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Bananas, for instance, come into bearing in about fifteen or eighteen months from the time of planting, and as the return is usually from £10 to £20 per acre, the planter is able, with a comparatively small capital, to establish his land in cocoa, coffee, nutmegs, limes, oranges, and cocoanuts, which, when the bananas are exhausted, will remain a permanent source of revenue. It is on this account that I look upon the fruit trade of the West India Islands, as indeed of many other small industries, as calculated in the aggregate to build up, little by little, an improved condition for the people of these islands-a condition which ultimately will enable them to meet much more successfully than they otherwise would the depression under which they are now suffering.


Diversification of industries in the West Indies and distribution of lands among the natives was earnestly commended by Sir Hubert Jerningham, formerly governor-general of Mauritius and later governor-general of Trinidad, in an address before the Royal Colonial Institute, London, April 16, 1901, in which he said:

The instructions to the royal commissioners in 1896 were primarily to inquire into the condition and prospects of certain West Indian colonies “in which sugar is produced," and, if necessary, 'to make suggestions best calculated to restore and maintain the prosperity of those colovies and of their inhabitants."

These instructions were supplemented on January 5, 1897, by a letter containing three direct and pertinent questions:
Is it a fact that the sugar industry in the West Indian colonies is in danger of extinction?

Do the causes of the present depression of that industry inelude matters independent of the competition of sugar produced under bounty system?

If the production of sugar in these colonies be discontinued, could other industries replace it, and, if so, be established in time to meet any existing crisis?




The reply was prompt, direct, and exhaustive.

It said in substance: It is a fact that the sugar industry is in danger of extinction; the causes of the present depression do not include matters independent of the competition of sugar produced under the bounty system; and, lastly, "no industry or series of industries can be introduced into the West Indies which will ever completely take the place of sugar, and certainly no such result will be attained within the space of a few years," and they conclude that “it is of the utmost importance that no time should be lost in making a beginning of substituting other industries for the cultivation of the sugar cane.

You will observe that this reply states a fact which, however hideous, must be faced, and, further, makes suggestions which should be adopted without delay if the fact is not itself grappled with.

Up to the present Parliament has ignored the fact, and apparently does not wish, or does not dare, to face it as it should be faced, seeing that it spells want to the laborer, bankruptcy to the colonies which depend on cane, an end of education, and a return to that barbarism from which we pride ourselves in having secured the colored population of those islands.

This is no comment; it is what the commissioners point out.

To use their own words, "There is every reason to believe that a serious condition of things is rapidly approaching your Majesty's West Indian possessions; that the crisis will be reached in a very few years; that the exports of sugar in twelve colonies amount to no less than 55 per cent of the total exports, and are 85 per cent of that total in tive colonies; that even if alternative industries succeed in the course of time, it is difficult to believe that they will completely replace cane; that those exports are the only means by which the population can purchase manufactured goods, including clothes, or the local administrations raise a revenue to meet the cost of a civilized government, and that it is an obligation on the part of llis Majesty not to abandon the natives.". That this solemn warning is rapidiy approaching a fulfillment can be read in the statement addressed to the shareholders of the Colonial Bank by their chairman, Mr. Dobree, so recently as the 4th of this month. It is a statement which bears repetition, and I will quote it, because, in measured language, the Houses of Parliament are told what to expect if they do not do their duty, as called forth by the responsibility they undertook when half a century ago they prematurely gave absolute freedom to the black population instead of liberty gradually, conditional on their powers of labor and willingness to work. Mr. Dobree said:

" Their hope that the Imperial Government would deal with this question in a fair and statesmanlike manner had been so far grierously disappointed. The West Indian community coinmanded no sutiicient number of votes to act as an incentive to political wire-pullers, and the whole trend of legislation, so far as sugar was concerned, would seem to be to play into the hands of foreigners, without consideration for British or colonial interests. In spite of the inherent loyalty of the West Indians he found that a strong feeling was growing up among the most thoughtful members of the community that they would be far better under American than under British rule, and he was of opinion that, when it was seen how greatly prosperity was being brought about in Cuba and Porto Rico under Ameriean rule, the feeling would grow stronger. The trusted that something might be done by the present Government, but they had been hoping so long that he should not be disappointed if nothing were done.

