a contraction does occur,
its policy, as well as its duty, will be to commence the curtailment by recalling its
stock loans, or disposing of its stock investments. But should a still farther retrench­
ment be deemed imperative, the ultimate recourse is, gradually to influence the nego­
tiations of private bankers, by raising to them the rate of interest for the use of its
A farther, and not an unimportant consideration, as a guarantee for the security of
such a public bank, will be the general interest that must naturally exist in every
well-regulated community, to protect the solidity of an institution so absolutely essen­
tial to the prosperity and welfare of the whole.
When private banking associations are relieved of the burthen which, by no means,
ought to be imposed on and assumed by them, their prosperity or misfortune has no
general or immediate bearing on the public; but, like other commercial establishments,
their influences are confined to their respective limited spheres. It is at this indepen­
dency, I anticipate, as a maxim of fiscal excellence in our monetary affairs, that we
must, sooner or later, arrive; but whether this is to be the result of convulsion, or
sound legislative counsel, may be well worthy the considerate attention of those with
whom our dearest rights and interests have been intrusted. The experiment we have
now on hand, I respectfully-prediet, will speedily prove an entire failure ; and conse­
quently the earlier this subject is dispassionately examined, the more easily can the
necessary remedy be applied.
In reference to the propriety of giving a full exposure of the affairs of the bank: —
On this subject there has been much discussion. It has been questioned whether
frequent publicity of the condition of banks might not have a tendency to weaken their
stability, by subjecting them to suspicion from erroneous estimates, and thus exposing
them to invidious attacks; but if this be true, as referring to the compound character
and condition of banks, being purveyors of the currency on which their discounts are
predicated, it cannot apply to an institution established solely to give a currency on
an intelligent and responsible foundation.
Of such a bank of issues, the better its principles and means are known, the more
sure and perfect will be the public confidence in its stability, and consequently, proportionably greater permanency will be given to the national prosperity.
In this country we only want information; and that system which proposes the
easiest way of acquiring it, will be sure to command the greatest respect. Can any
man estimate what is the present amount of paper circulation in this state, or either of
the others ? The commissioners’ reports afford but a very slender data on which to
predicate a satisfactory calculation, and the occasional treasury reports are even less
conclusive. When these official examinations are about to take place, temporary pre­
parations are always made for the scrutiny ; and as soon as it is over, the original
condition is immediately resumed. Was not this position fully exemplified by the bank
commissioners’ report, previous to the suspension of specie payments in 1837, when
every thing was triumphantly proclaimed to be in a state of perfect soundness ? If
you take from the private banks the power to issue paper as money, you will require
no inquisitorial commissioners, interfering with private negotiations.
That the issue of paper is not essential to the prosperity of our private banks, we
have the experience of those in the city of New York, whose circulation scarcely ex­
ceeds their specie ; and yet they make from four to six per cent, semi-annual dividends,
and our trust companies even greater. I do not, however, pretend to say that such
dividends could be realized if the currency were established on a sound basis ; I am
rather inclined to the opinion that the fluctuations afford the occasion, and improve
the opportunity, for profitable speculation. There seems to be some secret alchemy
in the present contrivance to render bank operations so peculiarly productive ; buy­
ing and. selling stocks, perhaps — in other terms, stock gambling.
The next subject for explanation is the limitation of the dividends on the capital of
the private stockholders in the bank of issues.
It is very evident, that an assodiation possessing the exclusive right to furnish a
circulating medium, must be a monopoly; and being created by an act of legislation,
common justice would require that any surplus, beyond a fair compensation for the
use of private capital, should enure to the benefit of the public revenue. Whoever
VOL. I . --- NO. III.


Hamilton on the Subject o f Banks and the Currency.

becomes a stockholder, by subscription or purchase, does it voluntarily, and has no
cause for complaint; but independent of this consideration, the limitation is intended
to operate as a check to speculative movements by the direction of the bank, inas­
much as it destroys any sinister inducement for misconduct.
It is in this limitation, as in the direct representation of the government, that the pub­
lic converts this body into an agency, to administer with the greatest fidelity and wis­
dom the most delicate and imposing attribute of sovereignty— the money-making pow­
er. In peace and in war, in commercial prosperity or distress, the currency of such a
bank would remain the same. As such a power could be most potent in advancing the
general interests, it would, if abused, prove most despotic. It would therefore be un­
safe and impolitic to be entrusted entirely in the keeping of government managers, and
can only be judiciously deposited where the jealousy and keen-sightedness of private
interests will have a proper influence. The public will have in the capital invested a
guaranty for the faithful discharge of the trust, while the private stockholders will have
a perfect security through the preponderating control of their immediate representa­
The propriety of locating the bank of issues iii the city of New York can admit of
no reasonable opposition.
In the commercial emporium of the state, the wants of the money market will be
best understood. There the exchanges, domestic and foreign, are concentrated; and
to and from which almost every financial negotiation ultimately tends. As these are
paramount influences, they cannot fail to be conclusive to every intelligent mind.
It now remains to be shown in what manner the notes of the bank of issues are to
be substituted for, the present anomalous currency.
The modus operandi by which this bank of issues is to go into operation, will, I
imagine, be much less difficult than is experienced by ordinary associations. The sub­
scription to the capital stock being complete, and payments having been made in specie
or the paper in circulation, the state bank would stand in a corresponding situation
with all others. The bank would then organize its direction, and prepare its notes or
bills for public use ; the next movement would be, either to require a gradual specie
redemption of the private bank notes, or, as an accommodation to those institutions,
it might issue to them its own notes, charging a moderate interest for the loan. In
some instances the private banks would recal their circulation and pay specie, prefer­
ring to contract their business to the legitimate operations of real capital; but others,
less independent, would adopt the alternative, and pay for the use of their own credit.
In either case the facilities of the state bank would be increased.
The legislature of New York having reserved the right to repeal, alter, or modify
all the safety fund bank charters, it will be easy to cause their notes to be withdrawn ;
and, if it were constitutional to prohibit the circulation of notes of all banks under the
denomination of five dollars, with equal propriety the restriction might be extended
to those of a higher value. The powers of the legislature need not be confined to the
provisions heretofore employed to compel the withdrawal of the notes itnder five dol­
lars ; there could be other enactments still more efficient; the courts of justice might
be closed against those banks whose notes were voluntarily continued in circulation
after a reasonable notice.
The state could refuse to receive payment of dues, or discharge the claims on the
treasury, in any other currency than in specie, or the notes of the state b an k ; the
discredit thus thrown on every other currency, and the direct credit given to the state
bank, would produce a paramount preference for its issues. In farther aid of the cir­
culation of the state bank paper, the branch agencies would be employed in the pur­
chase of exchange, and, by agreement, paying for the same in its notes. An impor­
tant auxiliary for the extension of its emissions would be found in making loans on,
or investments in, productive stocks.
If it should be objected that the operation of the system now proposed would cur­
tail the profits of chartered institutions, the appropriate reply is, that public policy
requires a change. The duty of the legislature is to protect the community, even at
the sacrifice of private interests. This is the constitutional foundation of our reve­
nue and license enactment; but, in the present case, the representatives of the people
only transfer an exclusive privilege, temporarily conferred on favored individuals, to
a public institution, intended to promote the general welfare. As our currency now
stands, an enormous contribution is constantly levied on the many for the benefit of
the few, while such facilities are given to successful forgery as to render the banks
almost accessory to crime.
If corresponding banks should be established in the other states, they would afford
a complete basis for the successful employment of a national bank, similarly restrict­
ed and organized.

Mercantile Law.


While there is no country on the face of the globe that presents such promising
prospects as the United States, whether we refer to the character of the population,
or the natural advantages of soil, location, and climate ; yet, notwithstanding these
claims to superiority, our onward course is cramped and embarrassed through the
influence of an improvident, unconstitutional, and imbecile currency.




I n a community of merchants, good faith hardly admits of eulogy. In
the operations of a rich and rapid commerce, great confidence must be
often reposed in others, without the minute caution necessary to a perfect
protection against fraud or unfairness. Commerce, in the Walks of her
grandeur; is unwilling to linger at every stopping-place, to turn from every
small obstacle, and to distrust every one whom she meets. She fears that
were she obliged so to do, one half of her vigor would be lost, and all glory
stripped from her; that enterprise, her best attendant, would be fettered;
that her long-sighted sagacity would be necessarily exchanged for minute
vision; and instead of planning expeditions to bring home the riches of
distant countries, commerce fears lest she should be confined to petty
schemes of traffic, of debased by the arts which deceit begets of suspicion.
It is from absolute necessity rather than from considerations of utility
merely, that a commercial society makes good faith a cardinal virtue;
indeed, it goes farther, it considers it so indispensable as to treat it as a
military people do courage, deeming its want the deepest disgrace, while
its possession is but an ordinary merit.'
But the moral virtues comprised in our idea of good faith do no less
elevate it in our estimation. It imports all that is sacred in truth, all
that is severe and self-denying in integrity, all that is estimable in social
communion. To be just, true, and unsuspicious of evil in our own pur­
poses, and to be frank, unreserved, and faithful in our communications
with others, form a combination of things which are truly “ honest, lovely,
and of good report,” and which receive divine commendation.
It becomes an interesting inquiry, then, to consider how far this excel­
lent commercial virtue, and this great moral quality, forms a ground of
legal protection. And this inquiry is the more interesting, because, in
actual life, it chiefly arises in cases of misfortune and loss. If no diffi­
culty occurs, if bargains turn out favorably, neither party needs to agi­
tate the questions arising out of good or bad faith in the making of them.
But if we buy something, and find ourselves losing by a defect of title or
by a vice of quality, our first reflections are as to the good or bad faith
of the transaction out of which the loss arose. We appeal to our own
good faith in the matter as that which ought to have insured us protec­
tion, and which should entitle us to indemnity or redress; we appeal to
the good faith of those with whom we have dealt, not to subject us, act­
ing in fairness and without blame, to a loss ; we appeal to others for their
sympathy in our misfortune, holding up our good faith as the signal for
their attention; we appeal to them for indignation against that want of
good faith to which our misfortune may have been owing. And although
* A lecture read before the Mercantile Library Association of New York, and now
first published in the Merchants’ Magazine, by request of the Board of Directors.


Mercantile Law.

upon wise principle it is better to suffer without fault than with it, yet
we feel that it is an aggravation of misfortune, that good faith on our
part has not been a protection.
Good faith undoubtedly deserves protection. Whether the law gives it
or not, it has it, in the sympathy, in the instinctive indignation, in the con­
tinued contempt, which on one part or the other are excited by a violation
of it. But how far it ought to form a protection in the law, and, in its ad­
ministration, to affect the condition of men, are not so obvious. A protec­
tion of good faith on one part might expose it on another; it might con­
travene those rules of society which have great principles of public policy
in view, and which operate a large benefit in passing by a small evil. To
protect good faith in every instance, might put to sleep that needful vigi­
lance which is requisite to sustain society in intrinsic activity; to allow
good faith to be at all times a protection, would burden the administration
of justice with inquiries into secret motives and purposes; which, except
when impracticable, would be exceedingly embarrassing.
Our present purpose is to carry forward the inquiry, how far good faith
does form a ground of legal claim or legal defence; and while our object
is to present merely common and elementary truths belonging to the com­
mercial law, it is not doubted that this course will be more acceptable,
because more useful, than any attempt at profound research or ingenious
discussion ; and our subject possesses, besides its usefulness, the opportu­
nity of bringing together a great variety of topics of daily application.
What do we mean by good faith ? By it we first imply, in ourselves, a
perfect honesty of purpose, without suspicion of any thing wrong or defect­
ive in what we are transacting. By it we also imply, in our communica­
tions with others, both by our words and conduct, such truth and fairness
to them, as that they are warranted in trusting and acting upon them. In
law, it also requires, in our putting trust in others, a reasonable, not an
excessive diligence, in taking notice of things unusual or likely to excite
inquiry in an ordinary good understanding; and implies, finally, not merely
a belief, but an acting in reliance upon the state of things as we believe it.
Let us examine, as a prominent illustration, the contract of sale, and
consider how it is affected by good faith. This is the elementary contract
of commerce, its common daily food. In relation to it, the first consideration
is the right of the seller to the thing sold; if he has no right to sell, one can­
not, except by a deference of the law to our good faith in buying, acquire
a right by purchasing. How far, then, does the law pay this deference ?
Suppose, then, a purchaser to deal with another in possession of merchan­
dise with every apparent indication of ownership, the goods wholly under
the control of the seller, without the slightest ground of suspicion of his
just right to dispose of them; suppose the buyer, upon this, to pay the full
price and just value, and to part with his money only upon receiving the
thing sold; the question is asked, whether the buyer is protected in his en­
joyment of the property, if it shall turn out that those goods did not belong
to the seller, and that he had no right to dispose of them. The law an­
swers, that the buyer is not protected. If the true owner appears, the buyer
must unconditionally deliver up the thing to him, without any obligation
on the latter to refund the price to the purchaser. It proceeds even farther:
if the buyer have sold again, the true owner may, at his choice, pursue any
of those who have sold the goods, and through whose hands they have
passed, or may reclaim the things themselves. And the only redress which
the law affords is, that it implies in every seller a warranty of his own title,

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


and that he has a good right to sell. It leaves the buyer to his personal
redress against the seller for indemnity and remuneration, but it takes
from him the goods. The good faith, vigilance, caution, and fairness, with
which the buyer made the purchase, are of no other avail.
This undoubtedly will appear a hardship, and to those who are unap­
prized of the rule, it is without apparent mitigation. And yet it was not
a rule established without reason, nor is it without beneficial attendants.
It may be a hardship for the buyer to lose the thing purchased, but would
it be no hardship to the one whose goods have been wrongfully obtained
from him and sold, to lose them ? Is not the hardship equal ? and if so,
then the obvious maxim of common sense comes in to say, that he who
has not property cannot dispose of it, and that in the equality of hard­
ship, the prior right of the losing owner shall prevail over the deriva­
tive, less ancient, and less perfect right of the purchaser. Nor would it
do to enter into the question, whether the losing owner had been guilty
of more negligence than the unfortunate buyer. Inquiries of this kind
would be interminable, and also would depend upon considerations too
vague for practical application. One man may have been naturally, or,
by early education, more cautious than the other, and it would not be
natural equity to apply the same rule of diligence to both. The circum­
stances, too, under which the goods may have been obtained from the
true owner may be unsusceptible of proof by third persons. Besides, it
rests on this policy of the law : In relation to transfers of personal pro­
perty, which are so frequent and constant, the property itself so con­
stantly changing place, and giving every facility for concealment, if a
bona-fide purchase should protect him in the purchase, the one who
wrongfully obtained the property would be less frequently detected, and
his conduct less vigilantly watched, than if, as a general rule, the own­
ership of the property should not be changed by any purchase, however
fair, from one not having the right. This rule compels every purchaser
to know something of his seller ; for it apprizes the buyer that the secu­
rity of the purchase must depend upon the seller’s being a man not likely
to sell what he does not own, or able to answer if the contrary should
turn out to be the case. It is a rule which gives the preference always
to an honest man and man of character as a seller. It tends to make
honesty and good character profitable. And it is no unusual principle of
the common law thus to bind men by their interest to see to the honesty
and good conduct of their neighbors. It was this principle of making
men, who might know each other, responsible for the undetected dishon­
esty of each other, which gave to the government of the great Alfred the
praise, that a purse of gold might be hung upon a tree in the forest, and
found again untouched.
And while the truth we speak of has some effect to expose rapid trade
to disasters, yet it is more than probable that the. caution which its contin­
uance introduces prevents many attempts at the fraudulent obtaining of
property, and, in its final operation, adds to the security of commerce.
In this case it will be noticed, that the law implies a warranty against
the seller, and, whether he knew of the defect of title or not, exposes him
to the claim of the buyer for indemnity.
In like manner, if the sale, instead of being that of a package of mer­
chandise, were a bond or debt, (other than a negotiable security,) and the
same were originally invalid, or subject to deduction in favor of the
debtor, the buyer takes the bond or debt sold to him, subject to all ob­


Mercantile Law.

jections which can be made against i t ; and that, whatever be the price
he may have paid, or the good faith with which he may have acted. The
most frequent securities of this kind which are the subject of sale, are
mortgages securing bonds for the payment of money. These, from their
appearance and general character, and the legal formalities with which
they are attended, are not unfrequently received without suspicion as
subjects of satisfactory sale. But there can be in law no protection to a
purchaser of a bond or mortgage merely on the ground of his good faith;
if there be any intrinsic original defect in the bond or mortgage, if it were
originally usurious, or its execution had been fraudulently procured, or if
it be subject to offset or payment not expressed on the face of the papers,
and unknown to the purchaser, still the purchaser runs the risk of being
to such extent a loser. So far has this been carried, that where a guar­
dian had invested the money of his ward in a bond taken in his own
name, and afterwards assigned the bond to a purchaser knowing nothing
of any such difficulty, and advancing the full value for it, such purchaser
was obliged to give up the bond to the ward on his coming of age; because
in law there can be no protection to the purchaser of a bond merely from his
good faith. In relation to bonds and debts sold, the law assumes them not
to be a necessary part of the traffic of society; transfers of property of this
kind are permitted rather than favored; and it is always in the power of
the purchaser to ask the debtor himself, as well as the seller, if there be
any obstacle to the payment or transfer; this, if answered in the negative,
will operate as a protection against the debtor; and as to protection against
the acts of the seller himself, the purchaser of a security must know his
man. The relation of debtor and creditor once contracted, the law does
not favor its shifting; the power which a debtor may feel safe in yield­
ing to a creditor of his own selection, may be very differently exercised
by a man of different mould, and the transfer therefore is not favored.
But where the sale is of a negotiable security, such as a promissory note
or bill of exchange, payable to order or bearer, there a purchase in good
faith is an absolute legal protection. It is no matter how the bill or note
originated, nor what just deductions ought to have been allowed by the
parties through whom the purchaser derives his right; his right is per­
fect upon his being a bona-fide purchaser.
It may well be asked, whence is this difference, that the buyer of a ship,
however cautious and prudent, buying in ever so much good faith, parting
with his money only on the receiving of the ship, shall find his good faith
no protection; that the buyer of a bond or mortgage shall stand in equally
unfortunate predicament, while the buyer of a note or bill of exchange
shall find his good faith a very iEgis, a perfect protection? This differ­
ence is owing to the policy of the law in regard to the circulation of com­
mercial paper; it is an indulgence to commerce; it is a long-established
and old compliment to the utility of a credit system. It was deemed that
the circulation of these negotiable securities, by means of which payments
were made without the carrying of money, was of so great benefit to
commerce, rendering the making of loans and payments between the
most distant places so easy, safe, and certain, in time, that the common
law, rightly deemed the perfection of reason, placed their circulation on
grounds of security not otherwise afforded; and, honoring mercantile
good faith, made the possession of that of itself a sufficient protection.
But while the law is in this instance indulgent to these negotiations, it
requires all the circumstances to exist which constitute legal good faith.

