By Paine Thomas

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And this reduces it to an original question, which is: Which power can build and man the largest number of ships? The natural answer to which is, That power which has the largest revenue and the greatest number of inhabitants, provided its situation of coast affords sufficient conveniencies. France being a nation on the continent of Europe, and Britain an island in its neighbourhood, each of them derived different ideas from their different situations. The inhabitants of Britain could carry on no foreign trade, nor stir from the spot they dwelt upon, without the assistance of shipping; but this was not the case with A Letter Addressed to the Abbe Raynal, on by Thomas Paine 32 France.

Whereas it may be clearly seen that the strength of France has never yet been tried on a navy, and that she is able to be as superior to England in the extent of a navy, as she is in the extent of her revenues and her population. And England may lament the day, when, by her insolence and injustice, she provoked in France a maritime disposition. It is in the power of the combined fleets to conquer every island in the West Indies, and reduce all the British Navy in those places. For were France and Spain to send their whole naval force in Europe to those islands, it would not be in the power of Britain to follow them with an equal force.

From the United States the combined fleets can be supplied with provisions, without the necessity of drawing them from Europe, which is not the case with England. Accident has thrown some advantages in the way of England, which, from the inferiority of her navy, she had not a right to expect. For though she had been obliged to fly before the combined fleets, yet Rodney has twice had the fortune to fall in with detached squadrons, to which he was superior in numbers: The first off Cape St. Vincent, where he had nearly two to one, and the other in the West Indies, where he had a majority of six ships.

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