A Number of Sadly Incorrect Predictions on American Prosperity (1789)

Extract of a letter from Philadelphia, Aug. 23.

“Congress is still sitting at New York, and from the multiplicity of business before them, there is no likelihood of the session’s soon closing. We are curious to know what foreigners will say of our new commercial arrangements. Among ourselves there is but one opinion, and that is favourable. To our own vessels, a preference is undoubtedly due; and among foreign vessels and merchandise, there is no discrimination in our import and tonnage acts, every nation being on the same footing. With respect to the duties themselves, they could not be laid lower, considering the demand of supplies, which the Committee appointed to give in an estimate state at upwards of eight millions of dollars.

“Accustomed to disappointment in hopes of improvement in politics and commerce, we feel a reluctance to entertaining very sanguine wishes. Yet appearances encourage the expectation of the fœderal government’s acting with the energy and effect that will give it respectability. The prejudices and animosities created by the late contest are gradually dying away ; and to the idleness and dissipation flowing from the same source, industry has in a great degree succeeded. A progress has also been made in manufactures of various kinds that was not expected ; and the persevering in them affords a strong presumption of those concerned deriving advantage.

“Throughout the union, the public opinion on matters of government has of late experienced rapid changes. Vice President Adams, in his highly esteemed work, has fully demonstrated the absurdity of democracy, and the superior excellence of a mix form, such as that of Britain. His deductions from premises admitted as just, have abated much of the popular aversion to monarchy ; and as every thing matures quickly in our transatlantic soil, it would not surprise many, were United America to have a sovereign ear in the next century.

“In no one instance has our new administration given general satisfaction, more than in their conduct towards the Indians. The interests of those unfortunate people will be studiously attend ed to ; and they will be effectually protected against the lawless violence of the individuals or States, who wished to wrest their lands from them. This determination is dictated by policy as well humanity ; for it is now become the interest of the States to check, by every means short of violence, the erratic disposition of their citizens, who, when removed to the wilds beyond the mountains, cannot be regarded as of any value, in a political view.

The Glasgow Advertiser, 23 August 1789

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