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


It requires, first, legal diligence : for, if the buyer had notice or wellgrounded suspicion that the negotiable paper was for any reason tainted,
the law withheld the protection accorded to a bona-fide purchaser; and
particularly it holds the fact of the paper being past due as in itself giv­
ing a notice which ought to subject the purchaser to the obligation of
inquiry, and to the danger of taking it, at his peril.
It also requires, that the purchase shall have been made in the usual
course of trade ; any unusual circumstance, which, in a mind of ordinary
vigilance, would excite suspicion, exposes the purchaser to lose his claim
to the protection of his good faith.
It also requires that he shall have shown his good faith by his works ;
by actually parting with property on the faith of receiving the paper. For,
if negotiable securities are taken merely on account of an antecedent
debt, or as a collateral security for such debt, the receiver does not, be­
come a bona-fide purchaser; he is not chargeable certainly with the want
of good faith; but so, on the other hand, he has not exercised any faith
whatever in the transaction. He parts with nothing on the faith of it,
and his claim being to exclude other parties from some defence otherwise
just, he is not allowed to do so unless his own condition have been sub­
stantially altered by a reliance on the paper. Besides, the indulgence of
the law in favor of negotiable paper is in consideration of its circulation
as currency; which office it is not deemed to discharge, when it is merely
as collateral security, or taken on account of an antecedent debt.
Nor is good faith in a purchaser any more a protection in a purchase
of lands than of goods. In relation to lands, inasmuch as they so connect
themselves with the associations of life, with the early recollections of
youth, and the distant expectations of middle age, and give to society all
that fixes men to particular parts of the earth, property in lands has been
the subject of more than ordinary protection. They can only be con­
veyed by deed, by will, or by inheritance ; by legally drawn instruments
in writing, requiring the formalities of a seal to intimate to the parties that
something was transacting of more than ordinary consequence, and there­
by to awaken their attention, and also requiring the presence of witnesses;
or, by death and a descent to a man’s relatives, events of such publicity
as to attract notice, and not exposed to fraud ; the law, therefore, requires
of a purchaser unusual vigilance : he must be cautious; not only is his
good faith no protection, but, unlike the case of goods and merchandise,
no warranty of title is implied in his favor; he must protect' himself
either by his vigilance, or by formal covenants from a responsible seller,
expressing the extent of that protection ; if he does not, and any defect
of title ensues, he is rem ediless^he cannot even recover back the price.
Yet, with all diligence in a purchaser, he' may be the. victim of a bad title,
and that with entire good faith, both on his part and that of the seller, to
him. The deeds through which the title has passed may have been
forged, or their execution procured by fraud or violence ; the wills which
may have transferred the property may have been false, or the testator
incompetent, from sickness or imbecility, to dispose of his estate; the
parties to deeds or wills may have been under the age of twenty-one
years. Numerous other unseen defects may exist, which human vigi­
lance can scarcely detect; and yet, in all these cases, mere good faith is
no protection. The party seeking protection must find it in the guaran­
ties he can have in personal responsibility; and these, ordinarily speak­
ing, never extend beyond the price paid. So that, if land have risen in
value, either from a general increase in the price of lands, or by reason


Mercantile Law.

of erections by the purchaser upon it, the increase of value becomes
wholly a loss. Not only will good faith in the purchase be no adequate
protection, but subsequent improvements and expenditures in good faith
add nothing to the security, although their amount adds to the loss.
This rigidness of the law in relation to lands grows out of its jealousy
in protecting that which out of pre-eminence it designates as real property.
It requires every man in relation to this to act wholly at his peril; it
forces him not only to the use of all care and caution, but also to look
specially and exclusively to him with whom he deals. Formerly in this
country, and even now in the greater part of England, titles to land
might be defeated by deeds of prior date, not required by law or prac­
tice to be registered, and as to the existence of which the purchaser could
only rely on the good faith of the seller, and the binding of his personal
responsibility. But in the greater part of this country, from its earliest
settlement, purchasers in good faith were protected from this danger by
requiring the deed to be registered for public inspection ; and, in default
of such registry, the purchaser in good, faith would hold the title, not­
withstanding the prior right under an unregistered deed. This protection,
however, requires that the purchaser shall have had no notice of the other
deed; that he should have used the diligence of seeing if the land was
in the occupation of any one, and whether he was a tenant of the pur­
chaser whose deed was not registered ; that he should have actually
paid money on receiving the conveyance. Merely receiving a deed for
an antecedent debt does not allow one to be a bona-fide purchaser, as
against an unregistered deed or mortgage ; the man is supposed, in such
case, not to have changed his condition by his faith in his deed, and so
is not protected on the score of his good faith.
There is one other instance where good faith is a protection to a pur­
chaser of lands: this is, where there is no defect in the validity of the
various acts under which the title is derived; but where the ostensible
title under valid conveyances or descents is in one, and he holds it for
another on some private trust or understanding consistent with the os­
tensible ownership, there the equity of the law makes a man’s good faith
a protection. This, it will be seen, is different from the sale of a bond
and mortgage or debt, where the rule is the reverse. The reason of the
difference is probably this, that the conveyance and transfer of land is
deemed a matter of public necessity and utility, while the transfer of
debts (not negotiable) is not so ; the one is deemed to be entitled to pro­
tection as a part of the intercourse of life; the other, as an unnecessary
traffic, is looked on with less favor.
Another species of property has come into existence in modern days,
different from merchandise, bonds, and negotiable notes or securities, and
somewhat like each. I allude to stocks. These are either certificates of
public debt, money owing by the state, or are shares in the capital stock
of banking or other corporations. Like merchandise, their sale is pro­
tected and encouraged ; like bonds, they merely represent money owing
by others or in the hands of others, and require a formal, instrument of
transfer; and like negotiable securities, when transferred, the purchaser
becomes a perfect owner. As to the protection which good faith gives
to a purchaser, the rule would seem to be, as to certificates of public debt,
that the transfer is protected when made in good faith, without circum­
stances of suspicion, and upon present consideration ; because the policy
of the law favors the circulation of this kind of property, in order to ren­
der public loans more easy to be obtained. As to shares in corporate

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


companies, as they have the right to require transfers to be registered,
and to insist that they should otherwise be invalid, the purchaser in good
faith may always protect himself by insisting on an acknowledgment
of the transfer by the corporate body, which acknowledgment, obtained
without fraud, is binding on i t ; the purchaser thus becomes protected
by the corporate act, and the corporate body is protected by its right of
making all other transfers than those which are registered invalid. As
to these stocks, then, the rule would seem to be, that a registered trans­
fer will protect a purchase made in good faith for present consideration.
It will be seen from the preceding remarks, how little protection ex­
ists in relation to the contract of sale from the mere good faith of the
party; that the policy of the law interferes and, in almost every instance,
sacrifices an innocent man for the great purposes of its public policy;
that the many are taken care of at the ruin, it may be, of the few; and
that the upholding of politic institutions is treated by the law as of more
consequence than the avoiding of individual hardship.
The contract of sale, however, of which we have already said so much,
contains another very wide field for illustrating the legal effects of good
faith. Not only may there be defects of title, but of quality and of quan­
tity, equally capable of being unknown to the buyer, and unnoticed by
him. What protection does good faith enjoy as to faults in quality ?
Where an object capable of examination is exposed to sale, a full price
given, and the buyer, either through ignorance or inadvertence, is de­
ceived in the quality of the article, he has no redress. So far was this
principle formerly carried, that where a certain kind of wood was sold
as a rich dye stuff, and was so expressed to be in the bill of parcels, and
it turned out to be an article wholly different and inferior, and a full
price was paid, yet it was held, that in the absence of any fraud in the
seller, the buyer was remediless ; that the seller having praised the arti­
cle, having represented it as that for which he sold it, (being himself
ignorant as to its quality,) did not give the buyer any right of redress ;
that having the opportunity to examine, he must do so at his peril; and
that if he attempted to deal in a traffic of which he was ignorant, he
should purchase his knowledge by his misfortune; and it was deemed
mischievous to allow every word of praise, which a seller very naturally,
though not always truly, may have employed, to be the ground of a law­
suit as a warranty of the quality of the article. And the rule was most
pointedly laid down, that unless the seller used artifice to conceal defects
which he knew, or the buyer took the precaution of asking a warranty,
the latter could have no redress, however innocent and in whatever good
faith he. might have been. This rule has a most prominent application
in the purchase and sale of horses ; in relation to which, the want of ex­
perience of one party, and the full experience and adroitness of the other,
render a knowledge of the rule of much necessity.
Nevertheless, the rule, that the buyer must buy at his peril as to quality,
has ever been deemed somewhat harsh. There is a natural equity, that
one who pays a fair price should have a fair article, and that the owner
of a thing of small value should not, by a sale to another, however care­
less or ignorant, be made a gainer by that mere ignorance or want of
care ; and although the policy of the law has stoutly upheld it, yet it
has been greatly undermined and weakened by the distinctions which
learned judges and unlearned jurors have united in drawing.
The rule is now held not to apply where an article is sold without
VOL. i. — NO. III.


Mercantile Law.

being capable of examination, as in case of merchandise sold before its
arrival at the place of sale ; it is there held that a warranty is implied,
that the article shall be a merchantable article of its kind, that is, that it
fairly corresponds with its name, and is of reasonably good quality. Cer­
tainly one reason of the rule above alluded to does not exist here ; the
buyer could not see the article, but he could forbear the purchase until
it was capable of examination, and he could protect himself by stipula­
tions as to the quality. Still the old rule, in this instance, has yielded to
the natural equity of the thing, and to the modern disposition to increase
the rapidity of trade, at almost every expense of rules of policy.
It used also to be held, that no words of mere recommendation of quali­
ty should, be held as a stipulation to the purchaser, who did not choose
to have a distinct warranty ; but in this too the law is yielding to a simi­
lar impulse ; and it is now held, that where a buyer in good faith acts
upon the recommendation, and without taking pains to examine, and that,
in the knowledge of the seller, or with a direct reliance on the recommenda­
tion, the courts allow juries to imply a warranty of quality; this modifica­
tion of the rule, while it would seem to be an encouragement to truth and
fairness, yet is an exceedingly loose one, calculated to protect the mere
supineness of purchasers, to expose the seller to controversy from the mere
habit which every man has of praising what he owns, and to render it dif­
ficult to decide, until a jury shall have done it, whether a seller’s conduct
has amounted to a warranty or not; exposing every contract of sale under
such circumstances to be the ground of a legal controversy.
Analogous to the warranty of quality, is the obligation of one who passes
away negotiable paper which is invalid. In the case of every such sale, it
is implied that the signatures are genuine; if they are not, the seller is
bound to restore the price, or to make good the amount expressed to be
payable by the paper. This rule is founded upon several very palpable
considerations. It could not be expected of every man to know the genu­
ineness of the signatures of strangers, whose wealth and standing might
be well known from general reputation; while at the same time the cir­
culation of such securities is deemed of so much general benefit, as to
exempt the buyer from the delay of asking every party if his name were
not forged. It also was the mutual supposition of the contracting parties,
that the paper was not forged; certainly the buyer did not buy under
such a supposition ; if the seller did not sell under such supposition, then,
the contract being made under mutual mistake as to the subject, no agree­
ment has existed, and each must be restored to what he gave to the other ;
if the seller sold, himself doubting if the paper were not forged, then he
was guilty of a fraud, and much more is he bound to make restitution.
In like manner, where a payment is made in negotiable securities, the
parties to which have become bankrupt or failed without its being known
to either, here also .is presented the case of mutual mistake, or of mistake
on one side and fraud on the other, and a just obligation of restitution.
All these are rules founded upon the mere good faith of trade, and are
equally supported by justice and policy.
But where one party, from his relation to the negotiable paper, is bound
to know a signature, the dealing with the security then is at his risk. Thus,
where the acceptor of a bill does not detect a forgery of the drawer’s name,
but accepts or pays the bill, he must bear the loss himself. He ought to
know his correspondent’s signature. In like manner, where a bank pays a
check with the drawer’s name forged, it must bear the loss. Because in

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


each, of these cases, the parties thus paying are presumed to know, and
are in duty bound to know, the hand-writing of those dealing with them;
and if they permit themselves to give credit to a forged name, they are
not in good faith entitled to claim from another the loss sustained by a
neglect of which they were guilty and he was not.
But in the very frequent case at present of bank checks payable not to
bearer but to order, and requiring endorsement, it would not seem just
that a forgery of the endorsement should be at the risk of the bank. The
bank is not supposed to be in immediate correspondence with the endorser,
as it is with the drawer. It has no better means of knowing' than he who
presents the check for payment; the very presenting of a check with such
endorsement is an averment of its genuineness. And, although the bank
cannot claim payment of the check from the drawer, on whose money it
was drawn, since it has not been paid to the one he directed, it would
seem correct upon principle that he who received the money upon a
forged endorsement should restore it. Good faith evidently so requires,
and no principle of policy can be seen to overrule it.
The same principles upon which the warranty of quality is implied,
are illustrated in relation to quantity; and it is somewhat remarkable that
on this subject the law in relation to personal goods is the reverse of that
which applies to real estate, and that in both instances it is an application
of the same principle, that the eye must judge. Thus, where goods are
sold by the piece, which are by usage known as containing a certain quan­
tity, a warranty of such quantity is implied in the sale ; because in such
a mode of dealing it is mutually known that the buyer cannot judge
merely by the exterior, and is not expected to measure before he bargains.
But in relation to a piece of land, if the description of it contains boun­
daries, and also a statement of quantity, the latter is disregarded, both as
matter of description and as a ground of implying a warranty of quantity;
and this is equally true, whether the quantity is expressed in absolute
terms, or by qualified expressions, as of estimate; and the insertion of
the words, more or less, which are often inserted by cautious men to avoid
complaint, are wholly immaterial. Thus, if one sell a house, number one,
in Beekman street; containing twenty-five feet front and rear, and one
hundred feet deep, and it turns out to be either twenty or forty feet in
width, and fifty, or a hundred and fifty, feet in depth, the buyer takes
according to the actual dimensions of the property known as number one
Beekman street; if it fall short, he has no right to redress ; if it overrun,
he is subject to no claim for a greater price. The like is true where a
sale is made of a house bounded on one side by a street, on the other side
by another house, and the, quantity is expressed there also ; if the quan­
tity expressed be twenty-five feet, and,the actual dimensions be twenty
or forty, the rule is the same. The foundation of the rule is, that every
person dealing with land, is presumed to buy on actual inspection. His
eye designates the monuments or controlling description, the quantity
expressed is merely an inference from the objects presented to the eye;
but both parties are conclusively presumed to trust to their senses in pre­
ference to their inferences. And, although quantity is the main considera­
tion in any given purchase of land, yet the buyer is presumed to estimate the
quantity by inspection, and not to rely upon the declarations of the seller in
his deed, or upon any statement of inferences. The obligations of good
faith are here deemed not to arise, since it is a case not of faith but of sight.
But if, in relation to a purchase of lands, a representation be made of


Mercantile Law.

its productiveness as to rents, and it be false, there good faith requires
that such representation be made good; since this is a matter in the knowl­
edge of the seller alone, and which the buyer cannot of course discover
by inspection, nor by inquiry which any other than the seller is bound to
answer; it cannot well be a subject of stipulation, and the law imposes
and enforces the obligations of truth and justice, and protects the buyer.
Another class of instances in which the rules of good faith are exhibited
in the law, is that of recommendations for credit. In every commercial
country where credit is extensively practised, it becomes necessary for
merchants to inquire into the standing and solvency of persons applying
to be trusted. The law, aware of the danger which would arise from the
misapprehension of verbal conversations, and the danger of falsehood in
the relation of them, has provided, that no one shall be responsible on a
promise for the debt of another, without it be contained in a writing. But
it does not, however, leave the subject of recommendations out of view;
it adopts this rule : that the person applied to, being at liberty to answer
or to be silent when inquired of as to the standing and credit of his neigh­
bor, must, if he speak, speak in good faith; and if he gives a recommen­
dation which he knows to be untrue, and credit be given on faith of such
recommendation, he must make it good in case of loss. But this is a lia­
bility limited only to good faith ; it only requires intentional truth ; for,
if the person giving the recommendation be himself deceived and imposed
on, or ignorant as to the matter of his recommendation, no matter how
careless in such ignorance or mistake, and no matter how incorrect the
representation, yet if he have acted in good faith, believing what he said,
or not intending to deceive, his good faith is his protection; and the good
faith of the crediting party forms on his behalf no ground of claim. He
had no right upon his neighbor, to whom he applies, except for good faith.
The neighbor was under no obligation except for that; he was not bound
to know the subject inquired of, and both parties being equally in good
faith, no obligation is implied against one in favor of the other. In such
cases, therefore, no reliance ought to be placed on recommendations as
a ground of legal protection. If legal protection is desired, it ought to
be plainly asked, that it may be understandingly given ; and leaving an
offending party to the odium which fraud and bad faith attracts, the law
is too wise to interfere.
Passing now from the familiar topics of domestic commerce, into the
more enlarged sphere of maritime trade, we find good faith to be of still
more importance, since the distance of parties, in maritime commerce,
from the scene of affairs, renders personal inspection and attention imprac­
ticable, and a reliance on the good faith of others more necessary. And
yet even here it is not always a ground of legal protection. Thus a
foreign agent, acting on a misconception of the orders of his principal, or
deviating from orders in an honest view of his principal’s advantage, is
not protected by any degree of good faith on his part. He had specific
orders ; he was under specific duties; and however honest his purpose
in not fulfilling them, yet it was at his own risk : he was acting beyond
what he was trusted; and if this itself does not take away the pretence
of the existence of good faith, it does deprive of any protection from it.
In relation to the transportation of goods from abroad, the liability of
the shipmaster and owners is without protection from good faith on their
part. Their liability is absolute. It is not unfrequent where merchan­
dise is received abroad in good order, and delivered in bad order, that the

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


master and owners consider themselves discharged, if there be every good
faith on their part in the performance of their engagement as carriers:
this is by no means the principle of their responsibility or exemption. If
the damage have occurred by irresistible force of the elements, then
they are not responsible; but unless thus occasioned, no care nor diligence
on their part in providing a good ship, equipments, and crew, no vigilance
in taking care of the property, serves as a protection. This extensive
and absolute obligation arises out of the policy of the law. Merchandise,
when committed abroad to the master of a ship, ceases to he within the
inspection of the owner of the goods, or his agents : the shipmaster and
his agents have the whole disposal and knowledge of it. It is obvious,
that if the master were only to be held liable for faults actually proved,
for negligence, such as would disprove a performance in good faith of the
obligation to transport, it would be almost impossible for the owner of the
goods to prove it on him. Such owner could not find the witnesses to
prove what care or negligence was exercised or committed ; these wit­
nesses would be either the crew of the ship, or the persons employed on
her in a distant country : the crew are transient persons, and under the
control of the master. Besides, whether measures are the result of care
or the result of negligence, is to a great extent matter of opinion ; and a
rule of liability or exemption, founded upon it, would he very vague, in­
definite, and productive of dispute. And, although this rule of liability
be rigid, and may expose that meritorious class of men, who own, or who
navigate ships, to disasters which they cannot always prevent, and which
may occur, notwithstanding every good faith on their part, yet its gene­
ral operation is salutary. It quickens vigilance, and gives certainty, secu­
rity, and precision, to one of the most common and most necessary con­
tracts of commerce. The dominion of accident is by no means a definite
territory : it expands and contracts itself exceedingly, according to the de­
gree of precaution, care, and active vigilance, in those who are subject to
its sway; and every principle requires that amidst the accidents of life,
every excitement should he given to guard us against their occurrence,
and protect us from their effects; and it is no small excitement of this sort,
to hold that nothing shall be held excusable accident, which previous
precaution and constant vigilance could have prevented. It has, under
a sense of imaginary hardships upon this contract of carriers, been recently
contended, and in some degree countenanced by judges, that this rule of
responsibility should he lowered down to liability for actual neglect and
want of good faith: this is in opposition to the wisdom of ages, and the
practice of the whole world. And it will still be a question for jurors,
the merchants, mechanics, and men of business, to declare, when such
questions shall he submitted to them, what they will consider proof of
diligence and good faith between parties so unequally circumstanced as
to means of inquiry and proof.
The contract of insurance also requires to he brought to view, as more
dependent on good faith than any other. In this contract, one party is
wholly passive, the other active : one has the whole control of the adven­
ture, has all the knowledge of the particular subject, with all the intrinsic
and extrinsic circumstances which enhance or diminish the risk. The
insurer takes all the chances of the adventure not arising from its intrin­
sic imperfections. Upon these chances, arising from the ordinary cir­
cumstances of the exposure of the subject, he assumes : but he has no
control of the property, nor any right or means of providing for its safety.


Mercantile Law.

He, therefore, entirely depends upon the acts and statements of the insured
person contracting with him. Upon every principle, therefore, both of poli­
cy andof natural justice, he is entitled to the exactest truth, the most abun­
dant and perfect frankness, in those matters on which his engagement rests.
The state and condition of the ship, as to sea-worthiness; as to her ca­
pacity of successfully encountering the ordinary dangers of the sea, and
other risks of trade, including not only the body of the ship, but her equip­
ment ; the number, strength, and skill of the crew, the proper storage of
cargo, are all assumed by the insurer to be perfect: good faith to him
requires this to be so. He only assumes external dangers in the course
of a trade, upon which his experience enables him to found an estimate
of the premium; and if, in any of these particulars, his just expectations
are defeated, his liability does not arise. The shipper of a cargo, who
has no connexion with the fitting of the ship, is equally affected by defects
of sea-worthiness as the owner of the ship himself: he is presumed to
rely upon the engagement of the ship-owner, and not of the insurer, for
the goodness of the ship. So that if the ship lack sea-worthiness, wheth­
er it be known to the insured merchant or not, whether it be his fault or
not, the insurance is invalid. It is the condition of the contract: it is the
supposition on which it is made, and no good faith nor innocence on part
of the insured can prevail against the more controlling obligations of
good faith existing in favor of the insurer.
So, too, good faith requires a true representation of all external circum­
stances which go to increase the degree of peril to which the property is
exposed. If the vessel has been at sea beyond the ordinary length of the
voyage on which she has sailed, if there have been uncommon storms and
tempests in the period and track of her voyage known to the insured per­
son, if vessels have been seen dismasted or endangered in the period and
track of the voyage, which might induce the suspicion of disaster, all these
things, if known to the insured, must be stated by him in his proposal for
insurance. He must, of his own accord, make a full and frank statement.
He cannot excuse himself by saying that he was not inquired of by the
insurer, or that the latter might have known on inquiry. The obligation
of good faith is upon himself. He must not only make truly all state­
ments which he does present, but he must make the statements so full as to
embrace all the knowledge he himself possesses, and which go to render
insurance on his part desirable, or which would cause the insurer to hesi­
tate at insuring, or to demand a higher compensation for the insurance.
So far is this obligation to good faith one of active diligence, that where
orders for insurance are sent from a distant place, and rumors are there
received, which, if,communicated, would affect the premium of insurance,
such information must be sent forward with the same active diligence as
the orders for insurance ; for, if by such diligence such information could
have reached the place where the insurance is effected in time to have
been communicated before the contract is made, the insurance is defeated.
The rule here is the most perfect protection which the law gives, and its
requirement of good faith is the most comprehensive and unyielding. It
exactly requires the insured to do what he would wish to have done had
he stood in the place of the insurer. There is no other instance in the
law, of a rule so exactly coincident with those of pure ethics.
It will be seen, therefore, on the whole, that in the great mass of the
transactions of business, the law does not present the best defences of
good faith, but, out of its policy, leaves it to the protection chiefly of in­
dividual vigilance, and the sound operation of an honest public sentiment.

