A B C D E F
G H I J K L M 

Total read books on site:
more than 10 000

You can read its for free!


Text on one page: Few Medium Many
It has already been stated that the exports
for the year ending September 30, 1814, during which the operation of
the blockade was most universal and continuous, fell to $7,000,000, as
compared with $25,000,000 in 1813, and $45,000,000 in 1811, a year of
peace though of restricted intercourse. Such figures speak distinctly
as well as forcibly; it being necessary, however, to full appreciation
of the difference between 1813 and 1814, to remember that during the
first half of the former official period--from October 1, 1812, to
April 1, 1813,--there had been no commercial blockade beyond the
Chesapeake and Delaware; and that, even after it had been instituted,
the British license system operated to the end of September to qualify
its effects.

Here and there interesting particulars may be gleaned, which serve to
illustrate these effects, and to give to the picture that precision of
outline which heightens impression. "I believe," wrote a painstaking
Baltimore editor in December, 1814, "that there has not been an
arrival in Baltimore from a foreign port for a twelvemonth";[206] yet
the city in 1811 had had a registered tonnage of 88,398, and now
boasted that of the scanty national commerce still maintained, through
less secluded ports, at least one half was carried on by its
celebrated schooners,[207] the speed and handiness of which, combined
with a size that intrusted not too many eggs to one basket, imparted
special facilities for escaping pursuit and minimizing loss. A
representative from Maryland at about this time presented in the House
a memorial from Baltimore merchants, stating that "in consequence of
the strict blockade of our bays and rivers the private-armed service
is much discouraged," and submitting the expediency "of offering a
bounty for the destruction of enemy's vessels;" a suggestion the very
extravagance of which indicates more than words the extent of the
depression felt. The price of salt in Baltimore, in November, 1814,
was five dollars the bushel. In Charleston it was the same, while just
across the Spanish border, at Amelia Island, thronged with foreign
merchant ships, it was selling at seventy cents.[208]

Such a contrast, which must necessarily be reproduced in other
articles not indigenous, accounts at once for the smuggling deplored
by Captain Campbell, and at the same time testifies both to the
efficacy of the blockade and to the pressure exercised upon the
inland navigation by the outside British national cruisers and
privateers. This one instance, affecting one of the prime necessaries
of life, certifies to the stringent exclusion from the sea of the
coast on which Charleston was the chief seaport. Captain Dent,
commanding this naval district, alludes to the constant presence of
blockaders, and occasionally to vessels taken outside by them, chased
ashore, or intercepted in various inlets; narrating particularly the
singular incident that, despite his remonstrances, a flag of truce was
sent on board the enemy by local authorities to negotiate a purchase
of goods thus captured.[209] This unmilitary proceeding, which evinces
the necessities of the neighborhood, was of course immediately stopped
by the Government.

A somewhat singular incidental circumstance, supporting the other
inferences, is found in the spasmodic elevation of the North Carolina
coast into momentary commercial consequence as a place of entry and
deposit; not indeed to a very great extent, but ameliorating to a
slight degree the deprivation of the regions lying north and
south,--the neighborhood of Charleston on the one hand, of Richmond
and Baltimore on the other. "The waters of North Carolina, from
Wilmington to Ocracoke, though not favorable to commerce in time of
peace, by reason of their shallowness and the danger of the coast,
became important and useful in time of war, and a very considerable
trade was prosecuted from and into those waters during the late war,
and a coasting trade as far as Charleston, attended with less risk
than many would imagine. A vessel may prosecute a voyage from
Elizabeth City [near the Virginia line] to Charleston without being at
sea more than a few hours at any one time."[210] Some tables of
arrivals show a comparative immunity for vessels entering here from
abroad; due doubtless to the unquestioned dangers of the coast, which
conspired with the necessarily limited extent of the traffic to keep
the enemy at a distance. It was not by them wholly overlooked. In
July, 1813, Admiral Cockburn anchored with a division off Ocracoke
bar, sent in his boats, and captured a privateer and letter-of-marque
which had there sought a refuge denied to them by the blockade
elsewhere. The towns of Beaufort and Portsmouth were occupied for some
hours. The United States naval officer at Charleston found it
necessary also to extend the alongshore cruises of his schooners as
far as Cape Fear, for the protection of this trade on its way to his
district.

The attention aroused to the development of internal navigation also
bears witness to the pressure of the blockade. "It is my opinion,"
said the Governor of Pennsylvania, "that less than one half the
treasure expended by the United States for the protection of foreign
commerce, if combined with state and individual wealth, would have
perfected an inland water communication from Maine to Georgia." It was
argued by others that the extra money spent for land transportation of
goods, while the coasting trade was suspended, would have effected a
complete tide-water inland navigation such as here suggested; and
there was cited a declaration of Robert Fulton, who died during the
war, that within twenty-one months as great a sum had been laid out in
wagon hire as would have effected this object. Whatever the accuracy
of these estimates, their silent witness to the influence of the
blockade upon commerce, external and coastwise, quite overbears
President Madison's perfunctory denials of its effectiveness, based
upon the successful evasions which more or less attend all such
operations.

