Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from Nathaniel Barrett, 7 December 1787

From Nathaniel Barrett

Paris Decr 7. 1787


The Cargo of Oil referd to in Messrs. Le Couteulx Letter has been deliverd By those Gentlemen to Mr. Sangrain’s Agents at Rouen for the Illumination of Paris. The only Duties which ought to be demanded are 7.livre tournois 10s per 520livre tournois and 10s. per Livre, and on producing Certificates (which I have by me) of Exportation or purchase of Goods, this Duty to be returnd, or the Bonds discharged, this being the Case, there can be no possible Damage accrue, from the proposal of Messrs. Le Couteulx’s for a delay of 8 mo. to procure the necessary Papers from America. It appears by the inclosed Extract of a Letter which I received a few days since, that no Idea is entertained in America of procuring a Certificate from the Consul, but that Certificates from the Government respecting the Cargo of the Sally Capt. Coffin were expedited to Boston for the public Seal, and that Capt. Hussey of the Brign. Fox would have obtained the same had he known that it was needful. The writer of the Letter (of which the inclosed is an Extract) is Peleg Coffin Esqr. of Nantucket, late Member of the Council of Massachusets and the person who gave Certificates to the owners of both Cargoes, to enable them to obtain a Bounty granted on Oils caught by the Inhabitants of Massachusets.

I have the honour to be very sincerely Sir Your most obedt & huml Servt,

Nat Barrett

RC (MHi); endorsed. Recorded in SJL as received 9 Dec. 1787. Enclosures (MHi): (1) Le Couteulx & Cie. to Nathaniel Barrett, 5 Dec. 1787, stating that the person in charge of the sale of the three cases of whale oil had forgotten to weigh them properly and they are puzzled as to the amount for which to bill him; that if these cases have not yet been sold, they wish Barrett to have them weighed correctly; that they have presented to the collector the papers for the ship Fox as supplied by Captain Hussey, thus establishing that the oil was brought by an American ship; that the duty must be paid in full by the end of the month unless TJ can obtain six or eight months’ respite while the French Consul in the United States sends on a certificate stating that the oil was produced from fish caught in American waters, unless the inspector will waive the certificates for this time only because Captain Hussey did not know this was necessary; and requesting that Barrett beg TJ to save his friends from paying the large amount of duty and to tell them never again to make oil shipments unaccompanied by a certificate. (2) Extract of a letter from Peleg Coffin to Nathaniel Barrett, 1 Oct. 1787 (written at the foot of Barrett’s letter), stating that Coffin has forwarded a certificate for his cargo to have the seal of the commonwealth attached, which certificate will then be forwarded to Paris; that Barrett’s letter of 1 June did not arrive in time to obtain a certificate for the cargo on the Fox; and that, since the quantity shipped and the names of the shippers are not known, the certificates must wait for that information from Barrett or the ship’s captain.

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