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Letter from Gabriel Johnston to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Johnston, Gabriel, ca. 1698-1752
December 12, 1734
Volume 04, Pages 5-7

[B. P. R. O. North Carolina. B. T. Vol. 9. A. 57.]

My Lords, [of the Board of Trade]

Your orders to Mr Burrington of May last relating to the Naval Stores and the other Products of the Continent of America came to my hands But a few days ago. and thō I have some reason to be afraid that my answer may come too late to fall under your Lordships Consideration before you make your report to the House of Peers, yet I take this affair to be of so great consequence to his Majesties Colonies in America that I cannot forbear informing your Lordships of what I have observed since my arrival here.

There is more pitch and tarr made in the two Carolinas than in all the other Provinces on the Continent and rather more in this than in South Carolina but their two Commodities (tarr especially) bear so low a price in London (£1000 Barrels scarce clearing 20s sterlin) that I find the Planters are generally resolved to make no more. I beleive that it is principally owing to their own conduct that the tarr of this Country is of so small a value for in order to make a larger Quantity they make so large and violent fires in their kilns as forces all the coarce juices of the lightwood along with the tarr which gives it so hot a Quantity that masters of Ships have observed it frequently burns their ropes which

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makes them very shy of meddling with it. Now if by a gentle fire they would attempt to make nothing but cool tarr though the Quantity would fall short by one third yet in Quality they all agree it would equal East Country Tarr if not exceed it, for their Materials for this Manufacture are excellent and in great plenty. But as the loss of one third of a kiln would fall very heavy upon them they cant pretend to set about this Method unless the Crown will be so good as to allow them the old Bounty of 10s per Barrel. If your Lordships approve of this I humbly propose that the Planter in person be obliged to attend the kilns and see that it is cool drawn and to make Oath before the Governor that it is so with heavy penalties in case of fraudes &c:

The Publick has allowed so handsome a premium for hemp of the growth of the Colonies I was surprised to find that there was none raised in this Country thō there are large Tracts of fertile lands so proper for producing it I have prevailed with some of the principal men on this River to make an experiment of it against next Spring and hope in a few years large Quantities of that usefull product will be sent home from this Country.

The Inhabitants of the Southern parts of this Province particularly of the two branches of this large river which is the best navigation of any betwixt Chesapeak Bay and Cape Florida are a very sober and industrious set of people and have made an amazing progress in their improvement since their first settlement which was about eight years ago as a proof of this I find by the Collectors Books forty two ships went loaded from this River within these twelve months last past. There are now several of them planting of Mulberries for raising of Raw-silks and cultivating Vines for producing wine in which they seem very expert, some few are likewise making attempts for Oil from the Olive and from divers sorts of nutts and seeds which grow almost spontaneously here, for all which both climate and soil seem wonderfully adapted I heartily wish your Lordships could prevail on the Legislature to grant some encouragement for the three above named usefull Commodities, being perswaded they would be of great service to the trade of Great Britain as this part of North Carolina may justly be called a new country it is easy to direct the Industry of the Inhabitants into what Channels you think proper But if their first attempts to raise such products as England pays ready money for to forreigners are not favoured in the beginning I am afraid they may at length fall into such manufactures as may interfere with and be prejudicial to those at home.

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As the ship by which I send this sails to-morrow I shall defer to send your Lordships an account of the state in which I found this Country upon my arrival here, till next opportunity I am

Your Lordships most obedient and most humble servant

Cape Fear
Decber 12. 1734.