Mount Vernon, September 20, 1765.

Gentn: It cannot reasonably be imagined that I felt any pleasing Sensations upon the receipt of your Letter of the 13th. of February covering Accts. of Sales for 153 Hhds of Master Custis's Tobo. and 115 of mine.

That the Sales are pitifully low, needs no words to demonstrate; and that they are worse than many of my Acquaintance upon this River, Potomack, have got in the Out Posts, and from Mr. Russell and other Merchants of London for common Aronoke Tobo., is a truth equally as certain. Nay not so good as I myself have got from Mr. Gildart of Liverpool for light Rent Tobaccos (Shipd him at the same time I did to you) of the meanest sort; such as you once complaind of as the worst of Maryland and not Saleable. Can it be otherwise than a little mortifying then to find, that we, who raise none but Sweetscented Tobacco and endeavour I may venture to add, to be careful in the management of it, however we fail in the execution, and who by a close and fixed corrispondance with you, contribute so largely to the dispatch of your Ships in this Country shoud meet with such unprofitable returns? Surely I may answer No! Notwithstanding, you will again receive my own Crops this year, and 67 Hhds of Master Custis's but Gentlemen you must excuse me for adding (As I cannot readily conceive that our Tobacco's are so much depreciated in quality as not only to sell much below other Marks of good repute, but actually for less, as I before observed, than the commonest kinds do) that justice to myself and ward will render it absolutely necessary for me to change my corrispondance unless I experience an alteration for the better.

I might take notice upon this occasion also, that my Tobo. netts a good deal less than Master Custis's, and why it should do so, I am really at a loss to discover: his 153 Hhds averaging £7.7.7 and my 115 only £5.17.6, perhaps it may be urged that some of mine was Potomack Tobacco, I grant it, but take these out and the Yorks then average £6.6.5 only. If you had allowed him the benefit of the Bonded Duties I shoud not have wonderd at the difference, but this I perceive is not done, and certain I am, my Tobacco ought not to have been inferior to his, in any respect; the Lands being the same, and my directions for making it good equally as express.

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These Gentlemen are my Sentiments, fully, and candidly expressd, without any design, believe me, of giving you offence; but as the selling of our Tobacco's well, and purchasing of Our Goods upon the best Terms, are matters of the utmost consequence to our well doing, it behooves me to be plain and sincere in my declaration's on these points, previous to any change of measures, that I may stand acquitted of the Imputation of fickleness if I am at last forced to a discontinuance of my corrispondance with your House.

paragraphs omitted

It appears pretty evident to me from the prices I have generally got for my Tobacco in London, and from some other concomitant Circumstances, that it only suits the Interest of a few particular Gentlemen to continue their consignments of this commodity to that place, while others shoud endeavour to substitute some other Article in place of Tobacco, and try their success there with: In order thereto you woud do me a singular favour in advising of the general price one might expect for good Hemp in your Port watered and prepared according to Act of Parliament, with an estimate of the freight, and all other Incident charges pr. Tonn that I may form some Idea of the profits resulting from the growth. I shoud be very glad to know at the sametime how rough and undressd Flax has generally, and may probably sell; for this year I have made an Essay in both, and altho I suffer pretty considerably by the attempt, owing principally to the severity of the Drougth, and my inexperience in the management I am not altogether discouraged from a further prosecution of the Scheme provided I find the Sales with you are not clogd with too much difficulty and expence.

The Stamp Act...72 may be left to yourselves, who have such large demands upon the Colonies, to determine, who is to suffer most in this event, the Merchant, or the Planter.

Note 72: The omitted portion is nearly a verbatim repetition of Washington's strictures on the stamp act which he wrote to Francis Dandridge, this same day,q. v.]

I am very much obliged to you for your kind advice of corrisponding with Mr. Dandridge, it is a piece of respect due to so near a Relation of my Wifes, and therefore I give you the trouble of the Inclosed; but I have not the least expectation of deriving any advantages from it for tho' he has no nearer relatives than her, there are some to whom I believe he has given stronger proofs of his Inclinations of serving; but to you my thanks are equally due, and I return them with cordiality for the goodness of your Intentions. I am Gentn., etc.


These are the writings of George Washington asking an English merchant what he can expect for a price on Hemp, as a substitute for tobacco. More can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/gwhtml/gwhome.html, and this article specifically is located at: http://memory.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/r?ammem/mgw:@field(DOCID+@lit(gw020296))

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