DEAR JOHN Virginia Gunston-Hall Septemr. 2d. 1788.
This will be delivered you by Capt. Gregory, Commander & Owner of the Ship Commerce, who brings a Load of Tobacco for the Farmers general to Bourdeaux; and so obliging to call upon me, a Day or two ago, to know if I had any commands to the Port to which he was going, and to assure me they shou'd be deliver'd with his own Hands.
Notwithstanding Colo. Fitzgeralds Brig was delayed so long by his Negligence, I was prevented writing by her, when she sailed, by her going down the River, without my knowing it. I had wrote you by her, about a month before, at the time she was expected to have sailed, which Letter I hope has come safe to Hand; but am afraid the Cas of Hominy I sent you by her, had been so long on board, that it will be moulded or damaged.
At the time I wrote you by the sd. Brig, I was extreamly ill with the convulsive Cholic, complicated, I believe, with the Gout in my Stomach; which continued, with little or no Intermission, three Days & Night, & left me in so debilitated a State, that I was not able to go out of the House for four or five Weeks; and it is not until within these few Days, that I have begun to recruit.
I enclosed you a Letter for Mr. Jefferson, respecting the French endeavouring to supply us (from Patterns sent) with some particular Articles of coarse Manufacture; which hitherto have been imported only from Great Britain. It is a Subject of much greater Importance, than you may at first conceive; & I think I shou'd not exagerate, in saying that the annual Demand for them, in the five Southern States is not less than 10,000,000 of Livres. Judge then what Effect the French being able to supply us with those Articles upon equal or better Terms than Great Britain, wou'd have upon the Commercial Intercourse between the two Countrys, & the Shipment of American Produce to France. I desired Capt. Fenwick to send you the Patterns by the Brig; but forgot to ask him about them, when he was here last. He is now down the Country, endeavouring to collect Tobacco for a small Brig of Messrs. Forrest & Stoddert; which he has charter'd, & is now loading at George Town; so that he will not probably have an Opportunity of writing by Capt. Gregory.
A violent Storm of Wind & Rain, which we had about the 20th. of August, with the almost continual Rains for many Days afterwards, has done great Damage to the Tobo. & I think will shorten the Crops much, as well as injure the Quality of the whole; which I believe will, in general, be unusually bad this Year. I think your Brothers & myself have lost between thirty & forty Hogsheads of Tobacco in our own Crops, our wheat has also suffered some Damage, & our Hay a great deal. The Indian Corn appeared at first to be greatly injured, but has recovered more than cou'd have been expected; so that the Crops of Corn will be pretty good. The Shortness of the Crop of Tobo. will considerably affect the Interest of your House; if the Crop of Tobo. had been as good as it promised about the first of August, your Consignments, next Summer, wou'd have been very considerable.
I have written to my Friends in the Eastern & Southern States in Favour of your House; which I hope will have a good Effect. I did not apply (as you desired) to Mr. Alexander; my Acquaintance with him was hardly sufficient to warrant such a Request; and his Character in France (as I have heard) being doubtful, I did not think Letters from him wou'd operate to your Advantage. My late Illness had hitherto prevented my writing to Doctr. Franklin; but I will do it soon; tho' I doubt whether Letters from him will be of much Service to your House; as his Intimacys were more among the Literati, than the Mercantile Part of the Nation. I sent you in my last Letter, Lists of the Firms of most of the Mercantile Houses in the lower Parts of Virginia. I wou'd recommend it to you, to endeavour to cultivate a Correspondence with the American Minister, Mr. Jefferson; which I think will be serviceable to you, & give Credit to the House. I hope you determine to persevere in the Line you set out, of giving no Credits whatever in America; and I wish you to be very careful & particular in purchasing the Goods you send to your Correspondents, upon the best Terms; it being a Matter, upon which your Consignments will be a great measure depend.
I had not received the Goods from Mr. Fenwick, when I went down to the Convention; I have examined them since, & think them very badly bought—the Chintzes dear, the Cambrick very bad at the price; I cou'd have imported better at the same Prices from London —the Slippers are not agreeable to order, & of no Manner of use; I wou'd not give a Shilling per Dozn. for them; & shall return them, if an Opportunity offers.
Pray write to me often, & particularly, respecting your Situation, your Success & Propests in Business, what Health you enjoy, how you like the Country you are in, & what Progress you make in the Language; or anything else interesting to you, &consequently to me. I sent you, by the Brig, the Procedings of the Virginia Convention; I have not yet seen a Publication of the Debates.
Notwithstanding there was, in the New York Convention, a Majority of two to one against the new Constitution of Government, without previous Amendments; Yet after the adoption by Virginia, they thought themselves under the necessity of adopting also; for Fear of being left out of the Union, & of civil Commotion. They have however drawn up Amendmentments, nearly similar to those of Virginia, & recommended them unanimously, in the strongest Manner; they have also written a circular Letter to all the other States, solliciting their Cooperation, in obtaining the Amendments, by Application to the new Congress, at their first Meeting; which it is expected will be in March next, at New York; so that there is still Hopes of proper & safe Amendments. The North Carolina Convention has rejected the new Constitution, unless previous Amendments are made, by a very great Majority. I have not yet seen their Amendments, but am inform'd they are much the same with those recommended by Virginia. You Brothers have sent you a Number of late Newspapers; which will give you pretty full Information of the present State of American Politicks.
All Your Brothers & Sisters, who are at Home, have written to you, by this Opportunity. The Family are all well, & desire to be kindly remembered to you. I am extreamly anxious to hear of your safe Arrival; and am, dear John, Your most affecte. Father
P. S. Your Friend Mr. Anthony called to see me, & spent an Evening with me, last Week, on his Return from North Carolina; where he tells me he has been near three Months, & is to return thither again in October. If I am not mistaken, he is about committing Matrimony with a Miss Hill, Daughter of Mr. Whitmore Hill, the most wealthy Man in the State of N. Carolina.