British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview

4
THE AMERICAN INTERCOURSE BILL March 17831

A Bill for the provinsional establishment and regulation of trade and intercourse between the subjects of Great Britainand those of the United States of North America.

Whereas the following thirteen provinces of North America, namely, New Hampshire, Massachuset's Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, North Carolina, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Georgia, have lately been solemnly acknowledged by His Majesty to be, and now are, free, independent, and sovereign states, by the name and description of the United States of America: . . .

[All laws of trade that regulate or prohibit commerce between Britain and the United States (including the recent embargoes) are repealed.]

And whereas, whilst the aforesaid thirteen provinces were annexed to and constituted a part of the dominions of Great Britain, the inhabitants of the said provinces enjoyed all rights, franchises, privileges, and benefits of British subjects born in Great Britain, as well in respect to the trade and commerce with Great Britain as in other instances; and in consequence thereof the vessels of the said inhabitants, being navigated in like manner as British ships and vessels are by law directed to be navigated, were admitted into the ports of Great Britain, with all the privileges and advantages of British-built ships:

And whereas, by the several laws now existing, for regulation of the trade and commerce of Great Britain with foreign states, the subjects of the latter are, as aliens, liable to various commercial restrictions, and also to various duties and customs at the ports of Great Britain, which hitherto have not been applicable to, or demandable from, the inhabitants of the several provinces now composing the said United States of America.

And whereas it is highly expedient that the intercourse between Great Britain and the said United States should be established on the most enlarged principles of reciprocal benefit to both countries: but,

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1
This Bill was formally introduced in the House of Commons on 3 Match 1783 by William Pitt, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, after Shelburne's defeat and resignation. But the preliminary work and perhaps the drafting of the Bill itself had been done by John Pownall under Shelburne's direction. See the report of the debate at the Committee stage in the Commons (7 March) in Parl. Hist., xxv, 602. The text of the Bill is printed in Bryan Edwards, The History . . . of the British West Indies ( 5 vols., Lond. 1819 edn.), vol. ii, pp. 491-4. The Order in Council of July 1783, which regulated Anglo-American trade in a way very different from that proposed here, is printed in W. Knox, Extra-Official State Papers, Lond. 1789, vol. ii, App. XVI. An Act of 1788 (28 Geo. III, cap. 6) later gave statutory force to this restrictive policy.

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