Legal Protection o f Good Faith.


Without having exhausted our subject, time admonishes us to forbear
too extensive an exploring of it. Let us only look back for an instant
at the two main principles which develop themselves on this subject:
namely, that the policy of commerce is the great object of its laws ;• and
that that policy demands rules sometimes variant from individual justice.
Many complaints are made, of the hardship and injustice of the law.
Oftentimes such complaints are just. A general rule operates an indi­
vidual hardship. As a general rule, twenty-one years is deemed the age
of discretion when a man shall be bound by his contracts; while some
precocious youth shows at early sixteen a degree of maturity well enti­
tling him to the privileges and subjecting him to the obligations of man­
hood. A general rule requires the contracts to become surety, contracts for
sales of a value over twenty-five dollars, to be in writing, to avoid the dan­
ger of misapprehension and of falsehood; yet it sometimes operates to ren­
der invalid the justest and plainest contract, contracts the most fully capa­
ble of unquestionable proof. In each particular instance supposed, the gen­
eral rule is its operation; but is it less useful as a general rule ?
Shall every minor be subject to trial as to his degree of maturity and dis­
cretion ? Shall there be no easy rule by which, as a plain one, all men may
be governed, and society delivered from endless disputes and litigation ?
Shall every word of heedless commendation of a man’s character or
credit, subject to a claim of responsibility for it ? Shall this claim be sup­
ported by that imperfection of evidence, the hearsay of persons accident­
ally present, or present from interest? Shall the chaffering between
buyer and seller expose either to the obligation of heavy contracts from
a misapprehension of terms, or from an interested hearing or false relat­
ing of them ? Is it not better that a general rule should prevail, by which
peace and security may be obtained, instead of a more particular and va­
rying rule, which, in seeking a minute and theoretical perfection, would
be hardly capable of a just application ? Deriving, as society does, all its
stability from its general rules, let us discountenance all impatience at
particular hardships. Let not men, because they think themselves to un­
derstand a single transaction before them, deem themselves wiser than the
laws— laws, not the imperfect wisdom of one man, or of one age, but the
combined intelligence and experience of' many men, of successive ages.
And when you, the young merchants whom I address, shall be called on
as jurors, as arbitrators, or in posts still more responsible, to apply the
rules on which commerce and society rest, discard the narrow considera­
tions of particular hardship or individual sympathy; search for the great
rule on which the institutions of your country have thought fit to place
the general welfare; and whether you are to pronounce upon the pro­
perty, the character, or the life of your fellow-citizen, do it upon the public
rule of wisdom ; do it faithfully; do it fearlessly. Yield not to individ­
ual complaint. Heed not private sympathy. Suppose not that your eye
reaches all consequences. Deem not your own views to be perfect wisdom.
But, looking at the general public benefit as the end, and the well-ascer­
tained rule of law as the definite and certain means, seek the former, only
in following the latter, and the immediate ill which you may possibly
witness will be wholly absorbed in the universal good.
You have also observed, in the preceding remarks, that, as a rule of
general policy, the law requires parties dealing with each other to rely
upon the knowledge they may have of their characters. You will hear
this rule in its operation often censured, and especially so for the check


Mercantile Law.

which it brings upon the extent of practicable business. It will, with
much truth, be said, that, if we are required to know every body we deal
with, our dealings must be few. But is not the value which this rule
gives to a character for integrity and truth something ? Is not this a
consequence of such a rule ? Is it not better to walk somewhat less ra­
pidly in the course of life, for the sake of having that walk made pleasant
by universal respect, and honorable by unhesitating confidence ? And
is it not protection enough, as to the difficulties into which you may
sometimes fall, from the impossibility of knowing the secrets of the heart,
that public opinion, general sympathy, universal indignation, stand forth
in vindicating, at all times and in all places, the claims of good faith ?
Base the commercial public opinion upon truth, honesty, and honor; let
its censures reach alike the highest and the lowest; let the finger of
scorn settle itself towards the tricky, cunning, and uncandid; let the
detected falsehood, the well planned deception, the crafty overreaching,
be generally marked, known, and appreciated as they deserve, and good
faith will not much complain of public policy. Private interest will not
be unwilling to submit herself to public good.


1. B y the well settled principles of law, in the United States, the state

of the facts, and not the state of the information at the time of the aban­
donment, constitutes the criterion by which it is to be ascertained whether
a total loss has occurred or not, for which an abandonment can be made.
If the abandonment, when made, is good, the rights of the parties are
definitely fixed, and do not become changed by any subsequent events.
If, on the other hand, the abandonment when made is not good, subse­
quent circumstances will not affect it so as retroactively to impart to it a
validity which it had not at its origin.
2. In cases where the abandonment is founded upon a supposed tech­
nical total loss, by a damage or injury exceeding one half the value of
the vessel, although the fact of such damage or injury must exist at the
time, yet it is necessarily open to proof to be derived from, subsequent
events. Thus, if the repairs, when subsequently made, clearly exceed
the half value, it is plain that this affords one of the best proofs of the
actual damage or injury. On the other hand, if the subsequent repairs
are far below the half value, this, so far as it goes, affords an inference
the other way. In many cases of stranding, the state of the vessel may
be such, from the imminency of the peril and the apparent cost of expen­
ditures requisite to deliver her from it, as to justify an abandonment;
although, by some fortunate occurrence, she may be delivered from her
peril without an actual expenditure of one half her value, after she is in
safety. Where, in the circumstances in which the vessel then may have



been, in the highest degree of probability, the expenditures to repair her
would exceed half her value; and if her distress and peril be such as
would induce a considerate owner, uninsured, and upon the spot, to
withhold every attempt to get the vessel off, because of such apparently
great expenditures, the abandonment would doubtless be good.
3. In respect to the mode of ascertaining the value of the ship, and, of
course, whether she is injured to the amount of half her value, it has, on
the fullest consideration, been held by the supreme court, that the true
basis of the valuation is the value of the ship at the time of the disaster;
and that if, after the damage is or might be repaired, the ship is not, or
would not be worth, at the place of repairs, double the cost of repairs, it
is to be treated as a technical total loss.
4. The mere retardation of the voyage by any of the perils insurec
against, not amounting to or producing a total incapacity of the ship
eventually to perform the voyage, cannot, upon principles well established,
be admitted to constitute a technical total loss, which will authorize an
abandonment. A retardation for the purpose of repairing damage from
the perils insured against, that damage not exceeding one moiety of the
value of the ship, falls directly within this doctrine. Under such cir­
cumstances, if the ship can be repaired, and is repaired, and is thus ca­
pable of performing the voyage, there is no ground of abandonment,
founded upon the consideration that the voyage may not be worth pursu­
ing, for the interest of the ship-owner; or that the cargo has been injur­
ed so that it is not worth transporting further on the voyage : for the loss
of the cargo for the voyage has nothing to do with the insurance upon
the ship for the voyage.
5. An insurance on time differs, as to this point, in no essential man­
ner from one upon a particular voyage; except in this, that in the latter
case the insurance is upon a specific voyage described in the policy;
whereas a policy on time insures no specific voyage, but it covers any
voyage or voyages whatsoever, undertaken within, and not exceeding, in
point of duration, the limited period for which the insurance is made.
But it does not contain an undertaking that any particular voyage shall
be performed within a particular period. It warrants nothing as to any
prolongation or retardation of the voyage; but only that the ship shall
be capable of performing the voyage undertaken, notwithstanding any
loss or injury which may accrue to her during the time for which she is
insured; and of repairing it, if interrupted. Bradlie v. The Maryland
Insurance Company, 12 Peter's U. S. Rep.
In an action on a policy of insurance referring to certain conditions,
wherein it was stipulated, that the assured “ shall procure a certificate
under the hand of a magistrate, notary public, or clergyman, most con­
tiguous to the place of the fire, and not concerned in the loss, or related
to the insurers or sufferers, that he is acquainted with the character and
circumstances of the person or persons insured, and knows or verily be­
lieves, that he, she, or they, really and by misfortune, and without fraud i
or evil practice, hath or have sustained by such fire loss and damage to
the amount therein mentioned; and until such certificate is produced, the
loss shall not be deemed payable after the destruction of the property
insured by fire, the assured applied to the two nearest magistrates, who
refused to give the required certificate, and then applied to the next near­
est magistrate, who gave one, which was produced to the defendants; it
VOL. I .--- NO. III.


Mercantile Law Decisions.

was held, that tne certificate of the nearest magistrate was a condition
precedent to the right of the plaintiff to recover. Leadbetter v. Etna
Ins. Co., 1 Shepley's Maine Reports.
2. Policies against fire are personal contracts with the assured, and do
not pass to a purchaser of the property insured, or to an assignee, with­
out the consent of the underwriters; if the assured sell the property, and
part with all his interest therein before the loss happen, the policy is at
an end, unless it be assigned to the purchaser; if he retain a partial in­
terest in the property, the policy will protect such interest.
3. It seems that when the property insured be sold, and a portion of
the consideration money remain unpaid, and the assured recover the
amount of his loss from the underwriter, that the latter is entitled to be
substituted in the place of the assured, in respect to his rights and reme­
dies against the purchaser.
4. Where by the terms of the policy it is provided that in case the
assured shall already have any other insurance, not notified, the policy
shall be void, and it is declared that in case of any other insurance upon
the property, whether prior or subsequent, there shall be only a pro rata
recovery in case of loss, and one of the conditions attached to the policy
is, that notice of all previous insurances shall be given, at the peril of
forfeiting the policy: It was held,, that a purchaser of a dwelling-house,
who effected insurance upon it, was not bound to give notice of a previ­
ous policy effected by his vendor, unless such previous policy were
assigned to him.
5. The certificate of loss need not be in the precise words specified in
the policy; if it be so drawn as evidently to mean the same thing, it is
enough; and, accordingly, where the condition required that the magis­
trate should state in his certificate that he was acquainted with the char­
acter and circumstances of the person insured, and that, having investi­
gated the circumstances in relation to the loss, he knew or verily believed
that the assured had sustained loss to the amount mentioned in the cer­
tificate, it was held, that a certificate of the magistrate that' he resided
within two miles of the place, was acquainted with the assured, and that
the assured had sustained loss to the amount of the buildings mentioned
in the account of loss of the assured, was a sufficient compliance with
the terms of the condition. Etna Fire Insurance Company v. Tyler, 16
Wendell's New York Reports.
6. A pplication fo e . — The slip, survey, or application for insurance,
though referred to in the body of the policy as more particularly describ­
ing the building containing the goods insured, is not such a constituent
part of the policy as to operate a warranty; it is a mere representation,
and, if substantially correct, the policy is valid, although one of the con­
ditions attached to the policy be, that if the assured shall make any mis­
representation, the insurance shall be void.
7. It seems that in this respect there is a difference between marine
and fire policies. Farmers' Insurance and Loan Company v. Snyder,
16 Wendell.
An action was brought in the Court of Common Pleas, Charleston
(S. C.) District, at the May term, 1839, by John Kirkpatrick v. The
Charleston Fire <f- Marine Insurance Company, before Judge Earle, on
a policy of insurance on seventy-eight bales of cotton, shipped by Jas.
McFie on board of a boat, of which one Jesse Floyd was both owner
and master, from Columbia to Charleston.

Total Loss.


The testimony of Floyd, taken by commission, was offered and objected
to by the defendants, on the ground that the witness was directly inter­
ested in the event of the suit. After hearing argument on that point,
the objection was overruled by the presiding Judge, and the testimony
read. He states that he was sole owner of the boat, and the only
white person on board at the time the cotton was lost. That about 9
o’clock on the night of 28th January, 1836, near Clement’s ferry, while
his boat was at anchor, he was informed by one of the hands that the
cotton was on fire; that it raged with such force that he and his hands
could not extinguish it, and that the boat and all the cotton was entirely
consumed. Among other risks, the policy covered those of fire and bar­
ratry of the master, not of consignee.
The defence set up, on behalf of the underwriters, was :
1. That the boat was not seaworthy, by reason of the notoriously bad
character of the captain, and his want of skill.
2. That the cotton was not lost by fire, but stolen by Floyd, the mas­
ter and owner of the boat.
3. That there was a misrepresentation and concealment by the assured,
which materially enhanced the risk.
4. That the plaintiffs could not recover the count for a loss by barratry,
because the master, being owner of the boat, could not commit barratry.
A great deal of evidence was offered on behalf of the defendants ; the
case was then argued by the counsel, and after a luminous charge by his
Honor, Judge Earle, the Jury retired, and the next morning brought in
a verdict for the defendants.
The plaintiffs have appealed on the following grounds:
1. That by the terms of the policy, the insurers took upon themselves
the risk of loss by fire and theft of the mariners, and barratry of the mas­
ter, “ when not consignee,” and in this case the master was not consignee
— yet his Honor charged the Jury, that if they believed the loss had oc­
curred from embezzlement by the captain, the assured were not entitled
to recover, because the master was stated to be the owner of the boat in
which the cotton was laden.
2. Because his Honor charged the Jury that if the cotton was in any­
wise lost or destroyed by the fraud or crime of the captain, the loss was
not covered by the policy, because the master or patron carried the cot­
ton in his own boat, even if the insurer knew that fact at the time the
policy was subscribed, and notwithstanding the insurers expressly under­
took in the policy to insure against fire, theft, and barratry of the master,
“ when not consignee.”
3. Because the loss having been proved to have happened either by
fire or theft, and the terms of the policy having embraced both, the plain­
tiff was entitled to a verdict.
T otal L oss. —The case of Orlando Perkins and others v. The A t­
lantic Insurance Company of Boston, decided in the Supreme Judicial
Court of Massachusetts, February 23, 1839, was an action on a policy
of insurance on the bark Horace of Kennebunk, Maine. It was a valued
policy for one year. During the time covered by the policy, the bark
sailed from New Orleans loaded with cotton for Liverpool. A few weeks
afterwards she came into Kennebunk and anchored, and in a gale of
wind she parted her cable and drifted ashore. The plaintiffs claim for
a total loss.


Mercantile Law Decisions.

The defence was placed upon three grounds, as follows:
1. That the ship was unseaworthy in not having sufficient cables.
On this point there was much evidence. The defendants insisted, that
the cables were of poor iron; that the gale was not of sufficient violence
to have parted good chain cables ; that this was evident from the man­
ner in which the chain parted; and they relied somewhat on the fact,
that they had requested the plaintiffs to produce a part of the cables, and
test their quality. The plaintiffs offered the evidence of the manufactu­
rers of the cables in Bristol, England, who testified to their being per­
fectly well made, and of good iron.
2. The second ground of defence was, that there had been such a de­
viation on the part of the ship, in sailing from New Orleans, and putting
into Kennebunk, as discharged the insurers. To this position, the plain­
tiffs objected, that in an insurance on time, the vessel had a right to go
where she pleased. It was a very different case from one where a ship
was insured from one particular port to another. In a case of a valued
policy on time, like this, there could be no deviation.
Judge M orton considered this a novel point, and he declined giving
any opinion upon it, but ruled, for the purpose of the trial, in favor of
the defendants.
The latter then insisted, that this deviation was a gross breach of duty;
that the captain wished to go into Kennebunk to see his family, and
ought to have put into some more convenient port, if into any; and seve­
ral skilful seamen were examined upon the point. On inspecting the
log, they were called upon to give their opinions, whether a nearer port
might not have been easily made, and whether the conduct of the master
was not grossly negligent.
On the part of the plaintiffs, it was insisted, that, under all the circum­
stances, the master acted very prudently, and according to his best judg­
ment ; and they offered evidence to show, that it became necessary to
put into some port, on account of a mutiny among the men.
3. The defendants contended that, at most, there had only been a par­
tial loss.
The jury returned a verdict for the plaintiffs, for a total loss. Damages
— $10,450.

1. Where one of three partners retires from, or a new partner comes
into the firm, or both, and notice thereof is given, but the business con­
tinues to be carried on, in other respects, as before, those partners as to
whom no notice is given, will be presumed to hold the same relation to
the concern afterwards that they did before.
2. In an action against several for a partnership debt, if one of the
defendants denies that he was a partner, it is incumbent on the plaintiff,
in the first instance, to prove such defendant to have been a partner; and,
if this is done, he will be liable, unless he proves a dissolution of the
partnership as it regarded himself, and notice thereof to the plaintiff
before the debt was incurred.
3. In such action, a witness testified in chief, that he had given notice
of the withdrawal of such defendant, and of the general dissolution of
the partnership, and that he was “ confident that all in the neighborhood
were notified in two days.” On his cross-examination, the plaintiff’s
counsel inquired whether he gave the same notice to the other creditors

Partners and, Agents.


of the partnership as he had testified that he gave to the plaintiff, and the
witness replied affirmatively, and gave the names of several to whom he
had given notice. It was held, that it was competent for the plaintiff to
call the persons so named, to prove that the witness had not given them
any such notice as he had stated; hut that it was not competent for the
defendant to call any of the persons named, in order to prove that they
had received such a notice from the witness. Howe v. Thayer.
4. Where notice of a dissolution of a partnership has not been pub­
lished in a newspaper, or brought home to the knowledge of the party
to be affected by it, evidence of the mere notoriety of the dissolution is
no t admissible to prove such notice. Pitcher v. Barrows.
5. On the death of one of four partners, and the consequent dissolution
of the partnership, one of the survivors took out letters of administration
upon the estate of the deceased partner, and the three survivors formed
a new partnership, and took to themselves the stock on hand giving each
his own individual note for one third of the appraised value, payable to
the three. It was held, that this supposed sale was ineffectual, and that
the three surviving partners were jointly accountable to the funds of the
old partnership for the value of the stock.
6. Goods belonging to a partnership were consigned to a merchant
abroad for sale, part of them in the lifetime of all the partners, and the
residue after the death of one of them, and consequent dissolution of the
partnership by the surviving partners, and advances were made upon the
goods by the consignee, before and after the death, which went into the
partnership funds, and were applied to the debts of the firm, the consignee
having no notice of the death. The proceeds of the sales fell short of the
sums advanced. It was held, that the consignee’s claim to reimburse­
ment for the excess of his advances, as well upon the goods consigned
after as upon those consigned before the death, was chargeable upon the
partnership funds in the hands of the surviving partners. Washburn v.
Goodman,—Pickering's Mass. Rep.
liability of dormant pa r tn er . — A dormant partner is not liable on
the written agreement of his co-partners, to which he is not a party, to
employ a person in their trade for a certain period. English Report.

One partner cannot bind his co-partner by deed to any new liabilities,
but he may by deed bar him of a right which they possess jointly, and
may individually adjust, receive payment, or release any partnership debt;
and this may be done by either partner after a dissolution of the part­
nership. Morse v. Bellows, New Hampshire Reports.

At the March term of the Supreme Court of New York, before Judge
Talmadge, the case of Addonis Cunningham, was an action to recover
the amount of goods purchased by the defendant, under the following cir­
cumstances : In the year 1836 the defendant was introduced to the plain­
tiffs as a person connected with the firm of Marsh & Forbes, of Georgia,
and that this firm was solvent and entitled to credit. The plaintiffs in con­
sequence sold the defendant goods to the amount of about $700, for which
he gave them a note, in the name of Marsh & Forbes. This note was
not paid, and the plaintiffs instituted the present suit against the defendant.
The defence set up was, that the defendant was not one of the firm
of Marsh & Forbes, and had purchased the goods merely as their agent,


Mercantile Law Decisions.

and it was attempted to be shown that at the time he purchased the goods,
he had been introduced to the plaintiffs only as the agent, and not as the
partner of Marsh & Forbes. The evidence, however, on this part of the
question was of a very vague and inconclusive character.
The Court charged the Jury that every person who buys goods or
makes a contract is bound by it, unless he acts as the agent of another,
and unless he discloses that agency, or it is otherwise known to the par­
ties he deals with. Verdict for the plaintiffs, $795.