“I may be overfanguine, but I believe the efforts of the Trinidad planters and those of the local government will succeed in maintaining the sugar industry for yet many years, thanks principally to the impetus given to peasant proprietorship and to the thrift and industrious habits of the imported Indian coolies. In regard to the first the Port of Spain Gazette says:

“ 'It is a fact which is yearly becoming more and more generally recognized by the sugar planters that the advent of the cane farmer, more especially the large cane farmer, into the sugar industry of the colony is an event which must be regarded as a means of the restoration of sugar to its former and rightful place as the premier industry of Trinidad.'





"Vot only is it imperative to teach the Creole population the usefulness of the soil, the bountiful returns which it gives to all labor bestowed on its culture, and the nobility of the work itself, but it is indispensable to instruct those who are willing to devote themselves to agriculture how to discriminate between remunerative and nonremunerative produce. *

"Ilow can these truths be impressed upon the natives of the West Indies unless it be done in the manner now attempted-by educating the more cultivated colored people to a knowledge of agriculture, which they can impart to those below them, and by bringing up the present generation of children to consider gardening and the use of the spade as part of a polite education?”


In Trinidad, thanks to the strenuous and able efforts of Professor Carmody and Mr. Hart, of the Botanical Gardens, great progress is being made in this direction, and public interest is, I think, at the present moment as alive to the necessity of a change in the old modes of education as can be desired.

Trinidadians have every reason to take time by the forelock, for they possess a soil which can grow anything and everything. The cacao trade, which comes next in importance to the sugar trade, is one which, however remunerative, does not give work to any hands, though fortunately it is one in which the native Creoles take an interest, and the coolies are beginning to invest their savings.


It a trarle which flourished in Trinidad up to 1827, when, owing to the fall in prices, it gradually dwindled to nothing, until in 1856 there were no more than 7,000 acres under cultivation. As the average yield per acre is 600 pounds, or 2 pounds per tree, some idea of the development it has now reached can be gathered from the fact that there are at the present time nominally 498 cacao estates, yielding 173,000 bags, or 29,000,000 pounds of cacao, hence representing some 48,000 acres under cultivation.

It is estimated that the cost of production of a bag of cacao containing 165 pounds is 34 shillings, while the sale price averaged for the last two years has been 75 shillings a bag, representing a total of more than £600,000, of which half was clear profit and half was expended in the colony.

The demand is so much on the increase that prices maintain themselves in spite of accumulations and of old methods of growth, and the providential dispensation which places Trinidad outside the hurricane zone is also the guaranty of her future prosperity from this one article, if she had no other to rely on; but a great impulse has been given within the last three years to the cultivation of rubber, and this important article of commerce is expected to rank eventually as one of the most remunerative of the colony's resources.

Thanks to a Swedish professor of botany and natural history, Professor Bovallius, of the University of Upeala, who was introduced to me by letter from the secretary of state, I modestly hope that I have had a slight share in the impetus given to this new industry, froin which so much is expected.

Proiessor Bovallius assured me that he had not seen along the Orinoco River any land better suited to the growth of herea or castilloa than that which Trinidad affords, and he has since proved his confidence in the soil by the purchase of some 4,000 acres of Government land and the launching of the Narva Estates Company, Limited, for the cultivation of rubber, cacao, and indigenous products.

I wish I had the time to explain to you how these estates, situated in, I think, the loveliest parts of the island, and selected with the greatest care and knowledge, are expected to give returns in the eighth year, when the rubber trees yield their milk, which are simply astounding to one who, like myself, has no money to invest.

