Chapter 7e: Economic Democracy
72British policy on the colony trade was more liberal and less oppressive, even if it were dictated by the same mercantile spirit as that of other nations.
Except their foreign trade, English colonists had completely liberty to manage their own affairs their own way.
- It is equal to the liberty of their fellow-citizens at home.
- It is secured in the same way by representatives of the people.
- They claim the sole right of imposing taxes to support the colony government.
- The authority of this assembly over-awes the executive power.
- As long as he obeys the law, the meanest and the most obnoxious colonist has nothing to fear from the resentment of the governor.
- The colony assemblies are like the house of commons in England.
- They are not always an equal representation of the people, but close enough.
- The executive power cannot corrupt the colony assemblies because it receives its support from the mother country.
- The colony assemblies are more influenced by their constituents.
- The councils correspond to the house of lords in Great Britain.
- They are not composed of an hereditary nobility.
- In some of the colonies, as in three of the governments of New England, those councils are not appointed by the king.
- They are chosen by the representatives of the people.
- There is no hereditary nobility in the English colonies.
- In all of them, as in all free countries, the descendant of an old colony family is more respected than an upstart of equal merit and fortune.
- But he is only more respected.
- He has no privileges which can be troublesome to others.
- Before the start of the present disturbances, the colony assemblies had legislative and some executive power.
- In Connecticut and Rhode Island, they elected the governor.
- In the other colonies, they appointed the revenue officers who collected the taxes imposed by those assemblies.
- There is more equality among the English colonists than among the people of Britain.
- Their manners are more republican.
- Their governments are more republican too, particularly those three provinces of New England.
On the contrary, the absolute governments of Spain, Portugal, and France take place in their colonies. 75
The superiority of the English policy chiefly appears in the progress of the North American colonies.
- The progress of the French sugar colonies has been equal and superior to the progress of most English sugar colonies.
- The English sugar colonies enjoy a free government as those in English colonies in North America.
- But the French sugar colonies are not discouraged from refining their own sugar.
- More importantly, the genius of the French colonial government naturally introduces a better management of their negro slaves.
In all European colonies, the culture of the sugar-cane is done by negro slaves.
77The condition of a slave is better under an arbitrary than under a free government.
- In Roman history, the magistrate first protected the slave from the violence of his master during the reign of the emperors.
Under the republic, no magistrate could protect the slave, much less to punish the master.78
- Vedius Pollio ordered one of his slaves who had committed a slight fault to be cut and thrown into his-fish pond to feed his fishes.
- Emperor Augustus commanded him, with indignation, to emancipate immediately all his slaves.
The stock which improved the French sugar colonies, particularly in St. Domingo, was raised almost entirely from the gradual improvement and cultivation of those colonies.
- It was almost altogether the produce of the soil and industry of the colonies.
- It was the price of that produce gradually accumulated by good management.
- It was employed in raising a still greater produce.
- But most of the stock which improved and cultivated the English sugar colonies came from England.
- It was not altogether the produce of the soil and industry of the colonists.
- The prosperity of the English sugar colonies was due to the great riches of England which overflowed to those colonies.
- But the prosperity of the French sugar colonies was entirely due to the good conduct of the colonists which were somewhat superior that of the English colonists.
- This superiority is seen in the good management of their slaves.
79 Such were the European policies regarding their colonies.80
These policies has very little to boast of regarding:
- Their original establishment
- The subsequent prosperity of the American colonies from their internal government.
Folly and injustice were the principles which directed the establishment of those colonies:
- The folly of hunting for gold and silver mines
- The injustice of coveting a country whose harmless natives never injured Europeans but instead received the first adventurers with kindness and hospitality
The adventurers, who formed the later establishments, joined the chimerical project of finding gold and silver mines.
- These motives are more reasonable and more laudable.
- But even they do very little honour to European policy.
The English Puritans were restrained at home.
- They fled for freedom to America and established the four governments of New England.
- The English Catholics were treated with much greater injustice
- They established the government of Maryland
- The Quakers established the government of Pennsylvania.
- The Portuguese Jews were persecuted by the Inquisition.
- They were stripped of their fortunes and banished to Brazil
- They introduced by their example some order and industry among the felons and prostitutes who originally peopled that colony.
- They taught them the culture of the sugar-cane.
- The disorder and injustice of the European governments peopled and cultivated America on those occasions, not their wisdom and policy.
The European governments had as little merit in establishing these important colonies:
- The conquest of Mexico was the project of a Cuban governor and not the council of Spain.
- It was caused by the spirit of the bold adventurer entrusted by the governor.
- The governor soon repented of having trusted him and tried to thwart it.
- The conquerors of Chile, Peru, and other Spanish settlements in America, did their conquests with only a general permission to make settlements and conquests in the name of the Spanish king.
- "Those adventures were all at the private risk and expence of the adventurers."
- The Spanish government contributed scarce anything to any of them.
- The English government contributed as little towards the establishment of its most important North America colonies.
Those colonies became so considerable, that it attracted its mother country's attention.
- The mother country thus made regulations which always aimed:
- To secure to herself the monopoly of their commerce
- To confine their market
- To enlarge her own market at their expence
- To damp and discourage their prosperity
The most essential differences in the European colonial policies is in the different ways this monopoly was exercised.
- England's policy is the best of them all.
- It is only somewhat less illiberal and oppressive than those of others.
The policy of Europe contributed to the present grandeur of the American colonies only in one way
- Magna virûm Mater!
- It bred and formed the men who could achieve such great actions.
- It laid the foundation of so great an empire.
- There is place in the world where the policy is capable of forming such men.
- The colonies owe the education and great views of their active and enterprising founders to the policy of Europe.
- Some of the greatest and most important of them who has helped form their internal government owe to it to nothing else.
Next: Chapter 7f: European Gains from Colonialism