George Washington Papers

To George Washington from John Woddrop, 16 September 1784

From John Woddrop

Glasgow [Scotland]
Thursday the 16th day of September, 1784.


I having done myself the honour for to write to your Excellency on the 27th of July the last year, and to transmit along therewith a list of the different Manufacturies in the linen branch of bussiness in Scotland,1 and as I did do so with a vow to be of some use to the States of America, and also to serve the Mississippi Company, of which Company my brother Robert Woddrop, late factor & Merchant at Wiccocomica in Northumberland County in the State of Virginia, was a Member 2—I now do myself the honour to write to you at this time, and I do accompany the same with a letter from Thomas Ogden, Esquire, a very a considerable trader in the Woollen Manufactury, which Gentleman appearing to be very willing to be introduced into a connection with your Excellency and with the other Gentlemen who compose the Mississippi Company, and as I presume that a person of Mr Ogdens General, & Fair, & Fine Charractor, being of a very amiable & a just and most Honorable Charracter, as well as of great knowledge and of the most approven abilities, & Competent in the line of the branch of the Woollen &ca Manufactury, & whose house furnishes all the most approven & respectable houses in Great Britain with Woollen Goods, and also foreign places, as will appear by his letter, now sent to your Excellency herewith, which is dated the 4th of the last month,3 and accompanying the same you have also a Number of Paterns of that Gentleman’s Manufactury, and I presume that your Excellency, & your friends, will be the better able to form a true knowledge of which part of such paterns will answer with you, if this should be of any use to the States of America, in General, or to your own connections &ca and meet the Approbation thereof, I will hold myself happy in having done so.4 At the same time, I am still ready to continue any farther tender of my services to the States of America, in General, & cheerfully, and most willingly to become a Citizen of these States, and if your Excellency & your friends approve of this offer, I will come out to these States in the Course of the next year, please God I am alive till then. I hope that neither that Country that Adopts me, nor that Country that give me birth, will ever need to be ashamed of me. The Manufacturers in the White Linen branch of bussiness and of the Lawn Muslin, Silk Gauze, & printed Linens, Fustains, &ca in this part of the Kingdom of Great Britain, and in many other places throughout Great Britain, are in a General ferment about the tax lately laid on these articles[.] Both the Master Manufacturers, Journymen, &ca and all who any manner or wise have their dependance on that branch of bussiness, cry down the tax, & all parts in this Country, wherein any Connection is with such a bussiness, are actually forming Committees to procure redress and a repail of that cursed tax, as they do all of them term it at Manchester in England, &ca. They are in a similar case & condition, and all of them reprobating the East India Compy whom they are naming the blood Suckers of the Poor in all parts of this country.5 There Cursed tea, they say, shed the blood of our American friends &ca, and that having done all they could to extirpate millions of the Natives in the Regions of the East, they want to Compleat their Murders by a Starvation of many thousand of English & Scotch Weavers &ca. Theory is, in General, Anihilate that most abominable East India Company. Or Else let them be conveyed over to their brave friends & Country Men in America. I have Conversed with many of them since the Wednesday Evening of the twenty Eight day of July last, this very present year, on which evening a Great and a numerous multitude of these manufacturers did assemble in the Park, or the Green, of this City, but our Lord Provost, (Patrick Colquhoun, Esqr.) found means to pacify them on that evening. In this Country there is appearance of a plentiful harvest, but it’s thought it will be late about this part of our Country.6

Any answer to this letter your Excellency may think proper for to send to me from your Most Worthy & Most Inestimable Person, or any otherwise you do me the honour to hear from your Excellency, will be received by me with all the due respectfulness such a honour is intitled to. With due respect, I have the honour to be, Sir, your Most obedient, And your Most Humble Servant

John Woddrop.

ALS, DLC:GW. The numerous and meaningless commalike marks in the manuscript have been omitted. Woddrop enclosed this letter and a letter to Francis Lightfoot Lee in a letter to Charles Thomson, secretary of Congress, on 6 Oct. 1784 (DLC:GW). Woddrop listed thirty-nine Marylanders and Virginians, former members of the Mississippi Company, to any of whom the letters could be delivered if Lee and GW were dead. On 30 Oct. 1784 Woddrop wrote Charles Thomson that in a letter to Thomson of 25 Oct. he had sent “some inclosures” for GW, which have not been found (DNA:PCC, item 78).

