Alexander Hamilton Papers

To Alexander Hamilton from William Constable, 20 October 1789

From William Constable1

[New York] Tuesday 20th Octr 1789

My Dear Friend

I shall answer your letter2 with strict accuracy as soon as I am able, which will be next Week at furthest; but I have been confined to my room for a Week past almost, so that I have all that leeway to bring up. If You are in immediate want of the required information the following may be taken as data.

Wines Cost & Chgs delivered at N. yk exclusive of Impost
Madiera per G’n3 of London particular quality new abt 9/6
Do New york Do   do 7/4.
Tenerieffe Do Do   do 3/9.
Xeres or sherry   Do   do 6/ .to 7/.
Lisbon   Do   do 5/6.

When I affix prices I mean the Goods to be actually paid for at the time of purchase, and add freight Insce & Comn.

The price of Brandies fluctuates exceedingly according to the Vintages & demand.

The Brandy of Cette4 & Barcelo.5 can be imported upon an Average at 3/— Cury. perGn. free of Duty.

The Brandies of France at nearly 4/. at present they can not be brought in under 4/8.

Melasses from the French Islands with the Duty paid in the French Colonies, leakage Com’n Fre[igh]t & Insurance free of our Impost stands the Importer 1/9. Cury per Gn.

Raw Sugars are of such Various qualities that they Cost from 48/—to 64/ this Year but you observe the Crops in the Neutral Islands6 have totally failed.

Bohea in China Costs 14 d
freight at 30 £ Cury per Ton equal  7 d this means a Ton Measuremnt.
Insurance & Comn 10 per ct.  1 ½.
Interest 7
23 ½ d per lb.

Every pound of Bohea Tea Costs the Owner and Importer from China at least 2/—Cury. It may be purchased of the Dutch & Danish Cos.7 at about this price or rather under.

Souchong according to quality Costs from 3/ . to 5/ . to which add the Charges and it stands from 5/ . to 7/—.

Hyson Tea costs from 4/8 to 5/6. & with Chgs 6/ . to 8/—.

Coffee with the Expences imported from the Cape8 costs 1/4 d.
Cocoa  do do 8 d.

Manufactured Tobacco I know nothing about.

Yrs. Wm. Constable

Under the Head Distilled Spirits I should have taken notice of Rum.

from Jamaica with Casks Com’n &ca. average per Gn. 3/8.
Windward Islands 3/—

I mean in the Course of a few Days to send you a pro forma Invoice of each Article delivered at New york9 and am at all times happy to have any opportunity of obliging You.

Wm. Constable

ALS, Hamilton Papers, Library of Congress.

1Constable’s familiarity with impost duties arose from the extensive foreign trade conducted by his New York mercantile house.

Perhaps H requested the data supplied by Constable in connection with “Report Relative to a Provision for the Support of Public Credit,” January 9, 1790. In that report he proposed to levy internal duties on wines and distilled spirits as well as the other products referred to in Constable’s letter. See Constable to H, October 21–31, 1789, and “Draft of an Act Imposing Certain Inland Duties on Foreign Wines,” January 9, 1790.

2Letter not found.

3I.e., Gallon.

4Now Sète, about seventy-five miles west of Marseilles.

5I.e., Barcelona.

6The Dutch and Danish West Indies.

7The Dutch and Danish East India companies.

8Presumably Cap Français, now Cap Haitien, on the northern coast of Haiti. This was one of the West Indian areas that exported coffee to the United States.

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