A case was recently tried in the United States District Court, in New
York, Judge Betts presiding, in which Elijah T. Hubbard and Henry
Carrington were plaintiffs, and Edward M. Morgan, Wm. H. Jessup,
Henry T. Morgan, and Knowles Taylor, were defendants, to test the
question as to whether this latter defendant was a special or general
partner in the firm of Edward M. Morgan & Co., of Wall Street.
The action was an action of assumpsit, and was brought to recover the
amount of a balance of an account alleged to be due the plaintiffs, who
resided and were in business in Illinois on the 22d of January, 1838.
The amount claimed was $10,179 75, with interest.
It appeared that Mr. Taylor had put $75,000 into the firm as a special
partner, but had neglected to comply with the provision in the law au­
thorizing special partnerships, which requires that “ the business of the
partnership shall be conducted under a firm in which the names of the
general partners only shall be inserted, without the addition of the word
‘Company,’ or other general t e r m f o r the word Company was used in
the certificate of partnership made before Recorder Riker, and in all sub­
sequent transactions. Judge Betts therefore instructed the jury that Mr.
T. had lost the privileges of a special partner, and they accordingly ren­
dered a verdict for the plaintiffs of $11,125 78— which binds him.

1. Where individuals subscribe their proper names to a promissory
note, prima facia, they are personally liable, although they add a descrip­
tion of the character in which the note is given ; but such presumption
of liability may be rebutted by proof that the note was in fact given by
the makers as the agents of a corporation for a debt of the latter due to
the payee, and that they were duly authorized to make such note; and
such facts may be pleaded in bar of an action against the makers per­
sonally, averring knowledge on the part of the payee.
2. It is no objection to such defence, that the name of the corporation
be not correctly stated in the description attached to the signature; it is
enough if it appear that the makers did not intend to be personally bound.
3. A person cannot shield himself from liability by showing that he
acted as the agent of another, unless he avowed himself as such to him
with whom he contracted, or the fact was known to him. Brockway v.
4. A drawer of a bill, or the endorser of a note, is not discharged from
liability by the omission of the holder to make presentment or demand, or
to give notice of non-acceptance or non-payment, where it is clearly shown
that no injury or damage has been sustained in consequence of the
5. Damage, however, will be presumed from the omission, until all

Bills o f Exchange and Promissory Notes.


possibility of injury from the laches of the holder is removed by proof.
Albany Commercial Bank v. Hughes.
6. It is no defence at law to an action on a promissory note, that it
was given as part consideration of land sold by the payee, which he cove­
nanted was free from incumbrances, and that the land is subject to a
mortgage, executed by him, for a sum exceeding the amount of the note.
Lattin v. Vail.
7. Where a promissory note is given for a specific sum, evidence that
at the time of the giving of the note, it was agreed between the parties
that an account which the maker held against the payee should be deduct­
ed from the note, is not admissible.
8. An agreement, however, made after the giving of the note, that a debt
contemplated to be contracted by the payee with a third person, should be
allowed in payment of the note, is a valid agreement, and the debt, when
contracted, may be shown in payment of the note under the general issue.
9. But such debt cannot be allowed as a set-off; and where a court
of common pleas instructed a jury that they might allow it, either in pay­
ment or as a set-off, the judgment entered upon a verdict in pursuance of
such charge was reversed. Eaves v. Henderson.
10. In an action by the endorsee against the maker, a promissory note
cannot be given in evidence Under a count for money lent; but it may
be given in evidence under a count for money had and received. Rockfeller v. Robison.
11. Where a note was made by A., payable to B. or bearer, and C.
endorsed it, and an action was brought by a third person, claiming by
transfer from B., charging C., as the maker of the note, it was held, on
demurrer, that the declaration was bad.
12. It seems, that when an endorser of such a note is privy to the con­
sideration, he may be charged directly as maker or as endorser ; and that
a bona fide holder may in all cases write a bill of exchange over the
name of the endorser, or fill up the blank in any form consistent with the
intent of the parties. Dean v. Hall.
13. Where a debtor certifies a balance as owing by him, and then
draws a note stating the amount in th e margin in figures, but in the body
inserting an amount a few dollars less than the true sum, as 8300 instead
of $334, it seems that the creditor may, without any express authority, in­
sert the words omitted, and make the note to conform to the original intent.
14. At all events, upon such evidence, he is entitled to recover upon
the common count of insimul computassent. Clute y. Small.
15. Although as between the payee and the drawer of a bill of exchange,
the remedy of the former against the latter is not affected by the omission
to make presentment fo r acceptance of a bill payable a given number of
days after date, provided it be made at the maturity of the bill: the same
rule does not prevail as between the payee and a broker or agent with
whom the bill is left for collection. The agent is bound to present the
bill for acceptance forthwith, and if not accepted, to give notice thereof to
his principal, and if he neglect to do so, he becomes responsible in damages.
16. Where an agent had neglected to make presentment for 17 days,
it was held that he was liable in damages to the full amount of the bill,
although it appeared that the drawees had no funds, that they were di­
rected by the drawer not to accept, and that the lateness of the present­
ment had no influence upon the non-acceptance : it appearing in proof
that subsequent to the drawing of the bill in question, other bills of the


Mercantile Law Decisions.

same drawer had been accepted by the same drawees, and paid or secured
to be paid.
17. It seems, however, that facts and circumstances tending to reduce
the amount of recovery, or to mitigate damages, may properly be sub­
mitted to the consideration of the jury. Mien v. Suydam.
18. Where an accommodation note is drawn for 82,500, and the payee
declines to endorse for the whole amount, but agrees to do so for a less
sum, and writes a direction to the cashier of the bank where the note is
made payable, to pay upon it $750, such note is, in legal effect, a note
for $750, and may accordingly be declared upon as a note for that sum.
19. The holder of a note is relieved from demanding payment and
giving notice of non-payment to an endorser, who, within a few days
before the maturity of the note, writes to him that the maker has failed,
acknowledges his liability, and asks indulgence until funds can be real­
ized from security given by the maker.
20. The mere taking of security by an endorser, from the maker of
the note, does not dispense with a demand and notice, unless it appear
that funds have actually come into the hands of the endorser to an
amount sufficient to satisfy the note, or that all the property of the maker
has been actually transferred to the endorser. Douglass v. Wilkinson.
21. Indulgence to the maker of a note on receiving securities from
him, does not discharge the endorser, when there is no valid agreement
for giving time of payment for a definite period. Bank o f Utica v. Ives,
Wendell's New York Reports.
The Englishman and Military Chronicle of February 2,1839, contains
a report of a case in equity, in which Radakissen Mitter was the plain­
tiff, and the Bank o f Bengal, George Udny, and the Assignees o f Messrs.
Ferguson Sp Co., were the defendants. The plaintiff’s bill prayed an
injunction to restrain the defendants from proceeding at law against the
complainant on five bills of exchange, for the aggregate amount of four
lacs of rupees, drawn by him in favor of one Durpnarain Gangooly,
accepted by Messrs. Ferguson & Co., and discounted by the Bank of
In consequence of the insolvency of Ferguson & Co., the bills were
dishonored, and actions were brought upon them against the plaintiff,
which it was the object of the bill to restrain.
Several points were relied upon by the plaintiff, all of which were
overruled by the court, except one, which was, that the Bank were hold­
ers of securities deposited with them for a particular purpose, but the
surplus produce of which, if any, was applicable to the payment of the
bills; that the Bank parted with these securities not only without the
privity of the plaintiff, but against his express dissent; and he contended
that by so doing they discharged him from his liability.
A majority of the court were of opinion, that the ground taken by the
plaintiff on this point was right. It was clear, they said, first, that a
surety is entitled to the benefit of securities deposited by the principal
with the creditors, whether deposited or not with his privity; secondly,
that the surety is discharged by any act of the creditor, by which his situ­
ation is altered. And they thought that the objection that the plaintiff
was not damnified by the disposal of the securities was of no avail,
because the surety is entitled to judge for himself of what is for his own
benefit, and another party cannot judge for him without discharging him.

Bills and Notes.


The consequence was, that the court granted the injunction, in effect
discharging the plaintiff from all liability on the hills.
N eglig en ce . — An interesting case was tried in the Supreme Court,

June 4th, 1839, Judge Oakely presiding. It was brought by Henry Suydam and William Boyd v. Solomon and Moses Allen. It was an action
to make the defendants liable for the amount of a note given them to for­
ward to Concord, New Hampshire, for acceptance; and in relation to
which, it was alleged they had acted negligently, and by so doing, ren­
dered themselves responsible for its amount.
The occurrence took place in the year 1833, and the case had been
ever since in litigation, having been first tried in the Superior Court, and
from thence brought to the Supreme Court, and then to the Court of E r­
rors, and back again to the Superior Court.
The note was drawn by J. Easterbrooke, of this city, on W . W . & J.
A. Easterbrooke, of Concord, New Hampshire, and placed in the defend­
ants’ hands about the 16th of August, to forward it for acceptance. The
defendants, however, omitted forwarding it until some time in Septem­
ber, and it was then returned to them dishonored. The plaintiffs refused
to take back the note, on the ground that the defendants had, by their
negligence in forwarding it for acceptance, made it their own. Early in
October, the ensuing month, after the bill came back dishonored, the
drawer, Easterbrooke, left New York on a journey, and was lost in the
New England Steam Boat. It appeared, that even had the defendants
sent on the bill in due time, it most probably would not have been ac­
cepted ; for when it was presented for acceptance, the brothers on whom
it had been drawn refused to accept it, alleging, on one occasion, that
they had received no instructions to do so from their brother who had
drawn the bill; and on another occasion, they alleged that they had re­
ceived instructions not to accept it. But it also appeared that had the bill
been sent for acceptance, and returned in proper time, the drawer of it was
then apparently in such good standing and credit in this city, that it was
fair to infer he could have paid the bill, or given security for it.
When the case was tried in the Superior Court, Chief Justice Jones
charged the jury, that as the defendants had acted with negligence, in
not sending on the bill in due time, they had, by doing so, made it their
own, and that the law left the jury no option to consider the circum­
stances of the case, and they must find a verdict for the plaintiffs, for the
full amount of the bill. And the jury found so accordingly.
The Supreme Court, and the Court of Errors, decided, that the defend­
ants were liable for their negligence, or inattention, but that the extent of
their liability was not a question of law, and should have been left to the
decision of the jury.
The Court charged the Jury.
The case contained two questions. First, were the defendants liable at
all; and secondly, if they were, to what amount. All the Courts, before
which this case had gone, agreed that the defendants are liable in dam­
ages to some extent. The defendants, in their capacity of brokers, un­
dertook to collect the hill, for doing which they were to receive the ordi­
nary compensation. They however did not send on the bill with due
diligence, and it was dishonored. When this case was tried on the for­
mer occasion, the Court thought that the rule of the law was, that if an
agent takes a note to collect, and acts carelessly or negligently, he makes
VOL. i. — no . h i .


Mercantile Law Decisions.

it his own ; and the drawer or owner of the note can say to him, ‘‘You
have deprived me of the means of collecting it, and the law therefore
makes it yours.” On the former trial, the-jury were therefore told, that
the negligence alone, of the defendants, had rendered them liable for its
amount. The decision was reviewed by the Supreme Court, and the
Court of Errors, who said that although the defendants were liable, the
rule of damages laid down by this court was not correct; and that it
should be left to the jury to say, whether the damage should be merely
nominal or more. The inquiry must then be, whether, if this bill had
been promptly sent on to Concord, and returned here in five or six days, was
it probable that the plaintiffs would have got payment for it, in whole or
in part. If you think the probability was, that in such case the bill would
have been paid, or secured for the whole or in part, then you will find
for the plaintiffs for such an amount as you think would have been se­
cured or paid. The court did not see that there was more probability
of getting a part of it, than the whole of it. What is the case as it ap­
pears in evidence ? The plaintiffs were kept out of it from August until
some time in September, and it was then sent back dishonored. They
therefore refused to take it, as they thought the Messrs. Allen had made
it their own. No unfavorable inference can on this account be drawn
against either the plaintiffs or defendants, as it was perfectly fair for each
of the parties to put themselves on what-they supposed to be their legal
rights. The drawer of the bill was a merchant doing business here, in
Canal street, having, up to the period of his departure, a quantity of goods
in his possession, apparently double the amount of his draft. He was
also seemingly in good credit, nearly to the time when he went away.
It has been however said on the part of the defendants, that he had failed.
But the only evidence of it is, that a note he drew payable at Concord,
was sent back, and was taken up by his draft. You will say whether it is
fair to infer from this circumstance, that he broke or failed. A man
might easily have a note payable at a distant place from where he resi­
ded, and yet its not being promptly paid there might not impair his
credit. It is said that after his death, his estate was insolvent. But to
what extent, we have no proof. That happened in October, but no one
can tell what was his situation in August, when this note ought to have
been returned, and you have the same evidence of his credit then, as you
could have of any other man in business who passes a draft. If you
think that he was able to pay this bill, you have a right to say, that it is
probable he would have paid it, and the plaintiffs are entitled to a verdict
for its amount. But if you think that he failed, and would not have paid it,
then the plaintiffs have sustained no loss by the defendants’ negligence,
and you should only give a verdict for nominal damages.
Verdict for the plaintiffs, $662 74, being the amount of the note with­
out interest. For the plaintiffs, D. Lord, Jr., and J. P. Hall. For defend­
ants, Mr. Foote.

In the Superior Court, New York, January 15—16, 1S39, an interest­
ing action of replevin, in the case of William Stone v. Charles Oakley,
was brought to recover the value of a cargo of molasses, consisting of 194
casks, or 25,200 gallons, shipped at Bahia, in the Brazils, on the 16th
of January, 1837, on board of the Brig Harp, Capt. Welsh, by Messrs.
Bursheck & Co. of Bahia, per the order and for the use of the plaintiff,
a merchant at Boston. There was also shipped in the same vessel a



number of other casks, per the order, and for the use of Messrs. How­
land and Aspinwall of this city. The freightage was paid by a draft on
the plaintiff for $1,323, and the cargo was consigned to Messrs. Thomas
Wilson & Co. of this city.
After the brig had left the Brazils about fifteen days, she was driven
by stress of weather into the harbor of the island of St. Thomas, in the
West Indies. She leaked considerably, and the cargo was much dam­
aged. In this condition the cargo and vessel were taken possession of
by the American consul, Mr. Hicks ; the cargo was discharged, and the
vessel condemned, broken up, and sold. Such part of her cargo as re­
ceived no damage, or if any, of a slight character, was then shipped on
board another vessel, viz. the schooner Jasper, bound to New York and
consigned to order. Information having reached here of the loss of the
Harp, which together with the cargo had been insured in the Ocean Of­
fice, Boston, they were abandonded by the plaintiff to the underwriters.
As soon as the Jasper reached this city, which was not until April, 1837,
the defendant, being the owner thereof, claimed the cargo in payment for
the freight. It appeared that on the arrival of the Jasper the bill of
lading was taken to the custom-house, and the entry made by the defend­
ant, and that the usual bonds were given by him to the amount of $886
20 for the whole of the freight, including that part of the cargo owned
by Messrs. Howland and Aspinwall. The plaintiff claimed to be the
owner of the molasses in question, on the ground that he had paid the
freight, and refused to give up his title to it unless the freight was first
paid him. It also appeared from the testimony of one of the witnesses,
an assurance broker of Wall street, that the plaintiff told him he had come
on here to act for the underwriters, to whom the vessel and cargo had
been abandoned, and that the plaintiff had a bill of lading and invoice of
the cargo, endorsed by John N. Gossler, of the house of Thomas Wil­
son & Go., and that a draft on that house by the shipping firm at Bahia
had been paid by him. Of the 25,200 gallons of molasses originally
shipped, only 14,000 gallons reached here, the balance having been lost
on the voyage. The defendant claimed freight on the 25,200 gallons,
which claim was resisted by the plaintiff on the ground that it had not
been earned, but offered to pay in proportion to the amount of cargo that
had arrived here. Messrs. Minturn & Co. were applied to on the land­
ing of the molasses here, on the 28th of April, to, and did, sell the same,
but neglected to proclaim, as requested by the plaintiff, that the defend­
ant had no right to sell the same, he not being the owner. On the same
day, the sheriff, under a writ issued at the suit of the plaintiff, took pos­
session thereof. The plaintiff proved a tender to the defendant of $900,
in payment for the freight and all other expenses— the endorsement on
the bill of lading— the policy of insurance, dated January 12th, 1836; and
here closed his case.
For the defence it was contended that the defendant had a right to claim
the full amount of freight, on the ground that the words “ not answerable
for leakage” were endorsed on the bill of lading, and that at the time the
suit commenced, the molasses was in the possession of a Mr. Thompson,
the purchaser at the auction sale, and not in that of the defendant.
It appeared from the testimony of Captain Welsh, who was called for the
defence, that six or eight of the casks entirely leaked out, and that a great
quantity was lost in landing it at St. Thomas, by the bursting of the heads
of the casks ; other of the casks that had leaked but partially were filled


Mercantile Law Decisions.

up, and it was probable that some of the molasses shipped to Messrs. How­
land and Aspinwall might have been used in this operation.
The sale here by the Messrs. Minturn was made under the direction of
the Port Wardens. The plaintiff was served with a notice that the sale
would take place unless the freight and expenses were paid. After the sale
to Thompson, he employed a cartman to remove the molasses, and had re­
moved two casks, and was removing a third, when the sheriff interfered
and took possession of the balance. The court charged the jury at great
length, chiefly on points of law, and directed them to find specially.
The jury found for the plaintiff, and specially that the purchaser
(Thompson) did not take possession of the molasses at the sale. For
the plaintiff E. Griffin, sen. For the defence, H. Ketcham.
T w ist not liable to th e payment of D uty . — In the United States

Circuit Court, before Judge Betts, the case of Samuel F. Dorr v. Jesse Hoyt,
Collector of the port of New York, was an action brought by the plaintiff,
an extensive importer of French goods, against the defendant, the collector
of this port, to recover back the sum of $88 60, being the amount of duties
charged on an importation of twist.
These duties had been charged under the decision of the Comptroller
of the Treasury of 1833, and the entry was made and the duties levied,
as upon sewing silk, at the rate of $2 28 per pound.
The plaintiff contended, that this particular article, twist, was not in
itself silk, but that it was composed of goat or mohair and silk, and that it
would not serve the same purpose as sewing silk, and that under the tariff
it was provided, that articles of importation of which silk forms a compo­
nent part, were free of duty ; and it was farther contended, that, accord­
ing to mercantile usage, twist was not sewing silk, under which class the
duty had been claimed and exacted. The entry and payment of the duty,
under protest, were admitted, and the plaintiff called a manufacturer of
twist, who testified to the article being composed partly of goat or mohair,
and partly of silk.
For the defence it was contended and appeared that, under the deci­
sion of the Comptroller of the Treasury of 1833, this article had been en­
tered as all goods of the like kind, and classified as sewing silk by the
custom-house authorities. On cross examination, however, of the de­
fendant’s witness, it came out that the component parts of the article
twist, were as contended by the plaintiff.
The court said that all articles manufactured partly of silk, or of which
silk was a component part, were entitled to be admitted free of duty. The
custom-house department had established, as it appeared by the testimony
adduced in this case, a rule which the merchants had protested against,
and this was a question for the jury to pass upon.
The jury, without leaving their seats, found a verdict for the plaintiff
for the amount claimed, namely, $88 60; thus sustaining the protest of
the merchants, that twist is not liable to payment of duty. For the plain­
tiff, Daniel Lord, Ju n .; for the defendant, B. F. Butler, Esq.
fo rfeitu re of goods for undervaluation .

