previous next

A British cotton route through Mexico
[from the London post, (Government organ,)
June 28.]

On the 21st of last month an act was passed by the Congress of the Southern States at Montgomery, prohibiting, under heavy penalties, the exportation of cotton or of cotton yarn, ‘"except through the seaports of the said Confederate States."’ And this prohibition is to continue so long as any of the ports of the South are blockaded by the Government of the United States. The object of this act clearly is to retaliate upon the Northern States, by preventing them from obtaining for their manufactures a supply of the raw material overland. It would appear, therefore, that for the present all commerce in American cotton is effectually cut off. The blockade of the Southern posts by the navy of the North on the one hand, and the strict prohibition against the inland traffic on the other, must entirely shut up at least the ordinary channels of traffic. But there is a clause in the recent act passed by the Confederate States which indicates that a new outlet may be found in the present crisis for the great staple of the South. The provision to which we refer is in the following words: ‘"Nothing in this act shall be so construed as to prohibit exportation to Mexico through its conterminous frontier."’

Now, as the Northern States are at peace with Mexico, they cannot of course interfere with any exports that may be shipped from that country. Still less can they blockade any Mexican port. The question of the practicability of establishing a transit for cotton across the Mexican frontier is, therefore, one of very great importance, and more especially to ourselves. We may remember that during the Russian war a traffic of a similar kind was established with great success. Although all direct intercourse with Russia was prohibited, the produce of that country found its way overland to the ports of Prussia, and was thence shipped, without let or hindrance, to England. The land traffic had, no doubt, the effect both of raising the price and diminishing the quantity. But we deemed it better to submit to this inconvenience than to the still greater inconvenience of being deprived of Russian produce altogether. The truth is, the more commercial the world grows, the more difficult does it become to enforce the laws of war regarding trade. The spirit of these laws is so essentially opposed to the spirit of commerce that we need not be surprised at this, nor at the various attempts which have been made of recent years by different commercial bodies, both in Europe and in America, to overturn the ancient doctrines upon this subject, and to introduce an entirely new maritime code.

Whether or not the contemplated cotton traffic through Mexico is likely to succeed, we are not prepared to say. Tampico, we believe, is the nearest port to the American frontier, and the route from thence through Texas to the mouth of the Mississippi is long and difficult. But we know that in India, cotton is still brought from the interior of the country by the most primitive modes of conveyance; and in the event of a protracted struggle in America we have no doubt that a portion of the produce of the Southern States will find its way to Mexican ports, and from thence in neutral bottoms to Europe. It is astonishing to what channels commerce will adapt itself when its ordinary course is interrupted Napoleon could march in triumph from the Tagus to the Vistula. He overthrew, as if by magic, the best appointed armies and the most ancient dynasties in Europe. He could make and unmake what laws he choose, excepting only one--the simple and eternal law of demand and supply.

His famous Milan and Berlin decrees were more injurious to his subjects than to his enemies. British commerce found its way into the heart of his dominions in spite of every obstacle, and American cotton will find its way across the Atlantic in spite of all the navies in the world. But it is possible — nay, highly probable — that the demand for it will diminish in the event of a protracted contest There are numerous instances in the history of commerce where the accident of war, or even the alteration of a law, has entirely destroyed some particular branch of trade. The present state of things has stimulated and must continue to stimulate the production of cotton, not in one, but in many countries.--Who can tell that the misfortunes of America may not prove the salvation of India? Revolutions in commerce far more remarkable have frequently occurred, though to the Southern mind such a contingency may at present seem beyond the bounds of possibility.

In the meantime the fortunes of war seems to favor the Northern States. Instead of advancing upon the Capital, which according to the public boast of Mr. Jefferson Davis' adherents, ought to have been in their possession a month ago, they have not only made a renegade movement, but they have evacuated Harper's Ferry, a post of great importance, which they had taken all possible pains to fortify. It may be a wise thing of the Southern President to retreat under the circumstances, but it was unwise to boast of his intentions of taking Washington when he had not the means of doing so. General Scott has managed better. He has kept his plans entirely to himself, and he has for the present, at least, secured Washington from any attack. Americans have at length encountered Americans in deadly conflict, and although the loss of life has not been great, we fear it will prove sufficient to render a peaceful solution of the quarrel impossible. The strife must now go on; but how far and with what result he would be a bold man who would venture to predict.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Americans (2)
James A. Scott (1)
Russian (1)
Napoleon (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
June 28th (1)
21st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: