Thomas Jefferson Papers
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John Barnes to Thomas Jefferson, 6 July 1811

From John Barnes

George Town Columa—6th July, 1811

Dear Sir

Your esteemed favr 29th Ulto inclosed Order on Bank of Pensyla—as well 3d Bill of Ex— on Accot of Genl Kosciusko—respecting the latter— on paying my respects on the Memorable 4th Inst to the good Presidt and conversing with Mr Monroe—whose presense gave universal satisfaction— I took Occasion to mention the delay of Messs Barlow and Warden—by whose conveyance the 1st & 2d setts were deposited—would not be protracted, but for a short time—under these circumstances, forwarding this 3d sett by a 3d conveyance, might possibly be attended with risque—by the possibility of its being presented, for Acceptance, by some unknown hand, prior to the receipt of either the 1st or 2d sett, by Messs B & W—this 3d sett is therefore Retained—

The extreme heat of the Weather deterrs me for the present proceeding to Philadelphia— The disadvantages you labour Under Respecting your family supplies—I am fully persuaded may be considerably Reduced— by beig procured here, you would scarsely Credit, the very extra increase of importations of every Article of family consumption to this place Coastwise from Boston New York Philada Baltimore Charleston &ca &ca Owing to the Many Capital New buildings— Wholesale Stores, along the Wharfs above and below the ferry, since you left Washington, several of which contain Merchandize to the Amot of 80, a 90,000 Dolls each—for my part I am at a loss to conceive, how the importers can dispose, of them: but so it is—the Back planters & farmers need not, nor in general do not, Now as heretofore resort, to Baltimore—or Alexandria—Moreover—the return flour Boats, take back vast quantities of Merchandize to Cumberland—on their Way to Kentucky &a &a—a source of great Commercial intercourse solely Appertaining to this place.—

The increasing population—and extra improvemts in George Town and Washington—is in a great Measure Owing to these adventurous speculators Coastwise And were it not for the fatal—and I fear increasing Obstructions—to our foreign Navigation I mean—Obstructions in the Channel of our River—being such, as to compell our shipping Merchants (under, very great disadvantages—extra expences &ca)—to Enter &, Reenter to load, & unload their Vessels—belonging to this port, bound to, & from a foreign port— to transact their business at the port of Alexanda—instead of George Town solely on Accot of the Obstructn in the Channel—Caused in part, by the New Bridge Co—could these difficulties but be removed—this Port and Town would most Assuredly Rival—if not out strip—the Invious pride of Alexandria—The Citizens of Washington, not less Invious—and unfriendly—are equally Jealous of this Town’s superior situation—Unhappy, selfish—Views totally erronious—they ought most certainly to be one & the same—as in a Co-partnership—the One proportionably benefited by the improvements and prosperity of the other—the other relative—and envious Neighbour, instead of aiding our Mutual Comforts—do but laugh, at our folly and Madness—

If you want an early fall or immediate supply—do but give a little time to look about me—I will engage to put them up—as Usual good, and Reasonable—at least reduce your $167– to 147— The Stores on the Wharfs are Chiefly for the Storage of Flour Corn Salt Sugar & Molasses and Groceries generally of all Kinds—here are also not less than 12 New Brick buildings on both sides Bridge Street Elegantly fitted up, and stored abundently—with every Article you can possibly stand in Need of,1 Wholesale and retail—as Rivals, their prices & terms, are very Moderate, nearly if not equaly so, to the great Citys, if purchased by those Accustomed to purchase by the piece or package &ca—and altho some particular Articles must be paid for in Cash—the far greater part, wd be a 60 and others a 90 days Credit on Note—

upon the whole, I may safely Venture to say—that with Mrs Ratcliffs Assistance—You could be furnishd with almost every family Article—Wet or dry—fine or Coarse—Linins— Muslins, Cottons, & Woolens, East, and West India produce & Manufacture—&a &ca2 The freight from hence to Richmond—as the Vessels Usually go in Ballast, would be very Moderate—and fixed here on the Spot—not as Customary—from New York or Philada