In the United States District Court, at the January term, 1839, a suit
was instit uted by the United States v. Eight Cases of Lamps, imported
from France in June, 1838, per ship Louis Phillip, and consigned to
Augustine Draconi.
The articles were what are called mechanical lamps, having in the inte­

Forfeiture o f Goods fo r Undervaluation.


rior of the lamp a machinery and movements similar to those of a clock, by
which the oil is at all times so forced up to the wick, that the lamp gives a
much brighter and more beautiful light than ordinary lamps. The bodies
of the lamps were entered in the invoice at thirty francs each, and the
suspension frames, globes, and other appendages, were all entered in the
invoice at various specific prices, all of which it was alleged were 100
per cent below the appraised value and the current price of such articles,
and that therefore the invoice had been fraudulently made up to defraud
the revenue of the United States.
In support of these allegations, several appraisets and other attaches of
the custom-house testified that they had examined the articles, and that
the value put upon them in the invoice was from 70 to 100 per cent be­
low their current price. But it appeared that not one of the custom-house
officers who had examined the articles, had any practical knowledge of the
value of or price of such articles, and had formed their opinion only from
inference, founded on information they obtained from others. There were
also some witnesses called who dealt in lamps, but not in the peculiar
sort of lamps now in question, which have been rarely imported into this
country. The witnesses could therefore decide upon their value only
inferentially, and in this way they set a much higher value on some of
the articles, than they had been set down in the invoice.
On the part of the claimant, witnesses were produced, who were prac­
tically acquainted with the value of such lamps, and they valued some of
them below the invoice price, and others a little above it.
The Court charged the Jury. It would be necessary for them to take the
invoice and the appraisement, and compare them together, and then com­
pare these papers with the testimony, and see how far the evidence sup­
ported and upheld the invoice or the appraisement. After the Jury had
done this, they would apply the facts, and draw the proper inferences.
It was necessary for the Court to lay down the principles of law by
which the Jury were to be guided in giving their verdict, in order that
they should know what they had to decide. It was said that the pro­
perty in question had been imported in violation of the revenue laws, in­
asmuch as that the importer, in making out his invoice, had entered the
articles at a false valuation. The question then for their inquiry was
simply, was the invoice made up with intent to defraud the revenue, by
charging the property under its value ?
The government had given no direct evidence on the subject. It was
competent for them to have shown what the articles cost the importer
abroad; and if the price in the invoice was shown to be less than the
purchase, this would have been direct testimony to show that the invoice
was false, and if the party was to have derived advantage from it, the
Jury would be necessarily called in to say that he had committed a fraud
to cheat the revenue. There had been however no direct evidence given
by the government, and they had endeavored to show that the market
value was more than the invoice, and if that had been shown, it was
ground for a fair inference that the party had bought them at the cur­
rent market value, and it would be then incumbent on him to show at
what price he had actually purchased them, and, if he did not so do, it
would be fair for the Jury to infer that the invoice was falsely made up.
The case rested mainly on whether the invoice was charged below the
fair market value. And the government had endeavored to prove this in
various ways. First, they showed the value set upon it by the appraisers.


Mercantile, haw Decisions.

And although this was, in the first instance, prima facie evidence, to a
certain extent, it was not, invariably, evidence of the highest character,
as it was not to be supposed that the appraisers were acquainted with
the value of all articles which came into this port. And in the present
instance it appeared that the appraisers had never been engaged in the
sale or manufacture of such articles, or had any practical knowledge of
their value, and made it up only from general inquiries. And supposing
that the judgment formed from such sources showed a different value to
that in the invoice, still that would not be sufficient to prove a fraud.
For if the market or adjudged value of the articles was not much greater
than what was in the invoice, then the jury had a right to consider whether
the deviations were greater than the ordinary fluctuations of the market,
or what might arise from the necessities of the seller, the state of the times,
or any other occurrence incidental to mercantile affairs. And if the tes­
timony showed that the invoice was as nearly right as wrong, then it
was the duty of the Jury to consider that the importer intended to act
rightly towards the government, and they should not impute a fraud to
him which the testimony had not clearly established.
Verdict for the claimant.

The Supreme Court of Louisiana decided, at New Orleans, in the
case of the Atchafalaya Bank v. Dawson, that the forfeiture of bank
charters by the suspension of specie payments does not accrue to indi­
viduals, or to any person or party, but to the State which gave them;
and it alone can avail of forfeiture and take away the charters. That
although by a clause in the charter of the Atchafalaya Bank and some
others, in case of a suspension of specie payments for 90 days, the char­
ter is ipso facto forfeited, yet the Bank continues to exist and can sue
and be sued until the State choose to institute proceedings and take from
it its charter. In other words, that bank charters are contracts between
the State which grants, and the corporators or stockholders who accept
and receive them.

The case of William H. Bentley <f- Co. v. Stark W. Lewis, was an
action recently brought in the Superior Court, before Judge Oakley, to
recover damages for an alleged breach of contract, committed under the
following circumstances: —
The plaintiffs are a mercantile firm doing business in Baltimore, and
the defendant belongs to this city, and is agent for the schooner Mohican,
trading between this port and Baltimore. On the 14th of March, 1837,
Messrs. W. G. Bull & Co. of this city, agents for the plaintiffs, shipped
on board the Mohican 50 hhds. of sugar for Baltimore. The vessel being
advertised to sail with immediate despatch, it was expected that the sugars
would arrive out in season to sell for the then existing high prices of the
article. It was afterwards learned that the vessel did not sail till after
the 20th of March, and did not arrive at Baltimore till the 15th of April.
The consequence was, that the shipment of the sugar, instead of fetching
the “ top of the market,” as was anticipated, the sale was made at the
full decline of the article, which made a difference in the result of some
$2 00 per hundred weight to the plaintiffs. It was to recover this dif­
ference in price that the present suit was brought. The bill of lading
for the sugar was produced and admitted.



For the defence, it was contended that the voyage had been prosecuted
with all due and reasonable diligence; and proof was adduced to show
that after the 14th of March a storm of some ten days’ duration occurred,
which caused a corresponding delay in the voyage.
The jury, under a brief charge by the court, rendered a verdict for the
plaintiffs of the amount claimed, with interest, viz. $512 73. Counsel for
the plaintiffs, D. Lord, jr., for the defendant, Griffin, sen.

The case of Benjamin Bowry v. The Steamer 'Tortland, in the United
States District Court, before Judge Davis, was decided on the 22d of Jan­
uary, 1839. In this case, the libellant claimed to recover about $600, for
damages, sustained by the schooner Cygnet, of 83 tons burden, in conse­
quence of a collision with the steamer, on the night of November 17,1838,
when passing through the passage between Thacher’s Island and the
Londoner— the schooner being bound from Bangor, (Maine,) to Med­
ford, (Mass.,) with a cargo of lumber, and the steamer being on her way
to Portland from Boston.
It appeared that while the schooner was passing through the abovementioned passage, steering S. S. W., with a moderate breeze from the
N. N. W., those on board her discovered the Portland about one point on
the weather bow, three or four miles distant. The schooner was then
kept off about one point, and shortly afterwards another point, to the
southward. The steamer was then steering a little to the eastward of
N. N. E., thus bringing the schooner nearly ahead, and she was disco­
vered by those on board the steamer, at a distance of about three-fourths
of a mile in that direction. Soon after discovering the schooner, the
course of the steamer was changed to the Eastward— the necessary mea­
sures taken to diminish her speed, and, when the danger Of collision be­
came imminent, the machinery was reversed so as nearly to stop her
way before the two vessels came in contact.
The main question in the case was, as to who was in fault.
Judge Davis, in the course of the investigation, called in three experi­
enced men— Benjamin Rich, William Sturgiss, and Francis Dewson— to
hear the evidence, and answer certain questions to be propounded to them.
They accordingly, after hearing the evidence, delivered their opinion
on the following points, to w it:
The general practice, both upon our coasts and elsewhere, is, that
when two vessels approach each other, both having a free or fair wind,
the one with the starboard tacks, aboard keeps on her course, or if any
change is made, she luffs, so as to pass to windward of the other, or, in
other words, each vessel passes to the right.
This rule should govern vessels, too, sailing on the wind and approach­
ing each other, when it is doubtful which is to windward; but if the vessel
on the larboard tack is so far to windward that if both persist in their
course, the other will strike her on the leeward side, abaft the beam, or
near the stern; in such case the vessel on the starboard tack must give
way, as she can do so with greater facility, and less loss of time and dis­
tance than the other. These rules are particularly intended to govern
vessels approaching each other under circumstances that prevent their
course and movements being readily ascertained with accuracy; for in­
stance, in a dark night or dense fog. At other times, circumstances may
render it expedient to depart from them,


Foreign Weights and Measures.

2. A steamer is considered as always sailing with a fair wind, and is,
therefore, bound to do whatever a sailing vessel, going free, or with a
fair wind, would be required to do, under similar circumstances, in rela­
tion to any vessel she may meet.
3. There was a deviation from the common usage by those on board
the schooner, in keeping her off when she should have been kept on her
course or luffed. Had the schooner kept on her original course, S. S.
W., she would have passed to the windward of the steamer, and no col­
lision would have taken place.
4. The course taken by the steamer was in conformity to what may
be considered the usage in such cases, and those on board, of her did all
they ought to have done to avoid collision.
5. The collision was the consequence of the change in the course of
the schooner, which ought not to have been made in that direction.
After hearing the opinion of the referees, Judge Davis took time to
consider, and yesterday he delivered his own opinion, in which he
adopted substantially their views, and ordered the libel to be dismissed,
but without costs.

[This table is extracted from the third part of Emerson’s North American Arith­
metic, a work of sterling merit, and one which may be referred to in every countingroom in the United States, with profit and advantage, for the thorough and able man­
ner in which foreign weights, measures, and moneys, are laid down, and the practical
questions of Exchange handled. Indeed, Kelly, the celebrated British Cambist, speak­
ing of this work, says, “ no man who has any trade in the United States should be
without it,” and the commerce of our country being so extensive with the old world,
the remark is equally applicable to us. A sa knowledge of foreign weights and mea­
sures is of great practical importance to our merchants, and not uninteresting to the
general reader, we have concluded to give the table entire, as it appeared, originally,
in Mr. Emerson’s Arithmetic, trusting that, although secured by copy-right, he will
excuse us, in consideration of our motive, and that he will not consider us as the
“ long, low, black schooner,” carrying away his “Jigure-head.”]

The weights and measures of GREAT BRITAIN are the same as
those of the United States, excepting the variations which relate to the
gallon. In the United States, the Dry gallon contains 2681- cubic inches.
By an act of the British government, however, the distinction between
the Dry, Wine, and Beer gallon, was abolished in Great Britain, in 1826,
and an Imperial Gallon was established, as well for liquids as for dry
substances. The Imperial gallon must contain “ 10 pounds, Avoirdupois
weight, of distilled water, weighed in air, at the temperature of 62° of
Fahrenheit’s thermometer, the barometer standing at 30 inches.” This
quantity of water will be found to measure 277.274 cubic inches. The
same act establishes the pound Troy at 5,760 grains, and the pound
Avoirdupois at 7,000 grains.
The weights and measures of FRANCE, being more nicely adjusted
than those of any other country, will be here given the more fully on
that account. It is, however, to be observed, that these weights and
measures are according to a new system, not yet in very common use.
The fundamental standard adopted in France for the metrical system
of weights and measures, is a quadrant of the meridian; that is to say,

Foreign Weights and Measures.


the distance from the equator to the north pole. This quadrant is
divided into ten millions of equal parts, and one of these equal parts is
called the M e t r e , which is adopted a s t h e unit of length, and from which,
by decimal multiplication and division, all other measures are derived.
In order to express the decimal proportions, the following vocabulary
of names has been adopted.
For multipliers,
the word Deca prefixed, means
10 times.
Hecto “
100 times.
Chilo “
1000 times.
Myria “
10000 times.
For divisors,
the word Deci prefixed, expresses the 10th part.
100th part.
Centi “
Milli “
1000th part.
It may assist the memory to observe, that the terms for multiplying
are Greek, and those for dividing, Latin.
Thus, Deca-metre means 10 Metres.
Deci-metre “ 10th part of a Metre. i
Hecto-metre “ 100 Metres.
Centi-metre “
100th part of a Metre, etc.

The Metre, which is the unit of long measure, is equal to 39.371 English inches.
10 milli-metres - - = 1 centi-metre,
10 centi-metres - - = 1 deci-metre,
1 M etre,
10 deci-metres
10 Metres - = 1 deca-metre,
10 deca-metres - - = 1 hecto-metre,
10 hecto-metres - - = 1 chilo-metre,
10 chilo-metres - - = 1 myria-metre

sq u a r e

m ea su re.

The Are, which is a square deca-metre, (or 100 square Metres,) is the
unit of square or superficial measure, and is equal to 3.953 English
square rods.
10 milliares
1 centiare.
1 deciare.
10 centiares
1 A re.
10 deciares
10 Ares
: 1 decare.
1 hectare.
10 decares
1 chilare.
10 hectares
10 chilares
1 myriare.

The Litre, which is the cube of a decimetre, is the unit of all liquid
measures, and of all other measures of capacity. The Litre is equal to
61.028 English cubic inches.
10 millilitres - - — 1 centilitre.
10 centilitres - - = 1 decilitre.
VOL. i. —

n o . h i.


Foreign Weights and Measures.


10 decilitres
10 Litres
10 decalitres
10 hectolitres
10 chilolitres


— 1 L itre .



1 decalitre.
1 hectolitre.
1 chilolitre.
1 myrialitre.


The Stere, which is a cube of the metre, is the unit of solid measure,
that is used for fire-wood, stone, &c. The Stere is equal to 35.31714
English cubic feet; it is the same as the chilolitre in measures of capa­
10 decisteres - - = 1 S tere . •
10 Steres
- - = 1 decastere.
fr en c h w eig h ts .

The Gramme, which is the weight of a cubic centimetre of distilled
water of the temperature of melting ice, is the unit of all weights. The
Gramme is equal to 15.434 grains Troy,
Grains Troy.

A milligramme is 1000th part of a gramme,
A, centigramme is 100th part of a gramme,
A decigramme is 10th part of a gramme,
A gramme
A decagramme is 10 grammes,
A hectogramme is 100 grammes,
A chilogramme is 1000 grammes,
A myriagramme is 10000 grammes,
— 154340.0000
All the preceding French weights and measures are deduced from
some decimal proportion of the metre. Thus, the chilogramme corres­
ponds with the contents of a cubic vessel of pure water at the lowest tem­
perature, the side of which vessel is the tenth part of the metre, (the
decimetre,) and the gramme answers to the like contents- of a cubic ves­
sel, the side, of which is the hundredth part of the metre, (the centimetre;)
for the contents of all cubic vessels are to each other in the triplicate
ratio of their sides.
100 lb. of HAMBURGH
The shipfund is 280 lb.
1 foot, Hamburgh
The Hamburgh ell is 2 feet
The Hamburgh mile
The fass of Hamburgh
The last of grain is 60 fasses
The ahm of Hamburgh
100 lb. of AMSTERDAM
4 shipfunds is 1 ship-pound
The Amsterdam last
The Aam (liquid)
The Amsterdam foot
The ell of Amsterdam
The ell of the Hague
The ell of Brabant
100 lb. of PORTUGAL
An arroba is 32 pounds ■
The moyo, a dry measure
The almude, a liquid measure
The pe, or foot, long measure
The palmo, or standard span
The vara is 5 palmos'

== 106.8 lb. avoirdupois.
= 299 lb. avoirdupois. .
= 11.289 inches, U. S.
= 22.578 inches, U. S.
= 4.684 miles, U. S.
= .1.494 bushels of U. S.
= 89.64 bushels of U. .S.
= 38.25 gallons; U. S.
= 108.93 lb. avoirdupois.
= 326.79 lb. avoirdupois.
. = 85.248 bushels, U. S.
= 41 gallons, U. S.
= 11.147 inches, U. S. ,
= 27.0797 inches, U. S.
= 27.333 inches, U. S.
= 27.585 inches, U. ,S.
= 101.19 lb. avoirdupois.
= 32.38 lb. avoirdupois.
= 23.03 bushels, U. S.
= 4.37 gallons, U. S.
= 12.944 inches, U. S.
= 8.64 inches, U. S.
= 43.2 inches, U. S.

Foreign Weights and Measures.
The Portuguese mile
100 lb. of SPAIN
The arroba of wine
The fanega, 1-12 of a cahiz
The Spanish standard foot
The vara, a cloth measure
The legua or league
100 lb. victualie, of SWEDEN
The Swedish foot
The Swedish ell is 2 feet
The Swedish mile
The kann, (both dry and liquid)
100 kanns
100 kanns
100 lb. of RUSSIA
400 lb. make 1 berquit
A pood is 40 lb. Russian
A chetwert, a dry measure
The vedro, a liquid measure
The Russian inch
The Russian foot
The arsheen, a cloth measure
The sachine, or fathom
A werst, or Russian mile
100 lb. of PRUSSIA
The quintal is 110 lb.
The scheffel, a dry measure
The eirner, a liquid measure
The Prussian foot
The Prussian ell
The Prussian mile
100 lb. DENMARK
The centner is 100 lb.
The shippond is 320 lb.
The bbl. or toende, a dry measure
The viertel, a liquid measure
The Danish or Rhineland foot
The Danish ell is 2 feet
The Danish mile
A cantaro grosso, NAPLES
The cantaro piccolo
The tomolo, a dry measure
The carro is 36 tomoli
The barile, a liquid measure
The carro of wine is 24 barili
The palmo, long measure
The canna is 8 palmi
100 lb. or libras, SICILY
The cantaro grosso
The cantaro sottile
The salma grossa, a dry measure
The salma generate
The salma, a liquid measure
The palmo, long measure
The canna is 8 palmi
100 lb. of LEGHORN
The sacco, a dry measure
The barile, a liquid measure
155 braccia, cloth measure
The canna of 4 braccia
100 lb. peso grosso of GENOA
100 lb. peso sottile
The mina, a dry measure
The mezzarola, a liquid measure


1.25 mile, U. S.
101.44 lb. avoirdupois.
4.245 gallons, U. S.
1.599 bushels, U. S.
11.128 inches, U. S.
33.384 inches, U. S.
4.291 miles, U. S.
93.76 lb. avoirdupois.
11.684 inches, U. S.
23.368 inches, U. S.
6.64 miles, U. S.
159S cubicinches, U. S.
69.09 gallons wine, U. S.
7.42 bushels, U. S.
90.26 lb. avoirdupois.
361.04 lb. avoirdupois.
36.1054 lb. avoirdupois.
5.952 bushels, U. S.
3.246 gallons, U. S.
1 inch, U. S.
13.75 inches, U. S.
28 inches, U. S.
7 feet, U. S.
3500 feet, U. S.
103.11 lb. avoirdupois.
113.421 lb. avoirdupois.
1.5594 bushel, U. S.
18.14 gallons, U. S.
12.356 inches, U. S.
26.256 inches, U. S.
4.68 miles, U. S.
110.28 lb. avoirdupois.
110.28 lb. avoirdupois.
352.896 lb.
3.9472 bushels, U. S.
2.041 gallons, U. S.
12.356 inches, U. S.
24.712 inches, U. S.
4.684 miles, U. S.
196.5 lb. avoirdupois,
106 lb. avoirdupois.
1.451 bushels, U. S.
52.236 bushels, U. S.
11 gallons, U. S.
264 gallons, U. S.
10.38 inches, U. S.
83.04 inches, U. S.
70 lb. avoirdupois.
192.5 lb. avoirdupois.
175 lb. avoirdupois.
9.77 bushels, U. S.
7.85 bushels, U. S.
23.06 gallons, U. S.
9.5 inches, U. S.
76 inches, U. S.
75 lb. avoirdupois.
2 1-16 bushels, U. S.
12 gallons, U. S.
100 yards, U. S.
93 inches, U. S.
76.875 lb. avoirdupois.
69.89 lb. avoirdupois.
3.426 bushels, U. S.
39.22 gallons, U. S.


Foreign Weights and Measures.


The palmo, long measure
The braccio is 21 palmi
100 lb. peso grosso, VENICE
100 lb. peso sottile
The stajo, a dry measure
The maggio is 4 staja
The bigoneia, liquid measure
The anibra is 4 bigonzi
The braccio for woollens
The braccio for silks
The Venetian foot
1001b. of TRIESTE
The stajo, dry measure
The orna, or eimer, liquid
The ell for woollens
The ell for silks
The Austrian mile
100 lb. or libras, ROME
The rubbio, dry measure
The barile, liquid measure
The Roman foot
The mercantile canna
The Roman mile
100 lb. or 100 rottoli, MALTA
The salma, dry measure
The foot of Malta
The canna is 8 palmi
The cantaro, kintal, SMYRNA
The oke or oka
The killow, dry measure
The pic, long measure
A factory maund of BENGAL
A bazar maund
The haut or cubit
The guz
The coss or mile
The maund of BOMBAY
The candy is 20 maunds
A bag of rice weighs 6 maunds
The candy, dry measure
The haut or covid
The maund of MADRAS
The candy is 20 maunds
The baruay, a Malabar weight
The garee, dry measure
The covid, long measure
The pecul of CANTON
The catty is 100th part of a pecul
The covid or cobre, long measure
The pecul of JAPAN
The catti is 100th part of a pecul
The inc or tattamy, long measure
The bahar of BENCOOLEN
The bamboo, liquid measure
The coyang is 800 bamboos
The bahar of ACHEEN
The maund of rice
The loxa of betel nuts
The loxa of nuts (when good)
The pecul of BATAVIA
33 kannes, liquid measure
The ell, long measure
The candy of COLOMBO

= 9.725 inches, U. S.
= 22.692 inches, U. S.
= 105.18 lb. avoirdupois.
= 66.4 lb. avoirdupois.
= 2.27 bushels, U. S.
= 9.08 bushels, U. S.
= 34.2375 gallons, U. S.
= 136.95 gallons, U. S.
== 26.61 inches, TJ. S.
= 24.8 inches, U. S.
= 13.68 inches, XT. S.
= 123.6 lb. avoirdupois.
= 2.344 bushels, U. S.
= 14.94 gallons, U. S.
= 26.6 inches, U. S.
= 25.2 inches, U. S.
= 4.6 miles, U. S.
= 74.77 lb. avoirdupois.
= 8.356 bushels, U. S.
= 15.409 gallons, U. S.
= 11.72 inches, U. S.
= 78.34 inches, U. S.
= 7.4 furlongs, U. S.
= 174.5 lb. avoirdupois.
= 8.221 bushels, U. S.
= 11 1-6 inches, II. S
= 81.9 inches, U. S.
= 129.48 lb. avoirdupois.
= 2.833 lb. avoirdupois.
= 1.456 bushels, U. S.
= 27 inches, U. S.
= 74* lb. avoirdupois.
= 82 2-15 lb. avoirdupois.
= 18 inches, U. S.
= 1 yard, U. S.
= 1.238 miles, U. S.
= 28 lb. avoirdupois.
= 560 lb. avoirdupois.
= 168 lb. avoirdupois.
= 25 bushels, U. S.
= 18 inches, U. S.
= 25 lb. avoirdupois.
= 500 lb. avoirdupois.
= 482.25 lb. avoirdupois.
= 140 bushels, U. S.
= 18 inches, U. S.
= 1331 lb. avoirdupois.
= 1.333 lb. avoirdupois.
= 14.625 inches, TJ. S.
= 130 lb. avoirdupois.
= 1.3 lb. avoirdupois.
= 6.25 feet, U. S.
= 560 lb. avoirdupois.
= 1 gallon, XI. S.
= 800 gallons, XJ. S.
= 423.425 lb. avoirdupois.
= 75 lb. avoirdupois.
= 10,000 nuts.
= 168 lb. avoirdupois.
= 135 10-16 lb. avoirdupois.
= 13 gallons, U. S.
= 27 inches, U. S.
= 500 lb. avoirdupois.




