MINUTES OF THE WEST INDIA COMMITTEE, 27 Febuary 17841
Lord Penrhyn reported that Lord Sydney had this morning informed him that His Majesty's Ministers were aware of great jealousies being entertained concerning the allowance of American ships to be carriers of the produce of the sugar colonies, but that being very desirous to give immediate relief to the sugar colonies, they had the following propositions under their consideration, on which they wished to have the sentiments of this meeting, viz.
1st. To permit the navigation between the Americans and the sugar colonies in American vessels not exceeding so tons burthen.
2d. To limit the produce they should take back by the value of that which they brought.
3d. To limit the ports in the sugar colonies, to one port in each of the Leeward Islands, and three in Jamaica.
The Committee having taken into their most serious consideration the propositions above stated, are unanimously of the opinion already by the planters and merchants repeatedly submitted to His Majesty's Ministers, that nothing but the unlimited permission of navigation by American ships between the American dominions and the sugar colonies can permanently support the true interest of this country in that respect, and that under proper regulations of such intercourse the jealousy entertained thereof would be wholly groundless. But they will at the same time thankfully receive such degree of relief to their present urgent necessities as His Majesty's Ministers think themselves authorized at the present moment in prudence to give, and thereupon they submit.
1st. Whether the tonnage may not be extended to 100 tons provided they be vessels having only one deck.
2d. Whether any limitation of the value of the produce to be taken away can be imposed to any good purpose.
The Committee are not aware of any reason why British plantation produce should not be consumed in America preferably to French; the limitation of tonnage certainly obviates all jealousy about their bringing any such produce to Europe, such vessels being wholly unfit for that navigation, and the American demand is the only demand for a great part of the rum, without the sale of which the British sugar colonies cannot subsist.____________________