In, The3 fall every Needfull Article for the Blacks are in great abundance—

If then, from these several combined circumstances you should judge favorably of them—And Accept4 my Offer—you may depend upon my best exertions for your Interest & satisfication, and while shipping your family supplies—The others at same time might in part be furnished Also—such as Ticklenbergs &a &a—always in Store—

Accept my Dear Sir my most gratefull thanks for your kind invitation Necessity not choice, alone, induced me to propose that of Philada on Accot of my unfortunate Tobo purchase By my latest advices, ⅌ last Evengs post5 I find no possible sale can be made—nor even a Barter one effected. of course I shall defer the Attempt—and6 Anxiously wait the issue of events more favorable to my purpose,—

most Respectfully—and most sincerely—Be Assured I am Dear Sir—Your Obedt servant,

John Barnes.

RC (ViU: TJP-ER); at foot of text: “Th. Jefferson Esquire Monticello—Virginia”; endorsed by TJ as received 10 July 1811 and so recorded in SJL.

The ferry crossed the Potomac River to Mason’s (now Theodore Roosevelt) Island (Christian Hines, Early Recollections of Washington City [1866; repr. 1981], 4). The new bridge company was most likely the Georgetown Potomac Bridge Company active at this time (Washington National Intelligencer, 9 May 1811). ticklenbergs (Ticklenburgs) are coarse linen fabrics named for their German town of origin (OED description begins James A. H. Murray, J. A. Simpson, E. S. C. Weiner, and others, eds., The Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed., 1989, 20 vols. description ends ).

1Manuscript: “off.”

2At foot of first sheet Barnes here noted: “Continued—2d Sheet,” and he headed the second sheet “Continuation—6th July 1811.”

3Thus in manuscript.

4Manuscript: “Acceept.”

5Preceding four words interlined.

6Barnes here canceled “quietly &.”

Index Entries

  • Alexandria, Va.; commerce at search
  • Alexandria, Va.; port of search
  • Baltimore, Md.; commerce at search
  • Bank of Pennsylvania; stock owned by T. Kosciuszko search
  • Barlow, Joel; departure for France delayed search
  • Barnes, John; and supplies for TJ search
  • Barnes, John; and T. Kosciuszko’s American investments search
  • Barnes, John; letters from search
  • Boston, Mass.; commerce at search
  • Charleston, S.C.; commerce at search
  • corn; stored in Washington search
  • cotton; as textile search
  • Cumberland, Md.; commerce at search
  • flour; stored at Washington search
  • food; molasses search
  • food; salt search
  • Georgetown, D.C.; growth of search
  • Georgetown Potomac Bridge Company search
  • Kentucky; goods carried to search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; Bank of Pennsylvania stock of search
  • Kosciuszko, Tadeusz (Thaddeus) Andrzej Bonawentura; remittances to search
  • linen search
  • Madison, James; Fourth of July reception of search
  • Mason’s Island (Analostan Island; later Theodore Roosevelt Island); ferry to search
  • molasses; stored in Washington search
  • Monroe, James; and conveyances to Europe search
  • muslin search
  • New York (city); commerce at search
  • Philadelphia; commerce at search
  • Ratcliff (Ratcliffe), Mrs.; works with J. Barnes search
  • salt; stored at Washington search
  • slaves; supplies for search
  • sugar; stored in Washington search
  • textiles; cotton search
  • textiles; linen search
  • textiles; muslin search
  • textiles; Ticklenburg search
  • textiles; wool search
  • Warden, David Bailie; departure for France delayed search
  • Washington (D.C.); and supplies for TJ search
  • Washington (D.C.); population increase search
  • Washington (D.C.); weather in search
  • weather; heat search
  • weather; in Washington search
  • wool; cloth search