British Colonial Developments, 1774-1834

By Vincent Harlow; Frederick Madden | Go to book overview
prevent our confining our resort for supplies entirely to Nova Scotia and Canada. The Northern States are exceedingly jealous of our Settlements upon the River St. John from whence we may draw supplies of lumber sufficient for our West India Islands for many years. . . .
12
FINAL REPORT OF THE COMMITTEE FOR TRADE ON THE PETITION OF THE WEST INDIA COMMITTEE, 31 May 17841
...The Committee think right to conclude this head with two observations:
First. That in their judgment it is of the greatest importance and advantage to the planters of the West India Islands themselves that they should be able to procure all the articles of provision and commerce of which they stand in need from countries subject to the Dominion of Your Majesty and not depend on foreign countries for them.
Secondly. That Great Britain and the other Dominions and colonies still subject to Your Majesty are by every right exclusively entitled to the advantages which may be derived from a commerce of this nature. . . .

The Committee cannot conclude what they have to report to Your Majesty on this head without observing of how great importance it will be to the security of Your Majesty's islands in the West Indies and the prosperity of those planters, who have offered this representation to Your Majesty; in any future war, that the vessels of Your Majesty's subjects and the sailors that navigate them should be increased in those seas, to the diminution of the naval strength of other countries, so that the planters seem not to be aware that the consequence of success in their present application must eventually be not beneficial, but on the contrary even dangerous to themselves by diminishing those resources of naval strength on which the safety of the British Islands particularly depends. . . .

[The Committee consider the West Indian fear that the United States will make retaliation for the Order-in-Council of 2 July 1783.]

As the true interest of the Americans is contrary to any restrictive measures on their part, so there does not appear to be any principle of justice, by which they can indicate their proceedings on this occasion. By the general law of nations acknowledged by every European state,

____________________
1
B.T. 5/1, pp. 229, 235, 247-9, 253-4. When the West Indians failed to prove that they would be ruined by the exclusion of American shipping, Jenkinson and the Committee were confirmed in their view that the security and prosperity of the Empire as a whole demanded the reassertion of the principle of the Navigation Acts. The privileged West Indians were required to make some sacrifice in return for this defence. Further representations in April had been rejected, and this final report vindicated Government policy.

-263-

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