No. 92.
Mr. Wing to Mr. Fish.

No. 289.]

Sir: In a late issue of a leading American journal, I see a statement relative to a newly appointed diplomatic agent in South America, to the effect that “he will probably go by way of Europe, in order to secure some trade statistics, with a view to their use in the future. It is his purpose to give particular attention to the causes which have diverted the South American trade to Europe, and the means to restore it to the United States.”

I thoroughly applaud this purpose. But at the same time I feel that the remedy for the evil in question is not to be sought in Europe.

I feel, likewise, that the Department has been kept fully advised in regard to this matter by others of its agents resident in Spanish America for some years past.

Information on this subject, therefore, will not depend upon the statistical researches of any new agent.

If any doubt yet exists as to the means requisite for the restoration of this Spanish-American commerce, the decline of which naturally dated from the late war of the American rebellion, please allow me to state them plainly and briefly.

England and France subsidize steam lines, whereas the United States have so far failed to follow the successful example thus afforded them.

English, French, and German steam lines of the most efficient type are to be found on the Spanish-American coasts, maintaining quick communication with their respective countries.

English and German carrying vessels are the cheapest carriers on the ocean, and abound in every Spanish-American commercial port.

American customs duties are very heavy, as a matter of necessity and national honor; and hence it is an incontrovertible fact that many Spanish American buyers are literally forced into European markets, whereas they would, other things being equal, prefer our own.

Articles purchased in an American market, in seeking the Pacific coast, must come by steam transportation, whereas European carrying vessels are always ready for orders filled in Europe.

This is the whole question in a nut-shell.

Our lucrative inland commerce engrosses likewise the capital and energy of our maritime cities as yet, and individual effort is not sharply spurred to seek foreign fields of traffic.

A far-reaching policy of commercial enterprise upon the part of individuals can be fostered by a liberal system of subsidies and privileges upon the part of the Government.

Herein lies the true source of the revival and re-invigoration of American maritime interests.

The broad results will amply repay the vigorous inauguration of such a system, and the petty quirks and cheap logic which have prevented its adoption hitherto will never be resurrected in the light of vindicated truth and substantial profit.

The establishment of American shipping connections is the great desideratum. The matter of imposts will amount to nothing when such lines are afforded. It is a simple and practical question. As naturally as rivers seek the sea will Spanish-American commerce turn to North American marts when the proper aqueducts are afforded.

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The law of commercial gravitation is in our favor, and it is a law of simple application, with most bounteous returns upon its very front.

I have, &c.,