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Address of an American, recommending the opening the Ports of the Colonies to all Nations except the British



Williamsburgh, Virginia, January 20, 1776.

As the Ministry, and their tools, have persisted in charging America with a desire of independence, and in spite of all the most solemn declarations on her part, that she is still (or rather, I hope, was) willing to be subject to Britain, as completely as she was in the year 1763, and as we have good reason to suppose, great as their lust of power is, that avarice has the greatest share in influencing their conduct, and that, therefore, not merely an empty title to superiority is claimed, or even a substantial revenue, but that something more is insisted on, the total monopoly of our trade; I say, as these things are evident, we have just cause of complaint, and may well resent such low suspicion and base treatment.

Whoever considers the acts of Parliament, laying restrictions on the trade of the Colonies, before the year 1763, will be astonished to find that the Congress, after one of their petitions had been treated with contempt, and a bloody, perfidious, and inhuman war was entered into against them, should consent that those acts should still be binding on them!

When we entered into an association not to trade with Great Britain, provided she had been contented to try who could hold out longest, and see who would repent first, and make the first overtures of accommodation, it would have been right to have contented ourselves with our own manufactures: but when they not only laugh at our efforts in this way, and affect to despise our whole trade, as of no importance to them, but also have, by levying against us a heavy and savage war, obliged us to incur many and great expenses, and to neglect, in many parts of our country, agriculture and manufactures, we must be fools, indeed, not to open our ports, and to try what value may be put on our trade by France and Spain, and how we may, thereby, influence them in our favour, and endeavour, by our trade, to procure every thing necessary for the support of the war, and our defence and comfort. By doing this we pave the way to a powerful alliance, and by it may humble the pride of our enemies, may show them we bid defiance to their attempts to enslave us, and that, so far from being sufferers for want of their trade, we can do ten times better without it.

If the ports were open to all nations, except the British, we might soon sink our paper money, and our estates would be of ten times their present value. Our tobacco, hemp, flax, cotton, tar, pitch, turpentine, iron, lead, staves, and lumber; our wheat, oats, barley, rye, rice, Indian corn, peas, beans, &c˙, &c˙, might be sold for their real value, in cash, or such commodities as we might wish to barter them for. Our tobacco would then always command a good price, and ready money; we should seldom get less than thirty or forty shillings a hundred for it in cash; good wheat would sell for six or seven shillings a bushel, and all other things in proportion; and, instead of paying the high price we now do for British goods, bought of Scotch factors, at an extravagant rate after selling them our tobacco for a mere nothing, we should buy every thing equally good, if not better, at half price, and often get them in exchange for articles of our produce which now we never attend to: The truth of this can be asserted by those who have traded in French, Spanish, Dutch, or Italian ports. Claret would then be as cheap as Madeira wine, and velvet as broadcloth, and rum, sugar, molasses, wine, oil, olives, French brandy, arrack, tea, spices, &c˙, &c˙, would be exchanged here for such necessaries, or rarities, as would be wanted in the different ships, by the captains, factors, or men, and by their friends and customers, at the different ports they come from. Our ports would then be filled with ships, and our towns with respectable merchants; the value of our country would soon be known abroad, and numbers of people, of ingenuity and property, would come and settle among us. We should have the trade protected against our present oppressors, the amplest means of defence afforded us, and even Great Britain herself would soon court our favour, and be willing to form a commercial league with us.

Let any one consider these things, and then let him say, whether he would hesitate a moment to open our ports.