Jun 21, 2018 - Sale 2483

Sale 2483 - Lot 46

Price Realized: $ 3,500
?Final Price Realized includes Buyer’s Premium added to Hammer Price
Estimate: $ 3,500 - $ 5,000
PICKERING, TIMOTHY. Autograph Letter Signed, as Secretary of State, to the U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain Rufus King, complaining of the harassment of American merchant ships by British cruisers whose officials interpret the trade agreement so broadly as to classify important everyday goods as contraband. 3 1/2 pages, 4to, written on a folded sheet; few small holes at center vertical fold, horizontal folds. Philadelphia, 8 May 1799

Additional Details

"I have again to represent to you how much the American trade is harrassed by British Cruisers, by what I conceive to be a perverse construction of the 18th article of the commercial treaty, relating to articles contraband.
"The Ship General Washington . . . is taken by the British armed vessels . . . into Bermuda. The pretences for the capture . . . are, that she had on board some bales of Ticklenburgs & Oznaburghs, and . . . casks of . . . nails.
"The ship was destined for New Orleans, which is the depot of the cotton raised in our Mississipi territory, and of the skins & furs collected in traffic with the Indians. . . . The trade between us and New Orleans is . . . daily becoming more and more important to us. Oznaburgs & Ticklenburgs are essential to the summer cloathing of the slaves & labourers . . . . The nails are necessary for house-building. The 18th article of the treaty declares 'sails' to be contraband: but those course linens are neither 'sails' nor sail-cloth. . . . It cannot be the contingent & possible application of articles . . . but their direct and principal use and destination . . . which must determine them to be contraband.
". . . I am informed that they make a distinction between flat and square bars of 'unwrought iron,' declaring the latter contraband! because they may easily be converted to ships bolts! . . ."
During the French Revolutionary Wars, Great Britain sought in their trade agreements to minimize the possibility of bringing aid to their enemy: France and her allies, which included Spain. American trade of weapons with Spanish New Orleans would have been a clear violation of the 18th article of the Jay Treaty, but it was not as clear what items should be permitted. Although much cargo might have been seized unjustly by the British, American trade with Britain continued to grow rapidly, which, in turn, encouraged the French to disrupt that trade, giving rise to the Quasi-War between France and America, 1798-1800.