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[110] Russia, shall be ready to join with France in repressing
Chap. XX.}
the commercial ambition of England;—then, and not till then, American independence becomes possible. Those changes, extraordinary and improbable as they might have seemed, were to spring from the false principles of the mercantile system, which made France and England enemies. Our borders were become the scenes of jealous collision; our soil was the destined battle-ground on which the grand conflict of the rivals for commercial privilege was to begin. The struggles for maritime and colonial dominion, which transformed the unsuccessful competitors for supremacy into the defenders of the freedom of the seas, having, in their progress, taught our fathers union, secured to our country the opportunity of independence.

The mercantile system placed the benefit of commerce, not in a reciprocity of exchanges, but in a favorable balance of trade. Its whole wisdom was, to sell as much as possible—to buy as little as possible. Pushed to its extreme, the policy would destroy all commerce: it might further the selfish aims of an individual nation; the commerce of the world could flourish only in spite of it. In its mitigated form, it was a necessary source of European wars; for each nation, in its traffic, sought to levy tribute in favor of its industry, and the adjustment of tariffs and commercial privileges was the constant subject of negotiations among states. The jealousy of one country envied the wealth of a rival as its own loss.

Territorial aggrandizement was also desired and feared, in reference to its influence on European commerce; and, as France, in its ambitious progress, encroached upon the German empire and the Spanish Netherlands, the mercantile interests of England led

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