from importing to us the goods of any other 
European country. 
Thirdly, A great variety of the most bulky 
articles of importation are prohibited from 
being imported, even in British ships, from 
any country but that in which they are produced
under pain of forfeiting ship and cargo
This regulation, too, was probably intended 
against the Dutch. Holland was then, 
as now, the great emporium for all European 
goods; and by this regulation, British ships 
were hindered from loading in Holland the 
goods of any other European country. 
Fourthly, Salt fish of all kinds, whale-fins, 
whalebone, oil, and blubber, not caught by 
and cured on board British vessels, when imported 
into Great Britain, are subject to double 
aliens duty. The Dutch, as they are still 
the principal, were then the only fishers in 
Europe that attempted to supply foreign nations 
with fish. By this regulation, a very 
heavy burden was laid upon their supplying 
Great Britain
When the act of navigation was made, 
though England and Holland were not actually 
at war, the most violent animosity subsisted 
between the two nations. It had begun 
during the government of the long parliament
which first framed this act, and it 
broke out soon after in the Dutch wars, during 
that of the Protector and of Charles II
It is not impossible, therefore, that some of 
the regulations of this famous act may have 
proceeded from national animosity. They 
are as wise, however, as if they had all been 
dictated by the most deliberate wisdom. National 
animosity, at that particular time, aimed 
at the very same object which the most deliberate 
wisdom would have recommended, 
the diminution of the naval power of Holland
the only naval power which could endanger 
the security of England. 
The act of navigation is not favourable to 
foreign commerce, or to the growth of that 
opulence which can arise from it. The interest 
of a nation, in its commercial relations to 
foreign nations, is, like that of a merchant with 
regard to the different people with whom he 
deals, to buy as cheap, and to sell as dear as 
possible. But it will be most likely to buy 
cheap, when, by the most perfect freedom of 
trade, it encourages all nations to bring to it 
the goods which it has occasion to purchase
and, for the same reason, it will be most likely 
to sell dear, when its markets are thus filled 
with the greatest number of buyers. The 
act of navigation, it is true, lays no burden 
upon foreign ships that come to export the 
produce of British industry. Even the ancient 
aliens duty, which used to be paid upon 
all goods, exported as well as imported
has, by several subsequent acts, been taken off 
from the greater part of the articles of exportation
But if foreigners, either by prohibitions 
or high duties, are hindered from coming 
to sell, they cannot always afford to come 
to buy; because, coming without a cargo, they 
must lose the freight from their own country 
to Great Britain. By diminishing the 
number of sellers, therefore, we necessarily 
diminish that of buyers, and are thus likely 
not only to buy foreign goods dearer, but to 
sell our own cheaper, than if there was a more 
perfect freedom of trade. As defence, however, 
is of much more importance than opulence, 
the act of navigation is, perhaps, the 
wisest of all the commercial regulations of 
The second case, in which it will generally 
be advantageous to lay some burden upon foreign 
for the encouragement of domestic industry
is when some tax is imposed at home 
upon the produce of the latter. In this case, 
it seems reasonable that an equal tax should 
be imposed upon the like produce of the former. 
This would not give the monopoly of 
the home market to domestic industry, nor 
turn towards a particular employment a greater 
share of the stock and labour of the country, 
than what would naturally go to it. It 
would only hinder any part of what would 
naturally go to it from being turned away by 
the tax into a less natural direction, and would 
leave the competition between foreign and domestic 
industry, after the tax, as nearly as 
possible upon the same footing as before it. 
In Great Britain, when any such tax is laid 
upon the produce of domestic industry, it is 
usual, at the same time, in order to stop the 
clamorous complaints of our merchants and 
manufacturers, that they will be undersold at 
home, to lay a much heavier duty upon the 
importation of all foreign goods of the same 
This second limitation of the freedom of 
trade, according to some people, should, upon 
most occasions, be extended much farther than 
to the precise foreign commodities which could 
come into competition with those which had 
been taxed at home. When the necessaries 
of life have been taxed in any country, it becomes 
proper, they pretend, to tax not only 
the like necessaries of life imported from other 
countries, but all sorts of foreign goods 
which can come into competition with any 
thing that is the produce of domestic industry
Subsistence, they say, becomes necessarily 
dearer in consequence of such taxes; and 
the price of labour must always rise with the 
price of the labourer's subsistence. Every 
commodity, therefore, which is the produce 
of domestic industry, though not immediately 
taxed itself, becomes dearer in consequence of 
such taxes, because the labour which produces 
it becomes so. Such taxes, therefore, 
are really equivalent, they say, to a tax upon 
every particular commodity produced at home. 
In order to put domestic upon the same footing 
with foreign industry, therefore, it becomes 
necessary, they think, to lay some duty