Recklessness of life has been said to be a characteristic of the American people—
a bold assertion, which we would fain discredit, but in all candor and honesty we
cannot. So grave, so serious a charge, should be repelled at once, if it can be, and
the escutcheon of our country cleansed of so foul a stain. Human life is not a thing
to play chuck-farthing with, or to hazard idly: it is the property of the Omnipotent,
entrusted to mankind for a great purpose, and he who rashly or recklessly perils it,
games with what is not his own. The suicide defrauds hiS Creator, and his sacrificed
existence is a solemn trust betrayed.
But infinitely greater is his turpitude, who is wantonly, and without reason, acces­
sory to the loss of the lives of others ! This consideration seldom occurs to a major­
ity of our citizens, if the occurrence of so many maimings and murders by duels,
quarrels, steamboat explosions, shipwrecks, &c. is the criterion by which we may judge.
Must we not infer from this, that the public feeling in this country has become cal­
lous to the appalling frequency of careless, and too often wanton, destruction of life,
fresh accounts of which daily teem in our public journals ? The faculties of wonder
and of horror seem to have grown hardened and impenetrable with our people, and
we look with equal indifference upon a mercantile failure, a shipwreck, or a steam­
boat explosion, unless personally interested in the event.
That this morbid state of feeling is morally wrong, no one can doubt, and it must
be a matter of the deepest regret to the philanthropist and Christian. So long as this
hardened feeling possesses us, just so long will our country be retarded in its pro­
gress to civilization.
Carelessness of human life is an insult to the God who gave it. And is there no
way to stop the red and swelling current of murder which is gaining strength every
day ? (for surely all loss of life is murder, where there is an easy and available pre­
ventive.) Shall commanders of steamboats and sailing ships be allowed to make
their voyages with unnecessary peril ? Shall not every possible effort be used to en­
sure safety to the lives entrusted to their care ?
We have been induced to make these remarks, by the fact that there is a culpable
neglect on the part of a majority of our ship-owners, to avail themselves of the labors
of an American citizen, who has brought to perfection an invention, which, taking
everything into consideration, is scarcely second to that of the immortal Fulton—we
mean the lifeboat of Francis.
How frequently do we read the most distressing accounts of shipwrecks, and the
sad tale of human life suddenly swept away, in many cases accompanied by the too
often repeated remark, that from two to twenty men “ were drowned by the swamp­
ing of the boat.”
When it has been ascertained that the master or owner of a vessel have committed
felony by wilfully wrecking such vessel in order to defraud the underwriters, we all
know the odium which is ever after attached to such person’s name. And the very men
who look with holy horror upon such an act, will, voyage after voyage, send their ships
to sea, with boats which are wholly unfit for any useful purpose in case of emer­
gency ; thus perilling, for the saving of a few dollars, the invaluable lives of the crew.
It would be easy to adduce multitudes of reasons why these superior life-preservers
should be adopted by every vessel in the navy and merchant service of our country;
as they have already been eulogized and patronized by several foreign governments.
But we only intend, by this article, simply to direct attention to the subject, and trust
that those who have the management of our forests of ships, will no longer wickedly
trifle with the lives of those who are accidentally or from necessity temporarily placed
in their power.
In conclusion, we put this simple question to every ship-owner and master in the
country, “ Have you a single long-boat under your control in which you would be
willing to place your wife or children, and start them, even in fine weather, from New
York for Sandy Hook ?” We know that in 49 cases in 50, the answer would be, “ No.”

In 1814, but one steamboat, of sixty-nine tons burthen, floated in solitude on the Brit­
ish waters. Now there are about six hundred, with a tonnage of 67,969. The first
steamboat used for practical purposes in our country, or indeed in any part of the world,



was in 1807, on the Hudson river. She was built by Fulton, and called the “ North
Kiver,” with an engine of only eighteen horse power, and made the passage between
New York and Albany in thirty-six hours. The whole number of steamboats ascer­
tained and estimated to be now in the United States, is nearly nine hundred. The
following table we have compiled from a statement of the Liverpool Statistical Soci­
ety, published in the Liverpool Mail. It exhibits the number and increase of steam
vessels belonging to the British Empire, (including the plantations,) from 1814 to
1836 inclusive.


N o. Vessels.








No. Vessels.








A new kind of sheathing has been invented in England, and the manufacture of
it commenced on an extensive scale. We find the following article relative to its
manufacture, and the advantages of it, in an English paper :—
“ We feel bound to acknowledge the polite attention and the readiness to furnish
information evinced by Mr. G. F. Muntz, (the patentee,) on the occasion of our visit,
and although from the nature of the manufacture it is simple in its details, the advan­
tages must be so apparent to the ship-owner, that any remarks we may make cannot
be otherwise than acceptable to that wealthy and important class. The use of zinc is
not only 1progressing,’ but is likely to compete in the proportion of 40 to 60 with cop­
per in the sheathing of vessels. The works are situated within a mile of the town of
Swansea, immediately in the neighborhood of the copper works, and are at present
capable of manufacturing a considerable quantity of sheathing and bolts—there
being four pair of rollers, with the machinery necessary for drawing rods, worked by
an engine of 54i inch cylinder, 84 feet stroke. The metal is a combination of copper
and zinc, the best admixture being found to be 60 percent, of the former and 40 per
cent, of the latter. The metal is delivered on the works, and is then submitted in
these proportions to the action of a reverberatory furnace, or melted in pots, from which
it is cast in plates or bars, according to the object for which the metal is required,
whether ‘ bolts’ or ‘ sheathing.’ It is subsequently submitted to heat, and when, as
it appeared to us, of a ‘ cherry red,’ is worked in the cylinder of rollers, or drawn out
in rods. The process is in itself exceedingly simple, and affords little novelty to any
One accustomed to the manufacture of iron.
“ Many opinions have been advanced, and doubts expressed, of the advantages (if
any) which this metal possessed, while its ductility was questioned, and its perma­
nence only admitted when it had been submitted to the test of some years application.
“ It is satisfactory to find that the results have fully realized the sanguine expecta­
tions of the patentee ; one vessel having made three voyages to India without repairs
being required, and another having been sheathed for the past five years with the 1yel­
low metal,’ and now in good condition ; while in the port of Swansea, at the present
time, two Hamburgh vessels, the Kate and Anna Louise, have adopted it. In the in­
stance of the Kate, we take the words of the owner—‘ He has effected a saving on a 400
ton vessel of full £80 ;’ the difference in the price of copper and Muntz’s (or yellow)
metal sheathing, being three half pence per pound less, and the difference in the speci­
fic gravity eight to nine per cent. With respect to the bolts, we have it on the statements
of the shipwrights employed, that they are far superior in driving to those of copper,
as possessing more tenacity and firmness. Such are the advantages of the combina­
tion of the two metals — copper and zinc ; and we may, therefore, hope, that with
these advances in metalurgical science, we shall, whatever may be the influx of cop­
per ores from foreign climes, be able still to look at home for our supply of mineral,
which shall furnish employment to the population in our mining districts, but yield,
as it has heretofore done, so considerable a proportion of our national wealth.”




The Bermuda Royal Gazette makes mention of the examination of the bottom, &c.
of the American brig Exchange, Captain Brayton, which got on the rocks to the north­
ward of the Bermudas. The machine used was u Bethell’s Patent Diving Appara­
tus,” and the singularity of the invention attracted crowds of persons to witness its
The person who went down, in the apparatus was a shipwright of the name of Prattanfi— Mr. B. Oakshott, foreman of shipwrights of Her Majesty’s Dock-Yard, Ireland
Island, superintending. The attention of such of the spectators as were near the ves­
sel was first directed to the clothing of the diver, who, when perfectly equipped for his
submarine exploration, presented a most grotesque figure.. He was encased in a dou­
ble or treble suit of woollens, from his shoulders down ib, and including, his feet, to
preserve warmth ; then came a pair.of trowsers that covered his feet, and a jacket, the
sleeves of which came tight to his wrists, made of India rubber, the trowsers and jacket
being secured firmly around the waist by a padded iron girdle; on his feet were a pair
of boots, eaeh weighing eight pounds ; on his back and breast he had two weights of
about thirty pounds each, secured by straps; and over his head was a large helmet,
made of metal, and resembling somewhat a human bust, that rested on his shoulders,
back and chest, and which afforded room within for a sufficient quantity of air. In
the helmet there were glasses through which the diver could plainly discern any thing
at the bottom of the sea ; a tube through which a constant supply of fresh air was re­
ceived from above, and by which the used air escaped. There was a large boat in
attendance, in which were the force pump, and a derrick, (the latter of which being
used to lift the diver from the bottom of the sea, for his own weight, and that put on
him to keep him down, brought him to weigh about three hundred pounds,) while
Mr. Oakshott and his assistants kept as nearly over the diver as possible, ready in
case of accident to bring him up, which is done by a line attached to the girdle, and
rove through the derrick; by this line, also, signs are made by the diver, “ when all
is right,” when more air is required, and when he wishes to be brought up.
Prattant was lowered down under the stern of the brig, on the starboard side, in
about fourteen feet of water, where he commenced his examination; after being about
twenty minutes under water, he was taken up from the larboard side under the stern;
having completed his survey, the boat in attendance having tracked him round the
vessel. Prattant then, through the superintendent, Mr. Oakshott, reported to the
surveyors and agents of the vessel, in substance as follows : — the bottom and main
keel perfect; the false keel slightly ragged on the edges, and one piece of sheathing,
of about eight feet, off the larboard side .of the false keel.
Prattant, it is said, can remain under water, should occasion require it, for upwards
of an hour, and by letting go the weights attached to his breast and back, and by put­
ting his finger on the valve or escape pipe, he will immediately rise to the surface ;
this mode of raising himself, however, is only adopted in extreme cases, the best way
being to wait to be hauled up by the life line, which is attached to the girdle.

The Department of State, at Washington, has received official information of the
establishment of two new Light-Houses on the French Coast of the Manche, in the
British Channel, v iz.:—
One at Cape Carteret, in the latitude of 49 degrees 22 minutes and 27 seconds north,
and 4 degrees 8 minutes and 40 seconds longitude west from Paris. The light is a
repeating light, at intervals of half a minute each, situated on a tower about 240 feet
above the level of the sea, and 48 feet from the ground. It may be seen in fine weather
at the distance of 18 miles; the eclipses will however be total only beyond 7 miles.
The other, on the central fort of the dyke at Cherbourg, in the latitude of 49 degrees
40 minutes and 28 seconds, and 3 degrees 57 minutes and 23 seconds longitude west
from Paris ; the light is a small light, varied by bright flashes, every three minutes,
situated on a tower newly erected on the central fort, about 65 feet above the water at
high tide. It may be seen at the distance of about nine miles in ordinary weather.

Custom House, S t. M ary's.— Directions f o r S t. A n d rew s E a r . — St. Andrews Inlet

lies in lat. 31 north, Ion. 31 32, in the state of Georgia, entrance between Cumber­
land and Jekyl Islands, having 11 feet water on the bar at low tide ; distance from
the light-house on Little Cumberland Island, north point, about 7 miles. There are
three buoys for the entrance, one large buoy placed just within the bar in three fath­

Commercial Regulations.


oms low tide— one spar buoy on a spit of the north point of little Cumberland Island,
and one spar buoy in the middle of the sound on a shoal made at the mouth of the
Great Satilla river. Bring the lighthouse to bear W by N when the outer buoy will
be in a range with the lighthouse, and run for it till over the bar and up with the
outer buoy ; the south point of Jekyl will then be NW 1 W ; alter the course N f f
by W until between the points of Cumberland and Jekyl Islands, and abreast of the
spar buoy off Cumberland point, leaving it to the south—where will be found good
soundings, from three to five fathoms near the shore.
Tabular statement o f the B ritish Queen, Liverpool, and Great Western, as published in
the London M orning Herald.
B ritish Queen.


Extreme length........................................ 275 ft.
245 ft.
Length of k eel......................................... 223 ft.
37 ft.
Breadth, including paddle boxes............ 64 ft.

Horse power.............................................
Length of stroke......................................
Diameter of paddle w heels....................
Extreme weight of engines, boiler, and

223 ft.
216 ft.
209 ft. 5 in.
6 in. 30 ft. 10 in.
36 ft. 3 in.
19 ft. 8 in.
5 ft. I l l in.
7 ft.
7 ft.
28 ft. 5 in.
30 ft.

Great Western.

236 ft.
212 ft.
205 ft.
35 ft. 4 in.
59 ft. 8 in.
23 ft. 2 in.
6 ft. 11 in.
7 ft.
28 ft. 9 in.
600 tons.
250 tons.

Draught of water, with above weight
and stores............................................. 16 ft.

16 ft.

6 in. 16 ft.

8 in.


F ort Charges fo r Vessels arriving from the United States and other countries, established
by late Lams passed by the Congress o f Venezuela.

The congress of Venezuela passed, 3d of May, 1839, a law establishing the follow­
ing port charges, which is now in operation :
Article 1st. All national or foreign vessels arriving from foreign ports into the
ports of Venezuela, will pay,
First — Tonnage-duty at the rate of 371 cents for every ton of the vessel’s admea­
Second — Captain of the port’s fee, which is $3.
Third — Entry 7 cents per ton. (In the port of Laguira, besides the 7 cents per
ton, 2 per cent, calculated on the amount of duties on imports will be exacted.)
Fourth — Doctor’s fee, when the visit by him is really made, $3.
Fifth — Anchorage duty 18 cents per ton.
Sixth — Pilotage to Angostura and Maracaybo, $6 for every foot of the vessel’s
draught of water.
Seventh — Water duty — 12 cents per ton.
Eighth — Clearance $2.
Vessels exempt from the above a re:

Vessels of war, national or foreign, government packets, and mail boats.
Vessels coming into port in consequence of damage sustained at sea, provided they
neither discharge or take in cargo.
Vessels forced in by stress of weather, without discharging or taking in cargo.
Vessels arriving in ballast and departing in ballast.

Vessels coming in loaded and sailing again without discharging or taking in any

Commercial Regulations.


Vessels arriving in ballast and departing with cargoes of homed cattle (Gonado
Vacuno) exclusively, will pay but pilotage and doctor’s fee.
B. RENSHAW, Consul.
L aguira, May 25th, 1839.
10ft o f M ay, 1839, to go into operation
fo r vessels from the Antilles, on the 1st o f July, and fo r vessels fro m Europe, and the
United States, on the 1st o f October, 1839.

A law o f the congress o f Venezuela, passed on tne

Article 1st. Vessels arriving from foreign ports will, at the moment of anchoring
in any of the ports of Venezuela, open to external commerce, be visited by the collec­
tor of customs, or a person authorized by him, and by the commandant of active ser­
vice, (Resguardo,) and a chief, (Cabe,) as likewise an inspector — they will require
from the master, the vessel’s register and manifest of the cargo, which must ex­
press the vessel’s name and class ; her nation; tonnage; master’s name ; port from
whence her cargo was shipped ; the number and description of packages contained
in her cargo, with a specification of their numbers and marks ; the names of the con­
signees, according to bills of lading; the port of her destination ; a list of provi­
sions or stores for the consumption of the crew, as also a list of the extra supply of
sail, sail-cloth, cordage, spars and tackle of every description, intended for the use of
the vessel. If a vessel arrive with cargo, one or more custom-house officers will be
left on board: should she be in ballast, no manifest will be required, but all the other
documents mentioned must be given u p ; she will also be examined to ascertain the
reality of her being in ballast.
The articles of extra supply of sails, sail-cloth, cordage, masts or spars, and tackle
of every description, intended for the use of the vessel, must be considered as a depo­
sit, and the master will not be permitted to make any use of them whatever, during
the vessel’s stay in port, unless with the knowledge and consent of the chiefs of
the custom-house. When a vessel is visited previous to her commencing to take in
a cargo, should the above-mentioned articles of extra supply be found not to agree
with the manifest or entry, (or at any other time subsequent to such visit,) the master
will incur a fine of from fifty to five hundred dollars.
Article 2d. If, on a vessel anchoring and being visited, the master do not exhibit
his manifest in the form directed in article 1st, he will then be required to deliver the
bills of lading, as also a list of whatever articles or goods there may be on board, not
included in said bills of lading, and these documents will be retained at the custom­
house until the master make out and present a manifest in conformity with them,
until which is done, no part of the cargo will be permitted to be landed.
Article 3d. In the case where neither manifest or bills of lading are found on
board a vessel, the chiefs of the custom-house will then take such steps as in their
judgment may seem necessary, and at the expense of the master, to prevent any part
of the cargo being landed without permission from them.
Article 4th. When the cargo on board of any vessel does not agree with the mani­
fest or bills of lading presented by the master, it will be seized and proceeded against
for condemnation.
Article 5th. When in the case of a master of a vessel being unable, from insol­
vency, or other reason whatever, to pay the fine and expenses he may have incurred
according to this law, the vessel and her tackle will then be made responsible for its
B. RENSHAW, Consul.
L aguira , May 25th, 1839.
C onsulate II. S. A.
S t . J ohns, P orto R ico, June 18, 1839. j

The undersigned, Consul of the United States for the port and district of St. Johns,
Porto Rico, hereby cautions American captains and others engaged in trading to
Spanish ports, to be careful in shipping on board of their vessels natives of Spain or its
dependencies, without the consent of the resident Spanish authorities, or unless they
are naturalized citizens of the United States, as by so doing they render themselves
liable to gross imposition.
The laws of Spain are such as not only to enforce, but make it obligatory upon
the marine authorities to demand and enforce the discharge of all such persons, without any reference whatever to their individual obligations.
Vessels trading to these Islands via St. Thomas, are most liable to these imposi­
tions, and consequently to inconvenience and loss.
VOL. I.--- NO. III.

Bank Statistics.


C ondition op the S tate B anks.—In compliance with the resolution of Congress of
the 10th of July, 1832, directing the Secretary of the Treasury (to whom we are in­
debted for a copy of the report) to lay before the House at the next and each succes­
sive session of Congress, copies of such statements or returns, showing the capital,
circulation, discounts, specie, deposites, and condition of the'different State Banks
and Banking Companies, as may have been communicated to the legislatures, gover­
nors, or other officers of the several states, within the year, and made public ; and,
where such statements cannot be obtained, such other authentic information as will
best supply the deficiency. The Secretary of the Treasury submitted, at the last ses­
sion, a formidable volume of documentary matter, embracing the returns, reports, &c.,
from all the states and territories, except Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Illi­
nois, and Florida. They are not, in every instance, complete, but as a whole com­
prise much valuable information.
Condensed Statement o f the condition, at different intervals, o f all the Banks in the
United States.

No. o f


bks. branch.

1811 89
1815 208
1816 246
1820 308
1830 330
1834 506
1835 558
1836 567
1837 634
1838 663

Loans and





$15,400,000 $28,100,000
17,000,000 45,500,000
19,000,000 68,000,000
19,820,240 . 44,863,344 .$35,950,470 137,110,611
$200,451,214 22,114,917 61,323,898 55,559,928 145,192,268
94,839,570 75,666,986 200,005,944
146 365,163,834 43,937,625 .103,692,495 . 83,081,365 231,250,337
146 457,506,080 40,019,594 140,301,038 115,104,440 251,875,292
154 525,115,702 37,915,340 149,185,890 127,397,185 290,772,091
485,631,687 35,184,112 116,138,910 84,691,184 317,636,778

State or Territory.

B ate.

N o. o f

Statement o f the condition o f such B anks as have made returns, dated near M ay, 1838.

M ain e................... June 2
New Hampshire . . April 1
Massachusetts . . . Febru’y
Rhode Island . . . . May 11
C onnecticut.......... March
New Y o rk ............ May 1
Pennsylvania . . . . May
Maryland............... May 1
Virginia................. July
North Carolina . . . Febru’y
South Carolina . . . May
G eorgia................. April
A labam a.............. March
L o u isia n a ............ March
A rkansas.............. July
T ennessee............ July
M issouri............... May 12
O h io ...................... June 1
United States Bank. May




Loans and


B eal E st.


B ue by other


635' 266,333,590 398,917,081 19,642,489 49,243,356
Total, Stocks. $23,614,475—Total, other Investments, $21,383,316.


Bank Statistics.

S ta te or T erri­
D ate.

Banks $

Statement dated near M ay, 1838.—(Continued.)
N otes o f
other banks




D ue tooth­
er B a n k s.

June 2 50 $113,988 $271,981 $1,177,555 $517,353 $278,985
153,267 1,026,547 424,793
N. Hampshire. April 1 27
Massachusetts. Febr’.y 124 2,700,275 1,701,400 11,543,354 5,436,530 4,534,813
474,278 2', 154,524 675,317 '650,667
Rhode Island . M ayll 62
535,447 1,920,552 869.801
Connecticut . . Mar.31 34
New York . . . May 1 96 7,327,834 9,355,495 12,960,652 18,411,860 14,307,517
48 3,576,984 3,956,835
Pennsylvania . May
Maryland. . . . May 1 24 1,295,177 1,453,074 3,008,726 4,008,925 3,465,450
847,669 1,736,404 7.133,200 2,825,833
Virginia.......... July
705,389 2,267,793 756,591
N. Carolina . . Febr’y 10
13 911,047 1,606,293 5,080,073 3,306,812 1,398,282
S. Carolina. . . May "
G eorgia.......... April
36 2,512,048 2.659.723 7,459,563 2,789,675 2,414,223
786,250 9.333,302 4,296,554 1,624,839
Alabama . . . . March
6 534,605
Louisiana . . . March
47 4,410,333 2.970.723 4,734,739 8,021,137 10,591,600
7,785 140,310
Arkansas. . . . July
563,718 2,318,145 1,184,262 '332,082
Tennessee . . . July
128,500 749,365
Missouri . . . . Mayl2
June 1
1,145,281 2,879,209 6,340,947 2,848.464
U. S. B ank. . . May
16 1,611,073 4,409,330 6,451,605 4,414,978 7,648,818
635 28,639,722 37,209,391 97,379,980 72,286,231 56,791,870
Total, Specie Funds, $960,037—Total, other Liabilities, $45,437,972.
No returns from Vermont, New Jersey, Delaware, District of Columbia, Missis­
sippi, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Florida.

S ta te or Territory.

D ate.

B anks fy

S tatem ent o f the condition o f such B a n k s as have m ade returns , dated near January,

C apital.

Loans and

M aine..................... Jan. 7
50 $4,959,000 $6,721,559
New Hampshire . . . Dee. 3
28 2,939,500 4,476,442
V erm ont................. Sept.
19 1,304,530 2,705,367
Massachusetts . . . . Oct.
110 34,630,000 48,206,808
Rhode Island .......... Jan.
62 9,868,773 12,895,325
New Y o rk .............. Jan. 1
98 36,801,460 68,300,486
Pennsylvania......... Nov.
49 25,155,783 38.696,788
Maryland* ............ Jan. 1
15 9,954,500 13,567,348
District of Columbia. Jan. 1
6 1,855,790 3,221,299
Virginia* .............. Jan.
25 7,458,248 16,236,429
North Carolina. . . . Nov.24 10 3,100,750 4,752,584
South Carolina. . . . Nov.
13 9,153,498 15,378,020
Georgia................... Oct.
37 15,025,971 15,772,770
A labam a................. Oct.
7 11,996,232 25,842,884
L o u isian a.............. Dec.
47 40,930.976 56,855,610
A rkansas................. Nov. 5
Tennessee.............. Jan. 1
14 5,395,799 9,363,033
M issouri................. Dec. 31
1,027,870 1,570,431
Indiana................... Nov.17 11 2,216,700 4,532,965
W isconsin.............. Jan.
Iow a........................ Dec.
16 35,000,000 47,561,540
U. States Bank, Pa. Nov.

B e a l estate.



D ue by other
B a n k s.








639 259,642,610 409,748,337 12,540,278 41,079,431
Total, Stocks, $25,208,373—Total, other Investments, $19,723,423.

Bank Statistics.


State or Terri­

M a in e ......... Jan.
N. Hampshire Dec.
Vermont. . . . Sept.
Massachusetts Oct.
Rhode Island. Jan.
New York. . . Jan.
Pennsylvania. Nov.
Maryland* . . Jan.
Dist. Columb. Jan.
Virginia* . . . Jan.
N. Carolina. . Nov.
S. Carolina . . Nov.
Georgia . . . . Oct.
Alabama . . . Oct.
Louisiana. . . Dec.
Arkansas . . . Nov.
T ennessee.. . Jan.
Kentucky* . .
Missouri. . . . Dec.
Indiana......... Nov.
“Wisconsin. . . Jan.
I o w a ............ Dec.
U. S. Bank . . Nov.

Banks <fBranches.

Statement dated near January,


Notes o f other Banks.




Circulation. Deposites.

Due to other

$303,605 $2,036,640 $818,824 $117,974
187,961 1,510,691
157,033 2,043,843
2,394,624 9,400,412 7,122,642 3,526,686
462,002 1,886,108
972.766 875,296
6,602,708 19,373,149 18,370,044 15,344,098
3,612,253 11,792,948 10,135,863 3,778,360
1,372,008 2,897,695 3,469,904 2,090,485
950,132 1,397,399
2,270,367 8,015,418 2,999,589 1,068,776
723,875 2,114,140
2,000,149 4,566,327 2,732.583 1,308,206
3,232,274 5,121,604 2,834,219 2,050,652
1,687,046 6,779,678 4,919,598 2,257,512
3,987,697 6,280,558 7,657,161 8,119,708
802,369 1,930,040
1,613,383 5,418,320
671,950 1,101,638 481,972
1,345,832 2,951,795
490,617 269,905
5,223,476 4,220,854 8,671,421 3,166,420

639 23,667,659 39,470,063 100,670,640 76,032,702 45,301,750
Total, Specie Funds, $3,603,739—Total, other Liabilities, $50,236,361.
* Incomplete. Maryland : no returns from seven banks and two branches. Ken­
tucky : returns embracing only loans and discounts, specie and circulation. No re­
turns from Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware, Mississippi, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan,
and Florida.
Comparative View o f the condition o f all the Banks, near the commencement o f each year,
fro m 1836 to 1838.

Jan. 1, 1836. Jan. 1, 1837. Jan. 1, 1838.
$251,875,292 $290,772,091 $317,636,778
457,506,080 525,115,702 485,631,687
51,876 955
140,301,038 149,185,890 116,138,910
115,104,440 127,397,185
1,205,879,136 1,372*826*745 1,321,535,910
Aggregate of Investments supposed to






Excess of such investments above amount
Aggregate of Deposites and Circulation.

Bank Statistics.


Comparative View o f the condition o f all the Banks. — (Continued.)

Jan. 1, 1836. Jan. 1, 1837. Jan. 1, 1838.
Aggregate of Deposites, Circulation, and
sums due to other B a n k s ................... $305,S07,847 $339,004,193 $261,845,686
Aggregate of Specie, Specie Funds, Notes
of other Banks, and sums due by other
128,811,763 139,479,277 119,247,428
Excess of immediate liabilities beyond
176,996,084 199,524,916 142,598,258
immediate means.................................
Total of means of all kinds..................... 622,196,763 706,490,172 704,358,577
Total of liabilities, exclusive of those to
Stockholders......................................... 331,807,081 375,564,482 321,823,365
Total of liabilities of the Banks to one
134,394,462 158,618,555 144,175,002
Total of liabilities to all, except other
Banks and Stockholders......................
313,143,364 260,825,773
Net C irculation...................................... 108,185,900 112,652,363

A statement o f the number o f B anks formed under the General B anking L a w o f Nero
York, the amount o f securities deposited w ith the Comptroller, and the amount delivered

to the Banks fo r circulation.



Staten Islan d ................. $83,500 868,726
Agricult, of Herkimer . . 37,750 10,000
United States, N. York. 200,000 176.000
Western N. Y., Roch’r. 100,000 92,792
Farm’s’ of Seneca c’nty. 14.000 12,775
Mechanics’ B’king Asso. 189.000 175,200
N. A. Trust & B’king Co. 371,900 290,040
Farmers’, of Orleans . . . 158,630 122,210
Lockp’t Bkg.& Trust co. 183,960 166,800
N. Y. St. Stock Security. 27,200 27,096
Mchts’ & Farm’s, Ithaca 120,800 111.000
Syracuse........................ 155,800 111,000
St. Lawrence................. 100.000 94.000
Mchts’ Exch’ge, Buffalo. 77.000 75.000
Far’s & Mech’s, Genesee 87,919 55.000
Kinderhook................... 100,000 94.600
Jam es............................. 60,829 59,800
P o w e ll.......................... 125,090 97.600
Wool Growers’ .............. 20.000 18.000
Millers’, Clyde.............. 125,400 112,520
Central New York . . . . 45,093 38.000
Chelsea.......................... 50.000 47,002
Exchange, of Genesee . . 44,370 40.000
Genesee C ounty............ 57,250 48.200
Fort P la in ...................... 81.450 67.000
Tonawanda................... 20.000 19.000
A ttica............................ 39,487 23.200
United States, of Buffalo 75,000 66.000
Ballston S p a ................ 78.450 76.600
Farmers’, of Hudson . . 100,200 90.000
Mechanics’, of Buffalo . 42,650 35.000
Mercantile, Schenectady 99,500 60,950



W atertow n................... 129,106 $51,300
Lowville........................ 43,350 37,500
W aterville...................... 53,300 45.000
C o rn in g ........................ 32.000
American Exchange . . . 404.000 339,800
Whitestown................... 58.550 10,600
Pine P la in s ................... 76,200 50,100
Canal, of Lockport. . . . 132,700 102,300
Howard Trust & B’king
Company, Troy.......... 48,250 33.000
Washington County . . . 37.550 12.000
Bank of Commerce. . . . 300.000 160,040
Commercial, of Troy . . 15.000
V ernon........................... 79,819 47,800
Binghampton................. 21,950 20,000
Mohawk V alley............ 46,700 5,500
N. Y. Banking Company 116.000 110,000
Commercial, of Rochst’r. 101,200 69.000
Middletown................. 45,400 7,700
Delaware....................... 48.000 37.000
W aterville..................... 14.000 4.000
Farmers’ & Mec. Roch’r. 42.000 8.000
D an sv ille...................... 150,300
Farmers’ and Drovers’ . 35,900 21,000
do. . . . 30.000 9,500
Commercial, of Troy. . . 16.000 14.000
Washington, New York. 45.000 12,600
Farmers’, of Seneca Co. 12.000 10,800
Farmers’, of Amsterdam 20,000 9,000
Millers’ .......................... 40.000 28.000
Erie County................... 61.000 56,300
do. do....................... 70,750 71,500


Commercial Statistics.

Official statement fro m the Treasury Department, A u g u st 1, 1839, o f the aggreg a ts o f
Treasury Notes outstanding.

Amount issued under the provisions of the act of
October 12, 1837, viz.
. . . .
Of that issue there has been redeemed
Leaving outstanding,
- . In lieu of those redeemed there has been issued,
under act of 21st May, 1838,
Of that issue there has been redeemed

110 , 000,000 00

9,627,105 46
$372,894 54
$5,709,810 01
4,776,450 42
933,359 59

Leaving of that issue outstanding,
Aggregate of first and second issues outstanding,
The issues under the provisions of the act of the
2d of March, 1839, amount to Of that issue there has been redeemed -

$1,306,254 13
$3,857,276 21
3,100 00
3,854,176 21

Making the aggregate of all outstanding,

$5,160,430 34



We are indebted to the Secretary of the Treasury for a copy of the luminous report
of that department, with the annual statement of the commerce and navigation of the
United States, for the commercial year ending the 30th of September, 1838. This
report is dated at the treasury department, May 18, 1839, and is made in conformity
with the provisions of the act of Congress of the 10th of February, 1820, entitled, “ an
act to provide for obtaining accurate statements of the foreign commerce of the Uni­
ted States.” It presents, in distinct tables, general and summary statements of the
quantity and value of merchandise imported— of foreign merchandise exported— of
domestic produce and manufactures exported — general statements of the quantity of
American and foreign tonnage entered into the United States, and of the quantity of
American and foreign tonnage cleared— a statement exhibiting the aggregate num­
ber of each description of foreign vessels, with their tonnage and the number of sea­
men, that entered into and cleared from the United States— a statement of the num­
ber of vessels which entered each district from, and cleared each district for, foreign
countries— and a statistical view of the commerce and navigation of the United
States, and of the commerce and navigation of each state and territory.
From this report we are enabled to condense and concentrate the following inte­
resting statistical facts:
The value of imported merchandise from foreign countries was, free of duty,
$60,860,005; paying duties ad valorem, $27,090,486; paying specific duties,
$25,766,919 — Total, $113,717,404 : of this amount, $103,087,448 was in American
vessels, and $10,629,956 in foreign vessels.
The exports of goods, wares, and merchandises, of the growth, produce, and manu­
facture of foreign countries, were, free of duty, $7,986,411; paying duties ad valo­
rem, $2,518,329; paying specific duties, $1,948,055— Total, $12,452,795 : in Ame­
rican vessels, $9,964,200 ; in foreign vessels, $2,488,595.
The exports of the goods,' wares, and merchandise, of the growth, produce, and
manufacture of the U. States, were $96,033,821; in American vessels, $79,855,599 ;
in foreign vessels, $16,178,222. The domestic exports are classified: 1. Of the sea,
$3,175,576 — 2. the forest, $5,200,499— 3. agriculture, including animal and vegeta­
ble food, tobacco, cotton, and all other agricultural products, $78,194,447— 4. Manu­
factures, $8,033,821.

Commercial Statistics.


The number of American and foreign vessels, which entered into the United
States, was 9,775 vessels, with a tonnage of 1,895,084, with crews of men, 96,796,
and 3,149 boys.
The number of American and foreign vessels, with their tonnage and crews, which
cleared from the United States for foreign countries, was, vessels, 10,144; tons,
2,012,927 ; with crews of 99,489 men, and 3,018 boys.
The following table exhibits the number, tonnage, crews, and national character,
of the foreign vessels that entered into and cleared from the United States during the
commercial year of 1838.


Crews. ■


N o.

N o.



486,904 28,138 454
21,849 1,082
39,636 1,754
14 . .
16 *


604,166 3.4,098 514

M en. boys.

B ritish ........................ 3,206
F rench.........................
Spanish . ................. ..
Sw edish......................
Norwegian . . . . . . . .
D anish........................
H anseatic...................
Prussian. . . . . . . . . .
A ustrian................... ..
Sicilian. ......................
Sardinian.. . , ............
N eapolitan............ .. .
. . ’
G reek..........................
M exican................... ..
Colombian................. ..
New Granadian..........
Buenos A yrean.........
H a y tia n ......................

T otal............


484,702 28,662
2 0 ,5 7 4 1,013
3,4 4 7
37,538 1,673
2,4 5 2

. 169

. 2
' 2


592,110 34,237


M en. boys.

The registered tonnage of the United States, for the commercial year 1838, as cor­
rected at the Register’s office, is stated at 822,591 86-95— the enrolled and licensed
tonnage at 1,041,105 18-95 — and the fishing vessels at 131,942 71-95 — Making a
total of 1,995,639 80-95 tons. Of the registered tonnage, 119,629 89-95 tons were
employed in the whale fishery.
The total tonnage of shipping, built in the United States during the year ending on
the 30th of September, 1838, was, Registered, 41,859 56-95— enrolled, 71,275 83-95 —
Total, 113,135 44-95 tons.
The following table presents a condensed comparative statement of the commerce
of each State and Territory, for the commercial year of 1838, commencing October 1st,
1837, and ending September 30th, 1838 : ,


Commercial Statistics.

Value o f im­


M a in e .............................................
V erm o n t.........................................
New Y o rk .......................................
M aryland.........................................
District of Columbia........................
North Carolina...............................
South Carolina...............................
G eorgia...........................................
M issouri.........................................
T ennessee.......................................
K entucky........................................
O h io ................................................


$899,142 $915,076
13 300,925 6,158,529
68,453,206 16,432,333
28 010
9,360,731 2,481,543
5,701,869 4,165,168
577,142 3,977,895
2,318,791 11,017,391
776,068 8,803,839
524,548 9 688 049
9,496,808 30,077,534



Total Value
o f Exports.

” 195





T o ta l................... 113,717,404 96,033,821 12,452,795 108,486,616

A comparative View o f the registered, enrolled, and licensed Tonnage o f the United States,
in tons and ninety-fifths, from 1815 to 1838, inclusive. From the Treasury Department,
R egister's Office, A p ril 2d, 1839.


R eg istered




E n ro lled a n d Licens­
ed Tonnage.



T o ta l Tonnage.



Commercial Statistics.













R egistered

Im ports.


F oreign.

T o ta l.

3,369,546 8,768,566
10,591,256 16,894,378
13,738,606 19,435,657
14,577,547 21,199,243
13,926,377 20,112,125
3,619,690 5,128,322
6,119,564 12,142,293
7,251,277 13,013,048
5,192,820 11,235,465
2,648,109 6,583,338
294,854 1,807,923
55,722 1,133,799
1,732,620 5,280,083
5,127,465 10,136,439
6,019,581 11,927,997
6,299,510 11,998,156
6,525,921 11,399,913
7,147,487 11,008,922
8,846,174 12,484,691
8,526,359 12,598,525
9,738,254 13,683,239
6,395,356 10,434,328
7,170,883 11,432,987
6,210,724 10,098,S62
6,604,034 10,424,383
4,929,760 9,025,785
4,305,186 8,254,937
3,613,242 7,213.194
3,706.562 7,733,763
7,337,133 11,993,768
4,532.538 9,683,122
5,476,074 10,148,820
4,479,291 10,043,790
5,267,150 10,380,346
4,856,289 9,728,190
2,946,333 9,104,862




^ 11

19,130 94,662 00
12,010 112,644 00
37,138 135,599 68
327,594 143,783 61
457,425 171,748 12
814,374 186,199 59
636,722 187,447 47
800.094 178,798 41
1,019.030 191.067 31
1,008,234 213,197 28
1,347,475 241,319 05
1,712,580 209,704 40
757,667 222,024 81
1,572,074 250,638 47
2,449,041 285.689 32
2,479,026 306,075 87
2,580,623 310.309 69
895,243 266,519 91
1,158,105 324.690 08
1,150,488 352,806 82
916,490 273,245 89
451,682 266,976 20
106,268 237,649 33
24,599 225,774 05
271,675 299,298 85
1,034,222 274,049 63
1,127,408 243.310 86
4,188,087 *172,886 14
1,192,842 176,269 93
1.470.135 130,251 14
1,282,844 196,975 45
970,948 197,512 16
1,396,935 165,393 15
1,359,404 172,817 66
1,224,124 173,344 71
1.640.136 183,177 20
1,233,308 225,111 40
952,126 247,369 92
1,161,869 227.067 92
1,244,919 215,463 18
955,536 225,226 15
1,188,299 254,508 58
1,169,669 276,723 86
555,794 307,490 22
587,091 331,173 47
589,975 316,998 50
288,346 47
296,110 84


We received from the secretary of the commonwealth of Massachusetts, a volu­
minous pamphlet of 210 pages, containing an elaborate account of the products of
various branches of industry in Massachusetts, prepared by John P. Bigelow, Esq.
in accordance with an act of the legislature of the state. Mr. Bigelow has performed
his arduous task in the most creditable manner, and the authentic exhibit which he
has made of the vast products and internal resources of Massachusetts, speaks vo­
lumes in praise of the intelligence and unwearied industry of her sons, and illustrates
VOL. I. — NO. III.


