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Memoir, Correspondence, And Miscellanies, From The

Having put this paper into the hands of Monsieur Reyneval


an official demand of Sir Guy Carleton, that he should cease to send them away. He answered, that these people had come to them under promise of the King's protection, and that that promise should be fulfilled, in preference to the stipulation in the treaty. The State of Virginia, to which nearly the whole of these slaves belonged, passed a law to forbid the recovery of debts due to British subjects. They declared, at the same time, they would repeal the law, if Congress were of opinion they ought to do it. But, desirous that their citizens should be discharging their debts, they afterwards permitted British creditors to prosecute their suits, and to receive their debts in seven equal and annual payments; relying that the demand for the slaves would either be admitted or denied, in time to lay their hands on some of the latter payments for reimbursement. The immensity of this debt was another reason for forbidding such a mass of property to be offered for sale under execution at once, as, from the small quantity of circulating money, it must have sold for little or nothing, whereby the creditor would have failed to receive his money, and the debtor would have lost his whole estate, without being discharged of his debt. This is the history of the delay of justice in that country, in the case of British creditors. As to all others, its administration is as speedy as justice itself will admit. I presume it is equally so in all the other States, and can add, that it is administered in them all with a purity and integrity, of which few countries afford an example.

I cannot take leave, altogether, of the subjects of this conversation, without recalling the attention of the Count de Vergennes to what had been its principal drift. This was to endeavor to bring about a direct exchange between France and the United States, (without the intervention of a third nation) of those productions, with which each could furnish the other. We can furnish to France (because we have heretofore furnished to England) of whale-oil and spermaceti, of furs and peltry, of ships and naval stores, and of potash, to the amount of fifteen millions of livres; and the quantities will admit of increase. Of our tobacco, France consumes the value of ten millions more. Twenty-five millions of livres, then, mark the extent of that commerce of exchange, which is, at present, practicable between us. We want, in return, productions and manufactures, not money. If the duties on our produce are light, and the sale free, we shall undoubtedly bring it here, and lay out the proceeds on the spot, in the productions and manufactures which we want. The merchants of France will, on their part, become active in the same business. We shall no more think, when we shall have sold our produce here, of making an useless voyage to another country, to lay out the money, than we think, at present, when we have sold it elsewhere, of coming here to lay out the money. The conclusion is, that there are commodities which form a basis of exchange, to the extent of a million of guineas annually: it is for the wisdom of those in power, to contrive that the exchange shall be made.

Having put this paper into the hands of Monsieur Reyneval, we entered into conversation again, on the subject of the Farms, which were now understood to be approaching to a conclusion. He told me, that he was decidedly of opinion, that the interest of the State required the Farm of tobacco to be discontinued, and that he had, accordingly, given every aid to my proposition, which lay within his sphere: that the Count de Vergennes was very clearly of the same opinion, and had supported it strongly with reasons of his own, when he transmitted it to the Comptroller General; but that the Comptroller, in the discussions of this subject which had taken place, besides the objections which the Count de Vergennes had repeated to me, and which are before mentioned, had added, that the contract with the Farmers General was now so far advanced, that the article of tobacco could not be withdrawn from it, without unraveling the whole transaction. Having understood, that, in this contract, there was always reserved to the crown, a right to discontinue it at any moment, making just reimbursements to the Farmers, I asked M. Reyneval, if the contract should be concluded in its present form, whether it might still be practicable to have it discontinued, as to the article of tobacco, at some future moment. He said it might be possible.


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