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 In 1682 the depression which for nearly a quarter of a century had gripped the tobacco trade, somewhat abruptly came to an end. "Our only commodity, tobacco, having the last winter a pretty quick market, hath encouraged ye planters," wrote Secretary Spencer to the Board of Trade in May, 1683.[7-1] Apparently the tide had turned. From this time until the beginning of the War of the Spanish Succession more than two decades later we hear little complaint from Virginia, while there are excellent reasons to suppose that the colony was experiencing a period of growth and prosperity.  
In truth the tobacco trade, upon which the planters staked their all, now expanded with startling rapidity, and each year the merchants were forced to add more bottoms to the fleet which sailed for England from the Chesapeake. During the early years of the Restoration period tobacco exports from Virginia and Maryland had made but little advance. In 1663 they amounted to 7,367,140 pounds, six years later they were 9,026,046 pounds.[7-2] In 1698, however, the output of Virginia and Maryland was estimated by the merchant John Linton to be from 70,000 to 80,000 hogsheads.[7-4] Since the hogshead usually contained from 500 to 600 pounds, these figures mean that the planters were then raising from 35,000,000 to 48,000,000 pounds of tobacco. And this conclusion is supported by the fact that the crop of 1699 is valued at £198,115, which at a penny a pound would indicate about 47,000,000 pounds.[7-5] In fact, the production of tobacco in the ten years from 1689[116] to 1699 seems to have tripled, in the years from 1669 to 1699 to have quadrupled. In 1669 the planters considered themselves fortunate if their industry yielded them a return of £30,000; at the end of the century they could count with a fair degree of certainty upon six times that amount.
For Virginia this startling development was all-important. During the darkest days of the Restoration period her share of the total returns from the tobacco crop could hardly have exceeded £10,000; in 1699 it was estimated at £100,000. Even if we accept the conservative statement that the average number of hogsheads exported from Virginia in the last decade of the century varied from 35,000 to 40,000,[7-6] the planters still would have received £75,000 or £80,000. From dire poverty and distress the colony, almost in the twinkling of an eye, found itself in comparative ease and plenty.
Nor is the reason difficult to discover. It had never been the intention of the British Government to destroy the foreign trade of the colonies, the Navigation Acts having been designed only to force that trade through English channels. The planters were still at liberty to send their tobacco where they would, provided it went by way of England and paid the duty of a half penny a pound. That these restrictions so nearly put an end to shipments to the continent of Europe was an unfortunate consequence which to some extent had been foreseen, but which for the time being it was impossible to avoid.
It was undoubtedly the hope of the Government that the foreign market would eventually be regained and that the colonial tobacco would flow from the colonies into England and from England to all the countries of Europe. Prior to 1660 Holland had been the distributing centre for the tobacco of Virginia and Maryland; now England insisted upon taking this r?le upon herself. But the authorities at London were hardly less concerned than the planters themselves at the[117] difficulties encountered in effecting this change and the unfortunate glut in the home markets which followed.
None the less they persisted in the policy they had adopted, even clinging stubbornly to the half penny a pound re-export duty, and trusting that in time they could succeed in conquering for their tobacco the lost continental markets. In this they were bitterly opposed by the Dutch with whom it became necessary to fight two wars within the short space of seven years. Yet steadily, although at first slowly, they made headway. In 1681 the commissioners of the customs refused the request for a cessation of tobacco planting in the colonies, on the ground that to lessen the crop would but stimulate production in foreign countries and so restrict the sale abroad of the Virginia and Maryland leaf.[7-7] This argument has been denounced by some as both specious and selfish, yet it was fully justified by the situation then existing. After all, the only hope for the planters lay in conquering the European market and the way to do this was to flood England with tobacco until it overflowed all artificial barriers and poured across the Channel. And eventually this is just what happened. Since tobacco was piling up uselessly in the warehouses and much of it could not be disposed of at any price, it was inevitable that it should be dumped upon the other nations of Europe. There is in this development a close parallel with the commercial policy of Germany in the years prior to the world war, when no effort was spared to produce a margin of all kinds of wares over the home needs, which was to be exported at excessively low prices. This margin was a weapon of conquest, a means of ousting the merchants of other nations from this market or that. And when once this conquest had been effected, the price could be raised again in order to assure a profit to the German manufacturers.
It is improbable that the English economists of the Seventeenth century, like those of modern Germany, had foreseen exactly what would happen, but the results were none the less similar. When once the English leaf had secured a strong hold upon the Baltic and upon France and Spain, it was a matter of the greatest difficulty to oust it, especially as the ever increasing influx of slaves made it possible for the planters to meet the lower prices of foreign competitors and still clear a profit. Thus it was that during the years from 1680 to 1708 the Chesapeake tobacco succeeded in surmounting all the difficulties placed in its way by the Navigation Acts, the necessity of the double voyage, the re-export duty of a half penny a pound, and so gradually flooded the continental market.
