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Letter from Robert Morris to Arthur Lee, Walter Livingston, and Samuel Osgood
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806
May 18, 1786
Volume 18, Pages 620-622

[From Executive Letter Book.]

Philadelphia, May 18th, 1786.



I am honored with the receipt of your letter of the 12th which came to my hand the 16th Inst. I should have no hesitation about purchasing the North Carolina Tobacco, was there a Certainty of the Quality being Merchantable, and that the quantity would be delivered without delay, but as I believe there is not an Inspection Law in North Carolina, and former experiences have taught me, that the Public do not always obtain the best goods when they make purchases,

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the quality of the Tobacco in question can not I apprehend be expected to be of the best, and His Excellency the Governor in his letter of the 3rd of April, only says that some of the Tobacco has already been purchased and that 400 Hhds. will shortly be ready for Shipping from the Town of Washington and 400 Hhds. from Edenton, of the 600 Hhds. expected from Fayetteville he had no return. The time of delivering therefore appears too uncertain for me to agree to payments fixed by Installments at Certain periods taken from the date of any agreement that can now be made, and under these circumstances I should rather decline the purchase as I am now buying very currently in Virginia and Maryland at prices satisfactory to the people there, as well as myself. The Tobacco, being Inspected according to Law, I have perfect Security as to the quality, and delivery is certain. I am also in the way of buying there a larger Quantity than I want for this Year. Owing to the present state of the European Markets which are such as deter even the Scotch Factories (formally the great exporters of Tobacco) from shipping and many of them are now selling to my Agents the Tobacco they received in payment of Debts and for Goods and Charter their Ships to carry it. This state of things however convinces me that the State of North Carolina or the United States must suffer very greatly by any Shipments made to Europe, and therefore I will make an offer which you will accept or reject at pleasure. I will give twenty shillings Virginia Currency or three Spanish dollars and one third for so much of the North Carolina Tobacco as shall be of a quality equal to the Fredericksburg Inspection and three dollars for all such as are equal to the Eastern shore of Maryland and Virginia Inspections, to be paid in the manner you mention but the several Installments to be computed from the dates of the several Bills of Lading and I will employ an Agent to inspect, receive and Ship the Tobacco as fast as I can obtain the delivery of it.

I am purchasing on the Eastern Shore for three dollars per 100 pounds and in other parts of Virginia and Maryland at 20/ Virginia Currency, except the Richmond and Petersburg Inspection are some what higher.

Altho' I have so managed as to Ship largely of those quantities at 20/ per 100 pounds, and in all this business my arrangements are so made and taken that I have no trouble, expence or uncertainty;

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in that which is now in Contemplation you will readily see, it will be much the Reverse.

I have the Honor to be, Gentlemen,
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Your most Obedient
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And very Humble Servt.,