Commercial Statistics.

in a rem ark ab le degree the triu m p h a n t success w hich is su re to attend judicious and
p ersev erin g enterprise.
In relatio n to som e articles m an u factu red in the State, no inform ation is given, the
A ct not req u irin g it. T h e follow ing table presents a condensed su m m ary o f the
g ra n d total, in clu ding the vessels built in the five preceding y ears ; all the other a rti­
cles n am ed w ere m an u factu red or produced w ithin one year. D educting the vessels
from th e follow ing statem ent, a n d allow ing one fifth o f the v a lu e set ag ain st them a s
th e proper av erag e for a single year, there will re m a in the su m o f eighty-six millions
two hundred and eighty-two thousand six hundred and sixteen dollars, as the value o f the
articles m an u factu red or produced by the several specified branches o f in d u stry d u ­
rin g the y ear. T he reader will find in the table a general result for the whole State,
condensed from the detailed account, show ing the v a lu e o f the articles, the n u m b er
o f h an d s em ployed, a n d am o u n t o f capital invested.
A rticles m a n u fa ctu red or produced.


Anchors, Chain Cables, &c.................................
Axes, Scythes, Snaiths, &e...............................
Beer, Bellows, Blacking, Boats, Bricks, &c. . . .
Bonnets (Straw) and Palm-leaf Hats................. 1,902,803
Books and Stationery, School Apparatus, &c. . 1,048,140
Boots and Shoes.................................................. 14,642,520
Brass and Copper...............................................
Britannia and Block T in ....................................
Brushes, Brooms, and Baskets..........................
Buttons, of all kinds............................................
Candles (spermaceti and tallow) and Soap. . . . 1,620,730
Candlesticks, Play. Cards, Chocolate, Clocks, &e.
Cards (Wool).......................................................
Carriages, Wagons, Sleighs, Harness, &c..........
Casks and H oops................................................
Chairs and Cabinet W are.................................... 1,262,121
Clothing, Neck Stocks, and Suspenders............ 2,013,316
C o m b s.................................................................
Cordage and T w in e ...........................................
Cotton Goods (Cloths)......................................... 13,056,659
Cotton Batting, Thread, Warp, and Wicking. .
Cotton Printing.................................................... 4,183,121
C utlery.................................................................
Drugs, Medicines, and Dye Stuffs.....................
Fishery, (Whale, Cod, and M ackerel)............ 7,592,290
Fur Caps, and other manufactures of F u r . . . .
Glass ...................................................................
G lu e .....................................................................
Gold and Silver L e a f.........................................
G unpowder.........................................................
H a ts ......................................................................
India R ubber........................................................
Iron Castings, Bar and Rod, &e........................
Jewellery, Silver, and Silver P late...................
Lead M anufactures............................................
Leather, including Morocco.......................... .. . 3,254,416
Looking G la sse s................................................
Lumber, Shingles, and S taves..........................
Machinery, of various k i n d s ............................. 1,235,390
Muskets, Rifles, Pistols, Swords, &c.................
Nails, Brads, and T ac k s....................................
Oil (refined Whale and other O i l ) ...................
Organs and Piano F o r t e s ..................................
P a p e r.................................................................... 1,544,230
Saddles, Trunks, and W h ip s.............................

H a n d s em­


C apital in­


19,754 14,369,719
1,660 1,539,000
20,126 12,484,078
1,311 1,516,025
1,798 2,033,423
1,399 1,146,775
1,095 1,974,000
145 1,133,500
1,173 1,167,700

Comviercial Statistics.


Salt........................................................................ $246,059
Shovels, Spades, Forks, and Hoes......................
Spectacles, Starch, Stone, and Earthenware. . .
Spirits................................................................... 1,238,789
Stone, (Granite, Marble, Slate, and Soap-stone)
Stoves and Stove-pipe.........................................
Sugar, (Refined)..................................................
Snuff and C ig a rs................................................
Tin W a r e ............................................................
Tools, (Carpenters’, Joiners’, and Shoemakers’)
Types and Stereotypes........................................
Upholstery, including Hair, Paper-hangings, &c.
Vessels built in five years preceding April, 1837. 6,853,248
Varnish and Beeswax.........................................
Window Blinds, Sashes, and Doors...................
W ire.....................................................................
Wooden Ware, including Packing Boxes, &c. .
W ool.....................................................................
Woollen Goods..................................................... 10,399,807
Engravings, Essences, Hosiery, Lamp-black,
Mathematical Instruments, Mustard, Razor63,466
Straps, Lather Boxes, Pumps, Blocks, &c. . .
T o ta l........................................... 91,765,216









117,352 54,851,643

Comparative view o f the imports and exports o f Cotton into and fro m the United Kingdom
o f Great B ritain and Ireland, fro m January 1 to July 20, 1839, and o f imports and
exports fo r the same period last year.
American.............................................................................. bags
South A m erican...................................................................
West Indies, Demarara, &c.................
East I n d ie s ..........................................................................
E g y p t....................................................................................


Total of all descriptions.......................... bags 774,688
Same period last year.

A m erican......................................................bags
South A m erican............................................
West Indies, Demarara, &e..........................
East Indies.....................................................



Decrease of imports, as compared with the
same period last y e a r...............................
bags 315,753
e x p o r t s i n 1838.
American................................................................................bags 10,068
B razil.........................................................
East Indies.............................................................................
Other k in d s.............................................................................
Total in 1839 ........................................................................
Same period in 1838 ...............................................................
Taken on speculation this year. . .....................................bales 211,020
in 1838 .........................................
Decrease of imports this year, compared with the same
date in 1838 ....................................................................
Increase of s to c k ...............................................................
Decrease of quantity taken for consumption...................
Decrease of quantity taken for export................................

Value o f Foreign Coins.



Table showing the Value o f any number o f Five Franc pieces, from one to one hundred,
at ninety-three cents each, as established by act o f Congress.


$0 93
1 86
2 79
3 72
4 65
5 58
6 51
7 44
8 37
9 30
10 23
11 16
12 09
13 02
13 95
14 88
15 81
16 74
17 67
18 60
19 53
20 46
21 39
22 22
23 25


$24 18
25 11
26 04
26 97
27 90
28 83
29 76
30 69
31 62
32 55
33 48
34 41
35 34
36 27
37 20
38 13
39 06
39 99
40 92
41 85
42 78
43 71
44 64
45 57
46 50


$47 43
48 36
49 29
50 22
51 15
52 08
53 01
53 94
54 87
55 80
56 73
57 66
58 59
59 52
60 45
61 38
62 31
63 24
64 17
65 10
66 03
66 96
67 89
68 82
69 75


$70 68
71 61
72 54
73 47
74 40
75 33
76 26
77 19
78 12
79 05
79 98
80 91
81 84
82 77
83 70
84 63
85 56
86 49
87 42
88 35
89 28
90 21
91 14
92 07
93 00


Table showing the Value o f any number o f Sovereigns, fro m one to one hundred, at 14 85
each, the rate at which they are received and p a id out by the Banks. L arge amounts
are regulated by weight, valuing the pennyweight at 94.8 cents, as established by the
A ct o f Congress.


$4 85
9 70
14 55
19 40
24 25
29 10
33 95
38 80
43 65
48 50
53 35
58 20
63 05
67 90
72 75
77 60
82 45
87 30
92 15
97 00
101 85
106 70
111 55
116 40
121 25


$126 10
130 95
135 80
140 65
145 50
150 35
155 20
160 05
164 90
169 75
174 60
179 45
184 30
189 15
194 00
198 85
203 70
208 55
213 40
218 25
223 10
227 95
232 80
237 65
242 50

62 '

$247 35
253 20
252 05
261 90
266 75
271 60
276 45
281 30
286 15
291 00
295 85
300 70
305 55
310 40
315 25
320 10
324 95
329 80
334 65
339 50
344 35
349 20
354 05
358 90
363 75


$368 60
373 45
378 30
383 15
388 00
392 85
397 70
402 55
407 40
412 25
417 10
421 95
426 80
431 65
436 50
441 35
446 20
451 05
455 90
460 75
465 60
470 45
475 30
480 15
485 00

Mercantile Miscellanies.



Q uarterly A vera g e o f the W eekly L ia b ilitie s a n d A ssets o f the L a n k o f E n g la n d , fr o m
the 30th o f A p r il to the 23d o f J u ly , 1839, both inclusive, p u b lished p u rsuant to A c t 3
a n d 4 W illia m I V . , cap. 98.


C irculation.................£18,049,000 Securities
Deposites.................... 7,955,000 Bullion . .

............ £24,905,000
............ 3,785,000

25, 1839.
As compared with the last, the above return exhibits a decrease in the amount of
bullion of £559,000, in that of the securities to the extent'of £29,000, and in that of
the circulation to the extent of £52,000; while the deposites have been increased by
D o w n in g street, J u ly


This important association will celebrate their nineteenth anniversary on the 16th
instant, when an address will be delivered by the Hon. Rufus Choat, and a poem by
a member of the society. We are pleased to hear of the prosperous condition of the
institution; and hope that a suitable building will be erected, on the plan of the
Clinton Hall of this city, with lecture and reading rooms attached to the library.
Such a building is much needed in Boston, and the mercantile community there
should supply the deficiency, and thereby confer an inestimable benefit upon the
rising generation.

ISAIAH M. ATKINS, J r ., P resident,
DAVID G. DEANE, Vice President,
E . A. HOBART, Treasurer.

N . P . K em p ,
Jam es T . Fields,
W illia m B a n ks,
F . G . W h isto n ,

W . N . Fairbanks,
E . F . W eld,
S . E . Saw yer,
H . S . H ow e,
E d w a r d S tea m s.


From the annual report of the Cincinnati Mercantile Library Association, we gather
the following interesting facts. During the past year, the receipts were $1293 38,
and the expenditures $1218. There are 480 members, of whom 320 are active, 114
honorary, and 45 life members ; 140 new members have been added during the past
year. The library contains 1343 volumes, of which 184 were added in 1838. Four­
teen volumes, upon an average, were withdrawn daily, or about 5000 throughout
the year. The institution appears to be in a flourishing condition.

The annual report of this institution represents the society enjoying an increasing
prosperity. The debts of the company have been entirely extinguished. The num­
ber of books purchased during the last year is 394, making the whole number of vo­
lumes in the library 5077. It is suggested, and very properly too we think, that the
society hereafter adopt the plan so successfully pursued by the New York Mercantile
Library Association, of giving courses of Lectures during the winter months. The
following remark, which we particularly commend to the young, we extract from the
report. “ The business of the counting-house may be diligently attended to, and may
result in the possession of wealth, beyond the possibility of enjoyment; but this alone
will leave an aching void in the breast, for there are capacities for happiness, which
the most rapid accumulation of property cannot fill.”


Mercantile Miscellanies.
m ’ c t jl l o c h ’ s

d ic t io n a r y


com m erce.

The reputation of this work is so well established, that either praise or censure from
us could not be expected to affect it. Our object in writing this notice, is to call the
attention of our readers to the American edition, edited by Professor Vethake, now
in course of publication by Thomas Wardle, Philadelphia, and George Adlard, New
York. The work will be completed in ten parts, (the third is now before us,) and
forms two royal octavo volumes, printed in the best style, and on good paper. This
edition will contain much important matter, not to be found in any other; as, for
example, articles from the pen of the editor on banks, canals, coals, cotton, rail­
roads, &c.

We are indebted to our successor, the Rev. John L. Sibley, in the conduct of the
“ American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge,” for the following va­
luable communication, descriptive of the manufacture of that important article of
commerce, Sago. It is contained in a letter addressed to Mr. Sibley by a gentleman
residing at Singapore. It will, we think, prove interesting at this time, as it has
recently been found a valuable substitute for flour.
Raw sago is the pith of a tree of the Palm family ( 31etroxylon S a g u .) The tree
being cut down, the exterior bark is removed, and the heart of it, a soft, white, spon­
gy, and mealy substance, is gathered; and, for the purpose of distant transportation,
it is put into conical bags made of the leaves of plantain trees and neatly tied up.
In that state it is called by the Malays sangoo tam pin , or bundles of sago ; each bun­
dle weighs about thirty pounds.
On its arrival at Singapore, it is purchased by the Chinese manufacturers of sago,
and is treated in the following manner. Upon being carried to the manufactory, the
plantain leaf covering is removed, and the raw sago, imparting a strong acid odor,
is bruised, and is put into large tubs of cold spring water, where it undergoes a pro­
cess of purification, by being stirred, suffered to repose, and again restirred in newly
introduced water. When well purified thus, it is taken out of the tubs by means of
small vessels; and being mixed with a great deal of water, the liquid is gently poured
upon a large and slightly inclined trough, about ten inches in height and width : and
in the descent towards the depressed end, the sago is deposited in the bottom of the
trough, whilst the water flows into another large tub, where what may remain of
sago is finally deposited. As the strata of deposited sago increases in the trough,
small pieces of slats are adjusted to its lower end to prevent the escape of the sub­
stance. When by this pouring process the trough becomes quite full of sago, it is
then removed to make room for a fresh one, whilst the former one is put out into the
air, under cover, for a short time, and on its being well dried, the sago within is cut
into square pieces and taken out to be thoroughly dried under cover, to protect it
from the sun. It has then lost the acid smell already noticed, and has become quite
white. After one day’s drying thus, it is taken into what may be called the manu­
factory,—a long shed, open in front and on one side, and closed at the other and in
the rear. Here the lumps of sago are broken up and are reduced into an impalpable
flour, which is passed through a sieve. The lumps which are retained by the sieve
are put back to be rebruised, whilst that portion which has passed is gathered and is
put into a long cloth bag, the gathered ends of which, like those of a hammock, are
attached to a pole, which pole being suspended to a beam of the building by a rope,
one end of it is sharply thrown forward with a particular jerk, by means of which the
sago within is shortly granulated very fine, and becomes what is technically called
pearled. It is then taken out, and is put into iron vessels, called here quallies, for the
purpose of being dried. These quallies are small elliptical pans, and resemble in
form the sugar-boilers of the West Indies or Louisiana, and would each hold about
five gallons of fluid. They are set a little inclining, and in a range, over a line of
furnaces, each one having its own fire. Before putting in the sago to be dried, a
cloth, which contains a small quantity of hog’s fat or some oily substance, is quickly
passed into the qually and the sago is equally quickly put into it, and a Chinese la­
borer, who attends it, commences stirring it with a p a llit, and thus continues his labor
during the few minutes necessary to expel the moisture contained in the substance.
Thus each qually, containing about ten pounds of sago, requires the attendance of a
man. The sago, on being taken off the fire, is spread out to cool on large tables,
after which, it is fit to be packed into boxes or put into bags for shipment; and it is
known in commerce under the name of p ea rl sago.
Thus the labor of fifteen or twenty men is required to do that which, with the aid of

Mercantile Miscellanies.


simple machinery, might be done much better by three or four laborers. A water
wheel would both work a stirring machine, and cause an inclined cylinder to revolve
over a fire for the purpose of drying the sago, in the manner used for corn meal and
flour. But the Chinese have no idea of substituting artificial means, when manual
ones are obtainable.

Mr. L. J. McCormick, of Baton Rouge, (La.) has invented an improvement in the
manufacture of sugar, which cannot fail to be of great advantage to planters. By
this invention, one cord of wood alone is sufficient to manufacture one hogshead
(1,000 lbs.) of sugar; which is less than one third of thS fuel now consumed to pro­
duce the same result. Mr. McCormick says naively enough, “ To establish this in­
vention, I must be remunerated in some way ; and if the sugar planters have not
the liberality and enterprise to pay for its establishment on their plantations, they
may have the firmness to risk a few thousand dollars in a bet that it will not suc­

It appears by an article in the Genesee Farmer, that the people of Michigan are
more extensively engaged in the beet sugar business, than any other part of the
Union. Several companies have been formed for the purpose, which have planted
large quantities of beets, and some wealthy individuals are planting largely on their
own account. The Hon. Lucius Lyon, of Ionia county, came to Rochester a short
time since, and purchased at the seed store in that city over three hundred pounds
of sugar beet seed, together with machines for sowing and cultivating them. Mr. L.
stated that he intended to plant one hundred and fifty acres of beets, and to erect
suitable buildings and apparatus for an extensive sugar manufactory. He expressed
the fullest confidence in the success of the enterprise, and has sent to France for an
experienced workman to superintend the business.

Among the many varieties of minerals which abound in Missouri, says the St.
Louis Republican, we now have incontestable evidence of the existence of gold. We
have seen a lump of native gold, which was found on the farm of Mr. Bacon, on the
waters of the Merrimac, about thirty miles from St. Louis. The lump was turned
up where he was ploughing, and w'as about half the size of a hen’s egg. The piece
shown to us was a part of the large lump. It had been assayed by one or more of
the gentlemen of the Western Academy of Natural Science, and pronounced to be
about seventeen carats fine. We are told that a number of lumps of the same kind
have, at different times, been picked up in that neighborhood, but no one knowing
what metal it was, it has heretofore elicited very little attention. We are not in­
formed whether the indications are such as to justify the expectation that it exists
in large quantities. We presume, from its having been found in several places, that
there will yet be more important discoveries made.

The Bulletin des Sciences states, that M. Fournier, of Geneva, visited Florence in
1823, and made inquiries respecting the bearded wheat of Tuscany. He says this
wheat is cultivated both for bread, and for the manufacture of straw braid; in some
parts of the valley of the Arno, between Pisa and Florence, it is cultivated for the straw
only. The seed is sown very thick, in poor, stony land; when the grain has grown
to the height of a few inches, it is mown, that the stalks may be more delicate ; if they
are still too large they are mown again, and if necessary, two or three times more ;
when the stems are sufficiently fine, they are suffered to grow, and as soon as the
plants are in blossom, the grain being yet in the milk, they are pulled up ; they are
then exposed to the sun upon the sand near the river, and watered from time to time.
After the straw has acquired a proper color, it is carefully assorted according to the
fineness and length of the stalk. The only part used for fine braid is that which
extends from the head to near the first join t; the part between the first and third
joints is reserved for common braids. M. Fournier presented samples of the straw,
unprepared, to Mr. Salisbury of England.


Mercantile Miscellanies.

A citizen of the United States has obtained a charter from the Republic of Eucador, for a bank, the principal branch of which is to be established at Guayaquil. The
chief provisions of the charter are as follows : —
The bank is to be one of discount and deposit. The capital, five hundred thou­
sand dollars, to be paid in the coin of the Republic, and to remain constantly in the
The bank may issue bills, payable in specie at sight, to twice the amount of the
capital. No bill to be issued for less than ten dollars, under penalty of forfeiting
their charter. These bills shall not be held as legal tender in payment of debts. The
government may receive them in payment of duties, but will not compel its creditors
to receive them.
The bank shall lend to no individual, at one time, more than ten thousand dollars.
It shall hold no property, other than the banking house.
It shall not be concerned, directly or indirectly, in any commercial transactions,
other than the purchase of bills of exchange, foreign and domestic, under the penalty
of forfeiting its charter.
The bank may demand nine per cent, interest upon its loans, and no more. No
officer or director of the bank shall borrow from it more than five thousand dollars
at any one time.
The charter shall continue for ten years, revocable at the pleasure of the govern­
The bank shall receive in deposit all funds of the government, and pay them out,
free of charge.

The old Bank of the United States was chartered in 1791, and in active operation
for twenty years. Its circulation never exceeded twenty millions. In 1823, by de­
cree of court, the trustees of the bank were released from any obligations to redeem
outstanding bills, as twelve years had elapsed from the expiration of the charter; and
notice, by public advertisements, had been widely spread for seven years. The notes
then unredeemed amounted to two hundred and five thousand dollars. A fund of
five thousand dollars was reserved for instances of peculiar hardship; but the whole
amount presented does not much exceed eleven hundred dollars to the present time,
of which the greater part was in the hands of an invalid revolutionary soldier, and.
liquidated in 1825. A note of ten dollars, however, was redeemed a short time since.
The result of the note account of the second Bank of the United States cannot be
known for some years. An estimate ivas made by the government in fixing the
price of the seven millions of stock sold to the bank, but the amount was, of course,
a matter of mere speculation.

The value of the agricultural products of the United States cannot be less than
$500,000,000 annually. The perfection of this is depending on the weather of four
months, June, July, August, and September, or about 120 days. Every one knows
that without sunshine the crops would be a failure, either partially or totally ; and
hence we can estimate its average value at about fo u r m illions o f dollars daily. There
can be no doubt, that, considering the nature of the previous weather, the beautiful
days preceding the 20th of July added from ten to fifteen millions daily to the value
of our agricultural products; yet, like many other good things, the very commonness
of this invaluable and powerful agent causes it to be overlooked. Without sunshine,
the earth would soon become another chaos, destitute of order, “ without form and

The largest cargo of tobacco ■ever shipped at New Orleans was that of the ship
Rialto for London, the 26th ult. with 659 hogsheads, valued at New Orleans at near

200, 000 .

At one of our great flour marts, Richmond, Va., near 240,000 barrels and half bar­
rels had been inspected the year ending June 30, exceeding we believe the amount
of any preceding year.