A few Observations on the Distressed State of our Manufacturers, and the Cause of that Distress - the Orders in Council. A document from the Enoch Wood Scrapbook

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Date:1810 - 1812 (c.)

Description:In the years leading up to 1812, a struggle was underway to preserve livelihoods and industry in the Potteries.

One government decision could make all the difference, but would it all come too late?

Ruin

Years of war between Britain and France had severed trade ties with continental Europe.

To make matters worse, American ships had been caught up in the conflict - and BOTH sides had barred the United States from trading with each other.

A series of Orders in Council had set this unfortunate situation in stone. But worse was to follow.

US President Thomas Jefferson replied by banning trade with Britain.

No trade meant no business, and no business meant no jobs. Britain's industry sat on the brink of ruin.

At home, the Potteries endured the worst of it. Potbanks struggled and many workers were left unemployed.

"A few Observations..."

The author of this pamphlet did not beat around the bush:

"I presume it will appear that the present Embarrsassments are owing chiefly to the loss of Export Trade with America; and that such Loss is occasioned by our Orders in Council ... which prohibit both the entrance of British vessels of every description into the Harbours and Waters of the United States of any Article, the growth, produce, or manufacture of the Dominions, Colonies and Dependencies of Great Britain, and of any Articles whatever brought from the said Dominions, Colonies and Dependencies."

The solution was clear, and the government needed to act now:

"Thus it appears that the Orders in Council are the cause of our distress - and it is consolatory to know that the Remedy is in our own Hands."

About this Document

This document was collected by local industrialist Enoch Wood and is now part of the collections at Stoke-on-Trent Museums.

Wood added the following note in his own handwriting:

"Assertions having been made in the House of Commons to the purpose that if the orders in council were withdrawn it did not follow that a renewal of intercourse with America would take place - to correct this supposed erroneous opinion the above was sent to the MP."

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