April 24 1812: Petition of Glasgow Against Orders in Council

On April 24, 182, Lord Archibald Hamilton presented a Petition against the Orders in Council from the merchants and the manufacturers of Glasgow. Lord Archibald Hamilton was a Member of Parliament for Lanarkshire in Scotland. He served for 26 years starting in 1802. The Glasgow petitioners complain that the "late stagnation of trade has been attended with the most calamitous effects" which could have been prevented or "greatly mitigated by adhering to the established laws of neutral commerce." They complain that the economic difficulties caused by losing the European market were exacerbated by the loss of the American market. The Petition is reproduced below. 


HC Deb 24 April 1812 vol 22 cc859-60 859

Lord A. Hamilton presented a Petition from several merchants and manufacturers in Glasgow, setting forth, 

"That in Glasgow, as well as in other commercial and manufacturing towns and cities of the empire, the late stagnation of trade has been attended with the most calamitous effects; that the number of bankruptcies has been unprecedented, the demand for manufactures limited, and the distresses of the workmen most afflicting; and that, although the sufferings of the petitioners, and the distresses of the people, might not perhaps have been altogether prevented, it appears to the petitioners that they would have been greatly mitigated by adhering to the established laws of neutral commerce, the loss of the American market for our manufactures would not then have been added to that of the greater part of Europe, and our commodities might more easily have reached even the ports of our enemies through circuitous channels; and that the petitioners beg leave, with all humility, to represent to the House, that the rights of neutrals, as recognized by the practice of Europe, are of the most essential advantage to commercial nations when unfortunalely engaged in war; and, in the present circumstrances of Britain, excluded as she has been from many of her accustomed and most extensive markets, the recognition of those rights would be more beneficial to her than even to those by whom the trade might be carried on; and that the petitioners, reasoning on these general views of commercial policy, could not approve of the attempt, by retaliatory measures affecting neutrals, to force the enemy to relinquish his unjust attack upon our manufacturing and colonial interests: but, while there was any prospect of this object being accomplished, they did not; presume to oppose their opinion to what seemed to be considered as the general policy of the state; now, however, that the trial has been made, and has failed; now that experience has shewn that neither the ruin of his merchants can prevail upon our enemy to relax his anti-commercial system, nor the scarcity on the continent of commodities believed to be indispensable, can induce the enthralled nations to throw off the yoke, the petitioners apprehend that measures proved to be detrimental to our own interests, and inefficient against the enemy, should at length be abandoned; and praying the House to take such steps, as to them may seem best, for procuring the recall of those Orders in Council, by which the usual commerce of neutral states has been impeded, and for reverting to the enlightened policy of former times.

"Ordered to lie upon the table.

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