This section is from the "The Science Of Wealth" book, by Amasa Walker.
It will, of course, be remarked, that the amount of surplus, in particular countries, will vary with the character of their products. We can suppose an entire people engaged in industry, of which they make no use themselves. In such a case, their trade would be to the amount of their whole production and their whole consumption. In fact, this condition of things is never realized. The nearer it is approached, the more general the trade. The more vital and primitive the articles produced, the greater will be the share consumed at home. Ohio has no such trade, proportionately, as Rhode Island; not necessarily because the latter produces more, but that she produces more of what she does not want. The people of Birmingham consume but an infinitesimal part of the articles they produce.
We have here the principle that the wealth of a people is not determined by the extent of its trade.
We have said that the trade of a community, whose whole production was exchanged, would be equal to its production and consumption. It would be so, but that would be determined by its production only. It would be this alone which it would carry in its hands into the markets of the world, and on this would depend what it should get there.
What persons or communities will trade most largely with each other?
Other things equal, those whose productions differ most.
Two tailors will not traffic much together. Both will trade with the shoemaker and hatter. Indiana will not trade extensively with Illinois; but both will trade largely with Louisiana and Massachusetts. Russia and Sweden will make very few exchanges, because their productions are as much alike. Both will deal largely with the West Indies.
What determines the character and kind of products each country will afford?
1st, Soil and physical conformation. One will be a wheat-raising, another a wool-growing country. Each will spontaneously turn its industry in that direction where it will produce the greatest values with the least outlay of labor and capital. This must be where the natural adaptations of the land are followed. This operates, in respect to nations, precisely as we see it in smaller communities, where one farm is especially fitted for grazing, another for tillage, another for timber.
2d, Climate. From the Arctic regions to the tropics, from Siberia to Hindostan, is infinite variety, both of heat and moisture. Some countries are deluged with twenty-five feet of water in a season; * others parch the year round with ten inches. Some are locked with frost eight months in twelve; others are open the year round. It is evident that the conditions which are admitted to have given rise to the differing species of fruits and grains and vegetables will control their increase.
3d, Social condition. Take, for examples, England and Brazil, — one distinguished for the high moral and mental endowments of its citizens; the other having a heterogeneous population, in a poor and semi-barbarous condition. The latter would, plainly, seek to enrich themselves from the spontaneous yield of the soil, from the wild wealth of the pampas and the forests, from the precious ores and stones along their streams and in natural caves, rather than till the ground to the fertility of a garden, sink shafts into the solid rock, cast up highways upon the rivers, and work iron into the needle and lancet.
4th, Difference of race.
This is additional to differences of social condition, and looks to those peculiarities of industrial character in the races of man, which are no less distinguishable than their peculiarities of stature, complexion, and feature. These do not affect the degree of production only, as greater or less, but multiply the fashions, and complete the varieties of wealth.
All the causes here enumerated conspire to give a great extent and activity to trade. It is in the commerce of the world that we have illustrated —
* The mountains south of Bombay receive three hundred and twenty inches of water a year, mostly in three months.