But as the company is formed on what, I think, is the safest basis of investment in land, when the investor does not reside on the spot, viz, on a syndicate system, in which dividends are paid pro rata of the shares held after a lapse of half the time necessary for the produce plants to bear, it inay be useful to point out that in the case of a rubber plantation, which takes eight years, the cocoanut trees, the bearing cacao trees, the hardwool, and the corn are made to pay full interest on the capital for four years and a dividend after. On the Narva estate, for instance, I see by the prospectus that at the start there are 60 acres of bearing cacao, equivalent to £1,200 a year, and cocoanut trees yielding.nuts worth £750; while hardwood is expected to realize £400, and 50 acres of corn a further £209, in all £2,550, which is more than necessary to pay 8 per cent on the gross capital of the company in question, viz, £25,000; that this revenue increases to £3,000 the second year, £3,450 the third year, £4,800 the fourth year, and to £7,300 the fifth year, owing to enlarged areas of both bearing cacao and cocoanut trees. In the fiith year it exceeds by £2,500 the cost of working the estate in that year, that cost, inclusive of interest, being estimated at £3,475 the first year, £3,930 the second year, £4,360 the third year, £4,915 the fourth year, and about the same in the fifth.

However correct these figures may be, they are so far reliable that, provided the cacao trees are bearing as well as the cocoanut trees, 8 per cent interest on capital is secure, though a deficit on working expenses, averaging £700 a year for four years, is expected.

But in the fifth year the balance of revenue covers that deficit and a dividend of 9 per cent becomes possible. The prospectus after that becomes aggressively alluring. Before the rubber adds its 100 per cent, the sixth year gives a dividend of 33 per cent, and the seventh year 44 per cent, and although I am not quite capable of understanding such high profits, there is no reason, with the prices which cacao and rubber command, that this should not be realized, seeing especially that cacao is daily becoming more popular throughout the world as a nutritive beverage and the demand for pure rubber is far in excess of the supply; and it will be interesting to note when the time comes how wise they have been who have asked of the soil and vegetation of Trinidad for returns equivalent to those of the best minerals elsewhere.

I have mentioned cocoanuts, and most people do not realize their value in the economy of nature.

In Trinidad these trees thrive particularly well, and especially so in the district of Vayaro, where the finest cocal, or cocoanut walk, has curiously planted itself from nuts originally cast ashore from a wrecked vessel.

These trees bring forth a bunch of nuts every month, and the bunches average nine nuts each. Sixty good nuts go to a gallon of oil, and this gallon averages $1, or 4s. 21. The yearly value of a cocoanut tree is therefore roughly set down at $1, from which it will be seen that 9,600 cocoanut trees are sufficient of themselves to pay £2,000 interest, at 8 per cent, on £25,000.

In 1899 some 13,000,000 nuts were exported, representing 118,000 trees at least, and £45,000. As there are 60 nominal cocoanut estates in Trinidad, each estate exported on an average produce of the value of £740, and this sum, at 8 per cent, is interest on £9,250, a fact not to be despised when a cocoanut walk is advertised for sale.

I will not weary you with indian corn, or maize, which gives two crops a year, and is only inferior to wheat as a nutritive aliment; or with rice, which is imported to the extent of £150,000 a year, and could be raised in the island for more than twice that value were there proper appliances to thrash and clean the grain; or with coffee, every grain of which finds a sale in the local market, as Verdant Vale can testify; or with tobacco, which has been pronounced as good as the Habana leaf-alas! the secret of the curing rests with the Cubans and no one else; nor of the fruit, which is a drug in the markets of the colony, and awaiting the success of Mes-rs. Elder, Dempster & Co.'s plucky venture in Jamaica; nor, indeed, of the spices, vegetables, and other riches which the marvelous soil offers eagerly to all who seek them.





Applying these remarks to the special recommendations of the royal commission in regard to Trinidad and Tobago, which, as they also recommended, is now a ward or district of the colony, it will interest you to recall what they were:

1. The substitution of other agricultural industries for the cane cultivation.
That is in full swing, and has been fully acted on.
2. The settlement of the surplus population on land as peasant proprietors.

Not only have 10-acre plots been reluced to 5, as advised by the commissioners, and have eagerly been bought within the last three years in a manner unknown up to then, but squatting, which was deprecated by them, has become a well-nigh impossible thing since the institution of a central board working in conjunction with the district road boards for the opening out of the whole country, with due regard to prior claims of districts where land is taken up in greater degree. Up to 1898 the average sale of Crown lands had been 7,000 acres a year for eighteen years. I believe I am stating a fact, though speaking in this instance from memory only, that the average in 1898, 1899, and 1900 was over 12,000 acres; but it is also fair to say that this is greatly due to the high prices realized for cacao in these years, which have directed local attention to the great commercial value of that plant, and hence to land suited to its cultivation.

