Fifteen letters, 5 October 1791 - 16 January 1801, added to the papers of Moses Brown, shipping merchant of Newburyport, Mass., further substantiate the interchange between American shippers North and South with the West Indies and Northern Europe.
The earliest letter here present, 5 October 1791, from William Crafts, Charleston, to Stephen Hooper, Newburyport, speaks of the bountiful harvest of rice, “the largest one made in the State.” While he warns that rice “by the plenty of grain in Europe promises to be reduc’d to the old price before the war,” the writer rejoices that “the carrying of so large a crop will require many Vessells & of course give advantageous employ to those calculated for the business, that is, if they are put into a proper channel.”
Two letters, 25 February and 1 March 1792, concern a voyage from Charleston to Copenhagen, Denmark, under Capt. William Russell. The earlier letter, written by Russell, announces plans to sail with a cargo of rice and tobacco. The later letter, from commission merchant Joseph Winthrop, announces that Russell had set sail and presents Moses Brown a bill for services rendered in procuring Russell’s freight.
Letters from Capt. William Picket provide additional details on the William, a 1789 ship documented in the South Caroliniana Library’s existing collection of the papers of Moses Brown. Writing on 13 February 1797 in response to “a Rumor of an Embargo taking place soon,” Picket asks Brown “to write me immediately how I should proceed with the William for I have not any Mind to part with her...and as to giving her to either French or English I should be very averse to it seeing I have had her so long.” Then, barely three weeks later, 6 March 1797, he writes of the “disagreeable Situation of your Ship,” noting that there was no hope of obtaining cargo for the William for a European voyage. The letter argues that the ship be repaired at Newburyport “rather than to have it done here and be subjected to every kind of Imposition both as to the price and neglect of the Work or rather botching of her up and making the Remedy worse than the Disease.” Terming Charleston an “enormous expensive place where there is very little or no Convenience to do this kind of Business,” Picket goes on to say—“if there was a place to do it in whilst the Carpenters were repairing the inside the Worms would Eat the outsides.”
Letters, 25 February and 23 March 1799, from Elijah Mayhew, Charleston, concern the sale of the brig Columbia.