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Letter to the New-York Delegates in the Continental Congress


A draught of a Letter to the Delegates of this Colony at the Continental Congress, on the subject of Tea, was read and approved, and is as follows, to it:

In Provincial Congress, Now-York, July 28, 1775.

GENTLEMEN: You must be sensible that our exertions in the publick cause have subjected us to a very large expense, (of which certainly the greatest part is justly payable by the Continent,) and at the same time you cannot but perceive that a large sum of money is and will be expended in articles purely at the cost of our Colony. These considerations show us the necessity of laying a tax on our Colony; but prudence or policy will impress as strongly on your minds as on our own, the propriety of doing this in the manner least liable to popular disgust, or perhaps opposition. These observations will, we hope, introduce to you in a favourable light, some things which we now proceed to mention.

Sundry of our merchants have on hand a considerable quantity of tea imported from Holland, which cannot be sold for reasons which we need not repeat. The consequence of the situation is that our Dutch Traders are deprived of the means of introducing into our Colony sail-duck, Russia drillings, osnaburghs, arms and ammunition, all of them highly necessary for us, and easily to be obtained from Holland, notwithstanding the late placart of the States-General.

Should the retail price of Bohea tea be fixed at six shillings per pound, from six pounds and upwards, and six and sixpence by the single pound, and the wholesale price at five and sixpence, with a tax of one shilling on the pound, payable by the vendor, and similar regulations for green tea, we might raise a considerable sum from the obstinate consumers of this article, and at the same time, the precautions taken by us in giving permission to merchants to sell under certain restrictions, will prevent a trade which, as to the recommendations of the Continental Congress, may well be called illicit, and which does now most undoubtedly obtain, as will readily be acknowledged by those who perceive the general consumption of it throughout the Colony.

We have already furnished to Connecticut almost all the tents which we had provided for our own troops, and we have no now any materials to make more; and we further precaution you that we do not mean to encourage the future introduction of tea into the Colony. Should you, gentlemen, and the Congress, perceive force in what we have just now hinted to you, we humbly conceive it would be proper for the Congress to refer our determination in general terms to certain petitions which have, as we are informed, been presented to them by those who have quantities of tea in their possession.

The prudence, the reason, the policy of making provision which will prevent those gentlemen from being influenced by the strong temptation to a clandestine sale, with many other considerations to the same effect, which will naturally arise in your minds, we modestly forbear to mention, but beg leave to assure you, gentlemen, that with the highest deference to the superiour judgment of the Continental Congress, we are your most obedient humble servants. By order.

To the New-York Delegates in the Continental Congress.

Ordered, That a copy thereof be signed by the President, and transmitted.