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To George Washington from Barrell & Servanté, 31 August 1795

From Barrell & Servanté

London 31 August 1795


We have presumed to address this Circular to your Excellency as a Specimen of one of our recent Operrations1 We are forwarding the same to every part of Europe And as the great Object of our offices and the manifest tendency of all our Proceedings are to promote the prosperity of the United States We assure ourselves they will meet your approbation, and are therefore encouraged to Solicit the honour of your Countenance.2 We are with the highest respect sir Your most Obedt hume Servants

Barrell & Servanté


This firm was a partnership of Colborn Barrell (born c.1735) and Henry Servanté (c.1741–1817). Barrell, a Loyalist Boston merchant and Sandemanian elder, fled the city for London at the onset of the American Revolution but operated as a merchant out of New York during much of the Revolutionary War. He eventually returned to Great Britain, where he became acquainted with Servanté through a mutual interest in Swedenborgianism.

1The circular, addressed “To the Inhabitants of Europe,” reads: “The Era of Reason is now dawning upon Mankind, and the restraints on mens laudable endeavours to be useful will cease; The Agents for the Sale of American Lands, therefore take this method of informing all classes of Men in Europe, that by application at their Office No. 24, Threadneedle-Street London, they may meet objects worthy of their serious attention.

“That such as wish to hold Lands (though aliens) in America, may purchase to any amount, on very low terms, and a perfectly secure Tenure.

“That such as wish to reside in that Country, may be accommodated with most eligible Estates of all descriptions.

“That such as are inclined to hold Lands in association, and improve them by reasonable Tenantry, may accommplish their desire.

“That such as are restrained in their means to narrow limits, may become perpetual Lease-holders on very reasonable terms, with the privilege of purchasing the Free-hold at certain limited prices within the first Ten Years.

“That such as would assist their still poorer Neighbours, may have Freehold Lands granted them in proportion to the number of Tenants they may be the means of placing on such Tracts as may be appropriated for the purpose.

“That such as chuse may have any portion of Leasehold Lands, with the above mentioned option, they can undertake to manage.

“That such as may be inclined to associate for settling a Commonwealth on their own Code of Laws, on a spot of the Globe no where surpassed in delightful situation, healthy Climate and fertile Soil;—claimed by no civilized Nation, and purchased under a sacred Treaty of Amity and Commerce and for a valuable consideration of the friendly Natives, may have the best opportunity of trying the result of such an Enterprise.” Here an asterisk noted the following information: “In consequence of an Expedition fitted out at Boston North America in the Year 1787, Capt. J. Kendrick, while prosecuting an advantageous Voyage with the Natives for furs, purchased of them for the owners, a tract of delightful Country, comprehending 4 degrees of latitude, or 240 miles square. The Deeds are at present in China, and registered in the Office of the American Consul, and the Agents are authorised to treat with any Gentleman, or Association, for the purchase of a tract of Land, no where exceeded for fertility and Climate, and which may by a prudent management of some wise Institution become of the utmost importance.

“The benevolent Mr. Wadstrom, in his ingenious publication concerning the Principles of true Colonization, has taken some notice of this Expedition, and favored his readers with the annexed plate.”

The circular then concluded: “That Men under the guidance of rationality, in every rank, may have opportunities of becoming essentially useful to their Neighbours while they proportionably mend their own condition.

“Such, and such only, as are in earnest, are requested to make their applications (free of Charge,) to the Agents, and they will be duly attended to” (DLC:GW; see also C. B. Wadström, An Essay on Colonization, Particularly Applied to the Western Coast of Africa, with Some Free Thoughts on Cultivation and Commerce. . . . vol. 2 [London, 1795], 363).

2The two men also enclosed a cover letter to the circular from the American Agency Office, Number 24 Threadneedle-Street in London.

We entreat you will have the goodness to excuse the liberty we now take in this transmission of a general Notice of the Advantages derivable in our Office to all such Persons as incline to hold Lands, improve them in various ways, or reside upon them in North America.

“Should the public Printers think proper to circulate them in their Newspapers, it will be taken very kind, and if you will be pleased to use such means as are most convenient for disseminating said Notice, you will besides promoting a public good, confer a great obligation” (DLC:GW).

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