3. Facilitating access to foreign markets.

In the newspapers which arrived by last mail I find that the needed service round the island and Tobago once a week, also recommended by the royal commission, was actually commenced on the 8th of March, and this will bring the produce of all the coast line of both islands to Port of Spain.

The effort of Trinidad by generous offer to increase the subsidy to the Royal Mail Steamship Company, so as to insure twice a month the presence of its ocean-going steamers in the Gulf of Paria, has not yet succeeded, but negotiations are not over, and when it comes to pass the hope of the commissioners of developing a storage of foreign goods in bond, to be afterward exported to Venezuela, will be more fully realized than it is now, though even that of late years has increased steadily.


The work of the Dutch Government in developing and diversifying the productions of Ceylon is indicated by Mr. Basil W. Worsfold in his “A Visit to Java,” 1893, in which he describes the great horticultural garden there established by the Dutch Government: “Among the twenty or thirty tropical gardens established in the colonial possessions of the various European powers," he says, “three stand preeminent, those of Calcutta, Ceylon, and the Dutch gardens in Java. It (the latter) contains three separate branches—the botanical gardens, a horticultural garden, and a mountain garden. Of these, the last is situated at some distance from the town and occupies 75 acres of land, with a staff of ten natives working under a European gardener. The horticultural garden adjoins the botanical garden and has for many years enabled the Government to distribute gratuitously the seeds and plants required for various colonial enterprises, including tea and coffee plants, sugar canes, india rubber and gutta percha trees, and trees producing tannin and oils, while various medicinal plants are also found here and others which afford useful nourishment for cattle. Altogether there are 9,000 species of plants contained in the gardens. There is, in addition, a museum containing an expensive herbarium and an extensive library of over 5,000 volumes, numerous laboratories, draftsmen who are competent to employ the met of photography and lithography in reproducing the forms of plants, and under the direction of this staff are employed a number of natives, including three Malays with special botanical knowledge, a head gardener, nine undergardeners, and about one hundred coolies.”


In a paper on "Fruit as a Factor in Colonial Commerce,” read before the Royal Colonial Institute, London, February 8, 1887, Dr. Morris, the Director of the Experiment Stations, said:

One important result arising from the recent Colonial and Indian Exhibition is the great interest awakened in the possibilities of our colonial empire as a source of a large supply of fruit. In the colonial market attached to the exhibition there was shown a succession of rich and rare fruit from all parts of Her Majesty's possessions. The Dominion of Canada and the West India Islands, Cape of Good Hope and Natal, the Australian colonies and New Zealand, Fiji, Straits Settlements, Mauritius, Cyprus, and Malia, all were represented by produce in fruit, which for diversity of form and of representative character probably surpassed anything previously seen in these islands.

The shipments of fresh fruits from the Southern Hemisphere were in many cases purely of an experimental character, but the results achieved were certainly striking and suggestive, and will doubtless lead to a trade in fruit between the colonies and mother country of benefit alike to both producer and consumer. At the present time we import into this country raw and preserved fruit to a large ainount annually. Most of this fruit is supplied to us by foreign countries; but within the area of the British dominions is included a fruit climate as extensive as the world itself. We have all the fruit climates of the north temperate and tropical regions, and we have also the fruit climates of the Southern Hemisphere, which latter can turn winter into summer and supply fruit in abundance just at the time we want it most.




With the exception of one or two, most of our colonies are separated from the mother country by such “countless miles of ocean" that it was thought impossible to draw from them any appreciable quantity of fresh fruit; but the rapid progress made in the construction of large and swift ocean steamers has brought even our Australian colonies within the compass of a four weeks' voyage; and if we can draw supplies of oranges, apples, and pears from the far-off orchards of Australia and New Zealand what can not be done with the productions of colonies at less than one-half the distance?




The Straits Settlements yield perhaps the richest stores of tropical fruits of any of our dependencies. The mangosteen, durianmango, pineapple, papaw, duku, attap, langsat, plessan, rambustin, pumelo, bananas, blimbing, guava, cherimelia were all shown at the Indian and Colonial Exhibition in a preserved state, and with other better-known tropical fruit, they formed one of the most interesting collections of East Indian fruits seen in this country. Singapore pineapples are largely exported preserved whole in sirup, and the enterprise shown by several firms in popularizing this article will no doubt lead to a considerable trade being established in this country.


