Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Benjamin Peirce, 6 July 1793

From Benjamin Peirce

Newport July 6th 1793


Mr. B. Bourn has communicated to me your desire to be informed of the commercial transactions between the United States of America and Denmark, and the embarrasments it is subject too for want of a commercial treaty. Tobacco, rice, and Indigo, with all other articles of American produce admissible in the ports of Denmark for consumption are liable to an exaction of 50 per Ct. upon the Duties of the like goods imported in English, Dutch, or the Ships of any Nation in treaty with Denmark, (which is call’d the Aliens duty). For your information have inclosed a Copy of the Customhouse charges against a Cargo of rice and tobacco exactly as they would Stand against an English and American Ship, from which you will discover that the extra duty in an American bottom amounts the Customary Peace freight.

Suppose Mr. Saabye the American Consul at Copenhagen who is one of the most Intelligent merchants in Europe has furnished you with an account of the american goods landed in that port in the Year 1792, from which you will discover the advantage the English, Dutch &c have over the Americans in carrying our own produce to market. This difficulty of the duty of aliens would be removed the moment a treaty is Signed, and as the Danes at present appear to be the most rational Nation in Europe and much attached to the American flag, I think we may expect to have the priveledges of the most favored nations in a commercial treaty, if it was managed with address. Any further information I shall freely communicate. I am, sir, with respect Your Obedient Hble Servant

Ben Peirce

PS. The Exports of St. Petersburg for 1792 is inclosed.

RC (DLC); with dateline above postscript; endorsed by TJ as received 29 July 1793 and so recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Notes on Danish duties on tobacco and rice, n.d., comparing customs duties on 126 hogsheads of tobacco and 306 tierces of rice imported on a ship “in treaty with Denmark” with those imported on an American ship, “which gives about £230 Sterling in favor of our rivals in a Single passage to Europe” (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 236: 42320; in Peirce’s hand). (2) Account of goods exported by British and American ships from St. Petersburg for 1792 (undated broadside in same, 80: 13888–9).

Benjamin Peirce of Rhode Island, master of a merchant ship in the Danish trade, in which he had been active since 1785, provided the above information in connection with the Report on Commerce that TJ finally presented to Congress on 16 Dec. 1793 (note to Report on Appointment of Consul at Copenhagen, 10 Jan. 1792; Benjamin Bourne to TJ, 22 July 1793, and note).

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