your very humble servant,
LETTER CXXXVIII.—TO JOHN ADAMS, November 27, 1785
TO JOHN ADAMS.
Paris, November 27, 1785.
Your favor of the 5th came to hand yesterday, and Colonel Smith and Colonel Humphreys (by whom you will receive one of the 19th from me) being to set out to-morrow, I hasten to answer it. I sincerely rejoice that Portugal is stepping forward in the business of treaty, and that there is a probability that we may at length do something under our commissions, which may produce a solid benefit to our constituents. I as much rejoice, that it is not to be negotiated through the medium of the torpid, uninformed machine, at first made use of. I conjecture, from your relation of the conference with the Chevalier de Pinto, that he is well informed and sensible. So much the better. It is one of those cases, where the better the interests of the two parties are understood, the broader will be the basis on which they will connect them.
To the very judicious observations on the subjects of the conference, which were made by you, I have little to add.
Flour. It may be observed, that we can sell them the flour ready manufactured, for much less than the wheat of which it is made. In carrying to them wheat, we carry also the bran, which does not pay its own freight. In attempting to save and transport wheat to them, much is lost by the weavil, and much spoiled by heat in the hold of the vessel. This loss must be laid on the wheat which gets safe to market, where it is paid for by the consumer. Now, this is much more than the cost of manufacturing it with us, which would prevent that loss. I suppose the cost of manufacturing does not exceed seven per cent, on the value. But the loss by the weavil, and other damage on ship-board, amount to much more. Let them buy of us as much wheat as will make a hundred weight of flour. They will find that they have paid more for the wheat, than we should have asked for the flour, besides having lost the labor of their mills in grinding it. The obliging us, therefore, to carry it to them in the form of wheat, is a useless loss to both parties.
Iron. They will get none from us. We cannot make it in competition with Sweden, or any other nation of Europe, where labor is so much cheaper.
Wines. The strength of the wines of Portugal will give them always an almost exclusive possession of a country, where the summers are so hot as in America. The present demand will be very great, if they will enable us to pay for them; but if they consider the extent and rapid population of the United States, they must see that the time is not distant, when they will not be able to make enough for us, and that it is of great importance to avail themselves of the prejudices already established in favor of their wines, and to continue them, by facilitating the purchase. Let them do this, and they need not care for the decline of their use in England. They will be independent of that country.