It is unfortunate that figures for re-exported tobacco during the earlier years of the Restoration period are lacking. In 1688, however, it is stated that the duty of a half penny a pound was yielding the Crown an annual revenue of £15,000, which would indicate that about 7,200,000 pounds were leaving for foreign ports.[7-8] Ten years later, if we may believe the testimony of John Linton, exports of tobacco totalled 50,000 or 60,000 hogsheads, or from 25,000,000 to 30,000,000 pounds. Not more than a fourth of the colonial leaf, he tells us, was consumed in England itself.[7-9] Once more Virginia and Maryland were producing tobacco for all Europe, once more they enjoyed a world market.
This trade was extended from one end of the continent to the other. Vessels laden with American tobacco found their way not only to the ports of France and Holland and Spain, but even to the distant cities of Sweden and Russia.[7-10] The Baltic trade alone amounted to from 5,000 to 10,000 hogsheads, and added from £10,000 to £24,000 to the income of the planters. The chief Russian port of entry was Narva,[119] which took annually some 500 hogsheads, but large quantities were shipped also to Riga and Raval.[7-11] The northern nations bought the cheaper varieties, for no tobacco could be too strong for the hardy men of Sweden and Russia.
The trade was of great importance to England, as the leaf, after it had gone through the process of manufacture, sold for about six pence a pound, yielding to the nation in all from £60,000 to £130,000.[7-12] As the English were still largely dependent upon the Baltic for potash and ship stores, this constituted a most welcome addition to the balance of trade. To the colonies also it was vital, carrying off a large part of the annual crop, and so tending to sustain prices.
France, too, proved a good customer for English tobacco, and in the years prior to the War of the Spanish Succession took annually from 8,000 to 10,000 hogsheads, or from 4,000,000 to 6,000,000 pounds.[7-13] Micajah Perry reported to the Lords of Trade that from 6,000 to 10,000 hogsheads went to France from London alone, while a very considerable amount was sent also from other ports.[7-14]
Far more surprising is the fact that even Spain consumed millions of pounds of English leaf. With her own colonies producing the best tobacco in the world and in the face of its practical exclusion from the English market, it is strange that the Government at Madrid should have permitted this commerce to continue. The obvious course for the Spaniards under the economic theories of the day would have been to exclude English tobacco, both in order to protect their own planters and to retaliate for the restrictions upon their product. Yet it is estimated that from 6,000 to 10,000 hogsheads entered Spain each year.[7-15] A pamphlet published in 1708 entitled The Present State of Tobacco Plantations in America stated that before the outbreak of the war then raging, France and Spain together had taken annually about 20,000 hogsheads.[7-16]
The Dutch, too, despite their bitter rivalry with the British, found it impossible to do without Virginia tobacco. Purchasing the finest bright Orinoco, they mixed it with leaf of their own growth in the proportion of one to four, and sold it to other European nations. In this way they sought to retain their position as a distributing center for the trade and to give employment to hundreds of poor workers. In all the Dutch seem to have purchased from England about 5,000 hogsheads a year.[7-17]
The enhanced importance of the tobacco trade is reflected in a steady increase of British exports to Virginia and Maryland. The planters, now that they found it possible to market their leaf, laid out the proceeds in the manufactured products of England. At the end of the Seventeenth century the two colonies were importing goods to the value of £200,000 annually. In 1698, which was an exceptionally good year, their purchases were no less than £310,133.[7-18]
In short the tobacco colonies had at last found their proper place in the British colonial system. Both they and the mother country, after long years of experimentation, years of misfortune and recrimination, had reached a common ground upon which to stand. Although Maryland and Virginia still fell short of the ideal set for the British colonies, although they failed to furnish the raw stuffs so urgently needed by the home industries, at least they yielded a product which added materially to shipping, weighed heavily in the balance of trade and brought a welcome revenue to the royal Exchequer.
The Crown reaped a rich return from tobacco, a return which grew not only with the expansion of the trade, but by the imposition from time to time of heavier duties. In the period from 1660 to 1685, when the tariff remained at[121] two pence a pound, the yield must have varied from £75,000 to £100,000. If we assume that the average consumption in England was 9,000,000 pounds and the average exports 3,000,000 the total revenue would have been £81,250. In 1685, however, an additional duty of three pence a pound was placed upon tobacco upon its arrival in England, all of which was refunded when the product was re-exported. In 1688, when the tobacco consumed in England was 8,328,800 pounds, the old and new duties, amounting in all to five pence, must have yielded £173,515. When to this is added £15,000 from the half penny a pound on the 7,200,000 pounds of leaf sent abroad, the total reaches £188,515.
