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tempt was made to persuade or compel these cities to join the League; but as the small territories of these Hanse Towns are completely enclosed by the States of Oldenburg and Hanover, and as Oldenburg is itself surrounded by Hanover, the attempt was first made to induce the latter State to join it; because, in that case, the Hanse Towns would be so completely surrounded by the custom-houses of the League, and their commerce subjected to such onerous exactions, that they would be obliged to sue for admission, on such terms as the League might propose, in order to prevent the trade of Germany from following exclusively the course of the Rhine or the Danube, and thereby making the Dutch city of Rotterdam, and the French town of Havre, the principal German ports of entry.
Such, then, is the precarious position of the Hanse Towns. They have not, as we have shown, a particle of political sovereignty, independent of the Germanic Confederation, or rather of Prussia and Austria, and their commercial liberty is threatened by the League of Customs. And yet, these cities, with a population not amounting jointly to that of New York or Philadelphia, have concluded a treaty of commerce and navigation with this country, on principles of perfect reciprocity, that is, reciprocity on one side.
The United States, on treating with the Hanse Towns, did not take into consideration the Tariff-League, which, at the time of the conclusion of the treaty, was in its infancy, and probably imagined, that, by obtaining the trade of the most important seaports of Germany, the trade of the whole country was permanently secured. The government of this country did not consider, that Hamburg, Bremen, and Lubeck were not German ports of entry; that these towns were only bound to respect the decrees of the Germanic Confederation so far as the general politics of Germany were concerned, and to furnish, in case of an emergency, their quota of troops; but that their municipal regulations were widely different from those of the other German States; and that, as far as their foreign commerce is concerned, an article which is admitted at a mere nominal rate of duty into Bremen or Hamburg, may still be contraband at a distance of five miles from the gates of either of these cities. A treaty of reciprocity presupposes, that one nation gives to the other an equivalent for the favors granted it; but in the
case of the United States and the Hanse Towns, no such equivalent is even contemplated. The Hanse Towns have no right to treat for the States of the League, and, at home, disclaim all and every connexion with them; though, in their treaties with foreign countries, they always introduce a clause "favorable to the manufactures of the States of the Confederation." Without this clause, which enables them to make an outward freight, their vessels, notwithstanding their cheap construction and navigation, would not be able to compete with those of the United States, and Germany proper would not be cut off from all direct intercourse with America. As it is, ship-building being much less expensive, and seamen's wages less by one third, than in the United States, the ships of the Hanse Towns can carry our produce at a less rate than our own vessels, which, in three cases out of four, are obliged to return from those ports in ballast. But we are afraid we have already anticipated our conclusions.
We have thus far spoken only of the moral effects of the League on Germany, principally to show that it is not likely to be ephemeral. The League is based on the necessities of the country. It is an easy, effectual, and cheap method of creating a revenue; and it is an efficient conductor of the democratic electricity, by supplying what we venture to call the ideal wants" of the people, and directing that powerful fluid into a legitimate channel. But in proportion as the League promises to be permanent, it becomes the duty of other governments not to suffer themselves to be entangled with treaties with those German States, which, from their disconnexion with it, are unable to offer an equivalent for the concessions made to them, or whose position is such, that they may, at any time, be absorbed by the League. The Hanse Towns, when urged to join the association, had repeatedly answered, that, as single towns, foreign nationsthereby especially alluding to the United States - have made such concessions to them as all Germany would not have been able to obtain. The Hanse Towns, it was argued, are small, and on that account their acts are not so easily observed as the acts of a great nation. The interest of England is naturally concerned in maintaining this separate relation of the Hanse Towns, which serve as dépôts for her manufactures. A late number of the London Times
actually went so far as to speak of the city of Hamburg as a British ally. But the Germans in the interior - we mean the twenty-six millions who are about to form the League have a very different opinion on the subject. We here quote from the writer in the German Quarterly.
"Germany possesses all the requisites of an independent, national, commercial, and manufacturing policy; and would, united, certainly be able to secure a proper respect for a common German flag. The considerations now shown to the Hanse Towns are considerations not for them alone, but for Germany, to which they belong, for the Germanic Confederation, which protects them. In all their treaties with foreign powers, the Hanse Towns have, with much tact, remembered the States of the German Confederation, and claimed for their own ships, and the produce of the latter, the terms of the most favored nations. Had the Hanse Towns claimed those terms on their own account, in their real capacity, as mere carriers and brokers between Germany and the transatlantic States,—it is more than probable, that these terms would not have been granted to them."
