Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Rawleigh Colston, 24 April 1781

From Rawleigh Colston

Cape François Apr. 24th 1781.


Presuming that your State may Stand in need of cloathing for the Soldiers, I take the liberty of acquainting you that I have lately received a consignment of about one thousand Joannes’s prime cost of woolens containing between 11 and 12 thousand Ells which are extremely well adapted for that purpose amongst them a quantity of blanketing stuff all which I could furnish you with on very moderate terms. If a vessell could be dispatched immediately, with a cargo of the best Superfine Flower, in neat casks of 180 or 190℔. nett, it would be attended with Great profit to the State, as that article will at present command 250 livres per barrell. I thought it my duty to make your State a tender of these articles in preference to any other, and shall wait a reasonable time for an answer. I have also on consignment a quantity of Russia Drill proper for Summer cloathing. I beg your Excellencys excuse for troubling you on this Subject. I should have addressed myself to the board of trade, had I been certain that it still existed.

I have the Hon. to be Your Excellency’s Mo. Obt. Servt

Rawleigh Colston

RC (Vi); addressed and endorsed.

On Rawleigh Colston, a Williamsburg and West India merchant, see VMHB description begins Virginia Magazine of History and Biography description ends , xxv (1917), 279–82, where other letters from him and a good biographical note will be found. Ironically, at the time this letter was written the British forces under Phillips were engaged in destroying flour “destined for the Spaniards” that had been stored and could not be shipped because of the enemy’s control of the Virginia capes (John Graves Simcoe, Military Journal description begins John Graves Simcoe, Military Journal, New York, 1844 description ends , p. 201–202).

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