Virginia Fairfax County Gunston-Hall July 21St: 1788.
I have been so ill for these two Days past, that I have been unable to sit up, & now write in great Pain; you must therefore excuse the shortness of this Letter.
I enclose you the two or three last Day's Proceedings of the Virginia Convention; by which you will see the small Majority which has ratified the new Project.
The Minority are as respectable for their weight & Influence as their Number, & it will require their most prudent Exertions to keep the People quiet in some Parts of the Country. The Debates are not Yet published; nor is there any Cause to expect that they will be authentic; the Short Hand Man who took them down, being a federal Partizan, they will probably be garbled, in some such Partial Manner as the Debates of the Pensylvania Convention have been by Lloyd.
I have desired Capt. Fenwick to send you some Patterns of sundry coarse Articles; which being in great annual Demand in all the States that have many Slaves, if they cou'd be made in France, & furnished upon equal or better Terms than in Great Britain, it wou'd contribute greatly to encrease the Commercial Intercourse between the two Countrys; and wou'd be an Inducement to the Country Gentlemen as well as Merchants here to ship Tobo. to France.
I enclose you a Letter to Mr. Jefferson, upon the Subject left open for your Perusal; which you will please to seal & forward. You will perceive by it, that I have some Expectation the French Ministry will patronize the Manufacturers in imitating these Articles for the American Trade; if they do, & the Hint originates from your House, it may prove very advantageous to its Credit, especially if the Attempt succeeds; you will therefore, if you find Occasion, confer with Mr. Jefferson upon the Subject. I have desired Capt. Fenwick to send with the Patterns, the British Sterling first Cost of each Article. You can easily compute & accommodate the Difference between the English & French Exchange &c. The Fault of all the coarse French Woolens I have seen is their being stifen'd, & batten'd up, with Paste or Glew: the nearer the coarse Woolens, which our Negroes have been accustomed to, are imitated, the better; & particular attention shou'd be paid to the Width; which shou'd be full 3/4 of an English Yard. The Hoes & Axes shou'd be made of good Iron, the blades of the Hoes harden'd, & the Axes well steel'd & tempered. The Workmen shou'd be inform'd that Tar is not put over the Hoes & Axes to conceal Cracks or Flaws; but to perserve them from Rusting. I am not able to sit up longer, at present, than to wish you Health, & Success in your Business; and to desire you will let me hear from you, as often, & as particularly as you can. I am, dear John, Your affectionate Father G MASON
Patterns to be sent by Capt. Fenwick-
white Welch plains or negroes Cotton, nap'd; & unnap'd.
Coarse half thicks—Coarse Duffield or Bearskin.
Twill'd white Scotch plaiding.
Dutch Blankets 6/4 wide—i5, in a Pr.
Scotch plaid Hose for Negroes—coarse Yarn Hoes for Do.
coarse felt Hats for Do.—strong Ozenbrigs thread for making Negroes Clothes.
Strong coarse Shoe-thread.
Weeding & Hilling Hoes. Sweed's falling Axes.
flat pointed Nails, 30 d. 20 d. 10 d. 8 d. & 6 d.
sharp pointed 4 d. Nails.