George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Marx Christoph Graf, 26 February–20 March 1790

From Marx Christoph Graf

Augsburg (the Capital in Suebia)

Mylord!febry the 26th[–20 March] 1790

The worthy Speech of Your Lordship of 8th Jany to the Congress, containing among other matters—accordg to the News Paper of Leyden No. 14 “mais je ne saurois m’empecher de Vous faire sentir l’avantage qu’il y auroit a donner de l’encouragement effectif tantal introduction d’Inventions nouvelles & utiles de l’Etranger, qu’aux efforts del’habileté and du genie, pour les faire naitre dans nôtre Patrie meme[”]1—give me encouragement, humbly to offer to your Lordship spinning Machines of my own inventions, not only of the Plan, which, accordg to the below Coppy I offer’d the 8th of this Month to my late worthy Masters Messrs Wilson Coram Wayne & Co. in Charlestown (where in the year 1769—I was Book Keeper) but also of another one, since invented, different from the former in the form, yet tending to the same purpose & service, either one of ’em spinning one hunderd threads of Cottun.2 Besides those I can also provide Machines that spinn but fifty threads of Cotton, very compendious, & can be both managed & attended by single one person.

Not doubting but my inventions will answer the good intents and purposes of Your Lordship, I flatter myself with His most gracious reflexions, & ambitioning the condescending Commands of Your Lordship, I beg leave to remain with th’utmost veneration Your Lordship’s most humble & most obedient

Mark Christopher Graf

The 20th of March the present came bak again from Holland with th’observation on th’outside to address it to London, no Paquetboat wenting as yet from Holland to America wch in his way could touch in England—as I suppos’d and wish for the benefit of the trade in generall.

As I since heard, there are Machines in England that spinn 4, 5, 6, to 1[,]000 threads of Cottun & goes by Water wheeles, yet being exceeding precious & requiring the Situation of a falling Water, ’tis not anywhere applicable, besides that in proportion to mine, they’ll require still superior expences, as many or more people, are untransportable, & mine are transportable & applicable in any house, storage, room, situated wheresoever, and can be made use of by people that could never afford the others—Besides that whoever is possessor in England of such large Machines, I dare say, will not part with the secret upon any Consideration, & if one of ’em does it, ’twill surely be for extorsional reward.

Copy, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

Marx Christoph Graf (1740–1812) was an Augsburg textile manufacturer and merchant who frequently shipped fabrics to Charleston, S.C., merchants. Graf’s attempts to expand his business activities outside Augsburg did not always fare well. Between 1792 and 1794 he was engaged in an extensive controversy with Augsburg authorities over a collusive transfer of shipments of cloth that a factory owner, J. H. Schule, had shipped to Graf to evade the Augsburg ban on imports (Clasen, Streiks und Aufstände, description begins Claus-Peter Clasen. Streiks und Aufstände der Augsburger Weber im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Augsburg, Germany, 1993. description ends 229, 286).

2Graf enclosed a copy of his letter of 8 May to the Charleston firm of Wilson, Coram, Wayne & Co. stating that Graf had just “finished inventing a Machine quit of my own invention, spinning one hundred threads of Cottun at once. Two of’em want but three people, viz: one for turning each & one for attending both in order to mend a thread that breaks, and if four Machines are placed in form of a square, one person will do for attending ’em all, so that four Machines (that spinn together 400 threads) require but five people in all. The manegment thereof is very easy, & can be comprehended in less than an hour, and they can be imitated with few expences by any exact Cabinetmaker. The great benefit that can be rip’d by on every respect, you may judge yourself, and they’ll still prouve more beneficial to you than to us, since you can employ negroes for attending ’em.

“If six Machines are bespoken at once, than the price of every one will be but fifty Pounds sterling, being three hunderd Pounds Sterlg for all six, half the amount thereof to be remitted with the order in Bills of short sight on London or Amsterdam, and th’other half or £150 Stg to be paid at their arrival in Amsterdam to my friend there such inventions not being subjected to inspections ⟨illegible⟩. . . . I remember a large Tree of berrys at Mr Gibson’s School in ⟨Canhoye⟩. Those berrys are like those of Avignon in france, (but which is not, for, originally, they grew in the piranneous mountains of Spain) & others of Persi⟨a—⟩Now I must tell you Gentlemen, that those berrys are made the yellow & green colours of in all Chints manufacturies of England, Germany for I deal’d in that article myself—It gives me therefore the greatest pleasure in the world to inform you that those berrys are such a great advantage for your Countrys & perhaps till yet as unknown as not car’d for by its inhabitants, at least it’ll prouve an advantageous branche of trade for your goodself” (DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters).

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