The development of the earning power of the native and the application of his earnings to the purchase of the necessities, conveniences, and comforts of civilized life is a subject which belongs so clearly to the list of requirements for the material, mental, and moral improvement of the inhabitants of the colony that some consideration of commercial conditions and methods in the colonies is obviously necessary. The mere opportunity to communicate with his neighbor, or with men in other parts of the world, by telephone, telegraph, or by mail, or to come in personal contact with them does not supply all of the requirements for advancement along the lines mentioned. The native of the colony needs the articles which commerce alone can furnish him—the clothing, the manufactures, the books, the writing material, the thousand and one comforts and necessities of civilized life which tend to the improvement, material, mental, and moral, of his condition. These he must obtain through commerce, in exchange for his products, for which a market is furnished him by the roads, railways, and other methods of intercommunication which the colonial government supplies in its development of the territory thus governed.


That these improvements in the purchasing power of the people of the colonies have followed such developments is evident from an examination of the imports of the British colonies at intervals during the past half century. In 1830 the total importation of the British colonies amounted to 140 million dollars; by 1860 it had increased to 400 millions; by 1875, to 750 millions; and in 1900 was 1,150 million dollars, or eight times as much as a half century ago. During that same period the total imports of the world increased from 2 billions in 1850 to over 11 billions in 1900, while even in the rapidly developing United States the imports during that period only increased from 173} millions in 1850 to 850 millions, thus being in 1900 less than five times as much as a half century ago.

The table which follows shows the imports and exports of the British colonies, including India, at decennial periods frem 1850 to 1900. In regard to India it should be remembered that the statements of recent years are somewhat misleading when compared with those of the earlier part of the half century by reason of the decline in the exchange value of the rupee. Prior to 1890 the British


statements of the commerce of India were calculated upon the basis of 10 rupees to the pound sterling, while now they are calculated upon the basis of 15 rupees to the pound sterling. The fall of the rupee in India and the decrease in sugar production and consequent earnings in the West Indies account for the fact that the figures of commerce of the British colonies do not show so rapid a growth proportionately in the clo part of the century as in the earlier period.

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As to what has been done by the great colonizing nations to encourage commerce as a necessary factor in the development of the people of the colony, the question is answered by the facts above shown. They have constructed roads, railways, and canals, thus enabling the native to market his products; and the latter has in turn increased his purchases until they are to-day seven times as much as they were a half century ago. The question of the relation of this commerce of the colony to that of the mother country is discussed elsewhere.


Currency is naturally the next subject to be considered after commerce. As has already been indicated, the first work which successful governments undertake in their management of colonies is the development of methods of communication-roads, railways, canals, river and harbor improvements, postal and telegraph service-in order, first, to enable the natives to transport their products to market; second, to increase their productive area; and, third, to facilitate communication both among the natives themselves and between them and the outside world. Following this comes the development and diversification of agricultural productions, and this is naturally followed by commerce with the outside world and between the various sections of the colony itself. This requires currency, money of standard and accepted value, which, with the increase of commerce and the establishment of closer relations with the outside world, takes the place of cowry shells and other primitive mediums of exchange.

In this establishment of a recognized and acceptable currency the methods which have been and are employed by the various successful colonizing nations of the world are the object lessons to which students of colonial matters naturally turn.


