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Williamsburgh, November 23, 1775.

MR˙ PURDIE: Permit a farmer, more versed in matters of husbandry than politicks, but anxious for the success of America, in the present contest with Great Britain, to lay before the publick some plain observations relating to our commercial opposition. We have seen the non-importation agreement zealously supported, and generally submitted to. The non-exportation has now taken place, and demands our vigilant attention. In the prosecution of this measure, success is almost certain. In war, the event is doubtful; and the measure, however just, to be lamented by the friends of humanity and their country. It has been shown, it can be demonstrated, that the direct and circuitous commerce of Britain with her Colonies amounts to more than a third of her whole trade. Deprive her of this great and constant stream of wealth, and you hazard her bankruptcy. No country upon earth can, at this time, furnish the materials Great Britain used to draw from her Colonies, and which afforded such ample employment for her ingenious artists. Where can she suddenly find a vent for the large quantities of manufactures America used to consume? New channels of commerce are not hastily opened. In this operation, other States, now in possession of the business, must be supplanted. In her American trade, Britain stood alone and unrivalled. For many years past, great part of Europe has depended on America for bread. Ireland has


been greatly beholden to her, and Great Britain not a little. I would not be understood to insinuate that Great Britain does not produce grain enough for her own use. I know that generally she doth, and to spare; but it is well known, that, for a number of years past, Britain hath not yielded her usual abundance, or foreign demand has been so great as to encourage large expoits; otherwise the price of wheat would not, communibus annis, fluctuate between five shillings and six pence and eight shillings per bushel, and sometimes, in particular counties, higher. In the best years, Britain does not produce more grain than sufficient to feed her inhabitants fifteen or sixteen months, and in unfavourable years, she has little or none to spare. Suppose, then, a total stop of American wheat and flour. What will probably be the consequence? The probable consequence will be, an increased demand for those articles in the different markets of Europe; the increased demand creates competition; competition raises the price, (already the subject of complaint,) bread being extravagantly dear, trade languishing, and a number of hands are idle for want of the employment afforded by the American commerce. Discontent, clamour, and commotion will ensue. These consequences naturally beget each other, and will inevitably happen, if the American produce is kept from market six months. I bring not under consideration the consequence of this measure to the inhabitants of the West-India Islands, whose existence as a people depends upon supplies from the Continent, and in whose prosperity Britain is deeply interested. Had the last proved a bad year of harvest in Europe, the consideration, under a stop of American exports, would be truly afflicting to every benevolent mind. As, therefore, so much depends on our keeping the American produce from market, let us show we have the virtue to make the sacrifice, and decline selling our commodities, unless for internal consumption; but, lest there should be among us those who, preferring private interest to publick good, shall dispose of their provisions to enterprising traders, the Committees of the several Counties and Corporations should exert their authority in preventing such practices, by prohibiting any of these articles from being water-borne, which will effectually suppress the mischief. In this measure, however, the confederated Colonies should act in concert; for which purpose something of the sort should come recommended from the Congress, if the Delegates think the temper of their constituents will bear the restriction; otherwise, it would be partial, injurious, and ineffectual.