Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Pierre Samuel Dupont, 6 October 1787

To Pierre Samuel Dupont

Paris Oct. 6. 1787.

Mr. Jefferson has the honour of sending to Monsieur Dupont a copy of the Statement of purchases of tobacco made by the Farmers general. According to this it would seem that they have purchased 16573 hogsheads on the conditions prescribed by the order of Berni. That order was for about 12, or 15,000 hogsheads. M. de Vergennes, in his letter, fixes it at 15,000 hogsheads absolutely. But take the middle term 13,500 hogsheads, and it gives 1125. per month, which in 19 months (to wit, from May 24. 1786 to Dec. 31. 1787.) amounts to 21,375 hogsheads, so that there remain to be purchased 4802. hogsheads before the close of the year.

But as to the 16,573 hogsheads which they consider as purchased according to the order of Berni, they do not state 1. The bottoms in which they came, to wit, French and American, or foreign: 2. The tare allowed, viz. the real tare, which is about 10. per cent, and is stipulated to Mr. Morris, or the legal tare which is 15. per cent, and which being taken from the other venders, has been a deduction of 34, 36, and 38 sous the quintal from the prices ordered at Berni: 3. The times of paiment. Mr. Morris’s contract was that they should pay for every cargo of tobacco within a month after it’s delivery. It has been confidently said that the farmers took longer periods of paiment with the other merchants, tho’ the order of Berni was that they should have all the conditions of Mr. Morris’s contract.

PrC (DLC). Enclosure (DLC: TJ Papers, 36: 6214–8): “Etat des Tabacs d’Amérique achetés du Commerce depuis Le 1er. Janvier 1786. jusques au 3 Septembre 1787.” This was the report of purchases of tobacco that TJ had requested La Boullaye to oblige the farmers-general to submit (see TJ to La Boullaye, 18 July and 24 Sep. 1787), but the various categories of information that he had suggested were not precisely followed. The report was divided into six columns giving information on eleven ports of entry: name of the port; name of the ships bringing tobacco (but not designating the flag as TJ had requested); date of entry (but not the time of purchase and payment); name of the venders of the tobacco (not requested by TJ); quantity in hogsheads; and “Conditions des ventes,” reciting the price save in those items that bore the general designation “suivant la Décision de Berny.” A “Récapitulation par Port” contained the following:

“Bordeaux 1919 
L’Orient 9947 
Le havre 3137 
Morlaix 1215 
Marseille 3540 
Nantes 477 
Bayonne 217 
Cette 110 
Dunkerque 12 
Dieppe 1445 
Rochefort 105 
Total Général 22,124.”

Of this grand total, 16,573 hogsheads were imported and sold on the conditions prescribed by the order of Berni. L’Orient received 8,783 hogsheads under the order of Berni and more than half of these were consigned to the firm of Jean Jacques Bérard & Cie., who imported 5,584 hogsheads. This was more than five times the amount brought in by any other mercantile firm in France (Macarty of L’Orient and Haller of Dieppe, the next largest shippers, brought in 1,000 hogsheads each under the order of Berni). The detailed reports of which the foregoing report is a summary are to be found in Arch. Aff. Etr., Mémoires et Documents, E.-U., Vol. IX; photostats in DLC. TJ sent copies of extracts of the report to all agents of the United States in France on 5 Oct. 1787, asking them to verify the statements for the ports in which they resided; see also Coffyn to TJ, 9 Oct. 1787; Limozin to TJ, 11 Oct. 1787; and note to Bérard to TJ, 6 May 1786.

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