And in urging a direct trade and treaty between the States of the German Tariff-League and the United States of America, he says:
"Germany has, unlike all other commercial nations, this peculiarity in common with the United States, that neither of them has colonies commanding its especial consideration and protection in the conclusion of international treaties. Both are free to give to their commerce and to their industry that direction which appears to be best calculated to advance the prosperity of their respective citizens. Neither of them need restrict its commerce or manufactures, to reconcile the interests of distant colonies, or to adapt the condition of colonies to the mother country. This is a great advantage, which Germany will possess, in all future negotiations, over England, France, Holland, Spain, or Portugal, and which must not be overlooked in treating, at some future day, with the United States of America."
"But," continues the writer, "although the United States possess no colonies, they produce a variety of colonial articles, which circumstance makes them not only, in a great measure, independent of European colonies, but also furnishes them with the means of exchanging their produce for European manufactures. We speak here of their enormous production of cotton and tobacco, to which may be added, in the extreme South, that
of rice, sugar, and indigo. The crop of cotton amounts yearly, on an average, to more than two millions of bales, and is greater than the whole cotton production of all other countries of the globe taken together. It gives to the Americans a commercial capital of eighty millions of dollars; and this enormous product might, under favorable circumstances, be increased to double the amount. Until now, the quantity of cotton imported into Germany, directly from the United States, is certainly small; because Germany imports annually sixty million pounds of twist from England; but thanks to German enterprise and the perseverance of German manufacturers, there is sufficient reason to believe, that this species of English carrying-trade, by which Germany not only loses the value of the labor of spinning, but also a proportionate share of the direct trade with America, will soon cease, through the protection which the Tariff-League will grant to the German spinners,* and make room for a direct intercourse between the German manufacturer and the American producer."
The writer then shows the folly committed by the German States in taxing, to so great an extent, American tobacco, and in attempting to produce it at home. Twentyfive thousand hogsheads of tobacco are, on an average, brought annually to Bremen, and thence sold, principally to Germany. Two or three times that quantity might be consumed, and a corresponding quantity of German manufactures taken in exchange by America, if the different German governments would not make a monopoly of the tobacco trade, and if the greater part of the profits of this trade did not remain exclusively in the Hanse Towns. The Hanse merchants naturally take a commission from the producer and the consumer, from the United States and from Germany, - and are thus doubly paid for acting as brokers between them. The argument of the writer in the Quarterly is unquestionably correct. Let any city, favorably situated for commerce, be made a dépôt for merchandise, let its citizens purchase whatever and wherever they please, and sell, in the same manner, to any people who are willing to purchase of them, and goods will maintain prices, or be bought and sold cheaper than in other places, as it may suit
* This prediction has since been verified by the levying of an additional duty on English twists.
the purpose of the merchants. When Holland was the grain magazine of Europe, that most important article was sold cheaper in Amsterdam than where it grew, and was abundant in every part of the republic, when famine ravaged the adjacent provinces of Germany and France. A league of isolated towns is still better for commercial purposes. Their career not being checked by considerations of national policy, and their expenses of government being comparatively small, they are, as regards commerce, on a far better footing than the inhabitants of a commercial city, subject to the regulations of a great country. Under the doctrine of free trade and international reciprocity, the isolated town possesses greater advantages than the largest emporium of the largest empire.
The writer in the German Quarterly then discusses at length the propriety of concluding a treaty of commerce and navigation between the League and the United States, and thereby trading directly with America, and protecting the States of Germany from the ruinous manufacturing competition of England. It is in vain, he argues, to expect reciprocity from England, at least, so far as Germany is concerned. The United States, from their enormous extent and large consumption of British manufactures, stand a far better chance; though even they have to give up the idea of reciprocity, as far as navigation is concerned. Sir Robert Peel's sliding scale shows it. The Canadian wheat is admitted at such rates, that the German wheat-growers cannot compete with it in price, while the Eastern States of the Union are prevented from carrying it by sea to the Canadian provinces. England, it is very clear, will only make such concessions as will suit her purposes. Had she made the same proposition to the German agriculturists twelve years ago, which she is now offering them, she might have checked, for a while at least, the progress of manufactures in Germany; but now, says the writer in the German Quarterly (and he is powerfully supported by Nebenius, Counsellor of State and former Secretary of State of the Grand Duchy of Baden*), the German League knows its
* Der Deutsche Zoll-Verein, sein System und seine Zukunft, von Fr. Nebenius, 1843. (The German Tariff-League, its System and its Prospects, by Fr. Nebenius.)