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IV. Tench Coxe to the Secretary of State, 29 November 1790

IV. Tench Coxe to the Secretary of State

Nov. 29th. 1790

Mr. Coxe has the honor to enclose to Mr. Jefferson a letter containing some further information concerning the fisheries: also the table of prices refer’d to in his notes, and a little estimate of the profits of the cod fishery.

Mr. Anthony was bred to the Sea out of Rhode Island, is a man of judgment and probity, and is now a partner of one of the principal houses in Philadelphia, who do half the New England business of the port.

The Calculation of the fishery, which Mr. Coxe has hazarded, should be very strictly tested by the better information received from Massachusetts.

RC (DLC). Not recorded in SJL. Enclosures: (1) Joseph Anthony to Tench Coxe, 27 Nov. 1790, and its enclosure, both printed below. (2) Table of prices entitled: “A comparison of the prices of pickled and dried Fish in New England with those of Butchers Meat of common qualities in the Philadelphia Market, and of pickled Meats for Sea Stores” (MS in clerk’s hand with final note by Coxe, undated, in DLC: TJ Papers, 69: 12022–3). All prices are in Pennsylvania currency (dollars) for bulk quantities, averaged at pence per pound, as follows: “Dried Codfish (not dumb’d [i.e. dunned or cured so as to give it a particular color and quality])” of the first, second, and third quality at 2 1/7, 1 ½, and 1 ⅜ pence respectively; “Seale fish” at 1 1/7 pence; pickled mackerel of the first, second, and third quality at 2 ⅘, 2 1/7, and 1 3/7 pence; and pickled cod, alewives, New England shad, salmon, and menhaden at 1 3/7, 1 3/7, 1 11/14, 2 ⅝, and 21/40 pence respectively. These prices were compared with those for fresh meats “as used by Families that can buy per carcase”: mutton, “deemed low the Year through,” at 3 to 3 ½ pence; pork at 3 to 4 pence; veal at 3 ½ to 4 ½ pence; and beef “by the quarter … the year through” at 3 to 4 pence. Prices of pickled meats for sea stores were given as follows: pork “is deemed low at 3 1/10” pence; beef at 2 ½ pence; and bacon (“Flitches, Shoulders & Hams”) at 4 ½ to 7 pence. The list concluded with this statement: “The charges on transporting fish from New England to the Middle and Southern States is scarcely to be considered, as Vessels from the Eastern Ports to those States are frequently at an expence for Ballast, but let 7 ½ per Cent be added in lieu of all charges, and pickled and dried fish will still be a cheaper food for Families and Sea Stores than fresh, smoaked or pickled Meats.” To this Coxe added: “Note. The fleshmarkets of the Southern Seaports, it is believed, are dearer, quality for quality, than that of Philada.” (3) “Calculation of the Bank fishery in a Schooner of fifty Tons,” estimating the cost of the vessel, stores, and advanced wages at £500, extra expences through the season covering all charges at £75, and the “profit in an employment which not lasting more than six months leaves time for two West India Voyages at £175. Against this total of £750 the calculation balanced the “fish and Oil taken in the several fares” at £450 and the cost of the vessel (£400) minus the deduction “for decays, wear and tear of Sails, rigging &c.” (£100) at £300. To this estimate the memorandum added: “In the above business are comprehended the resulting benefits of food for the people and wages adequate to the Clothing and feeding of their families, and the nursing of Seamen to qualify us as a Nation for Naval establishments and the carrying trade. The Capital employed is such parts of the Vessel and outfits as actually occasion an advance of the Money before the Sales of the Fish from the first fare.—This will not be more than her Outfit to sea, but if it be extended to £525, then the sum of £175 leaves a profit upon the Capital employed of 33 ⅓ per Cent, and the use of the Vessel in the Coasting, or West India trade for the remainder of the Year” (MS in DLC: TJ Papers, 69: 12009–10; in clerk’s hand, undated).

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