Perhaps, however, the most signal proof of the pressure exerted is to
be seen in the rebound, the instant it was removed; in the effect upon
prices, and upon the movements of shipping. Taken in connection with the
other evidence, direct and circumstantial, so far cited, what can
testify more forcibly to the strangulation of the coasting trade than
the fact that in the month of March, 1815,--news of the peace having
been received February 11,--there sailed from Boston one hundred and
forty-four vessels, more than half of them square-rigged; and that of
the whole all but twenty-six were for United States ports. Within three
weeks of April there arrived at Charleston, exclusive of coasters, one
hundred and fifty-eight vessels; at Savannah, in the quarter ending June
30, two hundred and three. Something of this outburst of activity, in
which neutrals of many nations shared, was due, as Mr. Clay said, to the
suddenness with which commerce revived after momentary suspension. "The
bow had been unstrung that it might acquire fresh vigor and new
elasticity"; and the stored-up products of the country, so long barred
within, imparted a peculiar nervous haste to the renewal of intercourse.
The absolute numbers quoted do not give as vivid impression of
conditions at differing times as do some comparisons, easily made. In
the year 1813, as shown by the returns of the United States Treasury,
out of 674,853 tons of registered--sea-going--shipping, only
233,439--one third--paid the duties exacted upon each several voyage,
and of these many doubtless sailed under British license.[211] In 1814
the total tonnage, 674,632, shows that ship-building had practically
ceased; and of this amount one twelfth only, 58,756 tons, paid dues for
going out.[212] In 1816, when peace conditions were fully established,
though less than two years had passed, the total tonnage had increased
to 800,760; duties, being paid each voyage, were collected on
865,219.[213] Thus the foreign voyages that year exceeded the total
shipping of the country, and by an amount greater than all the American
tonnage that put to sea in 1814.

The movement of coasting vessels, technically called "enrolled," is
not so clearly indicated by the returns, because all the trips of each
were covered by one license annually renewed. A licensed coaster might
make several voyages, or she might make none. In 1813 the figures show
that, of 471,109 enrolled tonnage, 252,440 obtained licenses. In 1814
there is, as in the registered shipping, a diminution of the total to
466,159, of which a still smaller proportion, 189,662, took out the
annual license. In 1816 the enrolment was 522,165, the licensing
414,594. In the fishing craft, a class by themselves, the employment
rose from 16,453 in 1814 to 48,147 in 1816;[214] the difference
doubtless being attributable chiefly to the reopening of the cod
fishing on the banks of Newfoundland, necessarily closed to the
American flag by the maritime hostilities.

The influence of the peace upon prices is likewise a matter too
interesting to a correct appreciation of effects to be wholly passed
over. In considering it, the quotations before the receipt of the news
doubtless represent conditions more correctly than do the immediate
changes. The official tidings of peace reached New York, February 11,
1815. The Evening Post, in its number of February 14, says, "We give
to-day one of the effects of the prospect of peace, even before
ratification. Our markets of every kind experienced a sudden, and to
many a shocking, change. Sugar, for instance, fell from $26 per
hundredweight to $12.50. Tea, which sold on Saturday at $2.25, on
Monday was purchased at a $1.00. Specie, which had got up to the
enormous rate of 22 per cent premium, dropped down to 2. The article
of tin, in particular, fell from the height of $80 the box to $25. Six
per cents rose from 76 to 88; ten per cents and Treasury notes from 92
to 98. Bank stock generally rose from five to ten per cent." In
Philadelphia, flour which sold at $7.50 the barrel on Saturday had
risen to $10 on Monday; a testimony that not only foreign export but
home supply to the eastward was to be renewed.



Pages: | Prev | | 1 | | 2 | | 3 | | 4 | | 5 | | 6 | | 7 | | 8 | | 9 | | 10 | | 11 | | 12 | | 13 | | 14 | | 15 | | 16 | | 17 | | 18 | | 19 | | 20 | | 21 | | 22 | | 23 | | 24 | | 25 | | 26 | | 27 | | 28 | | 29 | | 30 | | 31 | | 32 | | 33 | | 34 | | 35 | | 36 | | 37 | | 38 | | 39 | | 40 | | 41 | | 42 | | 43 | | 44 | | 45 | | 46 | | 47 | | 48 | | 49 | | 50 | | 51 | | 52 | | 53 | | 54 | | 55 | | 56 | | 57 | | 58 | | 59 | | 60 | | 61 | | 62 | | 63 | | 64 | | 65 | | 66 | | 67 | | 68 | | 69 | | 70 | | 71 | | 72 | | 73 | | 74 | | 75 | | 76 | | 77 | | 78 | | 79 | | 80 | | 81 | | 82 | | 83 | | 84 | | 85 | | 86 | | 87 | | 88 | | 89 | | 90 | | 91 | | 92 | | 93 | | 94 | | 95 | | 96 | | Next |

N O P Q R S T
U V W X Y Z 

Your last read book:

You dont read books at this site.