Gunston-Hall Novemr. 5th. 1788.
I believe I mentioned to you, when we were together in Richmond, my Son John's having entered into Partnership with two Maryland Gentlemen, of the Name of Fenwick, in a Consignment House in Bourdeaux, upon the Plan of giving no Credits whatsoever in America, of debiting no fictitious Charges, that is nothing but what they actually pay, & 18 Livrs. (equal to abt. 15/Ster:) Commissions per Hhd. on Tobo. The Firm of the House is Fenwick Mason & Co. Merchts in Bourdeaux. Their Consignments, for this first Year, will be very considerable, about 900 Hhds of Tobo. besides other Commodities, since the 1st of May. My Son left Virga. the 25th of June, in their first Ship; and I have just received an Account of his safe Arrival in Bourdeaux, on the 13th of August. He writes that his present prospects are very flattering; American Produce being in great Demand, at good Prices; Tobo. from 30 to 38 Livrs. per hund. & very little at that Market—Wheat at 8 Livrs. the American Bushl. & flour from 34 to 42 Livrs. per Barrel.
I presume the Treasury must be in Possession of a large Quantity of Tobo. (not less than 2000 Hhds) upon Potomack River, received for Taxes; which, in our present Situation, it is evident must sell very low. I verily believe if this Tobo. or any considerable Part of it, was ship'd upon the public Account to Bourdeaux, early this Winter, & no Bills drawn upon it, until a reasonable time was allowed for selling it to the best Advantage (say two months after it's Arrival) the State wou'd gain more than forty Shillings per Hogshead, by such Shipment; care being taken to order Insurance in time, to prevent the Risque of Loss. It is under the Idea of mutual Advantage —Gain to the State, as well as Encouragement & Profit to the House, with which my Son is connected, that I beg Leave to submit such a plan to your Consideration, and that of the other Gentlemen of the Assembly; being convinced that the Public, as well as Individuals, will find the utmost Diligence & Justice from the House; and I shou'd think, Bills on France might be negotiated to Advantage, in Virginia's Payments to the United States. If Government approves this plan, Capt. James Fenwick, one of the Partners, who does the Business here, will immediately come down to Richmond, and confer, upon the Subject, with such Persons, as shall be appointed for that Purpose. He can readily get a Ship, or Ships, upon Charter, to carry any Quantity of Tobo. that may be required. Be so good as to present my Compliments to your Colleague, Mr. Dawson, & mention this Subject to him. I am, with the greatest Esteem & Regard, dear Sir, Your most obdt. Sert.