Robert King Carter's Correspondence and Diary

   A Collection Transcribed
        and Digitized
   by Edmund Berkeley, Jr.

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Electronic Text Center , University of Virginia Library


Letter from Robert Carter to Anonymous, July 2, 1723

     Robert Carter writes to an unidentified Virginian in England, July 2, 1723, informing the man that others will send him the details of how Peter Leheup was chosen to be the colony's solicitor rather than his correspondent. Carter praises the new governor, Hugh Drysdale, and reports on two bills recently passed by the Assembly that Drysdale is allowing to be forwarded to England for approval even though some in Virginia have criticized him for exceeding his instructions. One sets a tax, to be paid by the purchaser, on the purchase of newly-imported slaves. The second limits the production of tobacco to 6,000 plants per planter. Carter attempts to persuade his correspondent to use his influence to have the government allow the laws to stand, and offers arguments in support of the laws. He summarizes other actions of the Assembly including John Holloway's election as treasurer.

Letter from Robert Carter to Anonymous, July 2, 1723

-1 -

Rappahannock, [Lancaster County, Virginia]
July 2d. 1723

Sir -- --

     It would be lost pains for me to Enter Into the Detail
how Mr Lehupe came into the good Graces of the Government here
for his Nomination to the Solicitors place others I know are before
hand with me in the history of that Matter, therefore I shall
Wave It, Your Temper I doubt not is too Great to be powerd by
such a Small Disappointment or to decline the Service of Your
Country whenever You have an Opportunity, Our Governr.
hath hitherto, Entirely answerd the Character he brot wth. him
Of a Mild Temperate & Courteous [illegible] disposition, We have had the
Tryal of him in a General Court & in a Assembly. I send You
Copys, of the Speeches that hath passd between him the Council
and the Burgeses, You must Excuse the incorrectness of a Young Clerk You will not think It strange that there
Are Some folks will be finding fault, let his Administration
be what It will, but I think It may be truely Said for the
Generallity of the Country they think themselves very happy
in him, he hath passd two Laws, that Some folks very much
Condemn as a breach of his Instructns but in the doing It hath
Very much Enhanct his Value with the Generally of the Peo
=ple, One of these Laws lays an Imposition on Liquors and
Slaves, The other lays a Stint upon the planting of Tobo.
to Six thousand per head, they are not to take place till
April next, that the Kings pleasure be known whether he'l
be graciously pleasd to allow thm. a being. The first is but
the constant Law that the country has had made their refuge to raise Money by
when they were out of Cash, & tho. there is but 40S laid
upon Slaves, & the Same Law now Subsisting in our Neigh
=bouring Province of Maryland, Yet tis Vauntingly
Said, there's no doubt but the Affrican company will break
the Neck of this Law which if they do, It will be very difficult
for Us to find a way, Im Sure that we can't find any
so Easie to raise a penny of Money let the Exegancy of the Country be never
so desperate & yet after all It may be Justly said, the Tax is
Entirely laid upon the Country & not upon the Importer for
Constant Experience hath Show'd Us, tht. the Commoditys
Always rise in proportion to the dutys & rather more.

     The other Law is indeed of a very Extraordinary
Nature, & nothing but the Calamitous circumstances our

-2 -

Trade is under would plead in Excuse for the passing
The Tobo Already at home is a dead commodity. a gre[at]
Quantity now going home, & a great Crop upon the Groun[d]
what must we come to? must we Starve? must we not
be Allowd to live upon our Labour? must all the Gentn. of the
Country be swallowd up by the North Brittains Frauds Certainly
If our Gracious King was truely sencible of the Misery &
We and Our familys are like to come to, he would Extend
his Mercy to relieve us, although It prove to be Some dimu
=nition to his revenue & yet after all, that will not be
so great as may perhaps be Imagined supposeing this
Law be Allowd to subsist, for we shall then plant the best
of all our Lands, tend it with All Imaginable nicety &
probably make more & to be sure much better, than now
We do off of ten or twelve thousand plants, besides
there will be abundance more put in for the Makeing of
Tobo. than now are Employd that way, in hopes of It's
becoming a good commodity. I might tire You & myself
too In multiplying reasons for the Support of this Law
but tis a Toppick that will be so universally Com[men] ded
by so many stronger heads than mine that I shall give
you no further trouble upon this Subject only to flattr.
my Self that You and all lovers of Virginia will bend
Your Utmost Strength to keep in being Nurse this Child of our
Assembly's bringing forth. There are some other proceed
=ings of the Assembly that went mightily against the Grain
of the Anticourtieours Particularly a Law Making
Holloway Treasurer, [illegible] Ordering all the Hemp & Tarr mone[y]
out of the late Treasurers hands into his, paying the Burg[esse] s
their Salarys out of this money &c, Everyone You meet
with will be full of News from hence from hence I
Shall therefore Trespass no further upon Your patience
Only to tell You that with the Deepest Sincerity I am

Yor. most Obedt. devotd. humble Servt.


Source copy consulted: Robert Carter letter book, 1723 June 16-1724 April 23, Robert Carter Papers, (acc. no. 3807), Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, University of Virginia.

Robert Carter generally used a return address of "Rappahannock" for the river on which he lived rather than "Corotoman," the name of his home, on his correspondence, especially to persons abroad. The county and colony have been added for clarity.

[1] Peter Leheup, an English Treasury clerk, was Virginia's and other colonies' agent in England for some years. He was related by marriage to the Prime Minister's brother who was secretary of the Treasury. His influence would be greater near the end of Carter's life.(Price. Perry of London. . . . pp. 75-77, 80, 83. )

[2] The Royal African Company, founded in 1672, grew out of earlier slave-trading companies that had been founded in the middle of the seventeenth century, and that held monopolies on the English trade in slaves. The trade proved so profitable that Parliament was lobbied successfully to rescind the monopoly and open the trade to anyone which happened in 1698. Carter anticipates that the company will fight the proposed tax on imported slaves even through it is to be paid by the colonial purchasers, not the importers. He was correct for the law was not allowed to stand due to lobbying against it in England. ( ; and Billings. et al. Colonial Virginia: A History. p. 232. )

[3] Carter refers to Scots traders who had a very poor reputation in the colony.

[4] For the Council's reasons for assenting to this proposed tobacco law, see McIlwaine. Executive Journals of the Council. . . . , 4[1721-1739]:45-51.

This text revised August 18, 2009.