Vie de Benjamin Franklin, écrite par lui-même - Tome II suivie de ses œuvres morales, politiques et littéraires

By Benjamin Franklin

Page 122

sch. 6 pences st.

Un garçon tailleur, 5 sch. monnoie du
pays, ou environ 2 sch. 10 pences st.

Ces prix, bien plus forts que ceux de Londres, sont tout aussi hauts
dans les autres parties des États-Unis qu'à New-York. Je les ai tirés de
l'ouvrage d'Adams Smith sur _la Richesse des Nations_.

Un observateur éclairé qui, en 1780, voyagea dans une partie des
États-Unis, nous donne une idée encore plus favorable du prix auquel la
main-d'oeuvre y est portée.

«Je vis, dit-il, fabriquer à Sarmington une espèce de camelot, et une
autre étoffe de laine à raies bleues et blanches, pour l'habillement des
femmes. Ces étoffes se vendent trois schellings et demi l'aune[68],
monnoie du pays, ce qui fait à peu-près quarante-cinq sous
tournois.--Les fils et petits-fils du maître de la maison travailloient
au métier. Un ouvrier peut faire à son aise cinq aunes d'étoffe par
jour; et comme la matière première ne coûte qu'un schelling, il peut
gagner dix à douze schellings dans sa journée».--Enfin, ce fait est si
connu, qu'il est inutile de chercher à le prouver par d'autres
témoignages.

Les causes de la cherté du travail dans nos états américains, ne peuvent
donc que se fortifier sans cesse; puisque l'agriculture et la population
y font des progrès si rapides, que tous les genres de travaux y
augmentent proportionnément.

Ce n'est pas tout. Le taux élevé des salaires qu'on y donne en argent,
prouve qu'ils sont encore meilleurs qu'on ne peut le juger au premier
coup-d'oeil; et pour s'en former une juste idée, il faut être instruit
d'une circonstance importante.--Dans toutes les parties de l'Amérique
septentrionale, les denrées de première nécessité sont à meilleur marché
qu'en Angleterre. On n'y éprouve jamais de disette. Dans les années les
plus stériles, la récolte suffit toujours à la consommation des
habitans, et ils ne sont obligés que de diminuer l'exportation de leurs
denrées. Or, le prix du travail en argent y étant plus haut qu'en
Angleterre, et les denrées moins chères, le salaire réel, c'est-à-dire,
la quantité d'objets de première nécessité, que le journalier peut
acheter, en est d'autant plus considérable.

Il me reste à expliquer comment le haut taux des salaires en Amérique
les fera monter en Europe.

Deux causes différentes concourront à produire cet effet. La première
est la plus grande quantité de travail que l'Europe aura à faire, par
rapport à l'existence d'une grande nation[69] de plus dans

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1733 Begins to study French, Italian, Spanish, and Latin.