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Colonial and State Records of North Carolina
Letter from William Gooch to the Board of Trade of Great Britain
Gooch, William, Sir, 1681-1751
August 26, 1728
Volume 02, Pages 773-775

[B. P. R. O. B. T. Virginia. Vol. 18. R. 95.]

My Lords

Having received advice that application hath been made to your Lordships for repealing a Law made here in the year 1726 for the more effectual preventing the bringing Tobacco from North Carolina and the Bounds in controversie: I take the first opportunity to Lay before your Lordships the reason of passing that Law & then to obviate some objections which I hear have been offered to your Lordships against it.

As the people of Verginia have from its first settlement applied themselves solely to the making of Tobacco so they have from time to time tied themselves up to such certain rules in the planting, tending, curing and packing of it as they judged most expedient to advance and support its Reputation in the European markets, and to prevent all fraudulent practices whereby their staple Commodity might be depretiated this naturally led them to consider and guard against the indirect practices of their Neighbours; since all their Regulations must have been rendered vain; if the next Province was left at Liberty to pour in upon them all such trash Tobacco they could make and to export it hence as the Manufacture of Virginia This so much concerned the Virginia Interest that to prevent it an Act was made in the year 1679 whereby the importation of Tobacco from Carolina & other Parts without the Capes was prohibited under the Penalty of Forfeiture thereof. This Act continued in force until the year 1705 when all the Lands of the Colony were revised and brought into one Body and then an Act almost in the same words was prepared against the importing Tobacco from North Carolina under

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the like Penalty with the former; which last Act as I am informed, was seen and approved of your Lordships before it passed the Assembly here. But as neither of the Acts were found effectual to prevent the mischief Tobacco being still clandestinely brought in to Virginia from Carolina and shippd off there could be no forfeiture without a previous seizure. It was judged necessary by this last Act in 1726 to lay a further Penalty on the seller and purchaser of Such Tobacco which is all the Alteration this last Law has made in all the former Prohibitions. And if the Reasons upon which these Prohibitions are founded be just and prudent I doubt not the enforcing the same by an additional Penalty, will, by your Lordships be judged so too.

I hear only of three objections my Lords against the continuing of this Act. First That the discouraging the People of Carolina from making of Tobacco will lessen his Majestys Revenue.

The second. That it will force the people of Carolina upon Manufactures prejudicial to the Trade of Great Britain.

The third. That it is unjust and unneighbourly towards the people of that Province.

As to first I believe it is demonstrable that his Majestys Revenue is no ways increased by the importation of more Tobacco than can be consumed in Great Britain since for all of that which is exported the whole Duty is drawn back, and as the Tobacco made in Carolina is of that sort which must be exported being not fit for the home consumption, it is plain the customes will no ways be increased thereby, nor suffer any dimunition if there was not one Pound made in that Province.

To the second, it must be annexed that the Inhabitants of North Carolina have been under the same restraint for these fifty years past and no such Manufactures have as yet been sett up amongst them and to be presumed that while they have other Commodities such as Pitch Tar, Pork, Rice, Hides and Tallow with which they have hitherto supplied themselves by way of Barter with the People of Virginia and the other Plantations there will be no danger of their undertaking Manufactures of their own where they are provided with very few materials and can be supplied by their neighbours at a cheaper Rate. But my Lords give me leave to Say that they who made this objection did not consider how much greater inconveniences may happen to the Manufactures of Great Britain should the Inhabitants of Virginia by an overstocking of the Tobacco Markets and in consequence thereof the lowering of its price, find themselves under a necessity of leaving off planting and endeavouring to cloath themselves with their own Manufactures, for which they

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have abundant more materials both for Woolen and Linnen than the people of North Carolina can possibly have for many years.

As to the last objection of the injustice of our neighbours of Carolina who having no Ports of their own are denied the benefit of their neighbours Ports to ship off the produce of their Labour. Your Lordships I hope will allow me to say, according to the general Rule that every one ought so to use his own as thereby to do no injury to his Neighbour, which will hold good as well in common Policy as Morality So that the Inhabitants of Carolina have no reason to complain if they are restrained from making use of the Ports and Harbours of Virginia, when it is prejudicial to its own Trade and does manifest injury to its own Inhabitants if the people of Carolina will make Tobacco, and can ship it from their own Ports it will then be known where it was made and Virginia will receive no discredit by it, but if they will put off their Trash as the Product of Virginia it is a cheat upon the Buyer, and the general Trade of this Colony must suffer by it.

My Lords thus I have endeavoured to state this case in the clearest light I can and submit it to your Lordships judgement for as I had no hand in making the Law now in question, I am little concerned in its fate whether it stands or falls; only I should be sorry to find the people of Virginia disobliged by the Repeal of this Act, which has for a long time been judged of great importance to the Colony, when at the same time it only indulges a few in the next Province to employ themselves in that which will bring no Reputation to the Tobacco Trade and indeed if what the Merchants in England urge be true, that there is more Tobacco already sent from hence than can be vended in the European Markets: Your Lordships are the best judges whether the opening a new source be at this time seasonable

I am with great duty and respect
My Lords
Your Lordships
most faithfull and most
obedient humble servant

Augst 26th 1728.