Knox, Henry (1750-1806) to William Knox
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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC02437.00753 Author/Creator: Knox, Henry (1750-1806) Place Written: Pluckemin, New Jersey Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 20 March 1779 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 31.9 x 19.5 cm.
Agrees with William that commerce is a profitable venture. Quotes Shakespeare: "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken [at] the flood lead[s] on to Fortune..." Discusses William's previous proposal, which apparently involves buying goods on credit from a merchant who might travel to America. Contemplates the uncertainty of the venture and the difficulty in obtaining credit, associates, and bills. Remarks that Spain "will accede to our Independence," and will give credit to American currency. Instructs William to consider all circumstances and to decide whether a European or West Indian trade would be more profitable. Prefers Holland and West Indian trade to British trade. Mentions his wife Lucy. Inquires as to the outcome of a petition affecting to his estate. Instructs William to give John Jackson flour, Indian corn, or grain. Refers to a dinner William has planned with General [Horatio] Gates.
Pluckemin 20th March 1779.
My dear friend and Brother,
Circumstances have prevented me from to fully considering your proposals as I could wish. I agree with you entirely that the present times, are most favorable to the wishes of persons in commence, and that "There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken in the flood lead to fortune Omitted &c"
Your scheme appears to [illegible] entirely on the disposition of the Gentleman you mention to supply you with goods - he may come out to America or he may not - if he does not - the whole project falls to the Ground - If he does - he may not think all circumstances equal to his furnishing the goods propos'd, and again the project falls. I do not my dear Brother mention these objections because I am against your proposals in general, I approve it, I applaud that spirit which properly exerted  seems to promise something substantial. The situation in which I am & in which you are is perfectly understood by us both, and the conclusion is something [that] must he attempted, and to be sure now is the time. - But to get all on credit appears to be stretching our expectations too far - I like the scheme of your going to France, but it will be absolutely necessary to carry a considerable sum with you in Bills of Exchange, and how to procure them is the object - If you could associate two or three other persons with you, and among the whole raise to the amount of 4 or 5000 Sterling in Bills of Exchange, It would then be worth while for you to go to France or Holland as might be found last, and perhaps under such circumstances you might be able to procure on credit to the amount of 10,000 more. These shipp'd in different Bottoms by yourself on the spot, and insur'd would with tolerable luck prove very advantageous -
It is more than probable that  Spain will accede to our Independence, when this takes place it will give a credit to our currency, that the most sanguine does not expect - under this Idea it would be well in you to pay such debts as you can without cramping yourself and to call as fast as you can & to raise by any means in your power as much money as possible - if the credit of the money should be established then would be your time to purchase Bills of Exchange. - As your project cannot be ripe for execution under a long time it would be well for you to consider all circumstances, to consider how much more advantageous a European would be to a West India trade, and to determine on one or the other. I declare my inclinations are much in favor of the latter - The returns are much quicker & often times the profits greater. The risque is not more - look round not one fortune in ten were formerly made by a  London trade - The Holland, Straights & West India merchants were the persons who made the largest proffits - The [reason] perhaps was [illegible], to the London merchants being oblig'd to have large quantities of unsaleable goods because the fashions alter'd and were oblig'd to give large credit. Whereas in the West India or Holland Way The credit was short, and the goods always in demand.
how stands the affair of the Estate[?] I have heard nothing for some time past. Have you presented the petition? has the Confiscation Bill passed? how does Mr Peirce make out? I wrote him letter by the last post and I also wrote him one at the time I return'd from Philadelphia - The post has come in but no mail - Lucy is not yet abed although she expects it extent is every hour - I wish you to supply John Jacksons family with some flour, Indian Corn or grain of any kind. he is to me a faithful & useful person - I wish you would inclose me the prices current of Rum[,] sugar[,] flour[,] &c at Boston any time they after - you mention dinning at Genl Gates's what terms are you on with him? - Adieu my dear Brother
to his bro. Wm
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