Thomas Jefferson Papers
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From Thomas Jefferson to Charles Carroll, 4 April 1791

To Charles Carroll

Philadelphia Apr. 4. 1791.

Dear Sir

Mr. Brown having agreed to settle our balance at £21. 16s. 9d. sterling principal and interest, I have acceded in order to be done with it. Since you have been so good as to be privy to this whole matter, I take the liberty of sending my last letter on the subject, open, through your hands, that you may see that I have been grounded in my belief that I owed nothing, a belief that is still unshaken. Will you be so kind as to take from Mr. Brown a discharge in full for me against all persons, partners, assignees &c. on delivering to him the inclosed letter and bank bill for 97.06. dollars?

We hear that the British parliament is about to allow American grain carried there in British bottoms for re-exportation, to be stored rent-free. If so, we must make British bottoms lading, with wheat here, pay that rent before they sail in the form of an additional duty, so as to keep our vessels on a level with them. I am told the British merchants are already ordering all shipments of this article to be made in British bottoms.—By the latest authentic accounts, affairs in France were going on most perfectly well. Be pleased to accept assurances of the cordial esteem & respect of Dear Sir Your affectionate humble servt.,

Th: Jefferson

Tr (ViU). PrC (DLC); mutilated, so that the end of some lines in right margin are lost and have been supplied from Tr. Enclosure: TJ to Brown, 4 Apr. 1791.

From John Browne Cutting, Tench Coxe, and perhaps Benjamin Vaughan, TJ had received copies of Hawkesbury’s report of 1790 which led to the introduction of the Corn Bill and its attempted revision of existing laws (see TJ to Coxe, ca. 28 Feb. 1791; >Coxe to TJ undated and printed in Vol. 18: 461, but prior to the foregoing and both probably written ca. 20 Mch. 1790). TJ’s anxiety about the rent-free warehousing clause which he voiced in this and other letters arose from its threat to the American carrying trade and from the desire of farmers and shippers to have direct access to other than English markets. To a much greater extent than he knew at the time, his concern was shared by many both in England and in the United States. Even Lord Sheffield and Sir John Sinclair, whose political views differed widely from his own, pamphleteered against Hawkesbury’s bill (for TJ’s copies of Hawkesbury’s report and various tracts for and against the bill, see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends Nos. 3591, 3592, 3593, and 3594). Private communications from both sides of the Atlantic warned Hawkesbury of the ill consequences of enactment. Thomas Eccleston, one of the largest grain farmers of Lancashire, strongly protested passage on behalf of the landed interest in that quarter (Eccleston to Hawkesbury, 2 Feb. 1791, BL, Add. MSS. 38226, f. 52). John Ross, merchant of Philadelphia, employed language in writing to a mercantile firm of Liverpool which the Secretary of State could not have used but would have approved: “I sincerely wish … that your Parlia[ment] may continue its Career to Curb our Trade from the firm persuasion this Country must re[ap the] fruits in a very short time. You are under Burthens too heavy for you to bear … and we are not only hearty young and enterprizing, but free and independent … and amply provided to make its inhabitants the happiest and greatest of any hitherto known” (John Ross to Messrs. Corrie, Gladstone, and Bradshaw, 18 June 1791; MS mutilated and words supplied in brackets; BL, Add. MSS. 38226, f. 2423; Edgar Corrie was one of Hawkesbury’s advisers who railed at the blind and violent “prejudices … against warehousing Corn at the Public Expense” and who wrote a reply to Sinclair’s pamphlet; Corrie to Hawkesbury, 1 Mch. 1791, BL, Add. MSS. 38226, f. 73–5; for TJ’s copy of Corrie’s reply to Sheffield, see Sowerby, description begins E. Millicent Sowerby, comp., Catalogue of the Library of Thomas Jefferson, 1952–1959, 5 vols. description ends No. 3593). In sending TJ a copy of his own pamphlet opposing the bill, Sinclair assumed they would be in disagreement. TJ assured him they were not on this particular point, but silently elaborated by sending in return a copy of Tench Coxe’s reply to Sheffield’s Observations on the commerce of the American states, describing it as “written by a very judicious hand” (Sinclair to TJ, 14 May 1791; TJ to Sinclair, 24 Aug. 1791).

Just a week after TJ wrote the above letter the warehousing clause which disturbed him so much was defeated in the House of Commons by a narrow vote. On another vote a month later Sheffield reported to Arthur Young: “We rejected the warehousing clause … by the Chairman’s Vote only” (Sheffield to Young, 12 Mch. 1791, BL, Add. MSS. 38127). The contest continued for some time but the clause was finally eliminated.

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