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(From 12 CHARLES II. to 58 GEORGE III. inclusive)
SHIPPING, NAVIGATION, COMMERCE,
IN AMERICA AND THE WEST INDIES,
INCLUDING THE LAWS
ABOLISHING THE SLAVE TRADE.
Br WILLIAM EARNSHAW,
Solicitor for the Customs for the Northern Ports of England and Wales.
PUBLISHED BY PERMISSION OF THE HONOURABLE
PRINTED BY A. STRAHAN,
LAW-PRINTER TO THE KING'S MOST EXCELLENT MAJESTY.
IN publishing a Work of this Nature it is necessary to premise that the European Colonies in America and the West Indies are of Two Descriptions-First where the Lands are claimed by Right of Occupancy only, by finding them desert and uncultivated and peopling them from the Mother Country; and, Secondly, when already cultivated, they have been either gained by Conquest or ceded by Treaties; and both these Rights are founded upon the Law of Nature, or at least, upon that of Nations. The Colonies belonging to Great Britain are, principally, of this latter Description, and therefore the Common Law of England, as such, has no Authority there, being distinct (though dependent) Dominions : They are subject, however, to the Controul of the Parliament of Great Britain, though not bound by any Act, unless particularly named.*
With respect to Countries gained by Conquest, the Inhabitants, once received under the King's Protection, become Subjects, and are to be universally considered in that light, not as Enemies or Aliens; and although the King,
* Commentaries on the Laws of England.
without the Concurrence of Parliament, has a Power to alter the old and introduce new Laws in a conquered Country, he cannot exempt an Inhabitant from the Laws of Trade, or from the Power of the Parliament of Great Britain, or give him Privileges exclusive of his other Subjects.*
The Form of Government in most of the British Colonies is borrowed from that of England; and the Laws passed by their General Assemblies and Council, with the Concurrence' of the Governor, are of the same Validity in the Colonies, as Acts of Parliament are in the Mother Country; unless repugnant to any Law made in Great Britain relative to the Colonies, in which Case they are utterly void and of no Effect t.
It has been the Policy of the different Nations of Europe, with regard to their Colonies, to secure to themselves respectively the most important of their Productions, and retain exclusively the great Advantage of supplying them with European Produce and Manufactures ; Commercial Monopoly is therefore the leading Principle of Colonial Intercourse.
The British Colonies in the West Indies (in so many respects dissimilar in Nature and Situation from those in North America) are of great Value and Importance, for their Cultivation is devoted to Objects which the Mother Country
* Campbell v. Hall, (Cowper's Reports.) † 7 & 8 W. III. Ch. 22.
cannot produce, and which, from their extensive Consumption, afford the surest Means of balancing her Foreign Trade.
They answer in every point of view all the Purposes and Expectations for which Colonies have at any Time been established. Their Productions are not only sufficient for the Consumption of the Mother Country, but afford the Means of a large Export to Foreign Markets, of many valuable and most necessary Commodities, none of which interfere in any respect with her own Productions, and most of which she cannot obtain on equal Terms elsewhere; and, as many of these Commodities yield a Profit so much beyond what can be obtained from the Cultivation of Grain, it is true Economy in the Planter to buy Provisions from others rather than raise them by his own Labour. The Trade of the West Indies, therefore, supports and increases British Commerce and Navigation in Time of Peace, and very eminently tends to invogorate her Operations in War.
A Series of Regulations, Restrictions, and Prohibitions have therefore been devised, to secure to Great Britain the exclusive Trade of her Colonies; no Goods are to be imported or exported in Foreign Shipping; no Commodity whatever, the Growth or Production of Europe, is allowed to be imported into the Colonies, unless laden in the Mother Country, except certain Articles and Implements for the FishA 3 eries,