In general terms, it may be said that colonial currency usually takes a form similar to that of the strong countries in the immediate vicinity with which commercial relations of greater or less extent exists, and with whose people and financial methods the people of the colony come in contact. The currency of the British colony of Canada, for example, is identical with that of the United States, although Canada is closely connected with the mother country in all commercial and financial affairs. The currency of the Hawaiian Islands, whose chief business intercourse is with this country, has been for many years identical with that of the United States. The currency of the smaller British colonies in the Orient, Singapore and the Federated Malay States, is the Mexican and old Spanish pillar dollar. In Hongkong the Mexican dollar is used, and that coin, or the British East Indian dollar, similar in weight and appearance, is an accepted medium of exchange throughout the Orient. The introduction of the Mexican dollar in the Orient, where it is still the favorite currency, was from the Philippines which were in early years attached to Mexico by the Spanish Government and all their commerce required to pass through Mexico on its way to Spain. This established the Mexican dollar in the Philippines, whence its use extended to China and other adjacent countries. India, with its enormous population and well-established currency, which existed when the British took possession, has retained its original form of currency, the rupee, though the fluctuations in its value have been the cause of great inconvenience in commercial matters, and its steadly fall a great loss to its people. In Ceylon, although its population is of a race differing from that of India, the general rule by which the currency of a small community is determined by that of the larger adjacent countries obtains, the rupee being the accepted currency. In the British West Indies, owing to a determined effort made for the introduction of British currency in 1825, whereby the shilling was “to circulate wherever the British drum was heard,” British coins are the standard, but American gold and paper and Spanish gold coins circulate alongside the British silver and gold. Cyprus, which has been administered by the British Government for more than twenty years under a convention with the Sultan of Turkey, has as its currency English, Turkish, and French gold pieces and Cyprus piasters, of which nine equal one English shilling. In Algeria, a French colony, French coins are the standard, its proximity to France and the large proportion of business which is transacted with that country encouraging the use of that currency. In Madagascar, Italian, Belgian, Greek, and other coins circulate alongside the French silver and the fractional parts of coins which were used for smaller transactions in earlier years, but which are being gradually withdrawn by the French Government. In Tunis the legal coins are similar to those of the French, but specially coined for that colony by the French Government. In the French colony of Dahomey, on the west coast of Africa, English and American, as well as French coins are in circulation, as are also cowry shells in the interior. In the French colonies of Indo-China the accounts of revenue and expenditure are stated in piasters. In the Kongo Free State the legal money is that of Belgium, with which most of the commerce is conducted. In the German colonies of Africa German coins are the standard, the chief money in circulation, the colonies not being sushciently contiguous to any other great country to be affected by its currency, and this is true of the British colonies in Africa, where British currency is the established medium of exchange. Java appears to be an exception to the general rule by which the currency of a colony is determined by that of adjacent territory, and this is doubtless due to the fact that practically all of the commercial relations of Java during the last century have been with the Netherlands. Since the entire control of production and the commerce growing therefrom were in the hands of the Dutch Government, which sent all products of the island to the Netherlands to be sold and naturally transmitted in exchange therefor the currency of the mother country, the currency of Java is therefore identical with that of the mother country—the Netherlands.



The tendency to accept and adopt for the colony the form of currency prevailing in contiguous countries with which large commercial relations are maintained is pointed out by Prof. Robert Chalmers, of Oriel College, Oxford, also connected with the British treasury, in his “ Colonial Currency,” 1893, in which he says that “from 1825 onward no doubt had been entertained by the British authorities that sterling (gold) was the best system of currency for all British colonies, irrespective of their geographical positions and trade relations, and the Imperial Government has shown itself auxious to perfect the introduction of sterling currency by imposing in 1852 a limit of 40 shillings on the tender of British silver, not only in Australia, but in such silver-using countries as Ceylon, Mauritius, and llongkong. This doctrine of the universal applicability of sterling was abandoned, though with reluctance, when it was demonstrated by Sir Hercules Robinson that a gold standard was impracticable and mischievous in colonies such as Hongkong, the Straits Settlements, and Ceylon, where trade relations made the silver standard imperatively necessary. “It was thus the East which taught the lesson of "currency areas' in colonial currency. Once recognized the new doctrine was warmly espoused, a inint being established at Hongkong in 1864 to coin instead of gold sovereigns silver dollars of the Mexican type. Mauritius was recognized in 1976 as falling, like Ceylon, within the currency area of India, and the rupee was accordingly established as the standard currency for the island. In 1887 the currency of British Honduras was changed by adopting as the standard the silver dollar of Guatemala, on the ground that it was by the neighboring republics that the currency of this British colony was necessarily dominated,' and while the doctrine of "currency areas” was recognized by the Imperial Government and applied in the case of these lesser colonies the self-governing Dominion of Canada had in 1871 recognized the same doctrine in itself by assimilating its currency to that of the neighboring United States, a step which has been taken in part, though not in whol-, by the Bahamas."