John Woddrop was a longtime tobacco merchant living at Springbank outside Glasgow.

1The letter of 27 July 1783 has not been found. Only two other letters from Woddrop to GW, those of 25 Aug. 1785 and 29 Oct. 1788, are known to have survived, even though, as those two letters indicate, Woddrop often wrote GW in the 1780s about Scottish products and Scottish emigration to America. No letter from GW to Woddrop has been found, and no evidence has been found that he did respond to any letter from Woddrop, which would have been uncharacteristic.

2For the Mississippi Land Company, see Mississippi Land Company Articles of Agreement, 3 June 1763, and Mississippi Land Company’s Memorial to the King, 9 Sept. 1763. GW and John Woddrop’s brother Robert (d. 1767) were among the organizers of the company in Virginia in 1763.

3Thomas Ogden’s letter to John Woddrop of 4 Aug. 1784, written from Sarum, England, reads in part: “I am much obliged for your kind intention towards me in the Glove-way, they was articles We never dealt in—the best Market I should suppose Worcester , or Yeovil in Somersetshire—I shall be happy to serve you, in getting Information, and as I should be proud to unite with so respectable a Company, with that great worthy, & inestimable Character Genl Washington, at the head. I beg leave to offer my Services in any line & permit me to say it is in no Mans Power in the Kingdom, to do Business so in the general way, better and in the woollen branch in particular so well[.] The Patterns, which I hope ere this you have recd will be suffict to shew You their quality & fitness for the Connection You are engaged in—Our American Connection, is principally in the north part. Messrs Smiths, Broad Street, have apply’d to Us for a Philadelphia Connection—Kirkman Holmes for New York. 3 Weeks ago We sent a large Cargo for Halifax Nova Scotia. We have another large Order to send off this Week. Sr Jas Harris, Ambassadr to the Hague, We have every Reason to hope will serve Us in holland.

“Just at the breaking out of the American War—I was made Agent for a Company at New York, Jersey &c. Robt Ogden, Esqr.[,] Amos Ogden, Esqr. late Colonel of the Jersey Corps, (He was in England, with me some time) Mr Stewart &c, at the head of it, which the accursed War by which I have lost 5,000, settled Acres in Florida put an end to. I had the Honor of Mr Hancocks Brother in law—Mr Langston Delegate for Portsmouth, Mason ⟨and his agent⟩, at my house for some days, during the War. I have good Connections likewise in the East & West Indies—His Excellency the Governor of Barbados—did me the Honor to appoint me his Secretary—and still continues his Sollicitations, in short, I may say no Person hath a more universal acquaintance & Connection; & I have the vanity to think, few Persons are more universally esteemed, and if I have the pleasure of being connected with Mr Woddropp & Co: I shall in every transaction study to deserve their good opinion” (DLC.GW).

4In an enclosed memorandum Woddrop wrote: “Four Papers, containing Paterns, are put up, & inclosed herein, vizt: No. 1—Contains 25 Paterns of cloth, 27 & 29 inches Broad.

“No. 2—Contains 5 Paterns of Swan downs, & Clothes.

“No. 3—Contains 18 Paterns of Superfine Salisbury Flannels, 14 Nails Broad.

“No. 4—Contains 2 Paterns.

“In all 50 different Paterns.”

One small sample of the cloth survives in DLC:GW.

5Between 1781 and 1784 reform of the East India Company was a major issue in parliamentary politics. Warren Hastings would soon give up his position as governor of the company and return to Britain.

6Patrick Colquhoun (1745–1820) returned to Scotland in 1766 from Virginia where for six years he had been engaged in trade. He settled in Glasgow, and in 1782 and 1783 he was elected lord provost of the city. Colquhoun was an effective champion of Glasgow trade and of cotton manufactures. In 1789 he moved to London and became a noted publicist and reformer.

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