A Treatise on Political Economy, Or, the Production, Distribution, and Consumption of Wealth

By Jean-Baptiste Say; Clement C. Biddle et al. | Go to book overview

ed new channels to their enterprise, and discovered countries before unknown; they have found their way to another hemisphere, and to the most inhospitable climates, not with the intention of there fixing themselves and their posterity, but to obtain valuable articles of commerce, and return to their native countries, enriched with the fruits of a forced, but yet very extensive production.

It is worth while to note this difference of motive, which has made so marked a difference in the consequences of the two systems of colonization. I am strongly tempted to call one the colonial system of the ancients, and the other, the colonial system of the moderns; although there have been many colonies in modern times established on the ancient plan, of which those of North America are the most distinguished. a

The production of colonies, formed upon the ancient system, is inconsiderable at the commencement; but increases with great rapidity. The colonists choose for their country of adoption a spot, where the soil is fertile, the climate genial, or the position advantageous for commercial purposes. The land is generally quite fresh, whether it have been the scene of a dense population long since extinguished, or merely the range of roving tribes, too small in number and strength to exhaust the productive qualities of the soil.

Families, transplanted from a civilized to an entirely new country, carry with them theoretical and practical knowledge, which is one of the chief elements of productive industry: they carry likewise habits of industry, calculated to set these elements in activity, as well as the habit of subordination, so essential to the preservation of social order; they commonly take with them some little capital also, not in money, but in tools and stock of kifferent kinds: moreover, they have no landlord to share the produce of a virgin soil, far exceeding in extent what they are able to bring into cultivation for years to come. To these causes of rapid prosperity, should, perhaps, be superadded the chief cause of all, the natural desire of mankind to better their condition, and to render as comfortable as possible the mode of life they have adopted.

The rapid increase of products in colonies, founded upon this plan would have been still more striking, if the colonists had car-

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a
The distinction of the two systems is more imaginary than real. Most of the early establishments of the Europeans in the West were made with the view of absolute migration. The French at St. Domingo, the English at Barbadoes, the Spaniards almost universally, settled without the intention of returning home. The introduction of negro labour was an afterthought. Slavery was an established practice in all the ancient world; and colonies either made prize of the indigenes, or imported slaves from abroad, as soon as they were rich enough to buy them. T.

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