George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Richard Greenham and Richard Patten, 25 August 1793

From Richard Greenham and Richard Patten

St Petersburg [Russia] August 25th 1793

Honourable Sir

Observing that you send to this Country for Hemp & Flax I was led to enquire how it is that your own Country (such good land as it is) does not produce a sufficientcy for your Consumption, & I was informed that it is intirely for want of People who are acquainted with the management & growth of it1—Myself & a relation of mine having been regularly brought up in the Husbandry of Hemp & Flax & being thoroughly acquainted with the Process & Nature of it, take the liberty of offering our service in that Capacity, & should be happy to engage as Stewards to have the Sole management of such Business in either of your Colonies where the land is most suitable, for that purpose—We are at this time in the Habit of Inspecting & receiving of Hemp & Flax at this place for An English Merchant here.

If it meets your Lordships approbation we should be happy to engage for a term of three or five Years certain, with the Proviso we could meet with Such encouragement as our capacity & judgment merits.2 We are with due defference Your Lordships most obedt Svt,

Richd Greenham Richd Patten

At Mr James Jacksons Merchant St Petersburg

LS, in Richard Greenham’s writing, DNA: RG 59, Miscellaneous Letters.

1Hemp (Cannabis sativa) and flax (Linum usitatissimum) were important for commercial and naval ships of the eighteenth and nineteenth century because the fibers of these plants were used, respectively, to make ropes and sails. Russia was an acknowledged source of high quality fibers (see Samuel Breck to Alexander Hamilton, 3 Sept. 1791, in Hamilton Papers description begins Harold C. Syrett et al., eds. The Papers of Alexander Hamilton. 27 vols. New York, 1961–87. description ends , 9:162–63; “On the Culture and Preparing the Hemp in Russia, transmitted by the Hon. J. Q. Adams, Minister at St. Petersburgh, March, 1810,” in Reports from the Navy Department, In Relation to Experiments on American Water-Rotted Hemp, When Made Into Canvas, Cables, and Cordage, January 18, 1828, 20th Cong., 1st sess., H. Doc. 68, 20 Dec. 1827, serial 171, 11–12).

2No reply from GW has been found.

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