Prof. Robert Chalmers, in his IIistory of Currency in the British Colonies, published in 1893, describes the processes of evolution of the currency systems of the British colonies as follows:

In theory currency followed the flag; in practice it was only the denomination, and not the sterling coin, which followed the English settlers of the seventeenth century to the plantations” of the New World. The only coins they saw were of foreign silver, chiefly Spanish; and these foreign coins they rated in terms of sterling, thus originating the complexities of denominational currency which still survive in the quotation of Halifax exchanges. It was not that the colonists had any quarrel with the monetary system of the mother country; they were only too anxious to see sterling circulating among them.

The chief reason was that the early colonists were poor men, with new countries to develop by the slow processes of agriculture. As a consequence, they required, and received, commodities--not coin—from England in return for such part of their exported produce as was not already hypothecated to duties and other home liabilities. Tience coineii money was rare among them; and the flow of such specie as they had was not from but to Europe. Staple commodities formed the normal medium of exchange. Even where coined money was plentiful, it was frequently used for external rather than for domestic payments.

But with growing commerce with the Spanish main, and the rise of the Buccaneers in the West Indies, the plantations naturally and necessarily began to form part of a currency area dominated by the silver “piece of eight” from Spanish America. Spanish coins now began to circulate to a greater or less extent in all the plantations, and the colonists through whose hands they passed proceeded to rate them concurrently with the sterling of which they retained only the denomination.

The sterling value generally accepted in the seventeenth century for the piece of eight was 4s. 6d., the rating subsequently stereotyped by Queen Anne's proclamation of 1704 and by Sir Isaac Newton's tables of 1717. But side by side with this silver parity there was a popular rating of the piece of eight by tale at 5s., partly due to the general resemblance of that coin to an English crown.

Imitating the practices familiar to them in London, dishonest persons traded on the desire of the young communities for a metallic currency, by circulating clipped money at the full rate; and this malpractice was condoned by the colonies when it was found that the light money was more apt to stay with them than the “broad” pieces. Moreover, with silver as the colonial standard of value, while in England the real standard was gold, payment by tale at the English silver parity for the piece of eight entailed a loss on the remittance of these coins to England, a loss which was readily avoided by reducing the weight of pieces of eight to correspond with the dominant European ratio of gold to silver. Further, “the raising of the moneys” was an expedient well known and widely practiced in contemporary Europe, as was the dimunition of fine content, and clipping by the subject was the counterpart of the debasement of coins by the sovereign. Hence it came about that by the middle of the seventeenth century clipping was rampant in the West Indies, and light Spanish silver coins became the general standard of value in the British possessions in the New World.

Briefly, therefore, the currency history of the period prior to 1704 is marked (a) by the rise of the “denominational currency" systems as the result of competitive overvaluation of Spanish silver in terms of sterling, and (6) by the final predominance of the clipped piece of eight. But it was not until the close of this period that coin superseded commodities even in prosperous colonies,

In the more backward settlements barter continued to dominate the currency. Gold coins were of rare occurrence and were regarded as counters rather than real “money."

* * *


In 1825 the home Government made its great attempt to introduce British silver into circulation throughout the British colonies. The shilling was to circulate wherever the British drum was heard. The causes of this revolutionary change were twofold, arising from circumstances affected-(1) the Spanish and (2) the British currency.

In the first place, the successful revolution of the Spanish colonies in America had cut off by 1820 the supply of the universal Spanish dollar, while for some half a century there had been a dearth of the fractions of the dollar for subsidiary circulation in the colonies. The home Government was also alive to the prevalence of dishonest paper and of “cut” and “plugged” 'money, which was the curse of colonial currency in the West Indies.

In the second place, the act of 1816, establishing gold as the sole standard of value in the United Kingdom, had placed the home metallic currency on a sound basis, establishing a token silver coinage, which for the first time in centuries remained in circulation. And, further, the new mint was now in full working order and able to satisfy even greater demands than those made upon its resources for purpose of internal circulation.

1 Since this was written, British Honduras has adopted the United States gold dollar as her standard of currency.

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