In 1698 still another penny a pound was added to the tax, making a grand total of six pence on colonial tobacco disposed of in England. This new duty, together with the rapid increase in the foreign trade, enriched the Exchequer by another £100,000. In 1699, if we assume that 12,000,000 pounds were consumed in England, the return would have been £300,000; while half a penny a pound on 36,000,000 pounds of re-exported leaf, would have brought the total to £375,000. That this figure was approximately correct we have evidence in the statement of the author of The Present State of the Tobacco Plantations, written in 1705, that the revenue yielded by the tobacco of Virginia and Maryland amounted annually to £400,000.[7-19] This sum constituted a very appreciable proportion of the royal income, so appreciable in fact as to make the tobacco trade a matter of vital importance in the eyes of the King's ministers. They were charged at all times to avoid any contingency which might lessen the imports and reduce the customs.
The increase in the tobacco trade stimulated industry, not only by increasing exports to Virginia and Maryland, but also[122] by creating a new English industry. For most of the tobacco, before it was sent abroad, was subjected to a process of manufacture, by which the leaf was cut and rolled and otherwise prepared for the consumer. This industry gave employment to hundreds of poor persons in England and required a considerable outlay of capital.[7-20]
To British navigation the trade was vital. Each year scores of merchantmen crossed to the Chesapeake and swarmed in every river and creek, delivering their English goods to the planters and taking in return the hogsheads of tobacco. In 1690 the tobacco fleet numbered about 100 ships, aggregating 13,715 tons; in 1706 it counted no less than 300 sails.[7-21] Nor must it be forgotten that re-exported tobacco also added many a goodly merchantman to the navy and gave employment to many a seaman. Altogether Virginia and Maryland constituted an invaluable asset, an asset which ranked in importance secondly only to the sugar plantations.
It would naturally be supposed that the fortunate turn of events which restored to the tobacco colonies their European market would have reacted favorably upon the small planters of Virginia, not only insuring plenty to those already established, but adding new recruits from the ranks of the indentured servants; that the process of making prosperous freemen from the poor immigrants who flocked to the colony, the process interrupted by the passage of the Navigation Acts, would have been resumed now that these laws no longer prevented the flow of tobacco into the continental countries.
Such was not the case, however. A comparison of the lists of immigrants with the rent roll of 1704 shows that but an insignificant proportion of the newcomers succeeded in establishing themselves as landowners. In four lists examined for the year 1689, comprising 332 names, but seven persons can[123] be positively identified upon the rent roll. In 1690, eight lists of 933 names, reveal but twenty-eight persons who were landowners in 1704. Of 274 immigrants listed in 1691, six only appear on the Roll. In 1695, seven lists comprising 711 names, show but ten who possessed farms nine years later. Of 74 headrights appearing in 1696, but two are listed on the roll; of 119 in 1697 only nine; of 169 in 1698 one only; of 454 in 1699, only seven; of 223 in 1700 but six.[7-22] All in all not more than five per cent. of the newcomers during this period prospered and became independent planters. Apparently, then, the restored prosperity of the colony was not shared by the poorer classes, the increased market for tobacco did not better materially the chances of the incoming flood of indentured servants.
The explanation of this state of affairs is found in the fact that tobacco, despite its widened market, experienced no very pronounced rise in price. The average return to the planters during the good years seems to have been one penny a pound.[7-23] This, it is true, constituted an advance over the worst days of the Restoration period, but it was far from approaching the prices of the Civil war and Commonwealth periods. For the poor freedman, it was not sufficient to provide for his support and at the same time make it possible to accumulate a working capital. He could not, as he had done a half century earlier, lay aside enough to purchase a farm, stock it with cattle, hogs and poultry, perhaps even secure a servant or two. Now, although no longer reduced to misery and rags as in the years from 1660 to 1682, he could consider himself fortunate if his labor sufficed to provide wholesome food and warm clothing. How, it may be asked, could Virginia and Maryland produce the vast crops now required by the foreign trade, if the price was still so low? Prior to and just after Bacon's Rebellion the planters repeatedly asserted that their labors only served[124] to bring them into debt, that to produce an extensive crop was the surest way for one to ruin himself. Why was it that twenty years later, although prices were still far below the old level, they could flood the markets of the world?
The answer can be summed up in one word—slavery. The first cargo of negroes arrived in the colony in 1619 upon a Dutch privateer. Presumably they were landed at Jamestown, and sold there to the planters.[7-24] The vessel which won fame for itself by this ill-starred action, was sailing under letters of marque from the Prince of ............
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