Thomas Jefferson Papers

From Thomas Jefferson to Tench Coxe, [ca. 28 February 1791]

To Tench Coxe

Monday morn. [ca. 28 Feb. 1791]

Th: Jefferson presents his compliments to Mr. Cox and is much obliged to him for the inclosed pamphlet. He had received a copy the last year soon after it’s publication. It was the first acknowlegement publicly made that England was an importing country as to bread. The report was written by Ld. Hawkesbury. The same thing had been satisfactorily proved before by a private hand in 1784. Can Mr. Coxe judge what the privilege of storage will be worth to the British bottom on each bushel of wheat?

RC (Dudley L. Vaill, Jr., Albany, N.Y., 1954). Not recorded in SJL. The letter to which the above was a reply is printed in Vol. 18: 461 at the end of 1790, though it was probably written later. TJ’s reply is assigned to the last Monday in February 1791 because it was about this time that he was becoming concerned about British regulations providing free storage for wheat imports intended for other markets, against which he advocated retaliation (see TJ to Carroll, 4 Apr. 1791). The enclosed pamphlet was Hawkesbury’s Representation of the Lords of the Committee of Council … upon the present state of the laws for regulating the importation and exportation of corn (London, 1790). See Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 3591.

TJ’s letter to Coxe is revealing. In soliciting a calculation of the sort that made Coxe’s mercantile experience useful, TJ seemed at the same time to be suggesting that other and prompter channels of information were available to him. Such a gentle curb on the overly zealous and at times officious services volunteered by Coxe must have appeared necessary at this particular moment (see Editorial Notes to group of documents at end of January and under 15 Mch. 1791). The publication of 1784 to which TJ alluded was probably Bryan Edwards’ Thoughts on the late proceedings of Government respecting the Trade of the West India Islands with the United States (London, 1784) which TJ had sought to borrow from Coxe at a time his own books were unavailable (TJ to Coxe, 30 Nov. 1790).

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