That your Petitioners have, at a very great Expence lately erected a Water-Mill (of the Invention of one of your Petitioners) for manufacturing Tobacco-Snuff, with all teh necessary Buildings, and Apparatus for cutting, fermenting, drying, and preparing Tobacco, in the best Manner, for the said Manufacture.
That the said Mill is capable of grinding twenty thousand Pounds of Tabacco annually, and may be increased to a much greater Extent, if the Demand for Snuff shall render it necessary; so that your Petitioners, of being able to supply the Consumption of this Commonwealth.
That from the Inquirys they have made, and the best Information they have obtained, your Petitioners are of opinion that the Article of Snuff, altho' made from a Commodity of our own Growth, has drawn above three Thousand pounds hard Money, Yearly out of Virginia; which certainly makes it an Object of the Attention of the Legislature (now no longer under the controlling Power of Great Britain) to encourage the Manufacture among ourselves.
That your Petitioners, confiding in the Justice and happy Issue of the late glorious Revolution, not doubting the Establishment of American Sovereignty and independence, and concieving their own private Interest, in this Instance, intimately connected with that of the Public, ventured to expend a large Sum of Money, in the abovementioned Undertaking; and that one of the Petitioners has not only invested his whole Property in it, but has been obliged ot contract considerable Debts, to enable him to bring it to Perfection; which in failure of Success, must ruin him, and his numerous Family.
That under these Circumstance, and altho' your Petitioners are the first who have erected any considerable Work of Nature in Virginia, they do not desire the smallest Preferrence or Advantage over their Fellow-citizens of these United States, who may engage in the same Manufacture; but only to be secured, by a Duty upon imported Snuff, against the Combinations of Importers from foreign Countrys; whose Interest it may be, even by incurring a temorary Loss, to discourage, and crush in their Infancy, the Manufactures of this Country; and which the unjust and impolitic Preference too many People are apt ot give to foreign Manufactures may put it in their Power to do.
That your Petitioners humbly apprehend such a Measure perfectly consistent with sound Policy, and the Public Interest; as it must either encourage the home Manufacture of a Commodity of our own Growth, or raise a Revenue from an Article which is not an essential Necessary of LIfe.
Your Petitioners therefore most humbly propose, that a Duty of one Shilling per pound may be imposed upon all Tobacco-Snuff imported into this Commonwealth from any foreign Country, and also upon all Tobacco-Snuff brought hither, either by Land or Water, from any of the United American States; except the same shall be duly proved to have been manufactured in some one of the said United States. Or that such other Encouragement may be given to the abovementioned Undertakin, as the Legislature, in it's Wisdom shall judge Proper. And your Petitioners will ever Pray-
Thomson Mason Junr.