Thomas Jefferson Papers

To Thomas Jefferson from John Hankart, 18 June 1803

From John Hankart

City of Washington June 18th. 1803.

Respected Sir,

I take the liberty of addressing a few lines to you in consequence of the conversation that passed when I had the pleasure of being last in your Company. when speaking of the advantage of a Snuff Manufactory in this City, you remarked the Superior quality of your Tobacco.

since I had the pleasure of seeing you, I have my Mill at work, and have no doubt of a living.

I can get any quantity I want, of the common run of Tobacco, but am much in want of a Superior kind, which could I obtain; I am confident Sir, I could soon convince you; no Man is my Superior in that branch. I have had the pleasure, and I flatter myself with Credit, to serve your household with Snuff for a considerable time. and from the same kind of Tobacco, I think no Man can exceed me, but if I could obtain the favor of a few Hogsheads of the Superior kind, I would soon be able to show my abilities in that line to the Credit of this City. the request I have to make of your Excellency is; that you would indulge me with a tryal of your Tobacco, of that superior kind; by giving an order for Two, or Three Hogsheads; to your Agent in Richmond for that purpose: and I only wish for a reasonable indulgence respecting payment; which shall be punctual to the time engaged for.

If your Excellency would be inclined to oblige me so far, you will lay me under great obligations; and the additional price as mention’d by you, would be no object if it answers my expectations; and I have no doubt but it will leave me a permanent establishment. and if it should meet your approbation, the earlier I receive it, the more usefull.

I am, with great respect Your Excellencys, Most Obedt. h’ble. Servt.

John Hankart

P.S. you will confer a favor upon your humble Servant by your acceptance of the Bottle of Snuff now sent: the quality of which will be pleasing to all your friends. Major Lewis I believe to be a good judge of the Article.

RC (DLC); addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson President of the United States”; endorsed by TJ as received 27 June and so recorded in SJL.

John Hankart was a merchant in Baltimore during the 1780s but moved to Philadelphia, where he operated a tobacco factory for much of the 1790s. Along with Thomas Leiper and other like-minded manufacturers, he became an ardent opponent of the Washington administration’s excise taxes and helped forge the nascent Republican opposition in Philadelphia. He left Philadelphia in 1797, perhaps to live in Europe, and was identified as a resident of Washington in January 1803, when he unsuccessfully petitioned Congress for relief from the excise taxes he had paid while conducting his tobacco business. He eventually settled in Pittsburgh, where he continued to manufacture tobacco and also served as the city’s tobacco inspector (Maryland Journal and Baltimore Advertiser, 9 Mch. 1784; Philadelphia Gazette & Universal Daily Advertiser, 19 May 1797; JHR description begins Journal of the House of Representatives of the United States, Washington, D.C., 1826, 9 vols. description ends , 4:264, 268; The Honest Man’s Extra Almanac for the City of Pittsburgh and the Surrounding Country [Pittsburgh, 1812]; The Pittsburgh Directory, for 1815 [Pittsburgh, 1815], 35; Roland M. Baumann, “Philadelphia’s Manufacturers and the Excise Taxes of 1794: The Forging of the Jeffersonian Coalition,” PMHB description begins Pennsylvania Magazine of History and Biography, 1877- description ends , 106 [1982], 15, 18–19; George Thornton Fleming, History of Pittsburgh and Environs, 4 vols. [New York, 1922], 2:61).

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